Peter Jonason, from University of Western Sydney, received an Ig Nobel for showing that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.
The Ig Nobel prizes are presented under the banner: “Research that makes people LAUGH, then THINK.” What they really are is a perfect example of why blue-sky research is so important. Research that might look ludicrous on first glance, or when described by an outraged shock-jock, can turn out to have deep and abiding meaning. For example, the winning Ig Nobel for physics this year went to a team from Japan that was researching what makes banana skins so slippery. I know that’s just stupid isn’t it? Who’d beyond the most die-hard slapstick aficionado would care? That’s the ‘laugh’ bit. The ‘think’ bit comes when you realise that the same thing that makes bananas slippery could be used in the joints of artificial limbs.
So, congratulations to Peter Jonason and his colleagues for their prize.
My favourite laugh-then-think moment from this year’s Ig Nobels must go to the Economics prize:
ECONOMICS PRIZE [ITALY]: ISTAT — the Italian government’s National Institute of Statistics, for proudly taking the lead in fulfilling the European Union mandate for each country to increase the official size of its national economy by including revenues from prostitution, illegal drug sales, smuggling, and all other unlawful financial transactions between willing participants.
Image: Peter Jonason, UWS.