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Five minutes about the Igs

June 26th, 2020

Science Khana takes a five-minute video look at the Ig Nobel Prizes:

Research About Coffee-and-Health is Often and Easily Confounded

June 26th, 2020

It’s easy to say that coffee has a good or bad effect on people’s health, but it’s not easy to know, suggests a study about studies about whether coffee has a good or bad effect on people’s health.

The study is: “Dietary research on coffee: Improving adjustment for confounding,” David R. Thomas, Ian D. Hodges, Current Developments in Nutrition, 2019, nzz142. The authors, at the University of Auckland, and at HealthSearch Limited, New Zealand, explain:

this narrative review critically evaluated the methods and analyses of cohort studies investigating coffee and mortality. A specific focus was adjustment for confounding related to smoking, healthy and unhealthy foods and alcohol. Assessment of 36 cohort samples showed many did not adequately adjust for smoking. Consuming 1–5 cups of coffee per day was related to lower mortality among never smokers, in studies which adjusted for pack-years of smoking, and studies adjusting for healthy and unhealthy foods. Possible reduced health benefits for coffee with added sugar have not been adequately investigated. Research on coffee and health should report separate analyses for never smokers, adjust for consumption of healthy and unhealthy foods, and for sugar added to coffee.

Prize-winning British specification: The proper way to make a cup of tea

June 25th, 2020

The 1999 Ig Nobel Literature Prize was awarded to The British Standards Institution, for its six-page specification (BS-6008) of the proper way to make a cup of tea.

BS-6008 is now, in the year 2020, available for sale at a price of ?110.00 per copy from the British Standards Institution, which now calls itself BSI.

Cross About Tea

There seems to be disagreement, newly flaring, as to the proper British way to make a cup of tea. The Guardian reports on this, with the headline:

US woman sparks transatlantic tea war with brutal online brew
Michelle from North Carolina shared her recipe for ‘British tea’. An international incident followed

Michelle from North Carolina made this video, which was the butterfly that caused the potted tea tempest:

Podcast Episode #213: “The 29th 1st Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony”

June 24th, 2020

The 29th 1st Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony of 2019

In episode #213, Marc Abrahams presents the 29th 1st Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony which took place at the Sanders Theatre at Harvard University in 2019. This is a truncated form of the full ceremony to make for better radio, but the full event can be viewed here.

Remember, our Patreon donors, on most levels, get access to each podcast episode before it is made public.

1. We all encounter:

Ceremony details are online at Improbable Research.

Bruce PetschekAudio Engineer

Jon ShedlerAudio Engineer

Seth GliksmanProduction Assistant

Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Google Podcasts, AntennaPod, BeyondPod and elsewhere!

COMING ATTRACTION: The next Ig Nobel Prize ceremony—the 30th First Annual, on September 17, 2020—will be a little different from its 29 predecessors.

Respecting the prize-winning dignity of plants, in Barcelona

June 23rd, 2020

Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house perhaps demonstrated, better than has ever been demonstrated, a principle that is part of the legal system in Switzerland: the principle that plants have dignity. We strongly urge you to watch the performance.

CNN reports:

Barcelona opera house reopens with performance to 2,292 plants

It’s not uncommon for performances at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house to be sold out, but musicians played to an unusual audience on Monday to mark Spain’s lifting of lockdown — as thousands of plants filled its seats….

A total of 2,292 plants were packed into the theater, while the string quartet performed Puccini’s “Crisantemi,” according to a statement from the [organizers].
Although humans were not present in the audience, spectators could watch the “Concierto para el bioceno” via livestream….

EuroNews presents this video report:


The Legal Principle that Plants Have Dignity

The 2008 Ig Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology (ECNH) and the citizens of Switzerland, for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity.

The committee documented its research, in a study called “The Dignity of Living Beings With Regard to Plants. Moral Consideration of Plants for Their Own Sake

The Barcelona Concert

The concert in Barcelona is truly moving, whether you are a plant (and yes, plants do move, as demonstrated by Jagadish Chandra Bose) or an animal. Here is video of the full performance:


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