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Right-wing authoritarians aren’t very funny [study]

January 25th, 2021

“Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) has well-known links with humor appreciation, such as enjoying jokes that target deviant groups, but less is known about RWA and creative humor production – coming up with funny ideas oneself.”

To test the ground, a research team from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the University of Pennsylvania, US, devised a set of experiments. 186 participants (students) were shown cartoons* and asked to suggest a caption. They were also shown jokes without punchlines, which they were invited to provide.  Example :

The set of participants were also rated with regard to their RWA attitudes :

“RWA was measured with Zakrisson’s (2005) scale, which assesses authoritarian beliefs without referring to specific social groups.”

Results :

“Taken together, the findings suggest that people high in RWA just aren’t very funny.”

See : Right-wing authoritarians aren’t very funny: RWA, personality, and creative humor production  in Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 170, 15 February 2021, 110421

*Note: For copyright reasons, the cartoons are not shown here – nevertheless, they are available for viewing.

Research research by Martin Gardiner

Obrador of Mexico is Latest Ig Nobel Prize Co-Winner with Covid

January 24th, 2021

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico announced today that he has the Covid-19 virus. He becomes the fifth co-winner of the 2020 Ig Nobel Prize for Medical Education known to have achieved that distinction, joining Boris Johnson, Jair Bolsonaro, Alexander Lukashenko, and Donald Trump. The other four co-winners have not yet announced that they have personally contracted the virus. (Co-winner Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow has announced that no one in his country has ever had the virus.)

The 2021 Ig Nobel Prize for Medical Education was awarded on September 17 to Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, Narendra Modi of India, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, Donald Trump of the USA, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Vladimir Putin of Russia, and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan, for using the Covid-19 viral pandemic to teach the world that politicians can have a more immediate effect on life and death than scientists and doctors can.

NOTE: This is the second Ig Nobel Prize awarded to Alexander Lukashenko. In the year 2013, the Ig Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Alexander Lukashenko, for making it illegal to applaud in public, AND to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding.

Get thee down a rabbit hole…

January 24th, 2021

The special Ig Nobel issue (vol. 26, no. 6) of the magazine includes a new kind of guide, in addition to [A] the lavish details about the 30th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, and [B] other stuff.

The new guide is called “Ways to Use This Magazine.

The ways include:

  • Write a limerick about one of the cited studies.
  • Write a long-single-sentence short story that includes the titles of every study mentioned in one of the review articles.
  • Do dramatic readings, in person, or in live or recorded video, of little chunks from the magazine.
  • Go down a rabbit hole.
  • Go down a maybe-important rabbit hole.
  • Start an argument about whether some particular study is good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless.
  • Watch an Ig Nobel Prize winner.

There are, of course, other ways, too.


Podcast Episode #1052: “Do Frogs in Helium Get Squeaky Voices?”

January 24th, 2021

In Podcast Episode #1052, Marc Abrahams shows an unfamiliar research study to developmental biologist Dany Adams. Dramatic readings and reactions ensue.

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

Dany Adams encounters:

Frogs in helium: the anuran vocal sac is not a cavity resonator,” A.S. Rand and R. Dudley, Physiological Zoology, vol. 66, 1993, pp. 793-806. 

Seth GliksmanProduction Assistant

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

Carpi’s Voice Rectifier

January 22nd, 2021

A beautiful or not-so-beautiful voice can be made more beautiful by sticking Carpi’s voice rectifier in one’s mouth, perhaps. The well-more-than-century-old device is enshrined in a patent:

Voice Rectifier,” US patent 527235, granted to Vittorio Carpi, 1894. Carpi explains:

Be it known that I, VITTORIO CARPI, of Chicago, in the county of Cook and State of Illinois, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Voice-Rectifiers; and I do hereby declare that the following is a full, clear, and exact description thereof, reference being had to the accompanying draw ings, and to the letters of reference marked thereon, which form a part of this specification. This invention relates to devices to be used by singers and others in vocal exercising for the purpose of correcting and perfecting stiff and defective voices and assisting such persons in the proper cultivation and development of the voice….

When the high notes sound too disagreeably thin or woody the practice should be conducted alternately with and without the plate A in the mouth until the person obtains control of the voice, cures the defects above pointed out and acquires a regular, even, extensive and round voice. To this end the voice rectifier will be found extremely convenient in curing throaty and nasal voices and uneven voices in the different registers.

Mis-placement of the device could make the voice less beautiful, perhaps.

BONUS (possibly related): The pebbles of Demosthenes


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