Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ignoble Awards

The Nobel Prize is a distinguished honor handed out annually by dignitaries in Norway to individuals who contribute mightily to the human experience. The Ignoble Prize is a spurious honor handed out by members of Harvard University to individuals who contribute dubious achievements (mostly in college research projects).

Believe it or not (it's true), some of the past winners, their published research papers and my astute observations (BB) include the following.

Steven Stack of Wayne State University – THE AFFECT OF COUNTRY MUSIC ON SUICIDE (country music listeners are more prone to commit suicide than others)

BB NOTE: People drawn to Rap and Hip-Hop should also consider suicide.

Dan Smith of the University of Illinois – GORILLAS IN OUR MIDST (when people pay close attention to something it's easy to overlook anything else; even a woman in a gorilla suit)

BB NOTE: Try a gorilla in a tweed suit.

Julian Clarke of Howard University – THE SCIENTIFIC VALIDITY OF THE FIVE-SECOND RULE (it's safe to eat food that's been dropped on the floor if it's eaten in less than five seconds)

BB NOTE: My dog goes by the five-day rule.

Robert Mathews of Aston University in England – TUMBLING TOAST, MURPHY'S LAW AND THE FUNDAMENTAL CONSTANTS (toast often falls on the buttered side)

BB NOTE: In my case, it also often lands on the left foot.

Phillip Zimbardo of Stanford University – POLITICIANS' UNIQUELY SIMPLE PERSONALITIES

BB NOTE: No kidding.

T. Yagyu of Kansai Medical University in Osaka, Japan – CHEWING GUM FLAVOR AFFECTS MEASURES OF GLOBAL COMPLEXITY OF MULTICHANNEL EEG (measured people's brainwave patterns while they chewed different flavored gums)

BB NOTE: Someone should examine the brainwave patterns of anyone who would concoct such a study.


BB NOTE: A German experimenting with beer – how unusual.

Karl Kruszelnicki of the University of Sydney – A COMPREHENSIVE SURVEY OF HUMAN BELLY BUTTON LINT

BB NOTE: An Australian with a belly button fetish – how unusual.

David Schmidt of the University of Massachusetts – THE QUESTION OF WHY SHOWER CURTAINS BILLOW INWARDS (unfortunately, the research was able to provide only a partial solution)

BB NOTE: This is obviously a complex, multi-layered problem.

John Richards of Boston University – THE APOSTROPHE PROTECTION SOCIETY (articulating and defending the differences between plural and possessive)

BB NOTE: Another sign that the end of the world is near.

B.S. Srihari of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, India – A PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF RHINOTILLEXOMANIA IN AN ADOLESCENT SAMPLE (a medical survey concluding that nose picking is a common activity among adolescents)

BB NOTE: In Alabama, Mississippi and Butte, Montana, it's also a common activity among adults.


BB NOTE: We seem to have that "unskilled & unaware of it" problem in the highest governmental offices in the land. It tends to upset the "aware" masses who are under the impression that government works for them rather than the other way around.

Dr. Paul Bosland of New Mexico State University – THE SPICELESS JALAPENO CHILI PEPPER (created a tasteless spice through breeding techniques).

BB NOTE: Sounds yummy, I can't wait to try it.

Mark Hostetler of the University of Florida – THE GUNK ON YOUR CAR (a scholarly work that helps to identify insect splats found on automobile windshields)

BB NOTE: Once identified, then what? Are some species edible?

Peter Fong of Gettysburg College – INDUCTION AND POTENTIATION OF PARTURITION IN FINGERNAIL CLAMS (experiment that made clams "happier" using Prozac)

BB NOTE: After writing this piece, I plan to conduct the same experiment on myself until this nonsense is completely wiped out of my mind.

Ben Wilson of the University of British Columbia – PACIFIC AND ATLANTIC HERRING PRODUCE BURST BUBBLE SOUNDS (herring communicate by farting)

BB NOTE: I often produce burst bubble sounds during my monthly bath. Sometimes I can play the first 11 notes of the Star Spangled Banner before I run low. My dog communicates the same way, often silently.

College research is very important to society. It gave us black holes, the atomic bomb and silly putty. We can all sleep better at night knowing our institutions of higher learning are busy doing such outstanding work.

I sleep better at night knowing my dog is nearby, communicating silently in his sleep.

Quote for the Day – "There's a lot of knowledge in universities – the freshmen bring a little in, the seniors don't take much away, so knowledge sort of accumulates." Abbott Lawrence Lowell

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and often communicates silently to no one in particular. His blogs appear on several websites, including


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