Let me remind everybody that the IgNoble prizes are in no manner derisory. The winners are funny, but not stupid nor a waste of time. For example the “whale snot” prize was for unquestionably useful scientific work. And the prize for “outside socks increase traction” went to a paper whose intent was clearly humorous, as demonstrated by the fact that the authors presented their financial objectivity by observing that they owned no stock in sock-making companies and owned no sheep.
I agree that a lot of science can be funny, but the claim that these projects are silly and a waste of time is off the mark, IMO.
Well, yes and no. Some of them aren’t derisory; they’re looking at humorous but interesting studies. (Although I’d argue there’s a definite spectrum there between studies that are foolish and those that are funny and interesting). But many of them clearly are intended to be derisory.
E.g.: the 2010 Economics Ig Nobel went to “The executives and directors of Goldman Sachs, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Magnetar for creating and promoting new ways to invest money — ways that maximize financial gain and minimize financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof.”
2005 Ig Nobel for Literature: “The Internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for creating and then using e-mail to distribute a bold series of short stories, thus introducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters—General Sani Abacha, Mrs. Mariam Sanni Abacha, Barrister Jon A Mbeki Esq., and others—each of whom requires just a small amount of expense money so as to obtain access to the great wealth to which they are entitled and which they would like to share with the kind person who assists them.”
2005 Ig Nobel for Nutrition “Dr. Yoshiro Nakamats of Tokyo, Japan, for photographing and retrospectively analyzing every meal he has consumed during a period of 34 years (and counting).”
2004 for Economics: “The Vatican, for outsourcing prayers to India.”
2002 for Economics: “The executives, corporate directors, and auditors of Enron, Lernaut & Hauspie [Belgium], Adelphia, Bank of Commerce and Credit International [Pakistan], Cendant, CMS Energy, Duke Energy, Dynegy, Gazprom [Russia], Global Crossing, HIH Insurance [Australia], Informix, Kmart, Maxwell Communications [UK], McKessonHBOC, Merrill Lynch, Merck, Peregrine Systems, Qwest Communications, Reliant Resources, Rent-Way, Rite Aid, Sunbeam, Tyco, Waste Management, WorldCom, Xerox, and Arthur Andersen, for adapting the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers for use in the business world.”