Ig Nobel prizes: 2018's strangest scientific research honoured

voodoo doll
Stabbing a boss voodoo doll can make employees feel better. Photo credit: Getty

This year's winners of the Ig Nobel prizes include a British researcher who found out human flesh isn't very nutritious and a woman who experimented on virtual voodoo dolls.

The annual awards are given out to researchers whose achievements and discoveries "first make people laugh, and then make them think".

They're organised by science humour magazine Annals of Improbably Research, and handed out by real Nobel Prize laureates at a ceremony at Harvard in Masachusetts. Prize winners get 10 trillion virtually worthless Zimbabwean dollars.

This year's medicine prize went to Marc Mitchell and David Wartinger "for using roller coaster rides to try to hasten the passage of kidney stones".

The anthropology prize went to a team that found when chimps try to imitate humans, they do about as well as humans do when they're imitating chimpanzees.

The discovery that some wine experts can detect the presence of a dead fly in a glass of wine won a European team the biology prize, while the chemistry award was given to a Portuguese team who tested how well saliva cleans dirty surfaces.

A Japanese doctor who devised a "revolutionary" new way to give yourself a colonoscopy took out the medical education prize.

"If people watch a video of my self-colonoscopy, they think colonoscopy is simple and easy," said Akira Horiuchi.

An international team were recognised with the literature prize for finding out "most people who use complicated products do not read the instruction manual".

University of Brighton lecturer James Cole's calculations that proved human meat isn't as good as animal meat won him the nutrition prize.

"We're not super nutritious," he said.

Researchers tested the effects of swearing on driving. Photo credit: Getty

The peace prize went to a Spanish and Colombian group that tested whether shouting and swearing while driving resulted in more crashes.

The reproductive medicine gong went to a team that used postage stamps to figure out if men's penises were working properly.

The economics prize was awarded to Lindie Liang, who discovered abusing a virtual voodoo doll of their boss made employees feel better.

"We wanted to understand why subordinates retaliate when it's bad for them," she said. "We all know yelling at our boss is bad for your career."

Dunedin scientists won an Ig Nobel in 2010 after finding out swearing helps dulls physical pain.