Interlopers Usurp Ig

Interlopers Usurp Ig

a copy of a press release

issued January 9, 1995


Washington Lobbyists Try to Interlope on Ig Nobel

(CAMBRIDGE, MA) These days nothing is sacred to
Washington lobbyists -- not even the Ig Nobel Prize.  A
lobby group has tried to appropriate the good name of
the Ig Nobel Prizes.  The genuine prizes are awarded
each fall by "The Annals of Improbable Research" (which
has been described as "The MAD Magazine of science")
and The MIT Museum.  They honor individuals whose
achievements "cannot or should not be reproduced."
Last week an animal rights lobby group calling itself
"Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine" issued
a press release in which it tried to announce its own
list of Ig Nobel Prizewinners.  The international
science community is shocked.

"I am shocked," said Harvard Professor William
Lipscomb, a 1976 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

"I am shocked," said Harvard Professor Sheldon Glashow,
a 1990 Nobel Laureate in Physics.

"It's outrageous.  My hair stands on end at the very
thought of it," said New England Biolabs research
director Richard Roberts, a 1993 Nobel Laureate in
Physiology or Medicine.

"I am shocked and disgusted," said Harvard Professor
Dudley Herschbach, a 1979 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

"I am appalled that someone would try to use the
vehicle of the Ig Nobel awards for political aims,"
said MIT Professor Jerome Friedman, a 1990 Nobel
Laureate in Physics.  "The purpose of these awards is
to enhance the humor of our lives, something that is in
short supply and should be protected."

At the Fourth First Annual Ig Nobel Ceremony, held this
past October 6 at MIT, several Nobel Laureates and 1200
lab-coated hecklers announced the 1994 winners, several
of whom accepted their prizes with humorous speeches.

Marc Abrahams, AIR's editor and Chairman of the Ig
Nobel Board of Governors, has issued the following

"We were shocked, shocked to hear that a lobbying group
in Washington, DC has tried to claim credit for the Ig
Nobel Prizes.  It seems unthinkable that a group called
'Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine' would
knowingly commit an irresponsible act.  Yet, it has oft
been observed that we live in an imperfect universe.
While we sympathize to some extent with the group (for
example: we no longer advocate that monkeys be forced
to become crack cocaine addicts), we cannot permit them
to appropriate the good name of the Ig Nobel Prizes.
We must protect the purity and essence of the genuine
Ig Nobel Prizewinners."

Abrahams stressed that the genuine prizes are nominated by 
scientists from around the world, and are carefully researched 
before the winners are chosen.  "It's not clear whether these 
would-be AIRheads in Washington have checked their facts.  Maybe 
they're just frustrated that they have never won an Ig Nobel 
Prize, and feel this is a novel way to campaign for one."

A complete list of the genuine 1994 Ig Nobel
Prizewinners is appended below.

The Genuine 1994 Ig Nobel Prizewinners

BIOLOGY W. Brian Sweeney, Brian Krafte-Jacobs, Jeffrey
W.  Britton, and Wayne Hansen, for their breakthrough
study, "The Constipated Serviceman: Prevalence Among
Deployed US Troops," and especially for their numerical
analysis of bowel movement frequency.  [The study was
published in "Military Medicine," vol.  158, August,
1993, pages 346-348.]

PEACE John Hagelin of Maharishi International
University and The Institute of Science, Technology and
Public Policy, promulgator of peaceful thoughts, for
his experimental conclusion that 4,000 trained
meditators caused an 18 percent decrease in violent
crime in Washington, D.C. [Details were published in
"Interim Report: Results fo the National Demonstration
Project To Reduce Violent Crime and Improve
Governmental Effectiveness In Washington, D.C., June 7
to July 30, 1993," Institute of Science, Technology and
Public Policy, Fairfield, Iowa.]

MEDICINE This prize is awarded in two parts.  First, to
Patient X, formerly of the US Marine Corps, valiant
victim of a venomous bite from his pet rattlesnake, for
his determined use of electroshock therapy -- at his
own insistence, automobile sparkplug wires were
attached to his lip, and the car engine revved to 3000
rpm for five minutes.  Second, to Dr. Richard C. Dart
of the Rocky Mountain Poison Center and Dr. Richard A.
Gustafson of The University of Arizona Health Sciences
Center, for their well-grounded medical report:
"Failure of Electric Shock Treatment for Rattlesnake
Envenomation." [The report was published in "Annals of
Emergency Medicine," vol. 20, no. 6, June 1991, pp.

ENTOMOLOGY Robert A. Lopez of Westport, NY, valiant
veterinarian and friend of all creatures great and
small, for his series of experiments in obtaining ear
mites from cats, inserting them into his own ear, and
carefully observing and analyzing the results.  [Dr.
Lopez's report was published in "The Journal of the
American Veterinary Society," vol. 203, no. 5, Sept. 1,
1993, pp. 606-607.]

PSYCHOLOGY Lee Kuan Yew, former Prime Minister of
Singapore, practitioner of the psychology of negative
reinforcement, for his thirty-year study of the effects
of punishing three million citizens of Singapore
whenever they spat, chewed gum, or fed pigeons.

PHYSICS The Japanese Meteorological Agency, for its
seven-year study of whether earthquakes are caused by
catfish wiggling their tails.

LITERATURE L. Ron Hubbard, ardent author of science
fiction and founding father of Scientology, for his
crackling Good Book, "Dianetics," which is highly
profitable to mankind or to a portion thereof.

CHEMISTRY Texas State Senator Bob Glasgow, wise writer
of logical legislation, for sponsoring the 1989 drug
control law which make it illegal to purchase beakers,
flasks, test tubes, or other laboratory glassware
without a permit.

ECONOMICS Jan Pablo Davila of Chile, tireless trader of
financial futures and former employee of the
state-owned Codelco Company, for instructing his
computer to "buy" when he meant "sell," and
subsequently attempting to recoup his losses by making
increasingly unprofitable trades that ultimately lost
.5 percent of Chile's gross national product.  Davila's
relentless achievement inspired his countrymen to coin
a new verb: "davilar," meaning, "to botch things up

MATHEMATICIANS The Southern Baptist Church of Alabama,
mathematical measurers of morality, for their
county-by-county estimate of how many Alabama citizens
will go to Hell if they don't repent.

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