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Ig Nobel Nominations

How to Nominate Someone

Want to nominate a deserving person (or team) to win an Ig Nobel Prize? Please send the pertinent info to <marc ATTTTTT improbable DOTTTTT com>


Spirit and Philosophy of the Igs

Every Ig Nobel Prize winner has done something that first makes people LAUGH, then makes them THINK.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. IS THIS AN HONOR?  Quite possibly! The Igs are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative, and spur people’s interest in science. Each year, many of the ten Ig Nobel Prize winners have achieved something (or other) that most, or at least some people, would deem wonderful. The Ig Nobel Board of Governors does not comment as to which Prize-winning achievements might be deemed “good” and which “bad,” or which might be “important” or “trivial.”  As with most things in life, that is entirely a matter for each individual to judge.  See for yourself: click here to see a list of all the past winners.
  2. WHO IS ELIGIBLE.  You can nominate anyone, including yourself.  So far very few self-nominees have won a Prize. (the first was the team of Baerheim and Sandvik in 1996)
  3. INCLUDE ENOUGH INFO.  Please include enough basic info (Who is the nominee? What, exactly, did they do that makes people LAUGH, then THINK? Where is that documented?) that the Ig Nobel Board of Governors can properly consider the nominee.
  4. CONFIDENTIALITY.  All nominations are handled in strict confidence.  The Ig Nobel Board of Governors prides itself on its incompetence, especially its demonstrated ability to lose all records as to when, where, and how who nominated whom for what.
  5. WHAT DESERVES AN IG?  Here’s an old (1999!), but still instructive discussion of what the Ig is and is not


How the Winners are Chosen

We receive more than 9000 new nominations every year; these are added to the (enormous) pool of nominees from previous years.  The ten new winners are selected by The Ig Nobel Board of Governors. (Every year, between 10% and 20% of these are people nominating themselves.  Self-nominees seldom win. It seems characteristic of the Ig Nobel prizes that the “Igginess” is a side-effect, not a goal.) Nominees not chosen in a particular year are considered again in subsequent years.  The Board is composed of scientists (including several Ig Nobel Prize winners and several Nobel Prize winners), science writers, athletes, public officials, and other individuals of greater or lesser eminence.  By tradition, for balance, on the final day of deliberations, a random passerby is invited to help make the decision.

The Board sifts through the nominations, narrowing the list to a group of finalists.  The Board then investigates whether each of the finalists (a) exists, and (b) has actually done what the nomination claims.

As stated above, the Igs are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative, and spur people’s interest in science.  The Ig Nobel Board of Governors tries hard to follow the old medical rule of thumb “First do no harm.”  Individuals who are chosen to win an Ig Nobel Prize are, in most cases, quietly given the opportunity to decline the honor.  Happily, only rarely does anyone turn down the offer of an Ig Nobel Prize.

The winners are invited to travel, at their own expense, to the gala awards ceremony at Harvard University.  In recent years, most of the winners have participated in the ceremony and the related events.

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