Improbable products (with mistakes) increase product preferences (research study)

“[…] we find that consumers actually prefer products that were made by mistake to otherwise identical products that were made intentionally.” – explain the researchers behind a new study to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research. The research team performed a series of experiments which described to participants various mistake-prone scenarios, e.g. one […]

Behold a work of Error: “contributing to business success”

Brett M. Error [pictured here] and Christopher Reid Error hold many patents. Here’s one: “Assigning value to elements contributing to business success,” Brett M. Error and Christopher Reid Error,US patent 7603373 B2, granted October 13, 2009. The patent document explains, patiently: “The present invention is related to tracking Website usage as it correlates With business success, […]

Hand Sanitizers, Breathalyzers, and Indications of Intoxication

Clean hands, skulduggery and/or incompetence can, if combined, lead to a muddle about drunkenness, suggests this study: “Common Hand Sanitizer May Distort Readings of Breathalyzer Tests in the Absence of Acute Intoxication,” Syed S. Ali, Michael P. Wilson, Edward M. Castillo, Peter Witucki, Todd T. Simmons, Gary M. Vilke [pictured here], Academic Emergency Medicine, vol. 20, […]

This Grand Canyon, and That One, and Those Others…

Earle Spamer of the American Philosophical Society has, over the years, written a series of Improbable Research reports about the Grand Canyon (beginning with his explanation of how to preserve the Grand Canyon from disappearing due to erosion — his solution: fill the canyon, at least temporarily, with plastic packing “peanuts“). In “Is the Grand Canyon […]

A smidgen of mathematical levity, plus 58 minutes

In this first video, Fry and Laurie present a calculated bit of mathematical levity [HT Jennifer Ouellette]: In the following video, Professor Bikash Kumar Dey of the Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Bombay, presents 58 minutes without levity. It’s his famous “Lecture – 22 Probability of Error Calculation”. Enjoy, if you will: BONUS: “Lecture – 24 […]

The unexpected end of 2011 (an Ig Nobel tribute)

This year, 2011, is ending—unexpectedly—in December. To celebrate, we pay tribute to the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel Prize in mathematics. The prize was awarded to: Dorothy Martin of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1954), Pat Robertson of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1982 [and whose book is pictured […]