Software that predicts whether you look like, and so will be, a criminal

Harrisburg University proudly announces, in a press release: HU facial recognition software predicts criminality A group of Harrisburg University professors and a Ph.D. student have developed automated computer facial recognition software capable of predicting whether someone is likely going to be a criminal. With 80 percent accuracy and with no racial bias, the software can […]

Mathematics and the end of the world, predictably

A prize-winning profession confidently confronts a new challenge. Some professionals—professionals who professionally calculate a date on which the world will end—have calculated that the COVID-19 pandemic is not a goodbye-everyone harbinger. The Washington Post reports, on March 17, 2020: This is not the end of the world, according to Christians who study the end of […]

AIR U.S. Presidential Election Algorithm Falsified

AIR U.S. Presidential Election Algorithm Falsified by Eric Schulman and Daniel Debowy The Annals of Improbable Research United States Presidential Election Algorithm (Debowy and Schulman, AIR Online, 20 October 2003) was developed based on the experience of the major party candidates for president and vice president in each of the 54 United States presidential elections […]

Can you tell, by looking at this photo, whether this scientist is dead?

A medical study that says people can predict whether someone is dead merely by looking at a photo of that person has itself been killed. The journal that had published the article has now retracted it. The Retraction Watch blog explains: Some people can look at an old photograph of a person — say, of your grandmother in […]

Phantosmia as and in a weather forecaster, reportedly

Phantosmia — smelly hallucinations — and the weather unite, at long last, as subjects of a science report: “Phantosmia as a Meteorological Forecaster,” S. R. Aiello and A.R. Hirsch [pictured here], International Journal of Biometeorology, March 2013. the authors, at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor and the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in […]

About-Face on Face Shape?

A new study about faces implies than an old study about faces (which we wrote about way back when) should not be taken at face value: “Lack of Support for the Association between Facial Shape and Aggression: A Reappraisal Based on a Worldwide Population Genetics Perspective,” Jorge Gómez-Valdés, Tábita Hünemeier, Mirsha Quinto-Sánchez, Carolina Paschetta, Soledad […]

Ig Nobel winner Pat Robertson makes another prediction

Pat Robertson, who shared the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize in mathematics, has made a new prediction, this time about climate change. Robertson won his Ig Nobel for predicting the world would end in 1982, thus (eventually) teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations. His co-winners each made their own erroneous predictions […]

More Weekend Rains, But Fewer Tornados & Hailstorms

In 1998 David M. Schultz [pictured here], then at the National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma, USA (and now at the University of Manchester, UK)  published an article called “Does It Rain More Often on Weekends?” (Annals of Improbable Research, vol. 4, no. 2) . Schultz concluded that: there is perhaps some validity to the hypothesis that certain […]

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 […]