Sad news: Trinkaus is out for the count

John Trinkaus, who was awarded the 2003 Ig Nobel literature prize, for meticulously collecting data and publishing more than 80 detailed academic reports about things that annoyed him, died. His family notified us today. John (who enjoyed jokingly referring to himself as “Trinkaus”) was one of New York’s overlooked treasures. We became friends after he […]

A Chinese appreciation of Professor Trinkaus’s password-guessing research

John Trinkaus, who was awarded the 2003 Ig Nobel Literature Prize for publishing more than 80 detailed academic reports about things that annoyed him, got some recent attention for his how-well-do-people-guess-at-passwords research. The Chinese Apple site produced this video about that: Here’s a machine translation into English of part of what it says: “John Trinkaus, a professor at […]

People-calculating: open doors and closed doors

Whether one person holds a door open for another is not simply a question of etiquette, says a study by Joseph P Santamaria and David A Rosenbaum [pictured here] of Pennsylvania State University. No, they say. Nothing simple about it. Santamaria and Rosenbaum worked to pursue the answer through a tangle of belief, logic, probability, perception […]

Congratulations to New York’s most efficiently irritable man

Tomorrow Professor John Trinkaus — New York City’s most efficiently irritable man — will give his last lecture at the Zicklin School of Business, where he has taught for fifty years. Professor Trinkaus was awarded the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize for literature, for meticulously collecting data and publishing more than 80 detailed academic reports about things that annoyed him (such […]

Guides for the annoyed. Guides for the perplexed.

If you are annoyed by particular people, things, events or conditions, consider learning more about the nature of annoyance. Here are two guides: 1. The new book Annoying—The Science of What Bugs Us, by Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman. 2. The short, peppy monographs of John Trinkaus. Professor Trinkaus was awarded the 2003 Ig Nobel […]

The limited power of Santa Claus

As Christmas approaches, Santas appear in shopping malls (in at least some countries). Ig Nobel Prize-winner John Trinkaus’s series of studies [discussed here] illuminate a sad truth about the situation. The first and last of them: 1. “Visiting Santa: an informal look,” John Trinkaus, Psychological Reports, 2004 Oct;95(2):587-8. “Using a modified six cartoon-face rating scale, […]

Sanitizer study: Even docs ignore instructions

Even in a medical building, despite fears of the flu, most patients—and most medical personnel, too—disregard instructions to use a hand-sanitizer station. A new study [click on the image or click here to download a PDF] to be published in the Annals of Improbable Research, examined the hand-sanitizing behavior of patients and doctors who entered […]