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A slightly mysterious book about a blowhard

November 24th, 2020

Several databases include mention of a book titled “The death of Booth: Affidavit Dec. 1, 1904 in pension claim of Wm. H. Collyer, a blowhard.” Apparently it is brief—just three pages long.

We have been unable to find a copy of that book. If you have a copy, we would enjoy seeing an image of the cover and the insides.

Recent progress in Pokémon GO studies

November 23rd, 2020

Since its launch in 2016 Pokémon GO has attracted a wealth of academic studies – covering the social, psychological, medical, security and legal aspects of the game.

[ For those not familiar with the subject, here is some background : Pokémon GO is an augmented reality (AR) mobile game for iOS and Android devices. It was developed and published by Niantic in collaboration with The Pokémon Company ]

Here are some examples of scholarly studies (no particular order)

• Analysis of Pokémon GO using sociophysics approach

• Gotta Catch a Lawsuit: A Legal Insight into the Intellectual, Civil, and Criminal Battlefield Pokemon Go Has Downloaded onto Smartphones and Properties around the World

• Is Pokemon GO feminist? An actor-network theory analysis 

• Videogame-Related Illness and Injury: A Review of the Literature and Predictions for Pokemon GO!

• Correlates of excessive Pokemon Go playing among medical students

• What the Pokemon Go have study adolescents for? 

• Could Pokemon Go boost birding?

• Who is still playing pokemon Go? a Web-based survey

BONUS : Interview with the scientists who wrote the paper about Pokémon Improbable Research, 2016

Resarch research by Martin Gardiner

Pocket-Sized #1043: “Leaping Fish Injuries”

November 22nd, 2020

In Pocket-Sized episode #1043, Marc Abrahams shows an unfamiliar research study to Nicole Sharp. Dramatic readings and reactions ensue.

The research mentioned in this episode is featured in the special Human Heads & Garlic Juice issue (Vol. 22, #1) of the Annals of Improbable Research Magazine.  

Remember, our Patreon donors, on most levels, get access to each podcast episode before it is made public.

Nicole Sharp encounters:

Sturgeons Versus Surgeons: Leaping Fish Injuries at a Level 1 Trauma Center,” Jason P. Wilson, George Burgess, Robert D. Winfield, and Lawrence Lottenberg, The American Surgeon, vol. 75, no. 3, 2009, pp. 220-222. 

Seth Gliksman, Production Assistant

Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Google Podcasts, AntennaPod, BeyondPod and elsewhere!

A look back at more sex from A Slob

November 22nd, 2020

A Slob was appreciated twelve years ago, in the September, 2008 issue of mini-AIR. Let’s take a fond look back:

2008-09-08 More Sex From A. Slob

Investigator P.J. Finn complains that we have neglected the once-popular feature called “Sex From A. Slob.” Dr. Slob, investigator Finn reminds us, is based at Erasmus University, Rotterdam. To lessen investigator Finn’s unhappiness, the series resumes:


Sexual Arousability and the Menstrual Cycle,” A. Koos Slob, et al., Psychoneuroendocrinology. vol. 21, no. 6, August 1996, pp. 545-58.


Age, Libido, and Male Sexual Function,” A. Koos Slob, Prostate, vol. 10, 2000, pp. 9-13.

That same issue of min-AIR included a rare star turn from science limericist R. Burpee Bohaker.

There was, too, a preview of that year (2008)’s Ig Nobel Prize ceremony:

2008-09-06 More about the Ig

More of what’s on tap at the ceremony:

This year’s 24/7 Lecturers (each explaining a subject first in 24 seconds, then in seven words) and their topics:

Benoit Mandelbrot: Fractals
Anna Lysyanskaya: Cryptography
Steven Pinker: The Human Mind
Dany Adams: Biology
William Lipscomb: Redundancy

The ceremony will include the Win-a-Date-With-Benoit-Mandelbrot Contest, and the premiere, for the first time, of the mini-opera “Redundancy, Again.”

Also, several past winners are returning to take a bow.

Coffee as a medical treatment for Covid-19

November 21st, 2020

Is coffee an effective medicine to deal with Covid-19? A large team of researchers in France and the UK explore whether that question—the question, not the coffee—is a good way to get people thinking about:

  1. how difficult it can be to find an effective treatment for any problem, and
  2. how easy it can be to produce unreliable, shoddy answers, and
  3. how easy it can be to pay attention to unreliable, shoddy answers

The study is: “Why Methodology Is Important: Coffee as a Candidate Treatment for COVID-19,” Yaniss Belaroussi, Paul Roblot, Nathan Peiffer-Smadja, Thomas Delaye, Simone Mathoulin-Pelissier, Joffrey Lemeux, Gwenaël Le Moal, Eric Caumes, France Roblot, and Alexandre Bleibtreu, Journal of Clinical Medicine, vol. 9, no. 11, 2020, 36912020.

The abstract begins:

Background: During this pandemic situation, some studies have led to hasty conclusions about Corona Virus Disease-19 (COVID-19) treatment, due to a lack of methodology. This pedagogic study aimed to highlight potential biases in research on COVID-19 treatment.

Methods: We evaluate the effect of coffee’s active part, 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine (TMX) on patients with COVID-19. A cohort of 93 patients, with a diagnosis of COVID-19 is analyzed.

The authors proceed to do an intentionally sloppy, bad piece of not-even-research. Having lured the audience in with their implicit offer of coffee, they then serve up an unappetizing but valuable hot gulp:

Conclusions: Multiple biases prevents us from concluding to an effect of coffee on COVID-19. Despite an important social pressure during this crisis, methodology and conscientiousness are the best way to avoid hasty conclusions that can be deleterious for patients.

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