You probably have not read the manual for the device you are reading from.

key points

  • Ig Nobels celebrate science that makes you laugh and makes you think
  • Australian researchers surveyed 170 people using a variety of complicated devices.
  • They were the only Australian team to win one of 10 prizes at an awards ceremony today.

It's not that you're lazy – nobody likes manuals, according to an Australian study that won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature.

The annual mocking of the Nobel Prize recognizes science that makes you laugh and makes you think.

Thea Blackler of Queensland University of Technology said the study, published in 2014, was based on the study of the emotional and interactive experiences of people using portable devices.

Professor Blackler and her colleagues examined how 170 people used manuals for a range of complicated products, from dishwashers to universal remote controls.

They found that most people chose not to read the manuals and instead learn the product.

Their study showed that people chose to buy a complicated, feature-rich product, even if they did not need it all.

The results also showed that those with more education would read fewer manuals.

"They may be more likely to use their knowledge and strategies to select only the essential characteristics they need," said Professor Blackler.

While the team was looking for international attention, they had not thought that they could get an Ig Nobel for their work.

ABC channel Robyn Williams, who served as ambassador for the Ig Nobel organizers, was the one who passed the message on to the team.

"Three of the four authors on the paper, including me, are MINT women," said Professor Blackler.

"I am thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to be a lawyer for technology users, for good design and for women in MINT."

Hannibal was maybe on something …

James Cole from the University of Brighton was awarded the Food Prize. His research? Calculation that a human cannibalism diet had fewer calories than other meat diets.

Cole used previously published information about the chemical composition of the human body to accurately calculate the calories present in each component.

Do not bet that cannibalism is the next health fanatic – the results showed that we had no nutritional peculiarities compared to other animals of our size.

Should you give your boss a voodoo doll?

A team from Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada won the Business Award for their study on whether voodoo dolls could help people deal with abusive bosses.

In short, it can help.

Their research revealed that it was a good way to blackmail a voodoo doll that represented the abusive boss without doing anything that would have a detrimental impact on the real world.

The study involved 352 university students who named an online voodoo doll after a caregiver who had previously abused them – that is, they were verbally attacked or their work was not recognized. They then "attacked" this voodoo doll online for the next minute and asked a series of questions.

From this, the researchers were able to deduce an indication of whether the exercise has helped mitigate the feelings of retaliation by the students.

If you have recently had bad experiences with someone who holds a position of power, you can try out the simulation used in the study for yourself.

Monitoring of nocturnal penis swelling with stamps

That was the title of the work that a research team from Oregon, USA, won with Ig Nobel for reproductive medicine.

In simpler words, they developed an innovative method to determine if men were impotent.

The instructions to 22 powerful and 11 impotent men of different ages were simple:

1. Wear short shorts with a bow tie

2. Bring your penis through the fly

3. Wrap the stamps tightly around the shaft of the penis and wet the overlapping stamp to seal the punch ring

4. After the punch ring has dried, carefully replace your penis in the shorts and wear the shorts to bed

5. After waking up, check the punch ring to see if it breaks along the perforations

6. Repeat the process

By pooling the results of all these men and the fact that the stamps were broken, the researchers concluded that using this test for three nights could be a valid screening test for impotence.

Complete list of 2018 Ig Nobel Prize winners

  • Anthropology: Tomas Pesson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc and Elaine Madsen from the University of Lund
    "Spontaneous cross imitation in interaction between chimpanzees and zoo visitors"
  • Biology: Paul Becher, Sebastian Lebreton, Erika Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jörger and Peter Witzgall
    "The scent of the fly"
  • Chemistry: Paula Romão, Adília Alarcão and the late César Viana, Regional Government of the Azores
    "Human saliva as a cleaner for dirty surfaces"
  • Economy: Lindie Hanyu Liang, Douglas Brown, Huiwen Lian, Samuel Hanig, D. Lance Ferris and Lisa Keeping
    "Truly failing: retribution on a voodoo doll that symbolizes an abusive warden restores justice"
  • Literature: Thea Blackler, Rafael Gomez, Vesna Popovic and M. Helen Thompson, Queensland University of Technology
    "Life is too short for RTFM: how users react to documentation and redundant features in consumer products"
  • Medical education: Akira Horiuchi, General Showa Inan Hospital
    "Colonoscopy in the sitting position: lessons from self-colonoscopy"
  • Medicine: Marc Mitchell and David Wartinger, Michigan State University
    "Validation of a functional pyelocalyceal renal model to assess renal calculus passage while riding a roller coaster"
  • Nutrition: James Cole, University of Brighton
    "Assessment of the caloric significance of episodes of human cannibalism in the Paleolithic"
  • Peace: Francisco Alonso, Cristina Esteban, Andrea Serge, Maria-Luisa Ballestar, Jaime Sanmartin, Constanza Calatayud and Beatriz Alamar, University of Valencia
    "Screaming and cursing while driving: frequency, reasons, perceived risk and punishment"
  • Reproductive Medicine: John Barry, Bruce Blank and Michel Boileau
    "Monitoring of nocturnal penis tumescence with punches"

All prizes were awarded today by Nobel Laureates at an event at Harvard University.

Last year, among other things, the effects of keeping a crocodile on gambling and playing the didgeridoo to cure sleep apnea were investigated.

In 2002, Dr. med. Karl and ABC Science an Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine for the Great Bellybutton Lint Survey.

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