The Nobel Prizes are announced in October each year. The scientific awards, starting with Medicine, begin tomorrow. Economics will be awarded a week from Monday, and the Peace prize on lucky Friday, October 13. None of the Chicago Boyz contributors have been nominated this year, so I feel free to make some predictions. France will probably not win its second Economics prize, since that discipline is so lightly regarded and little practiced there. Many of the prizes for actually discovering something will go to Americans, and the prizes for doing things that make Europeans feel good will go to anti-Americans (Rigoberta Menchu, Peace, 1992; Yasser Arafat, Peace, 1994; Harold Pinter, Literature, 2005). In his Nobel lecture, Pinter had the following helpful remarks to make, among others: “The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.” Perhaps his prize should have been in Medicine, for having discovered such widespread but unsuspected mental illness; perhaps he will spend some of his prize money on a subscription to the Guardian. That way he can check from time to time to see whether anyone has yet noticed that large, Engish-speaking evil empire.
But on to the good stuff. The real action will be in Cambridge MA, where the Improbable Research institute will begin awarding the Ig Nobel Prizes next week. Good seats are still available. In the interest of Bad Science, here are some random links to show that the mission of Improbable Research has not been accomplished. Long may they mock!
- The persistent belief that the Apollo moon landings were faked is proof that skepticism can be as foolish as credulity.
- The Flat Earth Society may have fallen on hard times, but the remaining few struggle nobly against the moon hoax and the pernicious Copernican doctrine.
- Others believe that the moon landings were real, but have a different explanation for how they were accomplished. The adjustment is necessary to account for the belief that there is no gravity in space. (See the other scientific myths at the site and vote for your favorite. Some of them turn out to be true.)
- UFOs, alas, are not related to anything outside our planet, according to recently-released archives of the British Ministry of Defence. This will no doubt convince no one.
- Try not to miss this site devoted to Bad Science. The guilty parties handing out erroneous information often turn out not to be hairy patchouli-intoxicated crystalmongers, but science teachers and textbook writers.
- The James Randi Educational Foundation goes after frauds of the occult with a glee that is almost painful to see. He is following in a distinguished tradition.