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Chew on this: Ig Nobel Prize awarded for research into severe noise irritation

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n’t stand hearing other people chew food? Maybe you’ve got misophonia. For their research into this condition, a team of Dutch and Flemish researchers were awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine yesterday.

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In the run-up to the ‘real’ Nobel Prizes, a merry band of scientists traditionally parody the prestigious award ceremony by awarding the Ig Nobel Prizes, for research that makes you laugh first, and then makes you think.

The misophonia researchers are Amsterdam UMC’s Nienke Vulink, Damiaan Denys and Arnoud van Loon. One of the laureates could not resist the temptation to loudly munch on an apple during the award ceremony, giving the audience a small glimpse of what life must be like for those afflicted with misophonia.

The researchers also offered a tip on how to cure yourself of the condition: if you can imagine that swallowing noises are actually the sound of footsteps in mud, you might not get so angry. Useful advice, because misophonia is a serious condition that can drive patients towards social isolation.

Alligator
Another team of scientists joined the ranks of Ig laureates for making an alligator inhale helium to investigate the acoustics of its roar. Prizes were also awarded for research into narcissist’s eyebrows, the shape of earthworms when exposed to heavy vibrations and the relationship between economic prosperity and how often people kiss each other on the mouth.

It also turns out that a fear of spiders is common among scientists who study insects. Spiders, of course, are not insects, so it appears that two legs can make a world of difference.

General sense of silliness
Adding to the ceremony’s general sense of silliness, each year a number of non-sensical prizes are awarded which have very little to do with science. This time around, India and Pakistan were awarded the Ig Nobel Peace Prize for pranking each other’s diplomats with an international game of knock and run.

The Ig Nobel Prize for Medical Education went to a group of world leaders that includes Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Vladimir Putin, for using the Covid-19 pandemic to demonstrate that politicians can have a greater effect on life and death than doctors and scientists.

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