Ig Nobel Limericks: Insect Sting Pain, CEO Disaster Confidence

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Ig Nobel achievements distilled into limerick form
by Martin Eiger, Improbable Research Limerick Laureate

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people LAUGH, then make them THINK. For details of all the Ig Nobel Prize-winning achievements, see each year’s special Ig Nobel issue of the magazine, and also see the winner's page.

2015 Ig Nobel Physiology and Entomology Prize
Awarded jointly to two individuals: Justin Schmidt, for painstakingly creating the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, which rates the relative pain people feel when stung by various insects; and to Michael L. Smith, for carefully arranging for honey bees to sting him repeatedly on 25 different locations on his body, to learn which locations are the least painful (the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm) and which are the most painful (the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft). [Schmidt’s research is documented in the study “Hemolytic Activities of Stinging Insect Venoms,” Justin O. Schmidt, Murray S. Blum, and William L. Overal, Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology, vol. 1, no. 2, 1983, pp. 155-160. Smith’s research is documented in the study “Honey Bee Sting Pain Index by Body Location,” Michael L. Smith, PeerJ, 2014, 2:e338.]

When a bee stings your skull, arm, or toe,
It causes you minimal woe.
But your nostrils, as well
As your lips, hurt like hell.
And your penis does too. Good to know.

Detail from the study “Honey Bee Sting Pain Index by Body Location.”

2015 Ig Nobel Management Prize
Gennaro Bernile, Vineet Bhagwat, and P. Raghavendra Rau, for discovering that many business leaders developed in childhood a fondness for risk-taking, when they experienced natural disasters (such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and wildfires) that — for them — had no dire personal consequences. [That research is documented in the study “What Doesn’t Kill You Will Only Make You More Risk- Loving: Early-Life Disasters and CEO Behavior,” Gennaro Bernile, Vineet Bhagwat, and P. Raghavendra Rau, accepted for publication in the Journal of Finance, 2015.]

As nurturing parents, we strive
To raise children who, some day, will thrive.
The right thing to do
Is subject the kids to
Disasters, and hope they survive.


This article is republished with permission from the September-October 2016 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift! Visit their website for more research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.

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