Saturday, 24 September 2016

Ig Nobels 2016: Rock Personalities and Human Animals

Might these rocks have personality?

Joel Kontinen

Each year, Harvard University awards research that differs quite a bit from the run-of-the-mill papers flooding science journals. While the Ig Nobels are meant to be funny, they are based on real research.

Often, the research has a Darwinian connection. Or what would we say about this year’s economics prize, awarded to Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective?

According to the evolutionary worldview, rocks are our distance ancestors. Life and consciousness are afterthoughts. ‘Personality’ should actually be a big dilemma for Darwinists.

This year’s biology prize is no less Darwinian. It was awarded jointly to “Charles Foster, for living in the wild as, at different times, a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, and a bird; and to Thomas Thwaites, for creating prosthetic extensions of his limbs that allowed him to move in the manner of, and spend time roaming hills in the company of, goats.”

In attempting to be as authentic as possible, Mr. Foster ate worms, while Mr. Thwaites munched grass like his hirsute mates.

In a Darwinian world, man is just another animal, related to things like mushrooms. So why not eat grass and worms and live like our four-footed cousins?

Each winner also received a $10 trillion monetary compensation for their ordeal. Robert Mugabe might not like this, but it is a Zimbabwean banknote, hardly worth the paper it is printed on.


Bohannon, John. 2016. Sex life of rats, personalities of rocks awarded Ig Nobel Prizes. Science (22 September).