The Man Who—With a Blinding, Flapping Visor—Drove on a Highway

November 13th, 2018

John’s Story – The Science of Error” is a new documentary film about John Senders, the Ig Nobel Prize winning, pioneering student of human attention and distraction. Back Lane Studios produced the film:

The 2011 Ig Nobel Prize for Public Safety was awarded to John Senders of the University of Toronto, CANADA, for conducting a series of safety experiments in which a person drives an automobile on a major highway while a visor repeatedly flaps down over his face, blinding him.

He wrote about that research: “The Attentional Demand of Automobile Driving,” John W. Senders, et al., Highway Research Record, vol. 195, 1967, pp. 15-33.

This video [which is excerpted in the new documentary] shows Senders pioneering his work:

‘Occupational marks’

November 12th, 2018

Occupational marks represent the effects of a repeated particular activity on a worker’s, musician’s or sportsperson’s skin. They are many and varied. They include (but are by no means limited to) :

• Surfer’s Nodules (Surfers)
• Cauliflower Ear (Boxers)
• Jazz Ballet Bottom (Dancers)
• Lichenification of the Elbows (Bank workers)
• Alopecia from Repeated Spinning on the Head (Breakdancers)
• Perioral lip dermatitis (Recorder players)

All these examples, and many more, are listed in the chapter on ‘Occupational Marks’ (pp. 137-140) in the Handbook of Occupational Dermatology. A partial preview of which is available here.

BONUS Activity : Do you have an occupational mark (not listed above)? Let us know.

Photo shows Synchronised Surfing, Manly beach, New South Wales,1938-46. Surfer’s Nodules status unknown.

Research research by Martin Gardiner

Evaluating Students’ Evaluations of Medical Professors: Are There Cookies?

November 9th, 2018

Prof. Dr. med. Manuel Wenk, co-author of the cookies study. The cookies were chocolate.

Some medical schools may be selecting or rejecting faculty members because those individuals do or do not offer cookies to their students. That is a possible conclusion one might draw, after reading this new study done by faculty members:

Availability of cookies during an academic course session affects evaluation of teaching,” Michael Hessler, Daniel M Pöpping, Hanna Hollstein, Hendrik Ohlenburg, Philip H Arnemann, Christina Massoth [pictured below], Laura M Seidel, Alexander Zarbock, and Manuel Wenk [pictured above], Medical Education, vol. 52, no. 10, October 2018, no. 1064-1072. The authors, at the University Hospital of Munster, Germany, report:

“Results from end-of-course student evaluations of teaching (SETs) are taken seriously by faculties and form part of a decision base for the recruitment of academic staff, the distribution of funds and changes to curricula. However, there is some doubt as to whether these evaluation instruments accurately measure the quality of course content, teaching and knowledge transfer.”

Dr. med. Christina Marie Massoth. co-author of the study.

Documenting Meiji Gummy Candy Flavour-Recognition Times (new study)

November 8th, 2018

If you have ever eaten a ‘Gummy Candy’ from Meiji Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, in apple, grape, orange, [European] pear, pineapple, or strawberry flavours, it may have taken you a few seconds to recognise which one you were eating. If so, you are not alone. A 2018 study published in the journal Perception sought to measure ‘Distribution of Recognition Times to Fruity Flavor of Gummy Candies in Healthy Adults’. The research team found, by experiment, that on average, healthy adults took around 7.5 seconds to be able to tell which flavour they were eating.


● The Ethics Committee of The University of Niigata Rehabilitation Graduate School approved the experiments

● The illustration shows the Meiji Gummy Sushi Candy, which did not feature in the study

● 22.7% of the participants got the flavour wrong

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]

Psychologists Under the Bed [research study]

November 7th, 2018

’Egocentricity’ in Adult Conversation,” is one of several studies featured in the article “Soft Is Hard: Psychologists Under the Bedfurther evidence why the ‘soft’ sciences are the hardest to do well,” which is one of the articles in the special Numbers issue of the Annals of Improbable Research, which is one of the 142 issues published so far!

The psychologists-under-the-bed-eavesdropping study is by Mary Henle and Marian B. Hubbell, published in the Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 9, no. 2, 1938, pp. 227-234.

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