QUEENSLAND PAIR WINS IGNOBLE AWARD FOR GAMBLING STUDY
BOSTON: A study on didgeridoo healing for chronic snorers and an Aussie study that looked at how cuddling a croc can influence gambling have won international prizes for improbable research.
And while they sound silly, the researchers behind the studies say they’ve made legitimate strides in the name of science.
The annual Ig Nobel Prizes honour research achievements that first make people laugh, but then think.
Professor Matthew Rockloff and Nancy Greer from Central Queensland University ticked all the boxes with their 2010 study, which looked at how people’s gambling habits can be inf luenced by a cuddle with a crocodile.
The pair won the Economics Prize after studying how 103 problem and nonproblem gamblers behaved after handling a one-metre croc and then jumping on a simulated pokies machine.
They found problem gamblers were likely to place higher bets after handling the reptile because their brains misinterpreted the excitement of holding a dangerous animal as a sign they were on a ‘lucky’ streak.
The study established, for the first time, that there was a link between someone’s emotional state and how they gambled.
‘‘The crocodile study was really about trying to get a sneaky way of arousing people before they gambled so they wouldn’t recognise their own emotional state, that they’re physiologically aroused,’’ Prof Rockloff told ABC radio.
Another study, involving six researchers from around the world, won the Peace Prize after looking at whether playing the didgeridoo could be a viable alternative treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome.
People with this condition breath shallowly — and can stop breathing altogether for short periods — when they are asleep, and chronic snoring is one symptom.
The study concluded the didgeridoo might be of some benefit to sufferers — but not because of its droning tone.
Rather researchers concluded that daily practise — which involves a lot of blowing — could strengthen the upper respiratory tract, making breathing easier.
The awards, now in their 27th year, are handed out by actual Nobel Prize winners at Harvard University. They are the brainchild of Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals of Improbable Research.
Who knew: Researchers Alex Suarez, Christian Lo Cascio, Markus Heitz and Milo Puhan receive their Ig Nobel Peace Prize from Nobel laureate Oliver Hart at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States. The team won for demonstrating that playing the didgeridoo is an effective treatment for snoring.