IgNobel Counterprogramming For The Golden Goose?

The 2014 Golden Goose Award ceremony was on September 18th in Washington.  It was the third ceremony for the awards, recognizing federally supported research that has applications in a totally unanticipated area.  Up the coast in Cambridge, the IgNobel Awards were holding their first award ceremony for the 24th time.  If you have to attend a scientific awards ceremony, I’d encourage you to check out the IgNobels.  It’s the rare event that prides itself on not taking itself, or at least its award winners, at all seriously.  Watch either video feed of this year’s ceremony to get a better idea.

There are 10 IgNobel Laureates announced each year.  You might recognize some of this year’s winners from the press-release/late night joke friendly quality of some of the projects.  For example, the Public Health Prize recognized a study about the health consequences of owning a cat.

Only one group failed to send a representative or otherwise acknowledge its award at the ceremony.  It was the Economics Prize recipients, recognized for their efforts to expand the Italian economy by including all of the illegal economic activity between willing participants (sorry, thieves.)

It strikes me as an interesting coincidence (though I could be wrong) that an award ceremony that seems rife for soundbite style criticism of research funding is happening at the same time as another award ceremony works to turn that tactic on its head.