Boss Revenge, Cannibal Calories Win Ig Nobels

'We wanted to understand why subordinates retaliate when it's bad for them'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 14, 2018 7:17 AM CDT
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James Cole speaks after receiving the Ig Nobel award in nutrition at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Cole won for for calculating that the caloric intake from a human-cannibalism diet is significantly lower than the caloric intake from most other meats.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
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(Newser) – Anyone who's ever been so furious with their boss that they feel like exacting revenge really needs to listen to Lindie Liang. The Wilfrid Laurier University professor of business and her colleagues found that abusing a virtual voodoo doll instead of your boss will make you feel better without getting you fired or thrown in jail, a study that earned them a 2018 Ig Nobel, the annual prize sponsored by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for comical but practical scientific discovery. "We wanted to understand why subordinates retaliate when it's bad for them," Liang says. "We all know yelling at our boss is bad for your career. So what's the function of retaliation? Why do people keep doing it?"

Obviously, Liang couldn't ask people to beat their bosses. Instead, they were shown an online voodoo doll with their supervisor's initials. They then had the option to use pins, pliers, or fire on the virtual doll. The bottom line: People felt better after abusing the doll, or as Liang put it, "their injustice perceptions are deactivated." But Liang, who specializes in workplace aggression, suggests that instead of littering workplaces around the world with voodoo dolls, we should just have more civil workplaces to start with. Other winners:

  • Cannibalism calories. James Cole, a lecturer in archaeology at Britain's University of Brighton, earned his Ig Nobel for a study on cannibalism that found that if you want a high-calorie meal, human flesh probably isn't the way to go. "We're not super nutritious" compared to other animals, says Cole, who used a formula to determine body part calorie counts based on weight and chemical composition.
  • Kidney stone rollercoaster. After one of Dr. David Wartinger's patients at the Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine returned from a trip to Walt Disney World minus some of his kidney stones, Wartinger discovered that the Big Thunder Mountain ride, unlike Space Mountain and others, was an effective way of removing some kidney stones because of the way it rattles the rider, the BBC reports.
  • Self-colonoscopy. Dr. Akira Horiuchi, a pediatrician at Showa Inan General Hospital in Komagane, Japan, won for his self-colonoscopy study in which he used a colonoscope designed for children and sat upright rather than lying in the traditional supine position. Horiuchi isn't recommending that you give yourself a colonoscopy in the comfort of your home. He said via email that many people are afraid of getting a colonoscopy, and he just wanted to show how easy it can be.

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