Ig Nobel Prize Gets Drunk

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It brings me joy to know that the Ig Nobel Prize awards exist.  They recently took place at Harvard and from top to bottom they are laugh out loud hilarious.  An obvious spoof of the very serious and admirable Nobel Prize itself, they are also not devoid of their own scientific merit due to the fact that it is actual science being done (just with a hilarious twist).  Winners are even put under pressure to be entertaining with their sixty second victory speech or face the proposition of getting heckled off the stage by an eight year old female youth.  Add on top, that this year an Ig Nobel Prize was awarded to an experiment that studied the “beer goggle” effect of getting drunk.

The main spokesman of the “beer goggle” experiment was Brad Bushman, a professor of psychology and communications at The Ohio State University , so as an Ohio State Alumni I am quite proud to be associated with such an experiment (if even indirectly).   The basic purpose of the experiment was to determine if consuming alcohol not only made the object of someone’s gaze more attractive, but also made the person think they themselves were indeed more attractive with increased consumption of alcohol.  They gathered numerous French males to test the hypothesis, fed them various alcoholic concoctions, and had them rate videotaped advertisements they made to promote themselves.

As the inebriated Frenchman evaluated their own personal video advertisements it became apparent that they had a more positive outlook on their own performances.  When independent observers were brought in as the control in the experiment they noticed no difference in performance, thus determining that it was the alcohol altering their own self-perception of the videos.  Not that this is exactly shocking news by any means, but it is indeed a valid study on the altered states of the human condition.  I also find it quite humorous that they chose French males as the subjects who are stereotypically narcissistic to begin with.

No surprise that this experiment struck a chord with the Ig Nobel Prize commission, because it would be quite a strain to find someone in adulthood who has not discussed the phenomena known as “beer goggles” before.  I think another worthwhile study could be determining on some sort of moral scale if it is a positive or negative occurrence in the first place.  Whether it be inflated flattery directed outwards, or massaging of the ego inwards it still seems to be a catalyst for successful nights especially in the common male brain.  How many times have you heard someone point out a past mate and stake their claim to a night filled debaucheries only to be met with disbelief from friends and colleagues?  From the male point of view if they are referring to a beautiful female, he can claim they were both very intoxicated, making it seem plausible to his friends even if in actuality it is a lie.  Alcohol fuels so many of the games humans’ play and the stories they tell, which is precisely why it remains legal despite the danger.  People will take fun and confidence over risk any day of the week.

Written by Michael Blain

Twitter: @michaelblain

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