Ig Nobels honor weird science.
"I've won quite a lot of academic awards; I can't think of one that makes me happier than this one," said Dan Ariely , a Duke University economist and author of the book "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions," who said his deserving work has been passed over year after year and is elated to finally get an Ig Nobel.
Ariely's Ig Nobel-winning work demonstrates the secret behind many of the Ig Nobel-winning scientists: that hidden in the humorous work is a legitimate scientific point.
Using Craigslist, Ariely recruited volunteers for a study, and printed fake brochures describing an invented pain-killer that was actually just a placebo pill. Some were told the drug was expensive; others were told it was cheap. The subjects were given electric shocks before and after they took the pill. Those who got the pricey fake medicine reported a bigger reduction in pain than those with the cheaper fake.
The experiment, published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, suggested that marketing and packaging of a drug may play a role in its effects.
To the Editor: It is possible that the therapeutic efficacy of medications is affected by commercial features such as lower prices. Because such features influence patients' expectations, they may play an unrecognized therapeutic role by influencing the efficacy of medical therapies, especially in conditions associated with strong placebo responses. To investigate this possibility, we studied the effect of price on analgesic response to placebo pills.