October 3, 2008

Winner of the Ig® Nobel Prize for Literature!

The 2008 Ig Nobel Prize for Literature goes to... David Sims for his study titled "You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations." (Published in Organization Studies.) I've posted an abstract of the article below; sorry, no full text available.

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that are amusing and thought-provoking. The idea is to celebrate "the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology." Other selected winners include:

NUTRITION: Two scientists who electronically modified the sound of a potato chip to make the person chewing the chip believe it to be crisper and fresher than it really was. Published as "The Role of Auditory Cues in Modulating the Perceived Crispness and Staleness of Potato Chips."

PEACE: The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity. Published as "The Dignity of Living Beings With Regard to Plants. Moral Consideration of Plants for Their Own Sake."

ARCHAEOLOGY: Two scientists for measuring how the course of history can be scrambled by the actions of a armadillo. Published as "The Role of Armadillos in the Movement of Archaeological Materials: An Experimental Approach."

COGNITIVE SCIENCE: Assorted folks for discovering that slime molds can solve puzzles. Published as "Intelligence: Maze-Solving by an Amoeboid Organism," Nature."

PHYSICS: Two scientists for proving that heaps of string or hair will inevitably tangle themselves up in knots. Published as "Spontaneous Knotting of an Agitated String."

Full Ig Nobel results here. Abstract of David Sims article follows: Our patience with forming interpretations and reinterpretations of others' behaviour is not unlimited. The time comes when we lose interest in trying to understand, and conclude that another person is behaving in a way that is simply unacceptable. This paper explores the narratives that go with immoderate indignation, even for those best versed in the idea that they should attempt to understand the perspective of the other. The paper offers a reflexive comment on the difficulty of analysing such a topic, on the grounds that the phenomenon under discussion can debilitate analytic writing. Three narratives are discussed in which one person was seen as behaving in a despicable way by others. The description and analysis of the narratives are used to offer a narrative understanding of the process by which some people become indignant with others. It suggests a narrative construction of how sense is made of indignation, particularly in cases where two narratives come up against each other. It concludes by considering how the process of being indignant can produce conflicting emotions of joy and guilt for those involved.

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