Photographers walking backwards – and falling over (study)

March 21st, 2019

It’s a staple gag for any slapstick movie. Trying for a wider shot, a photographer walks backwards (without looking) and trips over something. Amusing perhaps, but on occasions dangerous too. Odd then, that in the academic literature on safety and ergonomics, there a very few scholarly studies of this ubiquitous syndrome. In fact, there may only be one – in which certified professional ergonomist Dr. Kenneth Nemire, of California, set up a practical experiment to investigate.

Two researchers asked passers-by to photograph them, but then added a request that the building behind them was to be kept in-shot. A third (unseen) researcher was recording the events on video. Later, the videos were analysed to see how many steps the photographers took backwards, and whether they looked behind them*.

The research project revealed that although the majority of the 39 participants did glance behind them before walking backwards, a significant proportion (13%) of them didn’t. Not a high percentage perhaps, but bearing in mind the number of people across the globe taking snaps on any given day, that’s still a high number of potentially amusing (or maybe not so amusing) mishaps.

As Dr Nemire points out ; “Stepping backward without looking is as dangerous as walking forward while wearing a blindfold.”

Reference: Walking Backwards Without Looking: An Observational Study in Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, Volume: 56 issue: 1, page(s): 685-689, December 2016.

*No photographers were harmed during this study.

Inspired, he did do-it-yourself-endoscopy [video]

March 19th, 2019

The gentleman in this video writes: “September 2018 Japanese doctor wins Ig Nobel prize for do-it-yourself colonoscopy. I tried another examination, Trans nasal Endoscopy (do-it-myself)”

Four people doing what with beer bottles?

March 18th, 2019

What are these people doing with these beer bottles? Come to the Ig Nobel show at the University of Graz, on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, at 6:00 pm, and the answer might become clear.



Predicting the stock market from photographs in the financial-press (new study)

March 18th, 2019

If you’re inclined to make bets on the stock market, you’ll be at a considerable disadvantage if you don’t have a tight grip on so called ‘investor sentiment’ – in other words a reliable way of being able to judge the current ‘mood’ of the market. But, in practice, it’s notoriously difficult to gauge accurately. A team from Missouri State University, US, have come up with a novel method. Why not just analyse photos in the financial press to see if people look happy (or not) ? They’re calling it ‘Photo Sentiment’.

The researchers say that their machine-learning algorithms, which analysed photos in The Economist (that had been published over a period of 10 years) out-performed other more traditional methods by 2.6%.

Photo Sentiment is found to predict short-term return reversal, trading volume and market volatility, and explain flows between equity and money market funds. A trading strategy based on Photo Sentiment outperforms the market index by 2.6% on an annual basis while assuming less risk.”

See: Obaid, Khaled and Pukthuanthong, Kuntara, A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: Market Sentiment From Photos (December, 2018). Available at SSRN

The Economist cover above is from July 1998

Tuesday: Ig Nobel in Graz!

March 18th, 2019

Tuesday evening, the Ig Nobel EuroTour arrives at Karl Franzens University, in Graz—featuring psychos, beer, and peeing dogs:

March 19, Tuesday, 6:00 pm—University of Graz, Austria, at Aula of Karl Franzens University Universitätsplatz 3TICKETS TICKETS TICKETS—The show will be conducted (almost) entirely in the English language—Marc Abrahams and

  • Ig Nobel Prize winner Minna Lyons (Comparison of psychopathic traits in night owls versus early risers)
  • Ig Nobel Prize winner Hynek Burda (Free-roaming dogs, when urinating, align themselves with earth’s magnetic lines)
  • Ig Nobel Prize winner Stephan Bolliger (Is it better to be hit on the head with a full bottle of beer, or a with an empty bottle of beer?)

Tour Subsequent Events

After that, the Ig Nobel EuroTour will move on to The Czech Republic, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Poland, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Germany, and Italy (again).

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!