Robert A.J. Matthews published this seminal bit of applied physics in 1995. The journal reference is European Journal of Physics 16(4): 172-6, and you can access the full paper at ResearchGate, here. For his efforts, he was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in 1996.
Matthews was the first (but by no means the last) to use mathematical physics to explore the popular claim that “dropped toast always lands butter-side down”. The usual “explanation” invoked for this perceived rule is Murphy’s Law—“If anything can go wrong, it will”—but Matthews sought to show that there were sound physical principles underlying the phenomenon.
I’d originally considered entitling this post simply “More Bullshit”, but that of course would be misleading—The Oikofuge attempts to be a bullshit-free zone. I’ve posted on the topic of bullshit before, when I wrote about Pennycook et al.‘s classic paper “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit“. Now I’d like to share with you … Continue reading More About Bullshit
An article by Tom Whipple in The Times today (May 12, 2016) reports on a set of powered trousers designed by Panizollo et al. and described in an article published today by the Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation: “A biologically-inspired multi-joint soft exosuit that can reduce the energy cost of loaded walking“. The authors conclude: … Continue reading Life Imitates Art
Not to be confused with fairy rings, which are circles of mushrooms and other fungi. These fairy circles were photographed in Namibia, and they’re a feature of the semi-arid margin of the Namib Desert. They form on sandy soil in regions where the annual rainfall is between 50 and 150 mm. They have a bare … Continue reading Fairy Circles
Well, that’s the news from Lake Wobegon—where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average. Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon monologues, passim My paper this time comes from the June 1999 edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Here is a link to the original … Continue reading Kruger & Dunning: Unskilled and Unaware of It – How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments
This from the November 2015 issue of Judgment And Decision Making. Here are links to the original paper (pdf) and its supplementary tables (pdf). The authors seek to find a preliminary answer to the questions, “Are people able to detect blatant bullshit? Who is most likely to fall prey to bullshit and why?” Their study … Continue reading Pennycook et al.: On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit