My top 10 favorite research papers
Here are some of the most amusing or intriguing studies, reports, and papers I've stumbled across:
- A 2010 study titled "Are cows more likely to lie down the longer they stand?" It found that the longer a cow has been lying down the more likely it is that cow will stand up soon, but that the probability of a standing cow lying down does not increase over time (Tolkamp et al., 2010).
- From the journal Animal Conservation, "A novel non-invasive tool for disease surveillance of free-ranging whales and its relevance to conservation programs" (Acevedo-Whitehouse, Rocha-Gosselin, & Gendron, 2010). In other words, collecting whale snot with a remote-controlled helicopter.
- A Government Accountability Office report titled "Actions Needed to Evaluate the Impact of Efforts to Estimate Costs of Reports and Studies"—a 32-page report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports (GAO, 2012).
- The groundbreaking and important study "No evidence of contagious yawning in the red-footed tortoise Geochelone carbonaria" (Huber et al., 2011). Where would we be without this cutting edge research?
- "An analysis of the forces required to drag sheep over various surfaces" (Harvey et al., 202). This one really speaks for itself.
- The medical research study "Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?" (Heathcote, 1995). Asking the real questions.
- A research study "On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit," a skill I wish I had (Cheyne et al., 2015)
- A real paper published in the Journal of Analytical Psychology titled "Farting as a defence against unspeakable dread" (Sidoli, 1996).
- The terrifying report from the Annals of Emergency Medicine, "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage" (Fesmire, 1988).
- A federally-funded project at Southern Illinois University spent $121,000 and two years studying the effect of marijuana on sexual arousal by "exposing groups of male pot-smokers to pornographic films" (Sadly I couldn't find the actual 1976 paper from this study, it may be lost to time. Here's a citation confirming its existence at least).