Researchers who found a link between country music and suicide, and a man who patented his combover hairstyle won IgNobel Awards for true but funny experiments on Thursday.
Other prizes went to a soft drink maker that bottled Thames River water in London and sold it as a designer drink, and to a woman who investigated the “5-second rule,” according to which if food falls to the floor for fewer than 5 seconds, it is safe to eat.
The annual awards, presented at Harvard University in Massachusetts by the publishers of the Annals of Improbable Research, are a spoof of the Nobel prizes and represent years of scouring scholarly journals and newspapers for scientific efforts worth poking fun at.
Jim Gundlach of the University of Alabama said he got hate mail when he first published his study showing that people who listen to country music have higher rates of suicide.
He said it does not hold true any more.
“The country music that we have today is not the same kind of country music that was related to suicide back when we did this,” he said in a telephone interview.
“When we did that, there were songs like D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” he added. “It was predominantly tears in the beer types of music.”
Country music today is peppier, Gundlach said.
He said the findings, published in 1992, surprised him too.