Ig Nobel — a dream come true

October 9, 2008 BY danariely

Last Friday I was honored with the Ig Nobel award in Medicine for a paper that Rebecca Waber, Ziv Carmon, Baba Shiv and I wrote on the effects of discounts on the efficacy of placebo pain medications. We basically showed that when drugs are discounted they just don’t work as well. We also tried to make the point that this basic effect of expectations might also be the reason that people just don’t experience generic drugs to be as effective as brand name medications.

The ceremony, and the whole Ig Nobel experience itself, was great. I first attended this event 12 years ago during my last year as a PhD student and I loved it. That year Robert Matthews won the award in physics for showing why bread always falls with the butter side down. It was a very sophisticated paper on the way objects with uneven weight distribution fall, but the fact that he phrased it in this odd and familiar way was inspiring to me. After seeing this paper, I hoped that one day I would be able to do research that was worthy of this award, and finally after many years of trying I made it!

The funny guy who handed me the award was Francis Fesmire who won the Ig Nobel award in Medicine a few years ago. I am posting an interview with him but be warned—it is almost Rated R.