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Joseph Petitti —

My top 10 favorite research papers

Here are some of the most amusing or intriguing studies, reports, and papers I've stumbled across:

  1. 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).

  2. 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.

  3. 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).

  4. 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?

  5. "An analysis of the forces required to drag sheep over various surfaces" (Harvey et al., 202). This one really speaks for itself.
  6. a man dragging a sheep over a 5.6 degree slope
    How far we'll go in the pursuit of science

  7. The medical research study "Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?" (Heathcote, 1995). Asking the real questions.

  8. A research study "On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit," a skill I wish I had (Cheyne et al., 2015)

  9. A real paper published in the Journal of Analytical Psychology titled "Farting as a defence against unspeakable dread" (Sidoli, 1996).

  10. The terrifying report from the Annals of Emergency Medicine, "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage" (Fesmire, 1988).

  11. 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).