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Larry Sherman an Ig Nobel Laureate

10/05/2001

Larry Sherman, professor of educational psychology at Miami University, is one of 10 winners of the 2001 Ig Nobel Prize, presented Oct. 4 at Harvard University.

This is the 11th year of the awards, a spoof on the Nobel Prize. Its creators say the prizes are awarded for "achievements that cannot or should not be reproduced."

Furthermore, "of the 10 Ig Nobel Prizes awarded annually, about half are awarded for things that most people would say are commendable - if perhaps goofy. The other half go for things that are, in some people's eyes, less commendable. All such judgments are entirely up to each observer," say Marc Abrahams, chairman of the Ig Nobel board of governors.

Real Nobel Prize winners presented the awards.

The theme for this year’s competition was complexity.

Sherman was recognized for his work on contagious behaviors associated with "group glee" that appeared in a 1975 publication, "An Ecological Study of Glee in Small Groups of Preschool Children."

This summer, a husband and wife team from Norway presented research on contagious glee that confirmed his hypotheses regarding the socially facilitating effects of humor and laughter.

Among previous winners: Don Featherstone (1996), the creator of the plastic pink flamingo, and Robert Matthews (1996), who researched why buttered toast always falls on the buttered side.

The Igs are sponsored by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) and co-sponsored by the Harvard Computer Society, the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association and the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students.

Sherman, who is first vice president of the Ohio Gourd Society, returns to Ohio Friday, Oct. 5, to officiate at the Ohio Gourd Fair in Mt. Gilead. In addition to belonging to many educational associations, Sherman is past president of the International Society for Humor Studies and a member of the American Gourd Society.

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