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May 27, 1998

HumorThe Best of Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

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Copyright 1998 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1998American Medical Association

JAMA. 1998;279(20):1663. doi:10.1001/jama.279.20.1663

This book contains in 200 pages the best studies selected from a larger collection of previously published irreproducible or improbable research articles. Those studies, though of great potential impact, are in the best tradition of the Grand Academy of Lagado, where Mr L Gulliver observed scientists attempting to turn ice into gunpowder and extract sun-beans from cucumbers.

In language more ponderous and thus more amenable to decision analysis than Mr Swift's, one reads that there is no correlation between frequency of use of the word "paradigm" and global warming; that some people are so allergic to printed material that they have to bake their books before reading them; and that one can now map human brain activity during urination. A pop-up medical thermometer, adapted from the poultry industry, tells when a patient is ready to be discharged and should be useful for utilization review. A nontoxic house marketed by the Nutripaint Corporation will allow children to eat paint chips safely ("let them eat paint"). Aerodynamic studies show that it is indeed possible to throw potato chips, but not very far, and that the distance traveled is independent of weight, shape, or freshness.

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