Italians get faux-Nobels for economics and art

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Italy was given a faux-Nobel prize for including revenues from illegal drug sales in its GDP. Photo: Drug smuggling photo: Shutterstock
16:43 CEST+02:00
Finally, some good news for Italy. The country has won two Ig Nobel prizes, a spoof of the prestigious Nobel, including one for coming up with the savvy idea of boosting its economy through revenues from illicit activity.

Just when we thought things couldn't get worse for Italy, the country now has something to feel proud about.

In May, the national statistics agency (Istat) raised a few eyebrows when it said earnings from activities such as prostitution and drugs would be included in GDP.

But the move earned Italy this year's coveted lg Nobel award for economics for "proudly taking the lead in fulfilling the European mandate for each country to increase the official size of its national economy by including revenues from prostitution, illegal drug sales, smuggling, and all other unlawful financial transactions between willing participants."

Not to be mistaken for the esteemed prizes to be handed out in Stockholm in October, the lg Nobels are awarded "for research that makes people laugh and think" by the science humour magazine, Annals of Improbable research.

Researchers at the University of Bari also scooped the prize for art for their work on how paintings affect pain thresholds.

They were commended by the magazine for "measuring the relative pain people suffer while looking at an ugly painting, rather than a pretty painting, while being shot [in the hand] by a powerful laser beam."

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One of the researchers, Marina de Tommaso, attended the awards ceremony at Harvard University on Thursday night.

Meanwhile, researchers from Canada and China won the neuroscience prize "for trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast" while those in the Czech Republic, Japan the USA and India were commended "for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat."

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