The Scicurious Brain

The Scicurious Brain

The Good, Bad, and Weird in Physiology and Neuroscience

The IgNobel Prizes, 2013! What is the sound of one hand clapping?


...I don't know, but whoever did it is under arrest.

Presenting this year's IgNobel Peace Prize! To the president of Belarus, Alexandar Lukashenko, for making it illegal to applaud in public. The Belarus State Police apparently then arrested a one-arms man for applauding.

(The president of Belarus. Source)

This is one of those prizes that actually has a lot more serious depth than just some weird guy preventing people from clapping. Banning clapping had a purpose.

Here's the deal. In 2011, young people in Belarus were not pleased with the President. There were laws against public gatherings and demonstrations, people are fed up with inflation, and other problems. To protest this, groups of young people started holding flash mobs, appear on streetcorners, and clapping. They clapping was aimed AT the President as a manner of protest.

So the President banned clapping and the people who do it have faced arrest. The political furor over it appears to have died out for now, but in the meantime, applauding is illegal in Belarus. It's actually a pretty sad reason for an IgNobel. I do wonder what form of protest they will take up next. Hissing? Booing? Jazz hands?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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