Arts & Culture

Went There: BAHFest MIT

Bad Science For All is Hilarious


BAHFest MIT was held on April 23rd at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. In its fourth year at MIT, BAHFest is a festival in where people present terrible arguments for hilarious conclusions. It’s the kind of event that only nerds can enjoy, but it turns out there’s a lot of them.

An audience of scientists and nerds of all kinds fill Kresge Auditorium to watch the BAHFest MIT presentations. BAH stands for ‘Bad Ad Hoc Hypothesis,’ and some examples presented at BAHFest MIT this year were that,

  • Babies should be used for cryptography, because they are so good at acquiring language, and
  • Weasels can sense the Higgs boson, because weasels have died near the Large Hadron Collider during boson events.


Zach Weinersmith, the auteur behind Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Comics, dreamt up the event and still hosts it. This year he explained that there would be a new trophy since they were expanding the event from just evolutionary theories to any scientific theory or technology proposal.


Hennig Brand, 17th century alchemist, boiling his own urine.

The old trophy was of Charles Darwin shrugging his shoulders saying, “I guess so.” The new trophy is of the 17th century alchemist Hennig Brand boiling his own urine in hopes of producing gold. (His efforts led to his accidental discovery of phosphorus, instead.)

Mark Grahams, founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, warmed up the audience with a presentation of three psychological theories that, when first published, were considered silly and trite, but turned out to be insightful and true.



After this, six people presented their hypotheses or proposals to a panel of four judges. The presenters were professors, students, writers, and lawyers, but all of the presentations themselves were scientific. The presentations were short, only five or ten minutes each, but they felt much longer in the moment, a walk down a zig-zagged footpath to an expected end. I thought the show was hilarious and ridiculous — or, perhaps this just means I am scientist.

“The Stinker,” the official mascot of the Ig Nobel Prizes.




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