What is BAHFest?
Until a few days ago, I would have believed almost any explanation that had to do with a sheep and wool festival. But when my boyfriend explained that BAH in fact stood for Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses, I immediately agreed to go with him to MIT and see what it was all about.
Who would turn down the chance to witness intelligent, articulate people discuss unique and bizarre and, most importantly, utterly wrong scientific theories?
Wait, Wrong Theories?
Not only wrong, but spectacularly so. The brilliance of this festival is that the theories of the six presenters are wacky and off-the-wall and the best part? The best part is that with a slightly creative interpretation there are scientific and psychological studies that back up their “research”. Mathematical equations can and are used to define the parameters of their theories. Four judges with varying degrees of science expertise question your theories and entertain every interpretation.
Charts, graphs, and photos provide the audience with presentations whose lacquer positively glows with “what if” promise. If you squint hard enough it might just be the next breakthrough discovery.
The First Ad Hoc Hypothesis
To set the proper expectation, let’s take a look at the first theory, presented by Zach Weinersmith, also the creator of the festival and author of webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Weinersmith postulated that babies had a similar shape to that of a football, and therefore could be punted over long distances, explaining why populations of nearby villages might share hereditary material.
If this isn’t enough to capture your attention, I would suggest spending some of your day exploring the wonders and scientific face-palms for yourself. Thankfully, some of the best presentations are available to be viewed on the BAHFest website and on youtube.
Why is BAHFest so Amazing?
Brainstorming with creativity and intelligent humor is essential to our daily lives. Sure, the measurable scientific progress of BAHFest is, well, zilch so far. But it forces us to effectively sort through the preconceived notions we have formed out of our own ideas and opinions on life. It’s healthy to reexamine what we believe to be true, and recognize just how far some of our scientific studies have gone to prove a point.
I loved the theory by Jerry Wang, that babies should become cryptographers due to their clear knowledge of babble. Free government daycare is no small offer, and it’s not as if the babies would remember being brainwashed anyway!
I laughed at the suggestion by Ben Tolkin that baby animals were so cute that the human reaction could turn from affection to rage if overwhelmed with too many cute images. A crowd pleaser for sure with all those baby animal pictures.
Despite strong competition, the winner this year at MIT was well chosen. The GRE, or Gravitational Reversal Event, held just enough reason to it for the explanation of a sudden, mass dinosaur extinction. What really got me about this presentation? During questions, Jim Propp and the judges supposed that it was inevitable that discovered fossils were flat; how could they not be when the dinosaurs were brought back to earth with such great impact after the sudden loss of gravity? Kersplat.
In a few months Sydney, Houston and eventually San Francisco will also join London and Boston with presentations in 2017. BAHFest has grown in wonderful ways since it’s inception four years ago, and I hope that more events like this are encouraged.
So today, I raise my mug and say cheers, ridiculous BAHFest. Long life, and keep the creative BS coming.