Rice University
BioSciences at Rice

BioSciences Special Event: BAHfest Houston 2017

7:00 pm, Saturday, September 9th, 2017
Stude Concert Hall, Alice Pratt Brown Hall

BAHfest: Festival of Bad ad Hoc Hypotheses. A call for funny presentations for BAHFest Houston 2017! Information and guidelines are specified below.

Keynote - Jorge Cham (PhD Comics),
Judges - Julia Saltz (BioSciences) + 2 judges to be announced
Host - Joel Watson (Creative Director for Explosm)

What is it?
The Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses (BAHFest) is a celebration of well-argued and thoroughly researched but completely incorrect science.
BAHFest has been held multiple times since 2013, selling out auditoriums on three continents. In BAHFest, speakers give short talks presenting bad theories and proposals of a scientific nature. The theories are judged by scientists and entertainers, who award a prize for “best” talk.
Here are some past proposals to give you a sense of the style of presentation we’re looking for.




(There are many more videos available on that channel)

What are we looking for specifically?
We need short (3-5 minute) funny original presentations in which the speaker gives a fake scientific lecture. The lecture can be on any scientific topic , and generally are about scientific theories, proposals for experiments, proposals for large science or technology projects, or combinations thereof.

For your submission packet, a one-page document describing your theory would be best. Please do your best to have the humor come from the idea itself, and not cute puns and one-liners. This should be a serious proposal for a very very stupid idea.

What format is the event?
The event will begin with a keynote lecture by a Jorge Cham from PHD Comics, followed by the six speakers competing for best in show. Speakers will have a mic and access to a video projector.

A panel of esteemed, geeky judges will ask you questions about your proposal and you will be expected to answer them seriously.

When all speakers have finished, our judges will decide who did the best job. The winner will be awarded the coveted BAHFest trophy of alchemist Hennig Brand boiling his own urine in hopes of producing gold, $500 cold hard cash, and everlasting glory.

How do I submit?

All you have to do is fill in the form at https://form.jotform.us/71258685096165 . However, we recommend that before you submit something, you check out our suggested “Do’s and Don’ts” section at the bottom. We also recommend that you watch other BAHFest presentations to get a sense of what we’re going for.

If we like your idea, we’ll follow up for a more in depth presentation. You don’t need everything 100% worked out for your submission. If you don’t know enough science that’s okay. If the idea is funny enough, we can connect you to a scientist for help. If you don’t think you’re funny, but you have a good idea that’s okay. We’ll help you with your jokes and talk structure.

If the idea is great, we will work with you to get it perfect.

The final deadline to submit your proposal is Friday, June 30 at 9:00 AM CDT.

What’s in a good theory?
While we don’t want to overly constrain your proposal, generally speaking, a good idea for a BAHFest talk solves some mystery in science or some need in human life by proposing something crazy. For instance, Dr. Sarah Hird’s winning talk proposed that mammal sleep patterns could be explained by assessing the respective awfulness of various species’ lives. Kristin Rowan won by proposing a chemical-based social media network for lonely plants.

Both of these ideas were funny intrinsically, but also came with strong elaborations of the concept, using real science and math.

Are there things I can’t say?
Do your best to keep it PG-13. Absolutely nothing X-rated is allowed, and nothing that even has a hint of sexual assault is allowed. Proposals that could be construed as racist, sexist, or otherwise bigoted will be thrown out immediately. Talks pertaining to gender or genetics are permitted, but we ask you to do your best to be respectful.

We have also decided to limit the political content of shows, especially if they are particularly topical.

Do I need to be a scientist to submit?
Not at all. However, you do need to be able to talk in a scientific manner and speak well to an audience.

Can you pay for my travel?
If you are local to the show, we can reimburse you for the cost of getting to the event. We cannot pay for long distance airfare. If you want to speak at a show, please make sure it’s either local to you, or make sure you’re willing to spend the money to fly to the location.

We can pay up to $100 to reimburse travel expenses or cost of childcare.

How many submissions can I send?
As many as you like.

Submission Do’s and Don’ts


DO Include a video
We need people who can both write and talk. If you have video of yourself doing your talk or video of you doing a presentation, we can get a sense of who you are. If you can host it on youtube, we’d really appreciate that.

DO Edit your document
We’re not sticklers about margins or anything, but sloppy editing makes it harder to read your submission and makes us think you won’t take this seriously enough.

DO Take it seriously
The best presentations are ones that bring real science. We want to almost believe you! Find some citations! Make some graphs! Talk to experts! Go all out and we’ll wanna hear more.

DO Keep it tight
You might have a million ideas for your theory. Try your best to restrict yourself to related material. Tell us a little scientific story about how airtight your theory is. Don’t get all over the place, even if it takes you somewhere potentially funny.

DO Have a good idea
Okay, this seems obvious, but here’s the thing: A ton of polishing isn’t going to fix a bad idea. Find your brilliant idea first, then throw your genius into it. We appreciate hard work, but we would rather help fix a great idea poorly presented than fix a mediocre idea presented well.


DON’T Break the fourth wall
The whole idea here is that we’re doing a fake seminar. We want a real talk about a bad idea.

DON’T Put in one-liners
Along the same lines - slipping in little jokes breaks that fourth wall takes away from the feel of the show. Don’t slip in zingers unless they’re the sort of silly joke someone might actually make at a real seminar (watch the videos for examples). The funniness should come from how developed your bad idea is.

DON’T Send a theory that might be true
Only terrible theories, please! It’s not going to be funny if it might be true. DON’T Send a theory about fictional characters and/or copyrighted material.
We want theories about real phenomena. Also, we don’t want to get sued.

Thank you!

We’re very excited to bring a show to Houston and to Rice University. With your help, we can create a great night of geekery.
If you have questions, please email badadhoc@gmail.com

The BAHFest Team