Look closer. Think harder. Choose the sound argument over the clever one.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Car Talk's Tom and Ray on Wacko Theories

Car Talk's Tom and Ray, on their July 22nd show (segment 6, audio link), remind us that "wacko theories" abound and we fall for them easily:

I'm just wondering: if it's this easy to convince people of completely ridiculous things, how many things ... have we believed that are completely nutso? We would believe anything. ... There has to be that element of doubt in there, or a little bit of the unknown. If someone said to you, "look, if you want to get your car started every morning, you have to fill the thing up with the garden hose," you'd say, "No!" But if there's something that sounds a little mysterious and has just a little hint of a possibility, you'd say, "could be." Or, "can't hurt!" ... That's why you can pull stuff over on people because you have to have a little mystery in there. [5:21]

A good insight into why urban legends catch on, too.

Though their automotive expertise leaves little doubt that the caller's theory is bogus, they do try to keep an open mind:

We have to be careful here, because this is a wacko theory. And there have been other wacko theories we have poo-pooed and we have subsequently found they were correct. ... [1:49]

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