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Weird Science

BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT …DON’T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I’m Bill Kurtis. And here’s your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you Bill. Thank you all so much.


SAGAL: So this week and next, we’ll be giving you the Reader’s Digest version of the year 2014 – only the good parts – which frankly, fills just about 15 minutes.

KURTIS: 2014 had a lot of filler, but it also had a lot of scientific studies, which we covered – no matter what Paula Poundstone thinks.


SAGAL: Paula, a new study shows that people will often do what, even when not in the mood for it?

PAULA POUNDSTONE: They will often do what when not in the mood for it?

SAGAL: Can I give you a hint?

POUNDSTONE: Yes, please.

SAGAL: It's like OMG I am so hot for you.



SAGAL: Well, a sort of more modern technological version of that.

POUNDSTONE: Jump in the Orgasmatron?


SAGAL: The OMG was a clue.


SAGAL: Yes, sexting.


POUNDSTONE: I find that bizarre that people do it even when they are in the mood for it. What would - I don't understand. So you're not talking to the person, and you're not with the person. You're just writing things spelled wrong.

FELBER: Misspelling is optional.

POUNDSTONE: OMG, I'm so into U?

SAGAL: Capital letter U.

POUNDSTONE: Because you don't have time to write a Y and an O. Now I feel bad for Mark Weiner.

SAGAL: Anthony Weiner.

CHARLIE PIERCE: Anthony, because everybody calls him Anthony?

POUNDSTONE: Oh, excuse me, Anthony Weiner was just bored. I just think that if we could've been more stimulating as a nation, he would not have sent pictures of his private parts to women.


SAGAL: Adam, a new study finds that men who don't get dates online all have one thing in common. What is it?

FELBER: They tell the truth.


SAGAL: That was a sad answer that came from hard experience, didn't it Adam?


SAGAL: No, it's not that, although maybe that's a problem. Nobody online is telling the truth.


FELBER: All right. So these are guys online trying to get dates and (unintelligible)...

SAGAL: Yeah, and they're making a significant mistake that significantly decreases their chances of getting a date.

FELBER: They're listing themselves as single.

SAGAL: No. It's like come on lonely guy. Turn that closed parenthesis upside down.

FELBER: They're using sad faces?

SAGAL: They're using emoticons.



SAGAL: Apparently using emoticons online significantly decreases your chance of getting a date. That makes sense.

POUNDSTONE: Oh, I'm not surprised at all.

FELBER: That's not surprising.

SAGAL: Men who use the basic smiley emoticon are the worst off next to men whose smiley emoticons still live with their mom emoticons.


POUNDSTONE: It just seems to me, you know, in a busy world, you know, if you don't have time to type an 0 and Y, why on earth would you have time to figure out --


POUNDSTONE: No, a Y and an O. I put it in the wrong order.

SAGAL: Oh, I'm sorry.



FELBER: You're decrying lazy, unlying Jews?


FELBER: They don't even take the time to write oy.


POUNDSTONE: He's a busy Jew.

FELBER: Oh, I'd write oy but who has the time?


FELBER: Oh, I can only write o.

POUNDSTONE: It's write oy or light a candle. We don't have time for both.


SAGAL: What's the...

POUNDSTONE: Thank goodness I don't have to type hc.


CARL KASELL, BYLINE: Going number two, dogs can feel pompous, cuz we always know where our rump is. Up north is the mouth and the other end's south. When squatting, we're just like a...

BRANDT HANDLEY: ...compass?

SAGAL: Yes, indeed.


SAGAL: According to a ground-breaking new study, dogs align themselves with the earth's magnetic field when they poop.



SAGAL: Biologists examined 70 dogs pooping over a two year period and came to two conclusions, first, dogs tend to align their bodies on a north/south access, and second, man, is it time to get a new job.


SAGAL: So if you get lost in the wilderness, don't forget to bring a dog and some Metamucil, and you will never get lost.


POUNDSTONE: I feel so stupid because I've had dogs for years and, you know, I mean, I don't stare at them. You know, I give them a little bit of privacy but, you know, I've been with them when they've illuminated any number of times. And it never occurred to me that they were always pointing in the same direction. I just never even thought to think of it.


FELBER: And why do they look so guilty when they're doing it?


FELBER: They look sad and ashamed.


FELBER: And if I were doing perfect compass work while doing that, I'd be proud.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah, I would be proud.


SAGAL: Faith, scientists at the University of Indiana have pinpointed the best way to crush a man's pride, next time you want to do that. What is that way?

FAITH SALIE: I mean, it's beyond the obvious, like rejection or saying is that all?



MIKE BIRBIGLIA: I don't see this answer topping is that all.


BIRBIGLIA: I mean, she wasn't even saying it to me, and I feel terrible about myself.


SAGAL: I know. She said it. I actually - people can't see me right now. I'm curled up behind my podium weeping. It's terrible.

SALIE: Can I have a hint?

SAGAL: Here's your excuse. I mean, here's your excuse - I don't know where that came from.


BIRBIGLIA: Oh, that was excellent. That was so much better than anything anyone could ever write.

SALIE: Peter, I don't need any excuses. Just hold me.


SAGAL: Obviously, I'm having a combat flashback here.


SAGAL: Let's back up and say here is your hint. It's like, after you, big guy. Right this way, right through here.

SALIE: Hold the door open for a man?

SAGAL: Exactly that, yes, to hold the door open for a man.


SAGAL: Scientists say holding a door open for a man to walk through strips a man of honor, self-esteem, and power, not to mention the muscles in his arms will atrophy from lack of use.

SALIE: Is this true, gentlemen on stage with me?

FELBER: The holding the door thing?

SALIE: Is this the worst thing I could do to you is open a door for you?

FELBER: It sounds great.


BIRBIGLIA: Even you describing it is turning me on. What are you doing after the show?


FELBER: I enjoy holding a door for my wife, though. It's a nice thing. It's a fun thing to do.

BIRBIGLIA: It's literally the least you can do, but it makes you feel good. It makes you feel good, absolutely.

FELBER: I had thought it was the most I could do. That was like - those are my all-star days you're talking about.

BIRBIGLIA: I held the door for her today.


SAGAL: What do you mean you're angry at me, honey? I held the door for you just last week.

BIRBIGLIA: You'd still be outside if I hadn't.


SAGAL: Paula, inspectors from the CDC and other agencies have determined that a recent outbreak of salmonella all over the country may have been caused by what?

POUNDSTONE: Oh, I - can you give me a hint?

SAGAL: Come here, Foghorn Leghorn, and give me some sugar.


MO ROCCA: Oh, no.


ROCCA: Oh, ugh.

POUNDSTONE: My Aunt Irene?


POUNDSTONE: My great Aunt Irene. She used to chew snuff. And she'd hold it right there, and she'd say, Paula, come here and give me some sugar.


SAGAL: And what did she want you to do?

POUNDSTONE: Hold her spit can.



SAGAL: When your aunt said, come and give me some sugar, what was she asking for?

POUNDSTONE: Kissing chickens?

SAGAL: Kissing chickens.


SAGAL: Paula.

POUNDSTONE: Oh, yes. Yes.



ROCCA: Chickens kissing each other?



SAGAL: People...

POUNDSTONE: People kissing chickens.

SAGAL: ...Kissing. It is OK - if you're one of these new urban chicken owners - it's OK to read your chicken a bedtime story, maybe give it a back rub. But the CDC says quit taking your chicken down to tongue town because...


SAGAL: ...Chicken kissing - do chickens even have tongues?

ROCCA: They have waddles. Yeah.

POUNDSTONE: They have lips.

ROCCA: Yeah.




SAGAL: Chicken kissing may be the cause of a recent salmonella outbreak in 23 states. One doctors said, quote, "Don't kiss the bird. You can show your affection in other ways."


SAGAL: Which makes us all start thinking about things that are even grosser than kissing a chicken.

POUNDSTONE: I just - just hand-holding, I think, is enough.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.