Bluff The Listener
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Hi. You are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
SCOTT KEELEY: Hi. This is Scott Keeley from Charlestown, R.I.
SAGAL: Well, how are things in Charlestown? You didn't say Charleston. You said Charlestown.
SAGAL: What do you do there?
KEELEY: I'm a patent agent. My wife and I run the best little intellectual property firm in southern Rhode Island.
SAGAL: So your - so people - inventors come to you and - to help, and you help them get patents.
KEELEY: Yes. A patent agent does everything a patent attorney does. I just don't argue in court.
FAITH SALIE: You know that Einstein was a patent agent, right?
KEELEY: He was.
SALIE: You're well on your way.
JOSH GONDELMAN: That sounds like something I bet he's yelled angrily at a relative at Thanksgiving dinner.
GONDELMAN: You know, Einstein was a patent agent, so I could do worse.
SAGAL: Well, Scott, welcome to the show. You're going to have to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Scott's topic?
BILL KURTIS: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (ph).
SAGAL: It's hard to change and improve yourself.
SAGAL: Trust me - that's not because you're perfect just the way you are. No. This week, we heard a story about somebody trying to help your personal growth. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, you'll win our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?
SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear from Maz Jobrani.
MAZ JOBRANI: Have you ever set out to learn a foreign language only to be discouraged when you realize how hard it can be? Well, now there is a new app out of Tiburon, Calif., that helps language learners build confidence before starting their journey to bilingual bliss. Mike Saunders (ph), the developer of the new app Gobbledygook (ph), explains. Learning a foreign language is intimidating because you know when you start out, you're speaking it wrong. But you can't be wrong in a language you just made up, which our apps help you do.
JOBRANI: Once you gain confidence by conquering your own language, you will have the willpower to learn one of those tricky real ones.
JOBRANI: The idea came to Saunders when he tried using his limited Spanish on a trip to Mexico. My first day there, all I could remember was donde esta el bano (ph)...
JOBRANI: ...Which means, where's the bathroom? It wasn't until later that night when I had drank a bunch of tequila when my Spanish improved, and I was saying things like, mas tequila, por favor (ph).
JOBRANI: So the question was, how do we get that level of confidence without having to drink a bunch of tequila? To show us how Gobbledygook works, we were invited to a cafe to listen in on a conversation between two of their staffers, John (ph) and Cindy (ph), who happened to be married. First, Cindy spoke, saying, gabagabaga laka booka la baliga laga belag galagalagableh (ph). And John handed her the pepper.
JOBRANI: Then John replied, gabalaga gabalaga gabaga laga bookableh gah keho (ph). And Cindy slapped him.
JOBRANI: The main point was that this couple had communicated in a second language and were on their way to learning more foreign languages in the future, together or apart.
SAGAL: A new app that helps you learn a new language by helping you make up your own. Your next story of self-improvement comes from Faith Salie.
SALIE: If you are a semi-famous boxer named Tommy Fury, best known in your native England for being a contestant on a dating show called "Love Island," and you wanted to cut back on your meat consumption, what would you do? If you said slap a scratch-and-sniff meat patch on your bicep, that's disgusting - and you're absolutely right.
On his Instagram page, you can find Fury flexing a bulging muscle covered with a large sticker. On the sticker are two pieces of bacon forming an X with a slash mark through them. When Fury, who's trying to go vegan, craves meat, all he has to do is vigorously scratch himself to produce a bacon scent. To quote Fury himself, give it a rub when you're feeling in need of a meat hit.
SALIE: This invention, which is actually called the meat patch, was created by an experimental psychologist at Oxford University named Charles Spence. According to professor Spence, studies have shown that scent can reduce food cravings. He says (imitating British accent), imagine eating enough bacon, and you might find yourself sated. Because we all know that when you're starving for meat, it's the smell of bacon that definitely makes you feel less hungry.
SAGAL: The meat patch...
SAGAL: ...A scratch-and-sniff sticker you put on your own body to help you go vegan. Your last story of personal betterment comes from Josh Gondelman.
GONDELMAN: After the Peloton commercial controversy over the holidays, another cycling startup is finding the public upping the resistance to a new feature. In-Home fitness company BoDy - spelled capital B, lower case O, capital D, lowercase Y - has added a function to its user preferences that distorts the self-monitoring mirror to accentuate user-chosen problem areas. The option would, for example, increase the width of the user's love handles or add a little extra jiggle to the wobbly part of one's underarm that makes grandma so pleasant to hug.
GONDELMAN: According to a press release issued by BoDy, the fastest road to looking your best is feeling your worst. The announcement of the function, called funhouse mode, sparked immediate backlash on social media, with Twitter users saying things like, that's the literal definition of body dysmorphia, and more colorfully calling it a cinder block shackled to the ankles of our society, dragging us down to a new depth of capitalist hell.
GONDELMAN: Adding to the controversy was the recent celebrity endorsement from singer-songwriter John Mayer, who unveiled the new slogan, your body isn't a wonderland yet, but you're getting there.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: One of these is a genuine attempt to help people better themselves. Is it, from Maz Jobrani, an app that helps you learn language by encouraging you to just make up your own; from Faith Salie, the meat patch, which you can stick on your arm and scratch to get a sniff of meat whenever you are tempted to vary from your plant-based diet; or, from Josh, the funhouse option on a brand of exercise equipment which you can set your mirror to make you look worse than you actually are for extra incentive? Which of these is the real story of an ingenious way to help people get better?
KEELEY: Gosh. I'm going to go with B.
SAGAL: All right. You have chosen Faith's story of the meat patch. To bring you the correct answer, we spoke to someone who had covered the real story.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
SABRINA BARR: A scratch-and-sniff patch releases the scent of bacon with the aim of helping people cut down on their meat consumption.
SAGAL: That was Sabrina Barr, lifestyle reporter for The Independent, talking about the meat patch. Congratulations, Scott.
KEELEY: Thank you.
SAGAL: You got it right.
SALIE: Thanks, Scott.
KEELEY: Thank you.
SAGAL: You earned a point for Faith. You've won our prize - the voice of anyone you might choose on your voicemail. Congratulations.
KEELEY: Thank you, Peter.
SAGAL: Thanks for playing, Scott. Take care.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BABY SCRATCH MY BACK")
SLIM HARPO: (Singing) I'm itchy. And I don't know where to scratch. Come here, baby. Scratch my back. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.