Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell us three stories of mobile phone apps that shouldn't be.


All right. It's time, of course, to play the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!


SAGAL: Hi, who's this?

BLAKEMAN: My name is Vicki. I'm from Livingston, Montana.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Livingston?

BLAKEMAN: They're great.

SAGAL: What do you like to do there?

BLAKEMAN: I run the animal shelter here.

SAGAL: Really? Do you have like stray bison? Because I imagine the animals get large.

BLAKEMAN: No. We have some goats, but no wild game.

SAGAL: Goats aren't wild?

BLAKEMAN: Not mine, no.

SAGAL: Okay. Vicki, welcome to the show. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Vicki's topic?


There really shouldn't be an app for that.


SAGAL: Our smartphones are terrific. That's why so many of us choose to crash our cars rather than look up from the screen.


SAGAL: But this week, we read a story that made us think things have gotten out of hand. Our panelists are going to tell you three stories about new features for our phones that we kind of wish didn't exist. Choose the true story and you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine. Ready to go?

BLAKEMAN: Yes, I am.

SAGAL: First, let's hear from Tom Bodett.

TOM BODETT: David Petrie designed dozens of successful apps and made millions doing it. But he has regrets. As he watched smartphone users weaving down the avenues, walking in front of buses like zombies, he could only think, I got rich while the world got stupid. Determined to find out how much damage he'd caused, Petrie developed, How Stupid Can You Get, an app that will calculate your functioning IQ by monitoring all the other apps and functions of your mobile device.


BODETT: Play Tetris during business hours, bad. Played Fruit Ninja, worse. Owning the Soduku Pro app will raise your IQ several points. That app that makes those farting noises will erase your gains in one fell finger tap.


BODETT: Sexting at any time will land you in the app's lowest category, the Brett Favre.


BODETT: Petrie's hope was that by pointing out what morons we are with our phones, that we'd use them more wisely. So how's it working out? It's a disaster, says Petrie. "After six weeks of heavy sales and hundreds of thousands of downloads, people are taking How Stupid Can You Get as some sort of challenge, forming online moron clubs and posting record low scores on their Facebook pages. It's my fault. How do I feel about that? I feel like an idiot.



SAGAL: People using a new app to find out how stupid they can be. Your next story of an app we regret comes from Alonzo Bodden.

ALONZO BODDEN: Worried about what else your Internet date lied about? There's an app for that.


BODDEN: British health officials are hard at work on a new app that will allow users to pee into their cell phone and find out if you have an STD.


BODDEN: You heard right. You pee on the cell phone. The question is, who could aim well enough to pee into a cell phone?


BODDEN: Well, according to the Guardian, the British newspaper, the U.K. Clinical Research Collaboration is creating a smartphone app that will allow users to, quote, "put urine or saliva onto a computer chip about the size of a USB chip, plug it into their phone or computer and receive a diagnosis within minutes." This is aimed at young Brits who are techno-savvy but too embarrassed to visit a doctor or a clinic. Apparently, they're not too embarrassed to have an odd-smelling cell phone.


BODDEN: The app will even map out directions to the nearest clinic upon a positive test and provide a Facebook link, giving you opportunity to accidentally update your status.


SAGAL: An STD testing app for your smartphone. Your final story of an unfortunate development in smartphones comes from Kyrie O'Connor.

KYRIE O: At only 99 cents, the ding-a-ling app for iPhones seemed like a sweet deal. So sweet that 200,000 people scooped it up in the first two weeks. The developers, two 21- year-old seniors at Wesleyan University in Connecticut seemed to be brilliant young heroes. Until Ben Pish(ph) in Washington, D.C. looked at his mom's iPhone and asked her what exactly the ding-a-ling app does. She told me it allows her to make phone calls, Pish said, on her phone.


CONNOR: Sure enough, when he tested it out, the app merely redirected the phone to its preexisting phone function. In other words, it did nothing whatsoever at all, except have a cute icon. One expert theorized that smartphones have become so complex that we've lost sight of what they actually are and that in a weird way, the ding-a-ling actually served a purpose, reminding users that they have a phone in their phone.


CONNOR: The Connecticut Attorney General's Office disagrees and is investigating.



SAGAL: Let us review your choices. From Tom Bodett, an app which tells you exactly how stupid you are based on how you use your phone. From Alonzo Bodden, an app that'll help you, along with an accessory and your own involvement, find out if you have an STD. Or from Kyrie O'Connor, an app which does nothing but just sends you back to dialing the phone. Which of these is a real app that you can or will be able to find in your local app store?

BLAKEMAN: Well, any of these sound plausible.


SAGAL: Okay.

BLAKEMAN: That's the sad part.

SAGAL: Yeah, I guess so.

BLAKEMAN: But I think I'm going to go for Kyrie.

SAGAL: All right, well that's your choice. We actually spoke to a reporter who covered the development of this particular app.

DENIS CAMPBELL: The free downloaded app will tell them...


CAMPBELL: A, if they have sexually transmitted infection and B, if so, which one.


SAGAL: That was Denis Campbell.


SAGAL: He's a reporter for the Guardian newspaper. He broke the news of the planned STD testing app. I think, you know, we're left here feeling mixed.


SAGAL: We're unhappy you did not choose the correct story. That was obviously Alonzo's. And we're really happy that you're the kind of person who would never ever consider doing that to your cell phone.


SAGAL: I think it speaks well of you. Thank you so much for playing.

BLAKEMAN: Thank you.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

BLAKEMAN: Bye-bye.


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