Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

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CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Charlie Pierce, Mo Rocca and Faith Salie. And, here again is your host, at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee, Peter Sagal.

(APPLAUSE)

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Carl. Thanks everybody. In just a minute, Carl admits his favorite Milwaukee Brewer is Rhy-man Braun. It's the listener limerick challenge. If you'd like to play, give us a call at 1-888-Wait-Wait. That's 1-888-924-8924.

Right now, panel, some more questions for you from the week's news. Faith, finally some of the stringent TSA regulations are being relaxed. This week it was announced we'd once again be allowed to bring what on airplanes?

FAITH SALIE: Hmm.

SAGAL: Hmm.

SALIE: Is it a liquid of some sort?

SAGAL: It's got a liquid in it, and sometimes a little mermaid or sometimes a little Statue of Liberty

SALIE: A snow globe.

SAGAL: Yes, a snow globe.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: It's been years, of course, since the last snow globe attack.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Your snow globes must fit into your little Ziploc bag with your other liquids and gels. So, sure to make everything fits, try filling the snow globe with your toothpaste.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: And, you know, just to be sure, if you're going to, you know, travel with a snow globe, make sure it's like your Snow over Paris snow globe rather than your treasured Snow Over My Hero Osama bin Laden.

(LAUGHTER)

MO ROCCA: I just was in Mexico and the things you cannot take on a plane were kind of comical. Like a tennis racket is displayed there.

SAGAL: Well, you never know what'll happen.

SALIE: What else?

ROCCA: An iron.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: You cannot take an iron.

CHARLIE PIERCE: You mean like a flat iron or a putter?

ROCCA: No, as in to iron your clothes.

PIERCE: Oh, OK. OK.

ROCCA: Also, that thing you use like when you get a flat tire, like that giant...

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: I'm telling you, I'm serious about this.

PIERCE: Wait a minute, you're surprised they won't leg you bring a lug wrench on an airplane.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Why would you want to bring - I mean, yeah.

PIERCE: I think that's the point.

ROCCA: In India, you can't bring chili powder.

SAGAL: Really?

ROCCA: This is true.

SAGAL: I did not know that.

ROCCA: It's not funny but it's true.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Charlie, there's a lot of interest in Abraham Lincoln because of the new movie out. That might explain the release of a new letter the young Lincoln sent to a sweetheart, in which we learn Lincoln might have invented what now classic technique?

(LAUGHTER)

PIERCE: Well those of us who knew him back in his younger, wilder days used to call it the still type.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: He was writing to his sweetheart, who he didn't want to be his sweetheart anymore.

PIERCE: What, he was the master of the brush off?

SAGAL: Not the brush off but a particular way of doing it.

PIERCE: Yes, it's not you, it's me.

SAGAL: Right.

PIERCE: That was his deal.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: Abraham Lincoln might have invented that brush off technique: it's not you, it's me.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: The letters shows the Great Emancipator setting himself free.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So, at the time, he was a poor young lawyer in Springfield. Mary Owens was the girl back home he'd agreed to marry before realizing that he just wasn't that into her. So he broke it off in a letter.

PIERCE: Just not that into you.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So he broke it off in a letter, which is an old timey way of dumping someone via text. First of all, he called her "Friend Mary."

ROCCA: Oh gosh.

SALIE: Ouch.

PIERCE: Bad start.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Four score and seven burns. Oh, man.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: She had been planning to come to Springfield to see him, and he said quote, "You had better not do it. You have not been accustomed to hardship, and it may be more severe than you now imagine." He also said he needed more space, and wanted to concentrate on his rail splitting.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Faith, a new study by Stanford University researchers suggests that what is happening to the human race?

(LAUGHTER)

SALIE: Believe it or not...

PIERCE: Is there a wrong answer to this question?

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Hey, that's very good.

SALIE: Well, we're clearly getting fatter, but I don't think that's the answer.

SAGAL: No, we knew that.

SALIE: Right. We're getting smarter.

SAGAL: Not at all.

SALIE: Oh.

(LAUGHTER)

SALIE: I guess we're getting dumber and I just demonstrated that.

SAGAL: We're getting dumber.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: The study was published in the journal Trends in Genetics, and was too hard to read because of all the big words.

(LAUGHTER)

SALIE: What?

SAGAL: But here's a summary. Generation after generation, we're getting dumber, which weirdly means that as we evolve, fewer and fewer people will believe in evolution.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: This is the reason, and this is from, you know, geneticists. The reason is, is that there's nothing in our modern environment, compared to the prehistoric environment from which we evolved, that weeds out dumber people.

ROCCA: Yeah.

SAGAL: In pre-history, if you were born stupid or reckless you'd get eaten, or you would starve. Now, you get to host "The Apprentice."

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

SALIE: You know, but I did read that our IQs are going up.

ROCCA: But they're being calculated by dumb people.

SAGAL: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: That don't know math.

PIERCE: We've been basically been graded on a curve since the Renaissance.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: The geneticist who did the study, Dr. Gerald Crabtree, suggested we can turn back the tide of devolution if women just start sleeping with really smart guys like geneticists.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!