Bluff The Listener Our panelists tell us three stories of surprising fields of study, only one of which is true.
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Bluff The Listener

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Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell us three stories of surprising fields of study, only one of which is true.

CARL KASELL, Host:

From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Adam Felber, Luke Burbank and Faith Salie. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, Host:

Thank you, Carl. Thanks everybody.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Right now, it's time for 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!

M: Hello.

SAGAL: Hi, who's this?

M: This is Judy Crondahl, and I live in Juneau, Alaska.

SAGAL: Juneau, Alaska? What a pleasure to have a caller from Juneau. I said Juneau. It's not Juneau, it's Juneau.

M: No.

SAGAL: It's Juneau.

M: No, it's not Juneau, it's Juneau.

SAGAL: Oh, but what did you know? Juno.

M: That's right, you got it. You're quick.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Judy, it's nice to have you with us. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Judy's topic?

KASELL: "They Don't Teach That at the University of Phoenix."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Oh.

SAGAL: How does progress happen? By people being bold enough to ask the questions no one has asked before. Why does the apple fall from the tree? What if we put sleeves on this blanket?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: This week, we read about people breaking new ground in fields of study we didn't even know existed. Our panelists are going to tell you three stories about the expanding world of academic research. Choose the true story, you'll win Carl's voice on your home voicemail. Ready to play?

M: Ready.

SAGAL: First, let's hear from Luke Burbank.

M: Facing its worst budget shortfall in nearly 100 years, Rice University in Houston recently made the controversial decision to only fund research projects that involved multiple departments. At first, we were worried we wouldn't find a subject that raised research questions throughout multiple academic disciplines, said Ph.D. candidate Rick Cupfner(ph). But then it came to us: something - or should I say, someone - who mystified literally everyone here at the university and hence, the study of Lohanology was born.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: What began as a co-project between the women's studies and communications departments to study Lindsay Lohan has now grown to include the medical school, department of psychology and linguistics department.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: We're just trying to understand how she's not in a coma right now, says medical student Tran Win(ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Meanwhile, a women's studies undergrad, Jessamine Bell(ph), has authored a paper she's titled, "Seriously, Girl: An Analysis of Lohan, 2006 through 2009." We've got an entire course based just on her Twitter feed, says linguistics professor Matt Spires(ph). She has this fascinating ability to invent new words and re-imagine sentence structure - this, despite showing signs of being functionally illiterate.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Spires and his co-authors will present their findings this fall in Toronto at OMG Whatevs.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: A conference of leading Lohan-ologists from China, the Netherlands and Argentina.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Lohanology: cross-disciplinary studies of Lindsay Lohan at Rice University. Your next story of a new field of study comes from Adam Felber.

M: If you're an aspiring scientist with a lively mind and no particular need to be popular with fellow primates, you might just have a future in the burgeoning field of monkey annoyance.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Yes, in the current issue of Primate Research, Dr. Kenji Onishi finds that one of the best ways to annoy a Japanese macaque is with flying squirrels. Apparently, flying squirrels are loathed by macaques as much as they are by, say, Russian agents.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: Dr. Onishi, who specializes in primate peevery, worked long hours to find that those squirrels are the monkey equivalent of, say, rush-hour traffic or TV networks that air commercials at 20 times the volume of the actual show.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: It's possible that some of this over-the-top tree rage might be the male macaques showing off, says Dr. Onishi. But that question, apparently, is why we need to keep annoying monkeys. Next up, Dr. Onishi will study the eating habits of baboons and how it is affected by telemarketing.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: The burgeoning field of monkey annoying gives us the discovery that macaques are annoyed by flying squirrels. Your last story of a new horizon in human knowledge comes from Faith Salie.

M: You know the old adage, it's not what you say; it's in what font you say it that matters. So claims Gil Corbin(ph), a Quinnipiac University psychology professor and self-professed founder of a field he calls fontology. Corbin points to the recent, intense public criticism of the Cleveland Cavaliers' owner, who wrote an excoriating open letter to LeBron James in the font of Comic Sans.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: It was like Charlie Brown trying to dress down King James. Pathetic. He might as well have used wing dings, Corbin says.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: The psychofontologist believes that in these email-based, text- centric times, the font becomes a brand. Your font is your face in the virtual world, declares Corbin, who has a basset hound named Baskerville Old Face.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: And twin daughters named Arial and Verdana. So the next time you're thinking of sexting in chalkboard light, think again. You don't want to send your romance to Helvetica in a handbasket.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: All right, here are your choices, Judy. From Luke Burbank, the field of Lohanology at Rice University, the study of Lindsay Lohan; from Adam Felber, the field of monkey annoyance; or from Faith Salie, the psychology of fonts. Which of these is a real field of study right now?

M: Well, I can't go for A because I can't really believe that any serious institution would have a multidisciplinary study of an empty head.

SAGAL: Oh.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

M: So I guess I'm going to have to go for B.

SAGAL: You're going to go for Adam's story of the flying squirrels annoying the monkeys?

M: Yeah.

SAGAL: All right, well we actually spoke to someone who reported this story in the scientific literature.

M: The high-ranking males in the monkey troop would gang up on the squirrel and poke at it.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: That was Adam Hadhazy, staff writer for LiveScience. He covered the squirrel, monkey - annoying macaques breakthrough. Congratulations, you got it right. Well done.

M: Thank you.

SAGAL: You earned a point for Adam. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home voicemail technology, whatever it may be. Congratulations.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

M: Thank you very much.

SAGAL: Well done.

M: It's been fun.

SAGAL: It's been great to have you. Thanks so much for playing.

M: Bye-bye.

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