Bluff The Listener Our panelists read three stories about a stick making the news, only one of which is true.

Bluff The Listener

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

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Bill.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Just when 2017 seemed to be a complete waste of time, we saved it with a trip to Seattle because Seattle is pretty great. And the weather is so awful it makes Chicago seem bearable.

(LAUGHTER)

KURTIS: We did two shows there. And here's some never-before-heard segments from our second show in Seattle, featuring an interview with writer Lindy West. And for the first time ever, our games were played by members of the live audience.

(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 in the air. We're being joined right now by someone with us in the Moore Theater. Hi, what's your name?

MIKE: Hi, my name is Mike. I'm from Seattle, Wash.

SAGAL: Hey, Mike - from Seattle, what a surprise.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: What do you do here in the Emerald City?

MIKE: I am a neurologist.

SAGAL: All right. I'm going to ask you this - and I don't know this is going to make the air. You're a neurologist.

MIKE: Yes.

SAGAL: Is he crazy?

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Professionally speaking. Don't worry about violating your oath or anything. Nobody cares anymore. Go on.

MIKE: Well, I did have a conversation with one of our psychiatrists about that very same subject.

SAGAL: All right. I understand. Well, Mike, welcome to the show. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Mike's topic?

KURTIS: Stick it.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: As the old saying goes, sticks and stones may break your bones, but only sticks can then be used as a splint to help your bones heal correctly.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: This week, we read about a stick making the news. 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?

MIKE: I am ready.

SAGAL: All right, here we go. Your first story comes from Adam Felber.

ADAM FELBER: Finding a water main can be tough. And everyone knows you can't do it by just waving a magic wand - except in England, where it turns out that they do exactly that. The story was uncovered when biologist Sally Le Page received a call from her father saying that a man from the water company had just come round with an ultrasonic flow detector, a map of the water network and a divining rod.

Yes, a divining rod - that Y-shaped stick that dates back to the 16th century and allows its users to detect water through the power of magic. Intrigued, Sally soon found that she could get multiple British water companies to admit that they still use divining rods by employing a devious investigative technique known as asking them.

(LAUGHTER)

FELBER: Fully 9 out of 12 water companies confirmed in tweets that they do still use the old methods known as dowsing. When Sally pointed out that the use of a stick as a sort of loony, primitive Ouija Board has been thoroughly discredited by science, one of the companies defiantly defended the practice as, quote, "tried and tested, and we do find them useful."

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right, Michael. That is your first story - that a British water company...

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: ...Is still using dowsing rods - forked sticks - to find water in 2017. Your next story of a sticky situation comes from Helen Hong.

HELEN HONG: Have you ever been playing fetch with your dog and thought, wow, he's got some great muscle tone? I wish I could be as fit as Fido. A new exercise program at a gym in Barcelona aims to do just that by bringing doggy fitness to humans. (Speaking in Spanish), or fetching for people, aims to stick it to body fat using sticks.

(LAUGHTER)

HONG: The fetcher-cise (ph) program is pretty much what you would expect. Trainers repeatedly hurl sticks as far as they can...

(LAUGHTER)

HONG: ...Prompting clients to sprint after them, retrieve the sticks and sprint back.

(LAUGHTER)

HONG: Trainer Jorge Gonzalez (ph) says it's a rigorous regimen. Some of my clients just bend down to pick up the sticks with their hands. But if I have a client who really wants a good workout, I make them pick up the sticks with their mouth, just like a dog would. Sure, you get dirt and mud and leaves in your face, but great news - dirt has no calories.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: An exercise program in which people fetch sticks just like their healthy dogs. Your last story of would you rather comes from Alonzo Bodden.

ALONZO BODDEN: Many believe Moses raised his staff and parted the Red Sea. Now many believe the next man to perform that feat is one Jose Rivera (ph) of Ixtapa, Mexico. Mr. Rivera believes he has found the staff Moses used to part the Red Sea when it fell from the sky and cracked the windshield on his Toyota pickup truck.

(LAUGHTER)

BODDEN: That was kind of annoying, he said, until he realized he could now perform miracles. Every day, he plants the staff in the sand on the beach near his home, and then when the tide comes in, the water flows around it, leaving it high and dry. Pilgrims have been coming from all over Mexico to see the miracle, all of them paying about $6 for the privilege and many leaving with souvenir, quote, "Moses staff miniature replicas," which oddly look a lot like twigs.

(LAUGHTER)

BODDEN: When challenged as to how Moses' staff from Egypt would end up in Mexico, Jose is quick to point out Mexico also has pyramids like Egypt, so it's possible the Lord was confused.

(LAUGHTER)

BODDEN: Although pilgrims come on a Sunday, scientists visited on a Tuesday, paid their admission and said Mr. Rivera is taking advantage of a natural barrier made of some submerged cinder blocks, which channel the water around the staff. In response, Mr. Rivera said the Lord works in mysterious ways...

(LAUGHTER)

BODDEN: ...And with different construction materials.

(LAUGHTER)

BODDEN: Mr. Rivera said he's also discovered what looks like a rusty old trumpet but is really Joshua's horn from the Bible. And if Mr. Trump ever builds that wall, Jose's going to head up there and blow it and see what happens.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: All right - three stories of sticks in the news. Is it from Adam Felber, British water companies caught using dowsing rods to find water in this modern day and age, from Helen Hong, an exercise program in which people are fetching sticks just like their dogs do, or from Alonzo, a man who claims that his stick is, in fact, the very staff of Moses and has convinced people to pay him money to see it? Which of those do you think is the real story of a stick we found in the week's news?

MIKE: I'm going to have to go with Adam's story.

SAGAL: You're doing Adam's story...

MIKE: With the dowsing rod.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: ...Of the dowsing. Well, Mike, that's your choice. It's Adam's story. We spoke to someone who is familiar with this real news story.

(SOUNDBITE OF BROADCAST)

TIMOTHY LEE: In the U.K., a local water company was using a dowsing rod to...

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: That was Timothy Lee, a reporter at Ars Technica, talking about the divining rod being used by British water companies. Congratulations, Mike. You got it right.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Well done.

MIKE: Thank you.

(APPLAUS)

SAGAL: You're earned a point for Adam (unintelligible) and you have in fact won our prize - the voice of any of us you see here or any of us you hear on the show on your voicemail. Congratulations.

MIKE: Thank you.

SAGAL: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STICK WITH ME BABY")

EDDIE FLOYD: (Singing) Stick with me, baby. Tell me you love me. Stick with me, baby.

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