Lie #2141

Lie #2141
May 16, 2020 by Ernie Vance

68% of the time that a computer crashes or fails to work as expected, it’s because that computer is reacting to your fear. In fact, computers have been designed with the ability to smell fear almost from the beginning. Originally this sense of smell was added as an early warning mechanism to detect fire. The idea was that if a computer knows that it’s about to catch on fire, it would shut itself down in self-defense. It turns out, however, that it’s very difficult to build a sensor that can detect smoke. Fortunately, not only do the words “fire” and “fear” sound like, they also smell exactly alike. Fear sensors are much easier to build. Yes, this also means that the smoke detector in your house is really a fear detector.

In any case, even after computers stopped having a propensity for spontaneously catching themselves on fire, the fear sensors remained a part of their design. The problem is that these sensors are very sensitive. If you try to trick them or mask the way you smell, that’s actually an expression of fear and the computer will react that. So rather than go through the difficult task of un-designing the fear sense from computers, engineers have bolted on features to help you fool your computer into not thinking you’re afraid.

If your computer starts misbehaving, the most effective countermeasure is to loudly sing a nursery rhyme. “I’m a Little Teapot” has been shown to work the best, especially if you do the accompanying dance while wearing a teapot costume.

Whatever you do, though, never smile at your computer or show it your teeth. Doing so will only activate its aggression-sensing protocols.

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