Stephen Fry asks unanswerable questions about hoaxes, with Sean Lock, David Mitchell, Danny Baker and Alan Davies.
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CHEERING AND WHISTLING
Hello, there, hello, there, hello
and welcome to QI,
where tonight we'll be looking at all manner of hoaxes, hokum,
hucksters and hogwash
and to help or more likely hinder us,
a veritable horde of hornswogglers.
With ten top tips to increase your manhood, it's Sean Lock.
And joining him,
the esteemed president of the Bank of Nigeria, Danny Baker.
By his side, professor of hoaxology at the university of the internet,
David Mitchell. APPLAUSE
And believe it or not, Alan Davies.
Now, in keeping with our theme tonight,
one of our buzzers is a hoax,
so see if you can tell me which one of these buzzing calls is not the mating call of a deer.
Sean goes... DEEP ROARING NOISE
Danny goes... ROARING
And Alan goes...
Now, starting as we mean to go on, we've actually hidden...
-Is it Alan's?
I thought it was Danny's. I was going to say Danny's, right up to my one.
Now listen, you've got hoax cards here, jokers to play,
because, in keeping with the theme, there will be one question which is a hoax.
You play your hoax card and you get extra points.
If you play it and it isn't a hoax, you lose points,
but don't have your hoax cards unspent at the end of the game.
-Well, I'm not going to tell you.
Can we play them more than once?
Er, you could, possibly... No.
-I don't think this format has been worked out in enough detail.
-If we can play them more than once, that's crucial.
I was thinking of being generous but no.
At the pilot of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,
did somebody go, "And if we get one wrong, that's OK, is it?" "Yeah, that's OK.
"Oh, hang on."
How many lives do we get?
Can we just do it on the first question, then none of us can lose out?
If we all do it on the first question, we all lose points
and then it's just done.
I can see I've made a terrible rod for my own back here.
Well, erm, anyway, let's see what happens.
There's some characters behind me, shifty looking characters.
What were they up to last night?
They were up all night making a picnic table.
Before you get too insulting, they're in the studio tonight.
I just thought I'd warn you.
They were winning the Mr Handsome contest.
-That's more like it.
-Were they harming horses?
You know when people harm horses, slash horses?
-Do they slash...?
-But it was a night-time covert activity, like slashing horses.
-Goats. They were slashing goats.
Let's assume we wouldn't invite into the studio people who maim animals.
Were they pretending to be gas men
and thereby stealing the property of aged people?
No. If I told you that this was in Wiltshire, would that help?
Grave robbing. Grave robbing's always...
They drew something rude on Stonehenge.
-They drew something rude on Stonehenge.
-Oh, Alan, well done.
Crop circles. Absolutely right. APPLAUSE
There they are.
The equipment needed for crop circling, a plank with rope,
but what was the crop circle we commissioned them?
-A QI symbol.
-A QI crop circle and they did it for us
-and it's rather impressive.
-QI is run by aliens.
-Would you like to see it?
-I certainly would.
Well, let's have it. We went to the expense of having a travelling aerial shot.
MUSIC: "The Ride of the Valkyries" by Wagner.
-What do you think of that?
-It's a hoax!
-That's real? It looks like a Led Zeppelin cover.
Oh, you've failed, I'm afraid, it was real.
Almost within half an hour of it being completed and the dawn rising,
we were contacted by people...
Someone wanted to know, "Is it real or is it man-made?"
To which the answer is... Er, both.
I ask that about sandwiches all the time.
But it's a rather marvellous example of a breed of phenomenon
that has been going since when?
-Is the farmer here tonight?
-We recompensed the farmer. It doesn't actually do much damage.
How many mice were frightened in the making of that?
-We can't tell that.
-I bet this is older than we suspect.
-It's actually very recent.
-It is, really, yeah.
-Well, '70s it began and it got more and more refined.
-There was a man called...
-Like Pizza Express.
There were a couple called... Yeah.
Doug Bower and Dave Chorley admitted that they'd been responsible for most of the crop circles.
They used to be on the news every summer.
There would be aerial shots
and people called cereologists believed these were the work
of people from outer space
or from magnetic forces from ley lines, all kinds of nonsense.
They'd do things like they'd do a crop circle and leave a couple of scorch marks,
from where the engine blasts off back into space.
Where are our three here? Is that John Lundberg?
There you are. There's John.
Can you tell me how you did yours?
What's the most technological item you need?
We need a stalk stomper, which is a plank of wood and a loop of rope
that you put under your foot to flatten the crop
and to mark out the design, you use surveyor's tape,
so they're very simple techniques and very simple tools.
What about your spaceship? What spaceship do you use?
I'm saving up for one but the fee I got for this, it's going to take a while.
So how many do you do a year in the season?
Er, we don't say how many we make
but we've made hundreds over the years.
And are there still those who refuse to believe
that it's all hoaxers like you?
Absolutely. They've been ringing your production office.
-John Lundberg, thank you very much indeed.
There you are.
Anyway, yes, far from being proof of a more intelligent life form,
crop circles can be made using a plank of wood, some rope,
a couple of coat hangers.
But conversely, would you believe that they put a man on the moon?
Oh. NASA. Yes, I believe so.
-You believe that?
-I believe it, yes.
Good. That's all. That's the end of the question, really.
-But you probably know that a lot of people don't believe it.
-I sort of believe one thing.
I kind of believe that they might have done some mocked-up fake photographs.
Because someone convinced me of it...
-..by talking about the angle of light and the shadows
but then I did an advert with Patrick Moore
and I said, "So, Patrick, did they land on the moon?" and he looked so annoyed.
He explained how he had helped map the moon for NASA
and the landing site was partly his idea
and if I ever spoke to him again, he was going to be sick in my eyes.
It... They are a rather tired of...
Buzz Aldrin might have punched you.
-Buzz Aldrin punched someone...
-..because he got so tired of these conspiracy arses.
Actually, I think it was a television documentary about...
There have been several.
"This photo couldn't possibly have been taken on the moon.
"It was obviously taken in a studio."
You've got me started now but there are a lot of conspiracies.
6% of Americans believe that man didn't land on the moon
but 25% of Britons believe that they didn't, a quarter of our nation.
-Not convinced, apparently.
-That's so depressing.
The flag. It's one of the things that I read.
The flag is another thing, yes. There it is.
Well, obviously, they've starched the flag so they could get a good photograph of it.
They haven't stiffened it. It's rumpled.
There's no breath of wind out there, obviously, cos you're in space,
which is a vacuum.
What there is is movement. If you impart movement to something, it doesn't stop for a long time.
There's no resistance against it. So they unfurled it and it moved back and forth.
People said, "Ah! Breeze!"
As if, a, they would be stupid enough to fake it
and allow the take that had the breeze in it to go out.
But if you went to the moon,
the least you'd expect is a flag moving a bit strangely.
You know what I mean?
You're expecting to meet the Soup Dragon. "OK, he's not there."
The flag moves a bit strangely... I can go with that.
Why isn't one of them holding up a camera?
The one taking the picture is reflected in the visor of the other and he's not holding a camera.
-Like that, you see.
-That's because they didn't put the camera up in front of their visor.
-They were mounted.
-You couldn't imagine them getting a camera out.
Click, winding it on with gloves...
-I'd like to go to the moon.
-I'd love to do that.
Two of other things, in case people are saying, "You haven't mentioned the clincher."
One was the idea that below the lunar module that landed
there was no crater or sense of disturbed dust.
The fact is, the engines cut off and it hovered down
and it very quickly landed.
And unlike in science fiction films,
it doesn't send out spears of flame as it descends.
That just didn't happen.
And, of course, it was designed by geniuses
and not people tapping away at the internet who've got to go to work in the morning. Who do you trust?
We are in trouble as a species
if people refuse to believe in things they couldn't actually do themselves.
So true! That's so true. The other one was the footprints.
"There's too much moisture because look how clear they are,
"only caked mud could do that."
But you can do that with flour. It's very fine ground
and it's a vacuum again, it coheres.
And the other thing with the mirrors, that Apollo 12 astronauts put on the moon,
which are now used for bouncing lasers off
for detecting, for example, how far the moon is away from us.
You can make incredibly accurate measurements
because of mirrors on the surface of the moon.
Perhaps for me the clinching one is that America's enemy at the time
in the space race was the Soviet Union
and not once did they suggest that America hadn't done it.
-They never said, "No, we know this was hoax."
The fact is, for every ill-conceived argument
that the moon landings were a hoax, there's an explanation to put our minds at rest.
Now for something closer to home.
How would you make your house the most famous house in Britain?
You murder lots and lots of people, dismember them
and bury them in the garden.
-Marry the Queen.
-You marry the Queen...
..and you say, "No, love, you're not living in those palaces any more."
You're living in 3 Ironside Crescent, Carlisle.
OK. Those would work. Those would work.
Some sort of spectacular suicide?
-I suppose the murdering people would work better. I was trying to make it sad.
-But this is...
-Balloons. You tie loads of balloons and your house goes...
Oh, that would be sweet.
This was a bet that took place in 1810
between Samuel Beasley and Theodore Hook,
that Hook could make any house he chose the most famous residence in London
in one week.
He had a week in which to do it.
He prepared over the week
-but it all happened in one day.
-I've heard of this.
He started ordering goods, all kinds of different goods.
4,000 different tradesmen and services
in all the commercial directories all over London.
He ordered chimney sweeps.
First thing in the morning, there were 12 chimney sweeps arriving.
And then more and more and more and more arrived.
It became absolutely gigantic.
12 coal carts, there were cake makers, doctors, apothecaries, surgeons, lawyers,
-We've all done this, haven't we?
..hat makers, haberdashers, boot makers, butcher's boys,
a dozen pianos arrived.
The governor of the Bank of England turned up to what the fuss was about.
It was in Berners Street, just north of Oxford Street,
and er... There it is.
-That sign doesn't fit that bit of wall.
-It doesn't really.
I suppose if they put it the way it would,
-you'd have to read it in portrait...
-It's back to the drawing board.
-They've got that all wrong.
-Or just chill out about the whole thing.
-You'd have folded it round, mate.
-So it's like going on the internet and ordering the lot?
-I'll have everything.
And the poor woman, whose name was Mrs Tottenham, was besieged.
-So he didn't live there?
-No! He chose... He just chose this house. That was the point of the bet.
"I can make that house, 54 Berners Street,
"the most famous house in London."
Theodore Hook bet a man called Beasley
that he could make 54 Berners Street the most famous house in London.
What conclusion did the great biologist Stephen Jay Gould draw
from a lifetime's study of fish?
-They haven't got any legs.
Is that his lifetime's study?
-No. It wasn't a study of
-"After a while, they smell."
He was a bit thick and he just stared at them and went, "They haven't got any legs."
Starfish don't have brains. It's the Louis Walsh of the aquatic world.
They don't have brains, starfish.
And they're not really fish, to be honest.
The word fish is in there, which qualifies them, I think.
Is a starfish a fish? Is a jellyfish a fish?
Is a cuttlefish a fish?
-Is a seahorse a horse?
-But the starfish...
There's a division, isn't there, in the world
whether it should be down to experts in biology whether things are fish
or whether it should be down to menus.
-For example, a crayfish comes under fish on a menu...
He looks like he's reading the sell-by date on that fish.
-The small print. Is that him?
-Yes, he's dead now.
He won the Nobel Prize, he was a palaeontologist and a biologist
-and he came to the conclusion, which is?
-They can feel no love.
-No, that they...
That there is no such thing as a fish.
Fish has no biological meaning.
-There is just...
-So I'm absolutely right. Go with menus.
But on a menu a fish is not the same as shellfish or seafood, is it?
It often comes in the same bit and separate from puddings.
-Things that live in the sea.
-Fish and pudding are different.
How can something not be something?
Something can't be not be not something.
If you've created a something, then something has to be that something
otherwise you haven't created a something,
so it has to be a fish if there is the idea of fish in the first place.
I swear there's a philosophy lecturer somewhere who said...
That's an ontological argument. Of course, we use the word fish.
But biologically speaking, a salmon is more related to, say, a camel
than it is to a hagfish.
Like, there are lots of things that fly.
A bumblebee flies, a vulture flies and there are flying lizards.
They're not all birds
but we call things that swim in the sea fish
and actually, biologically, evolutionarily,
they have absolutely nothing to do with each other at all.
So after a lifetime's study of fish,
biologist Stephen Jay Gould concluded there was no such thing as a fish.
What did Nostradamus get right?
The hat. The hat. He got the hat right. The hat's good.
The big, big mistake - the green coat with the brown hat.
It's crazy. The hat looks cool.
-Who is he?
-Have you not heard of Nostradamus?
-I've heard of him. I've no idea where he lived.
His name was Michel de Nostredame. He lived from 1503 to 1566.
He was a Provencal apothecary
and he did many things, including writing hundreds of quatrains,
these four-line verses.
Were they deliberately obtuse?
I'm aware there'll be headlines on it
but why were they so obscure?
He was a mystic and I suppose he... Who knows? He got drugged up
and he just wrote down a four-line verse of whatever he saw.
-He was a chemist.
-He had access to all kinds of crazy hooch.
-So he published a book of, essentially, gibberish.
-And a lot of idiots...
-Because even the people now
who said, "That predicts Hitler or that predicts 9/11,"
would think, if you bought that in 1530,
that's not good value for money
because all the things it's predicting won't happen for ages
and so what it is, then, is nonsense.
In fact, it's only use is to predict something just after it's happened.
Yes, because then people go, "Wow."
But one thing he did do that is genuine and this is the question,
is he did a fantastic recipe for cherry jam.
He read all the books and one of the books he read was about jams.
And his cherry jam recipe, we are assured today,
-is still as good as it ever was.
That is the thing Nostradamus did that is provably, demonstrably and repeatedly true.
He also made aphrodisiac jams
made of sparrows' brains and all that sort of thing.
-But generally speaking his cherry jam...
-Was a triumph.
-It's something he got right.
Anyway, yes, when Nostradamus wasn't predicting stuff,
he was busy compiling a rather excellent collection of jam recipes.
-Who's the most famous person to have been beaten... Hello?
Do you think that's a massive hoax?
JINGLE PLAYS Oh! You're wrong.
Davies, you idiot!
That was entirely true.
It was too late, the question had finished.
No! No, no, no.
-It was too late.
-You stopped me.
So who was the most famous person to be beaten by a machine at chess?
-You get double points if you can name the machine.
-Are you the most famous person?
-Yeah, I got beaten by a Hoover.
-Is that right?
Somebody left it on and it moved the pieces around and it still beat me.
That's how bad I am at chess.
The key thing in the question is not most famous chess grand master.
-It could be Marilyn Monroe or...
-It's not a famous chess player?
No. Very well worked out.
-Garry Kasparov, the great grand master...
-He lost to...
-But that wasn't...
-The Queen is the most famous person in the world.
Did she lose to a ZX80?
This was someone who was more famous than the Queen in his day
and was bigger than the Queen, as it were.
Had a higher rank than queen.
Jesus isn't really a rank.
He's famous, though, Jesus.
-It's a rank.
-"I am Jesus."
-"I outrank you!"
-He's more famous than the Queen, though.
-Yes, that's true.
-You can't handle the truth.
Jesus plays chess sounds like an indie band
or it will be.
-Napoleon is the right answer.
Do you know what the machine might have been?
-Was it some sort of clever wind-up automaton?
-It was an automaton
and it was unbelievably clever.
It was called the Mechanical Turk
and the Turk was made of machinery
and you would open the doors, rather like a magician, showing it was empty,
though in fact, there would be a man inside who was a chess master.
He would manipulate the machinery to make the Turk pick up and move the pieces.
So it was a genuinely astonishing piece of machinery
that unfortunately burned in a fire in 1854.
Napoleon rather fancied himself at chess
and of course, being Emperor, I daresay nobody ever dared beat him,
so he was extremely annoyed to be beaten in 19 moves
by this machine.
So, yeah. And many others were beaten, you might like to know.
Benjamin Franklin, who was in Paris at the time
as ambassador for the newly formed United States.
What was the deal with it?
-They were unaware that there was a grand master inside?
They thought it was a machine. Charles Babbage was beaten by it.
He's the father of computing. He invented the difference engine.
Maybe if he'd known there was a man inside,
-he would never have invented the difference engine.
But it was the sensation of the age, a remarkable thing.
The Mechanical Turk.
A manned automaton that beat Napoleon at chess, amongst other people.
But enough hoaxes. It's time for some general ignorance.
So, fingers on buzzers, if you please.
How can you tell if someone is lying?
Sweaty palms, their pulse starts racing,
their heartbeat goes faster, their sphincter...
If they clench up their sphincter...
Let's suppose you haven't got a finger on their sphincter... DEER BELLOWING
..and you aren't holding their hand. Yeah?
-What they've said turns out not to be true.
They work for an estate agent's.
Oh! Is there a bitterness behind that?
No, it's just an observation.
-Is it something physical?
-It is but not tactile. You can't touch them.
Is it the thing, and I fear claxons,
but is it something about whether when they're just about to think about it,
they look up left instead of up right
or up right instead of up left or something like...?
-Yes! You were right to fear claxons.
-Yeah, I was.
-I think I know what it is.
-Embrace the claxon.
-I'm trying to.
As they're about to deliver the crucial detail, they go,
"Yeah, well, it's about, ooh, er..."
"Let me... T-t-t-t-t-t-t...
"About ten. About ten, I reckon. I mean..."
Sean, you are more right than David by a long way.
The point is it's very hard to see if someone's lying.
There's nothing in the body language or the face or the eyes,
nothing in the nose touches, the things that people think are to do with it.
It's all to do with how they're speaking.
-Is this why it's easier to tell if someone's lying on the phone than face to face?
They tested over 20,000 subjects,
showing them videos of people telling the truth and lying.
They found that people performed no better than chance.
Not only that, so-called experts -
polygraph operators, police investigators, judges and psychiatrists,
returned the same result.
But if you do it just on sound alone, people are much more accurate.
About 73% accuracy listening to lies.
So the thing to do is shut your eyes.
-Is that man going to shoot him?
-It's a very early polygraph.
-It does look rather bizarre, doesn't it?
-Right. "Name?" "John."
Presumably that means it's easier to dupe the deaf than the blind.
-Which isn't what you'd think.
-No, it isn't. That's true.
Having said all that I've said, Dr Ekman, a leading researcher, claims
that 50 out of 20,000 people do have a natural ability to detect lies
by actually looking at expressions.
It is very, very few people.
He named them the truth wizards
and they're able to read micro-expressions that last milliseconds
in ways that others aren't.
So, there you are.
Most people can't tell if you're lying
but they'll have a better chance if they focus on your speech.
What's the one thing you know for sure about oranges?
CLAXONS GO OFF Oh! That's the problem.
There are red ones and most of them aren't orange, in fact.
I know. Supermarkets tend to use a gas to de-green, as they call it,
to take the chlorophyll out,
because we shoppers prefer to see an orange skin.
In warm countries, oranges are actually green.
And there you can see how green they are.
Do you know where the word comes from or what the original word was?
-Naranja. That's the Spanish for orange.
The original naranja is Sanskrit
and what happened, as words do, it loses the N.
So you get an orange, a "norange",
and we think, "Oh, that 'a norange' must be 'an orange',"
but in fact it was a norange, like a nadder was a snake.
The French say "orange", don't they? It should be called a nanorange.
-Just a norange would do.
-Norange juice, yeah.
That'll do it. Well done.
Should an apple be called a napple?
No, it doesn't work with apple.
There must be... A napron, for example.
-A nau pair.
-No, that's just silly.
It works with a nadder. That's now become an adder but is was originally "a nadre."
An adder. Right.
And an ick name.
Your ick name, nickname, it became a nickname
but it was originally an ick name.
-What's an ick...?
-It became a nickname.
A nickname is a name you give someone that isn't their real name, Sean.
-What was it called before?
What does that mean, an ick name? Where does that come from?
-That's not a fruit.
Heaven help us all.
Oranges are not necessarily orange
and there's a good case for saying that they started as greens.
What do swimming pools smell of?
-The answer I suspect you're looking for...
CLAXON SOUNDS Ow!
I bet they don't even put chlorine in them.
You don't smell the chlorine.
In fact, if there is that smell that we don't like,
the way to get rid of it is to add chlorine.
-Chlorine reacting with urine.
Chloramines are formed by sweat and urine and faecal matter
and lots of other horrible things in swimming pools added to chlorine.
To get rid of them, add chlorine.
So before I make up your scores,
I should tell you that not one of you managed to identify the hoax
because the idea of the hoax was itself a hoax.
There was no hoax. GROANING
This... This is an outrage. This is like the end of Lost.
It's endearing how much it matters to them.
So everything you heard was as true as trousers.
So the winner tonight...
The winner tonight with an impressive minus one is Sean Lock.
-Oh, I won?
-You won this discredited show.
..second with an improbable minus 13, is David Mitchell.
Third with a pretty good minus 14, Danny Baker.
And last with a surprisingly convincing minus 38, Alan Davies.
-Thank you very much.
-APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
Thanks to David, Danny, Sean and Alan. I leave you with an observation from Will Rogers.
The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected.
Thank you and goodnight. APPLAUSE
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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