Lots of people claim to be skeptical. When people see or hear a wild claim or something that is too good to be true, most of us perk up, raise an eyebrow and go “I don’t know about that.” This is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. But unfortunately, most people stop there. For those of you who know me personally… you will probably remember an instance where I didn’t stop there. I usually don’t. I usually do a bit of research in my spare time to investigate the subject with a little more depth. Thankfully, since the advent of the internet, this is very easily done.
Most people don’t do this for a variety of reasons but the one I have had explained to me a lot is that they just don’t care. It’s true… most of the topics are such trivial minutiae that they don’t affect your daily life, but why would anyone want to continue to believe something that is blatantly false? Or why would anyone settle with not knowing either way when a cursory search of websites can provide a solid means of finding out? I understand if you don’t have time… but most people can afford the 5 minutes here and there.
SO, with that introduction out of the way, I will describe various things that I have heard at work that have lead to research and the fruits of those endeavors.
#1: I’ll start with one of the older ones I can remember that actually turned out to be pretty interesting to study.
Statement: “I saw this show where an engaged couple broke it off and the man took the woman to court to get his wedding ring back and the judge ruled that she had to give it back to him because it was considered a contract. Since they broke up, the purchaser of the engagement ring was entitled to get it back”
Claim: A legal ruling was handed down stipulating that an engagement ring had to be returned to the person who bought it if the engagement is broken off.
My immediate response: “That sounds retarded.”
The result of research: TRUE!
So if you didn’t already know about this, your initial reaction may be similar to mine. As far as I knew at the time, returning an engagement ring was simply a matter of politeness or etiquette or at best, a social more. In conventional wisdom, you would tend to think that if a dude got engaged, shelled out the money for a ring and then they broke up, well… tough luck for the dude if the woman decides to keep it, right? To suggest that a judge can impose such a thing on a person and be backed up by a law seems a bit crazy. Turns out however, that engagement rings and engagements in general have their own little sets of laws attached to them. In fact, an engagement ring can be considered a “conditional gift” that represents a contract. The woman may keep the ring ON THE CONDITION that a marriage will happen at a later time. If that doesn’t happen, the ring should be returned to the person who purchased it. Of course it depends on the state/country in question… but that was not the point of the argument.
So there ya go… I wanted to start off with this one because I don’t want to give anyone the impression that this series will be all about me being right and my coworkers being dumb. Not at all. In this case, I fell for a common sense fallacy. When I went into work the next day I freely admitted that my coworker was right.
In this case, as expected, my coworker was fine with the results of my research…. you will soon see however, this is not always the case. :)
[Edited to clarify links.]