I'm Very Interested In Hearing Some Half-Baked TheoriesCommentary • education • Opinion • science • supernatural • ISSUE 41•45 • Nov 9, 2005 By Roberta Foit As an ill-informed pseudo-intellectual with a particular interest in the unverifiable, I'm always on the lookout for some partially thought out misinformation. So, if you have an uninformed solution to a dilemma that doesn't actually exist, don't bother double-checking your information. I'm all ears.However, I must warn you: If you want to convince me of anything, you better be prepared to back up your claims with rumor, circumstantial evidence, or hard-to-make-out photographic proof. I may also need friend-of-a-friend corroboration or several signed testimonials all written in the same unmistakably spidery handwriting. I'm a quasi-critical-thinker. Things have to add up more or less in my head before I let myself be taken in by some baloney story. Take Atlantis, for example. When I first heard about this lost civilization, I was suspicious to say the least. But then someone made a good point: Prove that it didn't exist. I was hard-pressed to find a comeback to that. But if Atlantis really did exist, then where did it go? It couldn't have just disappeared without an unreasonable explanation. I was about to give up on the whole matter when suddenly it hit me: It probably washed away, and it's too deep underwater for scientists to find it. All it takes is a little supposition mixed with critical theorizing and you can easily stumble on a tenuous half-truth that really makes you think. Over time, I've also learned that slapdash research is key before jumping to any conclusion. While I've always postulated the existence of gnomes, it wasn't until I researched the topic on AskJeeves.com that I realized it's a well-documented medical condition.As important as research is, it's all about common sense in the end. If you can't cool your apartment by leaving the refrigerator open, how's it keeping all that produce fresh? Think about it. If you can't really read the world's great works of literature in only five minutes using a system peddled on TV, how do you explain that gentleman on the infomercial who aces those tests? Would extraterrestrials travel millions of light years just to abduct a non-trustworthy human for their series of intrusive tests? Yes. And there's a reason liars like James Randi have never been anally probed.Now, if you have a half-baked theory that you'd like to disclose, please be so kind as to skirt around the issue. I'll only listen to your elaborate webs of presumption and hearsay if you promise to veer unexpectedly and pointlessly off course at every opportunity. Prose density is part of what makes a half-baked theory fascinating.Only last week, my friend Janet gave me a book that teaches how, through a diet of salmon and romaine lettuce, you can shave 20 years off your appearance. However, before we got to the hard-core salmon-and-lettuce, face-lifting theory, I was taken through a series of anecdotes, solicited testimonials, and long-winded circular logic proving the author's qualifications by citing the medical establishment's fear of his simple brilliance. It was an eye-opener.I encourage people endowed with a gift for half-baked theories to inform as many unsuspecting strangers as possible. That's how I'm most interested in being exposed to shaky new ideas. At the bus station, on the street corners, wherever strikes your fancy. If you don't have the courage to approach people in this way, I recommend a stiff drink or a lifetime of crippling mental illness.Only then will we continue to safeguard the free exchange of erroneous fallacy so vital to maintaining a freethinking, uneducated society. Thank you.