Concentrate and ask again.
December 8, 2012 4:22 AM   Subscribe

Do you know the story behind the Magic 8 Ball? Without a doubt
Can you tell me about the magic inside? As I see it, yes
Can I put it back together using my own magic? Signs point to yes
Can I make my own Magic 8 Ball digital app instead? Most likely

So, when's the movie coming out? Cannot predict now
What if my geek already has a Magic 8 Ball? WIN!
Does it really take 72 tries to hit all 20 possible answers? You may rely on it
Lastly, may I ask you a question? Yes
posted by iamkimiam (24 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

The questions in the last link are a thing of wonder.

5569492. 6548. is debbie getting a shag later Very doubtful
posted by unSane at 4:32 AM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

5569476. 20070. Is jeff going to be with her now? NO
5569473. 20070. Is jeff going to continue with her? Reply hazy, try again
5569470. 20070. Is jeff going to try and contact me? It is decidedly so
5569468. 20070. Will jeff try and contact me? Reply hazy, try again
5569467. 20070. Is jeff thinking about me? Count on it
5569465. 20070. Does jeff still love me? It is certain
5569462. 20070. Does jeff love her? My sources say no
5569459. 20070. Is jeff sorry for what he did Concentrate and ask again
5569458. 20070. Is jeff going to be thinking of me? Better not tell you now
5569456. 20070. Is jeff going to ty and call me? Ask again later

I think somebody should try AskMetaFilter instead of Ask the Magic 8 Ball.
(Also, I'm starting to wonder if Ask the Magic 8 Ball is sentient and cruel.)
posted by iamkimiam at 5:00 AM on December 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

So a question for the Magic 8 ball pro-users out there: of the 10 "yes" answers is there a hierarchy of sorts? Is there a "yes" from those phrasings? I mean, you've got to prefer "It is decidedly so" to " Signs point to yes," right?

(And what's with this "As I see it" nonsense? The last thing I want from a plastic soothsayer is hedging or self-doubt.)
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:01 AM on December 8, 2012

Our family sued Ideal Toys after my uncle Stan suffered a stroke caused by a Magic 8 Ball that answered "Concentrate and ask again" 43 times in a row. The lawsuit was unsuccessful.
posted by orme at 5:02 AM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

For those who prefer the scientific method to divination, the second link reveals researchers who were willing to risk personal injury to get at the truth:

A Note About the Blue Fluid

Although this report has previously referred to the blue fluid as "presumably harmless", there is some reason to believe that it is less than potable.

Two human subjects (including one of the authors) volunteered for a non-blind Type I safety trial of the blue fluid. The investigators initially believed the fluid to be water with dissolved dye. The trial subjects self-administered small doses of the fluid to their tongues. Trial subjects reported the following side-effects:

Hideous taste (100%)
Numbness of the application area (100%)
Blue fingertips (100%)
Headache (50%)

A follow-up study of the experimental subjects after 30 minutes revealed no additional long-term side-effects of blue fluid ingestion. The change in finger color appeared to be a permanent outcome, but involved no other morbidity. The numbness discontinued after a few minutes. However, the authors recommend that no further human trials begin without animal studies.

posted by Obscure Reference at 5:59 AM on December 8, 2012

They didn't report the blue icosahedrons that were a latent result of the experiment.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:08 AM on December 8, 2012

Try again is cruel in context.
posted by Mblue at 6:21 AM on December 8, 2012

Fuck 8-Ball. Fortune-cookies.
posted by Fizz at 6:57 AM on December 8, 2012

Great old-timey disease name: "Fetch the liniment, boy, Grampa's got the icosahedrons again."

Also, the MeFi color scheme has got me so programmed that I think the liquid for the magic answers should be green. Shaking a ball with blue fluid should return an interesting web site.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:42 AM on December 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

My own childhood experiments found that cracking open the magic 8-ball so that the blue fluid spills all over the white carpet in one's bedroom leads to parental fury an estimated 100% of the time.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:20 AM on December 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

I think somebody should try AskMetaFilter instead of Ask the Magic 8 Ball.

Oh God, this is the answer for all that that "Can I eat this?" nonsense. A link to a Magic 8 Ball app.
posted by bongo_x at 10:16 AM on December 8, 2012

My question (#5570503): "is this a colossal waste of time?" produced "My reply is no." Of course it would say that.
posted by Philofacts at 11:11 AM on December 8, 2012

Re a possible movie, no surprise there; that's Hollywood's unofficial motto: "No premise too thin."
posted by Philofacts at 11:13 AM on December 8, 2012

Best tags ever.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:41 AM on December 8, 2012

AskMetafilterBall responses would include:
"Stop overthinking this."
"I am not your Lawyer."
"I am not your Doctor."
"I am not your Veterinarian."
"I am not your Librarian."
"I am not your Reference Librarian."
"You need a second opinion."
"I'm not doing your homework."
"DON'T EAT THAT." (credit bongo_x)
"It's fine to eat."
"Post picture of cat."
posted by Sunburnt at 11:50 AM on December 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

Speaking of divination devices being ported into the digital realm, this reminded me of some fun some friends of mine and I had with an iPhone (and also Android) word recognition & translation app, Word Lens. I'd shot a vid of the app's output while pointing the lens at a plaid pattern, and posted it on FB. The friend who'd mentioned this phenomenon then offered his stream-of-consciousness interpretation of the words output, which got another friend (who is a software developer) and I riffing about the techno-woo $$$ potential…
Plaid Talk

B______ mentioned that the iPhone app Word Lens (see my earlier Wall post) did interesting things trying to resolve plaid patterns into words. I happened to be wearing some plaid PJ pants - ding! Pattern recognition gone crazy. (It might also be an excellent way to discombobulate some Freudians.)


(B_____, a.k.a. Friend 1) "Nag it", "improve", "diligence or", "guile", "trust or", "slaughtered", "baby", "nest it", "diagonal", "boyfriend", "polymer" - your iPhone has problems. It is projecting its guilt and shame onto a symbol of Presbyterian parsimony. "Drat I say" and "doodoo" is telling evidence of a sublimated anal retentive orientation - and "peacock" miliseconds later is equally an indication of a latent anxiety: will the cool facade be revealed as ostentation? "Gigot" - a reference to the conservative political commentator? Or to the film where the lead character feigns death? Then "prison" - large and horizontal - is this a plea? The bars of plaid are a prison - but on which side of the bars is our patient? "Prison" "podium" - is expression a restriction? Does self-restraint win the ego its freedom? Or "podium", "peak", "sun" - a crescendo of grandiose phantasy toward "grapefruit" - a misnomer, a fraud. "Say drat eh" - self-deception has failed. Then "oil", "bomb", "zoologist" - contemporary industrial instrumentalism, met by "Polish boy" - a ghost from the past? Or are we to read it as polishing the future? Then a reassertion of technical ascendancy, a name dropped - "polonium", but then a critique: "chiropodist" - science and technology burlesqued. Again, "doodoo" - scatalogical commentary, but urging action: "do, do" - the contradiction of the Protestant work ethic to do and make, but to withhold and restrain. "Aryan in" - sad reflection of a colonial imperative. "Leek" "it it oh" "idol" - information wants to be free, but is a cyber-prophet the way? No! Capitalist industrialism ascendant: "Get" "polymer", as was told to The Graduate - "One Word: plastics."

19 December 2010 at 18:45 · 

(moi) "Leek" is a reference to Julia Child rather than Julian Assange...

19 December 2010 at 19:56 ·

(moi) tea leaves, entrails and astrology move over! we have a new form of divination fit for the zeitgeist, and (Friend 1) is its first technomage!

19 December 2010 at 19:59 ·

(Friend 2) One of the first things I thought of when I saw the iPad was that I needed to make a ouija board app. I then quickly convinced myself that I really didn't want to do that. I still think it would be kind of funny. I would guess that someone has done it by now.

19 December 2010 at 21:47 ·

(moi) Yup - here:



and probably more.

19 December 2010 at 22:43 · 

(moi) What I like about abusing Word Lens this way is that it functions in a manner reminiscent of the mechanisms that are behind so many people's credulity when it comes to systems of divination: overactive pattern recognition (I'll refrain from the usual evolutionary psychology speculations here; I think we have a pretty good idea of the survival utility of seeing faces, etc., in the environment too much rather than not enough) and confirmation bias.

19 December 2010 at 22:50 ·

(Friend 2) Yep, that and getting stoned.

19 December 2010 at 22:57 ·

(Friend 2) Just thinking about this, if you were to add in the use of the GPS and include some blather about micro fluctuations caused by the planets, you could really work people up.

19 December 2010 at 22:59 ·

(moi) Techno-woo! We could make a bundle. (Ethics, shmethics.)

19 December 2010 at 23:04 ·

(Friend 2) Yeah, I always tell myself that (ethics be damned). But, I can't ever make myself do it anyway. I am an abysmal business man.

19 December 2010 at 23:09 ·
posted by Philofacts at 12:07 PM on December 8, 2012

AskMetafilterBall responses would include:

"You’re an adult, you should be able to figure out what’s safe to eat"

"How are a bunch of strangers on the internet supposed to give you relationship advice based on your obviously skewed, one sided narrative?"

"You should find a more productive way to get attention"

"This question is asked half a dozen times a day, seriously, did you even look?"

"Cut the drama in half, then come back with your question"

The die is going to need to be significantly larger, or course.
posted by bongo_x at 12:11 PM on December 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

"No, you can’t see Los Angeles without a car"

"You can’t visit New York and the Grand Canyon in the same day"
posted by bongo_x at 12:13 PM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

"See previous thread"
posted by Sunburnt at 12:15 PM on December 8, 2012

posted by greta simone at 2:35 PM on December 8, 2012

The die is going to need to be significantly larger, or course.
posted by Hactar at 3:42 PM on December 8, 2012

My dad got me a Magic 8 Ball. It's defective; when you turn it upside down, there's a huge air bubble and you see an edge between two faces of an answer.

I call it the Magic 8 Ball of Disappointment. It's taught me more about life than I'd admit.
posted by cyberscythe at 12:23 PM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

A long, long time ago I got the idea to sell custom Magic 8-Balls. After a bit, I realized it would either hit trademark or patent problems.

Still, cool way to propose/send congrats/apologize. In fact, a business could probably just sell 2 kinds (all-positive and all-negative).
posted by IAmBroom at 11:13 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

The cruel sentient being behind is Jeff.
posted by k8lin at 8:51 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

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