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Skeptoid Dramatic Pause Study

by Brian Dunning

April 18, 2012

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Donate So it's one of my little catch phrases on the podcast. A lot of times I'll close an episode with "Whenever you see [some silly claim], you should always... [dramatic pause] be skeptical."

Well I guess I do it often enough, because one listener (I won't name him here, but it's Al Dumbleton) actually went to the trouble to log all of these, and time the length of my dramatic pause. For your convenience and reference, he also did a linear regression to find the trend. And the trend is clear: the longer I do the show, the longer the dramatic pause gets.

Lest you are "skeptical" of the veracity of Al's graph, he provided the raw data. Wrote he:
My scientific process involved using the stopwatch on my phone and a single trial, so it's obviously infallible:

Ep 13) 0.34 sec
Ep 49) 0.25 sec
Ep 57) 0.48 sec
Ep 73) 0.60 sec
Ep 84) 0.59 sec
Ep 95) 0.75 sec
Ep 96) 0.90 sec
Ep 122 ) 0.73 sec
Ep 144) 0.70 sec
Ep 153) 0.40 sec
Ep 207) 0.86 sec
Ep 223) 1.55 sec
Ep 304) 1.27 sec

A steady growth, giving way to a drop around the 10th use of the phrase, but then a gripping crescendo around the 11/12th useage paves the way to the towering peak of 1.55 seconds. As you can see there's a definite trend in the upwards direction of the dramatic pause between these two words. By simple extrapolation, after 1000 episodes, you'll be looking at a full 120 second gap! (I have sacrificed mathematical accuracy for dramatic licence here)
I wonder how many listeners will stick around for the full 120 second gap. I know I won't. That's enough time to go and get a cup of coffee before returning to the microphone.

by Brian Dunning

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