Archive for the ‘Readings’ Category

Rocket Car

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Why the story works:

On the first page he admits that it sounds a little off the wall and crazy. “I’m sure this sounds pretty ridiculous” He’s telling the reader that the story sounds absurd but bare with him and he will explain how everything flows together.

He admits that he’s not a rocket scientist, car expert or has must interest in urban legends. He’s careful on how he writes the story and how he builds the story up gradually. He talks about being a biology teacher, how he found the story on the internet and why he decided to write his version.

To make his story sound more believable he finds flaws in the Darwin’s version. He points the flaws out in his story about how Darwin’s version wouldn’t work or just plain stupid to even attempt “What strikes me as incredible silly about the Darwin Award version of the story is that the pilot chose to test his vehicle on a road with a c curve in it”.

The background information was very thorough. He’s extremely careful to include everything (plus more) to make the story plausible. He talks about his father owning a scrap yard and how they obtained their materials “we lived near a major US Army storage facility, a lot of the scrap my father bought and sold came from government auctions . . . Of course I’m telling you this because it’s how I managed to get hold of the JATO bottle we used for our rocket car” (how convenient). He also went in great depths about his friends that helped him build the rocket car and why he decided to choose them. “Jimmy and I met in the third grade and were best friends for most of our growing up . . . Jimmy went to college to study ‘mechanical engineering’”.

Even though he gave information on how everything came together – on choosing his friends, how they put the rocket car together, and where they did the test run I feel he went too far in depth with the information. It made me feel that he thought too long and hard on the process of how to make the story sound believable. Listing details was a great idea but he over did it on the number of details he used. The story was extremely drawn out.

He was also vague in certain parts of the story which made the reader doubt the creditability. “I won’t specify except to say it was somewhere in the desert”. Red flag goes up. There’s no way to prove that this story was true or not.

The critical elements in the story that convinced me that it was made up were the amount of details he added to the story. He wanted the story to sound believable and in order to do that he thought he had to add a step-by-step description of how he came about to build the rocket car and how they pulled it off. There’s a fine line of how much detail one should add to a story to make it sound plausible. The story was drawn out and I admit it made me lose interest half way through. Another critical element was the lack of evidence the story had. There was no way of finding out if this really took place or not, especially since he just said it happened in the desert somewhere. What we can learn from this is to make a story believable it does not need to be drawn out nor does it need an excessive amount of detail.

Some of the places/people mentioned in the article

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Here are links to some of the people and/or organizations mentioned in the article from GQ.

Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University

Man stung by stingray and newspaper article on it

Animal Behavior Abstracts

Chickens attack children in California

Chickens and storks in Stubienko, Poland

Monkeys and infanticide (Note it says The Times, January 1, 2004. I haven’t checked that yet, but you can.)

Elephants raping rhinos [a little graphic] (see discussion at snopes.com for debunking)

Gay Bradshaw

Elephants attack humans

Leopards invade Mumbai

Washingtonpost.com expose on the article

Someone copying this article into their myspace blog without attribution (which gets it to show up in Google text searches)