Lateral with Tom Scott

Comedy panel game podcast about weird questions with wonderful answers, hosted by Tom Scott.

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Episode 41: Barefoot job applications

Published 21st July, 2023

Caroline Roper, Ella Hubber and Tom Lum from 'Let's Learn Everything' face questions about diamond dealing, disorganised diners and dodgy documents.

HOST: Tom Scott. QUESTION PRODUCER: David Bodycombe. RECORDED AT: The Podcast Studios, Dublin. EDITED BY: Julie Hassett. MUSIC: Karl-Ola Kjellholm ('Private Detective'/'Agrumes', courtesy of ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS: Lewis Tough, Matt Sheldon, Cressida, Cooper Wiseman, Jack Lawrence. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom Scott:When a new game in the Resident Evil franchise was released in 2017, why were two and a half letters in its name coloured orange?

The answer to that at the end of the show. My name's Tom Scott, and this is Lateral.

Our guests today know each other from the podcast, Let's Learn Everything. They are here for mutual support, like one of those trust exercises. Although to be honest...
SFX:(guests snort)
Tom Scott:blindly falling backwards from time to time is nothing new to this show. I never know when we have three people who are all from the same show here, who to introduce first, who should say what. So I'm gonna start in the order you're on the screen. Caroline Roper, hello!
Tom Scott:Thank you for coming on. Let's start by introducing the podcast. What do y'all do?
Caroline:Oh, so altogether, we... Gosh, we're a science communication podcast first and foremost. We share... anything and everything interesting to us. From the reintroduction of beavers to the UK right through to— gosh, I'm talking all about me. But what space smells like. That's what we talk about, along with a lot of fun, miscellaneous topics as well,
Ella:like the history of funky sports in the Olympics
Caroline:and things like that, so a little bit of everything.
Tom Scott:So as someone who had the reintroduction of beavers on my possible things to film list, and who also just asked a question in a previous episode about funky sports in the Olympics.
Caroline:No?! (cackles)
Tom Lum:No way!
Tom Scott:This is right down our alley. Next up we have Ella Hubber.
Ella:Hello, yes. I am a co-host.
Tom Scott:Yeah.
Ella:One of the co-hosts.
Tom Scott:Caroline kinda took everything there!
Ella:I took it. I'm so sorry, yeah.
SFX:(others laughing) (Ella and Caroline cross-talk)
Tom Scott:I gave the brief... and they just filled it immediately. So, thank you. Ella, let's—
Tom Scott:What are you researching for the show at the minute?
Ella:Well, I can't actually tell you because we go in blind, so...
Tom Scott:Oh, okay. What have you recently researched for the show?
Ella:I will— You know what? I'll just tell you. Oh, a couple of months ago, weeks ago, I did Eurovision. And the history of politics and LGBT stuff in Eurovision. And I picked out my favourite songs. And it was great to introduce it to Tom, who's an American and has no idea what's going on.
Tom Scott:I was fully indoctrinated by the end. I was really convinced. Which brings us quite neatly to Tom Lum.
Tom Lum:Hello-hello!
Tom Scott:Who is, I think, the first guest called Tom we've had on this show, so... I don't think it's gonna cause confusion, but I'm just slightly wary about it. There are a lot of us around.
Ella:We can call him Tom Lumperson.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom Scott:That is an inside joke because my username is @TomLumPerson. And there have been some actual, real establishment websites that have called me Tom Lumperson, one name. I remember hearing Donald Glover talk about how he'd registered the Twitter account @DonGlover. Which unfortunately does—
Tom Lum:I just heard it. Yep.
Tom Scott:Yeah. There are other ways to split up those letters that are not nearly as good for it.
Caroline:Oh no! (cackles)
Ella:I would, I'd lean into that.
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom Lum:Yeah, I think that works. But yeah, I host a podcast called Let's Learn Everything. It's a science comedy show, if you've heard of it. It's pretty cool.
SFX:(others giggling)
Tom Scott:Yeah, we learn about things, you know, we answer questions like which animal has the most bones?
Ella:What's the middlest size?
Tom Lum:Yeah.
Tom Scott:I will say I also did a miscellaneous topic about an artistic concept just as good as Eurovision,
Tom Lum:which is PowerPoint.
Tom Scott:(laughs)
Ella:Oh, that was a good episode, yeah.
Caroline:Yeah. (wheezes)
Tom Scott:Welcome all of you to this podcast. A little bit out of your comfort zone, but hopefully, you will have learned enough of everything to be able to get through it. Lateral is a quiz where the questions are so twisted, they could give a contortionist a run for their money. They will bend your mind, stretch your imagination, and possibly put you in hospital for a couple of weeks after you try it.
SFX:(ladies laughing)
Tom Lum:Only one of you will leave alive!
Ella:Well, we know it's gonna be me.
Tom Scott:That is the first time in this recording run that I've got a laugh for one of the scripted jokes! Thank you all. That's great.
Caroline:Woo! Yeah.
Tom Scott:Let's go with the first question, and it is this:

In which Olympic team event can one person potentially set two new records, but their three teammates can only set one?

I'll say that again.

In which Olympic team event can one person potentially set two new records, but their three teammates can only set one?
Ella:So there's four people on the team.
Caroline:Which immediately takes me to that one cycling event. I don't know.
Ella:The Velodrome cycling?
Ella:Where they're like, one's in front and they're overtaking each other, but—
Tom Scott:Oh, what's that called? Is it the Keirin, Karen? Something like that.
Ella:Oh yeah, I'm not sure, but it's— They— One person crosses the line at the end. So maybe they can make a record through that?
Caroline:Maybe they can make a record for how quickly they get around it in one lap as well. That's my immediate.
Tom Lum:I am running into a horrible issue, which is that we talked about how we did a topic once on... old forgotten Olympic events. So all I can think about is, oh, this was when tandem bicycling was an Olympic event. There's some weird exception where it's, oh, this is when they did hot balloon racing. And it's like, I can't—
Ella:Yeah. This is team musket shooting, obviously.
Caroline:Of course.
Tom Scott:Oh, I absolutely believe that those are all Olympic sports from the past.
Tom Lum:So my first thought is... you know... relay race? Maybe there's one portion of it where you run longer, and so therefore you can set a second record because one person... This is like a, I'm also thinking this is like a... This is the nerdiest thing in the world. I was gonna say, this is like, oh, it's an Olympic game that's like a 3v1 Mario Party game, where it's an asynchronous video game where one person does one thing and then three people do something different, right?
Tom Scott:Are there any asynchronous sports in the Olympics? I feel like there must be something.
Tom Lum:Or asymmetrical like that, yeah.
Tom Scott:Oh yeah, asymmetrical, not asynchronous, yeah. (stutters) Archery is asynchronous. So is there anything asymmetrical in there?
Tom Lum:3v1 basketball or something?
Ella:Oh, yeah, are there any team sports that have four on each side? No, that doesn't sound right, does it? Is it a gymnastics thing? Does anyone do—
Caroline:Ooh. Are any of us even a little bit close so far?
Tom Scott:Yes. You've got fairly close with relay.
Ella:Okay, so baton. Like baton relay, maybe.
Tom Lum:Oh, oh, oh, oh, obvi— It's if you throw the baton far enough, you get discus and relay. When you pass back to the next person.
Tom Scott:We will now play all the Olympic sports at once. Good luck.
Caroline:(giggles) Yeah!
Tom Lum:That's what the decathlon used to be. It used to be all ten at once.
Tom Scott:The horse is very confused.
SFX:(guests giggling)
Ella:Is it a normal relay, like the 400 metre where they do 100 metres each? That's— That— But then— And then there's 200 metres at the end for some reason.
Tom Scott:I mean, 'normal' is doing a lot of work in that sentence. This is a normal relay for the sport, yes.
Tom Lum:Okay.
Caroline:A normal relay for the sport. Interesting.
Ella:Is there a triathlon relay where— So, you know, you pass it off.
Tom Lum:Ooh, ooh.
Ella:You do— Someone does the swim. Someone does the cycle. Someone does the run. That would be sick. They should make that.
Tom Scott:Here's the good news. You've now mentioned every word in the answer here.
Caroline:(gasp) Ooh.
Ella:(gasp) Ooh. It's a swimming relay.
Tom Scott:Yes, why?
Ella:And they're doing different... types of swimming in between the relay, like a breast stroke or... you know, front crawl?
Tom Scott:There's something different about one of the people in that relay – one of the positions in that relay – that means they're eligible for a record that none of their teammates are.
Ella:They start or finish.
Tom Lum:Do they dive in maybe?
Tom Scott:Yeah, you both got it between yourselves there.
Tom Lum:No way!
Tom Scott:The first person in that swimming relay... is just swimming the correct distance for an Olympic event. But all the others are done via handoffs. They don't dive in at the start. Well, actually it's, backstroke is the first one. It's not diving in. They start in the water, as normal with a backstroke. So everything else is handed off. It's not eligible for another record. But they can, in theory, set a single distance record and then also set a relay record at the same time for everyone.
Ella:And has that ever actually happened?
Tom Scott:I do not have any record of that happening, but—
Tom Lum:Well, if it hasn't... Tom, I don't know if you're up to anything this Sunday, but...
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom Lum:We got a team going!
Ella:There are four of us here.
Tom Lum:And we clearly have great teamwork! That was amazing! Hey, high five.
Ella:I'm going first though. I wanna get the two records.
Tom Lum:(belly laughs) Oh, that's what'll tear us apart. Yeah, there it is.
Caroline:The competitive streak is coming out here, yeah.
Tom Lum:And that's the main issue is our teamwork, not our ability to be Olympic-level swimmers.
Ella:Yeah, obviously.
Tom Scott:Yes, you're right. The first leg of a swimming relay is backstroke. They start in the water, so they can also set a normal one record. But everyone else starts with a handover, and that is different, not eligible, but the whole team can still win a world record for the group.

Each of our guests has brought a question with them. And I am assured that despite all being friends off the same podcast, they do not know each other's questions, and I certainly don't know any of them. So we will start with Ella. What have you got for us?
Ella:Okay, so thank you to Cooper Wiseman for sending this question, and it is:

In December 1988, Denny's made a small, charitable gesture to its hardworking employees. That meant tradespeople had to be sent to 700 of its diners to solve a problem they hadn't had before. What was it?

I'll say that once more.

In December 1988, Denny's made a small charitable gesture to its hardworking employees.
Ella:This meant that tradespeople had to be sent to 700 of its diners to solve a problem they hadn't had before. What was it?
Tom Lum:Caroline, you gasped. Do you know this?
Caroline:I think I know the answer, so I'm gonna keep my mouth shut for a little bit, yeah.
Tom Lum:How do you— I thought— Is Denny's also— Is Denny's a UK thing?
Ella:No, we don't have it. I thought you'd get this, Tom.
Tom Scott:It's up to the two Toms.
Tom Lum:Alright, two Toms together.
Tom Scott:Here we go.
Tom Lum:Let's sync up.
Tom Scott:Alright.
Tom Lum:We got this.
Tom Scott:It's gotta be a Christmas thing, surely.
Tom Lum:That's what I was thinking with December, yeah.
Tom Scott:'Cause Denny's is famously open 24/7, every day of the year— no. Is Denny's just every day?
Ella:No, no, no. You're right. Denny's is 24 hours every day of the year.
Tom Scott:It's gotta be a Christmas celebration thing that they sent to their employees.
Tom Lum:I'm wondering if it's a tree thing, or a light tree— tree lighting thing. Maybe they have to worry about the inside conditions for having a tree everywhere? It was phrased as a gift, right? Or something like that.
Ella:A small charitable gesture. I feel like a tree is a terrible gesture.
Tom Lum:Take care of this.
Ella:You have to work on Christmas day, but here's a tree.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom Scott:Here's a present. You take care of this thing. It's not...
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom Scott:Okay, what tradespeople are they? Like plumbers, electricians...
Tom Lum:Yeah.
Tom Scott:Could they have blown the circuit somehow or clogged the drains somehow?
Ella:I think if you think about... you've got it that it was something about Christmas. If you think about what kind of gesture you would give to someone, a shop that is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Caroline:I'm loving watching you two try and figure this one out. As somebody who also knows the answer, I'm just— This is very entertaining.
Tom Scott:We nearly didn't do this as part of the format, you know. We nearly just had me be the question master for the whole thing. And sometimes I regret it.
Tom Scott:Sometimes I regret it.
Caroline:(belly laughs)
Tom Lum:Well, Tom, I will say, and I'm sure you have these strategies. I actually haven't listened to a lot of episodes. I have three really good strategies for solving these. First one is check the comments.
SFX:(others laughing snidely)
Tom Lum:No, they're saying Christmas tree too, which is weird. Second one is, fast-forward 30 seconds until we get to the answer.
Tom Scott:Yep.
Tom Lum:And then the third solution is... Oh, actually I know this one. So it's just you, Tom, actually, just you. 'Cause I know it, cause I do know it, but...
Tom Scott:Okay, what do you give someone at Christmas? You give them a present, you give them...
Tom Lum:Presents.
Tom Scott:Something charitable. It can't just be, they gave them money.
Tom Lum:Mistletoe.
Tom Scott:And they gave them money and everyone took Christmas off, and they had to bring extra people in.
Ella:Oh, you kind of hit something. You said the right thing then.
Tom Scott:Oh, they gave everyone money.
Tom Lum:Did they give 'em time off?
Tom Lum:And then is it because... What, is it because they're so used to running 24/7 that they didn't— That they needed someone to—
Tom Scott:Did they just close the restaurants for Christmas?
Ella:Yes, yeah, they did. They closed. But what does that mean for the restaurant that's open 24 hours?
Tom Scott:There's something that's never been turned off in there. So they broke something in there, because it had never been turned off.
Ella:You're on the right lines. They asked— They were missing something because of this business model they have.
Tom Scott:They were missing the keys! They'd never closed.
Tom Lum:No way!
Tom Scott:They gave their employees the day off. They had to lock up the restaurant, and they'd never locked it.
Ella:Yeah, yeah. That's exactly it.
Tom Lum:That's amazing!
SFX:(ladies giggling)
Tom Lum:Wait, what?! I just imagine that they go to put the key in the lock, and there's no lock hole. They've just weren't made, designed that way. They just go (donk) and it's like...
Ella:So yeah, basically, the tradespeople that were called in were locksmiths.
Tom Lum:No!
Ella:They either had to no add locks to the doors that had never been locked.
Tom Lum:I was joking! That's actually what happened?!
Ella:Or they had to replace locks where they had lost the keys, because they hadn't used them for so long.
Tom Lum:That's amazing. That's really amazing.
Ella:And I'll add that... they never did this again because they lost $5 million
Ella:at the time for closing for a single day.
Tom Scott:Next question's from me. Good luck, folks.

In September 2003, the Diamond Information Center started promoting something that had the potential to increase the sale of diamond rings by up to 100%. What was it?

And one more time.

In September 2003, the Diamond Information Center started promoting something that had the potential to increase the sale of diamond rings by up to 100%. What was it?
Tom Lum:They introduced Patriarchy 2.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom Lum:The sequel to patriarchy. Now you gotta wear two.
Ella:Did some kind of big event, big celebrity around that time, do something, and they got that person to wear the diamond? I don't know, the queen's wearing a diamond. It's... (cracks up) Look, it's— how good that is. The queen's wearing it. I dunno.
Tom Lum:So was it sales of diamond rings or diamonds?
Tom Scott:Diamond rings.
Tom Lum:Diamond rings specifically. That's very interesting.
Ella:They did something, or they advertised something?
Tom Scott:They started promoting something.
Ella:Started promoting marriage as a concept.
Caroline:Nobody had ever got married before.
Tom Lum:Although, I mean, part of that's true with all the DeBeers stuff, right? With wedding rings.
Tom Scott:DeBeers basically just invented the concept of the diamond ring, right? Or promoting it as a... I can't remember my DeBeers history, and I feel like off this podcast, at least one of you will know that.
Caroline:I was literally just about to ask, when did we start wearing diamond rings as a wedding thing?
Tom Lum:I believe that's relatively recently, and I believe that was all DeBeers marketing. I don't know if this is going to be on the same level, where it's like, "Get a diamond ring for graduation or when you go to Denny's."
SFX:(group laughing)
Ella:In every Denny's Happy Meal.
Tom Lum:(laughs uproariously) How do you get more people to buy diamond rings?
Ella:The health properties of diamond.
Tom Lum:Oh, that's nefarious, yeah.
Ella:Lab-grown diamonds?
Caroline:I was just gonna say synthetic di— Maybe the perfect diamond ring, from it being a synthetic ring.
Tom Lum:Is the year imp— is it tied to a movie that year maybe?
Ella:Titanic. No, that was...
SFX:(both laughing)
Ella:You know, the Heart of the Ocean. I think that was a sapphire though.
Tom Lum:Right, also a necklace, right? Am I right?
Tom Scott:It's a new tradition to throw diamonds into the ocean. That's a whole new tradition that they're trying to create there.
Tom Lum:Oh, that's good. I was gonna say it's like, "Don't be like one of those chumps with a sapphire necklace. Get a diamond ring instead."
Tom Lum:You stay on that door. (snickers)
Tom Scott:Tom, you're actually quite close. They were trying to create a new rationale for buying a diamond ring.
Tom Lum:Okay.
Ella:Oh, scarcity. A fake— a false scarcity.
Tom Scott:That's the whole diamond industry, I think.
Ella:Yes, but an extra bit. We've thrown them, all of the diamonds in the ocean.
Tom Lum:(stifles giggling)
Caroline:Did they start advertising diamond wedding rings for men?
Tom Lum:Ooh.
Ella:Oh! They should.
Caroline:They should.
Ella:Don't— Wedding rings for pets, for children.
Caroline:So down, Charlie and Teddy.
Tom Lum:Uber for wedding rings.
Caroline:(laughs heartily)
Tom Lum:(giggles dryly)
Tom Scott:Oh, you know, someone's pitched that as a startup.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom Scott:It's somewhere in Las Vegas. Someone has pitched that as a startup. If you're getting married in Vegas, they will ship a d—
Caroline:Oh yeah.
Tom Scott:They will arrive with someone in an Elvis costume and a diamond ring at 20 minutes' notice. You know that's some company in Vegas.
Tom Lum:That's not a bad idea.
Tom Scott:That's actually not a bad idea.
Tom Scott:Don't get me wrong. Marrying on 20 minutes' notice in Vegas is a terrible idea. But the company? Solid.
Caroline:Yeah. Did they start advertising diamond rings for divorces?
Tom Lum:Ooh.
Tom Scott:Not quite.
Tom Scott:But you're actually... not too far away with that.
Ella:No way.
Tom Scott:They were trying to increase the sale of diamond rings by up to 100%. So with rings for men as well, you're nearly there. With rings for divorces, you're nearly there. There's one other thing here that they were trying to sell.
Ella:So 100% means everyone who already has a diamond. So there's someone—
Tom Lum:Is it backup rings?
Tom Lum:Buy two, get one free for your next marriage, or something like that?
Tom Lum:One on each hand.
Tom Scott:One on each hand.
Caroline:(gasps) No!
Ella:No way!
Tom Lum:Stop!
Tom Lum:What? That doesn't even make— No, no, no! No, no, no!
Tom Scott:To be—
Tom Lum:Nonononononono.
Tom Scott:I mean, if you're gonna say that doesn't really make sense, neither does the ring and the diamond on it itself. But it's not buying two for the wedding. There was one other trick they were trying to do here. So yeah, you would wear your wedding ring. But you could also have one on the other hand, for what?
Ella:I know there's eternity rings. That's a—
Caroline:Oh, or a promise ring, similar sort of thing?
Tom Lum:Or is it like when two people hold hands together, the rings are both...
Ella:(gasp) They interlock.
Tom Lum:I don't know. They're both photographable.
Tom Scott:And this is, by the way, the Diamond Information Center is marketing on behalf of DeBeers. You were right there. It's all the same—
Tom Lum:It's always. All of these, always.
Tom Scott:It's actually much, much simpler and a bit more selfish than that.
Tom Lum:Is it an investment just because it's a good— 'Cause the price of diamonds will go up? Is it a...
Tom Lum:Have a backup, have a...
Tom Scott:So, the gimmick is that, you know, some people have a ring on their left hand because they're married. Then you can also have one on your right hand because...
Ella:'Cause you're divorced. 'Cause you're not married. Cause you're... pregnant? 'Cause your—
Tom Lum:(wheezes)
Tom Lum:They're closing the Denny's?
Ella:Your child is getting married. I can't think of any— Is it about marriage, the other— No, no, the other—
Tom Scott:It's even more basic than this. I mean, I'll give you 'not married'. The reason was: just for yourself. Just because you can.
Tom Scott:You've got your wedding wing on your left hand. Buy one as a gift for yourself. Put that on your right hand. That was their shtick.
Ella:What terrible marketing.
Caroline:Did it work?
Tom Scott:They say that a few months after the campaign, a 15% rise in non-bridal diamond sales was reported. How much of that is from this campaign? How much of that was diamonds coming into fashion? I don't know.
Tom Lum:Okay, no, no, no. I am seeing. When you phrase it a certain way, where it's like, you're actually going against the patriarchy. You get one for yourself. That's empowerment. I can see how that can be spun a certain way. That's... You know, whoever like Mad Men came into the room one day and was like, slammed on the board, "Two rings." And they were like, "What do you mean?" It's like, "One for yourself." And everyone was like, "Whoa!"
Caroline:(laughs) Yeah.
Tom Lum:He'll apply that to watches. It's like, "Wear two watches, why not?"
Ella:But what kind of marketing is, "But... you've got one. That's what you wanted. Now get another one. That's it. Get more." Why?
Caroline:Just the one.
Tom Scott:The slogan was, "Your left hand says we, and your right hand says me."
SFX:(group groaning)
Caroline:I'm annoyed that I kinda like it.
Tom Lum:That...
Tom Scott:(chuckles)
Tom Lum:That Don Draper. He got it. He got us.
Tom Scott:We go over to Tom for the next question. Whenever you're ready.
Tom Lum:This listener question has been sent in by Jack Lawrence.

In 2023, Michael Dorman sued his parents for a loan repayment. He produced a document from the year 2000, apparently showing that they had a repayment agreement. The defense proved that the entire document was visibly fake, without advanced forensics. How?

I'll say it again.

In 2023, Michael Dorman sued his parents for a loan repayment. He produced a document from the year 2000, apparently showing that they had a repayment agreement. The defense proved that the entire document was visibly fake, without advanced forensics. How?
Ella:My initial thought was that it was a repayment for being born or something like that.
Ella:(chuckles) But now I'm thinking he's much older than that.
Tom Scott:I've got to step outta this one. I think I know that story. Caroline, Ella, this one's up to you.
Ella:Okay, okay, so...
Ella:The— Does the repayment have any— What the loan was for have any bearing on the... Or is it really just about it being fake?
Tom Lum:Not particularly.
Tom Lum:It's not a, yeah.
Ella:Was it handwritten?
Caroline:(sputtered laugh)
Ella:(chuckles) And that's why they were like, "Well this is clearly just a handwritten note."
Caroline:Was it in a country that's name had changed in the last 23 years?
Tom Lum:Ooh.
Caroline:And he had put the wrong name of the country down?
Tom Lum:That's very interesting, Caroline. It's a— You're on a vein like that. It's not that though.
Tom Lum:That's great thinking though.
Ella:Okay, something to do with spelling, like terrible... Or terrible legalese. It just is, none of it made any sense. Sounds real bad.
Tom Scott:I've gotta check in here, just to make sure that I'm not being— not gonna humiliate myself by coming out too early. This is an anachronism on that page, right?
Tom Lum:Correct. And it was the whole document.
Ella:What does anachronism mean?
Tom Lum:Doesn't fit with a timeline, anachronistic. It's like having a cell phone in an '80s, you know, period piece.
Caroline:Oh, interesting, okay.
Tom Lum:The document was supposedly from the year 2000.
Ella:Oh, it was not— Okay, it was from a computer or something that hasn't been made yet, or...
Ella:Or it's from a company that hadn't been established yet.
Tom Lum:You're on the— You're getting warmer. You guys are getting warmer.
Ella:So not computer or company. It was in a font that hadn't been made in 2000.
Tom Lum:(applauds)
Caroline:(gasps) No way!
Tom Lum:Now, you guys— I gotta say.
Tom Lum:You guys are so close. You just gotta name that font.
SFX:(group laughing)
Ella:Helvetica Neue.
Tom Lum:No, that's—
Tom Scott:The thing is, I can name the font. I am that kind of nerd.
Tom Lum:Oh my god, Tom!
SFX:(Tom Lum and Caroline laugh)
Tom Scott:The font is a guess. The font is a complete guess. But this has happened a couple times. So there was— and I cannot remember which country it was. There was something, some political scandal where someone had forged a document by just doing it in the default font in Microsoft Word. But the default font changed about 2007. And so it was meant to be in Times New Roman. It was actually in Calibri?
Tom Lum:Yes!
Tom Scott:There we go!
Caroline:Oh my goodness!
Tom Scott:And there was something years earlier. Sorry, hello, welcome to Tom's Font Knowledge.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom Scott:There was a scandal—
Tom Lum:A side podcast of Lateral.
Tom Scott:This must have been late 2000s, 'cause it was a US election thing. And a news organisation published a fake memo, a fake document that was meant to incriminate someone or, you know, cast aspersions on a presidential candidate. Can I remember the candidate? No. Can I remember the year? No. Can I remember that they got caught because it was meant to be typewritten, but it was actually in Courier New, complete with superscripts for where they'd written third or something like that, which doesn't happen on a typewriter... That, that I can remember.
Tom Lum:I will say, I looked this up on Wikipedia, and on the page for Calibri there, it says this has been involved in legal issues. And there were... five footnotes. There are 5–10 footnotes. It's like bababababa, this has happened multiple times, which is wild. So, according to the notes, Dorman produced a document that had been printed in a font called Calibri. This only became a standard font in Microsoft Word in 2007, and wasn't even created by the creator Lucas de Groot until 2004. But...
Tom Lum:I do love the idea of him being like, them being like, "This was made in this font," and him being like, "I'm actually friends with Lucas, and he let me play around with this prototype font early. I got early access actually. That's actually what happened."
Ella:"I actually invented this one, and it was stolen from me."
Tom Lum:Yeah, yeah, exactly, yeah! "He stole it from me."
Tom Scott:Did this get to court? 'Cause I feel like this is the sort of thing that one of the lawyers—
Tom Lum:Yes, yes it did.
Tom Scott:How did one of the lawyers not throw that out early? You'd think they would've sent that to the other lawyer at some point and gone, "Folks... can we talk about this rather than actually getting to court and doing a dramatic Perry Mason walk down the courtroom and go, 'I submit to the judge.'"
Tom Lum:If you look at this serif! Look at these two letters! Apparently, because they didn't have a font expert. They didn't have Tom on the case.
Tom Scott:(laughs)
Tom Lum:Tom's not on the case. They apparently recreated the documents in Calibri, in the same font, and then showed it to the judge, and they looked identical. But this is basically a pro tip for all you real forgers out there. Gotta use Comic Sans.
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom Lum:I looked it up. If they had used Comic Sans, Comic Sans had been invented, I believe in 1994, 1990. So they would have gotten away, if you had just— if you had only— But you look down on Comic Sans. Could have saved you. So, the defense knew that the document from the year 2000 was fake because the font it was written in had not been invented yet.
Tom Scott:Next one's from me, folks. Good luck.

At 8 am on the 16th of September, 2020, millions of people in Sudan found themselves unable to access the internet using their mobile data. But just three hours later, everyone had their service restored. This turned out to be a planned outage, but what was the reason for it?

So one more time.

8 am on 16th of September 2020, millions of people in Sudan found themselves unable to access the internet using their mobile data. But just three hours later, everyone had their service restored. This turned out to be a planned outage, but what was the reason for it?
Ella:Does Sudan have a king or a prince? Is it that what— who's their ruler? A president? So that the ruler of Sudan could watch Netflix without it being throttled too much.
Tom Lum:I was gonna say, this is Tiger King era. This is like...
Ella:September 2020. So we're in COVID times.
Tom Scott:Sorry...
Ella:Was it—
Tom Scott:I've just been told by the producer, that the answer is, who is head of state of Sudan is kind of a tricky question, so we're just gonna move over that.
Ella:Yeah, okay.
Caroline:Fair enough.
Ella:Well, whoever it is, they were watching Netflix on the 16th of September 2020.
Caroline:Was it to stop everyone from Googling something at the same time?
Tom Lum:Is this like a politically thing, or is this something more commercial or technology-based than it is like a...
Ella:Yeah, maybe something like this. There was some kind of... real hot merch drop that they were trying to stop people from grabbing up all the merch.
Caroline:My brain went to, were they trying to increase the sale of Wi-Fi... providers?
Tom Scott:You've picked up on something there, Caroline. Yeah, it was only the mobile data that went out.
Tom Lum:Oh, very interesting. Was it to upgrade to a new G? Like 4G to 5— blah-blah-blah-blah.
Ella:I don't think Sudan was getting 5G in 2020.
Caroline:(giggles) Yeah!
Ella:We barely got it here.
Caroline:Mobile data went down. Why find things were still working?
Ella:Where does mobile data come from? Is it like—
Tom Lum:Our hearts.
Ella:different from the way we get our...
Tom Lum:Towers, right? I believe so.
Ella:Yeah, is this—
Tom Lum:I'm wondering if you would need to take— turn the towers off for a environmental reason maybe? Maybe there's a migration of birds or something.
Ella:Yeah, you know how when plane traffic is low or boat traffic is low, whales can hear each other better? They speak more during those moments.
Tom Lum:What?
Tom Scott:I did not know that.
Ella:Yeah, so when there's been prolonged plane outages due to various reasons, whale song picks up loads during those times, because the sounds disrupt their communications between each other.
Tom Scott:Did you say plane outages there? I think you may— Did you mean boat?
Ella:Boat or plane. No, planes as well. They can hear the sounds.
Tom Lum:Oh, really?
Ella:Yeah, it's all transmitted down into the ocean. They can hear a lot down there.
Tom Lum:Wow.
Tom Scott:Wow. Yeah, I didn't know that. It's a lovely story. Unfortunately not.
Tom Lum:It wasn't whales?
Ella:Yeah, it wasn't for the whales around Sudan.
Tom Lum:Is it not— Is it an animal reason? I'm thinking birds might, maybe if there was some migration pattern, no.
Ella:Oh yeah, migratory. That would be interesting.
Tom Lum:Yeah.
Ella:We're really going sciencey here, 'cause that's what we do.
Tom Lum:(guffaws)
Tom Scott:Caroline, earlier on, you said to stop everyone Googling at the same time.
Tom Scott:It's not quite there, but it's close.
Tom Lum:Is this sport related at all? I wonder if there's, you know, if there's an event where, you know...
Caroline:Ooh, is it kinda you know how you have to turn your phone off when you're in an aeroplane, because it disrupts all of the controllers?
Ella:If it's about searching for something or looking at something online, maybe. Maybe there was a—
Caroline:But the Wi-Fi was still...
Ella:Yeah, that's true. If the Wi-Fi was up, then...
Caroline:Is it something to do with the signal that phones are emitting or...
Tom Lum:Maybe a new Tom Scott video had dropped, and they didn't want everyone to rush all at once to go see it.
SFX:(others laughing)
Ella:Alright, stop sucking up.
SFX:(Tom Lum and Caroline laugh uproariously)
Tom Lum:Do I get a point for that?
Tom Scott:No, absolutely not.
Ella:Not gonna get—
Tom Scott:Two reasons. One, I don't wanna reward that, and second, we don't have points. We're not tracking them.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom Lum:(sobs laughing)
Tom Scott:Does someone win at the end of this show? The audience, maybe. Certainly not me.
Tom Lum:Maybe, hopefully.
Caroline:I'm just gonna hold onto "We're not gonna reward that." That's a line that I'm gonna say all the time from now on! (giggles)
Tom Lum:(applauds)
Ella:We're gonna have to start implementing that on our podcast. When Tom tries to make a joke.
Tom Lum:We're not gonna reward that.
Tom Scott:Again, Caroline, you came in with, "You know how everyone has to turn off their phone when..." And then you went to aeroplane. And that bit's not right.
Caroline:When you're in... the cinema? Was everybody being forced to watch something at the same time?
SFX:(Tom Lum and Ella cracking up)
Ella:At 8 am?
Caroline:Yeah! 8 am! (cackles)
Ella:Voting, voting? Something to do with, it was like a...
Tom Lum:Yeah, maybe so that people would not be able to corroborate with each other?
Ella:Cheat in the vote?
Tom Lum:Yeah, yeah, is that...
Ella:They would still have normal cell service.
Tom Scott:You've got very close with cooperation, collaboration, and preventing things like that.
Ella:Exam, was it an exam?
Tom Scott:That's it.
Caroline:(gasp) Ohhh!
Tom Lum:(applauds) Great job, Ella! Wow!
Caroline:Oh my goodness!
Tom Scott:It was the national high school exams. And you're right, it's COVID times. This would've been August and earlier. But they'd been postponed, so yes. 8 am, 16th of September 2020, there was a national examination. And so, as an experiment, they just turned off cell data so students could not Google the answers.
Ella:Did it work?
Tom Scott:I do not know whether it worked or not.
Ella:I feel like if they didn't— if they're not doing it still, probably not.
Caroline:Maybe not, yeah, yeah.
Ella:Students will find a way to cheat no matter what.
Tom Lum:I was gonna say. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Caroline:Ella, did you cheat at school? Is that what you're confessing to right now?
Ella:Oh, sorry, I'm drinking water.
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom Lum:I can neither confirm nor deny. Yeah, I'll be like, "I don't know, that doesn't work. All you have to do is da, da, da, da. It's very easy." God, can you imagine if you didn't know though, and you're just a student, and you're just like, "Oh no, oh no. Oh no, oh no!"
SFX:(others chuckling)
Tom Scott:Caroline, time for your question. Whenever you're ready.
Caroline:Amazing. This is a listener question that has been sent in by Cressida.

Katie went for a new job at a prestigious employer. She was 50% more likely to go through to the next round, compared to the past, when asked to take off her shoes and sit behind a full-height partition. What was the job?

I'll say it again.

Katie went for a new job at a prestigious employer. She was 50% more likely to go through to the next round, compared to the past, when asked to take off her shoes and sit behind a full-height partition. What was the job?
Ella:A full-height partition.
Tom Scott:So she's blocked off visually from the interviewer, from whoever's hiring.
Caroline:Yeah, yeah. So the partition stopped Katie and the panel of people from seeing each other.
Ella:But they— But she's taken her shoes off for some reason.
Tom Lum:That's what's very interesting to me. Is this like a bank teller?
Tom Scott:Why do you say that?
Tom Lum:Oh, 'cause if you're a bank teller, there's a partition, then maybe you have to be tall enough so that they can see you.
Tom Scott:Ah.
Ella:I know, but—
Tom Lum:Am I being—
Caroline:That makes a lot of sense. I love it.
Ella:So you're saying they have to be tall enough to look over the partition in this scenario?
Tom Lum:Yeah.
Tom Scott:But why 50%? And why do you take your shoes off?
Tom Lum:Yeah, I don't know if that number is specific or...
Ella:Can you see under the partition?
Caroline:No, so the partition is specifically designed to prevent Katie from seeing the employer panel, and the employer panel from seeing Katie.
Tom Lum:Oh, okay. Wait, wait, wait. So are we seeing Katie's lower half?
Caroline:You're seeing nothing. It is a full-height.
Tom Lum:Oh, okay.
Ella:Maybe the shoes gave away... Maybe the sound of the shoes gave away her gender or something about her.
Tom Scott:I was thinking about that.
Ella:Yes, okay.
Caroline:Spot on, yeah.
Tom Scott:It's because you can't see her. And then you can't work out stilettos or footfalls or anything like that. So okay, you're 50% more likely to get the job...
Ella:If you're not a woman in this scenario.
Caroline:Or if they don't know what your gender is.
Ella:Yes, aware. So, prestigious.
Tom Lum:Podcast host.
Tom Scott:Industry— yeah, thank you!
SFX:(group cracking up)
Tom Lum:The most prestigious.
Tom Scott:What do you call four men in a room? A podcast. Yeah, okay.
SFX:(ladies laughing)
Ella:I would say... I would try and come up with a specific example, but I feel like almost any pretigious industry, all the tops tend to be men. Banking.
Tom Scott:There's gotta be a trick to this though. There always is in these questions. There's gotta be something.
Tom Lum:Yeah.
Caroline:I'll give you a little something. She didn't even speak to the employer panel.
Tom Lum:That's fascinating.
Ella:Did they smell her?
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom Lum:Just vibes.
Tom Scott:The employer panel were dogs acting entirely by scent.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Ella:She had to do something for the interview. If she didn't speak, she had to perf—
Tom Scott:Wait, wait, wait. Did you say she didn't speak, or they couldn't hear her?
Caroline:I said that she didn't speak. Not that they couldn't hear her.
Tom Lum:What is happening?
Tom Scott:Is she a musician of some kind? This is a performance.
SFX:(guests gasping)
Tom Scott:And the... I don't know where I'm going with this, because I don't see why there'd be a gender selection for how good your... violin performance is. I'm gonna guess an instrument.
Tom Lum:Is it an orchestra?
Caroline:It is an orchestra, yeah!
Tom Lum:This is, this is— At the beginning of this, I was gonna say as a joke, this is like the thing that happens in Tár. But this is actually a thing? So, yeah, please continue. Is this—
Tom Scott:Sorry, the thing that happens in Tár? 'Cause I've heard a lot of things about the movie, and I'm not sure what...
Tom Lum:They do a blind audition of a person, and then Lydia Tár notices that the shoes of the person walking away— Underneath the partition, she can see the shoes, and she knows it's a person that she fancies. So— and I was like— I was gonna say that as a joke, but I think, is this actually what's happening, Caroline?
Caroline:Yeah, pretty much. So like in the 1970s... top orchestras, especially in the US, had as few as 5% women in their ranks.
Tom Lum:Holy moly!
Caroline:Yeah. So to improve this bias, many orchestras implemented blind auditions. Where players would perform anonymously behind a screen, that partition. But they found that the sound of shoes often gave it away, of if it was a man or a woman or not. And therefore some bias still was happening. So to combat this, they made performers take off their shoes before the auditions, before the... before doing their initial performance. And researchers found that this method increased the chance of women passing the first round of auditions by 50%.
Tom Lum:(softly) That is nice.
Tom Lum:Instrument playing! Playing a violin.
Caroline:Mhm, mhm.
Tom Scott:Which brings me to the last order of business. At the start of the show, I asked this question, which was sent in by Matt Sheldon:

When a new game in the Resident Evil franchise was released in 2017, why were two and a half letters in its name coloured orange?
Tom Lum:Two and a half. Do the—
Ella:Two and a half.
Tom Lum:I should know this. I do love some of the Resident Evils. Did they spell— The Is spell the number of the game?
Tom Scott:Yes.
Ella:Yeah, that has to be it.
Tom Scott:Yes, they did. How?
Tom Lum:Is it— Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh! Is it 'VILLAGE'? Is it Resident Evil Village and it's like they do the VII?
Ella:No, that came out a couple of years ago.
Tom Lum:Okay.
Tom Scott:I mean, you're right. You've just missed a slightly more obvious place those letters could be.
Tom Scott:In the word 'EVIL', yes.
Caroline:(laughs triumphantly)
Tom Lum:Okay, okay, yeah.
Tom Scott:Yes, it was Resident Evil VII, which is VII in Roman numerals. And they took the V, the I, and half the L from 'EVIL' to make that seven.
Tom Lum:Ohh!
Tom Scott:Congratulations to all our players. Normally I hand over to each individually to say what's going on in your world. But in this case, let's just go for the chaos. Tell me about Let's Learn Everything.
Tom Lum:Right now, the device you're listening to, you're listening to podcasts. You're a fan of podcasts. If you wanna hear us, we host a podcast called Let's Learn Everything on the MaxFun network. Every episode, we learn about a science topic, we answer a science question, and we learn about a miscellaneous topic. So for example, on a single episode, we learned about the science of pregnancy tests throughout the ages. We calculated the middlest size in the universe, and then we learned about the history of fanfiction. We do a lot of research, but we also make fun of each other. We think the best way to learn is with friends who are excited and who make dumb jokes.
Caroline:Tom, did you write that?
Tom Lum:I did.
Caroline:(laughs uproariously)
Tom Lum:I did prepare. And you can visit, if you wanna see, everything is at
Ella:And if you like Lateral, you will definitely like Let's Learn Everything, because we learn this kind of stuff all the time.
Tom Scott:And if you wanna know more about this show, you can do that at where you can also send in your own listener questions. We have video highlights every week at and you can find us at @lateralcast pretty much everywhere.

With that, thank you very much to Caroline Roper.
Tom Scott:To Ella Hubber.
Tom Scott:And to Tom Lum.
Tom Lum:Ka-chow!
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom Scott:My name's Tom Scott, and that's been Lateral.
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