Chinese Whispers

This lunchtime I have been reflecting on an event that happened not so long ago. It was at an entrepreneurship event sponsored by the Institute of Physics. I went along to hear what they had to say about the funding gap between start-up funding and profitability. The main speaker had founded a fibre laser company.

I got talking to someone there and mentioned that in the dim distant past I had been at Imperial. He then proceeded to tell me a tale in which I was the main character. What he told me, without knowing who I was, was entirely inconsistent with my recollection. He then intimated that he and I had met. This was wholly inaccurate. I did not let on who I was but thought, “what a wanker!”

People make a whole bunch of shit up and exaggerate especially if they like to hold court to an audience. The more extroverted they are the more likely they are to let their tongue run away and embellish stories. Then if someone else recounts said story and adds more embellishment any facts get quickly lost.

I once worked with someone who was something of a liability. He would speak full of enthusiasm but never press down on the clutch and engage his brain. The desire to extrovert was so strong he never checked the veracity of his utterance, he loved to entertain. But he should have come with a health warning….

Sometimes it is useful to know who / what you are talking about before jumping to conclusions. The event I mentioned above gave anecdotal “proof” that a whole bunch of inaccurate bullshit was circulating about me which had been amplified by the Chinese whisper generator.

Which led me to the question; “how can you tell is someone is a reliable witness or not?”