One character works on a device of some kind, and no matter what she does, it doesn't work. She tells her struggle to another character who tries to use it himself, without her telling him how it works. Because of this, it works perfectly for him, because he doesn't know how it works
Related to Achievements in Ignorance
, except that this is a device that requires
Achievements in Ignorance in order to work.
Compare It Runs on Nonsensoleum
(for when the audience is happy to accept that it works because it does) and Black Box
(for when no one knows how it works, not just the users). See also Magic-Powered Pseudoscience
and Magic from Technology
for when no one knows how it works.
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Live Action TV
- In the Gilligan's Island episode where Mr Howell's double has been found, spending his money, the real Howell offers the castaways a reward to get him back to the mainland. Gilligan invents a set of bird wings, for Howell to use. When he demonstrates:
Skipper: That's impossible. You can't fly!
Gilligan:(who was hovering about 10 feet up) I can't?
Gilligan: Oh. (drops like a rock)
Gilligan: Why'd you have to say that?
- Warhammer 40k
- It is explained that ork technology works only because orks aren't bright enough to realize that it should not work. They also believe that of all the vehicles, The Red Ones Go Faster. In fact, they believe it strongly enough for it to be true.
- There is one instance where an ork manages to steal a spaceship and go for a joyride around the system, even though the ship had no fuel. It worked simply because he didn't realize that he was running on empty.
- Goblins features Minmax's sword Oblivious, which took on the attributes of absolute nothingness, and technically does not exist. Minmax's incomprehension of how the sword works actually makes it stronger, since the less definite a concept it is, the more powerful it becomes.
- In Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, it's an explicit rule that the Time Travel technology works better the less you think about it. The first trip runs smoothly because Commander Badass distracts Jones immediately beforehand, so she thinks about the nonsense he said instead of about time travel. On the return journey, Commander Badass forgets, and Jones wonders how people can use Facebook to communicate across time, and disaster strikes.