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Schmuck Bait / Real Life

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  • Since 2007, the Science Museum in London has had an exhibit called "DO NOT TOUCH". A large pole with a barred-off bare metal waist is surrounded by brain-searing yellow warning signs, proximity-sensor klaxons, and screens telling patrons that the pole will give them an electric shock. You can't help but touch it! And yes, you do get an electric shock if you touch it.
  • This Place is Not a Place of Honor: The U.S. Department of Energy is designing monuments that warn future visitors — including ones living tens of thousands of years in the future when the authority of the U.S. government is a distant memory and all current human languages are no longer understood — away from nuclear waste disposal sites such as Yucca Mountain and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. The ideas they've come up with are fascinating — but not one of them has managed to avert the site being Schmuck Bait of the highest caliber. To their credit, they're well aware that anything they design is potential Schmuck Bait, and they're actively working to minimize the bait factor.
    • Jerry Pournelle once suggested an elegant solution: Put the waste in one of the areas of desert that are already radioactive because nuclear weapons were tested there. Surround it with miles of fence and lots of signs that say IF YOU CROSS THIS FENCE, YOU WILL DIE. Some people will do it anyway. "Think of it as evolution in action. Average human intelligence goes up by a fraction of a percent."
      • Another proposed option which would make any warning stand out like a sore thumb to all other "pharaoh's curse" warnings: End the warning with an apology and/or plea for forgiveness, which any "Don't you dare take my gold!" warning would intentionally omit.
  • Any Wet Paint sign.
    Tell a man there are 978,301,246,569,987 stars in the sky, and he will believe you. Show him a "Wet Paint" sign, and he will check and get his finger stained.
    Julian Tuwim
    • There is a similar joke about restaurant patrons touching hot plates 'just to be sure.'
  • Some tech departments will periodically send out emails which supposedly have viruses attached, then inform everyone at large to not open the attachment. If someone does, it will turn out that the "virus" is actually a tracer that lets the department tell managers which of their employees cannot follow directions.
  • Turning off the Electronic Stability Control (either to get a quicker start-speed by turning off the Launch Control or to facilitate street race "drifting") on a Nissan GT-R will void the warranty, should the car get damaged in that mode. Sure, the ESC is shown to make crashes 35% less likely, and there are few legit reasons to turn it off, unless you are stuck in mud or snow... but a button that, when pressed, will let you go 0 to 65 in 3.4 seconds is preeeeetty tempting. The 2012 Nissan GT-R would remove the bait, by adding the "R-Mode Start" option, where the ESC may be switched to an "R" mode, only coming on after the initial burst of speed.
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  • Including Schmuck Bait options in multiple-choice questions is common practice for the SATs, standardized tests, and regular school tests. It's so common that test-prep courses actually give the Schmuck a name (e.g. "Joe Bloggs") and demonstrate how this gullible strawman, thinking he's being clever, always falls for the Schmuck Bait.
  • British revision site BBC Bitesize loves this "trick":
    In order to deal with a rapidly increasing population, the Chinese government introduced...
    a) The One-child policy
    b) The Two-child policy
    c) Free Contraception
    d) The Child Catcher
  • The Voltage Switch on the back of computer PSUs. Flicking it causes a loud bang, a lot of smoke, and a broken PSU.
    • Well, maybe. The switch routes to a voltage doubler on the 115V setting. Switching it to 230V in the US, Canada, and other 100V-120V countries won't do anythingnote . Switching to 115V in 230V countries however will blow up the power supply.
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  • Inverted with the PlayStation 3—each console warns on the back that it will only accept one exact power voltage, usually the voltage where the PS3 was originally sold in. People who imported their PS3 found that it's a sham, a PS3 actually has a world-multi power supply board. Sony was most likely trying to discourage people from importing their consoles.
  • The rm -rf / command-line invocation for novice Unix users. Especially don't run it as root... rm is short for "remove". The -r flag enables the "recursive" option, and -f is the "don't ask me if I'm sure" flag. The single slash denotes the entire filesystem, kinda like C:\ for a Windows machine, but even more. If you run it as a regular user, it'll delete everything you have access to. If you run it as the superuser (that is, root user, user 1, the administrative user) then it'll delete everything. Or at least try to until it deletes something system-critical, like the ''rm'' command itself. In any case, the system is pretty much unusable afterwards and at best will require a reformat and OS reinstall. Most modern Unix variants will prevent you from running it, since it has no legitimate use.note 
    • Running a similar command almost forced the animators of Toy Story 2 to start over from scratch, but fortunately one of the animators kept a backup on her computer because she worked from home.
    • Man page for hdparm. It is a utility of Linux systems for reconfiguring/testing how the OS interfaces with the hard disk, and optimizing those settings for the hardware installed. All the potentially data-destructing options are thankfully lined in BOLD, ALL CAPS warnings stating they are VERY DANGEROUS, and that you should NOT USE THESE OPTIONS.
    • Also, if one types fsck to check a disk on a mounted filesystem, Linux will give a dire error message: "WARNING!! The filesystem is mounted. If you continue you ***WILL*** cause ***SEVERE*** filesystem damage." It won't stop someone from doing it since you can press "Yes" anyway, but at least Linux can say they tried to warn you.
    • Likewise the dd command is sometimes given the nickname "disk destroyer" on account of how easy it is to mix up the input and output files, which can result in copying your brand-new, empty hard drive over the one holding all your old data instead of the other way around like you probably wanted. Pretty much every dd tutorial out there will warn you to make sure you've set it up correctly.
    • For Debian-style distributions, attempting to remove an essential package will yield the warning "You are about to do something potentially harmful. To continue type in the phrase 'Yes, do as I say!'". Indeed, the action will not complete without typing the phrase. Copy/pasting the line won't work.
      • This message has the tendency to appear when a distro switch out one important package for an alternative (say, dumping SysV initscripts for SystemD) during a major distro upgrade under certain conditions. However, in this case, the admin doing the upgrade most likely is already prepared for this and knows what s/he is doing.
    • Also, people who tell Windows users to delete "System32" because it'll greatly improve performance or display the Triforce from The Legend of Zelda. Windows usually prevents you from doing this however. If you're on an "Administrator" account, you can access the System32 files just fine, but only after seeing a message saying something like "These files are hidden, and are required for proper operation of your computer." You can "okay" the message, but it doesn't actually stop you...
    • A much more harmless prank tech savvy people use on the non savvy is telling them to press ALT + F4 to fix a slow or troublesome program. Pressing both keys at the same time just closes the program.note 
    • On a similar note, fork bombs- programs which only serve to spawn infinite copies of themselves, using up all of your computer's memory until you're forced to manually turn it off. A simple and very unassuming Linux version is :(){ :|:& };:
  • Lecturers at some universities, to catch students.
    • Luis von Ahn at Carnegie Mellon sets at least one assignment per year with a Google-bomb phrase in the questions, leading to a website with the answer and the correct solutions, which logged the IP addresses of people who entered the website. As students were told not to use the internet to do such questions (and such phrases did not exist), he would then happily accuse students who visited the website as cheaters.
    • Samir Siksek is also famous for this at Warwick.
    • Some Software Engineer teachers bug their sample programs in this way to detect code reverse-engineered from that sample program. For example, a program that takes a random number to generate a result would, on a specific number in the test program (and thus all code derived from that program) return a message that the student had cheated.
    • Although not as sophisticated, some professors simply post solutions to current assignments online. The catch? If a student just copied the solution verbatim, the professor would easily accuse that student of cheating. Sometimes the answer or the method is incorrect, making the cheating even more obvious.
  • Invoked by police all over the US with bait cars. A bait car is a Cool Car that's set out on the street and "abandoned", while an officer watches from a safe distance. All the car's functions are remote-controlled, allowing the police to shut off the engine and force-lock the doors in order to trap anyone that tries to break in or steal the car. And there's a camera hidden in the dashboard, so they have proof that the thief stole it.
  • These ominously-labelled switches.
  • Sign on Newcastle Tramway: TOUCHING WIRES CAUSES INSTANT DEATH. $200 FINE.
  • Heart Attack Grill: It's as close to Exactly What It Says on the Tin as it can be. It doesn't grill heart attacks, but it is themed around food which is known to cause them and other health problems. Among the delicacies are extra-large hamburgers (the smallest weigh half a poundnote  and the largest run to two poundsnote , served with fries cooked in pure lard. It's themed as a hospital, with the staff being healthy "doctors" and "nurses" who serve to customers as "patients". And the food is named after health problems and surgeries (for instance, the burgers run from "Single Bypass" to "Quadruple Bypass" and the fries are called "Flatliner Fries"). And just to tempt people who are already at risk of cardiovascular diseases, customers who weigh over 350 pounds can eat for free after the staff verifies their weight. Two spokespeople have already died at ages 29 and 52, respectively. If you are still willing to eat there knowing all of this...
  • Any action of which the showing is preceded by the words "Don't Try This at Home."
  • If you're going to the restaurant known as "The Crab Cooker," don't look up there. It's a red herring.
  • Pang Juan, a general of Wei in China's Warring States period, came across writing scratched on a tree: however, it was too dark to read. Accordingly, he had a torch lit, revealing the writing to be "Pang Juan dies under this tree". The lighting of the torch was the signal for an ambush, set by Pang's rival Sun Bin,note  to attack. Pang Juan would commit suicide under that same tree.
  • In Metro Manila in the Philippines, there is a sign set-up in the middle of a two-lane main thoroughfare which reads (in the vernacular) "Do not cross. Someone has already died here. Use the overpass." This is a warning to all potential jaywalkers to use appropriate overpasses and pedestrian crossings. Guess what most of the Filipinos reading it do next.
  • Rabbits, despite being oh-so-cute and snuggly, are reportedly prone to kicking forcefully with their (clawed!) hind feet in response to the inevitable attempts at snuggling them.
    • Similarly, cats. Ultra-cute, fuzzy, and snuggly, but also extremely flexible, pointy at five of their six ends, and notoriously prone to violent mood swings. They often like to cuddle, but don't expect them to remain in that mood for a very long time...
      • A cat lying on its back exposing its belly—it's not inviting you to pet its belly, it's inviting you to play. Unfortunately, it's a kind of playing that typically involves claws, teeth, and pain.
  • If you access the about:robots page on Mozilla Firefox, there is a button like with most error pages that reads "Try again". Pressing the button yields another message: "Please do not press this button again."
    • Pressing the button again causes it to disappear.
  • Bot messages. Especially when they hijack someone you know that has potential to send you links. The only exception are YIM spam bots, as they know that any message exchanged opens door for programs to snatch login data.
    NotASpamBot: Hi! I just met you and this is crazy! So here is my site and join me maybe!
    Friend: I just found a way to find out if someone blocked you! Click here >>
    • In a similar manner, people that send you message or emails that say something like "We need to verify your account/your account information may be compromised. Please enter your account information to secure/verify your account." Nearly every single website or online company will NEVER ask for your personal information, yet people on a daily basis keep giving up their info and have their bank accounts or personal identity stolen as a result.
  • In 2008, Valve attempted to get a hacker arrested in an FBI sting operation by offering him a job. Though they did get him to admit to infiltrating their network he didn't fly to the US for a "face-to-face" interview after the German police caught wind of it and arrested him in his home of Europe.
  • If anyone ever asks if you if you want a Hertz Donut, the correct answer is no. If you say yes, they'll punch you and say, "Hurts, don't it?"
    • Similarly, guys should beware being asked "What's the capitol of Thailand?", as the answernote  leads to a Groin Attack.
  • Shortly after the launch of the Xbox One, an image spread around with instructions that supposedly enables backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games, by going into the developer console and changing the sandbox ID to "freezone.reboot". It actually sends the console into an infinite reset loop, effectively bricking it.
  • A psychological experiment found that, left alone for fifteen minutes with a button that delivered a painful electric shock, two-thirds of men and a quarter of women would press the button. One 'outlier' pressed the button 190 times.
  • Some people catch pedophiles on webcam by pretending to be a child and using a fake webcam video, hoping the pedophile is too stupid and/or horny to notice the video is on a loop.
  • The Other Wiki has a similar concept in its project pages:
  • The Jimmy John's sub sandwich food chain have folded paper displays on their tables with a giant QR code that says "WHY WOULD ANYONE SCAN THESE!? (I don't even know what they do.)" Scanning the QR code gives you a message.
  • The "Bullet Catch" is an infamous feat of stage magic which is virtually never attempted today, as several professional magicians who'd historically made it a part of their repertoire have either killed their assistants doing so, or been killed themselves. Despite its deadly record, or more likely because it's so lethal, it's still a tempting prospect for little-known magicians who want to build up their reputations very fast. (The ones who've already made it big avoid this trick like the plague.)
    • The last widely publicized time that this trick/stunt was attempted was in 1995 when Penn & Teller decided to try it, with Teller firing the gun for Penn to catch the bullet, complete with a US Air Force officer and a Las Vegas Metro Police officer. The stunt was the grand finale for the 2nd annual "World's Greatest Magic" show on Thanksgiving night. Everything worked flawlessly.
      • Then again, if there's anyone who could be counted on to know how to do this trick/stunt competently, and to make a point of abiding by that knowledge, it's those two.
    • A more recent attempt in 2012 by Steve Cohen led to him being hospitalized for bruising due to a piece of glass that the bullet was shot through. He's not only lucky to have caught the bullet; he's lucky to have survived the trick at all!
    • The MythBusters proved in one episode that the bullet catch trick is just that—a trick. Any real attempt to catch such a bullet with your teeth would shatter said teeth and leave you seriously injured, if not dead.
    • The important thing to remember about magic tricks is that they use visual and audio trickery to give the impression of the impossible, with the actual execution being far safer than the trick looks. Bullet-catching involves keeping the bullet in the magician's teeth the entire time while the assistant uses a blank cartridge, the "cutting a box containing a person in half" trick sees the assistant retracting their legs into the front half of the box (often with a pair of convincing fake feet sticking out of the back half) as the box is split apart, and so on. "Magicians" as it were, do not actually refer to themselves as such. They market themselves as it, and have no problems with being referred to with that name, but personally they prefer "Illusionist."
    • In 2017, a YouTuber and her boyfriend attempted a variation of the trick—stopping a bullet fired from a .50 calibre Desert Eagle handgun with a phone book. The bullet went straight through the phone book into the man's chest and killed him on the spot. No, really, Do Not Try This at Home, kids.
  • The Real Frank Zappa Book by Frank Zappa has an entire chapter devoted to the subject called: "All About Schmucks''.
  • For Black Friday 2014, Cards Against Humanity took their game off of their store and replaced it with a $6 box of "Bullshit." Despite repeated assertions on the store page and through social media that the box would contain "literal feces, from an actual bull," over 30,000 people purchased the box. Yes, it contained (sterilized) bull poop. Yes, people were upset.
  • The line for the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland is made up to look like you are walking through ancient ruins. At one point, you go through a hall with poles holding up the ceiling. One of these is within reach of people in line and says "Do Not Touch". If you pull on it, the ceiling of the hall begins to shake and may even drop slightly. At another point you pass a well with a rope and a sign saying "Do Not Pull". If you decide to do so, the rope actually has some resistance and you will hear some audio from the well of something breaking and a person complaining about you destroying some artifact.
  • A fairly popular prank amongst dirty-minded children is to ask someone to spell "icup", Gullible folks will not notice that they're saying "I see you pee".
    • A variation is to ask the victim to spell "oil cup" without using the letter L. This yields, "Oh, I see you pee."
  • Similarly, write out "Thug aim" and challenge someone to say it. "The Game," a.k.a. that memetic "game" where you lose when you think about it.
  • Nature is full of these. One great example are anglerfish. Their dorsal fin has evolved into a tempting lure. Fish swimming by see a morsel, but find themselves violently engulfed by the far larger predator.
  • Search for any recent big movie on YouTube and you'll see tons of videos claiming to be the full movie, but if you click it it will give a link to where it claims the full movie really is, but it really leads to a virus. Sometimes these fake videos go up before the movie is even out. Sometimes the thumbnail is just a promotional image for the movie or the logo for the movie studio. Sometimes it's not even the right movie studio logo.
    • It doesn't even have to be something recent either. This happens for just about any movie or TV show when you search it up, regardless of age.
  • Clicking on links leading to the Website (don't click) will get you spammed with over a thousand pop-ups.
  • By default, Microsoft Windows hides extensions on files with known file types; many tech-adapt users strongly advise disabling this feature, because some viruses disguise themselves by masquerading as a multimedia file or document for example, such as song.mp3 or important document.pdf ... which are actually executable files, i.e. the actual full filename is "(filename).mp3.exe". Joel of Vinesauce had a field day with these in his "Windows 8 Destruction" video, the climax of which involves him opening up a file named "videoxxx.avi.exe" and discovering that it's ransomware that prevents his PC from booting unless he pays for an unlock code (fortunately, he was using a virtual machine). On the other hand, there were more benign examples involving fake music downloads (such as Gin and Juice.exe, which amused him immensely), that installed an adware-laden download manager that didn't work.
  • In the late 2000's tons of videos appeared on YouTube claiming to have found glitches, exploits, or secrets in the most popular video game titles at the time (such as Halo 3 or Grand Theft Auto IV). However, once you clicked on the video, it turned out to be a Rick Roll, Screamer, or YouTube Poop. Additionally, the image was a random screenshot of the game pulled off the internet and placed in a certain position so that it would show up as the video's thumbnail.
  • At the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William (commanding the Normans) ordered part of his army to deliberately retreat; the Anglo-Saxons on the other side came out of their strong defensive position to pursue ... right into William's reserve cavalry in full charge. After the third repetition of this, the Anglo-Saxon defensive line had lost so many men that William could finally break through, and become William the Conqueror.
  • Speaking of the military, if you happen to have a friend in uniform ask him what random crap job was dumped on the poor hapless private who rose his hand when the question "Who likes ice cream?" or "Who's interested in skydiving?" was asked. While you're at it, ask him if it was him. Despite being a very obvious trap, it is very common practice for the higher-ups to sucker in an unwitting volunteer for an unpleasant task by asking such a question because there's always one guy who's either too inexperienced or simply not paying attention who puts his hand up.
  • An attempt to avert this with high voltage equipment warns "Not only will this kill you, it will hurt the entire time you are dying."
  • An unintentional example comes in the form of the cartridges for the Nintendo Switch. Since the cartridges are about the size of a US quarter, Nintendo had them coated with a bitter-tasting non-toxic additive (denatonium benzoate, to be exact) during the manufacturing process to discourage small children from trying to eat them. Naturally, a trend arose during the system's launch period in which an overwhelming number of grown adults started licking the cartridges to see if it really was as bitter as others claimed.
  • Defcon conferences, as they attract the top hackers in the world, are rife with this. If you're around the Las Vegas venue when it's going on, under no circumstances should you connect to any open Wi-Fi networks, insert any "lost" USB sticks into your computer, use your smartphone without it being set to "airplane" mode or use any ATM that is conveniently nearby.
  • The "Whatsapp Moan", a practical joke that became popular in Brazil, is all about this: the person receives a way too quiet audio. Once the volume is raised, it cuts to a really loud case of The Immodest Orgasm.
  • Who hasn't heard the "gullible isn't in the dictionary" trick?
  • In July 2018, Hideki Kamiya imposed an embargo on any replies to him in non-Japanese languages, including English. He states that this is because he's fed up with people who just reply to his posts without reading them or thinking before posting, and he knows that there are people who are going to attempt to talk to him in English anyway and finds those people amusing to see (and block). In short, his Japanese-only rule serves as a filter for both idiot foreigners and excessively curious people.
    "I'll keep stating that I block foreign language posts (of course including English) for a while. That lures lots of insects to block. Very funny to see."
  • Honeypots in computer security are isolated and monitored sections of a network that look like a regular part of the network, usually containing something of interest. The hacker investigates, ends up in the honeypot, and is blocked.
  • The UK driving test has a couple:
    • The test includes two "show me, tell me" questions regarding the basic functions of a car, the latter of which is done before the test begins and is just answered verbally, and the former of which is done during the test, and has you demonstrate the function that the examiner is asking about. Usually not answering the question or getting the answer wrong just results in a minor fault, of which you are allowed to commit 15 before you fail the test. However, if an examiner is feeling particularly fiendish, they will ask you to demonstrate the car's horn in a queue of traffic. The correct answer to this is to say that sounding the horn at that point would be inappropriate, and that you'll do it when you're out of the queue. Sounding the horn there and then will be considered an attempt to intimidate the driver(s) in front of you, which is a serious fault and thus will make you instantly fail the entire test. Alternatively, they'll ask you to demonstrate something that requires you to look away from the road for an extended period of time — such as the fan or windshield heater controls — while you're driving through a narrow and winding country lane, which will probably also result in a serious fault for lack of control and/or judgement.
    • Another way the examiner might trip you up is to tell you to take "the next permissible road on the left/right" — the word "permissible" being included usually means that the actual next road (possibly even the next two roads) on that side will be a no-entry road. Naturally, trying to drive down such a road will lead to an instant failure. Prior to 2013, they might also have tried to trip you up by indicating that you should turn onto a motorway, which UK learner drivers were not permitted to do at the time.
    • The theory test, which is separate to the practical test, has one in the "hazard perception" section, the instructions to which tell you that you won't be penalized for clicking on the video clips too many times. Fun fact; you totally will be penalized if you do click too many times, namely by scoring zero for that clip. Fortunately, it does at least tell you when this happens, which should prevent you from making the mistake again (unless you get nervous and just start clicking randomly), but it leaves much less room for error in the rest of the section.
  • Some species of orbweaver spiders specialize in hunting fireflies. When a firefly gets caught in the spider's web, it will keep flashing its light, even after the spider kills it. This attracts more fireflies, which get caught and keep flashing, which attracts more fireflies...
  • Online scams (emails/facebook articles/etc.) will sometimes contain deliberate spelling and/or grammatical errors precisely so that they only bait schmucks and not anyone intelligent enough to spot the mistakes and get suspicious. It's far easier to con stupid people.


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