12

In Influence, Cialdini mentions the story of a war veteran who remained silent for 30 years until he allegedly heard during a live radio transmission of a sports event that his home team was mistreated by the referee:

[...] placed him in a veterans' hospital where he remained for 30 years, never breaking his self-imposed silence and sinking into a life of social isolation. Then one day, a radio in his ward happened to be tuned to a soccer match between his hometown team and a traditional rival. When at a crucial point of play the referee called a foul against a player from the mute veteran's home team, he jumped from his chair, glared at the radio, and spoke his first words in more than three decades: "You dumb ass!" he cried. "Are you trying to give them the match?" With that, he returned to his chair and to a silence he never again violated.

How would anyone know that he jumped from the chair and "glared at the radio"? There was no reason to have a nurse observe him at all times. Did another patient notice, despite the veteran's social isolation? What made the veteran know that the referee was wrong, over radio?

Is there more to this story than anecdote?

  • 4
    He was in a hospital, not solitary confinement; it's entirely plausible that there could have been patients, visitors or staff present. I read "social isolation" as meaning that he didn't interact much with other people, not that he was physically separated from them. And I don't see a claim that he knew, or necessarily even honestly thought, the referee was wrong; this kind of outburst is common among sports fans who are simply unhappy that their team suffered a setback. – Nate Eldredge Jun 22 '15 at 15:29
  • I think the claim is fine, by the way, just that the points you've mentioned don't seem implausible to me. Have you checked whether the book gives any references, footnotes, etc? – Nate Eldredge Jun 22 '15 at 15:32
  • @NateEldredge: I only have the audio version of the book, so no references there. Google Books doesn't show more than one paragraph at a time. – Dan Dascalescu Jun 22 '15 at 21:09
  • 4
    I checked. The book (fifth edition) provides references for many statements, but this story is just called an "anecdote" and a "true story" without reference. – Oddthinking Jun 23 '15 at 1:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .