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Seeing Isn’t Always Believing

The radio program, This American Life, tells the story about the late writer David Rakoff, who had a hard time believing what was right in front of his eyes. In 1986, Rakoff’s company in Tokyo was working on a computer program that would allow expats like himself to write short little messages to one another after logging on to the network.

David was not impressed. He thought, “What kind of loser would log onto a computer [just to] talk to someone?” And in a moment of decisiveness, he went into work and quit. “Sayonara, suckers! Good luck with your ‘network’!” Of course, we can all guess what that network became. It was the beginning of a little thing called the internet.

David has other stories too. Earlier in the 1980s, he went to a dance club and heard a young blonde singer from Michigan and thought, “Boy, is she lousy!” That singer was later known by the name, “Madonna.” Again, working in publishing, he was handed a manuscript and passed it off as “subliterate drivel” and an “easy pass.” That turned out to be a book called Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, which went on to sell 15 million copies as one of the best-selling works of the 1990s.

Apparently, seeing isn’t always believing--even when it’s right in front of your eyes.

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