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Nancy Pelosi and The Three Trips of Captain Cook

Message claims that Nancy Pelosi, current Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, answered a psychiatrist's test question in a way that revealed a decided lack of intelligence (Full commentary below).

False (Just a Joke)

Example:(Submitted, August 2009)
Subject: Nancy Pelosi Dumb as a box of Rocks


A noted psychiatrist was a guest speaker at an academic function where Nancy Pelosi happened to appear. Ms Pelosi took the opportunity to schmooze the good doctor a bit and asked him a question with which he was most at ease.

'Would you mind telling me, Doctor,' she asked, 'how you detect a mental deficiency in somebody who appears completely normal?'

'Nothing is easier,' he replied. 'You ask a simple question which anyone should answer with no trouble. If the person hesitates, that puts you on the track.'

'What sort of question?' asked Pelosi.

Well, you might ask, 'Captain Cook made three trips around the world and died during one of them. Which one?''

Pelosi thought a moment, and then said with a nervous laugh, 'You wouldn't happen to have another example would you? I must confess I don't know much about history.'

Nancy Pelosi
According to this message, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi showed herself to be as "dumb as a box of rocks" when she fumbled a question supposedly designed to detect a mental deficiency.

The message claims that Ms Pelosi asked a "noted psychiatrist" how one could easily detect a mental deficiency in a person who appears completely normal. The psychiatrist answered that one could ask a simple question that any "normal" person should have no problem answering and suggests as an example the question "Captain Cook made three trips around the world and died during one of them. Which one?". Pelosi supposedly reveals her stupidity when she cannot answer this question claiming a lack of historical knowledge as an excuse.

However, Nancy Pelosi made no such telling gaffe. The story is in fact just a reworking of a joke that has circulated in various forms for more than forty years and has no connection whatsoever to Pelosi. Most versions identify the dumb subject of the joke as simply "the hostess", (or host) often at a "blond gathering". This more generic version of the joke has been posted to a great many joke websites - often in the "Blond Jokes" section - and has also been published in various printed joke books. It even made an appearance in Volume 100 of the "Shipbuilding and shipping record" published back in 1962.

Thus it seems that some prankster has simply substituted "Nancy Pelosi" for "the hostess" and then relaunched the joke on an unsuspecting world. The Pelosi version of the joke now circulates vigorously via email and is often posted to politically orientated blogs and online communities. People often tend to believe without much forethought stories that cast those they dislike or despise in a bad light. This might explain why so many people actually believe that this silly joke describes a real incident.

Basic Jokes - How to Detect a Mental Deficiency
Google Book Search: Joke Books
Google Book Search - Not So Bright

Last updated: 20th August 2009
First published: 20th August 2009

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen