Wikipedia:Don't stuff beans up your nose
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|This page in a nutshell: If you tell people not to do something, your advice may backfire and instead tempt them to do it.|
As the old story goes:
The little boy's mother was off to market. She worried about her boy, who was always up to some mischief. She sternly admonished him, "Be good. Don't get into trouble. Don't eat all the chocolate. Don't spill all the milk. Don't throw stones at the cow. Don't fall down the well." The boy had done all of these things on other market days. Hoping to head off new trouble, she added, "And don't stuff beans up your nose!" This was a new idea for the boy, who promptly tried it out.
In our zeal to head off others' unwise action, we may put forth ideas they have not entertained before. It may be wise not to caution against such possibilities. Prophylactic admonition may trigger novel mischief. As the popular saying goes, "don't give 'em any ideas". In other words, don't give examples of how to cause disruption (e.g., don't click on this link or you'll crash Wikipedia) because this
may actually tempt people to do it.[notes 1] So, perhaps consider saying the following instead:
Keep your nose clean![notes 2]
|This page is referenced from the glossary under BEANS.|
- World War II
- Negative suggestion
- Reactance (psychology)
- Reverse psychology
- Security through obscurity
- Streisand effect
- Wikipedia:Do not disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point
- Wikipedia:Don't delete the main page
- Wikipedia:Don't stuff beans up the developers' noses
- Wikipedia:No climbing the Reichstag dressed as Spider-Man
- A counterpoint to this essay
- Pandora's box
- The truth of this proposition is evidenced by the controversy of Monty Python's Life of Brian and the impact of this at the box-office. Quoting Michael Palin: "There is not a great deal of religious satire in Brian, although there is some comment on organised religion. The religious critics in America told people not to go and see it, which was wonderful for the box office."
- And don't mention the war.