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Ask Peter Answers Peters Answers: Evil Spirit or Scary Prank?

How Peter Answers works like magic

Like an evil spirit, Peter Answers swept into my room and magically hypnotized over half the kids. I tried shouting. I tried clapping. I tried cold water. But nothing I did helped. Peter Answers ( kung-fu was too strong.

Its magic was hypnotic.

“NO WAY!! How did it know that?”

“Ask Peter who is standing behind you!”


“Ask Peter what the name of my dog is!”


(whispered) “Ask it who is in love with Nicki.”

No, I was pretty sure this was not what I assigned. Sometimes a little distraction is a good thing. It helps to break up the day a bit. Keep things fresh. But this was like a virus. A nasty one. And it was spreading rapidly. The Peter Answers Computer Prank

What is it?

The Peter Answers (or Computer Prank is a magical virus, pure and simple. It’s spread from host to host through word of mouth and has an incubation period limited only to a carrier’s access to a computer with internet connection.

How is it spread?

It all starts with an initial carrier–some individual who knows the secret trick to this hypnotic prank. It works like magic, and if you knows it, you most definitely have the power–hypnotic power, psychic power. Once you know the magic, all you need to do is simply hop on a computer, zip to the Internet and go to

Once at the site, all you have to do to memorize your audience, is draw attention to the idea that there’s an entity within the Internet that can answer all of your questions. Kind of like a Ouiga board but with dead on accuracy. What happens next, is what reminds me of a David Blaine trick. Because it’s pure magic.

Pure genius.

In the first box, the keyboardist types in the petition:

Peter, please answer the following:”

In the second box the typist enters whatever question they’d like–usually from the growing crowd.

What is Jesse’s middle name?

Upon hitting the return button, Peter, from his comfortable couch at, instantly answers the question. Correctly.


Peter Answers My Question: How does work? Subtle Mind Control.

Peter Answers: Special Report

Like I said, I’d already lost over half the room. Even if I’d ordered all computers shut down, they’d still be thinking about how to do the magic trick for the rest of the day. I’m not kidding. had a firm hold of these kid’s minds, and it wasn’t letting go any time soon. So I figured I might as well do a little research.

With Google’s help, it didn’t take me long to figure it out. And once I did, I knew had met it’s match. As with any infectious illusion, the best way to vaccinate is to simply reveal the magic trick.

There’s really nothing like a quick injection of the truth. Sure, the David Blaine impostors will be furious at having their trick exposed. But any short term disruption they may cause is nothing compared to the long term, manic-obsessive behavior that are symptoms of the Peter Answers Computer Prank virus itself. The Magic Tricks Revealed

First, instead of typing in the petition box, “Peter, please answer the . . .” begin by instead typing:


That’s right. Simply type a period. What happens next is pure magical genius.

Instead of seeing what you’d expect (a “.”) you see a “P”. Then type whatever the heck you want and the rest of the phrase “Peter, please answer the following” appears.

As long as nobody pays any attention to where your fingers are actually landing the prank works slick.

The trick to the prank is to here type in the answer to whatever question you are going to ask next. When you’re done just keep typing until the phrase is complete. Whenever you hit the “:” your cursor will jump to the next box–where you’ll type in the actual question.

Hit return and bingo! Whatever you really typed into the petition box appears. and peter answers for advanced users

Once you get the hang of how works, it won’t be long before you run into a little snag. The problem is, sometimes your answer is much shorter (has fewer characters to type) than the 41 keystrokes it takes to type “peter please answer the following question”:

There are actually three ways to solve this problem:

  1. Type another “.” When you do this, the program opens back up and shows exactly what you are typing again. For example, if your “answer” was “Lisa.” That’s only 4 keystrokes, which would take you to “Pete” in the petition. Just type another “.” after the last letter of your answer. Now you’ll have “Peter” and from now on you can continue typing the rest of the petition, “please answer the following question:”
  2. Another option is to fake it until you get to “Peter, please answer.” You don’t have to keep punching keys until the entire long petition is filled out. Just remember to type the “:” when you’re done.
  3. The final way to make this work is to simply play dumb. Pretend you lost control of your fingers and type a “:” when you’re done. As soon as you type the “:” you’ll skip to the next box. Just say “oops” or something and keep going.

So there, my dear friends. The truth has set you free. Once the mystery of is solved, the novelty wears off pretty quickly doesn’t it?

And if you’re a school teacher, it’s really fun to watch two things:

1) The air escaping from the Peter Answers carriers as they lose their power, and

2) The enlightenment of one who only recently had been losing their minds in a state of confused awe.

What? Still don’t get it? Well how about this? What follows is the absolute best of the best . A complete collection of the best Peter Answers tutorials available on the web. Can’t do much better than that can we?

To start off here, first I present to you a YouTube Peter Answers video shot by a kid. The video itself is terrible, but I love the kids accent and language. It’s only about 3 minutes long so go check it out.

Not good enough? Boy tough crowd. Ok. Try this next link on for size. WikiHow has the absolute best explanation on the web about how to do Peter Answers, and how Peter Answers really works.

Alright, surly you get it now right? No? Fine. More of a visual learner. Great. Check out this next YouTube video and I promise without a doubt you will be working Peter Answers like a wizard. This Peter Answers Video Tutorial, unlike the one above is short, sweet, and very excellent. This guy does a perfect job explaining this trick.

Now stop dilly dallying and get on over to the real Peter Answers web site and have some fun!

UPDATE 8/7/07: Apparently Peter isn’t the only tarot prankster anymore. Jud is now officially the new kid on the block.

Student “Work.” Sometimes they say the darndest things.

Students. You gotta love ’em. Sometimes they write the darndest things (these students are mine, these aren’t).

And sometimes they say the darndest things. The context of this assignment is a presentation for a speech class. The assignment was for each group to present a newscast complete with visuals (via powerpoint), sports, news, weather, and an editorial. They could include more if they so chose–as long as it was relevant, of course.

Just a couple gem quotes from today’s presentations:


You’ve Won!

news clipping

A couple of weeks ago, a colleague of mine received a very exciting email informing him that he’d won a huge amount of money from some odd (but very official sounding) oversees organization. They didn’t ask for any personal information so my friend replied, thanked them, and let them know he couldn’t wait to start living the high-life.

Yesterday he got another similar email. This one was too good not to post here verbatim. The following is the email just as he got it word for word, punctuation for punctuation, bolded parts left as bold. I’ve only ommitted my friends name.


Why stupidity is a good thing

A couple of weeks ago I read an amusing column by Joe Soucheray in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In it he wrote about how the educational system we’re pouring billions of dollars into is failing because it continues to crank out idiots who (among other things) don’t understand that you can actually die from drinking too much water.

Refreshingly, Soucheray’s conclusion wasn’t that teachers aren’t doing their jobs. It was that people are just dumber than they used to be. He wasn’t sure why, but based on how easy it is to find examples of stupidity today, he was quite sure people just don’t have the brains they used to.

He did make some interesting points. If you stop to think about it, initially, it does seem like the number of dumb people is on the rise. Indeed, late night TV talk shows have been ahead of the curve on this one. Except for terrible singers, nothing’s funnier than stupidity. What a great country. Where else is it possible for a society to capitalize on it’s own weaknesses?

It certainly is an easy argument to make. As Jay Leno has shown us, it’s really not that hard to find stupid people these days. Be it history, geography, literature, grammar, current events or mathematics, millions of Americans should know more than they do. This is something I think we can almost all agree upon. It’s why we, as a nation, are always so concerned about the state of education. I mean, when was the last time you heard someone say, “Boy our schools sure are great. Kids today are smarter than ever.”?

But if this is the case—if, for some reason, Americans are indeed getting dumber—logically we should begin to see a drop in the productivity of U.S. workers. Right? But we’re not. According to the U.S. government, worker productivity has been on the rise since the early ‘90s and has accelerated dramatically in the last five years.

According to a recent article in INC. magazine, just one example of this rise in productivity can be found in the insurance industry. On average, in 1991, a worker in insurance contributed $85,000 in revenue to his or her company. Today it’s $250,000. So I guess the only conclusion we can make now is that stupid people (and bad singers), while funny, are still great for the economy.

The problem with the argument that schools are failing or that people are dumber is that they both contain faulty assumptions—that we know what people today should know in order to be productive members of society. Or better yet—we can know.

Children in kindergarten today will be graduating from high school in the year 2019. We don’t know what the world will look like in five years. What are the specific sets of facts or skills that are going to be valuable in the year 2019 and beyond? Will it be important to know where Edmonton is? Should everyone in that graduating class be required to know about John Smith and Pocahontas? How about the capital of
Rhode Island or the elements of the periodic table?

Maybe we should be asking Jay Leno these questions.

Our current educational model was built to meet the needs of industrialism. As such, it is assumes that you should know certain things, and you should be afraid of making mistakes—just like you should be afraid of your boss and to make mistakes on the job. Tests are given so that we know that you know certain things. But let’s face it. Some kids are rebellious. Some kids just don’t care about tests. And sometimes, try as we might, we simply can’t make them afraid.

So today, understanding the complex interplay between all of the issues surrounding society and education, American politicians have devised a system called No Child Left Behind–so that others can be afraid for them. And I think it’s working. Administrators, teachers and school boards across the nation are wringing their hands over test data, devising complex and thorough systems to identify children at risk, and redoubling their efforts to differentiate instruction to fit the unique learning styles of each student.

Thankfully, however, educators aren’t fighting this battle alone. Drs. and pharmaceutical companies are also doing their part by creating and distributing drugs that help fidgety kids stay focused.

“Every educational system around the world has the same hierarchy of subjects,” says Sir Ken Robinson, an expert educator and Senior Consultant for the Paul J. Getty Trust. “At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and at the bottom are the arts. And even within the arts is a hierarchy too. Art and music are usually given a higher status than drama and dance. There isn’t an educational system in the world that teaches children dance every day the way we do mathematics.

“Truly what happens as children grow up is that we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads—and slightly to one side,” he says.

Robinson concludes that the whole purpose of educational systems around the world is to produce university professors. What he advocates we do instead, is to cultivate creativity.

In 1934, Gillian Lynne’s teachers thought there was something wrong with the eight year old because she couldn’t sit still. She couldn’t focus and wasn’t getting anything done. So they recommended her parents bring her to a Dr..

After the initial examination, the Dr. asked her mother to step with him out of the room, leaving the young Gillian on her own. But before he left, he flipped on the radio. Outside, the Dr. simply asked Gillian’s mother to watch her through the window.

“Your daughter is not sick, Mrs. Lynne,” said the Dr.. “She’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.”
Luckily, she did, and Gillian Lynne excelled. Eventually she met Andrew Lloyd Webber, and has since composed for some of the most successful musicals in history– including “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera.” She’s been extremely successful in her career, contributed greatly to society and culture, given pleasure to millions and is a millionaire many times over.

But I have to wonder—might she have just done better with an ADHD diagnosis and some meds?

And do you think she knows that drinking too much water can be fatal?

How the dead of winter makes me feel alive


I snapped this picture around noon today. Before then this pheasant was huddled in the bushes near our house. But almost every day around noon, he flies into the branches of this crab apple tree for lunch.

The cool thing about this tree is that the crab apples don’t drop off and it’s smack in front of a large picture window. So eventually, if we’re paying attention, we get to see all kinds of hungry winter wildlife.

If the little apples are still hanging on when the robins come back, they gang up on the poor tree and it’s bare in an hour. It’s kind of spooky in an over the top Alfred Hitchcock kind of way.

But I think this pheasant is the coolest thing–in more than one way–because when I snapped this picture today, the temperature had only climed to -10 degrees. And that was about as warm as it ever got.

It’s about 15 degrees below zero as I write this, but it’s only 7:30 p.m.. It’ll drop another 10 before it’s over. That’s right, we’re looking at a low of close to (if not colder than) -25 degrees Fahrenheit. And the wind is stiff out of the north.