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Question About Acorn-Shaped Device Sparks Uncomfortable Debate

Amy Pilkington 24 Oct 2019

Most of the time when someone posts a picture or two to the r/whatisthisthing subreddit, they expect a few wrong answers followed by someone miraculously knowing the correct info.

Sometimes the answer is unsettling, but I think this is the first time I've seen people be so incredibly wrong but keep on trying to "prove" themselves right.

Sometimes, we just want to believe something so hard that we make ourselves do it.

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The person who posted the image is a Redditor with the name johnsinternetsales.

Reddit | johnsinternetsales

In a comment, he explained that he was struggling to even figure out what keywords to use in a Google search.

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He also said that searching through the antique books in his shop didn't help.

Reddit | kianpatrickb

So if the master identifiers on Reddit couldn't help, he would be out of ideas.

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"When you pull the ring on this, four little pins come out. What is it used for?"

Reddit | johnsinternetsales

Admittedly, I wouldn't have known what to search for either. Like "acorn spikes brass old?"

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Good luck with that.

Reddit | MlleZephyr

When I did a reverse image search, Google thought it was a "bead."

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So johnsinternetsales asked the r/whatisthisthing hive mind for help.

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Which was the right idea, but who could have predicted that the first answer would be "abortion device?"

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Like, how is that meant to work?

Giphy | Gilmore Girls

Wait... never mind. I just had the mental image and will never unsee it again.

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OK, let's do this in the least graphic way possible.

Giphy | Simon Falk

Attach string to ring, stuff the acorn up there, pull string. String pulls ring, spikes come out. Ouch.

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Thankfully, even though the comment giving that answer got a ton of discussion, it was WRONG.

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It's also worth noting that the subreddit has strict rules about staying on topic and answering the question posed.

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So when the abortion device chat got ugly, people didn't have to put up with it for long.

Giphy | Skab

The moderators locked the thread down and deleted most of the nasty comments.

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Even though the abortion answer provided a link to a source, it wasn't a reliable one.

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Redditor I_Me_Mine made note of this when posting the correct answer.

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"It's not an abortion device," they said, "Note that outside sources are fallible and you should try to verify with a solid source."

Reddit | Jimwise

Finally, they put everyone out of their misery and revealed what this object actually is.

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"It's an anti-theft device for pocket watches," they explained.

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Which is actually pretty nifty, but will likely take a bit of explanation since most people don't wear pocket watches anymore.

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Basically, you'd put this device on the other end of your watch chain.

Reddit | Not_a_shoe

If someone tried to pickpocket you, the chain would tug the ring and the spikes would get caught on the lining of your pocket.

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It would likely be enough of a jostle to get your attention.

Reddit | Infared911

And then presto, you've suddenly caught the thief in the act. Like I said, it's pretty cool.

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Once you know to search for "pocket watch anti theft device" suddenly Google is full of answers.

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As for why they all seem to be acorns, I'm not sure. Presumably it's just decorative, but if so, you'd think multiple styles would have been available.

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So yeah, as awkward as the initial debate was, the final answer was actually pretty interesting.

Reddit | jonra

At least, my nerdy, steampunk-loving heart thinks it is.

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