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Phenomenon in which one stops listening to conversation for a short interval of time, only to find it has strayed wildly from the original topic
idle chatter: then we were riding the bus and...

*stop listening for 15 seconds*

idle chatter: ...the soy-based tear gas substitute worked really well because...

listener: fuckin Thompson effect, I have no idea what's going on.
by dgran June 09, 2006
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