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Day: January 3, 2007

truthiness on myspace

truthiness on myspace

A friend of mine recently put up a forwarded myspace post. It contains forty or so “facts you never knew.” It looked fishy to me so I did some research. Most of the statements were false and when I did more research it turns out these false facts have been circulated around on the internet and emails for years. Unfortunately they are often on children’s websites listed as “fun facts.” It’s fun to lie, kids! Are we trying to raise a generation of politicians?

Anyway – here goes:

* Money isn’t made out of paper; it’s made out of cotton.

True AND False.

true – “paper” currency is currently made of 75% cotton 25% linen. Unfortunetely us sticklers know that “paper” is technically defined as a thin material produced by the amalgamation of plant fibres. Cotton is a plant – for those of you that forgot! Paper is also made of rice, hemp, and other common plants.

* The 57 on Heinz ketchup bottle represents the varieties of pickle the company once had.

FALSE – Heinz never had 57 varieties of any one product, let alone pickles. At one time they had close to 60 pickles, but the slogan was created by Henry Heinz after seeing a shoe ad (so the story goes)…he came up with 57 out of his imagination and it stuck.

* Your stomach produces a new layer of mucus every two weeks – otherwise it will digest itself.

FALSE – the production of mucus is continual – not once every two weeks. The stomach continuously produces more mucus to replace the outer layer that is continuously eaten away. Think about it, this is just like any other gland in the body that secretes anything. When you work out – does ALL the sweat come out at once (say every five minutes)? That wouldn’t make much sense, would it. If our stomachs produced all the mucus once every two weeks – we’d all be getting ulcers in the days before that as the mucus layer would be really low. Do you know anyone who continuously gets ulcers every 14 days on schedule?

* The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.

FALSE – Who started this myth – High Times Magazine? Yes, hemp was a popular crop in those days and was used to make paper – but the original Declaration of Independence was engrossed on parchment. The parchment was made of animal skin. Next time you see someone rolling a doobie with leather let me know….

* A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top.

FALSE – while mostly true, the key word here is “continuously.” The raisin will rise and fall for awhile – but eventually all the carbon dioxide will escape and the raisin will sink to the bottom with no more bubbles to lift it.

* Susan Lucci is the daughter of Phyllis Diller.

FALSE – Susan Lucci’s mother’s name is Jeanette Lucci. Here is a photo –

* Every person has a unique tongue print as well as fingerprints.
TRUE – Although – technically everything on you is unique. We all have a unique nose… a unique iris… a unique pattern of nose hair… we are all unique because none of us are clones (yet)…

* 315 entries in Webster’s 1996 Dictionary were misspelled.
“Webster’s” is not a copyrighted term – so the words could have been in any one of hundreds of dictionaries released that year.

* On average, 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents daily.
Indeterminable… The only information I could find on this is simply the reproduction of this same “amazing facts” bullshit sheet. 12 newborns daily? Lets do some rudimentary math. Official government cencus figures say that there are about 11,000 babies born every day in the United States. Cencus figures also state that there are 7,569 hospitals in America employing 5.1 million people. That is roughly 674 employees in every hospital. If you do the math again – you’ll see that the average is 1.5 babies born in every hospital in America every day. So, to review – we have 674 employees to take care of one baby – and they give it to the wrong mother. Um… but if only one baby was born … there is no “wrong” mother to give it to. Like every other “oooh wow” factoid – this one just falls apart under the microscope.

* During the chariot scene in ‘Ben Hur’ a small red car can be seen in the distance.
TRUE – although I couldn’t find an image of this – it is fairly well documented. But is this really an amazing thing? In the days before digital effects many things crept in (boom mic in the arcade scene of Tron, anyone?). There are whole websites solely devoted to finding these movie mistakes. Hardly an amazing or surprising fact.

* Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine are brother and sister.
TRUE – yes, this is true. And I have the same birthday as Warren Beatty, by the way.

* Orcas (killer whales) kill sharks by torpedoing up into the shark’s stomach from underneath, causing the shark to explode.

Indeterminable. Yes, Orcas kill sharks for their livers… I found video evidence of this ( However, I couldn’t find anything more than here-say about the “exploding” comment. The video (and others I found) shows that the attack usually comes from below – but the damage is done by the Orcas powerful jaws and teeth.

* Most lipstick contains fish scales.

FALSE – Lipstick contained fish scales 500 years ago – but as long ago as Queen Elizabeth I it was already made from plants and beeswax.

* Donald Duck comics were banned from Finland because he doesn’t wear any pants.

FALSE – just read this:

* Ketchup was sold in the 1830s as medicine.

FALSE – The book “Pure Ketchup A History of America’s National Condiment with Recipes” by Andrew Smith contains no mention of Ketchup used as a medicine. The sources on the internet that say it WAS are also the same sources that say Heinz 57 stood for the variety of pickles (which we’ve already proven as false).

* Upper and lower case letters are named ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ because in the time when all original print had to be set in individual letters, the ‘upper case’ letters were stored in the case on top of the case that stored the smaller, ‘lower case’ letters.

TRUE – this appears to be true. Although you could also say that they were called upper and lower simply because the height of an “upper” case is higher…thus “up” above the “lower” ones.

* Leonardo da Vinci could write with one hand and draw with the other at the same time.

TRUE – while technically true because he was ambidextrous – it is doubtful that he ever did this in practice.

* Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War II were made of wood.

FALSE – The Oscars were made of plaster, not wood. The only wooden Oscar ever made was made special for Charlie McCarthy because he was a ventriloquist.

* There are no clocks in Las Vegas gambling casinos.

TRUE – Casinos are designed to keep you in there spending your money. If you doubt this read my own account of simply trying to cross the street the last time I was there. I couldn’t find an exit!

* The name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan, there was never a recorded Wendy before!

FALSE – There were boys named Wendy recorded in the 1881 England census.

* There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with: orange, purple, and silver!

FALSE – although it would be true if you added the word “perfectly” before “rhyme.” Technically there are no perfectly rhyming words for them – but there are several “slant rhymes” for them like “forage/orange” “purple/hurtful” and so on.

* Leonardo Da Vinci invented scissors.

FALSE – Scissors have been found as far back as 1500 BC. Modern cross-blade scissors were first used by the Romans around AD 100. How old is Da Vinci again?

* A tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion will make it instantly go mad and sting itself to death.

FALSE – as dumb as this sounds to begin with – this guy apparently tried it:

* The mask used by Michael Myers in the original “Halloween” was a Captain Kirk mask painted white.

TRUE – apparently this is true – and if you look at it…yeah, it kinda looks like the Cap’n.

* If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.

TRUE – I can’t find anybody contradicting this – and it seems like the easiest one here to disprove – so I’m inclined to go with it.

* Celery has negative calories! It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with. It’s the same with apples!

TRUE – not only that – but you can find a whole list here:
But remember – the food actually HAVE calories – they are just used up in the eating of them.

* Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying!
FALSE – another easy one for people to try – and they have – and failed. Perhaps this is just a cruel joke to get people to cry.

* The glue on Israeli postage stamps is certified kosher.

TRUE – I can’t find any proof that this is not true. I suppose it makes sense as vegetable and animal matter routinely make it into our own stamp glue here in the states.

* Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from Public Libraries.

FALSE – Supposedly Guinness lists this fact – but official studies say otherwise.

Astronauts are not allowed to eat beans before they go into space because passing wind in a space suit damages them.

FALSE – If Alan Shepard could urinate in his I don’t see how farting would do anything. Especially since we expel other gasses in the suit (carbon dioxide) all the time.