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Useless Facts and Weird Information

A look at some examples pulled from a list of commonly reprinted fun, weird, and random “facts” found on the Internet. Just how factual are they?

I’m sure most of you have come across some form of list — likely online — containing a variety of random trivia, presented as fact, with little explanation beyond the statement of the fact itself, right?

I’m come across my fair share. And honestly, it’s easy to read through the list with an attitude of “Wow, I didn’t know that,” and then leave the list behind without much thought; the trivia that you read, however, may stick around, swimming in your sea of memory, surfacing at opportune times during conversation when you can drop that gem and show how worldly wise you are.

But have you ever thought to check how factual that list of “facts” actually is? For the benefit of anyone who happens upon this site, I want to take a look at a few of those facts to see what they really are. I’m pulling these examples from a list at IndianChild.com.

“I am.” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

Seems simple enough, no? “I am” certainly is a small sentence! However, it is not the shortest, though it may perhaps be the shortest declarative sentence.

What is the shortest sentence? Why, that would be the simple little “Go.” One word, two letters, no nonsense! If you’re wondering how a single verb without a subject can be a complete sentence, remember that imperative sentences (commands) have optional subjects; when none is given, the subject “You” is implied. “Make me a sandwich,” “Read my blog,” and “Go” are all valid commands and are complete imperative sentences.

“Dreamt” is the only English word that ends in the letters “-mt”.

This one’s almost true! However, there are a few more words which end in “-mt.” What are these words?

Redreamt | Undreamt | Daydreamt

I’ve also seen “adreamt” offered up as another one, but I’m unsure of its legitimacy as a word; the only places I can find it used on the Internet is in lists of words ending in “-mt.”

And while you may claim it to be cop-out that all of these words are built upon “dreamt,” the trivium said that “dreamt” was the only word with that ending, but that is simply not the case.

Also, if abbreviations count, there’s always “amt.” for amount!

There are only four words in the English language which end in “-dous”: tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

I like wordplay! And as fun as trivia can be, this little nugget proves to be a letdown. Indeed, a search for words ending in “-dous” on AllWords.com yields three more words for this list:

“Annelidous,” which is a zoological adjective meaning “of the nature of annelids.”

“Macropodous,” which is a botanical adjective meaning “having a long stem or stalk.”

“Nefandous,” which is an adjective meaning “unspeakable; unfit to be spoken of.”

The longest one-syllable word in the English language is “screeched.”

“Screeched” weighs in at an impressive nine letters; unfortunately for it, so do twenty other words; further, there are even some listed with as many as eleven letters!

And “screeched” comes to a screeching halt.

Elephants are the only animals that can’t jump.

I’m going to assume that this makes more sense as “only mammals,” but that isn’t what is going around, so I have to take it at face value. Are elephants the only animals that can’t jump?

Well, perhaps, but if you want to make that claim, I’d really love to see a jumping sea sponge.

The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue.

Stick your tongue out. Go ahead, I can’t see you. Now, with your tongue straight out (without resting it on your bottom teeth or lip), press down on it with your finger; try to resist by pressing upward with your tongue. Your tongue doesn’t put up much of a fight!

Likewise, press against the roof of your mouth with your tongue; now do so with your thumb. You should notice quite a difference.

The tongue is far from the strongest muscle in the body. However, it may be perhaps the most versatile; most muscles in our bodies simply stretch or contract, but the tongue can be curved, rolled, and contorted into a variety of shapes depending on the talent of the tongue-bearer.

Plus it can taste, and no bicep can make that claim!

Leonardo da Vinci invented the scissors.

Leonardo (1452-1519) lived nearly three millennia after scissors first came into use! No matter how great a man Leonardo was, there’s simply no way he deserves credit for the scissors, which have been in use in some form since as early as 1500 BCE.

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

I’ve heard this one ever since I was a young child; I’d say it’s common knowledge except for the fact that it’s completely false. In fact, goldfish can be trained to follow a daily routine, right down to pressing a lever at a particular time of day in order to get food. If you have a goldfish, maybe you could teach it a trick or two as well?

There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball.

While the rules of golf are many, there is no rule specifying the number of dimples on a regulation sized golf ball in the 192 pages of the United States Golf Association‘s rulebook. The weight of the ball, its size, and various other factors are clearly defined, but there is no regulation on dimple count.

Most golf balls, however, have between 300-450 dimples.

I definitely want to post most of these simply because it’s fun and educational, but I hope these examples serve to show that no matter how many times a “fact” shows up in a list of awesome, random, fun, cool, interesting, weird, or otherwise special facts, it isn’t necessarily true. Bear in mind that just like lists of contradictions in the Bible, these “facts” are more or less reposted without much critical examination. They do make great StumbleUpon fodder, though, don’t they?

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