Saturday, October 12, 2013

Not Their Best Stuff

I presume you're familiar with all those little sources of trivia factoids. Those tiny did-you-know things, like, 'Reno is west of Los Angeles'. One place you'll find such bits of trivia is the underside of a Snapple cap. Snapple calls them 'Real Facts', and the list of them can be found here.

Except The Atlantic went and fact checked enough of them to conclude that Snapple ought to stick to beverage manufacturing. A lot of what shows up is outdated, unverifiable, or one of those things you get passed in an e-mail and which can be countered in about 30 seconds of Googling. Or repeats. I'll leave alone the ones The Atlantic specifically mentioned; they left a lot of room to operate.

For instance, one of the facts, mentioned on an episode of 30 Rock, was #140, "Holland is the only country with a national dog". Someone had better tell Malta. Or Mexico. Or Cuba. Or Madagascar.

Let's run down the list and take ten others that jump out:

#145: "Lake Superior is the world's largest lake." A lake is simply any completely-enclosed body of water. Which makes the Caspian Sea the largest, with Superior being runner-up. (Though the Caspian does lie over an oceanic basin (PDF) and it at one time wasn't completely enclosed.) Don't believe me? Just ask fact #229: "The Caspian Sea is actually a lake." (Oh yeah, there's some contradictory stuff in here too.)
#146: "The smallest county in America is New York County, better known as Manhattan." Manhattan is, again, in second. The smallest, at 11.99 square miles to Manhattan's 22.83, is Kalawao County on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.
#1: "A goldfish's attention span is three seconds." Myth busted.
#77: "No piece of paper can be folded more than seven times." Myth also busted.
#234: "Great Falls, Montana, is the windiest city in the U.S." They rank 12th. Brockton, MA is windiest.
#266: "Manhattan is the only borough in New York City that doesn't have a Main Street." It does have one; it's just on Roosevelt Island. Roosevelt Island is counted as part of Manhattan.
#904: "If done perfectly, any Rubick's Cube combination can be solved in 17 turns." Leaving alone the fact that they spelled Rubik's Cube wrong, the magic number is in fact 20.
#897: "The Mayflower only held 102 People." 102 PASSENGERS. Apparently the crew doesn't count.
#151: "The fastest served ball in tennis was clocked at 154 mph in 1963." Not anymore it's not. Samuel Groth destroyed that record by uncorking a 163.4-mph serve last year. (He lost the match.)

Long story short, if you're reading those Snapple caps, you may want to stop. Or at least look it up.

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