Amazing Useless Facts Debunked and Criticized

I’m getting tired of these lists of “amazing facts” that are complete baloney. In the interest of keeping my readers from being uneducated and gullible, I decided to whip up this list – references are linked to. This is the latest list I received, verbatim, followed by the facts that contradict the “facts” (or at least show you why the fact isn’t really all that amazing).

1/27/2013 – UPDATED all references

Debunked and Criticized Useless Facts

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

“Go!” used in the imperative mode is the shortest sentence in the English language (especially because you can use body language as a compliment referring to “there” or “away”). “I am,” is not a complete sentence. “Am,” would need a compliment to turn it into a predicate (i.e. “I am stupid”) – you can’t use body language like you can with “Go”. If you don’t like using modes, try “I go.” A sentence needs a subject and a complete predicate – which can be implied. “I am” is a sentence just like “Q” is a sentence when used as a response to “What letter comes after the letter P?”. If you walk outside and say it to some random stranger on the street and they think you make sense, then it is probably a sentence. Imagine going up to somebody and telling them “Go!” They would understand that you want them to leave. If you walked up to someone on the street and said, “I am!” they would wonder what you were responding to because it is not a complete sentence. I’m not going to keep repeating myself for the stupid people, so I found some references for them to go look at instead of whining to me. Reference 1 & Reference 2

  • More people are killed by donkeys annually than are killed in plane crashes.

There are more donkey related injuries than airplane deaths per year (duh), but there are no statistics, nor have there ever been, to back up more donkey related deaths. Deaths in airplanes have been on a decline, going from roughly 1,500 a few years ago, to fewer than 600 in the last couple of years. Death from donkeys is reported in newspapers sometimes, but isn’t part of any compiled data.

  • The name of all the continents end with the same letter that they start with.

“South America” and “North America.” Does that need a complete sentence or is it obvious enough?  I could also go out on a limb and point out that Eurasia is technically a continent while Asia and Europe are not.

  • The word “lethologica” describes the state of not being able to remember the word you want.

Aphasia” could just as easily be used here, given the generalized definition provided.  This factoid is booooring.

  • TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters on only one row of the keyboard.

What about perpetuity, pirouetter, proprietor, or repertoire? I’m sure we can think of even more words, and I’m only using the top row of keys on a QWERTY keyboard for those ones.

  • A snail can sleep for 3 years.

Snails don’t “sleep” – they enter a state of torpor – no brain function and the appearance of being dead. Believe it or not, I actually raised snails for a season – even got 3rd place at the Great Folsom Snail Race.

  • The longest word in the
    English language is 1909 letters long and it refers to a distinct part of DNA.

The word referred to is LATIN and GREEK, not English. It is only used by a very small group of scientists, too, and would not appear in any English dictionary. But maybe they are actually trying to say it is the longest word in any language… a distinction that, with four more letters, already belongs to:

Methionylglutaminylarginyltyrosy –
lglutamylserylleucylphenylalanylalanylglutaminy –
lleucyllysylglutamylarginyllysylglutamylglycyla –
lanylphenylalanylvalylprolyphenylalanYlvalythre –
onylleucylglycylaspartylprolylglycylisoleucylg –
lutamylglutaminylsErylleucyllysylisoleucy –
laspartylthreonylleucylIsoleucylglutamy –
lalanylglycylalanylasparthlalanylleucylg –
lutamylleucylglycylisoleucylprolylphenylalanylse –
Rylaspartylprolylleucylalanylaspartylglycylp –
RolylthreOnylisoleucylglutaminylasPfraginylal –
anylthreonylleucylarfinylalanylphenylalanylalany –
lalanylglycylvalythreonylprolylalanylglutaminy –
lcysteinylphenylalanylglutamylmethionylleucy –
lalanylleuOylisoleucylarginylglutaminy –
llysyhistidylprolylthreonylisoleucylproly –
lisoleucylglycylleucylmethionyltyrosylalany –
lasparaginylleucylvalylphenylalanylasparaginy –
llysyglycylisoleucylaspartylglutamylphenylalany –
lthrosylalanylglutaminylcsteinylglutamyllysylva –
lylglycylvalylaspartylserylvalylleucylvalylalny –
laspartylvalylprolylvalylglUtaminylglutamylsery –
lalanylprolylphenylalanylarginylglutaminylalany –
lalanylleucylarginylhistidylasparaginyvalylalany –
lprolylisoleucylprolylisoleucylphenylalanylisoleucy –
lphenylalanylisoleucylcysteinylprolylprolylaspartylalany –
laspartylaspartylaspartylleucylleucylarginy –
lglutaminylisoleucylalanylseryltyrosylglycy –
larginylglycyltyrosylthreonyltyrOsylleucyl –
leucylserylarginylalanylglycylvalylthreony –
lglycylalanylglutamYlasparainylarginylalany –
lalanylleucylprolylleucylasparaginylhistidy –
lleucylValylalanyllysylleucyllysylglutamy –
ltyrosylasparaginylalanylalanylprolylpro –
lylleucylglutaminylglgycylphenylalanylglycy –
lisoleucylserylalanylprolylaspartylglutaminy –
lvalyllysylalanylalanylisoleucylaspartylalany –
lglycylalanylalanylglycylalanylisoleucylsery –
lglycylserylalanylisoleucylvalyllysylisoIeucy –
lisoleucylglutamylglutaminylHistidylasparaginy –
liSoleucylglutamylprolylglutamyllysylmethionyl –
leucylalanylalanylleucyllysylvalylphenylalanyl –
calylglutaminylprolylmethionlysylalanylalanylt –

  • Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, dogs only have about ten.

Blatantly false. Somebody must have spent too much time hanging out with a very quiet dog. Try going on YouTube and looking up “talking dog.” A dog can make fewer vocal sounds than a cat, but far more than ten.  If you can find scientific evidence one way or another, leave it in the comments.  I can’t find a single mention of it outside of opinion pieces, so I’m just going off of having a very vocal little dog.

  • Feb 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

February 1865 actually did have a full moon! Though there was no full moon in the Februaries of 1866, 1885, 1915, 1934, 1961, and 1999. Go figure.

  • Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.

Almost any spice, when injected in the body, is extremely poisonous. Try shooting up some cardamom, cinnamon or mace (don’t really try that – you’ll likely die). I wonder if this was intended to imply how poisonous nutmeg is when taken in large quantities, orally? It has been shown to cause extremely intense hallucinations. Almost sounds fun… Almost.

  • The strongest muscle in the body is the TONGUE.

I don’t know where people came up with this one. Maybe as a metaphor? It has no basis in fact. Despite the fact that the tongue is made up of 16 seperate muscles, each fiber of a muscle, no matter where, exerts about 0.3 micronewtons of force. In terms of mass, (compressed muscle), the myometrial layer in a woman’s uterus is the strongest muscle a human has.

  • It’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

I have sneezed with my eyes open. It is not natural, but it is easily done. And no, your eyeballs won’t pop out. They even did a debunking of it on Mythbusters.

  • Polar bears are left-handed.

Most polar bears are right handed. They catch their prey (primarily seals) by either biting their heads or swatting at them (with their left paw) to knock them onto the ice when they surface. Some of the studies on the subject can be very misleading because it appears that polar bears always attack with their left paw, but during casual interactions they revert to their right. I suspect the true reason is something along the lines of them requiring stability when attacking and thus, keeping their footing with the right paw is more effective.

  • The catfish has over 27,000 taste buds, that makes the catfish rank #1 for animal having the most taste buds.

Catfish do have a lot of taste buds, but most of them do not transmit anything. They are completely non-functional. It is like bragging about having the most cars of anybody in Texas… but it is only because you own the garbage dump where they drop off wrecked cars.

  • Elephants are the only animals that can’t jump.

First, I’m going to assume that there was a typo here and they meant to say mammals, since ants, snails, eels, brine shrimp, etc., can’t jump. But even among mammals, I’ve never heard of a hippo being able to jump. Sloths? There really are more than a few of them.

  • Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.

This is as true as saying gasoline is made with tiger remains. Extracted peanut oil could be used to make glycerin that could be further processed to make nitroglycerin, and nitroglycerin is one of the ingredients commonly that could be used for making dynamite, but peanuts are hardly a required ingredient.

  • A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

Pufferfish can blink. Last I checked, that was a fish – I mean, it is part of their name. Most sharks actually roll their eyes back in their head, rather than blinking, too, if you want to get really specific. Oh, and they aren’t even taxonomically considered fish in the first place.

  • Two-thirds of the world’s eggplant is grown in New Jersey.

New Jersey produces about 0.1% of the world’s eggplant, by the numbers. They produce roughly half the amount that comes out of California, alone.  Worldwide, China produces (a lot) more than any other country.

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

Scrootched is a word. Look it up (it is under the word “scrootch,” a variant of “scrooch”). It is longer than screeched, but still one syllable.

  • No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.

Hunth rhymes with month. Hunth means a hundred thousand. Sporange ryhmes with orange. Sporange is a variant of sporangium per Webster’s Third Unabridged and the Oxford English Dictionary. Chilver rhymes with silver. Chilver refers to an ewe lamb per the Oxford English Dictionary. Hirple rhymes with purple. It means to limp. Look them up. They are, in fact, words (though hirple is a Scottish English word, so it might not be in everybody’s dictionary).

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

How about amadous, apodous, decapodous, iodous, nodous, nonhazardous, palladous, ultrahazardous, and vanadous? Yep, they are all words.

  • A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

A cat has 0 muscles in each ear. They do have about 30 muscles at the base of their ears. Am I being petty?

  • A dragonfly has a lifespan of 24 hours.

A dragonfly’s lifespan ranges from six months to over a year. Check please!

  • A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

A goldfish can remember an event for about 3 months. See multiple studies on this for more info. It is pretty interesting. Further studies suggest fish are a lot smarter than we give them credit for.

  • In England, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.

The correct term is Speaker of the House of Commons, and they are allowed to speak, but are required to take an impartial position and can’t argue one side over another. Their position is a little bit similar to a judge’s at a trial in the United States.

  • There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball.

Regulation size golf balls can have anywhere from 300-500 dimples.

  • You can’t lick your own elbow.

If you are flexible or have a long tongue, yes you can. I happen to have a very long tongue and can reach it when I am drunk enough not to realize how uncomfortable it is. There are also groups of people on YouTube that post videos of themselves doing this very thing.

This article was originally published on my original website, (which now forwards here) in February of 2008. It is copyrighted, but may be excerpted – just leave a link somewhere on it pointing to me.


On the shortest viable sentence
On airplane related deaths
On Lethologica
Snails don’t sleep
The longest word in the world
Nutmeg hallucinations

Tongue muscles
Eyes don’t pop out
Sharks rolling their eyes
Eggplant production worldwide
Single syllable words
Rhyming words
Dragonfly lifespan
Brainy goldfish

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