More facts and more fiction
April 30, 2015
Over the years I've received very favorable feedback from my occasional fact or fiction columns. I enjoy writing them because it's always fun to research obscure facts and I think people enjoy reading them because they get to learn those same fun facts without doing the research. It could be because these columns contain less of my usual inane rambling … but I prefer to think it's the fun fact thing.
You have to be careful these days when doing research on the Internet because there is a lot of bogus information masquerading as fact. Almost every site I visited while researching this column listed facts that were not … well, facts. One pointed out that polar bears in the wild may consume up to 85 pounds of penguins a day. This is clearly not accurate because polar bears live in the Arctic, and penguins live in the Antarctic; I do wonder why anyone would make something like that up.
In my exhaustive research, I came across equal parts fact and fiction presented as absolute fact; it was almost like listening to Brian Williams or watching Fox News. I find that disturbing because I take my trivia seriously; if it doesn't matter, I probably know it.
It's a fact that smearing a small amount of dog poop on an insect bite will relieve itching and swelling and it's also a fact that I feel sorry for the guy who figured that out. You got to be suffering some serious itching and swelling to make applying dog poop to the effected area seem like a good idea. I hope I never get bitten by that bug!
It's not a fact that cherophobia is the very natural and understandable fear of Cher. While it's perfectly reasonable to be a little skittish about a woman who is seemingly immortal, cherophobia is actually the fear of being happy. Cherophobics believe that life is fair therefore happiness will inevitably be followed tragedy; what a bunch of whackos!
Life is not fair, ask the guy who smeared dog poop on his bug bite!
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The ichthyosaur is Nevada's official state fossil; that's a fact. Why a state needs an official fossil or what legal recourse Nevada has should another state try to claim the ichthyosaur as it's official fossil remains unclear.
Rumors that Bob Saget is going to run for president next year are pure fiction. While it's been well established that any clown can be elected to the White House, there is no indication that Mr. Saget has ever been funny and is better defined as a buffoon rather than a clown. I'm happy to clear that up.
Do geese see God? Like most of you, I've lost a lot of sleep pondering that question and I still don't know if it's a fact. It is a fact that if you reverse the letters in the sentence "Do geese see God?" it still asks, "Do geese see God?" That's heavy stuff, man.
It's not a fact that people these days are born with a cell phone in their hand but it is a fact that far too many people die with a cell phone in their hand. There is strong research to support the theory that life is possible without electronic communication or social media … it's mind blowing but it's true.
It's a fact that the Spanish word "esposas" can be translated correctly to mean both "wives" and "handcuffs". There are any number of obvious jokes to be made here but I'm not going to take cheap shots at the sacred institution of marriage for my own amusement … but I get paid to amuse you, so what the heck?
Since men have been bound by the ties of holy matrimony for much longer than handcuffs have been around, I figure when a Spaniard was asked what to call the chains used to restrict a man's freedom, "esposas" came to mind rather quickly. Not to imply that men don't enjoy their esposas … wait … I'm just going to shut up now.
I suspect it's a fact that I've just put myself back in the doghouse, but I have a word limit and a deadline for this column, so I'm really going to shut up now. That's a fact.
Rick Seley is an award-winning humor columnist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.