Rumkin Trivia
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Fake Facts

  • 2006-06-07: FALSE: February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

    TRUE: February of many other years had no full moon: 1866, 1885, 1915, 1934, 1961, 1999.
  • 2006-06-07: FALSE: In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.

    TRUE: The fox has, and probably others.
  • 2006-06-06: FALSE: The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagra Falls froze completely solid.

    TRUE: The falls have never frozen completely solid in recorded history, though water has been blocked briefly upstream of the falls.
  • 2006-06-01: FALSE: The cruise liner, Queen Elizabeth II, moves only six inches for each gallon of fuel it burns.

    TRUE: The BBC says she moves 50 feet per gallon, but other estimates put her at 26-31 feet per gallon.
  • 2006-05-26: FALSE: All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of a U.S. $5 bill.

    TRUE: Only 26 are on the memorial's front, both on the $5 and in real life. Also, the Lincoln Memorial only lists 48 states, since that's how many there were when it was completed.
  • 2006-05-25: FALSE: If the population of China walked past you in single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.

    TRUE: Estimates place the time for all people + new births to walk past you between 20 and 50 years. Google Answers has a good estimate of about 38 years.
  • 2006-05-24: FALSE: A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.

    TRUE: They can live between 6 months and 7 years, and survive several days to 4 months as adults.
  • 2006-05-24: FALSE: A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

    TRUE: The pufferfish can do it too, and only some sharks can blink.
  • 2006-05-23: FALSE: Bats turn left when exiting a cave.

    TRUE: Bats exit a cave and fan out. Yes, some turn left, but others turn right and many will travel straight ahead.
  • 2005-01-13: FALSE: The Chinese lettered goldfish is covered with Chinese characters, achieved through thousands of years of crossbreeding.

    TRUE: No mention of this breed of fish can be found in authoritative sources, no picture found on Google Images, no mention of it was found in the goldfish sites I accessed.
  • 2004-07-26: FALSE: No NFL team which plays its home games in a domed stadium has ever won the Superbowl.
    TRUE: The St. Louis Rams beat the Tennessee Titans by a single yard.
  • 2004-07-22: FALSE: Marilyn Monroe had six toes on one foot.
    TRUE: Snopes has a really good writeup on this topic. Incidentally, the condition is called hexadactyly.
  • 2004-07-22: FALSE: The flag flying over the Parliament Building on a Canadian two dollar bill is an American flag.
    TRUE: Canadians don't have a two dollar bill, they have a coin. The old two dollar bill didn't have an American flag on it either. This site has images of the currency.
  • 2004-07-22: FALSE: 66% of the world's eggplant is grown in New Jersey.
    TRUE: Most of the USA's commercial eggplant is grown in Florida or New Jersey, with Florida well ahead of New Jersey.
  • 2004-07-22: FALSE: All of the clocks in the movie Pulp Fiction are stuck on 4:20.
    TRUE: Not all of them are -- When a kid receives a watch, it is set to 9:00. There are many other instances but they are hard to find.
  • 2004-07-22: FALSE: Winston Churchill was born in a ladies room during a dance.
    TRUE: He was born at Blenheim Palace, which has no public bathrooms. His mother did leave the dance to give birth in the bathroom, but she didn't deliver until the next day when the guests were gone and the doctor had arrived.
  • 2004-07-09: FALSE: The phrase "rule of thumb" comes from an old English law, which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
    TRUE: Sorry, there was no such law. (source)
  • 2004-07-06: FALSE: Donald Duck's cartoons were banned in Finland because he wears no pants.
    TRUE: It was just a big misunderstanding.
  • 2004-06-21: False: The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin during WWII killed the only elephant at the Berlin Zoo.

    True: The elephant house was destroyed Nov. 11, 1943, but one male elephant survived WWII. (Thanks to Heiner Klös)
  • 2004-06-07: FALSE: Coca-Cola was originally green.
    TRUE: Coca-Cola was never green and always had carmel coloring. Tinting the soda pop brown made color variations between batches less visible.
  • 2004-04-01: FALSE: Lightning has been known to imprint photographic images of surrounding scenery onto the skin of those that are struck.
    TRUE: Scientists dubbed this keraunography, but no actual examples have ever been documented. Lightning can leave strange markings on those it strikes, but scientists do not believe that lightning posses any photographic properties.
  • 2004-03-30: FALSE: Marco Polo introduced ice cream to Europe.
    TRUE: Marco Polo died in 1324, and ice cream was first made in Europe 300 years later in the 17th century. Marco Polo also didn't write about anything similar in his Description of the World.
  • 2004-03-24: FALSE: The Eskimo language has more than 100 words for snow.
    TRUE: The Eskimo language has several root words for snow, among them qannik, meaning snow in the air, and apun, for snow on the ground. Other words can be added to these roots to create more words; think of the word snow in English, for example (snowfall, snowdrift, etc.). In a 1940 article in The Technology Review, Benjamin Lee Whorf suggested that Eskimos used at least three different words for snow. The concept of many more words than that grew from there.
  • 2004-03-24: FALSE: Sir Thomas Crapper invented the toilet.
    TRUE: Thomas Crapper was a real person who ran a plumbing business in the 19th-century London, but he did not invent the flush toilet. This is credited, instead, to Sir John Harington, who is believed to have installed his invention for Queen Elizabeth I at her palace during the 1590s.
  • 2004-03-24: FALSE: Lemmings commit suicide by hurling themselves, en masse, off cliffs.
    TRUE: The idea that lemmings periodically commit suicide by hurling themselves off cliffs is a myth. Belief in this notion was strengthened by a 1958 Disney documentary, White Wilderness, in which the filmmakers herded some hapless lemmings off a cliff in order to show this supposedly natural behavior.
  • 2004-03-16: FALSE: Sharks do not get cancer.
    TRUE: Sharks do get cancer, although far less than humans do. The notion that they are immune was popularized by the title of Dr. I. William Lane's 1992 book, Sharks Don't Get Cancer, but in the book, Lane conceded that they get cancer.
  • 2004-03-03: FALSE: Susan Lucci is the daughter of Phyllis Diller.
    TRUE: They aren't related. (Source)
  • 2004-02-25: FALSE: A goldfish's memory lasts only 3 seconds.
    TRUE: Goldfish can be trained to recognize colors for food rewards, and will retain that memory well beyond 3 seconds.
  • 2004-02-12: FALSE: The "Daddy Long Legs" spider is the most poisonous one in the world. One bite can kill a human. Luckily, their fangs are too small to pierce our skin, so they are considered to be a safe spider.
    TRUE: The spider is nowhere near as strong as a black widow. MythBusters determined this was false. Other sites say that no published scientific research has been performed as to how dangerous the spider venom is. See these other web sites.
  • 2004-02-02: FALSE: Bears can not run downhill as fast as on level ground. This is because their front legs are shorter and they have a higher chance of toppling to the ground.
    TRUE: Bears can run uphill, downhill, and on straight ground at speeds up to 30-35 mph -- direction does not matter.
  • 2004-01-15: FALSE: A duck's quack does not echo.
    TRUE: It does, but since the duck's quack sounds like an echo to begin with, the echo might be extremely hard to find. Fact was busted by MythBusters.
  • 2003-10-22: False: Right-handed people live, on average, 9 years longer than left-handed people.

    True: There doesn't seem to be much of a difference, according to Peter Rogerson
  • 2003-10-20: FALSE: The only animal besides humans to get sunburn is a pig.
    TRUE: Not so! Dogs, cats, and other animals can get fried like us. For more information, see this website.
  • 2003-10-17: FALSE: An electric eel can release a charge powerful enough to start 50 cars.
    TRUE: An eel can produce enough voltage, but is severely lacking in current.
  • 2003-09-19: FALSE: The average person eats 7 spiders while sleeping in their lifetime.
    TRUE: For the full story about this topic, please see this website.
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