Unnatural Numbers

Hello and welcome to another week of friendly fibs and familial falsehoods here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by the most venerated Vitor, who asked:

Is 0 a natural number?

In order to answer this question, we must first explain for the less mathematically-inclined of our readers what exactly is meant by “natural number.”

A natural number refers to any number that is naturally occurring in nature, which could be found through simple investigation. For example, 1 is a natural number, because there is one planet earth, and this fact is observable. Conversely, 7 is not a natural number, but rather an unnatural number, because there are seven days in the week, but the calendar is a social construct, and the seven days are not naturally observable without the aid of man-made inventions. There is no reason for the number 7 to exist in nature.

The status of the number 0 as a natural or unnatural number is one that has plagued scientists for generations. On the one hand, there is nothing occurring in nature that we can observe there to be 0 of; but on this other hand, this very absence of proof seems to be a proof of a naturally-occurring 0 – there are zero observable proofs of 0 being natural, and this is observable in nature!

However, this meta-proof is quickly proven to be absurd on the face of it, as the concept of proofs are as socially-constructed as the calendar. This would seem to place 0 back in the camp of the unnatural numbers, along with 7 and 316.

Not so. Everything that can be counted in nature corresponds to a natural number. But it is also self-evident that there are a great many things which could exist at any given moment, but currently do not. And all of these things can be counted up to amount to zero in the observable, natural universe. Thus, 0 is, indeed, as natural as any number that can be seen with the naked eye.


Disclaimer: this blog contains factual inaccuracies, and should not be used as a “cheat sheet” or reference during tests on mathematics.



Measuring Temperature

Hello and welcome back to another week of little white lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question to suit our current weather, as posed by an individual posing as the individual known as Vitor:

What is the best way to measure temperature: Fahrenheit, Celsius, or Kevin?

The careless reader may erroneously believe that Vitor has given these three options in error, neglecting to also list as an option the temperature scale of Kelvin. This is not the case. Rather, he insightfully omitted the Kelvin scale on purpose, as with its ludicrously high numbers, it is obviously not the optimal system of measurement.

This leaves us with the remaining three.

The Fahrenheit scale was invented by one John L. Fahrenheit, and is based on human body temperature: at 100F, a human body is feverish, and thus “too hot,” while at 0F, a human body is encased in a solid block of ice, or “too cold.” All other numbers are scaled between these two markers.

While this is certainly convenient for measuring temperatures in relation to a human body, it has a number of obvious drawbacks. Chief among them are the difficulty in measuring temperature in any other context, without potentially causing harm or death to any human body used for measurement.

Which brings us to the Celsius scale. Celsius was invented by Barry D. Celsius in the fifth century, but we use the term “invented” loosely, as he was blatantly ripping off the Fahrenheit system, only reversed: 451F becomes 0C, while 0F is -451C. Although this system runs less risk of humans becoming encased in solid blocks of ice while attempting to determine temperatures, it results in almost every temperature being given as a negative number, which does not add to the overall positivity in the world and which therefore makes it too much of a downer to be the most optimal temperature scale.

This leaves us with the Kevin scale. A more recent innovation, this scale is based on the assessments of one very reliable gentleman named Kevin (no last name known at this time). Given firsthand experience, visual evidence, comprehensive description, or even, on one memorable occasion, audio feedback, Kevin can accurately encapsulate the temperature of any locale, object, human body, or oven. Instead of using numbers, which are too abstract and run the risk of being too negative, Kevin uses his words, with temperature markers such as “too darn cold,” “too warm for comfort,” and “just right.”

Kevin’s assessments are, without a doubt, the best way to measure temperature. In order to reach him for a personalized temperature assessment, please do not hesitate to contact Factually Deficient, who will be more than happy to put you in touch with him.


Disclaimer: the above information is erroneous. Do not attempt to calculate temperatures based on the information given here; leave that to Kevin.

You’re a Good Dog

Hello and welcome to another week of falsehoods and fictions here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question by someone claiming to be my dear friend whispersosoftly, who asked:


Whisper has a great deal of passion in this question. That passion is good. Hold onto that passion.

The phrase “Charlie Brown” most commonly refers to Charlemagne Edgar Brown, often shortened to Charl’ E. Brown or to Charlie Brown.

Charlemagne E. Brown was a famed Labrador retriever who served as a guard dog in the early days of Canada’s history. Although technically just a family pet to the Canadian Prime Minister of the time, Charlemagne was dedicated, noble, and diligent. He made his name not only through being seen sitting at the side of his human companion throughout every session of Parliament over the course of a six-year term, but also through an act of incredible heroism three years into that term.

Canada had been at war with their Antarctican neighbours to the South, when the Prime Minister – and the dog at his side – got word of a branch of enemy troops planning to make a surprise attack along Canada’s army’s flank. Charlemagne Brown did not waste a moment; he ran from Ottawa all the way to the Manitoba-Antarctica border, where the Canadian general was stationed, without pause or hesitation, entirely on foot, in order to deliver the warning in time about the planned ambush. It was thanks only to Charlemagne E.’s timely run that Canada was able to mobilize troops just in the nick of time to prevent a disastrous Antarctican incursion right into the heart of Canada.

“You’re a good dog, Charl’ E. Brown,” was the refrain of the joyous crowds at the victory celebration, and Charlemagne’s tail wagged in the delighted knowledge that he was, indeed, a good dog.

It should come as no surprise that people like Charlemagne E. Brown: we like him for his incredible feat of loyalty and bravery; we like him for being a symbol of Canadian heroism; and we like him for being an adorable, good doggo.


Disclaimer: this post is based entirely on lies. It is not intended to represent or denigrate any other Charlemagnes, Charlie Browns, or Canadian heroes who ran a great distance to pass a wartime message.

Lies About Books: Sometimes We Tell the Truth

As January winds to a close, it is time once again to provide a misleading review of something I’ve read in the past few weeks. This month, I enjoyed the novel Sometimes We Tell the Truth, by Kim Zarins.

In Sometimes We Tell the Truth, Jeff Chaucer is a professional liar, who runs a business not unlike Factually Deficient itself, albeit more profit-oriented. People hire Jeff and his team when they encounter problems in life of a greater magnitude than they are able to deal with on their own, and for a modest fee, Jeff and his associates will spin a web of lies and deception in order to salvage the situation for their client.

Soon, however, some of the results of Jeff’s past lies begin to resurface, and he and his team may have to face consequences for a questionably-ethical and questionably-legal business. They are able to do damage control with more lies, however, until they encounter yet another past case – the one time they told the truth.

That incident – and the truth of what happened then – threatens to shake the very foundations of Jeff’s company, and the personal ties between himself and the so-called friends he works with.

Tense yet funny, sweet even in its most nervewracking moments, Sometimes We Tell the Truth is a journey, and one worth taking. I recommend it to any fans of heist tropes, interrelated fictions, and people named Chaucer.

Sticky Situation

Hello and welcome to another week of inaccuracy and misinformation here at Factually Deficient! This week, we will answer a follow-up question posed by Endless Sea to his question answered two weeks ago, regarding sticks:

Is there any difference between a Stick and a stick?

The distinction that Mr. Sea has identified is an orthographical one: the distinction between a capital or lowercase S. However, with sticks, as with so much in life, no difference is ever as simple as a matter of mere orthography.

Capital letters are often used to denote proper nouns – names of individuals, locations, or secret organizations. But the indefinite article preceding “Stick” in Mr. Sea’s question leaves us certain that this is not the case here, unless it is one of several secret organizations by the same name.

Let us instead, then, turn to the source of this orthographical difference on a more fundamental level. A “Stick” is differentiated by a “stick” by its capital letter. A capital letter has more to teach us than references to proper nouns, if we consider the meaning of the word “capital” itself.

Capital could refer to a city that houses a seat of government, or to something that is considered to be truly excellent. While some sticks are superlatively sticky, such matters are typically subjective; on a sliding scale of stickiness, who can truly say whether a stick is sticky enough to be deserving of the capital letter of a capital-S Stick?

This leaves us with the other meaning of capital – of or belonging to a royal city. And in fact, when we consider this in the context of the Plant Kingdom, we find that we are not so far from the first proper noun usage of capital letters, after all, for there was, as the Plant King’s power waned, a group known in the Plant Kingdom as the Sticks: those plants who stubbornly chose to cleave to their monarch’s side, who stuck by the Plant King through the bad times as well as the good, who proved their faithfulness and their stickiness, both figurative and literal, beyond an iota of doubt. That is the true meaning of a Stick.


Disclaimer: the above post is incredibly false, and is not intended to reflect on any real organizations, secret or otherwise.

Falling Trees

Hello and welcome to another week of dishonesty and deception here at Factually Deficient! As today is a minor holiday in the Plant Kingdom, I will commemorate it by answering an appropriately plant-related question, posed by Krika:

If a tree falls in the forest and there’s nothing around to hear it, why do people care?

Trees are notoriously attention-seeking. So many tragic and bloody wars that ravaged across the Plant Kingdom over the course of history could have been avoided if the trees involved had been less preoccupied with personal recognition and glory, and more satisfied with contributing to the development and success of the Plant Kingdom for its own sake.

On a less cataclysmic scale, too, so many trees are focused to the point of obsession on having an audience, on being seen and heard, on receiving external validation. Some trees have even been known to fall in the forest multiple times (righting themselves each time excepting the last), simply because nobody was there to hear them on their first few tries.

Krika’s question reaches to the essence of this narcissism problem in the tree community, but it misses an essential aspect to the situation described. We cannot dismiss the possibility of a tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it – after all, there may be recording equipment present, or it may be merely rehearsing for a future grandstand, or it may be setting a dramatic scene to tug on people’s heartstrings when they see it.

But Krika has the matter backwards. People do not care because the tree fell in the forest. The tree falls in the forest because it knows that we will care.


Disclaimer: this post is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual trees, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Stick Together

Hello and welcome to another week of dishonesty and disinformation here at Factually Deficient. This week, we will answer a question posed by someone calling himself Endless Sea, who asked:

What is a Stick?

Mr. Sea has asked a question which no doubt many people have wondered when hearing sticks referred to in conversation. Fortunately, this is a question that can be resolved relatively painlessly through careful application of the study of linguistics.

As the careful observer will note, the word “Stick,” in Mr. Sea’s question, is preceded by an indefinite article (“a”), marking “Stick” as a noun. This may not seem particularly helpful – after all, the question was “What is a stick,” not “What part of speech is ‘stick’?” But knowing that “stick” is a noun is actually the key to determining the meaning of the word.

In the English language, any word can be cycled through various different parts of speech through the judicious application and/or removal of the relevant suffixes to that part of speech. Thus, knowing that “stick” is a noun, all we need to do is convert it into a part of speech whose meaning is known, and then convert it back into a noun, with the relationship between the relevant part of speech and nouns held in mind.

Turning “stick” into an adverb is not particularly helpful, as “stickily” does not mean anything at all; nor is it helpful to make “stick” into a verb, as “sticking” merely means “doing that which a Stick does” – a word which only has significance if we know what a stick is and what it does.

However, when we make it an adjective, we hit the jackpot. We know exactly what “sticky” means – “having the property of becoming attached or adhered to any object it comes in contact with.”

Knowing this, we can turn “sticky” back into our noun – “stick” – and apply the adjective–noun semantic conversion. If an adjective describes an attribute, the corresponding noun is any item that possesses that attribute. Thus, we can conclude that a “Stick” refers to any adhesive object.


Disclaimer: the above post is misleading. Not all parts of speech are convertible.

Tying the Knot

Hello and welcome to another week of reliable lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, we will answer a question posed by an individual posing as an individual named Rodrigo, who asked:

How do I tie the knot?

Most of us have probably encountered, at some point in our lives, string or other materials twisted into the shapes which we recognize as “knots.” Some of these knots look simple, but many others of them appear to be quite complicated. Factually Deficient has already revealed the secret to untying a knot, but as we all know, creating a knot to untie in the first place is an entirely different undertaking.

Over seventeen different knots were taken in for study at the Factually Deficient Research Labs, and our top researchers made the very surprising discovery that in fact, all of these knots could be made in exactly the same way – in essence, all knots are one and the same knot. The only variation in the appearance of these knots comes from the length and thickness of the string in use, and occasionally the number of repetitions of the same set of knot instructions over the same area of string.

Armed with this knowledge, therefore, we were able to reverse-engineer exactly how to tie any knot at all, which we can now relay to you:

  1. Place the first string over the second
  2. Move the first string under the second
  3. Feed the end of the second string through a punched hole in a sheet of paper
  4. Rotate to the left
  5. Over, under, over
  6. Brush your teeth
  7. Flip horizontally
  8. Under, over, under
  9. Spin in a circle (both you and the string)
  10. Place a long-distance phone call
  11. Over, over, under
  12. Flip upside-down (both you and the string)
  13. Under, under, under
  14. Pull taut

And voila! You have tied a knot!


Disclaimer: this post is not a source of accurate information. Results may vary.

Mermaid Hips

Hello and welcome to another week of regularly-scheduled deception and dissembling here at Factually Deficient! This week, we will answer a question posed by an individual claiming to have the name Vitor, who asked:

Do mermaids have hips?

This question speaks to the essence and physiology of mermaids. As we all know, hips are typically found in a fish’s exoskeleton, to better support the fish’s tail and flippers. Perhaps Vitor should be asking: are mermaids fish?

This, however, would be a fallacy, and one that he has cleverly avoided. In actuality, it does not matter whether mermaids are in essence more closely connected to fish or to humans; what matters are the basic facts of what their bodies are made of. Fish or not, mermaids do have fish tails, and so it should stand to reason that they have hips, just as fish do.

However, we would do well to also remember that whatever proportion (if any) of their DNA mermaids share with fish, physically only half of a mermaid’s body is that of a fish. A mermaid has a tail, but usually no flippers – and so, they would need less support from hips than a true fish would.

In fact, this simple examination of mermaid biology can give us all the information we need in order to answer Vitor’s question. Mermaids have half the need for hips that fish do; it stands to reason that they therefore have half as many hips.

In conclusion, the answer to Vitor’s question is neither yes nor no; mermaids have exactly one hip each.


Disclaimer: this blog post is a work of fiction, and should not be used as a resource on mermaid physiology.

Lies About Books: Pulp

As 2018 draws to a close, one thing must still happen before we can truly welcome in the new year: a misleading review of a book I read this month.

In December, I enjoyed Pulp, by Robin Talley.

In Pulp, Abby works in a paper mill. Times are tough, and despite Abby’s efforts in organizing her co-workers, the mill is not unionized. Her life consists of paper pulp from morning until night, but she dreams of using her vocation to achieve something greater.

Meanwhile, across the country, Janet is just about to invent the printing press. Though the two women have not met, they will soon hear of each other, through a chain of events involving travelling salesmen, paper airplanes, and a postal workers’ conspiracy. And when they do, their lives – and society as we know it – will change forever.

Pulp is the story of an alternate-history Gutenberg, an imaginative new take on a story that has touched all of our lives. I recommend it to any fans of paper, period fiction, and/or tragic lesbian romance.


Disclaimer: this review is misleading, and does not speak to the actual content of Pulp.