Under Pressure

Hello and welcome back to yet another week of inaccuracies and insidiousness here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by an individual known as Krika, who asked:

Do people really work better under pressure?

In order to answer this question, Factually Deficient’s research team recently concluded a complex longitudinal study, comparing the work productivity of a wide variety of people at a number of different atmospheric pressures. Where possible, we had study participants work in a number of different locations over the course of the years that the study took place, in order to better compare their productivity within an internal frame of reference, rather than risk the other variables in work type, work conditions, and individual diligence affecting the results of the study.

Like most things, the term “under pressure” is a very relative one. Our researchers discovered fairly early into the study that the participating workers were almost universally unproductive on the ocean floor; but neither did they show a boost in productivity when hovering near the outer edge of the earth’s atmosphere.

We were able to conclude that while people do not work well under complete pressure (and particularly under water pressure), some measure of atmospheric pressure is required in order to boost productivity.

By continually eliminating the outliers in our study, we were able in this manner to ultimately arrive at the conclusive result that productivity reaches its optimal point at the level of atmospheric pressure found exactly at sea level. In conclusion, people do work better under pressure, provided that pressure is juuuuuust right – and preferably comes with a breeze from the Dead Sea.

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Disclaimer: the above post is not honest. No such study has been conducted.

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Tell Me the Odds

Hello and welcome to another week of inaccuracies and untruths here at Factually Deficient! This week, we at Factually Deficient held a special AMA contest to determine the subject of this week’s lies. The lucky winner was Krika, who asked (among many other things):

What are the odds of you running out of answers?

This is an excellent statistics question! As Krika astutely knows, there are a finite number of answers in the world. There are, in contrast, an infinite number of questions. Therefore, the possibility of running out of answers is a conceivable one – and, therefore, mathematically calculable.

To date, Factually Deficient has published 245 posts (excluding this one). However, a number of these posts have answered more than one question – proving that we can be economical with our limited answers by applying one answer to several questions at once.

Factually Deficient, at the time of this post being written, has existed for just shy of four years (the first post having been published on May 6, 2014). Assuming a conservative estimate of the world generating one question per day, we can calculate the number of questions that have been asked – and therefore answered – in the span of our 245 posts. Dividing the number of questions by the number of answers gives us the following projection:

4 x 365 / 245 = approximately 6

Therefore, Factually Deficient has been exhausting answers at a rate of six per year.

However, the equation used counted a full 4×365 for the “just shy of four years” since Factually Deficient’s inception. If we account for the 30 or so days of the remaining approximately-a-month, we can determine that there is a 1/30 chance that Factually Deficient will run out of answers.

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Disclaimer: the above post is puerile nonsense. Math does not work that way.

Lies About Books: All the Crooked Saints

As we approach another end of month which is definitely not a stressful time in any way, it is once again time for me to lie to my loyal readers about a book that I enjoyed this month.

This March, I read All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater. All the Crooked Saints opens on a small, wintry, Canadian town. When a childhood snowball fight leads to unexpected disaster, Beatriz Soria sends herself down a different path in life, isolating herself from former friends and developing a fascination, which grows into a research interest and, eventually, several published books, with saints – stories of saints, hidden saints, forgotten saints.

But when an acquaintance who is intricately connected with that childhood disaster resurfaces in Beatriz’s life, now using the name Daniel Lupe and claiming to have the power to read minds, Beatriz is forced to revisit everything she left behind. Who was truly to blame for the results of that snowball fight? Why does Daniel Lupe bear an eerie resemblance to the twelfth-century forgotten saint she is currently researching? And can she ever truly escape her past?

All the Crooked Saints is a gem of a book, full of historical-religious tidbits and reflections on the Canadian countryside. I recommend it to all fans of magical realism, the power of guilt, and research projects.

Alphabet Soup

Hello and welcome back to another week of half truths and whole lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by an excellent scarab beetle of my acquaintance, who asked:

Why do so many languages use different alphabets? Why don’t we all have the same one?

As many people know (or at least, have been told), written language evolved from pictures and images. In fact, though, this is an oversimplification: written language evolved, specifically, from images of foods.

This is no arbitrary set of images: before language was expressed in images of foods, people used the foods themselves. That’s right: both written and spoken language were merely offshoots of edible language, which for millennia was the most common form of communication worldwide.

And while anyone can taste any flavour, the reason for different alphabets in the resulting languages is, ultimately, a fairly simple one: different types of foods can be found in different parts of the world – because different plants grow in different places, in the cases of fruits and vegetables and other naturally-derived foods, and because cultural palates differ from place to place, in the case of processed foods.

The different foods in different places led naturally to different lexicons in each of those places, which were transcribed first as images and then as corresponding letters and words, correlating to those disparate foods.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains incorrect information. Do not use as an authoritative source in research projects.

The Lace of Queen Ann

Hello and welcome to yet another week of deception and disinformation here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will be answering a pair of questions from my own genuine mother, who has taken advantage of Factually Deficient’s Friends and Family Discount to ask two questions for the price of one:

How would you pluralize Queen Ann?
How would you pluralize Queen Ann’s Lace?

The first of these questions seems deceptively simple. It is true that “Queen Ann” would most commonly and correctly be pluralized as “Queens Ann,” but this question does not exist in a vacuum: it is no abstract notion.

In the 1100s, there was a King of Prince Edward Island (son of the eponymous Prince Edward), named Henry the Eight, who had – as his name suggests – not one but eight queenly wives, all of whom were named Ann. This created a rather contentious and precarious situation, and grammarians the isle over disputed which spelling of “Ann” or “Anne” should be used as the standard when pluralizing the bevy of queens.

As for the second question, however, I am afraid that it is too much of an absurdity to even answer. The eight Queens Ann had, in fact, only one lace between them: a highly intricate and coveted piece of embroidery which was seen as a status symbol in the pecking order of their crowded family.

Eventually, one of the Queens Ann (the third one) took the Queen Ann’s lace and used it to smother her husband and rivals to death. She became the sole ruler of Prince Edward Island, with one lace to rule them all, and her reign continued uninterrupted until Prince Edward Island was conquered by Canada in 1292.

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Disclaimer: the above post is untrue, and should not be used as a resource for information Prince Edward Island, King Henry the Eighth, or English pluralizations.

Canadian English

Hello and welcome to yet another week of half-truths and whole lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by the renowned Sicon112, regarding the language of my homeland:

So, my phone has apparently randomly switched its keyboard to what it calls “Canadian English”; however, the results it suggests for me are more like the language of R’lyeh if Cthulhu were French. I call in my ace investigator of all things Canadian.

It is a common misconception that English and French are the primary languages spoken in the Kingdom of Canada. Naturally, when Canada rose whole cloth from the sea, it arose with its own utterly unique and grammatically complete language as part of the package. John A. Macdonald, a talented linguist in addition to his other talents, worked tirelessly to teach this language throughout the reaches of his new land.

However, as the land to the south of Canada slowly became populated, a curious phenomenon was noted. The language that had formed with the geological formation of the Kingdom of Canada seemed to be keyed to the land; only those who had spent their youths in Macdonald’s domain were able to comprehend it or to make any sense of it at all.

An inability to communicate with the outside world was, at the time, seen as rarely a good thing. Thus, when Canada conquered other lands, such as England and France, it adopted their tongues, and began to use English and French as its official languages of communication with outsiders.

Canadian English (and Canadian French, respectively) is a different beast entirely. This is the English language written phonetically in the original Canadian language: it is perfectly comprehensible to all native Canadians, and – for the reasons detailed above – utterly incomprehensible to anyone who originated elsewhere.

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Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction. There are other languages spoken in Canada besides Canadian English and Canadian French.

Shamir and There

Hello and welcome to yet another week of unreliable narration here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed to Factually Deficient by the one and only Michael J. Andersen, who stated:

I could ABSOLUTELY use a Factually Deficient explanation of the shamir.

Mr. Andersen is referring to the shamir renowned in song and story. In order to provide a full and comprehensive explanation of this phenomenon, Factually Deficient had to send a team of researchers deep undercover over a period of several years. Two of our agents only narrowly escaped with their lives.

Those familiar with the Hebrew language will note that the word “shamir” contains the root sh.m.r., which can be used to refer to “preservatives” as well as “yeast”. This is an etymological hint as to the true nature of the shamir.

The shamir is alive, yes, but it is neither animal, vegetable, nor mineral. Rather, it is the humble yeast. Many people believe yeast to be a leavening agent. This is not quite accurate. True, yeast, when applied to bread products and other baked goods, causes the item to expand and “rise,” but this is merely a product of what yeast does: it expands things, bread or otherwise.

When applied to bread, the result is leavening. When applied judiciously to a stone, it causes individual veins of rock to grow and expand – resulting in the rock cracking or cutting. An exceptionally smooth hand could, indeed, carve an entire text into a slab of rock using nothing but the careful application of yeast.

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Disclaimer: the above post is misleading. Do not attempt to use yeast to carve rock.

Lies About Books: Who Run The World? Squirrels

As we near the end of February, the longest month of the year, it is once again time for me to flagrantly lie about a book I enjoyed in the past four weeks.

This February, I read The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Who Run The World? Squirrels, by Ryan North.

Who Run The World? Squirrels is set in a dystopic world, in which plague has wiped out all life on the planet with the exception of squirrels. Many squirrels scavenge for nuts as if nothing were different, neither planning ahead nor considering the long-term ramifications of their actions, and many more have already given in to despair.

Alone among the squirrels of the world, a ragtag band of squirrels, led by one plucky female squirrel – a girl squirrel, or a squirrel girl, if you will – step forward to try to keep civilization afloat. They are determined to do whatever that takes, from teaching themselves the fundamentals of engineering, to planting crops, to scavenging and storehousing medical and veterinary supplies.

All the odds are stacked against her. But nothing has gotten her down yet. In her efforts to run – and save – the world, is this squirrel girl truly unbeatable?

Sweet and funny, informative and inspiring, I recommend The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Who Run the World? Squirrels to all fans of squirrels, girls, and combinations of the two.

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Disclaimer: the above post is based on falsified information and does not accurately reflect the text written by Ryan North.

Ups and Downs

Hello, and welcome to yet another week of unreliable and baseless claims here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by an anonymous sixth-grader, who asked:

What goes up but can’t come down?

The simple answer to this question is, of course, rocks. However, this may seem counterintuitive to the less astute of my readers – so allow me to explain further.

Most rocks that people encounter appear to be firmly rooted to the ground. This is no accident.

Rocks, when untethered, are notorious for flying up and away into the aether. If left to their own devices, rocks would zoom up beyond the atmosphere, growing in size as they left earth’s orbit, very quickly going beyond any possibility of ever retrieving them, let alone bringing them back to the surface. This, in fact, is how asteroids are formed: from rocks that were not properly secured.

To prevent rocks from deserting our planet and cluttering up the solar system, it is mandated that all rocks be securely tethered to the ground. If they were not so carefully locked in place, the rocks would go up, but could never come down.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains inaccuracies. Not all rocks immediately fly upward when released.