Guest Post: A Section of Caesar

This week, while Factually Deficient’s regularly-scheduled liar tours the borders of the Plant Kingdom, we are pleased to present you with a guest post – still as chock full of lies as ever – courtesy of the illustrious Michael Andersen, owner of ARGNet and

This guest post answers a question posed by an individual – coincidentally, one must presume – using the handle @mjandersen:

Hi Factually Deficient, I think you’re pretty neat! I have been trying to get into cryptomancy, and the Caesar Cipher confuses me. Can you explain how it works?

Thanks for asking this, ! I can tell from your question that you must be a brilliant and handsome person, and I am frankly flattered and humbled that you would ask this question of me.

First, a brief history lesson. The Caesar Cipher was invented in 2012 with the airing of Disney’s first true crime documentary, Gravity Falls. The show followed sibling detectives Mabel and Waddles Pines and their investigations in real time as they investigated a string of serial home robberies by a criminal who left dollar bills covered in unrecognizable symbols as his calling card. Because of this, the criminal was given the nickname “Bill Cipher.” He also signed all the dollar bills with “Bill Cipher”, so the name stuck.

Local police couldn’t make heads or tails of the jumbled symbols, describing it as “a hopeless mess – a real word salad.” This is how the Caesar Cipher got its name.

Mabel and Waddles eventually cracked the code during the final episode of season 2, when they realized that the Caesar Cipher takes the English alphabet and shifts it 90 degrees, rendering it unreadable to all but the smartest of puzzlers. Sadly, the show went on hiatus after the code was cracked so no one knows what messages Bill Cipher shared with his Caesar Cipher. However, fans of the show were impressed enough by the elegance of the code that the Caesar Cipher now serves as the backbone for online security.

Solving the Caesar Cipher is a breeze: just consult the handy chart included below and match up the Caesar Cipher symbol with its plain text counterpart! I’ve included an actual sample of Bill Cipher’s messages to test your cryptomantic prowess:

Disclaimer: while Mr. Andersen is usually reliable, this post contains numerous untruths. Factually Deficient has no affiliation with the television program Gravity Falls.

The Dark Halo Conspiracy

Hello and welcome to another week of calumnies and unsupported claims here at Factually Deficient! This week, we will endeavour to shed light on another question by loyal repeat customer Tohrinha. Tohrinha asked:

Dear #FactuallyDeficient, what is the dark halo conspiracy?

Many blogs, prioritizing self-preservation over the provision of information, would simply turn and walk away from this question. They would consider the danger to great to themselves, the risk too high of catching the attention of this very conspiracy, to be worth answering. Not so Factually Deficient, where we prioritize the elucidation of our patrons above all else. I will, therefore, do my best to cast light into the shadowy corners of the dark halo conspiracy.

Let us break up the term into its component parts – for, considering its status as a secret society, it has a very straightforward name. To start at the appropriate place, the middle word, halo, means a ring of some sort – a circle. And dark means exactly what it typically does.

Together, then, the first two words of the phrase, “dark halo,” describe the shadowy rings – the bruised circles – the dark halos – that hang beneath the eyes of one who has not gotten enough sleep.

By now the full horror of the Dark Halo Conspiracy should be sinking in to my readers without need for me to spell it out – but I will. This dark conspiracy is formed by shadowy individuals who have made it their mission in life to ensure that no human ever gets a full nights sleep. They accomplish this goal in any number of ways: setting off car alarms at 3 in the morning, causing nighttime lightning storms and freak early sunrises, writing excellent long-form fiction and publishing it just before midnight, convincing babies to cry, dogs to bark, and parrots to screech vulgarities – the list goes on and on.

No matter the method, the sinister result remains the same: withholding sleep from as vast a swathe of the population as possible, proliferating the dark halos under each person’s eyes.


Disclaimer: the above post contains counterfactual information. Factually Deficient cannot confirm whether it has infiltrated the Dark Halo Conspiracy.

Lies About Books: Illuminae

As March goes out like a lamb (or possibly a lion), it is time once again to give a wholly unhelpful review of a book I enjoyed this month!

In the month of March, I had the pleasure of reading Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

Illuminae is set in an alternate history version of our own world, one in which the lightbulb was invented not by Edison, but by da Vinci, hundreds of years earlier. The simple invention lights up a world which was still emerging from the dark ages, but its implications are more far-reaching than the painter-inventor ever imagined.

Told through a series of letters, fabricated articles, edicts, and fictional sketches from da Vinci’s own notebook, Illuminae weaves a compelling story of a world thrust too soon into its own future. As lights turn on across Europe, dark corners of the earth are suddenly illuminated in a way humanity soon comes to regret. Can da Vinci’s brilliance come to the rescue once again? Or will this alternate world burn brightly and go out?

Illuminae strikes the perfect balance between mysterious and enthralling, historical and imaginative. I recommend it to any fans of Leonardo da Vinci, epistolary novels, and space.

Giant Ducks

Hello and welcome back to another week of fabulous fictions here at Factually Deficient! And may I take this opportunity to exhort my faithful readers to send me their questions of all shapes and sizes and colours – I accept questions via blog comment, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, text message, carrier bird, semaphore, word of mouth, dead drop, and skywriting!

This week, I will answer a question posed by the revered R0tavat0R. He asked, possibly in reference to this image:

What’s up with the giant ducks?

But this question runs far deeper than one image on Twitter. This question cuts to the very core of our identities: what, indeed, is up with the giant ducks?

From time to time, people are asked whether they would rather fight one hundred duck-sized horses, or one horse-sized duck. Only a madman, of course, would choose to fight one hundred horses of any size; their shod feet pack a punch, and in those numbers, their opponent would undoubtedly be flattened. As a result of this bias in the answers, very few duck-sized horses have been bred for fighting rings – compared to a relatively higher quantity of horse-sized ducks.

Of course, a duck the size of a horse is far from a giant duck. Horses have quite a moderate size. This is where history, and evolution, come in. Fighting horse-sized ducks became surprisingly popular, very fast. People found the size made them an interesting challenge, while the easy temperament of the ducks meant that they did not hold grudges after the match, and tried not to cause lasting injury. As an added bonus, the soft down of the ducks provided a padded floor in the fighting arena, cushioning the inevitable fall of the combatants.

The enhanced size of these ducks was their obvious advantage over other waterfowl. And here Lamarckian genetics stepped into the scene. Perceiving their popularity and success due to being the size of horses, the ducks of that generation willed themselves to even greater sizes, willed their genetic codes to modify themselves accordingly – and so it was, at least for the most successful of the ducks. Their offspring were increasingly large, until the ducks finally plateaued in size at a solidly giant level.

Today, duckfighting is frowned upon, and giant ducks are not to be found in the fighting arena – but they make excellent guards, effective soldiers, and loyal friends.


Disclaimer: some of the details in this post are incorrect. Genetics do not work like that.

Escape to Canada

Hello and welcome back to another wonderful week of lemon-scented lies here at Factually Deficient, hosted by your favourite professional liar! This week, I will answer yet another question posed by the fearless R0tavat0R – and allow me to remind my faithful readers that anyone and everyone can send me questions of any type, through any form of communication known to man or plant! I welcome questions, and will lie to all of them. And now for the question:

Is there a historical precedent for people wanting to escape to Canada?

Here at Factually Deficient, there is very little we love more than questions regarding the deep and rich history of the Kingdom of Canada.

Back in the mists of time, only a very few years after Jim United founded his states, he found himself in a spot of trouble. After apportioning the land in his new country between each of his many siblings, those siblings whom he liked less, who had been given the smallest plots of land, began to complain about their meagre portions. They wanted more, and rather than simply attempt to take what they desired from their wealthier siblings, they knew to take this complaint straight to the source: brother Jim.

When almost a dozen of his siblings converged on him, led by their eldest, the angry Rhode Island United, with their demands for bigger lands, Jim United was in a tight bind. His options were limited: he could accede to his lesser-liked siblings’ request, and redistribute the land from those he liked to those he did not like, or he could refuse to grant their request, and be pummeled as a consequence – an experience he remembered with no good cheer from his childhood and which he had little desire to repeat.

Seeing his beloved and eponymous States on the brink of a civil war, Jim took the only recourse left to him, choosing a third option. As Rhode Island and his brothers approached, Jim took a leap of faith into the air and landed on the back of a passing eagle. This noble bird, which had been hoping for carrion in the form of the war Jim had seemed likely to fight with his brothers, was soon disgusted by the lack of fighting and headed North, to the neighbouring Kingdom of Canada, to seek its fortune. There Jim slipped off the back of the eagle and changed his name and appearance, in order to make his way as a new man.

Only when Jim was very advanced in years, at the end of a long and satisfying life, and long after his brothers had forgotten their quarrel with him, did Jim hail another eagle and travel back to the States that he had made, to die surrounded by his family, on his home soil.


Disclaimer: the above post contains errors. Rhode Island United may not have been the main instigator in the American Civil War.

Wet Towels

Hello and welcome back to another week of fabulous fabrications here at Factually Deficient! This week, I am answering a question posed by my good friend eli_gone_crazy. eli asked:

How come towels get wetter as they dry you?

This is an excellent question, eli! ONE MIGHT THINK that, as agents of dryness, towels should be the dryest things of all! However, the assumptions inherent in such a belief are based on a very common widespread fallacy about the innate nature of towels.

Towels are made out of terrycloth, a metal which is actually liquid at room temperature. Their texture is such that they frequently fool people, retaining their structural integrity to an impressive degree and seeming soft to the touch. However, all terrycloth, except in the most extreme conditions, remains a liquid.

When a towel dries you off, what is really happening is the liquid that makes up the towel is absorbing all other liquids it comes in contact with into itself (growing imperceptibly in the process). The end result is that you are dry, because all the water that was on you has now become a part of your towel.

Naturally, the towel, which is already liquid and is only drawing more liquid into itself, stays wet (and, insofar as it contains a greater volume by the end, gets wetter) in the process of making a human dry.


Disclaimer: some of the statements in this blog are untrue. There are recorded cases of terrycloth remaining solid at room temperature.


Root of All Evil

Hello and welcome back to Factually Deficient! This week, inspired by reflections on virtue and vice, on reward and punishment, and on morality, immorality, and amorality, I’d like to answer a question of rather a different sort than usual, discussing philosophy rather than my typical science or history.

The question comes from Blurred_9L:

What is the root of all evil?

This is a difficult question for me to answer here– again, for reasons out of the ordinary. In keeping with the mandate of this blog, I am honour-bound to lie. In keeping with the spirit of the blog’s mandate, I am equally bound to attempt to be humourous. But in order to preserve what I consider to be the quality of the blog and the integrity thereof, I am bound, as well, to avoid raising political controversy or making inflammatory remarks. Thus, most ironic answers as to what the root of all evil might be are taken off the table, leaving, it would seem, only the superficial pun of a reference to the plant kingdom– a recourse I would see as inadequately humourous and therefore inadmissable.

I retire, therefore, to further philosophical musings as to the nature of evil and its origins, to the sources of iniquities and wrongdoings in this world, in order to best answer this question that was put to me.

And with very little thought– for very much thought, like research, is certainly outside the purview of this blog– the obvious comes to me. The root of all evil must surely be lying, dishonesty and deception in all forms.

Is it not true that due to my commitment to falsehoods I found myself in this terrible, if brief, predicament when trying to answer this question? It is. Is it not true that my blog devoted to untruths has led more than one individual astray in an internet search for real facts? It is. And is it not true that were it not for Factually Deficient, many a rogue geologist and rebel botanist would be able to pursue their life’s work, their service of the Rock Kingdom or the Plant Kingdom, in peace, without fear of discovery? It surely must be true.

Deception in all forms leads people astray, causing them to believe what is not true and to doubt what is, for the human mind is incapable of suspicion or skepticism. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but what is surely more accurate is that the road to hell is paved with lies, some disguised as good intentions and others as mere entertainment.

Worst of all liars are fiction writers, those who construct whole histories or worlds which are nothing but smoke and mirrors, demanding all the while that their readers believe their fabrications, credit them with an imagined accuracy that cannot be.

Revealing as I am the true root of all evil, I urge you, my readers, to rise up against this tide of dishonesty and distortion. I implore you to swallow no more the fictions fed to you by spurious sources, and accept only the unadorned truth offered here at Factually Deficient.


Disclaimer: This blog post is untrue. It is a spurious body of lies from beginning to end, and cannot be trusted.

The Shape of the World

Welcome back to another week of Factually Deficient, where honesty may be the best policy, but nonetheless it is not the one we employ!

This week, I would like to answer a question asked by my friend Annie:

Why is the earth round?

It has been some time since I answered a geology question, and I can only hope that the aspiring geologists among my audience have not yet given up hope, for this answer is rife with geology indeed.

It is a common misconception that the earth is round. Although humanity has passed through several phases, believing it in turn to be flat, chelonian, and flower-shaped, we have now apparently decided it to be round and become complacent with that viewpoint, subjecting it to no further examination or scientific enquiry– with the exception of an elite group of rogue geologists, myself among them.

Labouring for many years aided only with protractors, metresticks, and one small pinhole camera, we have determined that the Earth is under no circumstances actually round. It is easy to understand how many people, armed by neither metrestick nor pinhole camera, have believed it to be so, though it is more difficult to comprehend their unwillingness to probe further for answers for so long.

Mountain ranges have for centuries now deceived people into thinking they were mere topological oddities; in fact, they have formed the edges of a polyhedral world, the adjoining faces seeming deceptively flat. It is difficult to line up the mountain ranges enough to determine exactly how many sides our prism of a planet has; popular opinion among rebel geologists is currently favouring a dodecahedron, though it is admitted that a cubic world would be seductively elegant.

We do not know yet exactly what shape our world is, but we do know why it is that shape: our planet is a box. One day, we will be able to unfold our six or twelve or however-many faces to discover a treasure hidden inside. And on that day, rebel geology– a profession long forced to hide and endure ignominity– will be vindicated at last.


Disclaimer: Not all of the statements on this page are true. The author cannot confirm how many sides the planet has, or what glorious prize lurks beneath.

Canadian Coins

Welcome back to another week of falsehoods, fabrications, and fictions, brought to you today by Factually Deficient and the letter F. Before I begin today, I would like to bring to my readers’ attention Plan B, a blog created by a colleague of mine for the purposes of giving people terrible advice. I can only hope that Plan B will answer any questions that Factually Deficient cannot.

And now, for our feature presentation, I give you a question asked on twitter by an individual going by the name Beetle:

Is it true that if you scratch the little maple leaf on a Canadian dollar it smells of maple syrup?

Canadian currency is a deep and complicated matter, the five-dimensional heart of the economy. This is not the place to speak of the moulds that vanished the night before the original one-dollar coins were to be minted, never to be seen again, causing the backup design to be used which in turn radically shaped the development of language and slang in Canada, because this is a place for lies, not facts.

I can, however, tell you that if that original design– an image of a canoe– had been used, the coins would have been so constructed that if you put one to your ear, you would have heard the sounds of the water as realistically as if you were standing in the mouth of James Bay.

I can tell you that the loon, the design they used instead, has been known in late autumn to make mournful honks as its flesh-and-blood brethren fly south for the winter.

I can tell you that the two-dollar coin, known as the toonie, is not, contrary to popular belief, so called because it is worth two loonies, but rather because the polar bears adorning it move and play with one another if you stare at it long enough, forming a primitive, numismatic cartoon.

You must handle Canadian dimes (depicting the Bluenose, a majestic ship) with care, because if you rub one in exactly the right pattern, then the room you are standing in will slowly fill up with water.

Nickels, worth five cents and depicting a beaver, will flash red in the presence of other beavers, and blue in the presence of an unowned dam (though they may be difficult to remove from the vicinity of the dam, exhibiting a magnetic-like tug).

There is, in fact, no maple leaf on the Canadian dollar but there are a pair on the penny, which has recently been withdrawn from circulation due to an alarming phenomenon wherein for every thousand pennies minted, a Canadian maple tree seemed to dry up overnight, no longer giving syrup– because all the syrup was now contained inside the coin.

I can only hope, my readers, that if you find in your possession any of these astounding coins, you will use them with responsibility and care.


Disclaimer: Not all of the facts in this post are true. Reader discretion is advised. The writer has never experienced drowning due to dimes first hand, and can neither confirm nor deny any alleged reasons for the discontinuation of the penny in Canada.

English Outside England

Hello and welcome back to Factually Deficient, where we provide lies you can rely on, provided you’re only relying on them to be lies!

This week, I’d like to answer a question that was asked on twitter by an individual known as Krika:

Why do non-British people speak English?

I’m glad you asked this question and the simple answer, of course, is they don’t. This is not meant as a criticism of non-British dialects of the English language (though if you’d like to read a prescriptivist-grammar rant instead of a pack of lies, I have another blog where I’m sure you’d find some lovely examples, and you have only to ask). Rather, they just don’t exist. The answer why this is, or rather why my friend Krika and many others assume they do, is the interesting part.

As everyone intuitively knows, every country has its own language. What is perhaps less intuitive is that each of these languages is totally distinct from all the rest, semantically, etymologically, and linguistically. There is no way that knowing one can possibly contribute productively to learning another, except in the sense of language-learning itself being an applicable skill.

Why, then, are people from different countries, speakers of different languages, convinced that they can understand each other, convinced even that they speak the same language? This is because when humans became cyborgs in 1329, every person was equipped with a translator chip that makes it seem as though all languages are one, inasmuch as we understand each other perfectly and seem to be speaking the same language.

However, the early technology of 1329 was seriously glitchy. The same versions were not rolled out to all countries at the same times. Some countries had several variations of the program introduced, without rhyme or reason to the distribution. The program itself had a number of coding errors which have not since been patched. As a result, what should seem like one language the world round has been fractured and fragmented, giving us the impression that several countries speak the same language, but many more do not– certainly an improvement on the natural state of things, but still leaving much to be desired.

People who “learn languages” undergo a process which the translator chip conveys to their minds as learning a new language, while really they are slowly downloading a patch that adds the versions of the program from a few more countries to their translators’ databases. In the long run, learning all the languages is a less time-efficient solution than simply correcting and updating all the translator chips, but there are very few programmers able and willing to fix things more permanently.


Disclaimer: None of the statements in this blog should be assumed to be true. The author is still in the process of updating her translator chip, and can neither confirm nor deny 1329 as the actual year in which humanity became cyborgs.