Lies About Books: The Sixth Grade Nickname Game

There’s a sad sort of clanging from a clock in a hall, telling us that it is soon time to say goodbye to the month of November. On the bright side (in a dark season), this means it is time once more for some absurd and untrue words about a book I’ve read this month!

Last week, I had the pleasure of reading Gordon Korman’s The Sixth Grade Nickname Game.

In this dystopian novel, everyone on the planet is assigned a random nickname, which functions as their name in the simulation they log into for about eight hours each day. They learn, work, and play in this simulation – depending on their age and walk of life – with anonymous peers from all around the world, knowing one another by nothing but their nickname handles. Best friends Jeff and Wiley have never met in person, but they have shared a simulation group for almost all of their eleven years, interacting within the confines of their game.

But when Jeff is wrongly accused of a terrible crime, and faces execution, it is no longer a game. Wiley must somehow find his friend in real life, and prove his innocence – or discredit their entire world’s simulation-based legal system – before it’s too late. And he might discover, along the way, whether the aliases they have been assigned were really as random as they thought, or tied to something more sinister…

The Sixth Grade Nickname Game is a chilling portrait of an ever-more-realistic future, while preserving the genuine spirit of its young protagonists. I recommend it to any fans of harsh cyber dystopias, sixth grade students, and/or endangered species.

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Baby Talk

Hello and welcome back to yet another week of indiscriminately untrustworthy information here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question submitted by an entity going by the name of “Patty,” though I have reason to believe that it is an assumed name. “Patty” asked:

How come people – especially myself – ask and answer questions when they talk to babies? “Are you smiling? Yes, you’re smiling. Are you a cute baby? Yes, you’re a cute baby. Are you eating? Yes, you’re eating.”

Despite Patty’s perhaps less-than-spotless credentials, this is a very pertinent question. Many, no doubt, have experienced the very phenomenon that our friend Patty describes. In so few other situations do people answer their own questions aloud so quickly, that it drives us to wonder about the reason for it.

The answer, however, is a simple one, one which sheds light on (or is pointed to by) the intrinsic nature of babies. While usually very young, all babies are exceedingly intelligent. Their minds contain multitudes, a vast sea of knowledge which the adult world cannot hope to comprehend.

Considering the inordinate intelligence of babies, it should come as no surprise that they invariably know the answer to any question that could be posed to them – indeed, in most cases, they arrive at the answer without even taking significant time for thought. In their infinite wisdom and kindness, babies wish to share this wealth of knowledge and information that they hold, particularly when we ask questions, displaying our thirst for this very knowledge.

Unfortunately, no matter how much they know within their minds, most babies at that tender age have not yet developed the facility with tongue and lips to be able to communicate through spoken language – and, due to the differences in age and culture, pantomime is of only a very limited effectiveness.

Fortunately, though, the vast knowledge of babies includes sciences beyond our imagination, such as the near-mystical (to us) art of telepathy. They can answer our questions quite simply by sending the answers directly into our heads.

However, most adults, unversed as we are in telepathy ourselves, are unable to recognize knowledge that has been sent in from an outside source. We are given to doubting ourselves, to assuming the information is merely the product of a leap in our own imaginations. So the babies prod a little more with their awesome telepathy, prompting us to speak their answers aloud so that we will hear them, and understand the information that they themselves cannot yet voice.

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Disclaimer: the above post is unapologetically false. Do not trust information predicated on the musings of spambots.