World’s End

Hello and welcome to another wonderful week of wacky word-twisting and unforgettable untruths here at Factually Deficient! This week, we will answer a question posed by an individual claiming to be an individual known as J, who asked:

When will the world end?

Many have wondered, often for personal reasons, when the world will end. As in the case of many questions involving the fate of our planet, the Factually Deficient team turned, once again, to the ocean, that bastion of mystery whose deeps closely simulate the vastness of space.

Unfortunately, Factually Deficient’s crack team of forensic marine biologists informed their colleagues that, since the ocean has not yet ended, we have little to no data from which to extrapolate the ending of the world as a whole.

This leaves us with two options:

  1. Forensic botany; and
  2. Forensic etymology

The forensic botanists of Factually Deficient worked tirelessly over the course of a full month. Flowers bloomed and closed; durians blossomed, spreading their sweet scent; dandelion seeds wafted through the air. Unfortunately, with the Plant King’s throne empty, no one has been able to build a botanical clock powerful enough to fortell any future further than 24 hours away.

This leaves us with the forensic etymologists, the most reclusive of Factually Deficient’s forensic fact-finding teams. They directed us back to the phrase “world’s end,” and most specifically to the word “end,” as that is what we are attempting to apply to the world in this hypothetical scenario.

Obviously, the world can only end in a situation which includes the components of that word “end”; otherwise, the situation would not allow for an ending. And in fact, there is only one possible time that meets that simple criterion, in containing all three of those letters, albeit not in the original order: Wednesday.

Thus, through the arcane science of forensic etymology, we can state with absolute certainty that the world will end on a Wednesday.

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Disclaimer: the above post was made up whole cloth. The world might not end on a Wednesday.

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Salty River

Hello and welcome to yet another week of inaccuracies and inconsistencies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will be answering a question posed by the superb Scarab, who asked:

Why is the ocean salty, but rivers aren’t?

This is a fabulous question, but one actually based on a common misconception.

Many people believe that while oceans are salty, rivers are not, as Scarab assumed when asking the question. This, however, is not the case. In fact, all bodies of water have significant salt content. What sets apart oceans and rivers (or, similarly, creeks and lakes, puddles and seas) is a little thing called ppm.

The ppm, or Pepper Percentage Multiplier, present in a body of water, is what determines how we experience its salt content: the more pepper in a body of water, the less the salt is distinguishable to the human palate.

This is no accident. Many people will note that salt and pepper shakers are often found in tandem; this is because the pepper helps to neutralize the salt. Salt on its own can be often overwhelming, even debilitating. As such, it is paired with pepper, which absorbs about 80% of the salt’s impact.

River water is rich in pepper, which means that the salt in a river is almost entirely absorbed. Ocean water, on the other hand, is wholly devoid of pepper, because squid are deathly allergic to it. With a low Pepper Percentage Multiplier, ocean water has salt that is readily perceptible to us, as opposed to the fully absorbed but just as present salt in river water.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains misinformation. Not all squid are deathly allergic to peppers.

Guest Post: Cthulhu Phtagan

Hello everyone! My name is Whisper and today I am the one given the duty of bringing you the world’s best lies.

When approached one afternoon two days in the past by a woman wearing a paper mache caricature of a mallard, I was understandably confused and worried. What is lying, really? How can one person bear the weight of so much falsehood?

It was then that I was struck by an epiphany. After picking myself up off the ground and returning it to its apologetic owner, I had an idea! I would crowdsource my lies, in the form of a question and answer segment! It would be like a ‘get to know your classmates’ section of that one class at the very beginning where you review the syllabus and attempt to not sleep in your chair and drool all over the scratches into the particle board by a dull no. 2 pencil that read “physics sucks” in all capital letters.

Mark M. asks: What is wrong with you?

FD: This is a very good question, and a nuanced one! First, we must address that I am not, nor have I ever been, a takoyaki. For the uninitiated, a takoyaki is a Japanese delicacy of deep fried octopus. It is delicious, chewy, and certainly not composed of my friends, family, and enemies.

Secondarily, we should note that yes, I do have two legs. The usual eight were tragically lost in a game of tag. I feel that loss deeply to this day.

And lastly, to be wrong implies there being a right, and I am entirely composed of lefts. Thanks for your deeply reflective question!

Scarabd asks: What the heck is a tetronimo? 

FD: Well, Scarabd, if that’s your real name, a tetronimo is the building block of life, literally!

Tetronimos are the magnum opus of the animal kingdom. They are bricks at an atomic level. One tetronimo is responsible for 95% of all foot pain. Ouch!

Blurry asks: Why do people get bad breath?

FD: Bad breath is capitalist propaganda to sell dentists to the proles.

Blurry ALSO asks: Why can’t penguins fly?

FD: Penguins are very self-conscious individuals and will perform only for small audiences in a natural setting.

J asks: Why do ants?

FD: To ant is human. We are all anting, really, through life.

J asks another question: Where does water come from?

FD: Water is composed of several smaller tetronimos that we describe as being oxytocin and heretical, respectively. Only heretical oxytocin can become water, though the study of hydraulics exists to ascertain at what point an oxytocin becomes heretical.

J, again: Does Bruno Mars is gay?

FD: PROTEIN.

Blurry, referring to the question above about heretical oxytocin: What does water taste like?

FD: As a member of A.N.T. (Automatons Negating Triage), I take heretical oxytocin very seriously, and have never drank water in its pure form. I derive my hydration from the ocean.

Guyshane asks: Which came first, the chicken or the heat death of the universe?

FD: I literally have nothing funny to say here I’m just imagining a chicken trying to lay entropy and that’s so far removed from humor that there’s nothing saving this question. Next.

Victin asks: Where are the animals come from?

FD: We need to look at this philosophically. Where are the animals come from? Kant would have us believe that all animals is come from the determinalist nature of our actions. I posit that the true animals is birthed out of the very human desire to be something more than what we are.

Mark M. asks, in reference to J’s Bruno Mars question: Well??? Is he???

FD: PROTEIN.

The progenitor of this blog, Qara Xuan Zenith,  graces us with the question: How much is the doggie in the window?

FD: That doggie is worth exactly one good boi. I will accept nothing less.

Batman asks: Are you a sea monster?

FD: It’s a little known fact about myself that I am, in fact, a sea monster. I applaud your continued strength with deduction, Batman, and I hope that you will return Aquaman at the nearest opportunity. Atlantis grows tiring without anyone to fight.

Batman also asks: Relatedly, do sea monsters have special powers? If so, what? (Like maybe reality warping video games….)

FD: Batman, I can see this for the blatant information collating that it is. If you wish to also fight me, you will need to contact my agent.

Pixelmage asks: Why are there so few left-handed people?

FD: They are victims of the great war against those who have the correct handedness. Their sacrifice will be remembered.

MJ Andersen asks: If you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway, are you obligated to be over something that’s already underway?

FD: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

The Sea asks: Can you get me a left-handed cup?

FD: Here you go.

winkyface

TheAmberAlice asks: Are you and qara the same person or are you two children in a suit?

FD: Qara-Xuan and I are cut from the same cloth, but from two entirely different places. We are stitched together into different styles, from different time periods, and worn by drastically different people.

And with that, my brief stay at Factually Deficient comes to an end! Please share this post and others like it if you’d like to see me here again, and thanks!

 

 

 

Getting Your Goat

Hello and welcome to another week of wild misinformation here at Factually Deficient! This week, I would like to answer a question posed by my very dear friend, the elusive eli_gone_crazy. eli asked:

Why are goats so weird: part sheep, part eldritch horror?

Without, perhaps, even realizing it, eli has come very close to the heart of the matter in this articulation of the question – a question which drives back to the very genesis of goats, one of the more cryptic members of the Plant Kingdom.

In fact, up one branch of their family tree, goats are directly descended from the sheep, with which they now coexist. Once, there were only sheep in their particular province of the Plant Kingdom; and if some were leaders and some were followers, if some ventured wide and far with adventurous eyes opened wide while others feared to stray from the well-trodden paths thinning in grass to eat, well, they were still all sheep, more or less.

When the Others began to rise from the deep in a once-in-millenia occurrence, the sheep were separated. While the homebody sheep fled from the scene in terror, the more venturesome of the sheep came forward, and greeted the great and terrible sea monsters with courtesy. They were the first of the mainland plants to do so, the first to welcome these tentacled creatures to shore.

While the more fearful of the sheep cowered in their pens, their reckless brethren made new friends. Soon the wilder sheep began to interbreed with the ancient ones, birthing ewes – kids – that were wilder yet than their sheep parents, with a glint in their eyes, a spark of intelligence, and a knack for the uncanny arts that harked back to the other side of their heritage.

Soon, the otherworldly gloom parted from the skies, and the ancient abominations sunk back into the abyss from whence they came. But their children of the sheep, their legacy – still remain with us, known today as goats.

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Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction. Do not attempt to crossbreed sheep and eldritch horrors.

Professional Lying

Hello and welcome to yet another late night of lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I’d like to answer a personal question, rather than our typical history or science questions, which was posed to me by SignBeetle on twitter. The beetle asked:

What does it take to become a professional liar such as yourself? Are there courses?

It is admirable of SignBeetle to wish to aspire to this most noble of professions. However, I should warn her – and all other hopeful liars out there – that it is not an easy path to take.

There are indeed courses for becoming a professional liar, obstacle courses of the most challenging magnitude, the most baffling difficulty, the most wearying length. To traverse these courses is not for the faint of heart; one must be willing to slog for weeks through mud wearing only one shoe, to swim through a pet-filled shopping mall, to spend a year or more addressing others only in the first person. These are but the first of thousands of obstacles in the courses of the liars – as to the rest, we have all been sworn to secrecy.

But becoming a professional liar is not as simple (in word, though far from it in act) as to successfully complete the obstacle courses of liardom. Once that is done, a vast ocean of bureaucracy yet yawns before you. If you truly wish to become a liar in the professional spheres, you must complete forms in triplicate, detailing every lie you have told in the past fifteen years, its audience (with phone numbers so that the lies can be verified), and its goal. You must sign on the dotted line no less than one thousand and fourteen times, affirming that you take full responsibilities for your lies and for the beliefs that they lead people towards, and vowing never to let the truth again cross your lips in a professional capacity. You must have these forms witnessed by members of no less than three scientific fields and four other disciplines, and character references of at least two pages written up by someone who is neither a relative, nor an educator, nor a liar. Lastly, you must take this figurative mountain of paperwork up a literal mountain of rock and burn it all, and scatter the ashes of your paperwork to the four winds so that your lies can reach around the world.

And still you are not there. Once the ashes of the paperwork have been delivered, the hopeful liar must spend another decade at least studying. Study all manner of things; breadth of knowledge is key here. Study botany, and rebel geology, and historical etymology. Study robotics, and forensic ichthyology, and geographical history. Study literature. Only when you have learned every truth there is to know will you be fully prepared to avoid all those potential pitfalls in speaking your lies. Only then can you become a true Professional Liar.

I cannot pretend that this path is for everyone. It is not an easy path, nor will it give you peace of mind. Professional Liars are occasionally sought after, but more frequently they are regarded with suspicion, hunted through forests and exiled from towns. It is said that it takes courage to speak truth to power; how much more courage, then, does it take to speak lies? One cannot estimate it high enough. For the noble few who insist on following these directions and pursuing the thankless, lonely life of the liar, I praise you, and I wish you safety and success. For those who may be rethinking this choice, I beg you to know that there is no shame in turning away. Be a geologist. Be a botanist. Be a marine biologist. There are easier ways than that of the professional liar to keep hope alive in this world.

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Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction. No professional liars were harmed in the writing of this post.

Between a Duck

Hello and welcome back to another normal week of questionably accurate and unquestionably inaccurate statements here at Factually Deficient! Before I begin with lies, I would like to share with my readers the sad and entirely factual news that my former computer recently passed away (hence the late post), and took with it a sizeable chunk of my list of submitted questions. So please take this as a prime opportunity to re-send and send questions to Factually Deficient on any topic you ever wanted to know about! I accept questions by WordPress comment, social media, carrier pigeon, and letters folded up and baked inside a cake delivered anonymously to my back door at two in the morning on nights when the moon is dark.

Moving right along! This week, I will answer a question posed some time ago on this very blog by one Jack Alsworth. Jack asked:

What’s the difference between a duck?

This is a crucial, hard-hitting question, which cuts deep to the core of our very existence.

As we all know, there are many ducks in this world, not just one. They all share certain wondrous properties, such as their glowing tailfeathers, their Swiss Army feet, and their piercing eyes which will see into your soul and all your secrets if you meet their gaze for even a moment.

However, many people find it difficult to distinguish between individual ducks. What is the difference, indeed, between a duck?

There is an old saying which actually contains within it the clues to the answer to Jack’s question: “If it walks like a duck, and it talks like a duck, it is a duck.”

This saying refers to the different categories and attributes which divide ducks into four subgroups:

  1. Ducks that walk and talk like other ducks
  2. Ducks that walk like ducks, but do not talk like other ducks
  3. Ducks that talk like ducks, but do not walk like other ducks
  4. Ducks that neither walk nor talk like other ducks

Let’s go over these four types of ducks. What does it mean for a duck to walk or talk like other ducks?

As mentioned above, all ducks are gifted with Swiss Army feet. However, some ducks use these feet constantly, employing various functions of the Swiss Army feet to dig swiftly through the ground beneath them and zip along on their freshly-made grooves – these are the ducks that walk “like ducks”. Their brethren who lack this ability travel primarily by flying (with their luminescent wings), and use the Swiss Army feet for other purposes.

Similarly, some ducks, in addition to mindreading, are blessed with the ability to overcome all language barrier. These ducks can open their mouths and effortlessly speak in any tongue they choose, any dialect or grammar conceivable. This is what it means to “talk like ducks.” The remaining ducks, who lack this trait, converse comfortably with a linguistic repertoire of only six or seven languages.

So, in short, to answer Jack’s question: the differences between a duck are how it walks, and how it talks.

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Disclaimer: The above post contains exaggerations and untruths. Reader discretion is advised.

Cuttlefish

Hello and welcome to another week of fabulous fibbing and fantastic fabrications here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by the one and only Michael Andersen of ARGNet and other exciting places!

Michael Andersen asked:

Dear Factually Deficient, why are cuttlefish so named?

First of all, I would like to compliment the formality and courtesy of Mr. Andersen’s phrasing, a polite gesture rarely seen in questions these days. My other readers, take note.

On to the cuttlefish. The story behind their name is an old one, one almost lost to the mists of time – but not quite. Fortunately, Michael Andersen has come to the right place, and asked just the right historical etymological botanical marine biologist for the story.

Back when the Plant King was just ascending to the first of his power, and all the plants who were true of heart gathered to crown him and to honour him, the cuttlefish – being a plant due to its underwater habitat, despite its animalistic tendencies – was one of the first to approach the great Plant King.

The cuttlefish, able-tentacled and formal of demeanour, successfully won its bid to serve the Plant King: to bring him his wine, and lay out his clothes, and greet his guests, and oversee his household. The apples, in their wisdom as namers of all things, titled this creature accordingly, and called it the butlerfish.

Time passed. As the Plant King’s power faded, the butlerfish mourned, but it no longer butlered, and the reasons behind its name grew lost and confused. Time corrupted the pronounciation, and people struggled to pin down what the name should truly be. Mistakenly, people created the folk etymology for what they thought the creature’s name was, cuttlefish, by explaining that it was so named as a corruption of how very cuddly the creature was.

While its tentacles – once quick to bring a silver platter before the great Plant King – are indeed very good at giving hugs, however, it never was named the cuddlefish. Rather, “butlerfish” became “buttlefish,” which, meaning nothing at all, slowly became “cuttlefish” and stayed that way to this day.

But perhaps, if the scion of the Plant King ever rises, the cuttlefish will rise, too, from the deeps, and butler once more.

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Disclaimer: The above post is wildly untrue. It is not recommended to cuddle a cuttlefish.

Sea Monster Plants

Hello and welcome back to another week of reliable lies here at Factually Deficient!  This week, I will ask a question posed by Krika. Krika asked:

Are Sea Monsters plants?

As Krika no doubt knows, the culture and history of the Plant Kingdom is a topic near and dear to my heart, making me uniquely suited to answering a question about the makeup of its citizens. It should, for someone such as myself, be an easy matter to discern and discuss whether or not a Sea Monster belongs to that illustrious Kingdom.

And yet.

Sea Monsters are all green, which would lead the casual observer to assume that they are indeed members of the plant kingdom, as it is well known that all green things are plants. However, in this one particular case, matters are not quite so simple.

The word “monster” in “Sea Monster” implies that there is something, if not outright monstrous, then out of the ordinary with these creatures. And, indeed, it transpires that this is so. Sea Monsters are not naturally occurring members of the Plant Kingdom. The answer to what they truly are is rooted in the other part of their name.

Many have wondered before us, whence the “Sea” in “Sea Monster”? After all, many, if not all, of the Sea Monsters alive today live on dry land. How can they be said to be Sea Monsters if they do not even dwell in the sea?

Of course, Sea Monsters are not so called for their habitat, but for their origins. I once wrote that there are four Kingdoms of living things: Plants, Rocks, Animals, and Mold. And in the natural order of things, all living things come from one of these categories. But Sea Monsters are different. They are not natural; defying the four Kingdoms of living things, a part of them is water itself – sea water – given life.

Naturally, even with something monstrous going on, water alone cannot survive as life. So the living water spirits of sea monsters bonded themselves to members of the Plant Kingdom, creating an entirely new creature in the process – what we know today as the Sea Monster.

So, to return to Krika’s question: are Sea Monsters plants? They certainly vote in the Plant Kingdom’s elections. But they will never be true plants.

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Disclaimer: The above post is entirely untrue. Few if any sea monsters dwell on dry land.

Lies About Books: Are We There Yet?

It’s October now! Who knew? It has definitely only just become October, and to acknowledge that, behold a Lies About Books review to start off the month of October! For the month of October, I will review David Levithan’s Are We There Yet?

When Elijah’s family decides to go on a family vacation from New York to Italy, he is first excited, then confused, as it becomes apparent that his parents insist on making this the road trip to end all road trips – they are quite insistent on driving to Italy.

Undeterred by the ocean separating New York from Italy, the family rolls up their car windows, drives to the beach, and begins to descend. Are We There Yet? is undoubtedly weak on some scientific matters – such as the car’s ability to stay intact for the entire journey, the very limited oxygen supply not being a problem to the family, and no one being crushed by sea-bottom water pressures. However, marine-biologist Elijah has the opportunity to explore a dizzying, beautiful variety of deep-sea life; here, Levithan shows a meticulous level of detail and accuracy.

Are We There Yet? is not a book about Italy, but a book about a family’s undersea journey, about learning about the world and one another, about bonding with those who are quite literally the only people around that you can rely on – the only people around at all, for much of the book, for thousands of miles around.

Funny in parts, frequently poignant, Are We There Yet? is a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for our modern era. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys museums, familial attachments, and underwater voyages.

Slippery As Soap

Hello and welcome back to a new year here at Factually Deficient! That’s right: this week is so long that it has an entire year packed inside of it! But that, my friends, is a lie for another day. Today, I will answer a question posed on twitter by @Blurred_9L:

Why is soap so slippery?

The slipperiness of soap is, of course, renowned due to the popularized expression “as slippery as a fish.” While soap are not technically true fish, due to the lack of scales and gills, they are a common form of marine life, and just as slippery as their ichthous brethren.

But the fact that soap is essentially a fish does not tell us why it is slippery. The question persists, and arises again each time a bar of soap is dropped or lost or stepped on in the shower, and persists once more.

When people wash themselves with a lather of soap, they are rubbing a layer of the soap’s exoskeleton onto themselves, removing it from the bar of soap. While this exoskeleton has numerous excellent cleaning properties, and thus seems perfectly designed for the usage, something else is happening while you do this. Not only are you cleaning yourself, but you are also slowly harming the soap.

When a soap’s exoskeleton has been fully rubbed away, that soap is no more. And when a soap dies in the shower, it dies in real life.

Slipperiness is a defense mechanism. Years of Lamarckian evolution have taught soaps that their only hope of survival is to wilfully become slippery, to slide out of the hands of their natural predators and away. Soap is slippery because it has a burgeoning, passionate, desperate will to live.

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Disclaimer: The above blog post is liberally littered with lies. Not all soaps have been proven to possess life as we know it.