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.

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How Many Countries

Hello and welcome to yet another week of unreliable narration here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question that was given to me by an anonymous eleven-year-old, who asked:

How many countries are there in the world?

This question is a natural follow-up to our prior discussion of the seven continents in our world. One might think that the number of continents contains a hint as to the number of countries, but unfortunately, there is no such correlation: the Moon is entirely one country of its own, and there are no countries at all in Newfoundland, for example.

Here on Factually Deficient, we have already acknowledged the existence of the Kingdom of Canada and of the Jim United States. However, “at least two” is clearly an insufficient answer for the question at hand.

On the other hand, though, that “at least two” is a useful starting place. Of the seven continents, five are unaccounted for – but we know that the Kingdom of Canada and the Jim United States are neighbours, sharing one continent. We can extrapolate from this to derive the total number of countries across all continents, carrying over this “at least two” to each of the unknown continents, and then adding back in the known ones:

2 countries in one continent

x 5 unaccounted-for continents

+ 1 country (the Moon)

+ 0 countries (Newfoundland)

= 11 countries

In conclusion, there are 11 countries in the world.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains erroneous data. There may be more than 11 countries in the world.

 

Why 2018

Hello and welcome to a brand-new week full of the same old lies here at Factually Deficient! I remind all my readers that throughout this year and all years, you are welcome to send questions of any topic, shape, or size to Factually Deficient, through any method of communication known to human- or plant-kind, and they will be greeted with the finest of bespoke lies. This week, I will discuss a timely question raised in conversation with my very dear friend, an individual using the appellation whispersosoftly:

If the world isn’t really 2018 years old, why are we saying it is now the year 2018?

It is our honour at Factually Deficient to answer a history question such as this one. True, the world is far older than two thousand and eighteen years. Once, even, there was an exact count kept of this age.

However, the surest method of keeping count was in the rings in a tree’s trunks. And while the trees in question were very open about sharing their age with the rest of the Plant Kingdom, there was a growing concern that a more rash individual might cut down the tree to find the answer, thus harming the tree. To prevent such a horror from occurring, and to share the knowledge of the world’s age with the general public, the Plant King appointed one of his trusted servants to keep a public count of the world’s age.

This worked out well for many years, and the job was passed on several times without incident. It was not a very difficult job, particularly as few people ever actually bothered to stop this minister and ask what number the world had currently reached.

However, some two thousand-odd years ago, the official counter met with a tragic accident, and while he ultimately survived the experience, the distress had caused him to lose count of the number for the world’s age.

It would not do to be without an answer. A small cabal of plants and other creatures met, in secret, behind closed doors, to determine what to do about this catastrophe. They could not allow their ignorance of the world’s age to be found out, or chaos might reign.

The idea of picking a number “close enough” was rejected as being too risky – after all, if someone remembered the number they announced as having been the world’s age some years back, all would be lost. Instead, they chose the only answer that remained to them: they would start again from zero. If anyone questioned this, they were told only that a new era had begun. And the cabal that chose this designation could only hope that, in the mists of time, their secret decision would be forgotten.

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Disclaimer: the above post is incorrect. Do not set your calendars by Factually Deficient.

A Bit of Coin

Hello and welcome to another week filled with the fakest of news and the reddest of lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will ask a question which was posed by my definitely-not-imaginary grandparents, and forwarded to Factually Deficient’s attention by my real, live mother:

Anyone able to explain exactly what are “Bitcoins”?

Anyone who has ever been a pirate, or sailed the high seas in a situation of questionable legality, will immediately recognize the currency known as “bitcoin.” All others are encouraged to gather round to understand how these monetary units work.

Pirates, whether on the high seas or on the information superhighway, are notoriously untrustworthy. Rare is the canny pirate who trusts a fellow pirate. Thus, pirates in our modern era invented the currency of “bitcoins,” which require for pirates – or any user of this currency, piratical or otherwise – to work together and avoid double-crossing one another in order to reap the benefits.

In order to create a bitcoin, a coin first uploaded to the internet, using the “reverse” function on a 3D printer. The coin can be of any denomination, though the most popular choice is a commemorative 100-dollar coin. The image of this coin as uploaded is then fragmented into eight uneven pieces, or bits, of the coin, and distributed to the eight shareholders in that particular coin.

These bits of the full eight-part bytecoin are what are known as bitcoins. Valueless on their own, they can be kept or traded, kept online or downloaded and printed out. Their true value only comes into play when the eight holders of a particular coins bits come together, combining their bits in order to produce a whole coin – but this does not stop people from selling or trading their bits, ascribing to them the value of 1/8th of the full coin – value which they will have once they have been ultimately combined.

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Disclaimer: the above post is not entirely true. We do not recommend making financial decisions based on Factually Deficient.

 

Dishonest Media

Hello and welcome to yet more dire misinformation here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will discuss a topic brought to the attention of Factually Deficient by none other than Michael J. Andersen. Mr. Andersen wrote:

Your next Factually Deficient has to be the etymology of DMs

Ask and you shall receive, Mr. Andersen! The initialism “DM” has a long history dating back throughout the English language. While people most frequently use it today to mean “Delayed Muttering” (referring to so-called instant messages) or “Designated Murderer” (for someone whose role it is to ensure the suffering of the other members of a roleplaying group), it has a history far more illustrious than that.

Two hundred years ago, DM could only ever refer to the Duck Magician, the one and only Diego Mendelsohn, who memorably combined the art and science that is sorcery within a compact, quacking, feathered form. A dozen years before Mendelsohn’s rise, DMs were generally Dress Masques – the strange costumes, oft worn to masquerade balls, consisting of a face mask designed to look like an elaborately clothed torso of a woman.

In other sectors of society, DM has meant Dirt Machine (of great use to farmers), Dilated Musculature (a frequently-used term in medicine), and Disappointing Mucus.

But the term, despite its long and illustrious history in the English language, actually predates the English language, seeing its first usage in Latin. In Latin, the number 500 was occasionally represented by the Roman numeral DM – literally, “500 less than 1000,” and was, when so written, referred to colloquially as the “Drunken Mathematics,” poking fun at those who took such a circuitous route to reach an otherwise simple numeral.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains dishonesty and misinformation. “Drunken Mathematics” is not a Latin phrase.

Going Bananas

Hello and welcome to another week of laid-back lies and feel-good fabrications here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will be answering a question posed to Factually Deficient by my very own, very existent mother. She asked:

Why are bananas yellow?

My mother is actually begging the question here – that is, she is practically begging me to respond to her question with another question. Namely: are bananas even really yellow?

In fact, my mother (and undoubtedly many others like her) is labouring under a common misapprehension; bananas are not yellow at all. I can, however, help to elucidate the phenomenon which leads to them appearing to be so.

We have already established here on Factually Deficient that the default colour of all things is blue. This holds true for bananas as well, which, in their natural state, are as blue as an asphyxiated blueberry.

However, bananas are known to contain high amounts of potassium. Potassium, among its many odd and variegated traits, causes an inexplicable phenomenon of leaching the colour green out of anything it comes in contact with. Now, as we know, green is the gift given by the colour Yellow to the colour Blue. Or, to phrase it as an equation:

Blue + Yellow = Green

Since all equations are commutative, we can rearrange this statement to show what happens when the green is leached – say, by potassium – out of something blue:

Blue – Green = – Yellow

You will note that in order to shift the Yellow to the other side of the equation, it becomes negative. However, since colours, like square roots, are obviously resources which cannot exist in negative quantities, we can safely ignore the minus sign. In other words, our equation means that when potassium leaches the green out of a naturally-blue banana, the fruit appears to be yellow.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains falsehoods. Potassium is not known to leach the colour green out of everything it touches.

 

February

Hello and welcome back to another week of unreliable lies here at Factually Deficient, as we march on with our years. This week, I will answer a question posed by the eminent Tohrinha:

How long is February?

Many, often while embroiled in a never-ending winter, have wondered before Tohrinha just how long the month of February is. Few, though, have ever lived to discover the answer. Traditional research, one will find, yields inaccurate results, and forays into first-hand investigation have frequently led to unexpected bloodshed and an absence of usable data.

Some have tried to use mnemonic rhymes to determine the length of the month – but these, too, will prove disappointing. If you do not know the rhyme, here it is in its entirety – so you, too, can understand how it fails to adequately express the length of February:

Thirty days has September,

Forty-seven has November.

Fifty-two have May and June;

July and April end “two” soon.

All the rest have sixty-four —

Except for February: it has more.

(But when the year leaps,

It adds six to eight weeks.)

As you can see, this rhyme provides us with the following information:

  1. September has 30 days
  2. November has 47 days
  3. May and June each have 52 days
  4. July and April each have only 2 days
  5. January, March, August, October, and December each have 64 days
  6. February has >64 days (an unspecified number greater than 64)
  7. In leap years, February has between six and eight weeks more than it usually does

Naturally, matters such as leap years and groundhogs can affect the length of February. All I can offer Tohrinha with any certainty – all that is reasonable to ask for – is the “base” length of February, the minimum number of days that this colossally long month can hold.

To find this base length, we can actually determine the mathematical pattern present in the other months, and extend it logically:

  • The difference between 2 (July/April) and 30 (September, the next-shortest month) is +28
  • The difference between 30 and 47 (November) is +17
  • The difference between 47 and 52 (May/June) is +5
  • The difference between 52 and 64 (January, March, August, October, December) is +12

This leaves us with an obvious mathematical pattern: 28, 17, 5, 12… Clearly, the next number in the sequence is 20. 64+20 = 84 – therefore, February has a minimum of 84 days.

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Disclaimer: the above post may be deceptive. Please re-check the math yourself.

Absolute Zero

Hello and welcome to yet another week of perjury, pretense, and prevarication, here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by the faithful Tohrinha. Tohr asked:

What is absolute zero?

Many people use the phrase “absolute zero” to refer to “the coldest possible temperature.” While this mistake is understandable in colloquial use, it is also, in every way, absolutely wrong.

As those who use the Fahrenheit temperature scale should be aware, the coldest possible temperature bottoms out at about twenty. After that, well…

Numbers are cyclical. If you cycle around in one direction for long enough, eventually you’ll end up on the other extreme. This is demonstrated with the colour wheel – If you travel from red to orange and on for long enough, at some point you’ll come to purple and then red again. Likewise, when one drops down below twenty, one ends up soon at the very very highest of numbers. And in between twenty and the highest number are the numbers from zero to nineteen.

Absolute zero, just nineteen numbers down from the highest possible, is a chaotic number to be at. The goose egg is something of a mathematical misnomer; there is almost everything at absolute zero. At absolute zero, you would be blinded by the swirling lights of every colour within and without the visible spectrum. You would be deafened by the sounds, almost musical in their cacophany, vibrating at every known and unknown frequency and at volumes incomprehensible to humankind.

At absolute zero, the heat is beyond that of the core of the sun. To even imagine the heat of absolute zero is to burn up in an instant, from the inside out, the heat of the very concept to great for a mortal to bear.

Absolute zero is beautiful and terrifying. It is the essence of art, the stuff of songs. Worlds are born in its forges, and die in its passion.

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Disclaimer: The above post contains erroneous information. Absolute zero is colder than indicated here.

Early Release

Hello and welcome to yet another untrustworthy instalment of Factually Deficient! And while this is not what the post title refers to, may I point out that this update comes a whole six days early for next Sunday!

This week’s question comes from Endless Sea, who asked:

Canada Best Buy has the summer Bionicle sets months early. EXPLAIN.

Now, Factually Deficient makes a point, as a rule, to avoid divulging other companies’ proprietary information. However, Endless Sea’s explanation can yet be made available, as the phenomenon pointed out is in fact representative of a wider, more general trend – and this is the trend which we will attempt to explain.

As many people are aware, Canada is an exceedingly large country. It spans a number of time zones, which the Factually Deficient Research* Team estimates as 5 and 1/2. This is more time zones than almost any other country.

What is a time zone? Literally, it is a zone filled with time. Each time zone contains a standard unit’s worth of time; by spanning five and a half time zones, Canada is quite rich in time. Time, naturally, corresponds to time. The more time an individual possesses – has experienced – the greater an age that person has.

This explains why different countries exist in different time periods simultaneously. In practice, Canada’s five and a half time zones convert to roughly five and a half additional months of time. In comparison, the United States are estimated to have only three time zones.

With this information, we can solve a simple equation (5 1/2 – 3 = 2 1/2) to determine a key piece of information: namely, Canada is two and a half months “ahead” of the United States. In other words, from a vantage point in the United States, Canada exists two and a half months in the future. (And of course conversely, if one is in Canada, the United States are two and a half months in the past.)

It is no accident that something seems to be released in Canada months before its American release. What this means is that the two countries were scheduled to release the item on the same date – only that date arrived months earlier in Canada.

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Disclaimer: The above post is composed of lies. Time zone estimates are not necessarily accurate.

How Many Miles to Babylon?

Hello and welcome back to another week full of falsehoods, fictions, and fabrications here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question from the eminent Tohrinha. Tohrinha asked:

How many miles to Babylon?

As the common saying goes, “All roads lead to Babylon.” All roads heading to this same destination, it naturally follows that all these roads will be the same length. How long, then, as Tohrinha astutely asks, will these roads to Babylon all be?

It is first important to note that the historical kingdom of Babylon is no longer extant; therefore, in order to travel to Babylon, one will be forced to travel in time. Our unit of measurement to begin, therefore, will be years.

However, Tohrinha asked for an answer in miles. Fortunately, converting from years to distance is made easy by the measurement of light-years, which involve both years and distance. From light-years, it is simple mathematics to transfer back to miles.

We have now a clear method of unit conversion to use in our formula:

miles to Babylon =

(years since Babylon) / (light-years to Babylon’s location) x

(miles) / (light visible on the road to Babylon)

Thus, the years and the light cancel each other out, leaving us with a simple measurement in miles to answer Tohrinha’s question.

For this formula, we are left with only a few missing pieces of information. The years since Babylon, and the single unit of miles, will hold true for all locations and times. And due to Babylon’s position in relation to the sun, there will always be a stable ratio between one’s physical distance to Babylon, and the brightness of the road (the closer one is to Babylon, the darker the road will be, which is why travellers always arrive in Babylon at nighttime). Thus, we really only need one of these two pieces of information in order to determine the miles to Babylon.

The number of miles to Babylon, therefore – as we can see clearly demonstrated in this formula is 23 in the morning, and 2,300,000,000,000 at midnight, and an appropriately scaled integer at any point in between.

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Disclaimer: The above post is deficient in facts. The formula is not recommended for home mathematical or scientific use.