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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If You Have to Ask, You Can’t Afford It

Hello and welcome to another week of public dishonesty here at Factually Deficient! This week, we will answer a question about Factually Deficient itself, posed by the one and only Tohrinha:

What is the price of asking a question of Factually Deficient?

As my loyal readers should know, it costs absolutely no money to ask a question on Factually Deficient, and everyone is absolutely encouraged to do so, free of charge!

However. Every action comes with a cost.

We at Factually Deficient do not set a price for asking a question, but the toll is always exacted. Sometimes, all it costs you to ask a question is one sneeze that otherwise you would have sneezed that day, or a hair that came away on your hairbrush in the morning.

Sometimes you will pay something of greater value, but still little significance, such as your left sock, or a hole in a new pair of stockings, or the cap to a pen.

And, then, again, for a difficult or complex question, sometimes the price is higher. Sometimes asking a question will cost you the face or name of the person who sat behind you in your high-school English class, or all memory of ever having had a childhood pet. Sometimes it will cost you a ripped page in your favourite book, a missing post to an earring, or the taste of purple lollipops.

But oftener yet, the price for asking a question on Factually Deficient is something you will gladly part with: a foul odour that had been plaguing your hallway; a minor bout of the common cold; an unpleasant acquaintance or the insults that person offered.

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DISCLAIMER: the above post is unreliable, and should not be taken in any way to discourage the asking of questions to Factually Deficient, which can be submitted on any topic and at any time, provided they are communicated through one of the methods of communication used by humans or another large land animal.

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.

Quick Question

Hello and welcome back to another week of friendly falsehoods and fortunate fictions here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question by the faithful and fortitudinous Tohrinha. Tohr asked:

Dear Factually Deficient, why can’t I ask questions as quickly as I like?

Questions imply answers. This blog is a perfect illustration of that fact – while it is true that I cannot publish answers without questions, it is equally true that it would be utterly valueless for me to post my readers’ questions without appending answers. The existence of a question suggests that an answer to it exists – one could even argue that asking the question calls the answer into being.

Because questions and answers are so interdependent, the inquisitive nature of a question mandates time in which to answer it. True, many – perhaps even most – questions are not answered immediately. Some questions require deep thought to be put to them, careful consideration before delivering an answer. Some questions are difficult, and coming up with an acceptable solution takes time. Some questions are simply sent in writing, by some slow delivery method which mandates a lengthy time delay between the asking of the question and the receiving of the answer.

Nevertheless, even questions which are not built to be answered immediately, by their very nature call into being an expectant pause in which the answer might make itself known. People can overcome this pause to a certain extent, forcing a series of rapid-fire questions into the air, but at a certain point, physics will catch up to them. The laws of nature reassert themselves. The air itself grows heavy and silent, preventing the questioner from speaking until the time delay for each and every question asked plays itself out, seconds ticking by in accordance with the length of each question’s appropriate answer.

When no answer is spoken in this time, it is often unnerving to those around: the oxygen around them practically quivering with its deadness, the noiseless rustle of leaves and shuffle of footsteps leaving them disoriented and deafened by the silence. But it can also be a spiritual time: a forced breather, a moment to step back from the frenetic pace of their day – and a chance to consider for themselves what the answers to these questions might be.

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Disclaimer: some information in this blog post is inaccurate. Not all questions require one to pause.