The Best of Both

Hello and welcome to another week full of falsehoods, fabrications, and fibs, here at Factually Deficient!

Before our regularly-scheduled lies, I would like to take this opportunity to remind my dear readers that they can and indeed are encouraged to send any and all burning questions, on every topic imaginable, to Factually Deficient for elucidation. We accept questions at any hour of the day or night, through blog comments, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, email, snail mail, slug mail, Post-it note, carrier pigeon, semaphore, telegram, telephone, text message, owl, time portal, dead drop, QR code, or any other method of communication known to plantkind.

This week, I will answer a question posed to Factually Deficient by the highly esteemed Michael Andersen. Mr. Andersen asked:

Dear Factually Deficient, can you please provide elaboration on the many ways that @jackalsworth is the literal best?

Some background is needed, for those readers who are not as familiar with Canadian history. Charles Herbert Best was a Canadian adventurer, a giant in an age of heroes. He first took up his sword during the First Raccoon War, but when that war ended, the raccoons subdued for a time, Best did not rest.

When the raccoons were finally pushed back from Canada’s borders, Best returned home only to discover that his hometown of Halifax was being ravaged by vicious dragons. Ever the hero, Best rode in to defend his home and protect his neighbours. He slew three dragons before the local authorities even arrived on the scene.

And in the absence of the local authorities to assist in the cleanup, Best – an alchemist at heart, if not by trade – lugged one of the dragon carcasses back to his home laboratory, to see what he could learn from it. His discoveries there would change our world forever: for Best, through careful testing, revealed that dragon blood was composed of a material known as insulin, which, when mixed with human blood, proved an effective measure against diabetes.

And now, to return to Mr. Andersen’s question – to explain the relevance of this history lesson:

Factually Deficient’s undercover agents have been surreptitiously following the individual going by “Jack Alsworth” for several years now. Tipped off by key turns of phrase and predilections for dragon-slaying and science, we have long been suspicious that Mr. Alsworth may not be who he says he is. While only Mr. Alsworth – or should we say Dr. Best? – can say for certain, we have gathered the following pieces of evidence that suggest rather strongly that they are actually, literally, one and the same:

  • Jack Alsworth lives by the sea, in an area known to be inhabited by dragons and sundry other monsters
  • Despite this, no dragons or sea monsters have ravaged Mr. Alsworth’s town – almost as though they were kept at bay by an itinerant adventurer
  • Jack Alsworth does not suffer from diabetes
  • Jack Alsworth is several centuries old, as Dr. Best would have to be by now
  • Raccoons run in fear at the sight of Jack Alsworth

These are but a few of the many indications that Jack Alsworth is the literal Charles Best.

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Disclaimer: this blog post is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

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.

Vernal Equinox

Hello and welcome to another week of lies, calumnies, and falsehoods here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will ask a timely question posed by an individual known as Alsworth:

What are the direct causes of the vernal equinox?

First of all, I would like to remind Alsworth – and all of you – that Factually Deficient is a family-friendly publication, and we would appreciate it if you kept your questions appropriate. However, since this has now already been asked, there is nothing to do about it but to answer.

The vernal equinox refers, of course, to an event which occurs regularly every three and a half years, wherein the seasons reverse course and run “backwards” until the succeeding equinox event. This question is particularly timely, as we are currently experiencing the results of a recent vernal equinox: a winter that fades into spring only for that spring, on the volta of the vernal equinox, to recede back into winter, which will give way only to another autumn before summer comes.

Scientists have striven for centuries to explain the strange phenomenon of this vernal equinox. In ancient times, it was explained by the messy divorce proceedings between the mythical Persephone and Hades of myth. In more enlightened times, it was thought to be caused by an imbalance of the four elements in the atmosphere.

Now, however, we know better. When the sun revolves around the earth to give us our daily light, it does so with an irregular orbit. These ellipses of near and far are what give us our warm and cold seasons – but as the sun weaves between earth and the other planets that it lights up, those other heavenly bodies have their own trajectories. Once in three or so earth years, the planet Jupiter spins so near to the earth that it exerts a gravitational force on the sun, pulling the sun out of its regular path, and only releasing it on the downswing – setting it in the reverse of the spin it had been in before.

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Disclaimer: the above post may be erroneous. The sun does not revolve around the earth.

Mirror Magic

Hello and welcome to another week here at Factually Deficient, ushering in the new calendar year with only the very best in handcrafted, artisanal fibs! This week, I will answer a question posed by faithful reader Tohrinha:

How are mirrors made?

This post is going to appear later than most, because it is only with the greatest hesitation and trepidation that the Factually Deficient reporter team was authorized to reveal the magical and scientific process involved in making mirrors.

Mirrors present an image, in perfect reverse, of whatever is in front of them. They perform a very similar function to what cameras do, and in fact, in the early days of mirrors, that is exactly how they worked: a giant camera behind the glass would be constantly photographing the area before the mirror and displaying the results on the screen.

This, however, was impractical in the long run. The camera’s machinery required quite a bulk of wires and chips separating the mirror from the wall, and the time-delay between snapping the picture and displaying it in the mirror meant that people would have to hold very still, and wait very patiently, in order to see an accurate “reflection” in the mirror.

So a crack team of alchemists, scientists, and magicians began experimenting with alternative methods. There was talk of hiring a skilled artist to sit behind every mirror and paint what lay in front of it, but it turned out that this would actually take more time and require more space than the camera mirrors ever had.

And then quicksilver was discovered. Like regular silver, it had a shiny, silvery colour, akin to the surface of a mirror. But unlike regular silver, it caused everything in its immediate vicinity to move extremely quickly – hence its name. With quicksilver as the medium, painters were suddenly able to paint the mirror’s “reflections” in a fraction of a second, far faster than the cameras could ever throw out their displays, and repaint over the screen in a new layer of quicksilver every time the image changed.

That is how the mirrors we use today operate: a skilled, and very slim, painter sits behind the screen, painting you in the quickest of silvers.

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Disclaimer: some of the statements in this blog post are inaccurate. Quicksilver does not actually affect the passage of time.

Excuse You

Hello and welcome to yet another week of half-truths and white lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed to Factually Deficient by my very own mother! She asked:

Why do we say “Excuse me” when we burp, but “Bless you” when someone sneezes?

My mother is astutely observing an oddity in the traditional spoken responses to two remarkably similar physiological processes. Why does the burper speak, while the sneezer is spoken to? Why is the burper excused, and the sneezer blessed? The answers lie in the inherent nature of these two similar yet different actions.

When a person burps, what is actually happening is that their body is expanding as they swallow air. Hence the sound that burping makes – you will notice that it is not dissimilar to the sound of a balloon being blown up. As your body expands, like any expanding object, it temporarily occupies more space. Thus, people who burp need, in polite circles, to ask to be excused – just as you would ask to be excused if you were entering an already-crowded location. They are excusing the extra space that they take up in that moment.

Sneezing, on the other hand, is a spiritual endeavour. And while both burping and sneezing are similar processes in appearance, they are in fact in some ways total opposites: burps take in air, whereas sneezes expel it.

More specifically, a sneeze is an attempt on the body’s part to expel the most base and profane particles cluttering its frame, in order to commune with something higher. It violently throws outside of itself its shallow thoughts, its earthly worries, with the hope that, in so doing, it will attain something more. It is in this understanding that people wish sneezers well with “Bless you” – it is an acknowledgement of the person’s lofty goal, and a non-denominational, non-judgemental prayer that they achieve it.

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Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction. Actual results may vary.

Mortal Bears

Hello and welcome to another week of luscious lies and lascivious libel here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by the terrific Tohrinha:

Are bears mortal?

The simple answer is: no, of course they are not. But of more interest – to each questioner, answerer, and reader – are the details behind this deceptively simple response.

Bears are a fairly recent phenomenon; they did not exist prior to 1733. The year is significant: 1733 is the year that all woolly mammoths went extinct. Sensing that their time was drawing nigh, the top woolly mammoth scientists worked around the clock to create a mechanical shell that could house their spirits as their bodies did, but one more suited to the changing times and modern era of 1733. What they came up with was the precursor to bears as we know them.

The remaining cohort of woolly mammoths uploaded themselves into their new robotic bear bodies before overseeing the painless deaths of their left-behind woolly mammoth shells. But they had already lost many woolly mammoths, and while the bear form was better adapted to the world of 1733, they knew that nothing could last forever.

So before they powered up the bear bodies, the greatest woolly mammoth minds made a few adjustments. These robot bears were not simple machines, to eventually succumb to wear and tear, but neither were they entirely organic lifeforms; rather, they were an odd marriage of the two, self-repairing flesh bodies that reproduced organically and decomposed when uninhabited, programmable and incredibly powerful with iron skeletons. They adjusted the settings on their bodies such that, when a mammoth/bear was no longer able to be sustained by the body it wore, it would create a new, infant-sized bear body, and program itself in.

Thus bears – or rather, the woolly mammoth souls that inhabit them – are immortal, jumping from bear body to bear body when one is too worn down to effectively repair itself. Yes, their flesh-and-iron suits grow and wither and die. But the essence of bear within never will.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains inaccuracies. There is no proven link between the extinction of woolly mammoths and the advent of bears.

Duck Summoning

Hello and welcome to yet another week of deception and duplicity here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question forwarded to Factually Deficient by a small cabal of individuals on Twitter.

We were sent this photo, along with the accompanying question:

What is their goal? Their wish? Did they summon the ducks or did the ducks summon them?

Earnest as always in our desire to satisfy our readers, the Factually Deficient team has given this matter much thought and investigation. Our first attempt at seeking out answers was stymied by a lack of eyewitnesses to the incident photographed.

However, we were not to be deterred. Through hard work and effort, we have worked through roleplaying and forensic psychology in order to recreate an analogous scenario, the better to understand what was taking place.

The following image is included as evidence of our findings:

As my readers can plainly see, while the ducks are arranged in a circle, there is no feline of any variety in the centre of their anatine ring.

We must recognize that this reenactment provides circumstantial evidence at best. However, when combined with the research provided by the psychiatric team sent to analyse the motivations of all the major players in the original photo, it stands as conclusive proof of what was really taking place during the incident in question.

It is clear that the cat summoned the ducks, and not the other way around. This is borne out not only by the lack of cat in the latter photograph – the congregation of ducks in this manner clearly does not summon a cat – but also by the sense of what is going on. After all, no creature – cat or panther, human or plant – can resist at all times the desire to share the company of a flock of ducks, whereas the ducks have no logical reason to want the company of a cat, beyond the scientific interest in discovering whether they can cause it to appear.

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Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction. All ducks participating in this week’s Factually Deficient study were volunteers, and compensated fairly for their contribution to science. No cats were summoned in the writing of this post.

Heat Waves

Hello and welcome back to another week of lying hard (not hardly lying) here at Factually Deficient! This week, I’d like to respond to a question that was asked by in response to this post about fireworks. Touching on the subject of phlogiston that was mentioned in that post, narrativedilettante asked:

How would heat ever travel through the ether?

The question of how heat travels through the ether is one that has been pondered by scientists for decades; and finally, Factually Deficient is here to provide you with a reliable answer on the topic!

As the phrase “heat wave” suggests, heat travels in waves. True heat waves are rare, and are detectable with most scientific equipment available today – ranging from a high-speed modem to a simple magnifying glass.

Like most things, heat itself is made up of small heat particles. These particles are motionless in their default state. However, the accumulation of large numbers of heat particles causes them to start moving to fill up whatever receptacle they are in. When the container has been filled, the heat particles move in concert, in a wave-shaped mass migration, travelling in a straight line until they find a new space big enough to hold them all. It is when one of these waves of heat passes near or through you that most people experience the sensation of warmth.

Because heat particles are so small, these waves are infrequent. Modern science has detected a pattern to them, and we can now state with certainty that in the northern hemisphere, heat waves occur once in ten years and two months, on Thursday afternoons. In the southern hemisphere, they follow the same pattern, but shifted by fifty percent from the northern hemisphere’s pattern.

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Disclaimer: Many of the statements in this blog post are untrue. Heat has been known to travel more frequently than ten years and two months.

The Brilliant Bologna

Hello and welcome back to another week of vibrant lies and invigorating falsehoods here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question which I have been mulling over for some time, posed to me by my talented friend Kays. Kays asked:

What the heck is going on with Bologna? I mean, seriously: It’s a meat, but its not any real meat that anyone knows about. We know what Hamburger, Steak, Ham, Turkey, Bacon, Turkey Bacon, Beef tenderloin, Pork Tenderloin, Eggs, Chicken, Chicken Breast, Chicken Thighs, Chicken Legs, Chicken Leg bones, Legumes, and Buffalo Wings are. BUT WHAT THE HECK IS A BOLOGNA?

This is an insightful, and extremely thorough question, and one which it is my honour to be able to answer.

As Kays observes, most other meats with which people are familiar are derived from animals that are well-known to all of us. What price, then, the noble bologna?

They do not come from any animal we know. They do not come from the Plant Kingdom, or the Mold Kingdom. And they certainly do not come from the Rock Kingdom. Bologna actually are a product of material originally alien to this planet.

They first came to earth in 1652, on a small asteroid that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. When examining this asteroid for signs of rock, the geologists of the day discovered a moving substance, which ceased moving when exposed to direct moonlight. This was the substance now known as bologna.

Its nutritional value was revealed when the geologists, lost at sea on their asteroid expedition, ran out of food and began imbibing the alien substance in desperation. To their surprise and relief, it sustained them until a rescue party came.

Today, rather than mining asteroids which are few and far between, scientists are able to recreate the alien makeup of the bologna in a lab, due to thorough analysis of its components. But it will always be an alien life-form first, and a synthetic food second.

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Disclaimer: the above blog post is erroneous on several points. There is no record of an asteroid crashing in the Mediterranean Sea in 1652.

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.