Factually Deficient: Years in Review

It’s been almost two years since Factually Deficient started! Can you believe that? In honour of this near-milestone, I thought today would be the perfect day to look back over a selection of questions I’ve answered before, and see if I would answer them a little differently today.

Is the Internet Alive?

No, the internet is not a living organism.

Why do some of my recipes say they’re adjusted for high altitude?

Foods need slightly different baking times depending on how close or far you are from sea level. Places at higher altitudes will sometimes produce recipe books that make those adjustments for you.

Is magic real?

No.

What’s the difference between the Queen of Canada and the Queen of England?

Canada and England actually share a queen.

Is it true that if you scratch the little maple leaf on a Canadian dollar it smells of maple syrup?

No.

Who was John A. Macdonald?

John A. Macdonald was Canada’s first Prime Minister.

Why do all Canadians have cans for hands?

They don’t.

 

I hope you all found this edition of Factually Deficient to be informative!

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Disclaimer: the above post is dangerously honest and suspiciously reliable. No lies were written in this post. Peruse at your own risk.

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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.

Lies About Books: Fifth Business

The past month’s been a busy one (and a short one), with relatively little time for reading, so this month I shall review a book which I recommended in the past month, having read it earlier in the past: the classic Canadian novel Fifth Business by Robertson Davies.

Fifth Business is about a young, very successful businessman living in Toronto. Dunstan Ramsay seems to compulsively create businesses, each one more successful than the last. His first entrepreneurial venture was to create a company selling dreams; his second bought and traded friendship. Next he founded the Trust Trust, which sold exactly what the name suggested, and after that he built a company that sold innovative literary theories, and new ways to look at an old text.

But even as his literary theory business is booming, Dunstan goes ahead and creates a fifth business, dealing in none other than truth. Suddenly, his fortunes turn. As spectres from his past begin popping out of the woodwork, Dunstan discovers that his new business venture puts on the market a product which his clientele is not so comfortable facing up to.

Will Dunstan’s fifth business be his undoing? Or does the truth have the power to save–and, indeed, profit–after all?

Fifth Business is an intricately woven drama, which I would recommend to any fans of economics, innovative literary theory, and saints.