Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong
John Lloyd and John Mitchinson's book
The Book of General Ignorance is certainly an eye-opener.
Consider the subtitle: Everything You Think You Know Is
Wrong. That news is certainly great news for a man who
has spent seventy-five percent of his life and thousands of
dollars getting what he thought was knowledge, only to be
told it ain't so.
The entries come in three general categories for me. One
is those entries that are entertaining and I can live with.
The second group includes those entries that I must ask the
question, "What am I going to do with this information?" And
the third and most painful category are those entries about
information I proudly presented to my students and now run
the risk of being asked for a refund for dispersing false
The answer to the question "How do moths feel about flames":
They're not attracted to them. They are disoriented by them.
What about "which metal is the best conductor?" Silver—that
seems right so no complaint there. Those are two things I
might not have know and can live with the up-to-date information.
Then come those entries that I simply don't know where or
when I can use the knowledge. For example, part of the answer
to the question "Which animals are the best-endowed of all?"
has this priceless bit of information: The blue whale's male
member is 6 to 10 feet in length and 18 inches in girth and
the whale's ejaculate is estimated to weigh 150 pounds each.
Can you imagine Alex Trubek on Jeopardy saying, "Under the
category big....no it ain't going to happen.
Sometimes the authors give a question and answer to it that
would be best left out. For example, to the question "which
way does the bathwater drain", the answer in not clockwise
or counterclockwise. The answer is it depends. Sounds like
some of my answers to students' questions when I didn't know
what I was talking about.
Now the serious ones. The authors might as well have told
me there is no Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny is greatly exaggerated
and the Tooth Fairy is propaganda for the American Dental
To the question: "What's interesting about the birth of Julius
Caesar," the authors bluntly come out and say he was not born
by C-section. They don't fully answer the question and get
off on a Caesar salad, which also has nothing to do with Julius
The authors go too far when they deny that Abner Doubleday
invented baseball. They tip toe through the answer and come
up with: "Abner Doubleday didn't invent baseball, baseball
invented Abner Doubleday. What a cop out.
Read the book and see what misinformation you are carrying
around. If you happen to be one of my students, I never told
you any of that stuff that is not true.