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Did You Know Trivia Memes Are Inaccurate And Irritating?

Note: The following is from a discussion originally found at another site with a name I don't like, so the link is not included. Minor edits to clean up a little bit of ugly colored lingo. The post and discussion it generated deals with the first chain letter mangled on this link.

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Email irritations.

By Les Jenkins

I really need to learn to ignore those stupid emails everyone loves to send you with all sorts of trivia that are supposedly 100% true facts. All they do is get me in trouble when I invariably investigate how true said facts really are. Take the most recent example my wife forwarded to me from an email she had forwarded to her from my very own mother. In it is a list of 26 true or false questions for which the answer for all of them is supposed to be “true”. Things such as “Alfred Hitchcock didn’t have a bellybutton” and “Without the coloring added to Coca-Cola the popular drink would be green.”

The first statement is patently ridiculous at worst and highly misleading at best. Of course Alfred Hitchcock had a belly button, though he may have “lost” it after an operation on his belly that supposedly required surgeons to remove it. The second statement is just wrong. Coca-Cola would be a relatively clear liquid without the coloring. Cola is brown because back when it first was invented making it a dark brown color helped to hide any impurities (read: floaties) in the bottle. How’s that for a disgusting trivia fact? These days there’s little need to cover up impurities (we hope) so the only reason it’s still colored brown is because that’s what people expect colas to look like.

That’s the problem with emails like that. They spark my curiosity and I look into how true all those supposed true facts are because I have this stupid need to question popular beliefs. Then I end up sharing what I’ve learned and no one appreciates it. So I need to resist responding to those emails as I just tick people off. Go ahead and forward your uselessly incorrect trivia around, but leave me out of it. I don’t need the aggravation they inevitably cause.

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Comments from others:

Catherine on 12/10/02 at 11:43 AM wrote the following...

Thank God someone else has this insane desire to prove these useless facts as fiction. I, too, spend time trying to disuade people from believing everything they read on the Internet, but noone seems to want to hear about the truth. They really hate it when you correct them in public.

Justin on 1/03/03 at 09:06 AM wrote the following...

that is hilarious, I found this site, by trying to prove each one of those stupid facts incorrect.

I too like Les, just end up ticking people off, but I found it rewarding for a brief moment that I might help some poor soul stop believing everything they get in email, so they will then stop forwarding it to me

Jason on 1/14/03 at 06:52 PM wrote the following...

I got that same e-mail. I sent a response back with researched comments to each of the “truths”, especially the Alfred Hitchcock thing:

Every human ever born had a bellybutton. Without one, the embryo would have no way of receiving nutrience while inside it’s mothers womb. If he didn’t have a bellybutton, his birth would have been a quick miscarriage.

What do you think of this one:

40 people are sent to the hospital for dog bites every minute.

57,600 people a day for dog bites? That’s a lot of dog bites.

carolyn on 1/15/03 at 09:38 AM wrote the following...

me, too .... me, too .... me, too --- i found myself searching the internet to see if these things were really, really true—and voila! ... i find some instant friends!!

Winnie on 1/17/03 at 12:01 PM wrote the following...

Y’all so sillie.We thu wuns who makes em up!

Tim on 1/20/03 at 04:50 PM wrote the following...

OMG, I am yet another person who found this site b/c I wanted to disprove the “fact” that Alfred Hitchcock doesn’t have a belly button.

hehe

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Dan on 1/21/03 at 09:15 AM wrote the following...

And I’d really like to know how sneezing stops your heart and all other bodily functions. It doesn’t usually kill me.

It’s a shame that 92% of the population believes this crap.

There, another fact to add to the list.

mkh on 1/24/03 at 08:04 AM wrote the following...

97.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot, too.

Jordan on 1/29/03 at 08:56 AM wrote the following...

Amazing how few people actually think to investigate what shows up as ‘fact’ in their email. The rest of my family think I’m crazy because I want to disprove this garbage… oh well, says a lot about you average “man on the street,” doesn’t it?

Les on 1/29/03 at 12:25 PM wrote the following...

Indeed. The emails of the sort that I listed here, where it’s largely a set of occasionally true trivia statements, don’t annoy me as much as the people who forward you little “uplifting stories” that are somewhat true, but exaggerated beyond credibility.

One of those, for example, is about how Al Capone’s lawyer, Easy Eddie, ends up deciding to turn in his famous mobster boss so that Eddie’s son will have a good name. His son later grows up to be legendary WWII fighter pilot Butch O’Hare who supposedly single-handedly keeps an entire squadron of Japanese bombers from destroying an entire fleet of American warships and has an airport named after him. The moral being that even someone who was so bad he worked for the worst of the mobsters could turn over a new leaf and by his good example produce a son who is this side of a superhero.

Problem is it didn’t actually happen quite that way or for quite those reasons. The email’s tale of Butch’s daring is ridiculously exaggerated. Butch did do some pretty heroic stuff in helping to defend an American fleet of ships that was under attack by Japanese planes against overwhelming odds, but it’s not the near-Superman level achievement that the email makes it out to be. I have the link to the real history around here someplace and I’ll provide it if anyone is curious. Additionally the motivations of his father to rat out his gangster boss had very little with his desire to turn over a new leaf and clear his own name. More of a seeing-the-writing on the wall and getting a few favors from the Feds than anything else. Which totally destroys the moral of the email that was sent out as well as distorting history.

Those sort of emails really tick me off. The O’Hair name was cleaned up by the actions of the son, not the father. By implying the father had anything to do with it in order to promote some trite morality concept diminishes the accomplishment of his son.

mike on 1/29/03 at 04:10 PM wrote the following...

My least favourite ‘facts’ are the ones related to what’s visible from space.

I have heard, perhaps a gazillion times, that the Great Wall of China is visible from space.

‘Ha’, says I.

It might be long, but it isn’t very wide; you would be more likely to see I-95 through the states, or the QEW from Toronto to Niagara Falls, but you can’t.

tom on 2/04/03 at 03:20 PM wrote the following...

Maybe Alfred Hitchcock had surgery (tummy tuck) where the bellybutton was removed later in his life ?.......just askin........

Shinigurai on 2/05/03 at 10:19 AM wrote the following...

Oh my god!!! I got the same list of statements in an e-mail and i found this site while trying to find out if coke would be green or not. I know that the toothbrush WAS invented in 1498. can someone please find out if the rest are true or not and then post it somewhere or a link to it? that would be great.

Gaby on 3/23/03 at 02:18 PM wrote the following...

Alfred Hitchcock didn’t have a bellybutton, maybe he had 2 bellybuttons?

Timba on 4/07/03 at 09:43 AM wrote the following...

Reality-what a concept!

Beth on 4/11/03 at 04:17 PM wrote the following...

gosh, soulmates!

just got an email with some silly “facts” and went to my favorite site. I just LOVE hitting reply all and posting the link that disproves the theory that deoderant causes cancer, or whatever the warning du jour is.

Beth on 4/11/03 at 04:17 PM Found this site looking for something official-sounding about Alfred H.’s bellybutton.

didn’t realize there were so many others out there who don’t believe everything they read. I feel better about the future of the world!

Meryl on 4/26/03 at 09:24 PM wrote the following...

ok i guess im an idiot because i thought it was a real fact that alfred hitchcock didn’t have a bellybutton! thank u everyone who made me realize im dumb haha

Dave on 5/16/03 at 08:05 AM wrote the following...

Thank you all. I have found friends.

Les on 5/16/03 at 08:20 AM wrote the following...

I have to admit that I’m surprised at how much response this entry has generated. I used to think that I was the only one who got annoyed at these sorts of emails, but it’s clear I’m not the only one.

The problem is when I try to be helpful and point out how ridiculous these emails are all I end up doing is ticking off one of my family members for “being so arrogant” and replying to people that I “don’t even know.” Ignorance really must be bliss.

Cayzle on 6/25/03 at 10:59 AM wrote the following...

Here’s a good page with some of these debunked: Rumor Mill http://www.dcmsoft.com/rumor/story/otherbs1.htm

Enjoy!

Linda on 8/22/03 at 11:08 AM wrote the following...

And, Mel Gibson’s face wasn’t destroyed when he was a teenager! Please all you naive people out there - think a little. Don’t believe everything you read. Believe 1%. And this post is the 1%.:smile:

Gina on 9/09/03 at 10:26 AM wrote the following...

What about the kneecaps?? Really, who would possibly believe that a two-year-old child could walk around with no kneecaps???

/gina

franci on 11/14/03 at 10:39 AM wrote the following...

actually the thing about the kneecaps is partially true. infants are born with a patella, but it is made of cartilaginous material. it ossifies later in life, so won’t show up on an x-ray until then. so technically it’s like they don’t have them in the usual sense of a kneecap, until they do ossify. check this link: http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/may97/861940964.An.r.html

Michael Glenister on 12/03/03 at 01:49 PM wrote the following...

Glad to see I was right in deducing the Alfred Hitchcock and rabbit/parrot false before checking. I’m impressed other people checked too. Incidentally if it does come your way in another annoying email, a duck’s quack does echo. That was a metaphor for ‘some questions have no answers’ that got mistaken as fact.

jeff on 1/16/04 at 04:05 AM wrote the following...

can you believe that this e-mail is still kicking around!

please, bad e-mail, fade away!!

Linda on 1/27/04 at 04:56 AM wrote the following...

It’s still doing the rounds, even here in Australia.

Robert on 2/10/04 at 08:31 PM wrote the following...

9. The average person over fifty will have spent 5 years waiting in lines.That’s 2.4 hours everyday waiting in lines! Not usually..

Below is the whole quiz:

*snipped out*

ChowderVI on 2/16/04 at 05:08 PM wrote the following...

haha. first thing i did after reading that email....was search about Alfred Hitchcock bellybutton....and found this site.funny.

ALSO...i’m tired of watching the SLEEP NUMBER commericials on TV!

Roxanne on 5/12/04 at 09:58 AM wrote the following...

I just received this exact same email this morning. I was very surprised when it said all were true! What a crock...I hope people out there don’t take this crap seriously! All useless legends as far as I am concerned. I’m glad I found your site and could vent...ha ha ha ha

Anonymous on 5/19/04 at 01:16 PM wrote the following...

I just now got this particular tripe in my inbox. I have decided to pull a hoax of my own. I’m going to send an email to an email account which I know does not exist. Take the “bounce back” message I get, change a few things accordingly, then whenever someone fwds me this stuff, I intend to “fake a bounce” back to them. This way they will think my email doesn’t exist anymore.I’m tired of trying to debunk this stuff while at the same time trying to be kind while asking them not to send this stuff. ANYthing that makes a statement, a claim, then stops there, without even any attempt at commensurate evidence to back it up, is something that one should confirm first before sending it on. Instead, I have to do all the work to debunk it, while their lazy bums got off easy: it’s so EASY to hit that fwd button.

Well I’ve had it up to my back teeth with it. The fake-bounce is the only answer. At least it’ll get me off their email address books. (Hopefully.)

Leesa on 6/10/04 at 05:37 PM wrote the following...

I found this site because of the Alfred Hitchcock bellybutton myth too. A girl at work today told me he was born without a bellybutton. When I questioned her about how he was attached to his mother she said he was attached to her by his wiener!!!!! I though i would pee myself laughing. I guess his name is appropriate “HITCH-COCK”!!!

Brock on 6/10/04 at 06:55 PM wrote the following...

Whatever gets ya here Leesa and welcome to it all. Funny conversation you had there. Reminds me of the co-worker who told me about Colonel Sander’s genetically altered chickens. Yeah, THAT story.

Laura on 8/04/04 at 11:29 PM wrote the following...

It is August 2004. I got the email. From my sister. I know it’s a pack of LIES. Looking for the proof, I found all of you who came before me. Want to know something funny? When I was a teenager, I told my sister that “Gullible” wasn’t in the dictionary, and she said “Really?”. Try it on some of your friends. You know, the ones who send you emails that say you eat spiders in your sleep.

maineimhir on 9/21/04 at 05:47 PM wrote the following...

well I actually just found out on another site

that Alfred Hitchcock didin’t have a belly button after an surgical operation.

I guess that’s possible.

Off course he was born with it.

Damon on 11/22/04 at 09:15 PM wrote the following...

I just got this email, it strikes me as funny becuase the person that sent it to me is typically a sane and reasonable person. I may have to re-evaluate that individual. The three items that bug the me most are; #10 - anthropologists know that apes use sticks that have been chewed to make a “bristle end” as a toothbrush for several thousand years. #24 - DUH! Hospitals make money off of patients and insurance companies. #25 - aren’t we all 7th cousins.

G!zmo on 8/18/05 at 09:25 AM wrote the following...

haha, i’m yet another who stumbled appon this site while searching to debunk the stupid trivia chain letter where everything is supposedly true. Its nice to see others, it makes me feel less paranoid like i’m no longer this one man force trying to stop these rediculous emails

Molly on 1/03/06 at 04:26 PM wrote the following...

I GOT THAT E-MAIL TOO! OMG AND I’M SO PATHETIC AND ACTUALLY BELIEVED IT! haha but then i decided to reasearch it and i found this site… haha frickin e-mails… they’re so stupid!

Theresa on 1/21/06 at 12:56 PM wrote the following...

Technically...I was born without a belly button. So it is possible. When I was born my organs where outside my body and my umbilical cord went straight into my stomach. Therefor, I never had a bellybutton at birth.

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I could be wrong, but that has to be a joke.

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