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  #1  
Old 08-02-2009, 10:52 AM
astro astro is online now
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Re "50 things you are not supposed to know" has anyone fact checked these claims?

There is a book called "50 things you are not supposed to know" which I have not read but supposed contains these claims. Just in relying on general knowledge a fair portion are true, but are they ALL true? Which ones are false?

Quote:
1.The Ten Commandments We Always See Aren’t the Ten Commandments
2.One of the Popes Wrote an Erotic Book
3.The CIA Commits Over 100,000 Serious Crimes Each Year
4.The First CIA Agent to Die in the Line of Duty Was Douglas Mackiernan
5.After 9/11, the Defense Department Wanted to Poison Afghanistan’s Food Supply
6.The US Government Lies About the Number of Terrorism Convictions It Obtains
7.The US Is Planning to Provoke Terrorist Attacks
8.The US and Soviet Union Considered Detonating Nuclear Bombs on the Moon
9.Two Atomic Bombs Were Dropped on North Carolina
10.World War III Almost Started in 1995
11.The Korean War Never Ended
12.Agent Orange Was Used in Korea
13.Kent State Wasn’t the Only ? or Even the First ? Massacre of College Students During the Vietnam Era
14.Winston Churchill Believed in a Worldwide Jewish Conspiracy
15.The Auschwitz Tattoo Was Originally an IBM Code Number
16.Adolph Hitler’s Blood Relatives Are Alive and Well in New York State
17.Around One Quarter of "Witches" Were Men
18.The Virginia Colonists Practiced Cannibalism
19.Many of the Pioneering Feminists Opposed Abortion
20.Black People Served in the Confederate Army
21.Electric Cars Have Been Around Since the 1880s
22.Juries Are Allowed to Judge the Law, Not Just the Facts
23.The Police Aren’t Legally Obligated to Protect You
24.The Government Can Take Your House and Land, Then Sell Them to Private Corporations
25.The Supreme Court Has Ruled That You’re Allowed to Ingest Any Drug, Especially If You’re an Addict
26.The Age of Consent in Most of the US Is Not Eighteen
27.Most Scientists Don’t Read All of the Articles They Cite
28.Louis Pasteur Suppressed Experiments That Didn’t Support His Theories
29.The Creator of the GAIA Hypothesis Supports Nuclear Power
30.Genetically-Engineered Humans Have Already Been Born
31.The Insurance Industry Wants to Genetically Test All Policy Holders
32.Smoking Causes Problems Other Than Lung Cancer and Heart Disease
33.Herds of Milk-Producing Cows Are Rife With Bovine Leukemia Virus
34.Most Doctors Don’t Know the Radiation Level of CAT Scans
35.Medication Errors Kill Thousands Each Year
36.Prescription Drugs Kill Over 100,000 Annually
37.Work Kills More People Than War
38.The Suicide Rate Is Highest Among the Elderly
39.For Low-Risk People, a Positive Result from an HIV Test Is Wrong Half the Time
40.DNA Matching Is Not Infallible
41.An FBI Expert Testified That Lie Detectors Are Worthless for Security Screening
42.The Bayer Company Made Heroin
43.LSD Has Been Used Successfully in Psychiatric Therapy
44.Carl Sagan Was an Avid Pot-Smoker
45.One of the Heroes of Black Hawk Down Is a Convicted Child Molester
46.The Auto Industry Says That SUV Drivers Are Selfish and Insecure
47.The Word "Squaw" Is Not a Derisive Term for the Vagina
48.You Can Mail Letters for Little or No Cost
49.Advertisers’ Influence on the News Media Is Widespread
50.The World’s Museums Contain Innumerable Fakes
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  #2  
Old 08-02-2009, 10:54 AM
IAmNotSpartacus IAmNotSpartacus is offline
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Boy, you don't ask for much do you?
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  #3  
Old 08-02-2009, 11:03 AM
astro astro is online now
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Originally Posted by IAmNotSpartacus View Post
Boy, you don't ask for much do you?

I'm not looking for anyone to take the whole thing on, I'm really just interested in the ones that are demonstrably false or highly questionable. In scanning the list it appears that that the large majority are true, or could be true, in some form or fashion.

Things like "The Auschwitz Tattoo Was Originally an IBM Code Number" is one thing I have a little trouble swallowing, and also "For Low-Risk People, a Positive Result from an HIV Test Is Wrong Half the Time" seems a pretty high false positive.

Last edited by astro; 08-02-2009 at 11:04 AM..
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  #4  
Old 08-02-2009, 11:14 AM
SSG Schwartz SSG Schwartz is offline
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38.The Suicide Rate Is Highest Among the Elderly

I will take this one on. Actual suicides are highest among teens and young adults due to the fact that this age group is more emotional and impulsive. Of course, short of a note, many accidents could be ruled as suicide.

The trouble with this list is that a lot of the statements are not provable one way or the other. Exactly how do you almost start World War III, and what would World War III even be? Or how does the US plan to provoke terroristic attacks? By being in Iraq and Afghanistan?

SSG Schwartz
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  #5  
Old 08-02-2009, 11:16 AM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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On the HIV thing. Suppose the test is 99% accurate. 99% of the time if you have HIV, you'll test postive and 1% of the time you'll test negative. 99% of the time if you don't have HIV you'll test negative and 1% of the time you'll test positive.

It's easy to see that in a statistical universe where HIV is uncommon you'll get a lot more false positives than true positives.

Say, if you test 10,000 people and of those people 100 actually have HIV. 9900 are HIV negative, the test is 99% accurate, so you get 9801 negative results from them, and 99 postive results. 100 are HIV positive, so you get 99 postive results and 1 negative result.

So in this universe, half the people who test positive are actually negative, even though the test is 99% accurate.
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  #6  
Old 08-02-2009, 11:19 AM
fluiddruid fluiddruid is offline
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9.Two Atomic Bombs Were Dropped on North Carolina
True, but misleading. They didn't detonate due to safety mechanisms.
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  #7  
Old 08-02-2009, 11:19 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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No, the highest suicide rate is the age group between 75 and 84:

http://www.suicide.org/suicide-statistics.html

I've read the book and mostly it's pretty accurate. Is there any particular claim that you're saying isn't true?
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  #8  
Old 08-02-2009, 11:20 AM
velaro velaro is offline
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Well, some of them are sufficiently vague or untestable. For instance:

The HIV test thing: just look up the probability that the test will show an incorrect result, given a certain HIV status. If an individual's probability to be HIV positive is equal to this probability (prior to taking the test), and the test then shows positive, then the probability of the positive being false is one half.

Carl Sagan is an avid pot smoker: we just need to define the word avid appropriately

Most scientists don't read all the articles: does that include cases where they only read parts of it?

World War one almost started in 1995: "almost" can be stretched quite a bit.

I guess we'd need the full explanations from the book to be able to evaluate the claims.
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  #9  
Old 08-02-2009, 11:25 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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O.K., you asked specifically about the Auschwitz tattoo being an IBM number. Try this: Google on "Auschwitz," "tattoo," and "IBM." You'll find a lot of pages talking about it. You know, astro, you ask a lot of questions, and you don't seem to do any Googling to find the answers yourself very much. You know, you can learn to be a good researcher yourself if you'd just try.
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  #10  
Old 08-02-2009, 11:26 AM
astro astro is online now
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Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
No, the highest suicide rate is the age group between 75 and 84:

http://www.suicide.org/suicide-statistics.html

I've read the book and mostly it's pretty accurate. Is there any particular claim that you're saying isn't true?
Well this one "The Virginia Colonists Practiced Cannibalism" is an eyebrow raiser. "Practiced" means (to me) that it was a somewhat planned or organized activity. I know there was some cannibalism in early American failed colonies but I always thought it was from dying people crazed with hunger with no forethought involved.
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  #11  
Old 08-02-2009, 11:28 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Furthermore, why don't you read the book? Do you think that your time is too important to read a book?
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  #12  
Old 08-02-2009, 11:32 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Here's the page that you would have found if you'd Googled on "Virginia," "colonists," "practiced," and "cannibalism"

http://50thingstonotknow.blogspot.co...practiced.html

Really, you can answer most of your questions much faster by Googling on them rather than asking them on the SDMB.
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  #13  
Old 08-02-2009, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
O.K., you asked specifically about the Auschwitz tattoo being an IBM number. Try this: Google on "Auschwitz," "tattoo," and "IBM." You'll find a lot of pages talking about it. You know, astro, you ask a lot of questions, and you don't seem to do any Googling to find the answers yourself very much. You know, you can learn to be a good researcher yourself if you'd just try.
I suppose I could take it to pieces and after several hours or days could come back here with a big report on the specific details of what I've found, or I could open up an interesting list of claimed facts for general discussion by the SDMB on a slow Sunday afternoon before working it over to see what people think. Sometimes a conversation is just as interesting as a lecture.
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  #14  
Old 08-02-2009, 11:52 AM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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I'll take on as many as I can say something intelligent about.

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1.The Ten Commandments We Always See Aren’t the Ten Commandments
This is meaningless. The Roman Catholics and Lutherans, the Jews, the Orthodox Catholics, and the Anglicans and other Christian denominations each have their own version of the Ten Commandments. The only difference is which rule goes with which commandment. Wikipedia has a good overview.


Quote:
2.One of the Popes Wrote an Erotic Book
So? Look up the Borgia Popes if you want tales to make each individual hair stand on end like quills on the fretful porpentine. Let's summarize by saying that during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the office of the Pope was highly political in a culture accustomed to solving political matters using poisons, swords, and siege weapons.
Quote:
3.The CIA Commits Over 100,000 Serious Crimes Each Year
First: How the hell could anyone outside the CIA know this?
Second: Crimes according to whose laws?

Quote:
9.Two Atomic Bombs Were Dropped on North Carolina
It was an accident. The plane carrying them crashed and the bombs fell out.

Quote:
11.The Korean War Never Ended
This is wrong in terms of most real-world politics and only correct in the stupid, nit-picky way some trivia answers are. There was never a formal peace treaty signed, only a cease-fire, so, by some measures, the war still has not ended. Nobody has violated the cease-fire, though, so the war is over.

Quote:
22.Juries Are Allowed to Judge the Law, Not Just the Facts
This sounds like jury nullification to me. Mentioning it in a court will likely make everyone pretty damned mad at you, because it causes a mistrial (AFAIK).

Quote:
23.The Police Aren’t Legally Obligated to Protect You
Rephrase this: "The police have no obligation to individually protect every single person in their jurisdiction." It's really obvious when you say it that way: There aren't enough police in the world. See Castle Rock v. Gonzales for a specific case.

Quote:
26.The Age of Consent in Most of the US Is Not Eighteen
"Age of consent" for what? Sex? If so, this is true: Sixteen is more common, assuming heterosexual sex.

Quote:
29.The Creator of the GAIA Hypothesis Supports Nuclear Power
Yes. His name is James Lovelock.

Quote:
32.Smoking Causes Problems Other Than Lung Cancer and Heart Disease
But those are the major problems likely to kill you, so they're the ones everyone cares about. Life is funny like that.

Quote:
34.Most Doctors Don’t Know the Radiation Level of CAT Scans
So? Most doctors wouldn't know how to fix a CAT scan machine, either. That isn't their job.

Quote:
37.Work Kills More People Than War
More people work than fight. This is news?

Quote:
42.The Bayer Company Made Heroin
One the list-maker undersold! 'Heroin' was Bayer's trade name for the drug, which has passed into the public domain. The name came about because it was supposed to be a morphine alternative that was 'heroically' free from morphine's addictive potential. Addiction-wise, we didn't know our ass from our endorphins in the late 19th Century.

Quote:
47.The Word "Squaw" Is Not a Derisive Term for the Vagina
Indeed this is true. Here's Cecil's column on the matter.

Quote:
48.You Can Mail Letters for Little or No Cost
It's what, 39 cents now? 'No-cost' mailing would either be COD or email.
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  #15  
Old 08-02-2009, 11:59 AM
Busy Scissors Busy Scissors is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astro View Post
There is a book called "50 things you are not supposed to know" which I have not read but supposed contains these claims. Just in relying on general knowledge a fair portion are true, but are they ALL true? Which ones are false?
#28 is interesting, about Pasteur. I'd like to see what the author is claiming there. The Pasteur legend has taken a bit of a bruising in recent years with revelations about his self-promotion and less than equitable sharing of credit wth with fellow scientists. This is largely through the efforts on one academic (Geison), who has thoroughly examined Pasteur's notebooks. It reads like typical legend ankle-biting tbh - the guy may be the father of microbiology and immunology, and discovered chirality, but did you know he was a bit of a cunt? WGAF, really?

In any case, Pasteur's principle theories have been shown to be correct - which experiments is he alledged to have suppressed? The best known allegation of scientific impropriety on Pasteur's behalf is to do with his preparation of the anthrax vaccine (discussed on his wikipedia page, where he claimed one method whilst secretly using a competitor's, possible for commercial reasons). That's not the same thing at all as suppressing an experiment.

Thanks for posting the list in any case Astro- some interesting factoids. The one about the bombs falling on NC is a good one that I'd not heard of.
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  #16  
Old 08-02-2009, 12:01 PM
MeDrewNotYou MeDrewNotYou is offline
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I have nothing substantive to add. But am I the only one who thought of the scene in History of the World: Part One where the empress is picking out escorts from the legion?

"Yes, no, no, no, no, no, no yes..."
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  #17  
Old 08-02-2009, 12:03 PM
HorseloverFat HorseloverFat is offline
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Here you go, first link on google for this too

http://50thingstonotknow.blogspot.com/
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  #18  
Old 08-02-2009, 12:32 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Most scientists don't read all the articles: does that include cases where they only read parts of it?
Which is a very important distinction, since many of the most-cited articles are hundreds of pages long, and it's quite reasonable that a scientist might only need information from two or three pages of that. Or you might cite a paper written by a colleague, where you only skimmed through the paper itself, but got most of the paper's content from seminars or discussions over lunch.

A lot of these statements are misleading at best when condensed into a one-liner, but might make sense given a page or three of elaboration. Really, to fact-check them, we'd need the entire book, not just the table of contents.
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  #19  
Old 08-02-2009, 12:38 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is online now
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Some of these definitely seem

Quote:
3. The CIA Commits Over 100,000 Serious Crimes Each Year
I don't think the CIA does 100,000 things of any sort in one year's time.

Quote:
5. After 9/11, the Defense Department Wanted to Poison Afghanistan’s Food Supply
Several aid groups predicted in 2001 that the war would kill hundreds of thousands of people via famine, but that never happened, and I've certainly never seen actual policy toward that end.

Quote:
13. Kent State Wasn’t the Only ? or Even the First ? Massacre of College Students During the Vietnam Era
Wouldn't other massacres have been similarly huge news?

Quote:
25. The Supreme Court Has Ruled That You’re Allowed to Ingest Any Drug, Especially If You’re an Addict
There is a S.Ct. decision ruling that the government cannot criminalize simply "being an addict."

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37. Work Kills More People Than War
Isn't this a good thing?

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48. You Can Mail Letters for Little or No Cost
44 cents, right? Who doesn't know this?
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  #20  
Old 08-02-2009, 12:38 PM
YogSosoth YogSosoth is offline
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A lot of these seems to be written in a provacative or vague way designed to make you think one way when in fact the real story was much more mundane. For example the nuclear bomb headline was written to make one think they were purposefully dropped as in Hiroshima, but a more accurate (and boring) headline would be "Plane carrying nuclear bombs crashes"

Ok so it wouldn't be THAT boring, but still less vague and interesting than the original headline


Quote:
5.After 9/11, the Defense Department Wanted to Poison Afghanistan’s Food Supply
7.The US Is Planning to Provoke Terrorist Attacks
8.The US and Soviet Union Considered Detonating Nuclear Bombs on the Moon
10.World War III Almost Started in 1995
"Wanted", "planning", "considered", and "almost" are words you can throw in any statement and make it seem like it was really going to happen.

Quote:
16.Adolph Hitler’s Blood Relatives Are Alive and Well in New York State
Didn't they change their names? I recall a story I read about Hitler's relatives a few years ago

Quote:
24.The Government Can Take Your House and Land, Then Sell Them to Private Corporations
Eminent Domain. Kelo vs. The City of New London

Quote:
30.Genetically-Engineered Humans Have Already Been Born
Haven't doctors been able to eliminate certain illnesses in the womb for a while?

Quote:
41.An FBI Expert Testified That Lie Detectors Are Worthless for Security Screening
Testified, yes. Doesn't mean its the official position or that its true
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  #21  
Old 08-02-2009, 01:11 PM
Saint Cad Saint Cad is offline
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If the lists of "wacky laws" is any indication, no one checks. Most of those laws don't exist!

But back to the OP. I suspect that in many of these claims, they are actually true and not as strange once you see why. Take for example
Quote:
19.Many of the Pioneering Feminists Opposed Abortion
I don't know if that's true or not, but during the 1973 Roe v Wade arguments, Sarah Weddington noted that the 1800's law banning abortions in Texas was done to protect women since abortions were so dangerous. In fact, she points out that under that law, an abortion was considered a crime against the woman.
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  #22  
Old 08-02-2009, 02:11 PM
Sir Prize Sir Prize is offline
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[QUOTE=Derleth;11402719]I'll take on as many as I can say something intelligent about.

This is meaningless. The Roman Catholics and Lutherans, the Jews, the Orthodox Catholics, and the Anglicans and other Christian denominations each have their own version of the Ten Commandments. The only difference is which rule goes with which commandment. Wikipedia has a good overview.
It is not meaningless. All the versions you site come from the ethical decalogue. However in the bible it is the ritual decalogue Exodus 34:10-26 that is written on the tablets. It is a very different list.
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  #23  
Old 08-02-2009, 02:21 PM
flodnak flodnak is offline
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10.World War III Almost Started in 1995
In January, 1995, some Russian officials had a severe overreaction to the launch of a small research rocket from the Andøya rocket range in Northern Norway. (The range had informed the Russian military of the launch in the usual fashion, but for some reason the notification got lost in Bureaucratic Hell this one time.) Exactly how close Yeltsin came to doing anything stupid is not clear, but the press here in Troll Country at least had a lot of fun playing up how we almost all got nuked because of one little research rocket. That may be what this point on the list is all about, although it's hardly a big secret.
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  #24  
Old 08-02-2009, 02:27 PM
Shamozzle Shamozzle is offline
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Originally Posted by Derleth View Post
And there were a couple more incidents like this as well, weren't there? A plane bearing nuclear weapons bound for Alaska crashed in Northwestern British Columbia and another crashed on the coast of Spain, I believe.
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  #25  
Old 08-02-2009, 02:41 PM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is offline
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16.Adolph Hitler’s Blood Relatives Are Alive and Well in New York State
William Patrick Hitler, the son of Adolph's half-brother, lived in Patchogue, New York and had four sons. One has died, three are still living. I don't know where they are currently located.
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  #26  
Old 08-02-2009, 02:46 PM
hajario hajario is online now
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Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum View Post
I don't think the CIA does 100,000 things of any sort in one year's time.
Don't they do a lot of wire tapping? Maybe each tapped phone call is considered a separate crime or something like that.
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  #27  
Old 08-02-2009, 03:02 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Some of these are just stupid:

24.The Government Can Take Your House and Land, Then Sell Them to Private Corporations

Yes, it's called Eminent Domain.


32.Smoking Causes Problems Other Than Lung Cancer and Heart Disease

No shit


37.Work Kills More People Than War

This is not surprising to anyone with half a brain.


41.An FBI Expert Testified That Lie Detectors Are Worthless for Security Screening

Which is why they are not generally used for security screening or in court.


44.Carl Sagan Was an Avid Pot-Smoker

Get..the fuck...OUT


48.You Can Mail Letters for Little or No Cost

Yes...$0.44
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  #28  
Old 08-02-2009, 03:10 PM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is offline
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40.DNA Matching Is Not Infallible
Nothing is infallible. Not even me.
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  #29  
Old 08-02-2009, 03:24 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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Certain ones are easy to verify

11.The Korean War Never Ended

Correct, althought hostilities ceased there was no formal peace. However there still is not formal peace between Japan and the Soviet Union or its successor state Russia. Big deal they are not fighting. Does this mean WWII isn't over. Well I guess technically. But for all intents and purposes it is.

Some of them like

The Bayer Company Made Heroin, are true but that was a long time back when heroin was not a controlled substance. Most drugs prior to the modern eras (1950s forward) at one time were not controlled substances.

It's like when people say Joseph Kennedy made his money by doing illegal things. Well this isn't really true. While it's true things Joe Kennedy Sr did would be illegal today, when he did them, no one had thought to make them illegal yet.

Then there are questions like

7.The US Is Planning to Provoke Terrorist Attacks

This is so wide open it's true. In fact the September 11th attacks were provoked, at least in Osama's viewpoint.

I think the point of these type of articles isn't to provide a factual answer it's to provoke a discussion of an issue, which is can be fun to talk about.
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  #30  
Old 08-02-2009, 03:34 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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21.Electric Cars Have Been Around Since the 1880s

Yes, however only recently have they approached the speed, performance and cost of gasoline powered cars.
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  #31  
Old 08-02-2009, 03:44 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saint Cad View Post
If the lists of "wacky laws" is any indication, no one checks. Most of those laws don't exist!

But back to the OP. I suspect that in many of these claims, they are actually true and not as strange once you see why. Take for example

I don't know if that's true or not, but during the 1973 Roe v Wade arguments, Sarah Weddington noted that the 1800's law banning abortions in Texas was done to protect women since abortions were so dangerous. In fact, she points out that under that law, an abortion was considered a crime against the woman.
Alice Paul's views on abortion aren't exactly clear. She seemed to disapprove of abortion personally, but also didn't consider it her business to decide for other women.

Margaret Sanger was in to eugenics, but felt that parents rather than the state should decide how to do this (unless they were "feebleminded" in which they were to be sterilized). She was much less radical than others of her time (for instance she opposed euthanasia of the "unfit".
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  #32  
Old 08-02-2009, 04:20 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum View Post
Quote:
13. Kent State Wasn’t the Only ? or Even the First ? Massacre of College Students During the Vietnam Era
Wouldn't other massacres have been similarly huge news?
You might think so, but they weren't as covered nearly as much as Kent State. However, the statement in the OP is somewhat misleading, since although the first one occurred during the "Vietnam era" it was not about the war.


The Orangeburg massacre occurred two years before Kent State.
Quote:
The shootings at Orangeburg predated the Kent State shootings and Jackson State killings. This was the first incident of its kind on a United States university campus. The Orangeburg Massacre received relatively little media coverage.

Historian Jack Bass attributed the discrepancy in media coverage, compared to that for later events, to the fact that the victims at Orangeburg were young black men protesting local segregation. In addition, the shootings at Orangeburg happened at night, when media coverage was less. At Kent State, in contrast, the victims were young whites protesting an increasingly unpopular and highly politicized U.S. war in Vietnam. They were attacked by members of the National Guard, which the media may have judged a more inflammatory aspect of the shootings. Other analysts have noted that later events in 1968, such as the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and candidate Robert Kennedy, overshadowed the events at Orangeburg.[3].
The Jackson State killings occurred 10 days after Kent State. As in the case of Orangeburg, some attribute the lesser media coverage to the fact that the victims were black.

Last edited by Colibri; 08-02-2009 at 04:21 PM..
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  #33  
Old 08-02-2009, 04:25 PM
SenorBeef SenorBeef is offline
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Originally Posted by Derleth View Post
So? Most doctors wouldn't know how to fix a CAT scan machine, either. That isn't their job.
Knowing how much radiation their patients are being exposed to is certainly part of their job.
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  #34  
Old 08-02-2009, 05:46 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Knowing how much radiation their patients are being exposed to is certainly part of their job.
If they're radiologists, sure. But most doctors aren't radiologists.
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  #35  
Old 08-02-2009, 06:01 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Apart from the half-truths, fractional truths, unprovables and flat-out nitwittery, the major problem with the list is that favorite meme of the woo-prone and conspiracy-minded, i.e. "things you are not supposed to know". Virtually nothing on the list can honestly be viewed as such, or less how would the idiots who spout that stuff come across the information? We're supposed to believe they're so much more intelligent and perceptive than the rest of us?

Among the more ludicrous allegations: we're not supposed to know that smoking causes more problems than cancer and heart disease. What hole do they assume we're living in, not to have heard of conditions like chronic bronchitis and emphysema? Was the Surgeon General's announcement of the disorders caused by secondhand smoke made in secret, so that we wouldn't learn that secondhand smoke causes asthma, lower respiratory tract infections and premature death in children? Somebody better tell the national news media and Google that they're doing a lousy job suppressing this information.

And "advertisers' influence on the news media is widespread". Nooooo! Say it isn't so!!! Those little movies they show between entertainment program segments aren't public service announcements to help us choose non-disintegrating toilet paper and cheap car insurance? They pay the media to let them say those things? My faith in mankind has been shattered.

The "Louis Pasteur suppressed experiments" thing sounds like the blattings of those loon-tunes who also claim (falsely) that Pasteur confessed on his deathbed that the germ theory of disease was wrong.

You'll have to excuse me now, I'm going to fill my gas tank with water, put in a little pill and go 500 miles on a single tank. I'd say more, but

YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW!!!!

Last edited by Jackmannii; 08-02-2009 at 06:02 PM..
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  #36  
Old 08-02-2009, 06:35 PM
davekhps davekhps is offline
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Originally Posted by hajario View Post
Don't they do a lot of wire tapping? Maybe each tapped phone call is considered a separate crime or something like that.
That would be the NSA. And it's hard to consider what they do as "criminal"-- between the FISA court for domestic cases, and the obvious legal loopholes for international communications, calling it a crime is a political argument, not a legal one.

Now, that doesn't mean the *politics* of it aren't debatable/objectionable, but that's a whole 'nuther thread. . .
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  #37  
Old 08-02-2009, 06:37 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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Let me address #27, which I have personal experience of. Of course, I haven't read all of any paper I cite (excepting, I guess, my own). Who could? Generally I cite a paper either because I need one fact from it or else because the referee believes that I should. I have several citations that say that what I have done is different from what X (often the referee, I am guessing) has done. This way, X gets a citation and I get a paper published.

I recently had the experience of helping translate a 100+ page paper from French that I had cited a number of times in my work. I discovered that I had not read the paper before in its entirety, had no real idea that what I had cited was a small part of a very large theory and there were large parts of it I was not able to follow.

So I would agree with the claim, but so what?
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  #38  
Old 08-02-2009, 07:14 PM
Lumpy Lumpy is online now
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"Not supposed to know" implies someone is or was actively covering them up. I'd say most of them are simply obscure trivia that are not common knowledge.
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  #39  
Old 08-02-2009, 07:17 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Originally Posted by astro View Post
16.Adolph Hitler’s Blood Relatives Are Alive and Well in New York State
That may be, but why is anyone interested in them? Adolf Hitler -- with an F -- was the infamous one. Adolph is just a lousy homophone.
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  #40  
Old 08-02-2009, 07:29 PM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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I take issue with this one:

0. "50 things you are not supposed to know."

This is incorrect.

Last edited by Chief Pedant; 08-02-2009 at 07:29 PM..
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  #41  
Old 08-02-2009, 07:36 PM
Ponch8 Ponch8 is offline
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33.Herds of Milk-Producing Cows Are Rife With Bovine Leukemia Virus

This is true, but it's no real reason to be alarmed. Lymphoma only develops in a small proportion of infected cows. The virus is completely harmless to humans (assuming they're not dumb enough to inject billions of the viruses directly into their bloodstream or something like that).
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  #42  
Old 08-02-2009, 07:49 PM
tacoloco tacoloco is offline
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Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
Furthermore, why don't you read the book? Do you think that your time is too important to read a book?
Who peed in your cornflakes?

This is an interesting thread. Don't crap on it.
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  #43  
Old 08-02-2009, 08:08 PM
Love Rhombus Love Rhombus is offline
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50.The World’s Museums Contain Innumerable Fakes

IANAMuseum Expert, but I'll wager this one is right, in that perhaps many are hidden to thwart thieves or to be studied?
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  #44  
Old 08-02-2009, 08:09 PM
zut zut is offline
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Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
Let me address #27, which I have personal experience of. Of course, I haven't read all of any paper I cite (excepting, I guess, my own). Who could? Generally I cite a paper either because I need one fact from it or else because the referee believes that I should. I have several citations that say that what I have done is different from what X (often the referee, I am guessing) has done. This way, X gets a citation and I get a paper published.
According to this, which I assume is a summary of the original claim, "Most Scientists Don’t Read All of the Articles They Cite" means "most scientists cite articles they have not read at all," not "most scientists cite articles they've read only a portion of."

This claim comes from a paper investigating the propagation of citation errors (here's the New Scientist piece the blog refers to). Since very specific errors are repeated, the researchers conclude that scientists must be copy-pasting citations at a surprisingly high rate.

From that, they conclude that the scientists don't actually read the papers they cite, but just copy-paste the citation.

Which is plausible, I suppose, but it's a jump in logic. I know I find papers a lot through citations in other papers. Since I've already written or copied the citation from the first paper, its pretty easy to just use that, because it's already in the right format (presumably). Plus, maybe I made an actual paper copy of the paper I'm citing, and it doesn't have the volume number on it, or the editors of the proceedings, or whatever. Easier to copy-paste.

Maybe the original authors (Mikhail Simkin and Vwani Roychowdhury ) discuss this in their research, but if not, I'm pretty skeptical that the data support their conclusion.
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  #45  
Old 08-02-2009, 08:25 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by zut View Post
According to this, which I assume is a summary of the original claim, "Most Scientists Don’t Read All of the Articles They Cite" means "most scientists cite articles they have not read at all," not "most scientists cite articles they've read only a portion of."
Actually, the original research would seem to refute the statement that most scientists don't read the articles:

Quote:
To find out how common this is, Simkin and Roychowdhury looked at citation data for a famous 1973 paper on the structure of two-dimensional crystals. They found it had been cited in other papers 4300 times, with 196 citations containing misprints in the volume, page or year. But despite the fact that a billion different versions of erroneous reference are possible, they counted only 45. The most popular mistake appeared 78 times.

The pattern suggests that 45 scientists, who might well have read the paper, made an error when they cited it. Then 151 others copied their misprints without reading the original. So for at least 77 per cent of the 196 misprinted citations, no one read the paper.
In other words, 4,104 out of 4,300 citations (95%) were correct, and 45 (1%) of the remainder were original rather than copied mistakes. While not all of these scientists may have read the papers, there is no indication that they did not. So there is only evidence that 4% of all citations were copied. It's only most of erroneous citations that were copied.

And even if the citation itself is copied, it doesn't mean the scientist didn't read the paper. Like zut, I have sometimes read a paper in a journal, so I know what it says; but then when I come to write my own paper I may look at the citation in another paper I have on hand rather than go back and check the original to make sure every detail is correct.

Last edited by Colibri; 08-02-2009 at 08:26 PM..
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  #46  
Old 08-02-2009, 10:01 PM
Fubaya Fubaya is offline
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First, why is almost every word in this list capitalized? I hate that.

"3.The CIA Commits Over 100,000 Serious Crimes Each Year"

This comes from a 1996 report by the House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence titled “IC21: The Intelligence Community in the 21st Century.”

It is used by conspiracy theorists to allude to murder, assassination, etc, but the report is obviously saying these guys are spying, and spying can get you in trouble with the people you're spying on.

"Most of the operations of the CS are, by all accounts, the
most tricky, politically sensitive, and troublesome of those in the
IC and frequently require the DCI's close personal attention. The
CS is the only part of the IC, indeed of the government, where
hundreds of employees on a daily basis are directed to break
extremely serious laws in counties around the world in the face of
frequently sophisticated efforts by foreign governments to catch
them. A safe estimate is that several hundred times every day
(easily 100,000 times a year) DO officers engage in highly illegal
activities (according to foreign law) that not only risk political
embarrassment to the US but also endanger the freedom if not lives
of the participating foreign nationals and, more than occasionally,
of the clandestine officer himself. In other words, a typical 28
year old, GS-11 case officer has numerous opportunities every week,
by poor tradecraft or inattention, to embarrass his country and
President and to get agents imprisoned or executed. Considering
these facts and recent history, which has shown that the DCI,
whether he wants to or not, is held accountable for overseeing the
CS, the DCI must work closely with the Director of the CS and hold
him fully and directly responsible to him."

"45.One of the Heroes of Black Hawk Down Is a Convicted Child Molester"

Well, one of the characters in the movie (Grimes) is a fictional person believed to be based on a real person who was there and who was later convicted on child molestation.
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  #47  
Old 08-02-2009, 10:33 PM
tumbleddown tumbleddown is offline
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With regard to #19, it is probably a reference to the alleged anti-abortion sentiments of Susan B. Anthony, which are contentious, to say the least.
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  #48  
Old 08-03-2009, 02:22 AM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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Originally Posted by Love Rhombus View Post
50.The World’s Museums Contain Innumerable Fakes

IANAMuseum Expert, but I'll wager this one is right, in that perhaps many are hidden to thwart thieves or to be studied?
I would also submit that, in this case, the definition of "fake" is also being stretched to cover replicas or reproductions of things to- for example, there's only one Rosetta Stone, which the British Museum have, but there is also a replica in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and presumably elsewhere. Are these other Rosetta Stones "fake"? Well, in the sense they're not the Original One, yes. But they're also faithful replicas/reproductions of the original, and they're acknowledged as such, so they're not "fake" in the generally accepted sense of the word (ie a non-genuine article being passed off as genuine).

Last edited by Martini Enfield; 08-03-2009 at 02:23 AM..
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  #49  
Old 08-03-2009, 04:56 AM
APB APB is offline
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Quote:
2.One of the Popes Wrote an Erotic Book
What, just the one? As even the Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on Pius II lists Eurialus and Lucretia among his literary works, it is stretching things a bit to say that no one is supposed to know this.

Quote:
14.Winston Churchill Believed in a Worldwide Jewish Conspiracy
This is presumably a reference to the 2007 news story about the discovery of a draft of an unpublished newspaper paper article from 1937 allegedly written by Churchill. My impression is that most Churchill historians think that Sir Martin Gilbert, as the leading supporter of the view that it was by a ghostwriter and that Churchill disapproved of the contents, came out on top in the ensuing controversy.

Quote:
50.The World’s Museums Contain Innumerable Fakes
This only means anything if 'innumerable' amounts to a significant proportion of their total holdings. Which in this case, it doesn't. An overwhelming majority of objects in 'the world's museums' are simply too unremarkable for anyone ever to have bothered faking them.
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  #50  
Old 08-03-2009, 07:37 AM
zut zut is offline
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
Actually, the original research would seem to refute the statement that most scientists don't read the articles:

In other words, 4,104 out of 4,300 citations (95%) were correct, and 45 (1%) of the remainder were original rather than copied mistakes. While not all of these scientists may have read the papers, there is no indication that they did not. So there is only evidence that 4% of all citations were copied. It's only most of erroneous citations that were copied.
For reference, I found a pdf of a preprint of the original paper.

The original resarchers state: "As a preliminary attempt, one can estimate an upper bound on the ratio of the number of readers to the number of citers, R, as the ratio of the number of distinct misprints, D, to the total number of misprints, T." In other words, as a first cut, they assume that the percentage of copiers in the non-misprints is the same as the number of copiers in the misprints, namely, (196-45)/196. Although there's no proof that the percentages of copiers are the same in the two populations, that seems like a reasonable conclusion, at least until more data are taken.

However, where I disagree with the conclusion is where the paper explicitly handwaves away any alternative explanation of copied citations:
Quote:
In principle, one can argue that an author might copy a citation from an unreliable reference list, but still read the paper. A modest reflection would convince one that this is relatively rare, and cannot apply to the majority. Surely, in the pre-internet era it took almost equal effort to copy a reference as to type in one’s own based on the original, thus providing little incentive to copy if someone has indeed read, or at the very least has procured access to the original.
I've modestly reflected on that statement and remain unconvinced.

ETA: In any case, the original factoid 29 in the OP is based on actual research. Research with questionable conclusions, in my mind, but it's not made up from whole cloth.

Last edited by zut; 08-03-2009 at 07:40 AM..
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