AHHH! The Bathroom Reader is wrong!

You’ve all read Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, right? Well I have their desk calendar (and the books, for that matter). But a lot of their little “fast facts” on the bottom of the page are wrong! For example, today’s “fast fact” was:

“Goldfish have a memory span of three seconds.”

A few monthes ago I actually opened a thread about this, and we came to the conclusion that that statement is false. That thread is now lost forever though, due to the crash.

This wasn’t the first time I came across things that were just wrong. I think they once said “Ring around the rosie” was about the plague, and that gum stays in your stomach for seven years. Both of which are false.

So I’ll leave you all with one bit of advice: There is no substitute for The Straight Dope.

The BR should never be cited as a reliable source of factual information. It is clearly for entertainment purposes only, and to be used to distract your mind from painful bowel movements.

(If painful bowel movements persist, contact your doctor)

But they’ve cited Cecil himself numerous times in the BR. Certainly, Unca Cece wouldn’t lend his name to the book if it were so innaccurate.

But, yeah, they do occasionally print an urban legend as a truth. Other times, however, they print urban legends as… urban legends.

To paraphrase Cecil Himself, the Bathroom Reader is a snack, the Straight Dope is a meal.

I’m not sure I should be introducing food metaphors into a discussion of something called “the Bathroom Reader,” but I’m sure you know what I mean.

Actually, Ring Around the Rosie is about the plague. It was about some of the symptoms and ways people tryed to cure it. I’ve heard this from several reliable news sources, including, a video by, I think, National Geographic, about the plague.

No it’s not. http://www.snopes2.com/language/literary/rosie.htm

Note to self: Never again use “Ring around the rosie” as an example of a false urban legend, because someone always takes me up on it. :rolleyes:

Yeah, BR also said that Tinker Bell was based on Marilyn Monroe - not true.

[hijack]This may be an urban legend as well, but I’ve heard that Trivial Persuit would occasionally put an incorrect answer in their trivia questions, to determine if someone else was copying their questions.[/hijack]

I’m holding the All Purpose Extra Strength Bathroom Reader Number 13, and I can tell you, they do NOT say that Ring around the Rosie is about the plague. In fact, they specifically debunk it.

They are often wrong on other things, though.

Sorry, my bad. I didn’t actually look to see if it was in there. People always say that it’s about the plague when they pretend to be smart. It also seems like BR would fall for something like that. Oh well, carry on.

Yeah, I generally like UJBR for its entertainment value, but you can’t take it seriously as a source of facts.

One error I particularly recall is their statement, “Number of eggs a female hummingbird lays in her lifetime: two.”

This is obviously wrong. Actually, a female hummingbird lays two eggs per nesting attempt, but can nest multiple times during her lifetime (and even several times a year).

So the recipes from their cookbook might be wrong?

And exactly whence are you posting, Flymaster? :eek:

P.S. to you grammar mavens - should that be “From whence” ? Never mind, I’ll go ask in GQ.

I’m sitting on my bed. My copy of Uncle John’s has not been flagged. It’s too good for that.

Well, a lot of the articles they have are taken from other sources. So examine the source.

Also note that in a lot of later editions (we have ten or so of the Bathroom Reader books) they print corrections of earlier erroneous material. In fact, the BR gets more and more accurate in the later editions… current editions put out are listed as “Humor/Reference” instead of just “Humor”, as the earlier versions are listed as.

In the Giant Tenth Anniversary Edition there’s an article in the “Extended Sitting” section on a Denver newspaper hoax about the demise of the Great Wall that may have prompted the violence of the Boxer Rebellion in China.

Since it wasn’t printed by Cecil, I was skeptical. I tried searching Google and such to see if it was true, but the only pages I found were texts of sermons by Christian ministers that mysteriously were given shortly after that edition of the Bathroom Reader came out.

Does anyone know any more about this?

Paul Harvey mentioned it, FWTW.