What's the best thing you've learned from the Straight Dope?

Given Cecil’s mission to eliminate ignorance, and all the stuff we learn from his columns and on this board, it seems worth a moment to offer a tribute to his quest.

So: What’s the best thing you’ve learned from the Straight Dope? The most informative fact, the funniest debunked legend, the most interesting tidbit, however you care to define it.

I’ll go first: The column that really made me go “hmmm,” the bit of information that for some reason gave me tremendous satisfaction for no reason I can really explain, was the one about the tear strip on frozen lemonade, and why it took so much longer to implement than the similar strip on frozen orange juice.

Of course, I have to mention the one about raindrops, and whether you get wetter running or walking, probably from the sheer joy of the writing in describing the experiment. For similar reasons, I liked the “windows down vs. air conditioning” comparison on gas mileage.

But for sheer elegance of explaining something interesting I didn’t even know I didn’t know, I gotta go with the frozen lemonade.

Anyone else?

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When I get this question in a bazillion-times-forwarded email, I can answer it. I tell them where I got my answer, too. If I can convince just one person to read the Collected Works of Cecil Adams, then my mission in life is complete.

Cristi, Slayer of Peeps

I made my husband join a bridge club. He jumps next Tuesday.

(title & sig courtesy of UncleBeer and WallyM7!)

I haven’t gotten around to reading that cecil stuff.

The caloric value of sperm. The mind boggles at such wisdom. :slight_smile:

What it feels like to get fried in the Electric Chair. For some reason, this is always the one I recommend to friends when I want to turn them on to Cecil.

Hm. Looks like that particular column was edited, and the last sentence added, before it hit the Archives. In my recollection, the original final sentence was this one:

“Witnesses, incidentally, are usually reporters, officials,
and the like; persons who are assholes, such as yourself, are not permitted to participate.”


For me, it would be the source of the lyrics to Pomaptus of Love. Unquestionably.

However, I’m still trying to find out if it is possible for a goldfish to survive it’s home being frozen solid. (running argument with evil mother in law.)

The more I teaches you, the dumber you gets.

That there are people like me out there…

Yer pal,


Two weeks, two days, 14 hours, 39 minutes and 24 seconds.
664 cigarettes not smoked, saving $83.05.
Life saved: 2 days, 7 hours, 20 minutes.

I knew I found my very own answer man when I read about all the things people have shoved up their butts (none, however, was a live gerbil).
The words to Louie, Louie were invaluable.

The origin of The Finger.

Finding a message board where every poster is a smart as, or smarter, than me.

You say “cheesy” like that’s a BAD thing.

Aside from using this in my defense of Richard Gere, I also learned much from the articles about Hitler’s testicles, the Freemasons and Urine Therapy.


“It’s not death I fear so much as leaving something so beautiful as life.”

You can’t live a complete life without knowing these two things.

Cecil’s Column - The Merkin.
Cecil’s Mailbag - How Many Cities in the U.S.

You can’t live a complete life without knowing these two things.

Cecil’s Column - The Merkin.
Cecil’s Mailbag - How Many Cities in the U.S.

Who is this Cecil person???

:: ducking and running ::

Although I hadn’t read the books or articles before visiting the board, I made it my duty to read the archives, slowly, over the last four months or so. I was very impressed, since I’ve always wondered: ** What if you fell into a tube through the earth? **


** [url=http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_277.html]How do they make helium? It’s an inert gas! **

It was great to find out someone else did too and that Cecil had answered them.

I have chainmail underwear.

I learned that even UncleBeer is fallible.
I learned that even UncleBeer is fallible.

Guest contributor
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

To keep my mouth shut when I don’t have a link for backup!


I’m not sure if it’s the best thing, but it certainly is the most memorable: What’s the deal with witches’ broomsticks?. That column lead to not one, but TWO phone conversations where I ordered my friends to find their copy of the local alternative paper and read the column while I waited. The reaction was the same: OH MY GOD, I’M NEVER CLEANING MY HOUSE AGAIN.

“I go on guilt trips a couple of time a year. Mom books them for me.” A custom made Wally .sig!

My iguana's sick.
He's all floppy. Could he have
Reptile dysfunction?
                  -Chef Troy, Haiku Master

The realisation that in the grand scheme of things, I know dick.

Hmm. I half expected Esprix to chime in with a “Me Too!” on that last comment. :wink:

(Kidding, Esprix, kidding…)

The fact that someone shoved a bottle
of Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup up their
ass. I love working that into coversations.