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(Superstitious persons - BEWARE!) List #4: Disconcerting Facts

4 years ago
We all like to think we "know" certain "facts of life" which are reliable and, simply unalterable common sense.
But, occasionally, you learn something that makes you do a double-take: in such moments you undergo a "WTF" experience. Try these on for size.
(Not for the squeamish or the timid or the superstitious! If you're very, very scared of facts and truth and reality and honesty, just look away NOW!)
  • Some of you hadn't even been born in the 1990s - fine, but the rest of you: in the 90s, did you ever work in an office? Did you work for a multinational organization that used a mainframe computer system. The "mobile phone" in your pocket right now is, in fact, a supercomputer which has massively more computing power than a typical 1990s corporate mainframe.
  • The "red flag" laws: In the late 19th Century if you were driving a motor-car on a public street in the UK, you were legally required to have a friend of yours walk ahead of your car, carrying either a red flag or a lantern in order to warn other road users that you were coming.
  • In Game of Thrones, the total word count for "game" is 11; the total word-count for "throne(s)" is 19 and the phrase "Game of Thrones" appears in the dialogue only once. But the word most loved by Game of Thrones writers is, of course, "cunt", which makes a total of 53 appearances in the script.
  • If you're 6 foot 5 and heavily muscular, and you have one single strand of curly hair on your forehead, well, simply tucking your curl into your fringe, putting on a pair of glasses and pretending to be a dorkish weakling will fool absolutely nobody that you're "a different person". Somebody should tell Clark Kent that his cover is blown.
  • Sean Connery's Scottish accent when he played Irish American Jimmy Malone in "The Untouchables" is the exact same Scottish accent Connery used when he played King Richard I of England in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves"; it's also the same Scottish accent he used in every other film he ever appeared in. Connery doesn't place an awful lot of value in authenticity when it comes to "acting".
  • Since the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, the Oscar for Best Actor has nearly always gone to a living, breathing actor whose eyes and intestines weren't, on the night of the award ceremony, being devoured by voracious worms - except on two occasions. In 1976, the Best Actor Oscar went to Peter Finch for his unnervingly gritty portrayal of unhinged TV news anchor Howard Beale in "Network"; and 33 years later, Heath Ledger posthumously won for his awesomely terrifying Joker in "The Dark Knight".
  • Never say wacky stuff like "The data shows a trend…" or "Bacteria is the dominant species on Planet Earth" or "Ovums are essential to human reproduction" unless you're proudly keen to show off your ignorance. (The correct singular/plural forms of these three words are, of course, "datum"/"data", "bacterium"/"bacteria" and "ovum"/"ova").
  • Since 1996, men have been entirely superfluous to the reproductive process. Only legal restrictions prevent women from cloning their ova with their own or a friend's DNA, applying an electric charge and manlessly, spermlessly reproducing.
  • Mike Pence, the current Vice President of the USA, describes himself as a "born-again evangelical Catholic". He firmly believes the Earth is only 6,000 years old Earth (its real, demonstrably true age is about 4,543,000,000 years). This error is equivalent to believing the width of North America is 80 yards.
  • Trump and Pence have both, historically, given money to, supported, campaigned for, and been members of the Democratic Party (y'know, the party's which chose "crooked Hillary" as their presidential nominee in 2016).
  • You know the author of the Harry Potter books is fabulously wealthy, right? JK Rowling's personal fortune currently totals $650 million. Paul McCartney, meanwhile, has, since achieving fame nearly 6 decades ago, amassed $1.2 billion. But those two chumps are just small-fry. Bill Gates (the world's second-richest man in 2018) is also small-fry: Gates' fortune currently stands at about $92 billion, and that figure only grows each month by a paltry $500 million or so. Jeff Bezos, on the other hand, is widely believed to be the wealthiest individual who will ever live: his net worth is currently $166 billion dollars and it currently grows by over $10 billion every month. Think about that: the money which it took Paul McCartney SIX DECADES to earn gets added to Jezz Bezos' bank balance EVERY THREE DAYS. Donald Trump once famously said "I get paid $400 million a year, so what do I care?" Trump, though, is small-fry: Bezos gets paid $400 million every 36 hours, so what does he care?
  • Of all the billions of living species on Planet Earth, only one species is, far and away, the dominant one, running the planet and doing whatever they see fit, rightly or wrongly; and proliferating at will, with complete indifference toward all other species. Sure, many individual members of that species are, all the time, getting killed by other species, but the species itself is rampantly unstoppable. There is no species in the world that enjoys the overwhelming dominance that bacteria do.
  • There are 25,000 described species of plants in the world, 12,000 described species of roundworms, only 4,000 described species of mammals, but -get this!- 350,000 described species of beetle, with more beetles being discovered all the time. Fully 40% of the world's known species is one kind or other of beetle. The late scientist JBS Haldane was once asked to reflect on what these facts tell us about "god", to which he replied: "An inordinate fondness with beetles."
  • Do you ever get annoyed that science gets taken so seriously by absolutely everybody, whereas religions are just marginal doctrines, of "importance" only to the most superstitious of their insiders? Do you know the only reason that anybody cares about science? It's because science actually works; science helps us to gain knowledge which we wouldn't otherwise have access to; science reliably achieves results and supports us in bringing about positive outcomes. If you're choking to death, I could do the Heimlich manoever, or I could pray for you - which would you prefer?
  • Do you think your religion is quaint and extraordinarily implausible? You ain't seen nothing yet. Around the world there are many "cargo cults", whose faithful members earnestly believe that ritualistic acts such as the building of a rudimentary airplane runway or constructing crude, non-functional "airplanes" and "radios" will result in the magical appearance of material wealth and highly desirable first-world goods.
  • Some people wrongly believe that the reason a soccer ball stops rolling a few seconds after you've kicked it is because it "runs out of energy". You and I, though, know that they're forgetting Newton's beautifully poetic First Law of Motion: "A body, at rest or in motion, will remain in that state unless acted upon by some external force." Gravity, of course, acts upon the soccer ball to stop it rolling endlessly off into outer space.
  • We know for certain that "there must be a god" who created our universe. The reason we know this is, well, because (silly you!) the universe exists! You can't get something from nothing, so our common sense tell us it must have been created by a supernatural, divine, omnipotent being.
(Alright, alright! I made that last one up, just for fun - the fact is that, as physics professor, Dr Lawrence Krauss, author of the bestseller "A Universe From Nothing", explains it "if you wait long enough, nothing is guaranteed, by the Laws of Quantum Mechanics, to become something" Can you spare 2 minutes, 26 seconds of your busy day? If so, check out Krauss's fascinatingly straightforward explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UemhCsaeGgc.)

Do YOU know any more "disconcerting truths" which might surprise or shock us? Please share them here!