Recommended Read

I’ve said before that what always takes me by surprise is what I didn’t know I didn’t know. I suppose what I was actually doing was to ‘spin’ my state of ignorance by demonstrating that my ‘common knowledge’ might be wrong.

So I was really pleased to come across The Book of General Ignorance, a QI spin-off by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson, 230 things you think you knew, but turn out to be false. I shall pick out a few examples. Click the comments link to see how well you do:

  1. Who introduced tobacco and potatoes to England?
  2. When does ‘ring-a-ring o’ roses’ date from?
  3. What’s the name of the statue in Piccadilly Circus?
  4. How did Roman Emperors order the death of a gladiator?
  5. What is the world’s largest city?

If, like me, you like this sort of stuff then go buy (half-price at Dillons). If not, a definite stocking-filler for your pedantic other-half!

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

4 comments… Add yours
  • Shooting Parrots 10th November 2006

    1. Walter Raleigh? Nope. He never visited North America. Jean Nicot (hence nicotine) introduced fags to France in 1560, the year Raleigh was born and spuds came here from Spain.

    2. From the plague? Nope. The earliest record comes from Massachusetts in 1790 and there are versions in French, German and Gaelic. It is what it is: a children’s circle game.

    3. Eros? Nope, his younger brother, Anteros.

    4. Thumb down? Nope. a thumbs up which signalled a sword unsheathed, hence death. Sparing a gladiator was the thumb hidden by the fingers, ie sword sheathed.

    5. Mexico City? Sao Paolo? Mumbai? Tokyo? Nope. Honolulu. Trick question because the city and county are one and the same and the area includes over 70% of sea.

    And Champagne and the guillotine were both invented in England. Go read!

  • Blognor Regis 13th November 2006

    I find some of the QI questions a bit, well, arsey. Like the Honolulu one. One time they were asked what the capital of Thailand was. Well it’s Bangkok obviously. WOOP WOOP. No that’s wrong because they call it something else in Thai. Huh? Is the capital the place we call Bangkok or not? Yes it is.

    I can’t believe Raleigh never went to North America though. What about Roanoke?

  • Shooting Parrots 14th November 2006

    I did say it was one for the pedant in your life, like me!

  • Chris Frumplington 26th November 2006

    We’ll look out for the book too; we both love QI. And we’re just the same when it comes to arguing with some of the answers.

    Oh, and that Alan Davies, I bet he’s really a lot brainier than we give him credit for.


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