I is for Ignorance and Interesting

Quite InterestingIgnorance is defined as a state of being uninformed, but it can also be caused by dis- or misinformation — believing something to be true when it isn’t.

One of my favourite tv shows is QI (for quite interesting), a panel game hosted by Stephen Fry that lifts the lid on common misconceptions.

This ABC post picks a few such snippets from the Second Book of General Ignorance, a Christmas gift that kept me quiet and entertained for for days.

The term caesarian section is named after Julius Caesar who was “cut” from his mother’s womb

Sort of true. Pliny the Elder believed that the name Caesar came from the Latin caesus, meaning cut and that he had been given the name because he had been cut from the womb. This wasn’t true because such a procedure was only ever performed to rescue a baby whose mother had died and Caesar’s mother, Aurelia, lived for many years after his birth.

The most likely origin of Caesar is from caesaries meaning ‘a beautiful head of hair‘ which is ironic because Julius Caesar was bald.

The ‘stiff upper lip’ is a British invention

No it isn’t. The term was first coined in America as long ago as 1815 to describe that state of being steadfast and unemotional in the face of adversity. Americans were stiff upper lipped in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and in the letters of Mark Twain, but the expression didn’t appear in Britain until the late 19th century.

Drinking alcohol stops antibiotics from working

No it doesn’t. Drinking heavily will slow down the effects of antibiotics because it is competing with alcohol for processing time in your liver, but it doesn’t stop the drug working full stop.

This idea was put about after WWII for those being treated for venereal disease, the reason being that people who are drunk are more likely to jump at the chance of casual sex and so pass on the infection before the drug had chance to work.

The one commonly used antibiotic that is best not mixed with alcohol is Metronidazole. It stops the body breaking down alcohol properly and leads to a build up of highly toxic acetaldehyde, a close relative of embalming fluid. Not good for your health.

The chances of a coin landing on heads are 50-50

Nope, it’s 51-49. Students at Stanford University recorded thousands of coin tosses with high speed cameras and discovered that a coin that is heads up to begin with is more likely to land heads up.

Which country ritually burns the most American flags?

Oddly, it’s the USA. Every year, the Boy Scouts of America and the American Legion burn thousands of them.

This is because Section 176(k) of the US Flag Code stipulates: ‘The flag, when it is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.’

Although the code debars the mutilation, defacement or other maltreatment of the flag, the Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that this was a restriction of freedom of speech, so you can do what you like with the Stars and Stripes in the US. Doing so in private might be advisable though.

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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.

6 comments… Add yours
  • Jingle 16th March 2011

    thanks for the explanations..
    very thoughtful i take.

  • rog 16th March 2011

    Yes, you DID mention Caesar, too. And a vouple years ago, on Fl;ag Day, I mentioned burning the flag. Can’t be stated too often.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  • Yorkshire Pudding 16th March 2011

    Get on down like a sex machine!…But in your case it’s like a fact machine! However, I assume Caesar was not bald when he was a lad!

  • Reader Wil 16th March 2011

    Well that is an interesting post. I didn’t know about the caesarean.
    Thanks visiting my blog. I am sorry to hear that I.K is a bit of a Tartar. But for me it was a good idea to use IKEA for I. Thank you for your comment.

  • Jay from The Depp Effect 19th March 2011

    A most interesting post! I too thought that the one about Julius Caesar was true!

  • Mr Parrot 20th March 2011

    Thanks Wil and Jay. The trick in life is to know what you don’t know!


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