You've Scot to be kidding

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Each QI episode contains dozens and dozens of individual facts, so it's perhaps not surprising that we do get things wrong. Where we perhaps open ourselves up most are when we give a long list of facts, for instance, when we listed a number of Scottish inventions in series 3.

We said that the following were Scottish:

"Adhesive stamps, the Australian national anthem, the Bank of England, bicycle pedals, Bovril, the cell nucleus, chloroform, the cloud chamber, cornflower, a cure for malaria, the decimal point, the Encyclopedia Britannica, fountain pens, fingerprinting, hypnosis, hypodermic syringes, insulin, the kaleidoscope, the lawnmower, lime cordial, logarithms, lorries, marmalade, matches, motor insurance, paraffin, piano pedals, the postmark, pneumatic tyres, RADAR, the reflecting telescope, savings banks, the screw propeller, the speedometer, the steam hammer, raincoats, tarmac, teleprinters, tubular steel, typhoid vaccine, ultrasound scanners, the United States Navy, universal standard time, vacuum flasks, wave-powered electricity generations, and wire rope"

Inventions are often a tough call, as ideas can independently come to different people at similar times, and we have already tackled the idea that matches were invented in Scotland. But perhaps the most controversial claim in that list is probably that the US Army was invented by a Scotsman.

Our reference is to a man called John Paul Jones who, it turns out, was not strictly the creator of the US navy, but he was certainly an important early figure in it. The invention of the Navy is usually ascribed to an act of October 13, 1775 - which interestingly makes it older than the United States itself - this explains why Navy Day is celebrated on October 13 every year. The US Navy, recognizes the Continental Congress as its founder and claims no one person "invented" it.

So what of this John Paul Jones fellow? Well he is known in a number of places as "A founder" of the US Navy, rather than "The Founder" while in others he is called the ''Father of the American Navy:'' he was born at Arbigland, Kirkcudbright, Scotland, 6 July 1747. He was commissioned first lieutenant in the Navy in 1775 and was the first to hoist the Grand Union flag on a Continental warship. It was the first time that the Stars and Stripes, the flag of the new nation, was officially recognized by a foreign government.

The mention of the US Army took up a split second of the show, but behind those words was a fascinating story (read more about Jones in the links below, if you're interested). Such is often the case with QI, there is always so much more of interest behind even the most innocuous sounding of factoids.

If you see anything that in QI's input that doesn't seem quite right, get in touch by e-mail at or visit our talkboards at

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This page contains a single entry by eggshaped published on November 1, 2010 1:43 PM.

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