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Mistakes in Second Book of General Ignorance

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803278.  Mon Apr 04, 2011 4:16 pm Reply with quote

Hello all,

In the piece about Brass Monkeys on P101, it says that 1 millimetre is 0.3 inches. This isn't true. An inch is about 25mm, so 0.3 inches would be between 7mm and 8mm.

On P133 it says that 42 is the number of dots on a single dice. Now I know that dice implies two, as one is a "die" isn't it? But surely a "single dice" implies just the one cube, so the dots add up to 21!

On P163, it claims that there are 160,000 restaurants in Tokyo. Is this really true? A city with about 1.5 times the population of London having nearly 18 times as many restaurants? Do they have any room for shops?

Also, I enjoyed this book but I picked it up at a bargain price in one of those cheap book shops that are on many high streets. However, I can't remember the last time I bought a book from there that didn't have a typo in it somewhere. Is that how they can sell them so cheap, by someone noticing that the proofreaders have missed something?

809560.  Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:12 am Reply with quote

In the bit about Sauna, the book makes a claim that there are two words/phrases in the Finnish language that have been taken to English language. The other being the sauna and the other the "Molotov Cocktail".

Actually there are two words in the English language that are found in the English language spelled right as they are spelled in the Finnish language. The other being the sauna and the other being "rapakivi"

809643.  Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:07 am Reply with quote

It's such a joy to be able to find simple basic mistakes in a book dedicated to General Ignorance.

The second paragraph of the section on :What's the best way to weigh your own head" reads "A severed head has left than five seconds of consciousness left...".

Sounds sinister to me!

Happy days.


809677.  Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:45 am Reply with quote

Ah typos! The curse of publishers everywhere!

Welcome, Matthew :-)

809915.  Wed Apr 27, 2011 1:12 am Reply with quote

I suppose that strictly speaking, dice implies more than one die. And also doesn't specify if it has six sides or not.

So the statement should say "a pair of cubic dice".

Although, having said that, the sides of a backgammon die add up to 126...

810092.  Wed Apr 27, 2011 11:04 am Reply with quote

Posital wrote:
I suppose that strictly speaking, dice implies more than one die.

It certainly used to, but by now I think we have to accept that dice is generally used as both singular and plural. No longer does the OED insist that "one dice" is wrong.

But yes, there are 21 spots on one (conventional six sided) die, not 42.

811373.  Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:16 am Reply with quote

I was reading The Book of General Ignorance and was quite interested with what I found until I came upon the topic "Would you call someone an Eskimo?"

The editors of this book have not done their homework. There are too many errors to count. I will, however, only point our a few.

First of all, everyone gives everyone kuniks. Second, Inuit in Canada, as opposed to those in Greenland, do not count in Danish but in English. Third, Nunavut is not a nation-state, but a territory inside Canada.

Finally, the capital of Nunavut is named Iqaluit, which means "many fish", as opposed to Iqualuit, which roughly translates to "people with unwiped bums". It's not exactly a nice thing to say. The authors of the book are not the first to make this embarrassing mistake:

Indeed, something smells funny. These errors make me wonder how many other ignorant oversights the writers of The Book of General Ignorance have made. I would venture to suggest that a thorough investigation of the book would leave the authors with a lot of egg on their faces, or even a little poop on their bums. Perhaps Lloyd and Mitchinson can use pages 129-30 to do something about that.

867474.  Mon Nov 28, 2011 7:38 pm Reply with quote

Not sure if anyone else as picked up on this small error...

P57 "What are your chances of surviving a plane crash?"

The most recent example occurred in January 2009 when an Airbus A380, US Airways flight 1549, ditched in the Hudson River in New York.

It was actually an Airbus A320, I only noticed the error because I remember seeing the pictures of a relatively small plane in the water, and the Airbus A380 is the largest passenger plane in the world.

867766.  Wed Nov 30, 2011 3:06 pm Reply with quote

Well - if you count "not being hit by a plane" as "surviving a plane crash", then that would include every single living soul today...

And could include everyone that has lived since the first plane crashed.

874390.  Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:06 pm Reply with quote

In a, no wait, a second book written by know-it-alls for know-it-alls it isn't surprizing to find the kind of "mistakes" know it alls are known for.

Knowing that, consider the following:

"What might land on your head if you live under a flight path. A huge block of frozen urine? It has never happened and it never will."

Unlikely, sure but "never" is a long long time. The article essentially is complete nonsense.

First, not all airplanes are airliners. Many Fighter and Attack aircraft have what is called a "relief tube". A simple capped cone with attached tubing located on the cockpit floor and plumbed to the outside of the aircraft for use by the aircrew in taking a piss. Differential pressure and gravity empty the tube directly overboard. The outlet is typcially not heated and it is possible for some of it to freeze and eventually fall off prior to landing. So there.

Second, what you do say about airliners is shall we say, incompletely researched.

Airliners have two types of lavatory systems. Older aircraft have as you say colored water flush systems that recirculate the flush fluid, newer aircraft have a vacuum flush system that uses differential pressure and a small amount of fresh water from the potable water system and does not recirculate the waste.

In both systems the waste is held in a tank that can only be emptied on the ground. As all such tanks are an integral part of the aircraft it is nonsense to talk of jettison, even to refute its possibility. However it is possible for both types of systems to leak, typically, though rarely from the service port. As this area is unheated, waste could leak, freeze and fall off.

Ice can fall off in other ways and the risk of this is minimized through design and procedures. Ice, water, slush, snow etc. accumulating on aircraft landing gear and flaps during taxi is shed by leaving the landing gear extended for a short period after takeoff. Galley and lavatory sink drains are typically not plumbed into the waste holding tanks but instead have one or more dedicated drain masts on the aircraft belly and or tail. These masts have a heated collar that ensures that inflight and on the ground no old coffee/wash water can freeze. As a piece of machinery, like all such things, these heaters can malfunction and ice can still form, but the mast's small size, shape and location ensures that not very much will accumulate before falling off.

Ice can also form inflight on all of the leading edges of aircraft of all kinds. All airliners and many smaller aircraft have "known ice" systems that will prevent the formation of ice or shed it once it has accumulated. Snow, ice etc. accumulating on an aircraft on the ground is removed before takeoff by means of externally applied heated fluids, typically mixtures of glycol and water. These and other applied fluids also provide a measure of protection in the short period before takeoff.

Well now you know. We know-it-alls have to stick together.


Last edited by Toad on Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:38 am; edited 4 times in total

874391.  Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:35 pm Reply with quote

"What's the world's second highest peak?"

Actually is isn't Everest.

It's K2 like we all knew (or guessed correctly).

Everest's south peak is a "subsidiary peak" meaning it has insufficient "topographic prominence" from the main peak. Topographic prominence is generally defined as being separated from adjacent peaks by a saddle of at least 300m height difference or alternatively 7% for the highest peaks.

In Colorado for example there are 54 defined peaks over 14,000 feet but only 52 official "forteeners".

It's nice to know you know more than the guys who think they know but don't.


Last edited by Toad on Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:24 am; edited 2 times in total

874396.  Sun Jan 01, 2012 11:26 pm Reply with quote

"Who made the first flight in an aeroplane?"

Well it certainly wasn't Cayley's coachman or even Lillianthal.

As an American in Hong Kong working for a British airline this isn't the first bogus claim I have heard from the Brits, Kiwis and Aussies, just the most ridiculous.

Apparently, your "research" into the subject didn't include looking up the definition of "aeroplane". This features the word "powered". I would question that shifting your weight around on a glider constitutes "powered flight".

What Cayley and Lillianthal created were "aircraft" but they certainly weren't the first to do that or even fly them with a person on board. The first documented manned flight on an aircraft (a hot air balloon) was in Paris nearly 70 years before. The Chinese invented the hot air balloon and kite hundreds of years before that.

Is there an editor in the house?


Last edited by Toad on Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:36 am; edited 1 time in total

874397.  Mon Jan 02, 2012 12:23 am Reply with quote

"What are you chances of surviving a plane crash?"

As an example of a combination of the silly, the serious and the just plain wrong it would be dfficult to top this particular article.

The statistics cited (those lying bastards) combine all types of aircraft where the slow speeds and silly pilot mistakes of light aircraft make most "crashes" survivable. Then with little fanfare we talk about every airline passenger's secret fear. . . death. Unlikely, true enough and the advice about being aware of the location of exits, solid life saving news but for heaven's sake who is Professor Ed Galen, your next door neighbor?

Why no advice about comet safety? You brought it up! This seems a very uneven handling of risk mitigation. Plenty about airline exits and how coach seats are a good thing, all things considered but nothing about which tube station is the best when comets are sighted.


874398.  Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:17 am Reply with quote

"How can you tell how high up a mountain you are?"

Now here at long last we have a triumph of academic research.

Citing no less a scientific authority than Mark Twain (not his real name, but lets not quibble) we now are informed that we no longer need pay heed to those road signs that say when we are passing some altitude or other and need not bother to carry a topographic map, gps, altimeter or barometer because (who knew?) that we could determine our altitude by merely carrying a thermometer graduated in one degree increments, tea, water, a pot and cook stove.

Never mind that this "traditional method" of calculating altitude wasn't actually used in surveys of Mr. Twain's time, or any others that we know of or even by him. The important thing to remember is that this information filled up most all of page 61 and even part of 62. Yay!


Last edited by Toad on Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:57 am; edited 1 time in total

874399.  Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:20 am Reply with quote

And a friendly hello to you too. :\


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