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Mistakes in Second Book of General Ignorance

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dmottram
877977.  Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:47 am Reply with quote

GI 2 contains the claim that the date of Easter was rigged so as to always avoid the Jewish Passover. This is, of course, completely untrue. Passover actually lasts for seven or eight days - this year from April 6-13 or 14. Easter Sunday is on April 8th - smack in the middle of Passover.

Easter was originally set to be the Sunday after the start of Passover so always within the Passover celebration. Later Jews and Christians disagreed over how to calculate the date of Passover (rather than relying on observations and decisions by priests in the temple, by then destroyed). This means Easter does occasionally avoid Passover.


Last edited by dmottram on Wed Mar 07, 2012 6:01 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
PDR
877981.  Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:59 am Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
You may take PDR literally, as long as you have somewhere to keep him.


You'll never take me alive, G-man!

PDR

 
Arcane
877998.  Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:59 am Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
Arcane wrote:
We are a pretty friendly bunch;

Balls to you.


If they can be spared... Depends on how they are to be sent?

 
Spoilt Victorian
878000.  Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:11 am Reply with quote

Arcane wrote:
If they can be spared... Depends on how they are to be sent?

Don't just send a ball - send a ballgram

~ V

 
Toad
902768.  Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:31 am Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
Toad wrote:
When you restrict your research to Wikipedia that's what happens.

More likely when you use words defined by common usage.

If you were to say 'aeroplane' or 'airplane' to the vast majority of people, they would not understand you.

However, were you to say it to the vast majority of English speakers, they would interpret it as a heavier than air flying machine. Some might decide that it should be powered, but by no means all. Indeed, the common term 'glider plane'* is a contraction of 'glider aeroplane', and therefore suggests that common usage dictates that an aeroplane can be a glider.

If we restrict questions to using tight technical definitions rather than common usage, we would there all day.

Define, for example (something close to my heart), a military 'tank'. As there are as many definitions as experts, I imagine that trying to choose a correct one for the purposes of a quiz would be fraught with complications. Therefore, we use the common usage.


*Feel free to have a quick Google if you don't believe that the term is commonly used.


The whole point of the book (aside from its commercial motivation) is for the "curious" among us to find interesing corrections of our common misconceptions. In the few instances where I happened to be informed or smelled a rat and did some research, I all too often found the opposite to be the case.

The authors often over-reached in their quest for these misconceptions. The Second Highest Peak question being the classic example of what happens when you try too hard to find a common misconception but don't bother to make sure you know what you're talking about. Same for the first aeroplane and other examples I have noted. These examples aren't some arcane techno parsing of "common usage" as you say. But the correction of the kind of blurred understanding the book says its mission is. Instead of correcting the incompletely understood it creates new nonsense then promulgates it as fact.

As a clever and humorous illumination of historic and urban myths, twisted facts etc. it's a complete flop. Nothing is less funny or entertaining than the overblown know-it-all poser.

 
Arcane
902771.  Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:36 am Reply with quote

Takes one to know one.

 
Sadurian Mike
902817.  Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:53 am Reply with quote

Toad wrote:
These examples aren't some arcane techno parsing of "common usage" as you say. But the correction of the kind of blurred understanding the book says its mission is. Instead of correcting the incompletely understood it creates new nonsense then promulgates it as fact.

I think you misunderstand the book's customer base, and who it is therefore aimed at.

Were the book to be aimed at an audience of aeronautical engineers then using the exact technical terminology would be essential. It isn't, however. It is aimed at the general public for whom the 'common usage' is the norm.

Toad wrote:
As a clever and humorous illumination of historic and urban myths, twisted facts etc. it's a complete flop.

You are, of course, entitled to your own opinion. I imagine that a quick straw poll would produce rather more people who think otherwise.

Toad wrote:
Nothing is less funny or entertaining than the overblown know-it-all poser.

You don't see any irony in this?

 
Oceans Edge
902951.  Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:40 am Reply with quote

Hurmmmmmmmmmm - much as Toad is being ... well a Toad, I do kinda have to agree with him on this one.

The definitions for aircraft and aeroplane and airplane aren't just for aeronautical engineers. I'm no where even close to such a beast - nor were any of the folks I worked with or married, but they all knew the difference. It's in a standard PPL (private pilot license) exam - available to any 17 yr old.

There is a proper legal definition of them and that definition is world wide. While they might not be general knowledge, they're not entirely restricted to an exclusive club. Aviation isn't quite that bad ... yet.

I do gotta buy the argument that if the general understanding of a thing is well wrong - that makes it a prime candidate for correction under the umbrella of "General Ignorance". You may be right that the target market wouldn't care or find interesting the distinctions, but the inaccuracy shouldn't be continued to be perpetrated even if the main gist of the article in question isn't the difference between an 'aircraft' and an 'aeroplane'

 
Sadurian Mike
902958.  Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:54 am Reply with quote

'Aeroplane' and 'airplane' are the same thing, one is UK English and the other US.

As for worrying about whether the term aeroplane should be used in a mass-market book to mean a fixed-wing heavier-than-air vehicle, I take you back to my example of 'tank'.

I know what a tank is and what one is not. Much of the time in general usage the term is used incorrectly as far as a tight technological definition of concerned. That does not make me feel the need to shout at people that they are wrong, it is better to simply accept that general usage has a tank as something big and armoured and military.

All books use words that are not technically correct when dealing with something else. How many times have you read the word 'fantastic' used to describe something very good? Yet 'fantastic', in the technical sense of the word, means something from fantasy. We know that it means something good because of common usage.

I wouldn't start making a fuss if an aeroplane museum had glider exhibits, nor would I worry if a book used the term 'aeroplane' in passing when it technically should have been 'fixed-wing heavier-than-air vehicle'. I certainly wouldn't come onto a website and hurl random insults and disparaging remarks about the writers.

 
Oceans Edge
902964.  Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:06 am Reply with quote

Agreed - aeroplane and airplane ARE the same thing.

Aircraft and Airplane (or Aeroplane) are NOT the same thing.

yeah it's splitting hairs - but it IS incorrect and inaccurate

and yes, Toad is indeed, being a toad.

but that doesn't change the fact that it was incorrect and inaccurate, and I'd say the same thing if we were talking about tanks. Your example of tanks was "As there are as many definitions as experts, I imagine that trying to choose a correct one for the purposes of a quiz would be fraught with complications." My point is that on this there are NOT as many definitions as experts. There is one set of clearly defined (even if they're not general knowledge) set of definitions for AIRPLANE/AEROPLANE and AIRCRAFT

It is possible for Toad to be a complete ass and right

 
Sadurian Mike
902973.  Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:18 am Reply with quote

It is not that he wasn't correct, it is just that he is worrying about the wrong thing and going about it the wrong way.

Back to tanks - I know what isn't a tank. Should I do a bob and start slandering the BBC or ITV newsrooms because they report that 'tanks are moving into the capital' when they are clearly IFVs?

It is not about being right, it is about getting a life and worrying about things that matter. Even in a quiz show, people know what you are talking about when you use common usage.

 
PDR
903006.  Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:05 pm Reply with quote

My MSc tutor is an ex-tanker and he advises me that the definition of a tank is something that is big, green, ugly and goes "bang". Apparently anything else is pedantry.

PDR

 
Sadurian Mike
903343.  Sat Apr 21, 2012 10:49 am Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
big, green, ugly and goes "bang".

My point in a nutshell...




(I know it's a B&W photo, but it is painted white).

 
PDR
903346.  Sat Apr 21, 2012 11:26 am Reply with quote

Ah, but they are green at heart - which is surely what counts...

PDR

 
Bondee
903478.  Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:58 am Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
Should I do a bob and start slandering the BBC or ITV newsrooms because they report that 'tanks are moving into the capital' when they are clearly IFVs?


Don't worry, Mike. We'll put you out of your misery if you do.

 

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