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Ducks' Quacks

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MatC
63832.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 8:38 am Reply with quote

Quote:
So much for that idea, then. If you google "lemmings Disney myth", you'll find that it is quite widespread, but of course if you google for something that specific, you'll find it.


If it's so well known, it's probably worth doing anyway, isn't it?

Quote:
Did the 1/6/00 Indie article go on to make a worthwhile case?


Maybe; lemmings are "unique" in that their population level is dictated entirely by food supply (moss). When the pasture is overgrazed, there will be mass migrations of lemmings. They can travel "a long way". And they take chances - "when faced with a cliff they don't jump but they don't stay on top either. They try to find a way down and some may fall as a result." They also make errors such as "mistaking low lying cloud for land, and end up swimming hundreds of metres from shore leading to the impression they are deliberately trying to drown."

So they're not actually suicidal, just completely ignorant of health & safety regs.

Quite interestingly, the same piece says lemmings aren't naturally group animals: "They prefer their own company but are forced to come together when confronted by a difficult barrier."

 
Gray
63833.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 8:52 am Reply with quote

I've just posted something on the new 'Forum of General Ignorance' forum about brains and percentages. A report from the NYU Neural Sciences lab has shown fairly conclusively that we can, in fact, only use 3% of the brain at once - that is, a maximum of 3% of the brains neurons can be firing at any one time because the energy needed to 'reset' any more them would 'cost' too much.

Here's a link to my post: post 63787, together with the source paper.

Unexpected result, I'd say.

 
MatC
63839.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:25 am Reply with quote

Very nice - so it's one of those right and wrong ones!

 
Flash
63852.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 10:52 am Reply with quote

That stuff about lemmings is interesting, though. I'd say most people know precisely one fact about lemmings, right or wrong - it might be worth fleshing that out some.

What do lemmings eat?

F: cyanide, strychnine, poison
A: Moss

 
MatC
63975.  Thu Apr 06, 2006 4:55 am Reply with quote

Quote:
What about the bats turning left when they emerge from a cave?


This has been driving me bats since I first heard it; I’ve appealed for information on it in FT two or three times over the years, with absolutely zero response. My feeling is it's not true, for no better reason than that it’s all over the internet (and therefore bound to be false, because the internet consists entirely of worthless rubbish) and yet I’ve never seen it in print.

Is it worth pursuing? If so, I’ll try emailing some bat conservation types.

 
eggshaped
63976.  Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:01 am Reply with quote

I don't know if you caught Planet Earth Mat, but I watched the "caves" episode with my ultrasonic myth-detector to see if all of the bats exited the caves in the same direction.

IMHO the footage was good enough to show that it's complete tosh. They kind of gushed out in all directions then began swirling around in a great cloud.

 
Flash
63977.  Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:02 am Reply with quote

They had a programme on caves and their inhabitants in the Planet Earth series a couple of weeks ago. All the researchers at the meeting the next day seemed to have watched it with the same thought in mind, and as far as we could see the bats just exploded in all directions from the cave mouth.

 
MatC
63979.  Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:03 am Reply with quote

Quote:
Charlie Chaplin (or someone) coming 3rd in a Charlie Chaplin lookalike competition


I’ve got a few cuttings on this: Chaplin, Elvis, Astaire, Alistair Cooke (“The real Mr Cooke entered [a radio comp to impersonate the ‘Letter From America’ presenter] and came third” - Independent, 5 Nov 03), Dolly Parton (“I got beat by some drag queen” - Independent on Sunday, 16 Oct 05), and others. But, again, nothing absolute one way or another. Clearly, it is a myth - the real celebrity almost always comes third, for instance, not second or fourth - but if there is an original nugget (either a real event, or an original source of the story) I’ve never found it.

 
Flash
63980.  Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:04 am Reply with quote

Cross-posted on the bats. As to whether it's worth pursuing, I think it's the kind of thing that would only be 'known' by people who read lists of trivia, so I don't think it's one to bust a gut over. Might make a nice note, though.

 
MatC
63981.  Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:05 am Reply with quote

That’s excellent about the bats! But now the question becomes ... where and why on earth did this peculiar story start? Might be worth mentioning on the programme just for that very reason.

 
MatC
63982.  Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:13 am Reply with quote

Quote:
Celery having negative calories?


The version of this I know is about ice cream, not celery; which I would contend, may it please the court, is somewhat funnier. Full details available, if required.

 
Flash
63985.  Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:15 am Reply with quote

If ice cream makes you thinner I need to know about it, never mind the TV show.

 
MatC
63986.  Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:17 am Reply with quote

Does the story about “the death rate drops during doctors’ strikes” belong in this thread? There does seem to be some statistical backing for this, but an FT correspondent pointed out one obvious reason: that many people die during surgery and other interventions, which do not occur during a doctors’ strike; because such strikes are always short, the death rate drops - if the strike went on for months, the death rate would, presumably, increase.

 
MatC
63987.  Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:22 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
If ice cream makes you thinner I need to know about it, never mind the TV show.


So .... if, say, ice cream doesn't make you thinner, I'd be doing you a favour by not mentioning it ... ?

 
Flash
63991.  Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:50 am Reply with quote

You're just toying with me now.

Do doctors go on strike, then?

 

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