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Dictionary of Misinformation

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A remarkable book that contains enough information to help you win bets the rest of your life:
-- The bagpipe was not a Scottish invention
-- Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball at Cooperstown -- or anywhere else in America
-- London's Big Ben is neither a clock nor a tower
-- Robert Fulton did not invent the steamboat, and the boat he built was not called the Clermont
-- Cleopatra was not Egyptian
-- Lizzie Borden was acquitted
-- Scores of persons had flown nonstop across the Atlantic before Lindbergh
-- No witches were burned at Salem
-- Edison did not invent the light bulb
-- Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes never said, "Elementary, my dear Watson"
-- Mark Twain was not born in Hannibal, Missouri
-- And, alas, there is no such thing as an aphrodisiac.

334 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1975

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Tom Burnam

8 books

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5 stars
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4 stars
40 (37%)
3 stars
42 (39%)
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Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews
Profile Image for Dave.
1,145 reviews28 followers
April 14, 2020
A nice book to dip into and out of, like a cold running stream. Yes, the Internet has “replaced” great bathroom books like this (it dates from the mid-1970s), but the overall message of the book (if you read it from cover to cover) is: don’t be stupid, check your facts, statistics can be misused, and “valid” is not the same as “true.”

I recommend this book highly for those tired of lies and bluster and that orange man who is so
Proud of his TV ratings.

Here are your waters and your watering place.
Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.
Profile Image for Tom Schulte.
2,985 reviews59 followers
October 19, 2019
This is a quick easy to read encyclopedia of widely held beliefs straightened out. This bolsters my belief that quotes are often inaccurate and or wrongly ascribed. Also folk etymologies and remedies generally are baseless.
Profile Image for Jodi.
274 reviews1 follower
February 13, 2021
Interesting, but a little dry for my taste. Being published in 1975, it's also a tad out of date, though that doesn't matter too often.
Profile Image for Michael.
522 reviews240 followers
March 3, 2013
I remember reading bits of this in a dog-eared mass market paperback when I was in high school. My much smarter friend Scott had read it and I wanted to be as brainy as he was. But then he took back his copy, and I forgot about he book entirely until seeing it mentioned in a Ken Jennings' acknowledgment. So bought a used copy and read it straight through.

A terrific book for pedants and know-it-alls, and while I now a fair bit of what you can find in here, there was enough that I had no idea about whatsoever to make it worthwhile reading. Unfortunately, this book was written in the seventies, and so there are many references to countries no longer in existence and so forth, making the reading of this very much like what it was back in the eighties.
Profile Image for A. Shaskan.
857 reviews9 followers
February 20, 2020
A browseable and enlightening little book, full of gems:

"And early though the laurel grows/It withers quicker than the rose.
These lines from A.E. Housman's somber and beautiful poem "To an Athlete Dying Young" must be taken with a grain or two of poetic license. Laurel is, in point of fact, an extremely hardy perennial. It doesn't wither at all; and it grows neither early nor late; it grows all the time, as anyone knows who owns, or is owned by, a laurel hedge.

In all fairness, it should be added that Housman may have had in mind sprigs of laurel picked from the bush, or made into a sort of garland said to have been worn by Greek and Roman athletes and emperors. If so, then it must be submitted that in a personal experiment conducted by the writer, the laurel still wins leaves down. Or, rather, up.

A rose, cut fresh, and a sprig of laurel approximately ten inches (250 mm.) in length were both placed in a vase containing ordinary tap water. After twenty-four hours, the rose showed distinct signs of deterioration. After seventy-two hours, the issue was no longer in doubt; the laurel remained apparently fresh while the rose had clearly yielded up the ghost. It is, thus, clear that Mr. Housman, himself a scholar trained in the classics, sacrificed Truth on the altar of Art."
Profile Image for Devashish.
7 reviews1 follower
August 21, 2020
A great encyclopedia of knowledge. It's a must read for modern times.
Profile Image for Dan Pepper.
275 reviews1 follower
May 23, 2015
A good concept, but it's certainly hurt by its age at this point. Also, long entries on minor grammatical points were particularly annoying. Definitely some useful misinformation, though. Things like Robert Fulton invented the steamboat. I really enjoyed learning about some of the various Shakespearean quotations and what they actually mean in context, often the opposite of their use as sayings.
Profile Image for Yusuf Ks.
415 reviews50 followers
October 15, 2011
This book reveals a lot of facts that many people have missed. Some people thought a thing was a fact but in fact it's a misinformation. This book was written in 1974, so it would be nice to see an update :)
Profile Image for Matt.
61 reviews1 follower
June 12, 2012
This book introduced me to the joys of pedantic contrarianism and probably safeguarded my virginity for many years. Still, glad I read it.
Profile Image for Don Gubler.
2,578 reviews19 followers
August 27, 2012
Some gee whiz stuff here but certainly nothing earth shattering.
457 reviews2 followers
August 23, 2018
Good for what it is - a book that unmasks the truth behind what we think we know.

Layout is good - goes through methodically and alphabetically without trying to pigeon hole the content into tagged chapters. Also, some books have a habit of jumping from random fact to random fact, and this book is strictly structured.

Some new and interesting stuff to be found, but also some dated info.
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews

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