A Pack Of Lies

Somebody (Hitler? Goebbels? Lenin? Trotsky?) once said, “If you tell a big enough lie loud enough and long enough people will eventually believe it.”  It’s terribly ironic that, in the Age of Information, there are quite a few of those kind of “truths” kicking around, and a lot of what we call common knowledge is just a load of crap.  Here are some glaring examples that just fall apart when you think about them:

1 – Einstein did NOT fail high school math.  Think about this for a minute!  The guy was a genius who E=MC2-ed himself to the top of the intellectual ladder, along with Newton, Copernicus and da Vinci.  What are the chances he had trouble with Grade 10 algebra?  Besides, the records show that he skipped most of what we would call high school, anyway.

2 – You can NOT see the Great Wall of China from space.  Here’s the deal.  Yes, the Great Wall is absolutely huge.  Yes, it’s the largest man-made structure on earth, and yes, it runs for thousands of kilometres, but — surprise — it’s less than 4 metres (12 feet) wide.  Your house is probably wider.  Looking down from space, the Great Wall of China is invisible — just like your house.

3 – You do NOT use “only” 10% of your brain.  The truth is, even with all our advanced technology, we know so little about the brain’s function that nobody knows how much of our brain’s capacity we actually use.  However, given some people I’ve worked with, 10% might be wildly optimistic.

4 – Coca-Cola™ does NOT dissolve teeth.  Folks, they use dental work to identify bodies that have been lying around for centuries.  Every museum on Earth has at least one set of Cro-Magnon chompers.  The corrosive elements that Mother Nature can throw at the human body make Coca-Cola look like a bubble bath.  This is just another Coke™ myth that circles our planet once a generation.

5 – Undercover cops do NOT have to tell you they’re police.  Police, undercover or otherwise, cannot entrap you into committing a crime, but they are under no legal obligation to identify themselves before you commit that crime on your own.  Use your head!  If undercover cops had to tell you they’re cops, it would kinda defeat the whole purpose of “undercover,” now, wouldn’t it?

6 – Jedi is NOT a recognized religion anywhere in the world.  Despite the best efforts of literally millions of Star Wars nerds, no national or international body outside a few fans clubs views Jedi as an organized religion.  The word is you can claim to be a Jedi on your income tax form and reap all the religious benefit and advantages.  You can’t.  Don’t believe me?  Try it!

7 – There are NOT more people alive today than have ever lived in all of history.  Do the math!  Even using the ten millennia of recorded history, fifty generations a millennium and the current reproductive rate of 23 per thousand (for most of history, it was closer to 80) the result is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 100 billion people.  Even counting all the lost Australian backpackers, at 7 billion, this generation isn’t even close.

8 – Mr. Rogers was NOT a Navy Seal sniper in Vietnam.  Quit saying that!  There is absolutely no evidence that Fred Rogers served in the military, nor even that he ever left the continental United States — although there’s an e-rumor that he went to Maui once, on vacation.

And finally

9 – You do NOT eat 7, 9, 12 or 16 spiders every night in your sleep.  Spiders prefer dry, still, quiet places where they can spin a web and catch themselves some breakfast.  Occasionally, maybe, a single spider might venture across your bed, but, unless they’re unusually stupid, the inhale/exhale of breathing air would scare them off.  I’m sure this lie gets retold so much because it’s a guaranteed gross out.

3 Dangerous Lies

crossed-fingers

We all lie: it’s built into our psyche.  I’m pretty sure that somewhere back in caveman days, somebody looked around and said, “Does this sabretooth pelt make me look fat?”  And her mate grunted the equivalent of, “No, darling!  It’s perfect.”  Thus our species continued populating the Earth.  Personally, I think lying is an essential part of civilization.  It gets us through social situations, keeps our friends and enemies in line and helps us not look like jerks – most of the time.  Plus, in general, lying is no big deal.  The rewards are large and the consequences quite small.  However, sometimes lies can be dangerous.  These are the lies we tell ourselves.  Here are just three examples.

1 – Remember, back in school when Brittany, Class President, hooked you into helping with the Annual Charity Drive because “It’ll be fun!”  And remember how is wasn’t because, while she and her friends were up at the dance, “collecting” non-perishable food items, you spent the evening down in the school basement, working your ass off, sorting cans of tuna and packages of macaroni.  Remember that?  So how come you’re phoning everybody in the family (on both sides) and saying, “We’re doing Christmas at our house this year.  C’mon over for dinner.  It’ll be fun!”

2 — Normally, this lie comes right after some celebrity TV know-it-all has created a beautiful gingerbread sculpture shaped like the British House of Parliament.  You watched them fashion this marvel — from finding fresh ginger at the local farmer’s market to carving out the wooden molds on a lathe.  They’ve spun sugar to a transparent sheen for the windows and even installed battery-operated lights – all in less than 30 minutes!  So, you say to yourself, “That looks easy” and go out a buy a Gingerbread House kit from the grocery store.  Two weekends and three Gingerbread House kits later, your own mother won’t speak to you, the kids have filed a restraining order and whatever’s left of the gingerbread mess is sitting in the corner – where you threw it.

3 — Once again, this lie started in school.  Your term project was due at the end of the semester, and that was three months away.  Three months!  That’s a lifetime when you’re a teenager.  So, you decided to do a kick-ass/best ever treatise on the Pre-Cambrian Shield – complete with rock samples, charts, hand-drawn illustrations and a working model of a Canadian glacier because, you say to yourself, “I’ve got plenty of time.”  And you keep saying that for the next 2 months and 27 days while your project slowly melts away like that glacier you’re never going to build.  Finally, you end up with 10 pages (double-spaced) that you borrowed from an encyclopedia (no Wikipedia in those days) a Xeroxed copy of an aerial photograph of Ontario and couple of stones from your garden . . . .

Well, folks!  Today is the 4th of December, and Christmas is exactly three weeks away.  Just sayin’!

 

Lies We All Live With

pinocchio

Lies perform a valuable function in our society.  They keep us civilized because, without lies, fat people would be fat, stupid people would be stupid and 99% of the rest of us would be obnoxious assholes.  Everybody knows that lying works on a sliding scale from “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” to “No, I didn’t shoot Mr. Brown” and we’re content to live somewhere in the middle of that moral dichotomy.  Unfortunately, these days, lying is more about Mr. Brown than Mr. Claus, and it’s becoming institutionalized.  This isn’t healthy.  I’m not talking about politicians or journalists who have been lying to us ever since Cheops the Unwashed told the Cairo Gazette he wanted a small funeral.  I’m talking about those everyday lies we all recognize and just have to live with.  Here’s a small sampling.

Clothing size – The relationship between the number stamped on the label and the actual size of any article of clothing is purely coincidental.  For example, my closet runs from mostly medium through large, extra large and even a few XXLs – and I’m a man.  Go to a woman’s closet and you’re going to find a roulette wheel full of size numbers that would make a croupier cringe.  Actually, I think that’s how clothing manufacturers determine sizes: they just spin a big wheel and whatever it lands on – “We have a winner!” — that’s the size.

Airline prices – I don’t care what the advertisement says, nobody has ever gone to San Pedro, Switzerland, Swaziland or anywhere else for $99.  Nobody!  The 99 you see bold as gold in the ad is just the launch code.  The airlines use that to launch you and credit card into debtor’s prison.

Calorie count – These aren’t actually lies; they’re just blatant misinformation.  When the package says “100 calories per serving,” this is technically true. However, what they don’t tell you is the serving size they’re talking about is a WTF joke!  Who eats half a doughnut, for God’s sake?  I pig down two before my coffee’s even cool enough to drink!

Microwave instructions – Reading the instructions on a box of microwavable anything is like reading an email from a Nigerian prince: you know it’s a scam, but you just can’t help yourself.  Everybody knows there are actually only two settings on a microwave – overcooked and underdone — but we all try anyway.

And finally:

You can’t miss it – Yes, you can!