Saturday, 27 November 2010

#39 Bet you didn't know I don't care!

There exists a corpus of 'facts' which aren't really facts, proffered with the pride and enthusiasm of the know-it-all, but without the 'know'. I refer to statements like:

'Did you know that tomatoes aren't vegetables?'


'Did you know that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure visible from space?'


'Did you know that you lose 3,000% of your body heat from your head?'

They are irritating because of the smug way in which they are delivered. Often 'I bet you didn't know...', in fact, rather than 'did you'. The assumption of superiority - an insight which the lesser interlocutors lack - grates jarringly.

Perhaps they upset me especially because I see myself in them. Through my youth - and no doubt, in my ignorance, today still - I have been and am a purveyor of such 'facts'. I remember telling people how fungi are animals when I was a child, and I blame Dorling Kindersley.

Incidentally, the fiercest fuel for these insufferable know-it-alls is QI (the British television show). It is a whole programme dedicated to often spurious facts, and watched partly for its comedy, but not insignificantly for the ammo it give viewers to throw arrogantly at unsuspecting dinner party guests.

It doesn't really matter if that facts are true - or accurately represented - or not, because your colleagues are unlikely to have much knowledge of the finer points of Shakespeare's scatological habits, and so are unlikely to mount a defense. You can bask in the warm glow of superior insight into some minutiae, and surely your friends will drink in the incomparable wit of your company. Never admit you got the fact from a TV show, of course, and try to weed out others who may have watched. The key is convincing everyone that your knowing that Amazonian custard frogs are the only animals other than humans to conduct full ritual burials fits into your wider knowledge of custard frogs, or the Amazon -but a piece in the monumental puzzle that is you.

This was going to lead into something, but I've gone so far off-topic I'll make a separate post. It's not even about America, for shame.

(Incidentally, all of the statements I proffered at the start were false, though I know nothing for sure about the burial rituals of custard frogs.)

1 comment:

  1. Great post Sammy! Two things: A lot of those irritating statements begin with "you DO know that...." - despite the obvious point that often it's clear that had I known this, I wouldn't have said/done what I just did say/do.

    Second, you DO know that line 19 should read "it giveS viewers...", don't you?