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Factoids 101

Formal education in trivia
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I was lucky enough to end up on one of those modular mix-n-match degree courses. I could do a bit of anthropology, some political history, some philosophy and still somehow end up with a degree in "Economics". I still value the broadness of the course, if not its rigour - I learnt a lot of stuff which I now enjoy knowing, useless though it may be.

I would also have taken a trivia module, had one been available. Ideally this course would have no focus whatsoever except to fill your head with interesting facts, presented in total isolation from their context. It would be fun to attend, make you everyone's friend on pub quiz night and make you everyone's enemy on Trivial Pursuit evenings.

It is debatable whether you could make an entire three year degree course out of trivia, but then again there are degrees in "Surfing and Beach Management", "Astrobiology" and "Wine Studies" so you probably could (and therefore should).

Did you know that apples are actually part of the rose family?

wagster, Apr 17 2008

Puni-versity Puny-versity
include it here as a post-doctorate. [xenzag, Apr 17 2008]

[link]






       Pretty much baked in the old General Studies 'A' level.
I got an 'A' and won a school prize for the highest mark in the county*, despite only ever going to two lectures in two years.

*Did you know that in the year 1977 Lancashire had the lowest average mark in General Studies in England? Not many people know that.

Oh, and the stuff about pub quizzes and Trivial Pursuit? Perfectly true.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Apr 17 2008
  

       What's the only station name on the London underground to contain no letters from the word "mackerel"?
hippo, Apr 17 2008
  

       But the word 'trivia' actually only dates back to about the 1920s. I think it's a bit of an unfair word, as it imparts a slightly belittled flavour to whichever fact (not '-oid', it's either a fact or it isn't) is under scrutiny, as if it really doesn't matter. As a plural of 'trivium', the coin is on the other foot, in that it relates to the 'meeting of the three roads' of grammar, rhetoric and logic, all of which are long standing university course fodder.
Ian Tindale, Apr 17 2008
  

       Who keeps coins on their feet?
wagster, Apr 17 2008
  

       Did you know that you can't catch kippers in the English Channel east of Dover if you're wearing blue underwear?
Ian Tindale, Apr 17 2008
  

       [hippo] Tooting? (Bec)
zen_tom, Apr 17 2008
  

       It's Kate Moss's stop.
wagster, Apr 17 2008
  

       Yup. And for bonus points, how many 4-letter station names are there on the London underground?
hippo, Apr 17 2008
  

       One. Bank.

I don't think wagster course should just be an endless stream of trivia. I think there should be a bit more meat to it. Train yourself to remember insignificant facts, learn the best sources for information. Learn the most likely topics to come up in pub quizzes. Common misconceptions that, when mentioned in conversation, can give you an opportunity to show off your big brain etc. All the tools you need to become an irritating know-it-all.

Did you know that the annual 'Toad in the Hole' World Championship is staged in Lewes, England each April?
DrBob, Apr 17 2008
  

       Bank ... and Oval.
hippo, Apr 17 2008
  

       //Did you know that you can't catch kippers in the English Channel east of Dover if you're wearing blue underwear?//
Nor for that matter, at any point on Earth, irrespective of the hue of your undercrackers.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Apr 17 2008
  

       //Bank ... and Oval.//

Oh bum!

//Nor for that matter, at any point on Earth//

Not true. I once caught a kipper when it fell off my breakfasting plate.
DrBob, Apr 17 2008
  

       The main problem with running a three year degree in trivia is that our brains learn knowledge structures much better than discrete bits of information, and trivia is unstructured by definition. You'd at the very least have to break it down into Trivial Pursuit type categories for the facts learning, and then add a few [DrBob] style courses to waste the middle year with. Maybe you could spend a placement year doing quizzes and trying to get on 'Millionaire'.
wagster, Apr 17 2008
  

       St. John's Wood.

[AWOL], I thought I was the only person who took General Studies A-level. (I got an E.)

The longest pub name in England used to be "The Thirteenth Mounted Cheshire Rifleman Inn" until the brewery un-mounted him. The longest village name is "Sutton under White Stone Cliff".

(-) for the idea, I'm afraid; trivia shouldn't be learned in class, it should be learned in the pub. (I assume you're not intending that the class be held in the pub.)
angel, Apr 17 2008
  

       //trivia shouldn't be learned in class, it should be learned in the pub// Yup, that's how I got the A level.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Apr 17 2008
  

       California’s Frank Epperson invented the Popsicle in 1905 when he was 11-years-old.   

       China’s Beijing Duck Restaurant can seat 9,000 people at one time.   

       btw-I think it's a great idea and here's a croissant towards my degree. +
xandram, Apr 17 2008
  

       Memory theatre could be involved, and perhaps a way of identifying probable urban legends, a classification system for trivia and an analysis of the degree of trivia in terms of psychological appeal. Maybe also something about memes.
nineteenthly, Apr 17 2008
  

       3. Acne
Ling, Apr 17 2008
  

       Northolt?
robilode, Apr 17 2008
  

       No, that has both an 'r' and an 'l'. And more than four letters.
wagster, Apr 17 2008
  

       How many hairs are there? (+)
xenzag, Apr 17 2008
  

       [Ian T] //But the word 'trivia' actually only dates back to about the 1920s.//   

       Are you sure? I thought the trivium and quadrivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic) and (arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy) respectively, were the liberal arts and came from the middle ages.
csea, Apr 17 2008
  

       Of course I'm sure. I looked it up on the internets, and it said so, so it must be true.
Ian Tindale, Apr 17 2008
  

       I reckon we could define what we're referring to here as 'trivia' or that 'fact' word with the inexplicable 'oid' on the end, as "exception cases within structured knowledge patterns".   

       Eg, if you exclaimed "did you know, that paint is wet when it is first applied, and only after a period of time does it become the hard dry surface we know of as paint", then people would not be stimulated in any particularly extraordinary sense, because it's what they expect, either from their own knowledge, or experience, or from the context of the pattern they're working within. That probably doesn't count as trivia, even though it's highly mundane, insignificant and a fact.
Ian Tindale, Apr 17 2008
  

       I can think of two musical instruments that can be played without touching them.
One is easy and the other makes you a megalomaniac.
gnomethang, Apr 17 2008
  

       "Sutton under White Stone Cliff"   

       Lucky White Stone Cliff.
baconbrain, Apr 17 2008
  

       Aeolian Harp? Theremin?
hippo, Apr 18 2008
  

       Ah! - Three then, the other was the light switched synth played by Jean-Michel Jarre in Houston
gnomethang, Apr 18 2008
  

       Four - pan-pipes.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Apr 18 2008
  

       I bet a really skillful archer could play a cello by firing bow-arrows (if that's not a contradiction in terms) across the strings.
lostdog, Apr 18 2008
  

       //Four - pan-pipes.//
You hold pan-pipes don't you?
gnomethang, Apr 18 2008
  

       You don't have to. You could wedge them into a stand or something. (Same deal for a Jug, right?)
I can play the Piano without touching it. But I've only learned one piece so far - John Cage's 4'3".
jutta, Apr 18 2008
  

       5. Does your voice count?
RayfordSteele, Apr 18 2008
  
      
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