Alternative facts

Think of this book as a game to help you cultivate your fact-finding senses—to help you develop an ear for stories that do not ring true, an eye for fake news, and a nose that can sniff out B.S. Or just think of it as an entertaining bathroom read—that can at times be full of you-know-what.


Alternative Facts contains exactly two hundred entries, including weird bits about the human body, unexpected anecdotes about famous figures, morsels about strange animal behavior, and scary findings about our favorite foods and drinks. Most of them are true, and will hopefully surprise you, even make you rethink assumptions you held about some of the most familiar things in your daily life.

But about one-third of them are Alternative Facts. These are tidbits that are interesting and seem like they could be true. They are tempting to believe and in some cases, you may have believed them yourself for years. But they are bunk. Can you tell which is which?

Which is true, which is the alternative fact?

fact 1

“Golf” is actually an acronym for “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden.” There were concerns that all those sticks flying could cause injury to the “delicate wives and daughters,” as one Scot wrote in a letter describing the game (or perhaps they just wanted some guy time). Whatever the reasons, as the game evolved and cooled it with the sexism, the name stuck.


fact 2

Famous Amos was a real person. A talent agent for the William Morris Agency (where he worked with The Supremes, Simon & Garfunkel, and Marvin Gaye), Wally Amos would send packages of homemade cookies to friends and prospective clients.


Fact 3

Our fingernails and hair continue to grow after we die—but not as long as is often reported. While nerve cells die about five minutes after death, skin cells (which produce nails) and hair matrix cells (which produce hair) take days to expire, allowing both fingernails and hair to continue growing at their usual rate of 0.1 millimeter per day.