Why are supposedly irrelevant facts important

Trivia article
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Did you know..?

…that sperm whales sleep vertically in the water? Or that a woman in Los Angeles married a rock? Useless knowledge allows us to guess what we don’t know in a forgiving way.

Statistics, if you read them, sometimes reveal amazing things. For example, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, there were a total of 44 private theaters with 1,714,520 visitors in 2018/2019. Oh, one can answer that now and purposefully move one’s head back and forth, which is pretty cool. It will be more interesting if you look at public theaters. There were a total of 127 of them in 2018/19, nearly three times the number, and they had 3,136,459 visitors. So do not double.

A number of cultural, budgetary and meeting conclusions can now be drawn from this, which we would like to leave to others at this point. Instead, we are interested in the question of what the following information does for us: The weight of all ants living on Earth is the same as the weight of all people living on Earth.

yes. There are an estimated 10,000 trillion ants on Earth, belonging to 9,500 species of ants, and collectively weighing the same as all people in the world combined. Follow? Except for a pale astonishment – nothing. So far.

You wouldn’t have thought that was possible either, even if you had thought about it, which was highly unlikely because there was absolutely no reason for it: the vast majority of swans in Great Britain are owned by the Queen.

In fact, the corresponding law was passed in 1482. At that time, many Britons were hunting swans because of their tender meat and soft feathers. To protect the animals from extinction, they were placed under the protection of the crown. By the way, dolphins and whales off the shores of Her Majesty enjoy the same privilege.

Speaking of whales: sperm whales sleep vertically in the water with their heads held high, and humpback whales sometimes sleep vertically in the water with their heads down. Sure, there’s an explanation for that too, but it’s gone too far at this point. And did you know that humans and pigs are the only creatures that can get sunburned? At least some things can be combined there.

Such things can be found in abundance in the “Useless Knowledge” section. The Internet is full of them, and they are by no means the worst that the network has to offer. Now one might wonder: are such ideas “nice to have” or do they really help us, who are constantly striving to fill our store of information primarily for the purpose of a more digestible existence?

Not at first glance.

When you get out of the supermarket in Germany, you stand in line for an average of seven minutes. Our impatience when shopping doesn’t really help. The rhinoceros beetle is considered the strongest animal in the world: it can carry 850 times its own body weight. If we’re happy to survive at least ten minutes on the way out and then weave like two tons of everyday items into the trunk of our car, then the rhino beetle is very, very far away.

In the US state of Maryland, it is strictly forbidden to take a lion to the cinema. so what? One of us takes most of the harmless gummy bears, albeit a whole bag of them. Koalas, monkeys and humans are the only creatures that have an individual footprint. But have monkeys or koalas ever been convicted of a crime, like pinching a banana, because of this?

Most giraffes are bisexual. This is less important than the fact that it takes 40 minutes to boil an ostrich egg. The oldest known goldfish was 41 years old. His name was Fred. However, men with this name should not hope for the relative age of the Bible. Unlike goldfish, they tend to smoke and drink excessively, and when in doubt, they tend to drive very fast in traffic.

So far, very clear. But: In the US state of Michigan, the wife’s hair is the legal property of the husband. In 1976, a Los Angeles lady married a 50-pound rock. The German word with the most consonants in a row is called “race of fear”. Sheep do not drink from running water. The ancient Egyptians shaved their eyebrows to mourn the death of a cat. Married men tend to sleep on the right side of the shared bed when facing it.

At this point, we can be recognized as Nirvana for all existence and meaning. And from here we enter the crazy, fantastic and only real fun zone, a battlefield where the eternal battle against the mind is always on. The question now is: Is there knowledge that you don’t absolutely need – but still valuable?

definitely yes! For perhaps this is the allure of unhelpful knowledge: that our brain can take a deep breath among all the compulsive subjects: in the face of knowledge that appears not as useful, but refreshing. Perhaps the magic of useless knowledge is knowing something, but not necessarily better knowledge, because useless knowledge is usually completely unconditional. However, they are excellent for showing off. In this regard, we would like to contrast explicitly with the Roman politician and philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero, who said more than 2,000 years ago: Useless knowledge is not knowledge.

Instead, useless knowledge amazes us: it sounds like fake news, but it isn’t. Then again we marvel at how much useless knowledge we keep while, on the other hand, forgetting so much useful knowledge. Useless knowledge is perhaps a perfect memory exercise. It arouses curiosity about strange backgrounds, because the secret of excess knowledge lies in their strangeness.

At the same time, in a way that is as entertaining as it is indulgent, it gives us an idea of ​​what we don’t know. And that’s probably the best thing about useless knowledge: that there are things you don’t need to know. After all, ignorance has always radiated magic: I know I know nothing – the ancient paradox.

“By the way, did you know that all the ants on earth weigh almost the same as all the people on earth?” This can be a lively conversation starter at a boring party where everyone is having fun dealing with current problems at the time.

But if the person to whom it is addressed should ask a counter-question: “Did you already know that according to the State Statistics Office, more than half of adults in North Rhine-Westphalia were overweight in 2021 according to BMI, and therefore only one question of the time? is when will this balance between ants and humans be overturned?” Then, yes, useless knowledge and useful knowledge would form a very happy combination.

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