Now that all 928 factoids -- a central part of the Snapple experience -- are listed on the company's website, The Atlantic decided to do some fact-checking. Turns out, some are true, some are outright false, and plenty others are just incomplete and ambiguous.
Here are some examples across the spectrum of veracity:
- Many are legit. Flamingoes really do turn pink from eating shrimp (#11). Human brains do in fact weigh about three pounds (#55).
- Some are simply unverifiable: “grapes are the most popular fruit in the world” (#371) or the “most common name for a pet goldfish is ‘Jaws’” (#471).
- Some are outdated. It's been nearly two decades since the world's largest pumpkin weighed in at 1,061 pounds (#209) in 1996. Last year's record-setting pumpkin grew to more than a ton. (Some “Real Facts” have been retired but it’s unclear which are out of circulation.) And while the Mona Lisa has no eyebrows (#85), some art historians now believe they just eroded.
- Others are misleading. A mosquito doesn’t really have “47 teeth” (#50); it has a serrated proboscis. Pennsylvania isn’t really misspelled on the Liberty Bell (#300) because “Pensylvania” was an accepted spelling in the 18th century.
- Some are contradictions. In two separate “Real Facts,” Manhattan (#339) and Philadelphia (#662) were the first capital of the U.S.
- And some are just wrong. “Caller ID is illegal in California” (#70), not true. Elephants actually sleep three to seven hours a night, not two (#35). The Statue of Liberty wasn't the first electric lighthouse (#179). The average American doesn't walk 18,000 steps a day (#89). Claims that Thomas Jefferson invented the clothes hanger (#868) are unfounded. San Francisco cable cars are not “the only mobile national monument” (#23).
“They are real facts, and we have teams here that fact-check everything,” Snapple's vice president of marketing, David Falk, said. “We go through a pretty vigorous process.”
Snapple's apparent carelessness may be alarming, but it isn't unique.
It might be argued that if ever there was a time to relish being a skeptic, this is it. Not necessarily because people used to be more careful with what they said, but because we're way better equipped to call them on it. The Internet is lambasted as an abyss of lies, when really it’s a place to organize around the question of what’s real...
The real lesson Snapple teaches us isn’t about how many eyelids a bee has or the first food eaten in space, it’s that the Internet's not inherently a place for lies any more than a bottle cap is a place for truth.
"Given today's technology and the pool of information, we encourage the discussion,” Falk added. Could all this be a diabolical marketing ploy to spark doubt so a consumer spends that much more time engaging with the product?
Image: jeremyfoo via Flickr
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com