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Title: Contrary to Popular Belief
Author: Joey Green
Publisher: Broadway Books, a division of Random House
Relevance: Contrary to Popular Belief is a fun reference book refuting 250 "facts" or "factoids" that are commonly thought of as true but indeed are not. Ideal for any reporter or journalist who wants to know more trivia or indeed correct information on a wide variety of topics.
Review: Contrary to Popular Belief is a reference book guaranteed to start arguments at office parties, get-togethers, and of course, drunken journalist watering holes. Of course, none of our readers frequent the latter of these three locales but the book is interesting in that it presents 250 facts that are both well accepted and apparently irrefutable but are, in fact, false.
The world's largest pyramid is not in Egypt, Eggs Benedict was not named after Benedict Arnold, the US Liberty Bell did not crack on July 4, 1776 while being rung to announce the Declaration of Independence, and Florida oranges are not naturally orange.
Shocking? Perhaps, but Contrary to Popular Belief is full of things we think are true but in fact are either technically untrue (due to some uncommon interpretation of factual information) or just plain wrong.
Sound, apparently, does not travel to the speed of sound. The needle of a compass does not point to the North Pole and Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb. Again, Joey Green takes delight in refuting what we all think of as obvious truths.
While Contrary to Popular Belief is full of fun, useless trivia (is there any other kind?), we would have liked to see a table of contents organizing the information into useful categories to be used by journalists. For example, it would make the book a lot niftier for writers and others concerned with reference if the book was organized on historical, geographical, medical or other quick-to-find categories.
Alas, many of the historical facts are interspersed throughout the book making it nearly impossible to find something one wants quickly. Equally so, there is no index meaning that not only are broad categories of factual information not easily accessible, but specific examples are not either unless one takes the time to trudge through individual pages.
These two glaring omissions make the book less useful for journalists who are hoping for a quick fact-check or indeed a hasty resolution to the aforementioned bar argument.
Overall: We enjoyed Contrary to Popular Belief because as journalists ourselves, we are always thankful when we can correct someone else's work. The book's format, however, makes it more difficult than it should be to perform this noble yet often thankless task. Recommended.
End of Review
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