(11/21/2003) Sharing lesser-known or lesser-thought-about facts with others can be fun and entertaining. Unfortunately, when trivia-laden chains like these arrive in our inboxes virtually indistinguishable from news and stock quotes they are often given far more consideration than they deserve.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
Think you know everything...?
A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.
A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.
A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.
A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.
A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.
Lists of mindless trivia like those above abound on the 'net, come in a variety of forms and are often a mixture of truth and fiction. To individually research and validate each point in these often-lengthy compilations would be a tedious and frustrating exercise.
These chains should be considered strictly entertainment and taken with a large grain of salt for several reasons:
The author and his or her qualifications and motivations for compiling the list are often unknown.
The source(s) of the factoids are rarely revealed. Most are based on hearsay, rumor and legend.
E-mail messages are editable, so there is often no way to know which facts were offered by the initial author and which have been added as it circulates. Items added as it circulates must be held as less reliable than the original.
Context, context, context! When you boil these bits of trivia to ten-word snippets, all context behind them is lost. Most of the items in these lists are technically correct, but require far more explanation to truly understand them. Often, when the proper context is considered, the "facts" aren't near as compelling.
Trivia is fun to share, so it's unlikely that chains like these will ever die, but I'll say "Break this chain" anyway.