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20 mind-blowing facts that sound like total lies

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Chris Sayer
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Stick a hat on, because we’re about to blow your mind into tiny little pieces.

Behold, a list of the most “WTF”-ing facts that even we couldn’t quite believe when we first lay eyes on them. You’re about to learn about fruits that’ve been lying to you for your entire life; petrifying family links to the Royal family; unbelievable football legacies and why Vladamir Putin might have such a big ego.

Here comes 20 facts that you’ll think we’ve made up, but, hand on heart, are totally true…

  • 20 mind-blowing facts that sound like total lies

    1. A banana is a berry

    Disgraceful, isn’t it. All this time, the humble banana’s been sitting there, in your fruit bowl, looking at you, lying to you, with its sordid double life. Yes, the bendy yellow monkey favourite is, in fact, a berry as it can be defined as ‘a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary [in a flower]’. Disgusting behaviour. 

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    2. Heroin was once a treatment for coughs in children

    A bucket-load of thanks goes out to German chemist Heinrich Dreser, the man who invented aspirin and, subsequently, may be the reason you’re not reading this with a stinking headache/hangover behind the eyes. Slightly less praise, though, for birthing heroin, and introducing it in the 1890s as a cough medicine. Unsurprisingly, the slightly, er, moreish side effects forced the drugs company Bayer to pull it from shelves in 1913. 

    Image: Io9

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    3. Prince Charles is related to Dracula

    Get your teeth into this one. In 2012 the Romanian Tourist Office boasted that they’d found family ties between the heir to the throne of England and Vlad the Impaler, the 15th century nobleman who inspired Bram Stoker’s fangy legend. We thought it was baloney. We thought it was a publicity stunt. But, according to Sir Iain Moncreiffe, the author of the book Royal Highness who traced the royal’s roots, Prince Charles is a great grandson 16 times removed to Vlad. Bloody hell indeed.

    Image: Dan Marsh, Flickr

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    4. Brazil have never beaten Norway in a football match

    Mighty Norway’s track record against the world-famous Brazilian football team reads draw, win, win, and draw. That includes the didn’t-see-that-one-coming 2-1 victory against Mario Zagallo’s squad in the group stages of World Cup 1998.

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    5. Russia is bigger than Pluto

    In news that will only fuel the ego of the bareback horse-riding, rifle-wielding, muscle-building, dolphin-petting premier, the former planet that sits in our Solar System has a surface area approximately 427,260kmsmaller than Russia’s.  

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    6. It’s impossible to burp in space

    This one’s all thanks to our old friend gravity. See, Earth’s gravity does a pretty good job of holding all our stomach’s waste in place while we belch forth. In space, there’s not enough gravity to help out, thus turning a burp into a messy vomit. Thankfully, the same science doesn’t apply to farting.  

    Image: Flickr Commons

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    7. A polar bear used to live in the Tower of London

    Back in 1252, when King Haakon of Norway gifted Henry III a polar bear, the then King of England decided to house his new pet within the walls of the Tower of London. What’s more, to give him a spot of exercise, he’d allow him to go fishing in the Thames while chained to dry land. 

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    8. There’s a urologist in Texas called Dr. Dick Chopp

    And here he is, in all his penis-operating glory. The urologist who’s “well known in the Austin community for performing vasectomies” is a perfect example of ‘nominative determinism’ – a theory that a person’s name influences what they’ll end up doing with their life. Still, you’ve got to have balls to let a man with that name go to town on your trouser trumpet and drums.

    Image: urologyteam.com

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    9. The founder of match.com lost his girlfriend to a man she met on match.com

    When Gary Kremen founded the famous dating site in 1995, little did he know that his own invention would cost him his other half. Asking everyone he knew to sign up and get involved, including his girlfriend, soon his site was taking off…but so was his missus. She’d fallen for another bloke she’d met on the online service and subsequently left the Chicago-born entrepreneur, who would only go on to father the entire online dating industry and make his fortune. We don’t know who to feel more sorry for. 

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    10. The inventor of the Pringles can had his ashes buried in a Pringles can

    Fredric Baur, the man that came up with an ingenious way for Proctor & Gamble to stack their crisps, popped until he finally stopped in 2008, aged 89. So proud of his tubular achievement was the technician that he told his family he wanted to be buried in one. "My siblings and I briefly debated what flavor to use," Fredric’s son, Larry Baur, told TIME Magazine in 2008. "I said, 'Look, we need to use the original.'"

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    11. Celebrity seafood chef Rick Stein is uncle to world-famous DJ Judge Jules

    Only slightly more amazing than learning former Neighbours sexy lady Holly Valance is first cousin twice removed to late legendary comic Benny Hill.  

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    12. Diamonds can be made from peanut butter

    In an attempt to mimic the extreme conditions beneath the Earth’s surface, Research scientist Dan Frost took it upon himself to apply 1.3 million times the pressure of our atmosphere to some iron-rich peanut butter. Insanely, when the experiment was over, where the PB once was sat an, albeit impure, diamond. 

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    13. Abraham Lincoln is in the Wrestling Hall of Fame

    Obviously, we’re not talking about Abe finding fame after a WWE Royal Rumble with Scott 2 Hotty, but rather the incredible record in the slightly more real sport of wrestling in the US. Only losing once in 300 matches, his efforts earned him a spot in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.  Whatcha got, Obama? 

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    14. A ‘buttload’ is a legitimate measurement

    Yep, it’s 126 gallons of wine. A buttload of booze is a buttload of booze.   

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    15. This Is Spinal Tap is the only film on IMDB that’s rated out of 11, not 10

    You just checked, didn’t you. No, we’re not angry, just disappointed that you didn’t take our word for it. No, don’t apologise. It’s done now. Moving on.  

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    16. If you start counting from one and spell out each number as you go, you won’t write the letter ‘A’ until you reach one thousand.

    Didn’t fancy checking that one though, did you. 

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    17. Dolly Parton once entered a Dolly Parton look-a-like contest and lost

    What’s even worse, she lost to a man dressed as Dolly Parton. "All these beautiful drag queens had worked for weeks and months getting their clothes,” she told ABC news in 2012. “So I just got in the line and I just walked across, and they just thought I was some little short gay guy… I got the least applause." 

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    18. France’s last use of the guillotine was in the same year that Star Wars: Episode IV came out

    Yep, not just resigned to the bloody tales of the French Revolution in the 1700s, our channel-hugging European brothers were lopping off noggins up until the late seventies. The final head to role in France, and legally in the Western world, was that of Tunisian immigrant Hamida Djandoubi, found guilty of slaying his girlfriend. Still, at least you could’ve picked your spirits up later that day by trotting off to the cinema to watch Luke Skywalker in action, right? 

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    19. Today, you will shrink by 1cm (and tomorrow, and the next day)

    During the day, very basic and normal activities cause your vertebrae to compress, meaning you’ll lose about one third of an inch off your height from the time you wake up to the time you hit the hay. The reason we’re not all Mini-Me versions of ourselves? When we lie down to sleep, no gravity is working on our body, so we can ‘grow back’ that bit of height we lost. 

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    20. A British man legally changed his name to Tim P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-Price to deter cold callers

    “My theory is that when these salesmen see my name on their list of names to call, they’ll think: ‘Blow that – I can’t even pronounce his name, so I won’t call him’,” says the Leicester man, who spent £100 on the name change in 2012. 

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Chris Sayer

Chris Sayer is a freelance journalist and editor based in London. Chris has interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment and travelled the world doing an all manner of adventures for lots of brilliant magazines. He writes for Shortlist about booze but would probably prefer we let him write about fishing instead. Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisSayer00

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