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on January 9, 2008
Having this book in your library is something that you will enjoying showing your friends and family, but don't take it to seriously. While most of the explanations given in the book are true, many of them are so only if you love to nit pick. For instance, the author states that leaves do not change colors in the fall. What? Everyone knows they do, they see them turn from green, to orange or read or yellow. If that is not a color change, then what is it? True, the leaves are green because of the presence of chlorophyll, which disappears when the leaves die, exposing the true color of the leaf cells, nevertheless, a change from green to red is a color change.

There are other points where the author is correct only because of a nit pick. He claims that the Earthquake of 1906 did not destroy San Francisco, the fire the quake started did. But would the fires have occurred if the earthquake not happened? Saying the fires destroyed the city, not the quake is like saying the knife stab did kill the man, the blood loss did.

Of course, there are times when the author contradicts himself. In one section he disproves there is no "Dark side of the moon", then a few sections later uses the "dark side of the moon" as a physical place in his conclusion.

He even delves into the area of religion when he defends why the myth of the Great Flood and Noah's Ark should be in the Bible. Simply because there was an actual ancient flood does not mean it is the source or should be considered the source of the Great Flood mentioned in the Bible. He fails to make that distinction. Nor does he mention any of the non flood theories for the Biblical myth

For the most part, most of his explanations are correct, but there are more than a few which are only correct to when applying the most anal interpretation of the supposed myth. Yet, it is a reference book most intelligent people will find interesting and somewhat enlightening.
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on October 20, 2007
I think this author tried to have hundreds of items to make the book for marketable, but you end up with something discussed in a chapter that was already explained earlier. Also, because so many things are discussed and each has a big color picture, the explanations are short. For instance he said that glass is not a liquid (at least in our life time it won't flow). But better books I've read previously explain that the reason you see thicker portions windows in old churches is not because the glass flows (which I had heard when I was young), but that glass making was impercises and for stability they put the thicker portion near the bottom. And the biggest problem with this book - he says that it is FALSE that all crop circles are a hoax. What? The originators and many copy cats admitted to creating circles, even filming themselves. And crop circles only occur in Englis speaking countries so it is a hoax pop popular in US/England/Australia/Canada only. Do aliens only come to English speaking countries? The author says that some designes are too complex? Maybe they were done by an Intelligent Designer! So a mediocre book because bunk since the author of a 'science' book believes in miracles. It is a shame that the reputable James Randi is plastered all over the book and the Amazon listing because he certainly was not aware that Crop Circles were being touted as real science or he would not have provided the forward. With hundreds of items, he probably didn't get to the pseudoscientific one snuck in. Instead of this book, buy Flim Flam by James Randi, Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer, or something by Martin Gardner.
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on July 11, 2010
Amazing . . . but False!: Hundreds of "Facts" You Thought Were True, but Aren't
I was drawn to this book by its gaudy, eye-catching cover. But once I had a chance to leaf through the pages I found it hard to put down. The book is loaded with fascinating stuff and has pictures on almost every page. It's a kind of "candy store for the mind" (a phrase I've heard somewhere, but exactly where I can't recall).

The book is about popular beliefs that happen to be false. They range from science & religion to famous & infamous people (some with bizarre sex lives...), plus plants & animals, food, sports, history, medicine, urban legends--even English usage & misusage, a topic usually overlooked in books of this ilk. Those who regard themselves as over-educated will actually find some surprises here. The info, laid out in short articles two or three to a page, is the main course, but the writing is one of the best things about the book: witty, irreverent, breezy, entertaining, smart.

After I read some of the posted comments about this book, I had to scratch my head. For one thing, there is not a trace of "pseudoscience." (A few readers seem to have gotten the impression that the book suggests crop circles are the work of aliens. It says no such thing; only that some of these mysterious patterns can't be indisputably proved to have been made by hoaxers.)

The book has some flaws; a few typos, a few garbled sentences, a misplaced photograph, an exasperating index. The title is punchy but it misses the mark: it's not the false truisms themselves that amaze, it's the debunkings that explain WHY they are false. The subtitle ("Hundreds of 'Facts' You Thought Were True, But Aren't") is right on target. An odd appendage to the book ("An Epilogue in Fifteen Dedications") sticks out like a sore thumb. Long-winded and annoying, it was written not by the author but the book's "packager" (whatever that is). Luckily, it was stuck at the back of the book, so it doesn't get in the way of the good stuff.

These minuses are minor, not enough to put a dent in the book's overall appeal, which is undeniable. Not many books out there are as fun to read or as fun to look at. Besides enlightening the mind, the book could do a lot to liven up a bathroom or a coffee table, and the reader may win a few bar bets.
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on May 11, 2012
There are some good Reviews already posted on this book and deserve to be read.I have been a big fan of "Ripley's" for over 60 years and have posted a number of Reviews on Ripley books.I love this sort of stuff,and am attracted to any book that shows amazing and/or unbelievable facts or things.In my opinion the "Master" of this sort of thing was Robert L.Ripley.He really was the one who started it all and made it popular.He travelled the world;collected the unbelievable and had a daily cartoon in many papers for decades,and still does;and even built museums to display his collections.These museums are still a great attraction;particularly to those who like this sort of thing and lament the passing of freak and sideshows,that have all but disappeared from the entertainment world.Last summer I spent a "cool" afternoon in a Ripley Museum in Key West ,Florida ,when the outside weather was hot,muggy and oppressive.However ,none have come close to matching what Ripley has done;because he set the bar so high,others pale in comparison,but still provide entertainment,information and enjoyment.Such is the case with this book.
It's been said that "if one takes the generally accepted wisdom at the time,then take the complete opposite,one gets closer to the truth".
That's what makes this all interesting to us and why we like to read about it.The authors, as with Ripley,try their best to bring the truth to us and it was always and still remains with the Ripley organization to be open to any proof that they are wrong.I found this to be a very good book.It covers a lot of things that are very common,some things you may already know,but others will certainly come as a surprise to you.What I like about Ripley is that they present the topics with clear, concise details and accompanying photos and illustrations;and so do these authors.These authors cover many things that are commonly believed ,but maybe not by everyone,and try to set the record straight.Some of the things covered are open to debate and,and some may never be fulluy decided;but they are interesting just the same.Particularly, when one gets into history.
Overall;this is an excellent book and a fun,informative and eye-opening read.
Where this book differs,is that it discusses things that people think are so,and tells it like it really is.
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on May 30, 2008
Interesting and worth reading but anyone with 21st century sense already knows most of these. Seems as though the author's could have just cited snopes for all of the information. The photos in the book are lousy. However, there is still enough info in the book to make it worth reading.
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on July 19, 2010
This book is a barrel of monkeys, and by that I mean fun. While reading it, I came across a number of things I was already familiar with, but in lots of cases I had to say "Yikes, I never knew that!". And I was not exactly born yesterday. As an American living in Paris, I enjoyed all the "Americana" in this book, which made me a little homesick. The book has been my bedside companion for a couple of weeks now. Each article is fairly short, so I skip around from subject to subject. The stuff about Catherine the Great, Walt Disney, Queen Victoria, and Marie Antoinette was especially fascinating. As were the articles about bumblebees, bra-burning, lemmings, and men getting pregnant.
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on November 16, 2008
This is a fun book to read through. It doesn't have to be read in any particular order. One can go from one entry to another unrelated entry without difficulty.
It's a good way to learn the real story behind some common beliefs.
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on July 26, 2012
I don't agree with every one of his explanations, however this is still a useful book. A little pedantic here and there, and other reviewers picked up some faults. Worth the read, even so.
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on December 10, 2009
glad I previewed this before giving it to my trivia-loving nine year old. More than enough of material about sex and deviant sexual practices and puritanical sex laws, for example.

Facts are light on detail, written in a matter-of-fact notion that could have used just a sentence more of explanation or proof in each fact.

Still, fairly interesting and thought provoking.

Some of the facts are pretty lame. Like, the sea cucumber is not a cucumber. Really?
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on January 6, 2012
I expected much more.
Most of the ideas mentioned seem quite obvious to me (perhaps that is my fault being an engineer ..).
But who on earth really believes that cat's eyes glow in the dark all by themselves? Everybody with a torch who has ever seen a cat in the dark realized that it is about reflection.
Many other topics are similar obvious, too.
Some explanations are outright wrong, e.g. the one about light bulbs and CFLs. It is true that it is not reasonable to let CFLs burn all night. But it is not true that you will not reach the limit of on/off-cycles unless you constantly switch them on and off the whole day. Most CFLs are designed to run at least 1-2 hours without interruption. If you switch them on and off every couple of minutes you will be amazed that their lifetime goes down to weeks - much less than that of a conventional light bulb.
My problem with that kind of explanations is: if I know the author is telling nonsense about something I know very well, how should I believe him in other areas I don't know much about?
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