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The Book of Useless Information Paperback – June 27, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Trade (June 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399532692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399532696
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Noel Botham is chairman and founding member of the Useless Information Society. Botham and the rest of his team lurk mostly around London.


More About the Author

In 1995, a secret society of Britain's foremost thinkers, writers, and artists formed to trade and share in what founding member, playwright and journalist Keith Waterhouse, would call "totally bloody useless" information-usually over a pint or two at a local pub. Now, The Useless Information Society regurgitates its bizarre findings for American readers in this first of what they threaten will be several volumes.

Noel Botham is chairman and founding member of the UIS.

Customer Reviews

The format of this book is basically just several one or two sentence "facts" per page with no sources to back it up.
Anne S.
It would be a tedious process to cite sources for all this "useless information", but without verification, the book itself is useless.
Laurie
On the other hand, Walt Disney did NOT date Mickey Rooney's mother and did NOT name his most famous creation after her son.
Lois Bradbury

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Dai-keag-ity on August 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
Wonderful idea, to gather tidbits of trivia and put them in one book. Trouble is, this poorly-written source of light reading not only cites no sources for its offerings of information, but it is so riddled with glaring errors of fact that it is mostly useless as a means of either broadening personal knowledge, or as a reference book.

For example, a very brief scan of its misinformation includes:

Page 60, where Ernest Vincent Wright's 50,000-word novel composed sans the letter "e" is listed as `Gatsby' when in fact the work in question is `Gadsby'. `Gatsby' as we all know is a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

On page 165, the book claims that Christianity has 1,000,000,000 followers, and the religion with the next highest number is Islam, with half that many. In fact Christianity has more like 1,400,000,000 adherents, Islam in excess of a billion---and rising.

Page 5 has us reading that in 1812 Theodore Roosevelt completed a speech after being shot in the chest. Roosevelt wasn't even born until 1858!

Page 42 tries to convince us that probable comic strip ADHD sufferer Dennis Mitchell owns a dog known as Gnasher, when as everyone who reads Dennis the Menace knows, his pet is called Ruff.

Am I being too hard on this book? I don't know. Even allowing for typos and the occasional error, this book is undermined by its weaknesses, and I wouldn't recommend it just because you can't be sure you can trust it.

Which is a shame.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Spacey on May 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
Some of the "facts" cited seem to need fact-checking, particularly in the sciences, where some facts are presented in an incomplete way.

Also, in the quotes section, he quotes Al Gore as saying "I invented the Internet."

In fact, Gore has NEVER said this. It's an easily checked fact, and I'm surprised the authors did NOT check this canard out. You can check out the debunking of the Al Gore "fact" (myth, really) at snopes dot com, or legal minds dot com or any number of other places where honest people took the time to find out the truth.

This one mistake (coupled with other clumsily written "facts" in the book, make me wonder about the correctness of other "facts" they have published, and I haven't even gotten halfway through the book, yet.

Reader--caveat emptor. And now I'm kinda sorry I bought the book.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C. D. Gifford on June 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
Very disappointing. I found enough false information in this book that it renders the book useless, unless you like to spend your time searching Google to verify facts (which the author apparently did not care to do.) It took me all of about 20 seconds to verify that Marilyn Monroe did NOT, as the book claims, have six toes on one foot. I guess it could be viewed by some readers as a fun little book, as long as you don't care if the information is true or if you want to do your own verification before passing along any information to others.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Moira on July 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
Everything in this book fascinating, if useless, and I really enjoyed it except for one overriding problem: THERE IS NO CONTEXT, NO DOCUMENTATION AND NO FOOTNOTES. Too many of the "facts" are unverifiable, urban legend or just plain wrong. Worse, they are mixed in with true bits, and it is impossible to know what's accurate and what's not without checking wikipedia for all the dubious stories. It is a good idea, but it would be a much better book if the authors had given a more complete story and listed their sources.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. Amos on November 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is full or errors:

Alka seltzer will make seagulls' stomachs explode.
Duck's quack doesn't echo.
Goldfish is the only animal that can see both infrared and ultraviolet light.

It's as if they just compiled everything interesting they'd ever heard with no fact-checking whatsoever.

Very poor.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dan Hughes on December 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
For 25 years, I wrote all the questions for a local (Champaign, IL) TV quiz show for high school students. I quickly learned to double-check and often triple-check my answers before using them on the air. (I did get stung a few times in the beginning: the old chestnut about the Great Wall of China being visible from the moon, etc.)

It looks like no double-checking was done here. Simply put, this book is an embarrassment. The authors present page after page of urban legend and incorrect information. Please, don't astound your friends with any of the "facts" in this book without checking snopes.com first.

The Penguin Press should be ashamed of itself for printing this bookload of misinformation without bothering to verify it.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Speed on June 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
I love books full of facts. I just hate it when the facts are not true. Sirloin was not named after a king knighted a piece of meat. Mariah Carey did not say that quote about Africa, and Al Gore never dais that he invented the internet. What is the point of this book if you cannot trust it. It also does not contain a bibliography--so you cannot fact check. The best place to check out all of the false facts is at snopes. com.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul J Perrick on June 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
I love useless fact books. I've read at least 30 of them over the years. They all contain information on subjects I care nothing about, including this one. But this book contains so many "facts" that are just plain wrong (and easily fact checked).

"Toilets in Australia flush counter-clockwise." [ ]
"It's rumored that sucking on a copper penny will cause a breathalyzer to read zero." [ ] At least he said "rumored."

These are from just a few pages.

It seems as though the author has collected hundreds of "facts" off the internet, compiled them into a book a book and convinced a publisher to waste tones of paper producing a hard copy.

There are plenty of better books of useless facts out there.
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