Series K, Episode 7 - Knowledge
- QI's most famous question settled once and for all, for now... "How many moons does the Earth have?" It turns out there are now about 18,000 of what NASA calls "mini moons" or "temporarily captured objects". This question is related to the fact that facts are not permanent and change with new information. Back in Series A it was two, then in Series B this was revised to either one or five. One of the recently discovered mini moons is called RH120, which orbited the Earth four times between 2006-07. Academics refer to an event called the "Half-life of facts", which says that over time half of what you know will be untrue, but you do not know which half. On QI it is estimated that 7% of the things mentioned in this episode will be untrue in a year's time. If you are watching a repeat on Dave even more of the facts mentioned will be untrue. A graph is shown displaying the "Decay of QI So-Called 'Facts'", showing the increasing amount of facts that are wrong in older series, with 60% of facts in Series A perhaps being wrong. On the plus side for the panellists (except Graham as it is first time on the show) everyone else on the show is owed points for things that it turns out were right all along. Jimmy is owed 43.58 points, Jo is owed 84.73 points, The Audience are owed 23.24, and Alan is owed 737.66 points. (Forfeit: Three, One, Six, Two)
- The following is a list of QI facts there were given in good faith but have now since been proved to have been wrong:
- XL: We do not know much about the private life of Scottish Mr. Smellie, but we do know his greatest achievement - he was the first editor of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. William Smellie came from a banned Protestant sect who were so persecuted that they did not keep any records in case it was used against them. Smellie was paid £200 for heading up the team that edited the original encyclopaedia. Another editor, Andrew Bell, was four-and-a-half feet tall and had a very big nose. If someone made a joke about his nose, he would quickly leave the room and return wearing an even larger papier-mâché nose. The first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica took three years to complete and cost £12 for three volumes. The first volume was just A-to-B. In the first edition Kensington is defined as: "A pleasant village two miles west of London", California is spelt with two Ls and is defined as: "A large country in the West Indies, possibly an island or a peninsula", the entry for women just reads: "The female of man. See homo", and the entry for applause is: "An approbation of something signified by clapping the hands. Still practiced in theatres."
- The inventor of the thermometer spent 30 years measuring his own weight. Sanctorius Sanctorius of Padua (the same place Galileo was from) measured not just his own weight, but also that of the food he ate and the faeces and urine he expelled, in order to find out why when you eat so much food your own weight does not increase by the same amount and why the matter you excrete weighs less than the original food you ate. Sanctorius wrongly believed that the rest came out of your skin and believed that it was dangerous to cover most of it up because you are not letting poison out. (Forfeit: Temperature)
- The thing you can find out by hiding under a students bed is what they are really saying. In the 1930s an experiment was carried out by researchers who hid under beds to record conversations amongst students without the students knowing. 40% of conversation was about the students themselves. This question is related to unethical research. Another study in 1976 called "Personal Space Invasion In The Men's Restroom" involved hiding a camera under the partitions to see how men filled space in public lavatories. In 1942, psychologist Lawrence LeShan tried to use sleep-learning at a summer camp to get boys to stopped biting their fingernails. He recorded the phrase, "My fingernails are terribly bitter" on a phonograph and played it 300 times a night while the boys slept. While one boy did appear to respond positively the phonograph broke after five weeks. Thus in order to keep the experiment going LeShan just stood outside where the boys slept and repeated the phrase himself over and over again through the night. He claimed the experiment worked, but it is now generally believed that the boys were just freaked out about the experience.
- The Romans told their Keiths from their Kevins, and indeed anyone else of a different name, by hiring someone whose job it was to remember everybody's names and to remind you of the right name when someone came to greet you. This person was called a "nomenclator".
- XL: You know you have had enough food because your brain reminds you of a past experience when you have had enough previously. In comparison people with short-term memory loss may forget that they have just eaten 20-30 minutes after a meal, and might eat three or four heavy meals one after another. One way to avoid this is to use a bowl of soup with a mechanism on it which fills or empties itself at set times.
- A question about kith and kin: the best way of avoiding talking to your mother-in-law is to use one of the avoidance languages spoken by some Australian Aboriginal peoples. This language is designed to avoid taboo subjects and it is also common to avoid looking at each other by looking at the ground. The Japanese also have a similar language when speaking to the royal family.
- The thing that a stork brought to the German city of Klutz was an arrow or spear that went through its neck and head, but the bird was still alive. The arrow however came from Africa, which resulted in people in Europe finally discovering that birds fly south for the winter. This was in the 1820s and before this people assumed that birds did all kinds of things during winter, such as go underwater or change into other animals. Dr. Samuel Johnson wrote that, "Swallows certainly sleep in the winter. A number of them conglobulate together by flying around and round and then all in a heap throw themselves underwater and lie on the bed of the river."
- The panel are asked to add some three-digit numbers up. However, the numbers are shown incredibly quickly. This is possible to do, especially if you are from Japan or China, where they count using abacuses. This is known as "Flash Anzan" in Japan, which involves adding 15 three-digit numbers shown very quickly. The world record holder did this in 1.7 seconds. People can do these calculations while holding a conversation at the same time because it uses a different part of the brain. However, they cannot remember the numbers they entered to get the total. One reason that Japanese and Chinese people are good at this is because of the language. If you say numbers together it automatically adds them up linguistically.
- Friday 18th October 2013
- BBC Two
- 30 minutes
Cast & crew
|Stephen Fry||Host / Presenter|
|Alan Davies||Regular Panellist|
|James Harkin||Script Editor|
|John Mitchinson||Question Writer|
|Molly Oldfield||Question Writer|
|Andrew Hunter Murray||Question Writer|
|John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE)||Series Producer|
|Ruby Kuraishe||Executive Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|