Factoid was a Wikiality.com Featured Word on 03/21/07.
A factoid is a statement about a specific event, person, or thing in the physical universe which looks like a fact, except that it is far more truthy. Factoids are best used for introducing content into civilized debate.
The Plain Truth™ about the history of factoids Edit
Factoids are unique to Western Civilization, and as such are what makes America such a great nation. The Arabs, the Indians, and the Chinese — with the possible exception of Confucius — all had no word for "factoid".
Before America Edit
Classical antiquity Edit
Minutes of painstaking research by leading Truthiness Scholars at the Stephen Colbert Institute of Etymological Gutstudology, working in conjunction with the fine minds at the Wikiality Study Group Research Study Group have revealed that the word "factoid" derives from the classical Greek language. Because classical Greek is a dead language, and the Truthiness Scholars studying "factoids" are still alive, it was no small feat when they figured out that the Greek equivalent to "factoid," the word ϕακτοέιδης, meant
- "that which can be, or should be, or might be in a totally different physical context, or perhaps is except we do not know about it."
The Greek thinkers of old used this word several times in their works. An exception is the famous mathematician Euclid, who avoided the word for religious, personal, and other random reasons, preferring to use the term "axiom" αξίωμα.
The Roman statesman Cicero, in his philosophical treatise Liber Veritationum et Factoidarum, laid out the philosophical and moral foundations of factoids, as well the theory and practice of using them, along with detailed examples.
Middle Ages Edit
During the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church tried to monopolize the production and dissemination of factoids through a series of papal bulls. In particular, Cicero's Liber Veritationum et Factoidarum was placed on its banned books list, the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, on the pretext that it contained pagan doctrine.
The church's monopoly on factoids was never actually enforced however, for factoids were just too easily produced (even without conscious intent). Still, it was not until 1633 that Galileo launched an outright attack on the supposed monopoly. He was burnt to death at the stake. (Factinistas will say that Galileo was merely sentenced to house arrest, but this is just a half-baked theory which does not even pass the smell test!)
After Galileo Edit
- We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.
and Benjamin Franklin even explicitly declared,
- Let it be known as a Factoid, that I did say Something or Other about Liberty and Safety, and its exact Words matter not.
Since then, unfortunately, anti-factoid sentiment has been on the rise, and factoids often become the object of persecution. Indeed, until CNN came along, to accuse a journalist of trafficking in "factoids" was a grave insult.
Factoids vs. truthyismsEdit
Much debate has ensued over the difference between factoids and truthyisms. The truth of this matter, as the Founding Fathers will readily assert, is that statements about specific persons and things are "factoids", while more general statements are "truthyisms". For example: