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The unbelievable truth
June 10, 2014 7:25 PM   Subscribe

Factbot is a machine that makes up lies.
posted by unliteral (44 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
"I have no words for how much I love this Factbot machine. It is hilarious."

- Nelson Mandela
posted by 4ster at 7:29 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Seriously, this is awesome. Especially:

"#20663 The blind Crocodile is born with eyes, but they fall off as it grows"

It reminds me of what I used to tell my children, that when they got older, their baby eyes would fall out and their permanent eyes would grow in.
posted by 4ster at 7:32 PM on June 10 [25 favorites]


The sad thing is I could totally see the health-oriented ones getting passed around by my more new-agey vaccine and medicine skeptical Facebook friends.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:37 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Factbot is a machine that makes up lies.

Hey! It does nothing of the sort!
posted by Spatch at 7:40 PM on June 10


Fool me once, @horse_ebooks
posted by angerbot at 7:45 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Factbot is a machine that makes up lies.

Why? We already have Fox News.
posted by HuronBob at 7:46 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


I see Karl Rove has been busy.

On preview, beaten by HuronBob.
posted by arcticseal at 7:48 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Emus work 24 hours per day -- they do not sleep.
I mean, I'm just impressed they have jobs.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:49 PM on June 10 [17 favorites]


Also the random number generator needs a kick-- like half of these facts include the number 54.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:50 PM on June 10


#72490: Half of all facts include the number 54.
posted by justkevin at 7:54 PM on June 10 [18 favorites]


#72334 Amish people do not believe in the use of an iPhone

Broken clock etc
posted by saturday_morning at 7:56 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


"A zebra can dig a tunnel 300 feet long in a single night"

That one's actually true.
posted by mosschief at 7:58 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


Lie Bot, what is the saddest thing?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:58 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


If we run this long enough then by process of elimination we should have all of the universe's truths, right?
posted by ODiV at 8:30 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


More people die from eating Llamas then from being eaten by them. This is due to a poison in them.

This is true. People eat llama meat, and meat contains various toxins which can kill in excess or over time, but llamas don't eat people. Thus the number of people poisoned to death by llama meat must be greater than those eaten by llamas.
posted by Thing at 8:38 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


I was hoping the article would at least hint at how the algorithm generates grammatical facts. Some form of Markov chain? A decent pile of templates filled in mad-libs style?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:42 PM on June 10


"A zebra can dig a tunnel 300 feet long in a single night"

That zebra crawled to freedom through three hundred feet of shit-smelling foulness I can't even imagine- or maybe I just don't want to.
posted by stevis23 at 8:44 PM on June 10 [10 favorites]


#83749 There are more Daisy Fuentes dolls in Chile than there are Canadians in Canada

TRUTH.
posted by Etrigan at 8:44 PM on June 10


For whatever reason, I find these absolutely delightful. I especially like the ones with little explanations for the facts, like "Men sweat more than women. This is because women can better regulate the amount of Eggs they eat[.]" I mean, men sweat more than women, sure, whatever, anyone can make up a fact on that level or just say shit that happens to be true, but adding in the regulation of Egg consumption takes this to a higher plane of Things Which Bring Me Joy.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:50 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


I just go to Fox News.
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 8:51 PM on June 10


The Spider has two toes on each feet which gives it greater speed

Well, yeah, of course!
posted by rtha at 9:26 PM on June 10


I liked finding out how many celebrities are actually immortal inventors and explorers!
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:10 PM on June 10


Watson poisoning will be the work of the human robot resistance movement, enlisting lesser computers to seed the sabotage data.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:39 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Some species of Gorilla sleep with one eye open

I believe this is true, actually. Or at least it certainly was not long ago.

I can believe that fact about Canadians running red lights. (I haven't myself, really, but I would on my enduro bike.)

That wolf quote is almost accurate if you add a period between the "25%" of body weight. Or maybe not even. Twenty pounds max at once, right? Wolves live by the "feast or famine" lifestyle, and when they feast, they really feast.

Hey, I wouldn't doubt that snail fact, either. Don't underestimate snails. They can take over entire towns.
posted by quiet earth at 11:40 PM on June 10


Mr.Encyclopedia: "I was hoping the article would at least hint at how the algorithm generates grammatical facts."

That's the biggest lie of all. There is no machine. The lies were inside you, all along.



But this quote makes me lean towards the mad-libs theory:
The facts themselves are based on 'real facts' I've harvested from the web. A fact is picked at random, the entities, numbers and dates are algorithmically manipulated, and lo, a new fact is born.
posted by RobotHero at 12:14 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


I love this.
I love that I found myself refuting or trying to refute every single lie.
It's a perfect distillation of the internet.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:32 AM on June 11


Some of these will live forever. We will hear them repeated as fact for the rest of our lives.
posted by univac at 12:38 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Also, some could prove to be self-fulfillingly prophetic. Who wouldn't want the Oprah Puma pocket diaper?
posted by univac at 12:39 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


What we need now is another bot that automatically alerts us whenever someone recycles a Factbot "fact" as truth.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:16 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Is there an option where it will automatically post to Facebook?
posted by mr vino at 3:29 AM on June 11


Lie it may indeed be, but I'll believe anything that reinforces my fear of llamas.
posted by tommasz at 5:19 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


According the the post explaining Factbot, In the words of Mark Twain: "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

Consider that next time you check your Twitter feed.


I've seen several sources that report the attribution of that quote to Twain is spurious. So the truth about Factbot's lies may not be true at all.
posted by layceepee at 5:45 AM on June 11


Factbot is my favorite factbot.
posted by slogger at 6:11 AM on June 11


This is great. It's, like, the Look Around You of Twitter.
posted by NoMich at 6:17 AM on June 11


This is like the memetic equivalent of a glider gun.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 6:31 AM on June 11


OK so, any idea on what the algorithm is behind this? Is it randomly combining facts? Or is it searching for incorrect answers from yahoo answers or something? I'm having a hard time imagining a computer being so grammatical.
posted by rebent at 6:32 AM on June 11


More people die from eating Llamas then from being eaten by them. This is due to a poison in them.

I... I... I think I'm in love.
posted by malocchio at 7:15 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Wonderful. Reminds me a big of Liebography, a great fake-biography show that used to be on New York public access TV. Because of the Rudy Giuliani Christmas Carol episode, we still refer to Henry Rollins as "Future Vice President Henry Rollins".
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:51 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


Some species of Gorilla sleep with one eye open

I believe this is true, actually. Or at least it certainly was not long ago.


Well, they'd have to with all the zebras tunnelling under them.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:18 AM on June 11


As to how it works: I think the bot goes and scrapes actual facts from a variety of factoid-site type sources, and then makes random substitutions. You can find some of the originals by Googling the factbot version in various ways.

For example:
Factbot: More people die from eating Llamas then from being eaten by them. This is due to a poison in them.
Google: More people die from eating * then from being eaten by them.
Top result: More people die from eating sharks then from being eaten by them. This is due to a poison in shark meat.

Similarly:
Factbot: Amish people do not believe in the use of an iPhone
Google: "Amish people do not believe in the use of"
Second result: Amish people do not believe in the use of aerosol air fresheners. (#59)

And:
Factbot: Indonesians always turn left when exiting a cave.
Google: "always turn left when exiting a cave"
Top result: "Bats always turn left when exiting a cave"
posted by beagle at 9:39 AM on June 11 [7 favorites]


Some species of gorilla sleep with one eye open

Source: "Some species of dolphin sleep with one eye open."
posted by beagle at 11:35 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


John Hodgman, you're on notice.

Dr. and Mr. Haggis-on-Whey, you too.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:48 PM on June 11


Some species of gorilla sleep with one eye open

Source: James Hetfield

I swear I did not make that. Someone else did.
posted by Etrigan at 12:52 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


A good portion of these sound like high quality trolldad stuff. I keep expecting to see one my dad actually told me when i was like 2-10.
posted by emptythought at 3:19 PM on June 11


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