Fact or Fiction

Dispelling popular myths, misperceptions, and urban legends with logic (and humor)

Identifying misleading arguments and statistics and searching for pragmatic solutions

The place for critical thinkers, skeptics, and political centrists

Politics                                        Business
Issues                                              Taxes
Life                                              Research
Health                                         Questions
Entertainment                               The Truth
Media                                The Whole Story

What is Amortization?
Is it a payment schedule?  Is it like depreciation?

Visit Financial Statement School by Ken Pirok to find out.

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 12/19/2012 6:02 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Today's Helpful Hint
If you're in a hurry in the morning, remember that it is extremely difficult to eat a bowl of Grape Nuts in a short amount of time.

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 11/27/2012 2:39 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Today's Helpful Hint
If you're interviewing for a high-level finance job and you bring up the word, "redneck," you might have taken the wrong path.  (No, I did not do this.)

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 10/24/2012 4:19 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Better to be Intense and Flashy or Relaxed and Steady?
Have you seen this commercial featuring two fighters with very different styles?



I think it's funny and noteworthy because this happens in real life, in fights, in sports, and in our lives.  My favorite MMA fight ever is a real-life example of what happens in the commercial.  Look at the following video of Aleksander Emelianenko vs. James Thompson.  (This is a Russian version, but it's nice because it's not abbreviated.  If you're bored, start watching at the four minute mark.  You will get the point.)

The point is that it's often better to be relaxed than intense or flashy.  And, it is even possible to pick winners of fights this way.




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Posted by Ken Pirok at 10/20/2012 11:50 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Today's Helpful Hint
The people outside can hear everything when you talk inside a tent.

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 10/20/2012 11:04 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Fair Sports Rules
Here is a fascinating website and blog that I ran across, called Fair Sports Rules.

It discusses fairness (or lack thereof) in sports rules.

I particularly like the post on the ridiculousness of the one-game wild card playoff series in baseball.

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 10/19/2012 4:06 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Fact-Checking the Presidential Debates
After the second presidential debate, I quickly flipped through the major networks’ (and news channels’) coverage of the debate.  I was happy to see a great deal of discussion about the fact or fiction of the debate.  Many channels aired specific segments dedicated to this type of analysis.

Some of their websites further discuss facts and fictions.  You may want to read or watch:

CBS News, “Fact-checking the second presidential debate

CBS News coverage of all of the debates including analysis and fact-checking

First Read, the blog from NBC News contains many fact-checking posts.  Use the “fact-check” tag to search for these posts.

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 10/19/2012 1:55 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Where to Find Facts about the Election
Various websites now exist to help you find the truth about candidates, issues, and elections.  These are objective sources, which separate fact from fiction.

One of the first such sites was FactCheck.org, a service of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

Journalists have joined them.  CNN presents Fact Check.  The St. Petersburg Times offers Politifact, and Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post has The Fact Checker.

You may also check out On the Issues, which allows you to search for candidates and specific issues to learn more about where they stand.

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 9/20/2012 9:28 AM | View Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Is the Open Office Plan Better?
Here is a fascinating article from Time Magazine about offices with open floor-plans (or those without walls between the desks).

I have worked in both types of offices, including one job where we moved from an office with an open plan to an office with separate office rooms.  It always seemed like the open office was better for socializing and camaraderie.  And, I always thought that I worked more efficiently in my own room; although, sometimes I did feel isolated.

According to the research, however, the open office is associated with higher levels of stress, dissatisfaction, and poor co-worker relations.  I suppose the tradeoff that open offices are louder and more distracting is obvious.  But, the open office may not actually be better for employee interactions either, because people are afraid to say things that they know everyone else will hear.

Check out the article.  Comment.  Which type of office do you prefer?  Do you wear headphones when you work?

Ken Pirok

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 9/14/2012 10:46 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Today's Helpful Hint
If your coffee cup has a rim of gold around the top, don’t put it in the microwave.

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 9/11/2012 11:54 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Do the Chicago White Sox have a Mascot?
Click here to answer.

http://chicagobooth.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_a4oGVB8QRRfK8rG

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 2/5/2012 10:39 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
What is this?

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 2/5/2012 10:34 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Tax Collectors
Here's an interesting article from Governing.  It illustrates why it can be a bad idea for governments to institute across-the-board budget cuts.  We also learn why cutting tax collectors actually costs more than it saves.

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 4/22/2010 7:01 PM | View Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Red sky at night: sailor’s delight…Red sky in the morning: sailors take warning
This is the second saying from the list below that is more than just an old wives’ tale.  The rhyme is actually based upon facts and science.

The sun’s rays are broken up by moisture and dust in the atmosphere.  The red color means that the sky is filled with more of these particles.

Because weather systems typically move from the west to the east, the red color often tells a story.  When the sky is red at sunset, the sun is typically shining on dust particles, which imply that stable, high-pressure air is coming in from the west.  A red sky in the morning typically occurs when the sun’s rays are cast on storm clouds moving in from the west.

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 11/23/2009 9:16 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Does warm water really freeze faster than cold water?
As promised last week, here is the first of two old wives tales that are factual: Hot water can and frequently does freeze faster than colder water.  This phenomenon has been discussed for centuries; although, it wasn’t until 1969 that a Tanzanian high school student introduced it to the scientific community.  For his troubles, the phenomenon was named the “Mpemba Effect” after the student.

Since then, physicists have verified that hot water often freezes more quickly than cold water.  Scientists have not been able to definitively explain why this happens, but a few phenomena are thought to contribute to the effect:

Evaporation—Hot water evaporates faster than cold water and brings away steam (water), thereby reducing the amount of liquid to be cooled.  Less ice is created, but it is made at a faster rate.  This can only be a partial explanation, however, because studies of completely enclosed containers have also exhibited the Mpemba effect.

Convection—As the water cools, its temperature does not remain uniform throughout.  The swirling around of the hotter and cooler sections may contribute to faster cooling.

Dissolved Gases—Hot water holds fewer amounts of dissolved gases than cold water.  These gases may prevent convection or change the temperature necessary to freeze the liquid.

Container and Surroundings—The container in which the water is held, as well as the surface or the surroundings in which it is placed, may also affect the cooling process differently at different temperatures.

Interesting fact: Many ice cream makers use warm milk to take advantage of the Mpemba effect.

Another interesting fact: Cecil Adams of the Straight Dope basically got this one wrong!

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 11/20/2009 8:48 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Old Wive's Tales
For your entertainment, here is a list of old wives tales and superstitions.  People have actually believed each of these statements, but virtually all of them are fiction.

Exactly two of them are based upon facts and science.  Can you tell which two?
  • If a teen has acne, it means that he or she is sexually active.
  • If you eat cabbage, you will grow large breasts.
  • If you eat spinach, you will become as strong as Popeye.
  • Wearing green to a wedding is bad luck.
  • If you give knives as a gift, then you should include a coin or the relationship will be severed.
  • If you see a penny pick it up, and all day long you will have good luck.
  • Only a coin with the head side up is good luck.
  • A bird that flies into your house or dies by flying into your window signals impending death.
  • It’s bad luck to put a hat on a bed.
  • Don’t get up on the wrong side of the bed; always use the same side to get in and out.
  • If you break a mirror, you will have seven years of bad luck.
  • If your nose itches, then company is coming.
  • If you drop a knife, then a man will come to visit.
  • If you drop a fork, then a woman will come to visit.
  • Hot water freezes faster than cold water.
  • Thunderstorms spoil milk.
  • Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
  • Feed a cold; starve a fever.
  • Don’t feed milk to a child with a cold, because it will help create more phlegm.
  • Tickling children will cause them to stutter.
  • Rub a stick of butter on a burn to help it heal.
  • Step on a crack, break your mother’s back.
  • If you sing before seven, you will cry before eleven.
  • Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.
You can find a much longer list of old wives tales and superstitions here.

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 11/15/2009 8:49 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Today's Helpful Hint
The first time your baby son or daughter tastes a pickle you should have your video camera rolling...
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Posted by Ken Pirok at 11/8/2009 7:13 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Can your tonsils really grow back?
Remember the Seinfeld episode where George found out that his tonsils had grown back?  (The 1991 episode was called, "The Heart Attack".  Here's a clip.)

But, can tonsils really grow back after they have been removed?  This article has the answer.

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 11/5/2009 11:10 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Today's Helpful Hint
Check out this website.  It's all about facts, fictions, and statistics in the media.

STATS.org

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 10/31/2009 7:09 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Does 90% of currency really carry traces of cocaine?
According to CNN, this urban legend actually turns out to be fact, not fiction.

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Posted by Ken Pirok at 8/17/2009 8:07 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)