Category Archives: Articles

Weekly Wrap Volume 64

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This is a weekly wrap of our popular Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here. Terrifying Fluffy Bunnies and The Little Albert Experiment The Little Albert Experiment was a study conducted back in 1920 by famed psychologist, “the father of behaviorism”, John B. Watson. It essentially involved conditioning a baby, identified only as “Albert. B” to […]

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Does Canadian Beer Really Contain More Alcohol Than Beer Made in the United States?

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Paul E. asks: Is it true that Canadian beer has a lot more alcohol in it than American beer? Canadians boast longer lives, safer communities, free nationalized healthcare, a cleaner environment, the most gold medals in Olympic hockey, and, of course, poutine. But, contrary to popular belief, one thing they don’t do any different than their friends to the south […]

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The Origins of the Mathematical Convention of Using “X” as the Unknown

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Linda P. asks: Why do we always use “x” for everything in math? For hundreds of years, x has been the go-to symbol for the unknown quantity in mathematical equations. So who started this practice? Algebra was born in the Middle East, during the Golden Age of medieval Islamic civilization (750 to 1258 AD), and its early form can be […]

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Terrifying Fluffy Bunnies and The Little Albert Experiment

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The Little Albert Experiment was a study conducted back in 1920 by famed psychologist, “the father of behaviorism”, John B. Watson. It essentially involved conditioning a baby, identified only as “Albert. B” to experience fear at the sight of anything fluffy. Putting aside the egregious methodology problems and questionable ethics exhibited during the experiment, the reported results of the study, […]

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Why the Mass Avoidance of Some Business is Called “Boycotting”

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This term was named after a nineteenth century Englishman, Captain Charles C. Boycott (who originally had the surname “Boycatt,” but the family changed the spelling when he was nine years old). If you guessed that at a certain point Captain Boycott became quite unpopular with the masses, you’re correct. Shortly before Boycott would find himself boycotted, the situation in Ireland […]

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Can You Really Bust a Gut from Eating Too Much at Once?

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R. Lee asks: In Seven an obese man is made to stuff himself until his stomach bursts. Is this really possible? Wouldn’t you just naturally throw up? Although extremely rare, some people actually have ruptured their stomachs after eating too much, and, perhaps not surprisingly, many did not survive. When a stomach ruptures, the billions of bacteria that normally live […]

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Nixon’s Tactic of Acting Unbalanced as a Political Strategy- The Madman Theory

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Developed from game theory and a key tactic of his early administration, President Richard Nixon came into office with a clear plan – scare the hell out of other world leaders to get them to do what he wanted. Called the “madman theory,” it depended on possessing a massive nuclear arsenal, then simply acting sufficiently erratic and unbalanced to convince […]

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Did English Speakers Really Not Use Contractions in the 19th Century as Depicted in True Grit?

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Karl A. asks: In the movie True Grit, they don’t use contractions. Is it true that people back then didn’t use them? Won’t, don’t, wouldn’t, isn’t and even ain’t- where would we be without our contractions? Prevalent in spoken English and increasingly accepted in written pieces, contractions enable brevity and make written works more accessible and friendly. Contractions in some […]

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