Real time fact checking

and sometimes the day after too.

I find it so strange to think that there was a time when I didn’t have a laptop next to me while watching television – even if it is to check the facts on whatever show I happen to be watching.

It happened at least twice that I can recall this past week. These are a pair of our favourite can’t miss shows.

Fool Us

This is an interesting premise. Magicians come and perform a magic trick in front of Penn and Teller. The idea, of course, is to fool them. I’ll admit that they all fool me.

At the end of the act, feedback is given to the magician but professional courtesy goes beyond just saying “You didn’t fool us”. Penn and Teller have to explain how the trick is done to prove that they weren’t fooled. Of course, they don’t want to give away too much.

This week, there was one magician who I thought had done a terrific job and Penn asked the magician if Leonard Green meant anything to him. It did and proved that Penn knew his stuff. Truth be told, I heard “Leonard Green” but it turned out to be Lennart Green. There are lots of interesting articles available but check this out – a TED talk by Mr. Green!

Watch it. It will be the best 30 minutes you spend today. Especially, the last of the talk with the tin foil! If you know how he did it, please share.

Still Standing

Jonny Harris is amazing. The idea behind this show is to visit communities in Canada that have come across hard times and are on the rebound.

This past week, Jonny was in a community named Bamfield, British Columbia (actually it was a rerun but still great to watch). It could have been just about any other community with less than 200 people except for one difference – there’s an inlet dividing the town into a west and an east. It’s one of those things where you “can’t get there from here”.

So, I’m sitting and wondering – really?

He made this up.

Grab the laptop and launch Google Maps and do a search.

Son of a gun.

Zoom in and out as I might, there is no road across or around!

I needed a second opinion and so look in OpenStreetMap. Maybe crowd sourcing does a better job than Google.

Nope. Now, there are roads on both sides of Bamfield and the show reveals the only other solution to getting across that inlet.

So, what did people do before fact checking and computers for television shows? I’m guessing that they just denied things and claim that they were just made up!

And yet, today, I can honestly say that I learned a couple of new things. Does it get any better than that?

Published by dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: Follow me on Twitter: I'm bookmarking things at:

4 thoughts on “Real time fact checking

  1. Good morning Doug!

    I find having ready access to facts/details incredibly useful when I’m watching a TV show or a movie and I come across an actor who seems familiar but I can’t place where I’ve seen them before. Invariably it is fascinating to look back over their body of work and identify the place(s) where I would have seen them previously.

    However, my real time fact checking (and can you believe it/here’s what I learned today) story of the week came not from watching television but rather from a conversation with my brother.

    I was speaking to him (via text) about my destination for this weekend and it’s proximity to Menlo Park where Edison spent a bunch of his time experimenting and inventing. The name head stuck in my head from reading books about Edison when I was a kid. It was where he invented the phonograph and the incandescent lightbulb. My understanding was that Menlo Park was in Edison, New Jersey. That made sense to me, given the double Edison reference and what I was seeing on the map.. My brother texted back that Menlo Park was in California near Palo Alto. Hmmmm.

    Real time fact checking via Wikipedia showed that indeed both states had a Menlo Park, and as it turned out, the Edison one was named after the California one. That was interesting enough, but then came the little fact add-on that explained the origin of the name of the California Menlo Park:

    In 1854, two Irish immigrants in California put up a sign “Menlo park“ on their new property. The word “Menlo” derived from the owners’ former home of Menlo in County Galway, Ireland, and is an Anglicized version of the original Irish name of the place, Mionloch, meaning “middle lake.”

    I found it fascinating to learn that the one that stuck in my head from my childhood — located in the eastern part of the US back in history — was named after a predecessor in the western part of the US (which one would expect was settled subsequently and such that that would be the second naming) only to find out that the name had leapfrogged over New Jersey from Ireland, and from there went back east.

    Nothing earth shattering, but certainly an example of the information that’s on the Internet and how it can augment a little experience that pops up in your day. Suddenly you know something that you wouldn’t have otherwise!


  2. I do this all the time. Several shows we watch are period shows from outside the US so there are often historical or cultural references that are new to me. I feel the need to learn more. And to separate fact from fiction.


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