Tuesday, May 24

The Debunker: Where Do Fortune Cookies Come From?

by Ken Jennings

May is Asian heritage month in the U.S. and Canada, but most of us probably celebrate the Asian diaspora year-round by enjoying one of the greatest gifts from the other edge of the Pacific Rim: Asian food. But sometimes, in our uncommon hurry to enjoy the ramen or the curry, we may find ourselves slurping up all kinds of bad takes along with our good takeout. Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy! fame is obviously not Asian, but (fun fact!) he grew up in Asia, which sort of qualifies him to set us straight on some of the biggest culinary misconceptions about the world's biggest continent. Check, please!

The Debunker: Where Do Fortune Cookies Come From?

Fortune cookies! Where else would you get great life advice like "☺ Your fondest dream will come true ☺ 07 22 31 43 05 30 "? A Chinese meal wouldn't be complete without this dessert that, mysteriously, nobody likes but nobody ever skips. Actually, I should correct that. Believe it or not, there is one place where you can eat Chinese food without fortune cookies appearing with the bill, and that's because no one there has ever even heard of them. That place is China.

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Tuesday, May 17

The Debunker: What Utensils Should I Use for Thai Food?

by Ken Jennings

May is Asian heritage month in the U.S. and Canada, but most of us probably celebrate the Asian diaspora year-round by enjoying one of the greatest gifts from the other edge of the Pacific Rim: Asian food. But sometimes, in our uncommon hurry to enjoy the ramen or the curry, we may find ourselves slurping up all kinds of bad takes along with our good takeout. Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy! fame is obviously not Asian, but (fun fact!) he grew up in Asia, which sort of qualifies him to set us straight on some of the biggest culinary misconceptions about the world's biggest continent. Check, please!

The Debunker: What Utensils Should I Use for Thai Food?

Asking for a fork at an Asian restaurant might be one of life's most demoralizing small defeats—or small embarrassments, if it's your visiting parent who's harassing the waiter. Eating competently with chopsticks, the paired sticks first used as utensils in China over six thousand years ago, is a neat shorthand for worldliness and open-mindedness and, in general, having your culinary s*** together.

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Tuesday, May 10

The Debunker: Does MSG Cause "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome"?

by Ken Jennings

May is Asian heritage month in the U.S. and Canada, but most of us probably celebrate the Asian diaspora year-round by enjoying one of the greatest gifts from the other edge of the Pacific Rim: Asian food. But sometimes, in our uncommon hurry to enjoy the ramen or the curry, we may find ourselves slurping up all kinds of bad takes along with our good takeout. Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy! fame is obviously not Asian, but (fun fact!) he grew up in Asia, which sort of qualifies him to set us straight on some of the biggest culinary misconceptions about the world's biggest continent. Check, please!

The Debunker: Does MSG Cause "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome"?

In 1968, a Chinese-American doctor named Robert Ho Man Kwok wrote a light-hearted letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, wondering about a strange health complaint he noticed after eating in American Chinese restaurants: numbness in the back, heart palpitations, and general weakness. Dr. Kwok wondered what to blame this on. Chinese cooking wine? Foods high in sodium? Dozens of readers eagerly responded that they had noticed "Chinese restaurant syndrome" as well, and the conversation began to center around the food additive MSG.

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Tuesday, May 03

The Debunker: What Ingredient Makes Sushi Sushi?

by Ken Jennings

May is Asian heritage month in the U.S. and Canada, but most of us probably celebrate the Asian diaspora year-round by enjoying one of the greatest gifts from the other edge of the Pacific Rim: Asian food. But sometimes, in our uncommon hurry to enjoy the ramen or the curry, we may find ourselves slurping up all kinds of bad takes along with our good takeout. Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy! fame is obviously not Asian, but (fun fact!) he grew up in Asia, which sort of qualifies him to set us straight on some of the biggest culinary misconceptions about the world's biggest continent. Check, please!

The Debunker: What Ingredient Makes Sushi Sushi?

The traditional Japanese treat of sushi hasn't always been appreciated on these shores. When the Ladies' Home Journal introduced Americans to Japanese cuisine in 1929, the editors "purposely omitted…any recipes using the delicate and raw tuna fish which is sliced wafer thin and served iced." America wasn't even eating pizza yet in 1929. It sure as hell weren't ready for cold raw tuna as an entrée.

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Tuesday, April 26

The Debunker: Are Dinosaurs Extinct?

by Ken Jennings

If there's one thing everyone knows about the dinosaurs, it's that they're dead. In fact, they're synonymous with deadness, like disco or doornails or Francisco Franco. About 65 million years ago, an asteroid collided with Earth, splashing down in a shallow sea off the coast of what is today Mexico. The dinosaurs, probably already made vulnerable by a million years of climate shifts, didn't stand a chance against a rock the size of Manhattan. Mile-high tsunamis, volcanoes and earthquakes, shock waves circling the globe, rains of molten glass, a year of complete darkness. It was literally lights out for them.

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Tuesday, April 19

The Debunker: Did Tyrannosaurus Have Scrawny Little Arms?

by Ken Jennings

It's been a long time—66 million years!—since the Cretaceous Period ended in explosive fashion, so there's a lot we don't know about our predecessors atop the food chain, the dinosaurs. Were they hot-blooded or cold-blooded, fast or slow, pack animals or lone hunters? What color were they, and what did they sound like? Could you really use one to make a record player, like the Flintstones did? Luckily, our Jeopardy! correspondent Ken Jennings has just published his seventh Junior Genius Guide, this one all about the dinosaurs! He's here all month to straighten us out on all the Mesozoic misinformation we thought we knew.

The Debunker: Did Tyrannosaurus Have Scrawny Little Arms?

The lamestream media, from The Far Side to the Toy Story movies, has spent the last few decades trying to convince us that the mighty prehistoric carnivore Tyrannosaurus rex should feel bad about its body. Specifically: that it skipped too many arm days at the Jurassic gym.

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Tuesday, April 12

The Debunker: Did Some Dinosaurs Have a Second Brain in Their Butt?

by Ken Jennings

It's been a long time—66 million years!—since the Cretaceous Period ended in explosive fashion, so there's a lot we don't know about our predecessors atop the food chain, the dinosaurs. Were they hot-blooded or cold-blooded, fast or slow, pack animals or lone hunters? What color were they, and what did they sound like? Could you really use one to make a record player, like the Flintstones did? Luckily, our Jeopardy! correspondent Ken Jennings has just published his seventh Junior Genius Guide, this one all about the dinosaurs! He's here all month to straighten us out on all the Mesozoic misinformation we thought we knew.

The Debunker: Did Some Dinosaurs Have a Second Brain in Their Butt?

Poor Stegosaurus. He hasn't walked the Earth for 150 million years, and people are still talking about how dumb he was. That's pretty much his whole reputation. He's the Dan Quayle of dinosaurs.

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Tuesday, April 05

The Debunker: Is the Oil in Your Car Made from Dead Dinosaurs?

by Ken Jennings

It's been a long time—66 million years!—since the Cretaceous Period ended in explosive fashion, so there's a lot we don't know about our predecessors atop the food chain, the dinosaurs. Were they hot-blooded or cold-blooded, fast or slow, pack animals or lone hunters? What color were they, and what did they sound like? Could you really use one to make a record player, like the Flintstones did? Luckily, our Jeopardy! correspondent Ken Jennings has just published his seventh Junior Genius Guide, this one all about the dinosaurs! He's here all month to straighten us out on all the Mesozoic misinformation we thought we knew.

The Debunker: Is the Oil in Your Car Made from Dead Dinosaurs?

We call oil, coal, and gas "fossil fuels" because they were produced by the decomposition of animal life from hundreds of millions of years ago. For over eighty years, Sinclair Oil has been playing up this prehistoric connection: using a bright green brontosaurus as its logo, giving away inflatable sauropods to kids, putting talking cartoon dinosaurs in its TV ads, and even calling its premium gas "Dino Supreme." (Now with 15 percent more "Dino"!) Generations of American kids should be forgiven for assuming that the fossil fuels in their plastics and furnaces and gas tanks were actually made of dinosaur fossils.

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Tuesday, March 29

The Debunker: What Color Is the "Black Box" on an Airplane?

by Ken Jennings

In 2009, a global cabal of artists, designers, and scientists called the International Colour Association decided to create a day to honour—er, "honor"—color in all its forms. International Colour Day is now celebrated every March 21, since that's the spring equinox, the day when light and darkness are in perfect balance. All month, we're going to have Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings with us, debunking a full spectrum of chromatic claptrap. Your trivia knowledge will soon be in the pink.

The Debunker: What Color Is the "Black Box" on an Airplane?

Like many important inventions, you never hear about them unless something has already gone terribly wrong. By law, the rear fuselage of every commercial airliner in the world—sometimes the rear cargo hold, sometimes a compartment above the galley ceiling—carries a device that records flight data and cockpit audio while the plane is in flight. This is the famous "black box" that's designed to tell investigators what went wrong when a plane goes down.

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Tuesday, March 22

The Debunker: Is There a Chemical That Makes Pool Water + Pee Turn Blue?

by Ken Jennings

In 2009, a global cabal of artists, designers, and scientists called the International Colour Association decided to create a day to honour—er, "honor"—color in all its forms. International Colour Day is now celebrated every March 21, since that's the spring equinox, the day when light and darkness are in perfect balance. All month, we're going to have Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings with us, debunking a full spectrum of chromatic claptrap. Your trivia knowledge will soon be in the pink.

The Debunker: Is There a Chemical That Makes Pool Water + Pee Turn Blue?

Odds are, you do it too. According to a 2015 poll by the Internet media company Travelzoo, fully 64 percent of Americans admit to peeing in the swimming pool rather than getting out and walking to the restroom like civilized people. With all these people turning the piscine into a total piss scene, you'd think someone would have wondered by now: where are the telltale plumes of dark blue, from the urine indicator in the water? We've seen this stuff at work in movies like Grown-Ups and Take This Waltz, right? Everyone knows public pools have a secret chemical that turns a different color in the presence of pee.

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