Google creates another time-waster with 'fun facts'

Google creates another time-waster with 'fun facts'


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ATLANTA (CNN) — Take that, Fred L. Worth.

Don't know who Fred L. Worth is? Well, you can always Google it.

But Google may have done ol' Fred (who, incidentally, published "The Trivia Encyclopedia," a compendium of facts and tidbits that has kept information fans busy for more than three decades) one better, thanks to its latest offering: fun facts.

If you type "fun facts" into the search box, you get a random piece of information using a wide variety of sources. You don't even have to submit questions.

"What state is bordered by only one other state?" Google asks, with a paragraph about the answer: the state of Maine.

"What type of creature is Yoda and where is he from?" goes another question. The answer, from Google source Wookieepedia: "The Jedi Master Yoda was the best-known member of a Force-sensitive species whose true name is not recorded." Neither is the name of his home planet.

"How many pandas are there in the United States?" Turns out, according to Google's source — a 2012 New York Times article — there are 12 giant pandas in captivity in the United States.

The sourcing may reveal a small flaw in Google's fact-finding, in that the Times article is three years old.

In another example, Google's fun fact asked what the sweetener was in Diet Coke, but its answer provided only a short history of the beverage from Wikipedia. You have to click on the Wikipedia link to find that aspartame is the sweetener.

Google creates another time-waster with 'fun facts'

In the case of the pandas, according to a 2014 USA Today article, 12 is still correct, if you're counting adults, since there haven't been any adult additions in the last year. However, it should be noted that one of the pandas did give birth to two cubs in late August. One of the newborns died.

The reviews — such as they are, given that the writers were probably ready for their next hit of trivia dopamine — have been good.

"Oh boy is this a good time waster," wrote Nick Summers on Engadget.

"Google's new 'Fun Facts' feature is a procrastinator's dream," headlined an article on

There are plenty of other places to find random facts, of course. The front page of Wikipedia has a whole section devoted to "Did you know ..." "Jeopardy!" titan Ken Jennings' blog is full of rich information.

And there are, you know, books. Like "10,000 Answers," Jennings' "Trivia Almanac," the books of Mental Floss and, of course, Worth's "Encyclopedia." (Or those old "Ripley's Believe It Or Not!" paperbacks sitting in your grandparents' attic.)

But first, you have to free yourself from Google's distraction.

Don't worry. It's totally Worth it.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2015 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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