The Frontal Cortex

Factoid of the Day

This year, California will spend three times as much operating its prisons than running the UC system.


  1. #1 Mo
    October 7, 2007

    A factoid is “something that sounds like a fact, is thought by many to be a fact (perhaps because it is repeated so often), but is not in fact a fact.”

    (From The Economist Style Guide.)

  2. #2 Bloix
    October 7, 2007

    “Factoid” meaning a phony fact was coined by Norman Mailer, who used it in his biography of Marilyn Monroe to describe the studio system’s technique of creating false histories for Hollywood stars. The current most prevalent meaning is the precise opposite- a perhaps trivial but interesting fact. This meaning was popularized by CNN. It’s not surprising that a TV network denatured the meaning of a word that has value in understanding how media works.

  3. #3 Jonah
    October 8, 2007

    With all due respect to the Economist, my (American) dictionary defines a factoid as a “brief or trivial item of news or information”. Perhaps this difference in semantics is one of those minor Anglo-American differences, like theatre vs theater.

  4. #4 tekel
    October 8, 2007

    Prisoners don’t pay out-of-state tuition. You could probably reverse this trend if Calfornia stopped feeding their prisoners.

  5. #5 Daniel
    October 9, 2007

    Maybe “factoid” and “factoid” are homonyms. Yeah! That’s it!

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