Re: Factoid

Subject: Re: Factoid
From: Paul Tarr <pwt -at- MINNIE -dot- BELL -dot- INMET -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 12 May 1995 16:46:11 -0700

On Fri, 12 May 1995, Romay Jean Sitze wrote:

> On Fri, 12 May 1995, Arlen P. Walker wrote:

> > I think in current use the term "Factoid" is akin to "trivia." In other
> > when CNN shows a "Factoid" before the commercial, they are presenting a
> > with no accompanying interpretation, and they are making no claims about its
> > importance as "news" nor completeness in coverage of the subject.

> When I read this, a thought passed through my somewhat convoluted mind.
> Do you suppose that whoever coined the word "factoid" was inspired by
> "asteroid"? I've always heard the term in the sense Arlen used it: as a
> bit of trivis or snippet of fact. In the same vein, asteroids seem to be
> little bits of planetary matter.

> RoMay Sitze, rositze -at- nmsu -dot- edu

I guess I tend to think of the word humanoid as an example. Are humanoids
unimportant or trivial? I don't think so. Are humanoids just little people
or children? I think that you would get an arguement about this. I think
most people think of humanoids as creatures that have many human
characteristics (e.g., they walk upright) but are not actually human.

Asteroids are another good example. My dictionary defines asteroid as
"starlike". That is, when visible, asteroids have some of characteristics
of a star observation. So asteroids are "like" a star but not a star in
this sense.

Factoid is the only example I can think of which does not fall into the
"as or like" category. Probably the use of factoid by CNN is intended to
convey the idea of triviality expressed above or perhaps present a little
known fact but it appears to be an inappropriate use of the word. One of
the more amusing aspects of the word factoid is listening to the attempts
of people to define the word. The most common definition I hear is that a
factoid is a "little fact". Finally, my factoid comment seems to have
gotten out of hand so this is my last post on the subject.

Paul Tarr
(pwt -at- minnie -dot- bell -dot- inmet -dot- com)

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