Having spent countless hours researching for, and creating trivia questions for this trivia site, it has allowed me to gain knowledge on a lot of different subjects, but what am I actually learning? Are trivia facts? Are facts trivia? I set out to find the difference.
Trivia are facts, but not all facts are trivia. When we compare trivia to facts, it is important to understand the true definition and connotation associated with each word. Trivia is pieces of information that are considered to be of low value; they are seen as unimportant. In fact, the term “trivia” derives from the word “trivial” which is an adjective used to describe anything of little value. Facts are pieces of information that have been proven to be true and higher value. Each word has its own connotation. While facts are typically considered valuable information, trivia is considered to be unimportant.
Throughout the course of history, what people may have deemed to be facts at one point, could have evolved into trivial information over time. As with most things, the value of information is highly subjective. That is, it truly depends on the value of the information associated with it by the individual; what may be valuable to some people may be completely insignificant to others.
When Facts Become Trivia
Again, historically, facts have a connotation of being information regarded to be of higher importance. In certain contexts, a fact may be deemed to trivia based on a variety of factors. Some of these factors can include cultural significance, a period of time in history, or even the context of the information as it is used.
As an example, understanding the proper way to bow in Japan based on the situation at hand would be considered trivia to a foreigner who may never have to participate in said scenario. On the other hand, as a native Japanese citizen, this information could prove to be a very important fact of their reality, since not knowing could hinder common but important interactions within their daily lives.
In the first scenario, having this information may be considered trivia to the foreigner. In the second scenario, this may be considered a fact since it has high importance to the person who lives in that society.
Another example might include information that at one point in time was considered a fact, but has been disproven over time. During the medieval times, it was common that doctors would attempt to cure their patients using a technique known as bloodletting, where the doctor would create a wound to help heal the sick person, believing this would help drain the ailing individual’s disease from their body. As we know today, draining blood from someone would do a lot more harm than good when attempting to heal someone.
In this scenario, during medieval times, this technique was considered a fact, that is, bloodletting was considered an appropriate medical technique. So in this context of the time, the medical procedure of blood-letting would have been considered an important piece of information, known and used by educated men (doctors). Today, however, we know that bloodletting would likely kill you, so knowing this now would be considered trivia.
8 “Facts” that are Now Considered Trivia
Over the course of history, there have been many pieces of information deemed to be of high value that would today be considered trivia. Here is a list of interesting (and some hilarious) “facts” that have become trivia over the course of history:
- Smoking used to be considered good for you and even used by doctors to cure certain ailments.
- Pregnancy tests used to involve injecting a live rabbit with a woman’s urine and then operating on the rabbit to check if the animal’s ovaries had reacted to the urine.
- Human bone, blood, and fat were used to treat many ailments by people of higher status during the 16th and 17th centuries.
- In ancient Rome, urine was considered an effective mouthwash and was commonly used.
- Ancient Egyptians believed that the brain’s primary function was to produce mucus.
- It was once scientifically accepted that foul-smelling air carried diseases, also known as the miasma theory of disease.
- Russians once believed that drinking vodka could prevent cancer.
- Woodworm (one of the key ingredients in absinthe) was used by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians as medicine.