TEN FACTS TO TURN YOUR HEAD
The world is never quite how we imagine it to be, as these illuminating truths show.
If you’re looking for an amusing and compelling stocking filler this Christmas, Prospect Magazine’s ‘You are in fact one-third daffodil’ (Prospect publishing 2009) may just do the trick. Compiled from the magazine’s small and quirky ‘In fact’ monthly column, it comprises hundreds of strange yet revealing facts and statistics about human life and society. Here are ten of my favourites, with my sometimes opinionated commentary in italics.
Subjects of the Roman Empire had an average life expectancy of 28 years
We often talk about Jesus’ life being cut short on the cross but on this reckoning he lasted five years longer than others in his position at the time
The three most common requests by people planning their own funeral are to be cremated with their pet’s ashes; to have a mobile phone in the coffin; and for someone to ensure that they are dead
The latter two requests reveal one of our deepest fears: that we will be buried alive – a phobia which is part of a larger anxiety over the grave as human destiny
95 per cent of filed documents remain filed for ever
How much space could we create in our lives if we acted on this? The figure is emblematic of a litigious and bureaucratic era in which hording becomes a virtue not a vice
41 per cent of British people stay at home every evening of the week
And yet many people say they have no time to volunteer for causes
Einstein did not learn to read until he was ten
Chill out, pushy parents
Most babies in Britain are conceived without the conscious consent of the father
Helping fathers embrace parental responsibility surely starts before conception with an honest and trusting covenant
Just 3.5 per cent of British people believe they are in the top income quartile; 47 per cent believe they are in the bottom
It is human nature to compare ourselves unfavourably with those we think are better off than we are rather than to compare ourselves favourably with those we think are less well off. Wealth is a powerfully deceptive and unsettling force
Just 1.4 per cent of Iran’s population attend Friday prayers
This turns Anglican religious observance into revolutionary fervour by comparison…
The number of armed conflicts in the world has declined by more than 40 per cent since 1992
The pessimistic assumption we make from absorbing modern media is that everything is getting so much worse when there is clearly much to give thanks for
Obama's Covert Wars
The use of drones is going to change warfare out of all recognition in the next decades.
Through A Glass Starkly
Images of traumatic incidents caught on mobile phone can be put to remarkable effect.
What Are British Values?
Is there a British identity and if so, what has shaped the values and institutions that form it?