What is a factoid
Answers.com describes a factoid as a piece of unverified or inaccurate
information that is presented in the press as factual, often as part of a publicity effort, and that is then accepted as true
because of frequent repetition.
The –oid suffix normally imparts the meaning “resembling,
having the appearance of” to the words it attaches to. Thus the anthropoid apes are the apes that are most like humans
(from Greek anthrōpos, “human being”). In some words –oid has a slightly extended meaning—“having
characteristics of, but not the same as,” as in humanoid, a being that has human characteristics but is not really human.
Similarly, factoid originally referred to a piece of information
that appears to be reliable or accurate, as from being repeated so often that people assume it is true.
Factoid has since developed a second meaning, that of a brief,
somewhat interesting fact, that might better have been called a factette.
The term was coined by Norman Mailer in his 1973 biography of
Marilyn Monroe. Mailer described a factoid as "facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper",
and created the word by combining the word "fact" and the ending "-oid" to mean "like a fact".
There are strong connections between factoids and urban legends.
The media in Canada have often reported that the city of Toronto
was named by UNESCO as the most multicultural city in the world. Although there have been some reports suggesting that Toronto
may be one of the world's most diverse cities (see Demographics of Toronto), the United Nations agency has never designated
any city as being the most multicultural or diverse. Nonetheless, the belief in this status persisted for years, even finding
its way onto UNESCO's own web site, into the pages of the New York Times, and into international media reports in respect
Gullible.info, an online compendium of fake trivia, was started
in the fall of 2004 by Kyle Stoneman, then a ~19 years old political communications major at George Washington University,
"as a social experiment parodying people's willingness to accept bits of information without question."
On April 27 2006 The Guardian ran a short piece about the soon
expected filming of Timothy Leary's biography. The piece reported Leary had "claimed to have discovered a new primary colour
- which he called gendale." A month later Regret the Error, Craig Silverman's blog of journalism bloopers, published a posting
titled "Guardian taps Gullible.info for a bogus Leary fact", the "fact" being Leary's said "claim". At that time the Guardian
still hadn't corrected their mistake, but by mid December, when the mistake made Silverman's list of the "best" journalism
mistakes of '06, Silverman reported the Guardian had fixed the mistake.
Factoid can refer to a spurious (unverified, incorrect, or invented)
"fact" intended to create or prolong public exposure or to manipulate public opinion. It appears in the Oxford English Dictionary
as "something which becomes accepted as fact, although it may not be true", namely a speculation or an assumption.
See also http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com/factoidsindex.html