(Investigator 143, 2012 March)

Author: Steve Sutton

Date: 2010
Pages: 394
Publisher: Magpie Books, London.

In Indiana (USA) it is prohibited to bathe during winter; in Michigan it is not permitted to tie an alligator to a fire hydrant; in Cleveland, Ohio, a hunting license is required to catch mice; in Connorsville, Wisconsin, a man breaks the law if he fires a gun during his female partner's orgasm; and in Willowdale, Oregon, it is illegal for a man to curse while having sex with his wife.

The Giant Book of Useless Information entertains, titillates and educates with hundreds of "useless" facts.

These include hilarious misprints, ambiguous advertisements, peculiar inventions, UFO sightings, urban myths, grizzly tales, miracle workers, messiahs, food fads, anecdotes, blunders, mad scientists, quirky history, crazy animals, insightful proverbs, thoughts for the day, crude customs, previous names of film stars, obscure English language facts, memorable quotes, ludicrous conversations, scientific "snippets", stupid decisions, skeptics' topics such as Nazca lines and the Face on Mars, celebrity scandals, weird laws, the world's worst jobs, and odd beliefs. And all of this interspersed with summaries of ordinary history.

An example of an odd belief is that elderly men can be rejuvenated by inhaling the breath of young virgins. 13th century scientist/philosopher Roger Bacon believed this and lived to the age of 80.

An example of a peculiar invention is the revolving table for women giving birth, the theory being that centrifugal force will accelerate the exit of the baby. [A vertical or squatting position utilizes the help of gravity and to do better than gravity the table would have to spin very, very fast which may be why it didn't catch on.] Other peculiar inventions are the "Dad Saddle" for when kids pretend their father is a horse and want to go riding, and the "Fart Collector" a tube inserted into the rectum to "capture farts before they pollute the atmosphere".

Examples of hilarious headlines include "Double-Hand Transplant Patient Applauds Operation"; "Divorces Are Fewer Among Single People"; and "Fireworks To Be Aired On Radio".

The summaries of standard history are generally OK including the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. But occasionally there's an error such as confusing several events of Persia's attack on Greece in 490BC with events of Persia's invasion of Greece in 480BC.

Here is one of the book's memorable quotes: "The people of the world genuinely want peace. Some day the leaders of the world are going to have to give in and give it to them." (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

So should you buy this book? Perhaps one of its "Thoughts for the day" will guide your decision: "Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought."