WTF Fun Fact 13488 – Police Training in Norway

Police training in Norway is notorious rigorous. Unlike many countries where law enforcement training involves a few months in a police academy, Norway makes a three-year commitment at the Police University College (Politihøgskolen) a must.

Norway’s Police University College

Yes, you read that right – a university college just for police training. The Police University College, situated in Oslo, Stavern, and Kongsvinger, is the heart of Norway’s police education system.

Aspiring officers embark on a three-year bachelor’s degree program where they learn far more than just the basics of policing. The curriculum is thorough and multi-faceted, including subjects like law, ethics, criminology, and even foreign languages.

The first and third years of the bachelor’s program mainly focus on theoretical studies. Cadets dig deep into the theory of police work, criminal law, ethics, and social sciences. They are taught to respect human rights, to understand different cultures, and to uphold justice without bias. This holistic approach ensures that the officers graduate with a comprehensive understanding of both the practical and societal aspects of their role.

Field Training for Norwegian Police

What good would theoretical knowledge be without some practical application? That’s why the second year is dedicated to field training. Cadets spend this year across various police districts, getting their boots dirty and experiencing the real-world scenarios they’ve learned about in class. This year is invaluable, bridging the gap between theory and practice and providing hands-on experience in the field.

Norwegian police officers aren’t just confined to their patrol cars. Some have prosecutorial powers, handling minor offenses in court. This unique responsibility requires additional qualifications – a law degree, to be precise. Hence, those who wish to take on this dual role undertake further education, adding an extra layer of legal expertise to their enforcement abilities.

The Ethical and Emotional Aspects of Police Training in Norway

Police work can be as mentally challenging as it is physically, if not more. Norway understands this and includes psychological training to build resilience and mental fortitude. Ethical training is another cornerstone, ensuring officers know how to react respectfully and responsibly in every situation.

It’s clear that the journey to becoming a police officer in Norway is a commitment to rigorous education, intense field training, and personal development. It’s about shaping individuals who are not just law enforcers, but educated, empathetic, and ethical members of the community they serve.

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Source: “Police in Norway: The Norwegian Policing System Explained” — Life in Norway

WTF Fun Fact 13487 – Happy Couples Post Less on Social Media

We’re all familiar with that couple who constantly posts pictures of their romantic getaways, perfect dinners, and seemingly idyllic moments – but a study showed that happy couples post less on social media.

It appears that couples who frequently share selfies and other relationship-related content on social media platforms aren’t living quite the life they claim to be. Go figure.

The Study and Its Findings

An online photography platform, Shotkit, conducted an intriguing study involving over 2,000 individuals aged between 18 to 50. The participants were asked to rate their relationship’s overall happiness, intimacy, communication, and trust. They were also asked about their frequency of sharing relationship-related content on social media.

The study revealed that couples who posted three or more selfies per week were, on average, 128% less happy compared to those who refrained from broadcasting their relationship on the internet. In fact, only 10% of frequent social media sharers categorized themselves as “very happy.”

In contrast, nearly half (46%) of those who don’t publicize their relationships online perceived themselves as happier. The unhappiest group was couples who posted more than three times a week, with merely 32% classifying their relationship as “happy” or “very happy.”

Reasons Happy Couples Post Less on Social Media

This study’s findings hint at potential underlying issues. One compelling inference is that trust issues could be prompting couples to post more frequently on social media. The main reason identified for couples sharing their relationship online was to signify that they or their partner were ‘taken.’

Interestingly, the top three reasons why couples refrained from sharing their relationships online were: “privacy,” “embarrassment,” and being “not regular social media users.”

Of course, not all social media sharing is detrimental but hinted at the danger of overdoing it.

The results suggest a potent social media paradox. In a world where social platforms allow us to share our lives with a broader audience, we might unknowingly be sacrificing the intimacy and privacy that nourish a truly fulfilling relationship.

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Source: “Happy Couples Post Their Partner Less on Social Media” — Relevant

WTF Fun Fact 13486 – Mamihlapinatapai, the Most Succinct Word

Certain words defy easy translation since they embody ideas or emotions so complex – one such word is “mamihlapinatapai.”

This word hails from the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego, an archipelago split between Chile and Argentina. The term was recognized in the 1994 Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most “succinct word.” (Unfortunately, today, their tribe has dwindled to fewer than 2,000 members, with most speaking Spanish instead of their native tongue.)

Mamihlapinatapai, the Untranslatable Emotion

Mamihlapinatapai is defined as “a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would initiate something that they both desire but which neither wants to begin.”

The word’s complexity and its lack of a direct translation into English or other major languages have earned it a spot among the world’s favorite “untranslatables.”

It wasn’t until the late 2000s that the term mamihlapinatapai started appearing all over the internet. People were fascinated. Artists found inspiration in the term, incorporating it into their songs, exhibitions, and books.

More Than Just Romance

Of course, just as internet fame changes a person, it can change a word. While mamihlapinatapai often evokes romantic notions, its application now extends to other areas. For example, in gaming theory, it refers to the volunteer’s dilemma, where an individual player might have to make a sacrifice for the collective benefit.

Despite the global recognition of mamihlapinatapai, the Yaghan language is teetering on the brink of extinction. It has no linguistic relatives. The last guardian of this language is Cristina Calderon, the only fluent living speaker of Yaghan!

Despite the impending threat to the Yaghan language, there’s hope. Calderon has been teaching her granddaughter some Yaghan, and they have published books to preserve Yaghan culture and history. This effort to pass on the language and culture to the next generation is a critical step in preserving this endangered language.

Internet Fame: A Blessing or a Curse?

While the global recognition of mamihlapinatapai has introduced the world to the Yaghan language and culture, it has also brought unwanted media attention to the Yaghan community. The fame of a single word, however, does not ensure the survival of the language.

The story of mamihlapinatapai is a testament to language’s ability to capture the subtleties of human experience. It serves as a stark reminder of the loss we face as languages dwindle and disappear, taking with them unique cultural perspectives and understanding.

The tale of this word reminds us that each language offers its unique prism through which we can view and understand the world.

Wondering how to pronounce this complex word? Check out this video (but you’ll probably need to listen a few times to catch it):

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Source: “How the Internet Changed the Meaning of ‘Mamihlapinatapai’” — Atlas Obscura

WTF Fun Fact 13480 – Convinced of a Crime You Didn’t Commit

It only takes a few hours for you to be convinced of a crime you didn’t commit. It’s a well-known psychological phenomenon.

This isn’t so much a “fun fact” as one that’s kind of awful if you really think about it. And it certainly has implications for questioning crime suspects (or perpetrating psychological abuse).

The criminal justice system relies heavily on the accuracy of human memory and the credibility of its testimonies. Yet, human memory is highly malleable and susceptible to suggestions and false implants. Some wrongful conviction cases suggest that innocent suspects, when questioned using certain tactics, can be led to believe and confess to committing crimes they never did.

This concept goes beyond our typical understanding of “false confessions.” It underscores the potential of forming vivid, detailed false memories of perpetrating serious crimes.

Can You Really Be Convinced of a Crime You Didn’t Commit?

A 2015 study psychologists published in the journal Psychological Science explains it all. It shows how someone can convince innocent participants they had committed crimes as grave as assault with a weapon in their teenage years. (In the years since, more research has corroborated the possibility.)

Lead psychological scientist Julia Shaw from the University of Bedfordshire, UK led the study. She found that a certain type of questioning can help generate these false memories relatively easily. Her team used a friendly interview environment, introduced a few incorrect details, and applied poor memory-retrieval techniques. (Note – the students in the study volunteered, and an ethics review board assesses research plans).

For the study, the research team first contacted the caregivers of university students. They asked them to fill out questionnaires about specific events the students might have experienced from ages 11 to 14. And they instructed them not to discuss the questions with the student/subject.

The researchers then subjected the students to three 40-minute interviews about two events from their teenage years. One real and one was falsely constructed, but included some true details from their past.

The Surprising Results

The findings were startling. Out of the 30 participants told they had committed a crime as a teenager, 21 (or 71%) developed a false memory of the “crime”! A similar proportion, 76.67%, formed false memories of an emotional event they were told about.

The criminal false events seemed just as believable as the emotional ones. Students gave the same number of details, and reported similar levels of confidence, vividness, and sensory detail for both types of events.

Shaw and co-author Stephen Porter hypothesized that incorporating true details into a supposedly corroborated account probably provided enough familiarity to make the false event plausible.

However, there were slight differences in the memories for false events and true events. For example, participants reported more details and confidence in their descriptions of the true memories.

Implications and Applications

These findings emphasize the fundamental malleability of memory. The implications extend to various fields, notably criminal justice, legal procedures, and even therapeutic settings. They indicate the need for vigilance in situations where memory recollection is key. Clearly, the innocent can be led to generate rich false memories of emotional and criminal events!

The knowledge that innocent individuals can be led to create complex false memories quite easily serves as a cautionary tale. And it’s one that hopefully influences the interview techniques that could induce them.

This research also underscores the need for further investigations into the specific interview tactics that contribute to false memories. Understanding these factors can help improve interviewing procedures, and in turn, the integrity of our legal system.

Memory, a cornerstone of our identity and experiences, can be surprisingly plastic and fallible. By studying and understanding its limitations, we can better protect ourselves from the potential distortions. This is part of ensuring a more reliable justice system, and fostering better practices in situations where the accuracy of memory is critical.

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Source: “People Can Be Convinced They Committed a Crime That Never Happened” — Psychological Science

WTF Fun Fact 13479 – Taylor Swift Makes Seattle Rumble

During two Taylor Swift performances in Seattle on July 22 and 23, 2023, an unexpected phenomenon occurred. Swift’s fans, through their sheer enthusiasm and collective dance movements, generated seismic activity equivalent to a 2.3 magnitude earthquake.

The discovery, made by seismologist Jackie Caplan-Auerbach, brings new meaning to the power of music and fan engagement.

Taylor Swift vs the “Beast Quake”

The local seismometer detected the activity produced by Swift’s fans, comparing it to the famous 2011 “Beast Quake.” The Beast Quake refers to the seismic activity triggered by ecstatic Seattle Seahawks fans. This occurred after Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown in an NFC wild-card game against the New Orleans Saints.

Swift’s performances didn’t just shake the ground – they also broke records. Swift sold out both nights in Seattle. 72,171 fans attended the Saturday show, surpassing the previous venue record of 70,000 set by U2 in 2011.

Although this incident is extraordinary, it’s not unprecedented. Concerts have sporadically registered seismic activity. Notable instances include a 2011 Foo Fighters concert in New Zealand and a 2022 Garth Brooks concert at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. However, seismic magnitudes from these concerts weren’t reported at the time.

The Power of Music

Caplan-Auerbach, a geology professor at Western Washington University, was first alerted to the Swift comparison through a Pacific north-west earthquake group she moderates. Upon scrutinizing seismic data from both concerts and the 2011 NFL event, she noticed striking similarities. “I grabbed the data from both nights of the concert and quickly noticed they were clearly the same pattern of signals,” she told CNN.

Despite the minor difference between the NFL event and the Swifties dancing, Swift’s fans still managed to outdo the Beast Quake. The seismic activity caused by their continuous cheering and dancing was twice as strong as that of the Beast Quake. Caplan-Auerbach shared that the shaking “absolutely doubled” that of the Beast Quake.

While the ground-shaking cheer after the Seahawks touchdown lasted for just a moment, the energy driven into the ground by the dancing and cheering Swift fans (in addition to the music) generated seismic activity for a more extended period.

Swift’s Seattle concerts exemplify how her fans’ passion and engagement can literally shake the ground. As Swift’s Eras Tour continues, who knows what other records – or seismic readings – her dedicated fanbase will break.

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Source: “Quake it off: Taylor Swift fans generate seismic activity during Seattle shows” — The Guardian

WTF Fun Fact 13475 – The Harper Lee Christmas Gift Story

We’re lucky enough to have the book To Kill a Mockingbird in part because of a Harper Lee Christmas gift. Lee had left law school early and was struggling to finish her book in NYC. That is, until a couple gave her the gift of time.

The Working Woman

In 1949, Lee worked as an airline reservation agent in New York City for Eastern Air Lines and British Overseas Airways. But the Alabama native had her sights set on a writing career. The problem was that the demands of her job left little room for her to dive into her passion. Writing a book takes stretches of uninterrupted time. That’s not easy for a working person (no matter what those online courses tell you about writing a book in 60 days!).

Lee managed to start on a manuscript that turned into a short story. But she struggled to find the uninterrupted hours needed to shape and refine her work into a novel. She needed a break, a window of opportunity that could help her fulfill her literary dreams. That break arrived on a memorable Christmas Day in 1956.

An Iconic Christmas Gift

Now, they say you can’t give the gift of time – but technically, you can. Apparently, you just need to have the right friends.

That year, Lee’s friends, Broadway composer Michael Brown and his wife, Joy, gave her an extraordinary present. Instead of something tangible or ornamental, they offered Lee the gift of free time. They handed her a year’s wages, accompanying this gift with a single mandate: “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.”

I know what I’m adding to my holiday list this year!!

Emboldened by her friends’ generosity, Lee quit her job and devoted herself to her craft. The manuscript gradually transformed over that year, morphing into the remarkable novel we now recognize.To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960. It soon captured the hearts of critics and readers alike, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961.

The Legacy of the Harper Lee Christmas Gift

Today, To Kill a Mockingbird graces the shelves of readers around the world and continues to be a critical part of educational curriculums. Translated into over 40 languages, the novel’s tale of racial injustice and lost innocence in a small Southern town resonates with millions.

The Christmas gift that ignited the creation of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ represents more than financial aid. It embodies the impact of unwavering faith in a friend’s talent and potential. This story serves as a reminder of the transformative power that can stem from supporting someone’s dreams.

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Source: “How a thoughtful Christmas present helped Harper Lee write ‘To Kill a Mockingbird'” — Business Insider

WTF Fun Fact 13468 – The Streisand Effect

The term “Streisand Effect” may sound like it’s tied to some groundbreaking scientific discovery, but it’s actually named after the famous American singer and actress, Barbra Streisand. The term was coined in 2005 and refers to an unexpected and counter-intuitive social phenomenon where efforts to suppress or censor information backfire, leading to the unintended consequence of the information being widely publicized and shared even more than before.

2. The Origin Story

The Streisand Effect was named after an incident involving Barbra Streisand in 2003. A photographer named Kenneth Adelman had taken aerial shots of the California coastline for the California Coastal Records Project. He intended to document coastal erosion. One of these photographs included Streisand’s Malibu home. Despite the image being among 12,000 others and not specifically identifying her home, Streisand sued Adelman and the associated website for $50 million. She asserted that the photo violated her privacy rights.

However, Streisand’s efforts to maintain her privacy unintentionally drew more attention to the photograph. Prior to the lawsuit, the picture had only been downloaded from Adelman’s website six times; two of those downloads were by Streisand’s lawyers. After the lawsuit became public, the photograph gained widespread attention, receiving over 420,000 views in the following month.

3. Examples of The Streisand Effect in Action

Since the original incident, the Streisand Effect has occurred multiple times, especially in the digital age where information spreads quickly.

In 2008, a blog post detailing weaknesses in the Church of Scientology’s operations resulted in a takedown notice from the Church. Instead of disappearing, the information proliferated across other sites, leading to more awareness and criticism of the Church.

In 2009, the UK law firm Carter-Ruck tried to suppress a report about its client Trafigura, a commodity trading company involved in a toxic waste scandal. A gag order initially prevented The Guardian from reporting on the issue. A judge lifted the order after intense public outcry and online sharing of the information.

The Power of the Streisand Effect

The Streisand Effect highlights the immense power of the internet and social media in the spread of information. It also illustrates the backlash that can result from attempts to suppress it. The digital age has shifted control over information from those with traditional power (like celebrities, corporations, governments) to the broader public.

This phenomenon raises important considerations for public figures, companies, and institutions in how they handle potentially damaging information. Attempting to suppress such information can often make matters worse. It can even cause more harm to a reputation than ignoring it or addressed it openly.

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Source: “How Barbra Streisand Inspired the ‘Streisand Effect'” — Mental Floss

WTF Fun Fact 13450 – The Hunter Gatherer Woman

Archaeologists have discovered the hunter-gatherer woman. So while our general assumption is that men took on the role of hunters in prehistoric times while women gathered resources and cared for offspring, recent discoveries are challenging this age-old belief. We now have a new picture of gender roles in prehistoric societies.

Archaeological insights into the hunter gatherer woman

The discovery of a 9,000-year-old female skeleton buried with her hunting toolkit in the Andean highlands suggests women might have hunted big game right alongside men. The burial site, located in what is now Peru, was rich in hunting artifacts, from spear points to butchering tools.

Upon examining the skeleton and associated tools, archaeologists concluded that this prehistoric woman was likely a hunter. This conclusion stemmed from the diversity of hunting tools buried alongside her, which would have been used to kill and butcher large game, not just small animals.

Broadening perspectives

The discovery sparked a wider investigation, prompting researchers to reanalyze burials from around the same period. Their analysis yielded more surprises: out of 429 burials from across the Americas, they found 27 individuals associated with big-game hunting tools, and 11 of these were women. This data suggests that in these communities, both men and women were likely to be hunters.

These findings upend the prevailing narrative of prehistoric gender roles. The assumption that men were the hunters while women were the gatherers has shaped our understanding of prehistoric societies for generations. However, these new findings suggest a more equitable distribution of roles than previously thought.

Implications for our understanding of prehistoric societies

These findings have crucial implications for our understanding of social organization and labor division in ancient hunter-gatherer societies. They not only shift our perspective on gender roles but also reshape the way we interpret archaeological data. For instance, when we unearth hunting tools in future excavations, we should consider the possibility that they may have belonged to women.

In the face of new archaeological evidence, we are rethinking long-held assumptions about prehistoric societies. The discovery of women hunters suggests a more egalitarian division of labor than previously assumed. As we continue to unearth clues from our past, we gain a richer, more nuanced understanding of human history.

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Source: “Men hunt and women gather? Large analysis says the long-held idea is flat-out wrong” — Live Science

WTF Fun Fact 13447 – Law Student Caught Cheating

A law student was caught cheating on an exam – but the tactic was pretty creative. It didn’t involve AI; rather, it involved etching the answers onto pens.

Law student caught cheating, creatively

In academia’s high-stakes environment, students are often driven to develop ingenious, albeit misguided, strategies to gain an edge. An incident involving a Spanish law student serves as a perfect example. Their unorthodox approach to cheating sparked a wave of both surprise and begrudging admiration for the student’s inventiveness.

The student, instead of sticking to traditional study methods, opted for a novel approach: etching exam notes onto pens.

Yolanda de Lucchi, a law professor at the University of Malaga in Spain, found the blue Bic pens while cleaning her office recently. She recalled the incident on Twitter along with a photo.

Catching the culprit

During the nerve-racking examination, among the focused faces and hurried scribblings, one student stood out. The object of his intense scrutiny was not a perplexing question paper but an unassuming blue pen. What set this pen apart was its transformation into a tool of deception. Its sides, etched with minuscule text, carried a condensed version of course notes.

The ingenuity of the plan was remarkable but flawed. An observer, drawn by the student’s excessive focus on the pen, unveiled its secret. Methodical scrutiny of the pen exposed the cheat sheet, unraveled the student’s plan, and landed them in a situation that resulted in severe academic consequences.

Why not just study?

The irony of the situation wasn’t lost on the public. The creativity and determination that went into crafting this deceptive tool could have been well-spent in studying the law subject matter. Instead, the attempt at taking a shortcut led the student to face the consequences, which included repeating the entire academic year.

This tale of intrigue and downfall serves as a cautionary tale to students globally. The incident emphasizes that shortcuts, however ingenious, rarely lead to the desired destination in academia. A lesson learned the hard way by the student who, according to Professor De Lucchi, is “probably a lawyer today.”

The story underscores the importance of integrity and diligence in the face of academic pressure. The creativity exhibited in crafting the cheat-sheet could be commended if it were applied ethically and productively.

In the grand scheme of things, the tale of the etched pens sends a clear message: genuine success in education comes from honest hard work, not from clever shortcuts. The real reward of learning lies in the understanding of the subject matter, not merely in passing an exam.

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Source: “Law Student Busted After Etching Notes on Pens to Cheat in Exam” — Newsweek