I am trying to find a term (single word or brief phrase) that describes a particular kind of "fact" that people often say. I think that "factoid" is close, but that it doesn't contain enough implied doubt about the truth of the "fact" (and is a little disputed in its usage).
Here is a description of the "facts" I am referring to and would like to have a term for:
- Most importantly, they strive to have a kind of counterintuitive nature or aspect, sometimes "shock value"
- It's probably safer to assume that they are false until proven true (see first point), especially when evaluating them against common sense or general knowledge
- They often contain the word "actually". They could be presented as "Did you know..." sentences
- They are akin to overly-shared Facebook posts with questionable legitimacy
- They might have begun as a complex truth, but, when presented in short form, they are misleading or no longer true (either because they cannot be shortened, or the speaker did not understand the long form and now believes something false that was not originally there)
- Some news outlets try to compose these types of sentences for their headlines, even though the body of the article reveals the truth (and makes me frustrated that the news outlet was unethical enough to title the article in this manner)
At the risk of inciting debate, here are some examples of these types of sentences:
- "Actually, Diet Coke is worse for you than regular Coke." (possibly an example of point #5 above)
- "Actually, drinking caffeinated drinks dehydrates you." (have also heard with 'carbonated')
- "Working out is actually bad for you."
- "Electric cars actually harm the environment."
- "Everything you see in the world is actually on a 10-15 second delay."
Please refrain from arguing about the truth of these particular statements- I only provide them as examples to show the type of sentence I'm talking about. I hear sentences like these all the time, but I don't know how to describe them or lump them all together succinctly.
The next time I have a friend walk up to me while I'm tying my shoes and say something stupid like, "Actually, tying your shoes makes them fall off more easily," I want to be able to say, "No, that's just a ________________,"* and keep tying my shoes.
*it doesn't have to fit the blank in that sentence exactly