World’s Strangest

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The mental_floss Guide to the NCAA Tournament: The East

We’re going region by region, giving you one fun fact about each team in the tournament. (1) Syracuse Syracuse’s colors were originally pink and blue, but the class of 1890 changed it to orange. A member of that class explained the switch at his 50th reunion in 1940: “What kind of ‘whoopee’ can be made with [...]

The Meanest Towns in the West

The following is an article from the book History’s Lists from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader. From the archives of the Old West, we’ve culled a list of the most notorious places on the frontier. Here’s our countdown of the baddest of the bad, meanest of the mean, Wild West towns. Some historians say that the Wild West [...]

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Orson Welles

You know Orson Welles was one of the most revered actors and directors of the 20th century, but how much do you know about his sketchy big break or his deft efforts to make rabbits disappear? Let’s take a look at five surprising things about Welles. 1. He Knew How to Fib Welles got his first [...]

Why Are Gossipy Newspapers Called “Tabloids”?

While the sensational fall of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is chronicled this week by media outlets everywhere, we thought we’d get to the bottom of a less sensational question: Why are gossipy newspapers called “tabloids” anyway? The answer is easy to swallow. No, really: condensed, simplified, “easy-to-swallow” reporting was first dubbed “tabloid” journalism in the [...]

A Very Tiny Dollhouse with Very Big Treasures

I hate dolls. They just creep me out. But, as I’ve mentioned before on the _floss, I have a bizarre fascination with dollhouses. I’m in good company, though. Included amongst the millions of people interested in miniatures was Colleen Moore, a silent film star whose career fizzled a bit when the talkies came out. But [...]

9 Other Famous Harvard Dropouts

© Joseph Sohm/Visions of America/Corbis Most people are familiar with the stories of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, who achieved great success as the founders of Microsoft and Facebook, respectively, after dropping out of Harvard. Here are nine other former Harvard students who made out just fine without earning their degrees. 1. Robert Frost Frost, a San Francisco [...]