Great moments in random knowledge

I’m currently reading a philosophy of science dissertation. At one point, the dissertation mentions an old behavioral ecology paper, Milinski 1987. Which is weirdly pleasing to me–because I happen to know a lot about that paper! Back when I was an undergrad in 1993, I took an animal behavior course. I had to write a term paper on a then-current controversy in animal behavior. I wrote about Milinski 1987 and follow-up experiments by others.

In the comments, share your own stories of random knowledge or specialist expertise that no one would expect you to have. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Great moments in random knowledge

  1. Right after my PhD, while waiting for an NSERC fellowship application (which I eventually got and went to UBC), I did a short 3-month postdoc to work on a project about Leptodora (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leptodora). I was eager and decided to read every single paper (100+) I could find (in English) about Leptodora, and I wrote a paper about the vertical migration of Leptodora in lakes. At the time, I felt like a Leptodora expert, and 5 years later (after various delays) all that work culminated in just 1 co-authored paper (https://doi.org/10.4319/lo.2013.58.5.1790). Since then, I haven’t drawn on that random body of knowledge, but would be happy to do so again.

  2. When I was a Faculty Senator, the Senate discussion turned to security for controversial speakers on campus, and the question arose: How many doors does Kane Hall have?

    I happened to know this, because I was a member of the campus Humans vs. Zombies Tag group, and had staked out Kane Hall with teams of zombies many times. (Too many doors! It’s next to impossible to watch them all.) But I was a little uncomfortable sharing this information, in case they asked how I knew….

    • Sadly, my undergraduate participation in KAOS (Killing As an Organized Sport; a assassination tournament played with toy dart guns) did not give me any obscure knowledge of campus buildings. At least, nothing I can still recall 28 years later…

      “But I was a little uncomfortable sharing this information, in case they asked how I knew….”

      Oh, I think everyone should just share their obscure knowledge without saying how they acquired it. Your knowledge sounds more impressive that way. If pressed on how you know, just give a little smile and say something like “Oh, you’d be surprised at the things I know” or “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you” or “I’m not telling.” 🙂

  3. Almost thirty years after I last did it I reckon that I still know how to put together a sound rig for a live band, mike up the guitar amps and drumkit, and do the live mix from the soundboard. Might not sound very good, but I could do it….

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