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Falsely Advertised Accuracy

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If you have ever picked up a work by a creator who claims (or at least implies) that their product is based on thorough and careful research, only to discover what you're actually holding is a steaming pile of lazy assumptions or outright lies, you have encountered Falsely Advertised Accuracy.

Many creators are open about the fact that they are producing a work of fiction — something with no obligation to conform to the world as it is or ever was. Their audience, in turn, is expected to forgive an Acceptable Break from Reality or two as long as the plot is engaging and the internal logic of the story is consistent. But others insist that their work is entirely accurate to its Real Life setting: with the exception of some invented elements which will be obvious to the reader, what they offer is as factual as the encyclopedia.

Why they do this varies: perhaps a work which they can call nonfiction seems more serious than a work of fiction, or it will attract a "better" readership, or it will increase the author's standing among "real" experts in history, geology, religious studies, etc. Perhaps it's some kind of Stealth Parody on the chosen media in general, seeing how far our Trolling Creator can get away with presenting lies as facts. Perhaps it's to cover the fact that they haven't done any research at all, and Refuge in Audacity is less humiliating than admitting the truth. Or perhaps the author is working with outdated information and/or questionable sources. Whatever the reason, when the selling point of the work is its accuracy, any factual errors the audience finds will not be forgiven as readily as if the writer had said from the start that this is fiction — and blatant errors will not be forgiven at all.

Some genres and media tend to avoid this issue by their very nature. Creators of comic books, cartoons, manga, and anime very rarely make claims of authenticity—there may be an assumed Like Reality, Unless Noted at most. Examples in Advertising campaigns and individual advertisements are rare, largely because of truth-in-advertising laws; companies are allowed to make all sorts of claims about their products as long as they avoid making clear statements of fact.

For media about historical events and figures, there's often overlap with Very Loosely Based on a True Story, where a story is based on true events but heavily fictionalized. For Falsely Advertised Accuracy to apply to such examples, the creator has to claim the made-up/fictional elements are accurate. The subtrope Based on a Great Big Lie is what you have when Falsely Advertised Accuracy is applied to events or people that are all fabricated

Compare Documentary of Lies, when the media is marketed as a documentary, and Mockumentary, where Blatant Lies is the whole point. Shown Their Work covers cases where the author has done their research, while Accidentally-Correct Writing is where they put an accurate fact or statement in without knowing it was true. Also see Aluminum Christmas Trees, where the audience fails to recognize a real life object and assumes the author made it up for the story. Contest Creator's Apathy where they admit they didn't put any actual effort into it.

Mere factual errors do not qualify a work for Falsely Advertised Accuracy. The creators must have stated or suggested ahead of time that their work is factually correct.


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    Comic Books 
  • Chick Tracts claim with 100% sincerity that they expose the truth behind D&D, the Vatican, evolution, Halloween, Wicca, atheists, homosexuality, and many other aspects of modern life. Needless to say, they're a source of Bile Fascination. He often tries to back up his claims by including quotations from books that he supposedly used to research the claims he makes in his tracts. Anyone paying attention will quickly notice that most if not all of these books have been published by Chick himself, making it pretty obvious that he only uses books that agree with his presuppositions. For a taste of how uniquely crazy this guy was, watch this. note 
  • From Hell zig-zags and subverts this. The comic boasts of being extremely historically accurate while being based around a theory about the identity of Jack the Ripper that is well known to be a ridiculous conspiracy theory with no basis in fact (that the murders were committed by a physician named William Gull as part of a cover up of an illegitimate member of the royal family). However, the setting of the story really is incredibly accurate to the time period and astonishingly well-researched; the portrayal of Victorian England is considered one of the most detailed, realistic, and knowledgeable depictions of the period and location ever featured in fiction. In the appendix discussing his research, Alan Moore explicitly notes that he doesn't believe a word of the Gull theory and the reader shouldn't either, noting that he used that theory as the basis of his portrayal of the Ripper purely because it suited the themes of the story he was writing. So while the central premise of the comic is bull, in all other aspects it really is as accurate as advertised.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 21 is supposed to be "Based on a True Story". The tagline was "The story of five students who changed the game... forever." Even aside from the various liberties note  they took with the actual people involved, they also make blatant errors about gambling and math in a movie that is about how a bunch of MIT students beat blackjack. Errors like Mickey Rosa lecturing about the Monty Hall Problem in a Calculus class. What's wrong with that? This:
    • The Monty Hall Problem is purely a matter of Statistics. Calculus has nothing to do with the math behind it.
    • One student gives the answer that is correct under the usual assumptions, without actually explaining how he got to that answer. Mickey then starts asking questions like "What if he would only give you the choice to switch if you picked the right one?" Possibilities like that completely destroy the standard solution to that problem, but the student says it doesn't matter, it's a strict math problem and is praised for it. (See a breakdown here, but the short answer is that the film is completely wrong. If Monty only offers the choice to switch when you pick the correct door, then of course switching always loses you the car.) In fact, this is a standard question in statistics about how reality is reality and mathematics is just a model of the real world.
    • In a later discussion, one of the players is talking about whether to split 8s against an Ace. This is a strict math problem, given that the rules of casino games are pretty standard, stated up front, and often enforced by law. The character then gives an intuitive, non-mathematical explanation and gets it wrong.
    • The character in question is close to graduating, and so should be in a fairly advanced Calculus course. They're being taught Newton's method, which is really some rather basic stuff covered back in the first month of Calculus 1. This one is possibly excusable as being for the benefit of audience members who are not taking advanced Calculus classes.
    • Anyone who has ever worked in a casino will tell you that if someone is caught counting cards while playing, they will simply be escorted out of the casino and blacklisted, not beaten to a pulp. This is because card counting isn't even illegal, while battery sure as hell is. Making this even less understandable is that the original book pointedly says that beatings only happen in movies.
  • Argo is supposed to be an accurate depiction of historical events. In reality, it takes considerable liberties and even tells outright lies.
    • During the opening credits, claims are made about the regime of the Shah of Iran that are based on propaganda from the 1970s and have now been denied even by the current Iranian government. In particular, reference is made to a large number of people that died in Iranian prisons. No evidence for the existence of such people has ever been found.
    • Although a fake movie production was used as a cover for the rescue operation, the reality only consisted of one person sitting by the phone and answering questions, rather than the elaborate hoax presented in the film.
    • Real-life contributions by other governments, in particular the Canadians, are ignored in the film.
    • The final chase at the airport, with armed vehicles pursuing the aircraft during take-off, is entirely fictional.
  • Despite Braveheart's claims of historical accuracy, there are historical falsehoods from the opening narration to the final scene. Just one example: if William Wallace fathered the future Edward III through an affair with Princess Isabella, it must have been the longest pregnancy in history; Wallace died in 1305 and Edward III was born in 1312. This is not to mention the fact that in 1305, Isabella was nine years old and living in France.
  • The Day After Tomorrow has a double dose, in that the movie was widely publicized as being based on the factual book The Coming Global Superstorm, the book even gets a credit in the film, the typical tactic of playing on current real-world fears was employed, and at the time there were articles of the sort of Could Ice Age occur overnight? with quotes like "It may just be a movie. But to environmentalists, there is more than a kernel of truth in the catastrophic scenarios depicted in the upcoming summer flick The Day After Tomorrow." If you really want a solid night's entertainment, call your friendly neighborhood meteorologist and offer to treat him to a showing of The Day After Tomorrow. One group did; here's the result.
    Here's where the False in Falsely Advertised Accuracy comes in: The Coming Global Superstorm, the "factual" book it was based on, was written by Art Bell (one of the hosts of Coast to Coast AM) and Whitley Strieber (who wrote Communion, an account of his own abduction by extraterrestrials). At one point, they reason that the latest Ice Age can be traced back to pre-historic High Tech. Damn those Atlantians and their carbon dioxide! The book's sole claim on any connection to reality is that there is a school of thought among climatologists that once CO2 emissions reach a certain critical tipping point, whatever is going to happen note  will happen fast... but not that fast.
  • Mission to Mars was supposed to have a physicist as a consultant to get the details right. It seems he was ignored. In other news, Terri says that the DNA sequence is missing the last two chromosomes. DNA makes up the structure of chromosomes- it doesn't have chromosomes.
  • Mulan (2020) was hyped up as being more culturally accurate than the original, and Word of God is that the creators removed Mushu for cultural authenticity reasons, but it demonstrated several more blatantly inaccurate takes on basic aspects of Chinese folklore and culture:
    • The film replaces Mushu with a Chinese Fenghuang, but appearance aside it has nothing to do with the Fenghuang and all to do with the otherwise-unrelated Western Phoenix, such as as dying in fire and rising from the ashes.
    • The film also treats Qi as a form of Power Levels, and Mulan's central conflict involves the characters claiming that as a woman, Mulan shouldn't have this much Qi, and that her arc revolves around her learning to stop hiding her Qi. The issue is that Qi is traditionally understood as Life Energy - everyone has it on some level, and anyone can convert it to a form they can use with the right training, regardless of gender or age. Also, the very presence of Qi as a concept in this movie is incredibly out of place, since it's a concept that's much more closely associated with Wuxia than war stories.
    • Word of God also states that the movie does not have songs because it would be unrealistic for soldiers to sing in a warzone. The problem is that military songs have long existed to help raise morale among the troops; so yes, it would be realistic for soldiers to sing in a warzone.
    • The idea of a Chinese emperor, the Son of Heaven, accepting a duel from a barbarian leader, is nothing short of absurd. By doing so, the emperor not only endangers himself (the single most important person in the entire country), but also implies that a barbarian is the emperor's equal, an utterly unthinkable idea. In fact, duels in general were fairly rare in Chinese history (romanticized accounts like Romance of the Three Kingdoms notwithstanding).
    • Xian Lang being persecuted for being a witch is also noted to be a very Western-centric idea: women using magic in ancient China (like soothsayers and shamans) were actually noted to be well-respected and often held high positions in courts, and it was only using magic for selfish ends that would have caused them to be persecuted. It would have made more sense for her to be an evil spirit or demon instead of a mortal magic-user, especially since she uses abilities that such creatures are actually known to use, such as shapeshifting.
    • During the matchmaker scene, duilian (Chinese couplets) are shown in the background. While duilian are a fairly ubiquitous form of calligraphy, these couplets don't adhere to the most basic requirements (they need to be of equal length and rhyme). Worse, what's written on them is from literature written centuries after the time period Mulan is set in.
    • At one point, the emperor calls for his troops to "defend the Silk Road" from the Rouran invaders. The problem is, the associated territories would not fall under the control of China until the 18th century.
  • David Mamet's Redbelt gets very little correct in its portrayal of Mixed Martial Arts. There were a number of experts consulted on the film, and this fact was touted in promotional materials, but they were mostly old-school MMA fighters, and they have little interaction with the modern version of the sport. Overall, the film gets very little right about MMA or the fight business.
    • There are a great many reasons why the marble gimmick could never catch on or be legally practiced in the United States. The most glaring reason is that no athletic commission would allow competitors to fight handicapped that way. Even in Japanese MMA, which is known within the sport for enjoying the absence of a proper regulation body and being characteristically gimmicky, it would be really difficult to pull that out.
    • Chiwetel Ejiofor's character is offered an opportunity to make his MMA debut days before the event begins. There are numerous reasons why this would and could not happen.
    • Ejiofor is offered an outrageous sum of money for a debuting, unknown fighter on the undercard. The sum is also not divided into show/win purses. It's apparently a flat fee, whether or not he wins. Only on rare occasions do headliners work out special deals that do not include win purses, and it's usually in exchange for a percentage of the event's profits.
    • Given that Mamet is himself a Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelt, you'd expect the pure BJJ portrayed in the film to be accurate, but it's not without implausible sections to the trained eye. When Ejiofor fights John Machado, the BJJ technical advisor for the film, his character goes for a rear naked choke from a standing position, which is a very poor tactic with a low chance of success.
  • Director Ridley Scott made numerous public statements about his intention to make Gladiator as historically accurate as possible. To support this goal, he hired several historians to serve as advisors. Yet he made so many choices that were historically inaccurate that one advisor quit in protest and another (Kathleen Coleman of Harvard University) refused to allow her name to be put in the credits. The most irritating thing, to many historians, is that many of the inaccuracies were completely unnecessary - getting it right wouldn't have made the film any less interesting or exciting.
    • Marcus Aurelius wasn't murdered.
    • By the time the movie is set, the borders between Germania and the Roman Empire were firmly established as the Rhine and Danube rivers and had been for over 150 years. There were raids in both directions, but not an ongoing war of conquest. The Marcomannic Wars did rage for much of Marcus Aurelius' reign, and he was in the middle of a successful campaign in Germania when he died. This bit's really just an oversimplification rather than made up.
    • Even the name of the Colosseum, which Russell Crowe's character refers to multiple times, is wrong. At the time in question, what we now call the Colosseum was referred to as the Flavian Amphitheater. Although it could be due to Translation Convention.
    • A minor one, but as admitted by one of the movie's lead CGI artists, the fireballs launched from catapults in the opening battle should've flown about two times slower. The CGI team did their research, made a test scene, then deemed it not exciting enough and made the fireballs fly twice as fast.
    • Real gladiators binged on high-calorie diets before their matches to make them nice and stocky. The increased fat made sword swipes less dangerous as they would cut through the increased fat instead of subcutaneous flesh. Stocky bears would not be quite as sexy as ripped hunks, however, though the latter would have been cut to shreds in actual bouts.
    • The movie's ending also implies that after the events depicted the Roman Republic was reestablished - something that never happened and by then was almost inconceivable. It was also never officially abolished anyway. So the monarchy was always de facto rather than de jure, because Romans had a strong dislike of kings, having violently overthrown their last one long before. In fact, Marcus Aurelius is the first emperor whose biological son succeeded him, quite unlike the film's depiction, where choosing Maximus as his successor over Commodus spurs the latter to kill him. Even then, this was done by making Commodus his co-emperor while he was still alive, and he thus simply took over when Aurelius died. Commodus did prove to be a terrible emperor, though for very different reasons than the film depicts - he renamed Rome, the Empire, and the Romans themselves after himself (Commodia, Commodian Empire, Commodians). While he did like to fight in the arena, his death actually occurred when a wrestler strangled him in the bath. Of course, that would not be dramatic enough for the movie.
    • The biggest lie of all, however, is the film's basic premise (shared as well by Spartacus and most gladiator flicks): many gladiators were not slaves, they weren't casually expended like cannon fodder (their training cost way too much for that), and they generally didn't die in the ring unless they were very unlucky. A volunteer could expect to fight around 30 bouts over the course of his five- or six-year contract, after which he could retire on his earnings, usually enough to buy a tavern or small farm. Gladiatorial combat was in fact something like modern pro wrestling, in that it was designed to look way more violent than it actually was. The slave-fueled bloodbaths were reserved for the naval shows (which do not appear in either film).
  • King Arthur (2004) is one of the more infamous cases of this in film history. The studio's marketing campaign claimed that it was directly inspired by recent archaeological discoveries proving that King Arthur was a real historical figure rather than a mythic hero, with the film being advertised as the "real" story of King Arthur (its tagline was "The True Story Behind the Legend"). In fact, there were no such recent archeological discoveries at the time, and the question of Arthur's historicity was no more settled in 2004 than it was in 1504; the film was just loosely based on the "Samartian hypothesis", a theory proposed in the 1970s that Arthur was inspired by a Roman officer stationed in Britain in the 5th century (a theory that's never been definitively proven). It also took numerous liberties with the time period (the movie is nominally set around 450 A.D., yet the events of the story have the same characters witnessing the Roman withdrawal from Britain — which historically happened in 407 — and taking part in the battle of Mons Badonicus — which historically happened around 500), making it clear to anyone with a background in medieval history that it was nowhere near as accurate as the studio claimed.
  • Lady Ballers, produced by the conservative online tabloid The Daily Wire, is about a man who puts on a wig and dress and proceeds to dominate in women's basketball by claiming to be transgender, which the film claims is accurate to reality. In actuality, there are considerable restrictions in place for transgender athletes: in order to compete in the women's division, a trans athlete has to have been on HRT for months and their hormone levels are carefully monitored. On top of that, the film doesn't even get the basics of basketball correct: the protagonist's team does not have a sufficient number of players on it to actually be allowed to compete in a basketball tournament. The writer of the film has stated that they wanted to make a documentary on the subject (namely the transphobic canard that men claim to be transgender solely to compete in women's sports), but found absolutely nothing remotely like what they were looking for, forcing them to make a fictional movie instead.
  • Mel Gibson hyped The Passion of the Christ as a totally accurate reenactment of the New Testament and then proceeded to make stuff up: the androgynous devil with the ugly baby Antichrist, the crow that attacked the criminal for mocking Jesus, and other bits of melodrama. Some of those extra details are not in the Bible accounts, but the Catholic Church in particular has a history of saints and mystics who claim to have had visions of the Passion, which Gibson used as source material for the movie. Some of it was just artistic license, of course. The film was also criticized for its use of languages. The "Aramaic" spoken in the film is actually a reconstruction because Jewish Palestinian Aramaic (the dialect it's supposedly based on) has been extinct for more than 500 years; the Romans converse in Church Latin; and Greek is not featured, even though it was the main lingua franca in the Eastern Mediterranean at the time (Gibson did admit that the decision not to feature Greek was deliberate, as there is no record of the Greek dialect spoken in ancient Judea available to base a reconstruction on).
  • The Christian anti-rock documentary Hell's Bells: The Dangers of Rock and Roll that promotes the "backmasking" conspiracy makes some major errors, such as claiming that the singer Robert Palmer and the musicologist and critic Robert Palmer were the same person, as well as using an unreliable biography on The Beatles, among other things. It also claims that vibrations from a speaker at rock concerts can cook an egg.
  • 300 director Zack Snyder stated that "the events are 90% accurate. It's just in the visualization that's crazy. I've shown this movie to world-class historians who have said it's amazing. They can't believe it's as accurate as it is", and observed that the film was primarily inspired by contemporary depictions and records of warfare, which, give or take some of the fantastic elements and "crazy visualisations", it did a fair job of representing. The problem is that the "90% accurate" statement is referring to his faithfulness to his source: Frank Miller's comic book. It is quite faithful to the comic, which was based in turn on sources that are known to be highly factually inaccurate, coming as they do from highly-biased authors. Honest Trailers summed it up the best: "A film based on a graphic novel based on an older film based on ancient Greek propaganda based on a true story!" It's the "world-class historians who have said it's amazing" part that causes it to be an example of this, as it implies that the film has a high level of factual accuracy.
    • Leonidas correctly talks about how the cohesion of a Spartan phalanx is vital to their combat tactics and gives this as his reason for not allowing the malformed Ephialtes to join them, yet the battle sequences show Spartans repeatedly breaking ranks to fight Persians in single combat, as their actual tactics are Boring, but Practical, which doesn't make for an exciting action flick.
    • Like any sane professional soldiers, Spartans wore armor in a fight, not leather speedos and capes.
    • The depiction of the fighting is only a small part of the inaccuracies: For example, Spartans, while known for their warrior culture, were not actually famous for "never retreating, never surrendering" - the battle of Thermopylae was an exception. The film depicts the titular 300 Spartans as being the only soldiers who stayed behind for the last stand, when the army actually consisted of a thousand men, less than a quarter of them Spartans. Some historians assume that the Greek army was almost 7,000 strong. The movie does at least show other Greeks aiding the Spartans early in the battle, but they retreat when it's clear how high the odds are stacked against them.
    • In fact not only did the Spartans retreat sometimes, they did it in this battle, twice. Admittedly, both times they were doing the "Run away until the enemy gets disorganized then reform and kill them." trick.
    • The depiction of Persians draws heavy criticism, due to the demonization that occurred in order to give the heroic, freedom-loving Spartans "proper villains". In truth, the Spartans held two-fifths of the Peloponnese as a slave-state ruled by an ultraconservative military elite, though Spartan women were given much more responsibility in society than other Greek women. The Persians, on the other hand, were known by their contemporaries for their highly enlightened rule and held far fewer slaves in comparison with Greece. One of Xerxes' predecessors, Cyrus the Great, has been revered by the Jews for freeing them from the Babylonian captivity and allowing them to go home, along with other exiled peoples. This was in fact general policy for them.
    • There's a line where the Spartans call the Athenians a bunch of boy lovers, which is Frank Miller's homophobia popping up. In real life, Spartans had similar relations between men and young boys. A common theme of the movie is that the Spartans are heroes that defend democracy and freedom, while Athenians are wimpy poindexters. The Spartans were given a lot of positive qualities in the movie that they never had in real life. It's actually the Athenians who had a democracy, albeit it differed from the modern forms, and their society permitted far more personal liberty to people (inasmuch as either did, both being slave societies).
    • The scene where Leonidas kicks the messenger in the well is sort of based on a real-life event, but different context. Ten years before Xerxes came to Greece, the original Persian campaign was coming through. They wanted Sparta's loyalty, but one of the two kings kicked the messenger down a well instead. This shocked and horrified not only the Persians, who put Sparta on their destroy list, but also the other Spartans since hospitality was important back then. They ousted this king and replaced him with a new one.
    • Speaking of which, Sparta had two kings, while Leonidas in the film is the only one.
    • In the film, Leonidas claims the only reason the Athenians want their help is that they can't fight the Persians alone. In real life, Athens had not only fought and won against the Persians before but left the Persians they killed for the late arriving Spartan army — which Leonidas happened to be leading — to bury.
    • Aptly, the ending reveals that the narrative was all being related by the lone surviving Spartan, who'd been sent to act as a messenger, which means the entire movie falls under Unreliable Narrator. Too bad Snyder didn't just say Sure, Let's Go with That.
  • In Jurassic Park III:
    • The Spinosaurus being able to snap a T. rex's neck; the third movie's "dinosaur consultant" went on record claiming this was actually possible. In reality, a Spinosaurus' jaws were too weak to do so and their hands and arms were anatomically incapable of holding on to the T. rex in the manner it does. In this case, the inaccuracies may be a result of the production crew actually listening to the technical advisor. The films' general consultant was Jack Horner, who is notorious in the paleontological community for his decades-long crusade arguing that Big T's badass reputation is overblown (specifically, he thought the animal was a big, lumbering, carrion eater rather than a relatively-agile active predator), a crusade that even he is reluctantly admitting turned out to be wrong.
  • This appears to be the case about the movie China Cry A True Story (yes, the words "a true story" are actually in the title). Beyond complaints about deserts being in locations they aren't on a real life map, there's a claim that a child remained in the womb for 12 months, 52 weeks. Talking to a doula, OB nurse, or OB/GYN doctor, you'll find that at 42 weeks they'll start talking seriously about inducing labor, since at that point the length of the pregnancy is getting dangerous for mother and child.
  • Most of his biographers agree George Lucas didn't heavily read the works of Joseph Campbell and Bruno Bettelheim after he had already produced the first Star Wars film (he did have to study some of Campbell in college, and at some points has claimed to have read The Hero with a Thousand Faces before writing the script). That hasn't stopped countless authors, documentaries and such from claiming he had painstakingly researched the topic before making his own Flash Gordon. Notably, Lucas himself claimed in an interview in J. W. Rinzler's The Making of Star Wars that he read Bettelheim's book before writing the film, when the book was actually released after the film did.
  • Oliver Stone is notorious for this, unsurprising given the author's conspiracy-tinged worldview.
    • With Nixon, Stone tried to deflect criticism by admitting to creative license onscreen, but the published screenplay is heavily laced with footnotes from books and articles on Richard Nixon, attesting to its goal of authenticity. The cited historians (notably Stephen Ambrose, author of a three-volume biography of Nixon) were mostly unimpressed.
    • Funnily enough, Stone's reputation came back to bite him when audiences were disappointed that his World Trade Center did not include any conspiracy theories or even political commentary at all, but was just a little true story about two cops who were rescued alive from the rubble and the volunteer soldier who found them.
  • El Cid: Famed Spanish historian Ramón Menéndez Pidal, considered to be the authority on El Cid back in the day, was famously hired as the production's historical advisor, something that was boasted in the Spanish print's credits... just to have about each and every of his notes completely ignored in favor of telling a story that's mostly fictional.
  • Mocked to hell and back in Weird: The Al Yankovic Story as a Deconstructive Parody of this trope and Hollywood biopics in general. The movie brags at every step of the way that every single thing in it is entirely accurate to real history while consisting entirely of absurd nonsense like Madonna being a psychotic drug cartel leader who assassinates "Weird Al" Yankovic at the 1985 Grammys before being murdered herself when Al comes back as a zombie for revenge.

  • Robert Crais is famous for the Joe Pike series of thriller novels which, he claimed, were all based on meticulous research. However, his novels are literally full of mistakes. For example, the second Joe Pike novel, The First Rule, tells the story of the Serbian mafia in the United States but gets just about everything wrong.
    • Despite the author's claims, the Serbian mafia does not follow the Russian thief code. The Russian thief code (Vorovskiy zakon) is in fact a series of extremely strict rules established by Soviet gangsters. Serbia was never a part of the Soviet Union and Serbian crime gangs never operated under such rules.
    • At one point, Crais mentions that Spetsnaz GRU (Special forces of the Russian military intelligence) were under KGB command (that is, under civilian command). How can a civilian agency command a unit of its military counterpart? Furthermore, the KGB had its own Spetsnaz units, and they were strong rivals with the GRU. For a detailed explanation, see Moscow Centre.
    • At one point, a former Spetsnaz commando says Serbs are tough warriors and that he knows it because "he fought them in Chechnya". This is a big research failure. Firstly, there was not a single registered Serbian fighter in Chechnya. Secondly, Serbs never fought against Russians; on the contrary, Russia is considered as Serbia's friend and ally. Thirdly, at the time the Russians and Chechens fought each other, Serbs had bigger worries.
  • Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture purported to show that America's "gun culture" was of much more recent origins than has been claimed, and that very few people in pre-nineteenth-century America actually owned guns. At first, this was hailed rapturously by many people, and Bellesiles got the prestigious Bancroft Prize. Unfortunately, it came out that Bellesiles had claimed to consult records that did not exist or had been destroyed, his mathematics was flawed, and had made numerous other errors. The backlash against Bellesiles and his book forced him from his university post at Emory and cost him his prize.
  • Journalist Joe McGinnis rented a house next door to the Palin family and spent several months researching Sarah Palin, her family, her town, her governorship and mayoral run, etc., and in the end published The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin. Based on the supposed amount of research done, you'd expect a massive exposé that would destroy whatever credibility she might have had left. Oddly, it did not, as the book was denounced even by the New York Times as a salacious collection of water-cooler gossip, much of which contradicted itself, such as that Palin's drug abuse history and promiscuity were "well-known" while also being "a well-kept secret". He hardly had any named sources, crediting "a friend of the Palin family" or "a former colleague" without naming names. He later had to admit that most of his sources were tabloids.
  • Don Quixote hangs an Older Than Steam lampshade on this situation:
    • In the Preface of the Author, Part I, Cervantes first denounces authors who claim that the verses they use in the preface of their books commending that work (a common literary practice at the time) were made by people claimed to be famous poets when it is easily discovered they were not, or worse yet, they were illiterate. Then Cervantes proceeds to make some commendatory verses of his own, and attribute them to wizards, knights, and damsels of other books. The following quote from a friend to Cervantes advises him to use this trope (and to ignore the critics):
    "Your first difficulty about the sonnets, epigrams, or complimentary verses which you want for the beginning, and which ought to be by persons of importance and rank, can be removed if you yourself take a little trouble to make them; you can afterwards baptise them, and put any name you like to them, fathering them on Prester John of the Indies or the Emperor of Trebizond, who, to my knowledge, were said to have been famous poets; and even if they were not, and any pedants or bachelors should attack you and question the fact, never care two maravedis for that, for even if they prove a lie against you they cannot cut off the hand you wrote it with."
  • Ken Follett claimed he did a lot of research for his The Pillars of the Earth, but he appears to think medieval labor was capitalist (it was guild-based) and never to have heard about how various religious orders ran orphanages, and taking in neighbor's children was routine (hint: extended families and/or godparents), so there'd be lots of options for that baby one can't care for, apart from leaving it on its mother's grave. He also repeats the very old, long-discredited idea that Beckett's canonization was a political maneuver. He doesn't understand medieval manorialism (he seems to think rents were owed individually rather than by the village collectively, reading the Post-Reformation landlord system back into the 12th Century). Maybe we should amend his claim to "I researched the architecture".
    • The miniseries cuts completely the book's Spanish adventure, where Aliena walks the entire Way of St. James (with a suckling baby!) searching for Jack and it comes across as even less of a challenge than it is today, rather than the life-threatening event it was in the Middle Ages. She manages by learning some Spanish, even though Spain was not unified politically nor linguistically in the 1140s (in fact, the oldest travel guide ever, Aymeric Picaud's Liber Sancti Jacobi from the same decade, insists heavily on the international nature of the pilgrimage and includes a list of useful Basque-Latin translations).
    • The family Jack stays with in Toledo identify as "Christian Arabs" and have names like Rashid al-Haroun. While this might be possible for Christians in the Middle East, it is evident that Follett confused the Spanish Mudejars (Moors under Christian rule, who kept Arab traditions including names) with the Mozarabs (Iberian Christians who adopted some Arab trappings while under Muslim rule, but were conscious about their Visigothic heritage, had Roman-Visigothic names, and spoke a Latin-derived language). By 1145, 60 years after the conquest of Toledo, the Mozarabs had lost any Arab-Muslim influence and integrated into the dominant Christian society. There was no such thing as a "Christian Arab" in the city, nor any incentive for anyone to identify as one.
  • Jennifer Toth's book The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City is listed as non-fiction (and its Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classifications both place it in "Social Science" rather than "Fiction") and was released amid fanfare that it was an "expose" of the living conditions of the homeless living in abandoned and forgotten tunnels of New York City.
    • When a New York subway enthusiast named Joseph Brennan tried to verify the locations and descriptions of many of the tunnels Toth said she visited, he concluded that, aside from her description of the Riverside Park tunnel, "every fact in this book that I can verify independently is wrong." This includes the location of tunnels, the age of tunnels, the size of tunnels, and how many tracks there are going in and out of stations. He makes no judgment about the living conditions, or the existence of orderly communities with "mayors" that Toth said exist, but concludes that the physical descriptions are virtually all bosh. You could argue that Toth deliberately fudged the details to make it harder for the city authorities to forcibly eject the homeless communities from these tunnels, but if she did, it apparently never occurred to her that a single line in the introduction telling people about this would be to the benefit of her credibility.
    • Cecil Adams, in his The Straight Dope column of March 5, 2004, recounts talking to Cindy Fletcher, a woman who Toth herself put him in touch with when he asked her to identify someone who could corroborate her findings, who had lived in the tunnels in the early 90s (about the same time Toth was gathering the material for her book). Fletcher has this to say about the supposed Mole People: "I'm not saying the book is not true, I just never experienced the things [Toth] said she saw," and "There are no leaders down there." Adams' conclusion: "One draws the obvious conclusion: Parts of Toth's book are true, parts of it aren't, and you take your chances deciding which are which."
  • Author Naomi Wolf had planned to publish the book Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalisation of Love detailing the persecution of homosexuality in Victorian Britain. However she learned - on air during a BBC radio interview - that the phrase "death recorded" didn't mean execution. The phrase meant that a convict was pardoned for his crimes rather than given a death sentence. Her publisher put the book on hold and it was published later, but reviews of the book brought this radio inteview up.
  • In his bestselling book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki describes himself as a very wealthy and successful real-estate broker. Several experts in real estate have pointed that the deals and businesses supposedly done by Kiyosaki in the book are either extremely unlikely or impossible to happen in Real Life, or even outright illegal. One of his critics, John Reed, did the research on some of the deals done by Robert and couldn't find any reference of them even existing. Some of his advice, like how to use an own corporation for deducting vacations, meals, travel expenses, etc. would get you into trouble with the IRS for tax fraud. He does explain that his examples are simplified in the book and you should consult lawyers before doing anything. Reed also doubts that Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad" even exists; he could find no record of any businessperson in Hawaii during Kiyosaki's childhood who matches his description. (Poor Dad, on the other hand, seems to be Kiyosaki's own father.)
  • Carlos Castaneda's books are supposedly derived from his PhD fieldwork with the Yaqui Indians. Skeptical researchers have concluded that practically everything about them that is subject to verification does not check out, and the academic consensus is that he invented most of his content. In fact, some of them think he never even met an actual Yaqui, with the only real "facts" being things he could have learned in a library.
  • Michelle Remembers was a book published in 1980 by psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder detailing the Satanic ritual abuse of one of his patients named Michelle Smith. According to the book, a five-year-old Michelle was tortured and abused by her mother and a Satanic cult, witnessed several murders by said cult, all of which ended with an 81-day ritual that summoned none other than Lucifer himself and the intervention of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Michael the Archangel. Then people actually started checking the accuracy of the book and could find absolutely zero evidence that Michelle's mother was abusive or involved with any kind of cult. There was no record of a car crash that was mentioned in the book. There was no record of Michelle being absent from school for any lengthy periods, and certainly not for 81 days. Many people from Smith's past dismissed the book as "the hysterical ravings of an uncontrolled imagination" and the book itself has been criticized for helping spread the satanic ritual abuse panic aka "Satanic Panic" of the 1980s, along with the equally fictional The Satan Seller. To make matters worse, Pazder and Smith (his main and probably only source) were having an affair despite 1) both being married at the time; 2) Pazder being a practicing Catholic; and 3) a therapist sleeping with a patient being a huge violation of professional ethics. After their mutual divorces (again, a practicing Catholic), Michelle Smith became Michelle Pazder.
  • Henry H. Goddard's 1912 book The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of Feeble-Mindedness was considered one of the key documents of the eugenics movement. Goddard worked with a mentally-challenged woman whom he gave the pseudonym Deborah Kallikak. Looking at her family history, he discovered that a Revolutionary War veteran (Martin Kallikak) had two families of descendants: his legitimate family, who were upper class, and the descendants of a son (Martin Kallikak Jr.) he fathered in an extramarital fling, who were poor with alleged criminal tendencies and mental deficiencies. Well-received when it was released, the book was eventually discredited along with eugenics itself. Goddard himself renounced it later in life. Even so, modern studies of the Kallikak family show that, eugenics aside, the book was, in one writer's words, "fiction woven from the fabric of half-truths and hearsay." Goddard exaggerated the good and bad qualities of the two families, and much of the research was based on vague second- and third-hand accounts and faulty memories. One genealogist has even suggested that the very core of Goddard's thesis was based on an error: Martin Jr. wasn't Martin Sr.'s son at all, but a cousin who happened to have the same name. Furthermore, Deborah Kallikak (who spent 81 of her 89 years institutionalized) showed plenty of signs of intelligence and the extent of her "feeble-mindedness" was probably what would now be called a learning disability.
  • Karl May is well-known today for having created mostly fantasy versions of the settings of his novels, be it Kurdistan or The Wild West in the Winnetou series. Needless to say that they're far from accurate. Back in his days, the U.S. Midwest was too far away both for him to do some research for his novels, and for most of his readers to discover how utterly wrong he was in many points by seeing the real deal. Karl May even took it to the next level by claiming later in his life that his books were based on his own exploits in the Wild West and in Kurdistan, and that Old Shatterhand was actually him. He was later proven to be lying, but his fans believed him for quite some time.
  • World War Z claims to be extensively researched regarding military equipment and doctrine, as well as puts forward what it claims is an entirely realistic and probable scenario regarding the military's response to a zombie apocalypse. While the part with the zombies obviously has an excuse for being as unrealistic as it wants since the exact nature and capabilities of zombiedom in his setting are entirely up to the author to decide, the parts that involve human beings and organizations and their capabilities and probable reactions remotely fail to put forward any realistic or believable portrayal of a real-world 21st-Century military in action. (There is an extensive entry on Hollywood Tactics if you want more details, that is far far too long to duplicate here.) One of the most notorious mistakes is the treads of tanks being tangled in human guts — the same things knives can pierce easily. There's no mention of the zombification process making their tissue extra tough to allow for this.
  • The Eagle Has Landed: the blurb on the back cover says that "at least 50 percent of this novel is documented historical fact". In fact, it's complete fiction. At the time of the alleged events (an attempt on the life of Winston Churchill in November 1943), the Nazis were perfectly aware that Churchill was in Tehran, Iran, and not Norfolk, England, as the book suggests; they even (allegedly) sent a hit squad to Tehran to kill him (and Roosevelt, and Stalin!), but the team was intercepted and arrested by Soviet NKVD.
  • The Second Assassin by Christopher Hyde is alleged to have its basis in a real plot against the King and Queen of the United Kingdom (and many other places under the British Crown) during their 1939 US visit. Many real people like Lyndon Johnson (though he's only portrayed as a minor player) are written as involved in this plot, with the aim of preventing a US entry into the coming world war on the UK's side. All this would be fine if the author said it was fictional. He insists it isn't in the epilogue, however, but only a very weak attempt is made to support this. A lot of it seems to be based more on some conspiracy theories regarding JFK's assassination than anything else, with the author explicitly referencing this in the same epilogue. There is no evidence such a plot really happened, needless to say.
  • Patrick Graham, author of The Gospel of Evil, has claimed there are real-life proofs of a Satanist cult in the Church, Jesus Christ denying God on the cross (!), and Christian Satanist symbols being discovered in China and Pre-Columbian America, just like in his book. He also claims to have connections to the Vatican.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bones: After a few biological anthropology and forensic courses, the science portion of the show just becomes too ridiculous and outright silly. Sadly, this has led to quite a few hopeful forensic anthropology undergrads taking the show's "facts" as, well, fact, when most of the storylines are exaggerated for drama. What makes this a false claim of accuracy rather than simple research failure is that the fact that Kathy Reichs (a former respected forensic anthropologist) is a producer of the show and her presence was highly touted as an implied mark of accuracy. In this case, there's evidence that it was the marketing department that made the claims, and it wasn't intended by the creators: An executive producer, responding to a question about Kathy Reichs's involvement in the show, said this: "Somewhere we got rated as the most accurate of the forensics shows—it was Popular Mechanics or Popular Science... We just laughed." and Reichs has acknowledged that forensics shows in general are usually incredibly misleading about what actually happens and about how reliable existing methods are.
  • Doctor Who script editor Donald Tosh once went on record as claiming the story "The Gunfighters", set around the 1881 Gunfight at the OK Corral, was historically accurate. Even though it gets such minor details as who was killed during the shootout and who was there wrong, along with making up fictional family members for the real-life participants.
  • Deadliest Warrior and its many accusations deserve mention here since it boasts the presence of "experts" to justify the experiments, and because it claims that the computer simulations are sound. Questions have been raised about the level of expertise the experts have; the validity of the weapons testing procedures (especially using two different scenarios to test comparable weapons, for instance, using a pig carcass to test the Bowie knife and a ballistics gel torso to test the stiletto in Jesse James vs. Al Capone); how much weight is assigned to the weapons as opposed to the tactics the various warriors used; and whether the simulation-program algorithm produces results that would translate accurately to Real Life. The last is a big of the most important principles in science is repeatability, and the program is a "black box", so by definition, nobody knows how it works except maybe the guy who runs it.
    • One of the hosts is known to have lied about his background in the military, leaving the show as a result. This puts into question the rest of the show.
    • The level of false claims was at its worst in Season 1 (for example, 75% of William Wallace's arsenal wasn't invented until centuries after he died), and they tried to avert this trope more and more as the show went on. That said, Season 3 does have one glaring case: Joan of Arc was a Badass Pacifist, not an Action Girl.note 
  • Both Roots (1977) and Roots: The Next Generation are supposed to have been based on the true biographical and autobiographical works of Alex Haley, who claimed to have written the two books (later turned into mini-series) about his family. In one part, Alex himself travels to Africa and finds a Griot (storyteller) who connects him with his past. After some research, it's discovered that much of the information about the original African slave, Kunta Kinte, is "borrowed" from another book called The African and the Griot who confirmed the story was not genuine and changed details of the story in retellings. Also, the area where Kinte is supposed to have come from was notable because its king would not allow his people to be made slaves without his permission. Europeans had long contact with the Africans there too, unlike the depiction of them being new. The records which Haley used are spotty and contradictory, with the oral history he relies upon having no independent corroboration.
  • Played for humor in Arrested Development. The documentary narrator insists some facts as true: Gob's chicken dance is an offensive gesture in Mexico, the word pussy means "kind person" in the UK, and naming media that doesn't actually exist.
  • Sons of Anarchy presents itself as an unflinchingly accurate portrayal of 1%er biker life, even going so far as to hire a number of current and former full patch Hells Angels on as consultants (a few of whom even appeared on the show). However the series only superficially resembles 1% culture and strays further and further as the story progresses, to the point where the SOA end up being little more than a street gang who ride motorcycles as nothing more than transportation rather than the integral part of their lifestyle.
  • The Walking with… series has been criticized for its frequent anachronism, Misplaced Wildlife, and readiness to accept and treat controversial theories and dubious size estimates as fact, as well as making some odd claims that contradict what was known at the time (1999-2005). Some of the most notable examples include:
    • Walking with Dinosaurs depicted the pliosaur Liopleurodon as a 25-meter, 150-ton leviathan, even though the highest generally accepted size estimates for pliosaurs at the time put them at 12-15 meters (and even those are dubious). note 
    • The Walking with Beasts episode "New Dawn" claims that the Early Eocene was a time when all land mammals were small and giant flightless birds like Gastornis ruled the world. That is simply not true, as it was known even at the time that large mammals such as pantodonts, mesonychids, and even the rhino-sized dinoceratans were around during the Early Eocene.
    • The Chased by Dinosaurs episode "Land of Giants" has a particularly strange mish-mash of animals living together in Argentina 100 million years ago. While the presence of Giganotosaurus and Argentinosaurus makes sense (though the latter was slightly younger), it weirdly also includes Pteranodon, who is only known from the Late Cretaceous of North America, and the giant crocodile Sarcosuchus, who lived in Africa. note 
    • An unfortunate example is the giant Carboniferous spider from Walking with Monsters, thanks to some very bad timing. The spider was supposed to be Megarachne, but while WWM was in production, a second, more complete specimen of Megarachne was described and revealed that the animal was actually a misidentified eurypterid. As the animation was already completed, the producers simply rebranded Megarachne as an indeterminate mesotheliana, but there is no evidence that any of them grew anywhere near as big as Megarachne, thus making the Carboniferous spider an entirely fictional animal.

  • It Could Happen Here by Robert Evans (of Behind the Bastards fame) is presented as a detailed and realistic thought experiment of a near-future second American civil war. Evans then spends most of the podcast's runtime angrily railing against the federal government and various far-right/religious ideologies while hyping up anarchism, rather than detail how such a conflict would realistically unfold. Highlights include:
    • Treating Dominion theology as if it were an organized nationwide movement for millions of Christian extremists to unite under, a la Salafism and ISIS, when it's actually a broad umbrella term coined by academics that covers many competing movements - if Christian extremists were to take up arms and seize territory during a civil war their efforts would likely be a lot more fragmented and localized.
    • Highlighting the fragility and vulnerabilty of the US's infrastructure and supply chain to attacks from bad actors, then ignoring this all-important factor on the conflict's outcome.
    • Stating the US military would automatically follow the same rules of engagement as Syrian government forces and that most US servicemembers would readily bomb American cities and commit war crimes on their fellow citizens, despite the US military's far greater goodwill with the American public (not something to discard willingly) and access to far superior equipment, training, resources, intelligence gathering and allies. Evans also assumes that for all these advantages the US government - unlike the Assad regime - still fails to stabilize the conflict and the most likely outcome is the country breaking apart.
    • The notion that civil war and balkanization of the world's largest economy, most powerful and far-reaching military and holder of the global reserve currency would all happen in a vacuum, and that every other great power on Earth wouldn't immediately scramble to aid the US government, rebels or both. There's also no mention of the inevitable disruption of global trade, or of the devastating proxy conflicts (e.g. a Chinese invasion of Taiwan - the bottleneck of nearly all modern tech) that would most likely erupt following the weakening or collapse of US military hegemony.
    • What makes this instance all the more egregious is that Evans is a veteran war correspondent who's witnessed multiple 21st century civil wars and revolutions first hand, yet still choses to ignore the most important factors of any armed conflict - logistics, allies, morale, etc. - and fixate almost entirely on ideology.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Earlier editions of the roleplaying game Ninjas and Superspies and later supplement Mystic China had great detail about a large number of martial arts, claiming to have come from exhaustive research. Much of this information was either wrong or changed radically to serve the goals of creating interesting plot hooks in the game world; nonetheless, to this very day, the descriptions from the original game appear verbatim in discussions of real-life martial arts styles. This includes such pieces of fallacious trivia as the "fact" that Wing Chun, one of the more popular kung-fu styles available and one of the original/core styles first studied by Bruce Lee, is only taught to women. The Revised Edition, Eighth Printing copy of Ninjas and Superspies has as Quiet Disclaimer number one that the martial arts described therein are not to be confused with those of the real world and that the author has made stuff up. This disclaimer is found on the first page after the table of contents.
  • F.A.T.A.L. claims to be "the most difficult, detailed, realistic and historically/mythically accurate role-playing game available" (emphasis added). That was followed by this statement from the author of the game, Byron Hall: "The odds in FATAL are that if you attack a character with a weapon, then they are likely to die. By the way, this is an obvious attempt at realism", because, of course, most attacks with any weapon in real life are likely to be fatal. Except that, statistically, they aren't now, and they weren't in the Middle Ages either. Or, again, the author's own words: "I searched for information on sexually transmitted diseases in the Middle Ages. Although I did not search with vigor, the few times that I have searched, I have failed to find any information." A Google search on ["sexually transmitted disease in the Middle Ages"] (including the quotes but without the brackets) produces three sites directly addressing the subject in some detail on the first page of results, including one that was a review of a book on Sexuality and Medicine in the Middle Ages. Hall certainly "did not search with vigor" if he missed those references. Let's not even go into the "mythologically accurate" claim.
    • Women in FATAL are arbitrarily worse than men at some things and better than men at others. Hall uses Aristotle as backup for these shifts, which include morality changes that make women more toward the Chaotic Evil end of the spectrum. He might have gotten away with it if he hadn't then said "these are our justifications assuming Aristotle isn't wrong." Further Aristotelian insights upon which you might like to base your own highly realistic RPG: Flies have four legs. Men have more teeth than women. Oh, and the brain's purpose is cooling the blood - it's the region around the heart that's responsible for thinking.
    • FATAL characters of low intelligence get to roll for bonus "Retard Strength". Hall answered criticism of this mechanic with anecdotes about nursing sourced to "some females I knew in college".
    • FATAL also claims that the medieval diet consisted almost exclusively of bread and beer, completely omitting the critical nutritional role played by legumes. The importance of legumes is mentioned in the very first page found when searching "medieval diet" on Google. The equipment section lists prices for food, again completely leaving out legumes of any sort.
    • Anything that is thoroughly disproven gets retconned (like the original name) or tossed into the "controversial humor" bin (which is an increasingly large list of things).
    • The "most difficult" claim is based on the game's system where the difficulty of any test is randomly rolled for before the test. Far from being difficult, this makes everything a 51% chance.

    Video Games 
  • In-Universe Example: Oblivion has Quill-Weave, a writer who claims to have found no magic in the Doom Stones, and is writing a novel about them. This, of course, is completely wrong, as they clearly use magic. The Elder Scrolls being the Elder Scrolls, a few hints scattered in-game and by developers on the official forum (before and after the game's release) indicate that Quill-Weave not finding magic in the Doom Stone might not necessarily be proof of her not having done research. Rather, the Doom Stones are implied to have a connection to prophecy and the Heroes of Events, to the point that they might only activate for such people - which the main character is, but Quill-Weave isn't.
  • The flight sim Sabre Ace: Conflict Over Korea advertised itself as having uber-realistic flight simulation modeling, but GameSpot's reviewer called BS on this, rightly pointing out that it was arcade-grade.

    Web Original 
  • Fact-checking website gently lampshades this trope with a joke section called The Repository of Lost Legends, to remind readers not to believe everything they say even though it's supposedly based on research.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • In 2009, numerous German newspapers reported the full name of the newly appointed Minister of Economy as Karl-Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Wilhelm Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg. In reality, Guttenberg has "only" ten given names, and the name "Wilhelm" was misinformation planted on Wikipedia on purpose. After Wikipedia users got suspicious and removed "Wilhelm", someone cited press coverage as source, making a full circle and leading to the wrong name getting (temporarily) re-added to the Wikipedia article. note 
  • Lawrence David Kusche, a Bermuda Triangle author who did do the research, showed that many Triangle authors just plagiarize earlier books, so that the same errors (including accounts of "incidents" which are partly or wholly fictional) keep being repeated throughout such books. The most notable is probably the tale of the Mary Celeste (one of the few genuinely mysterious stories associated with the Triangle, though it did not in fact take place there), reports of which in Triangle books usually have few if any of the details of the real incident, instead substituting details from Arthur Conan Doyle's "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement" (a fictional story based on the real episode), starting with the name of the fictional ship therefrom—the Marie Celeste.
  • Immanuel Velikovsky:
    • According to this video, there are only five Romance languages: French, Italian, Romanian, Portuguese, and European Spanish (apparently, Latin American Spanish is not a Romance language because it's "a different dialect"). This claim is made all the more bizarre by the fact that we're later shown a list of many more Romance languages.
    • Romanian is supposedly much closer to Latin than to the other Romance languages. This claim is already heavily debated and it seems most who promote it as true are Romanians, but the example given is that "Salut, ce mai faci?" (Romanian for "Hello, how are you?") is obviously much more similar to the Latin translation "Salve, quid rerum geritis?" than to its French counterpart "Bonjour, comment allez-vous?" True, the Latin "salve" is quite similar to Romanian "salut", but the word "salut" also exists in French. You may also notice that the Latin phrase doesn't make much sense because the creator of the video uses Google Translate for everything.
    • The video goes on to say that Vulgar Latin is "difficult to untangle". Why? Well, the author simply shows us a tree of the Satem branch of the Indo-European languages and goes "Look at how complex this is!" What the Satem languages have to do with the supposed difficulty of untangling Vulgar Latin is anyone's guess.
    • The real kicker is the claim that German is "derived from a contraction of Greek and Latin" (it's not - they're all distinctly related, but German doesn't come from either of them) which is apparently the reason that German words are, according to the narrator, "abruptly harsh" (ironic, as French can be argued to be a "contraction" since it lost many final consonants, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who says French is harsh). Oh yeah, and "German languages" are also difficult to untangle, which, apparently, we "can see". No explanation beyond that is given.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Dan Browning, False Claims Of Accuracy, Dan Browned


Loose With the Facts

The Squirrel Quarrels is stated to be set in Central Park yet during the scavenger hunt Owen is thrown off by the directions based on series trivia not lining up with the actual locations they're supposed to be referencing, which he lampshades.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / FalselyAdvertisedAccuracy

Media sources: