Coder Myk Bilokonsky asked Twitter for things “that everyone in your field knows and nobody in your industry talks about because it would lead to general chaos.” The answers came from all over, and they range from life-altering to useless. Some are cold hard facts, some expert analyses, some are unfounded opinions. Here are the most interesting, shocking, and informative.
Myk’s own answer is in line with a lot of cybersecurity advice: your data is always less secure than you think.
Mine is: literally everything you have ever done on the internet was logged somewhere and can be associated with you if someone is persistent enough. Hell, private investigators can buy your browsing history from your ISP now.
Today's best encryption *will* eventually be broken.
— Myk's the friend of the world as we know it (@mykola) November 24, 2019
Coder Maciej Cegłowski chimes in:
No one is capable of securing large data collections over time. All major and some minor intelligence services can break into any of the major cloud services, but usually human error gets there first. https://t.co/mrWoRfAkbU
— Pinboard ???? (@Pinboard) November 27, 2019
Recycling programs are not going to solve our problems:
Waste management guy here. There is no recycling program, industrial or municipal, that can ever repair the damage done to the environment by consumerism. 99.999 percent of what you throw out stays thrown out. https://t.co/feN5lB2eAS
— ⚡️Lightning Slim⚡️ (@LightningSlim1) November 25, 2019
Libraries throw out books all the time, and it’s fine:
libraries dispose of books constantly, at scale, and without guilt because only a tiny, miniscule percentage of them are special https://t.co/DVvCvRmxPA
— taber טבור (@taber) November 27, 2019
Petitions are just mailing-list builders, says Matt Fitzgerald:
Many of the political petitions you sign never get delivered. They're simply there to capture your email address. Campaigns burn through lists of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people just like you. https://t.co/aQrtE8PvIe
— Matt Fitzgerald (@fitz350) November 25, 2019
On top of the explicit difficulty settings, video games can have secret difficulty adjustments to keep you feeling accomplished, says game developer Eric Holmes:
When you are dying a lot in most videogames, they usually adapt by silently making themselves easier in the background. In some cases, they can also become harder if you are playing well. This is because no challenge and no progress are both boring.
— Eric Holmes (@ericholmeslive) November 26, 2019
“Off the record” isn’t a legally defined term, says journalist (and former Gizmodo editor) Maddie Stone:
There’s no enforcement mechanism for “off the record.” It’s just a handshake agreement. Yet, it works. https://t.co/0HZ15ypZWv
— Maddie Stone (@themadstone) November 27, 2019
Opera casting is a racket, says stage director Amber Treadway:
Opera singers pay to audition. They pay just for the CHANCE to audition. Sometimes they pay the submission fee and still get a no. And companies take their fee and let them fly out and sing, with zero intention of casting them. https://t.co/qKNljNnQbg
— Amber Treadway (@dervogelfamber) November 27, 2019
The stand-up comedy industry is propped up by corporate gigs, says comedian Kath Barbadoro:
Most people who do stand up as their primary job (ie they don’t write for tv or w/e) make like 80% of their money doing private gigs at weird company parties that are almost always excruciatingly bad https://t.co/Ctb53gZ9ZZ
— Kath Barbadoro (@kathbarbadoro) November 27, 2019
The illustration industry is propped up by custom furry porn, says illustrator slimm:
furry porn commissions are maybe the single most viable way to survive as an illustrator https://t.co/sOxEcCmCs4
— slimm (@slimmeroo) November 27, 2019
A few of these “secrets” might make you go “Oh come on, everyone knows that!” But think about how much the world behaves as if no one knew that. For example:
Jesus was not White. https://t.co/E7pF9JgqJh
— Nyasha Junior (@NyashaJunior) November 27, 2019
While plenty of believers treat the Bible as poetry and metaphor, it might surprise them to know that this was the original intention, says seminarian Alex M. Griffin:
The Bible uses literary devices to make theological points. Ita original authors didn’t actually mean for you to always take everything literally. https://t.co/nXijbfcQ2q
— Alex M. Griffin NOW HAS THEIR OWN WEBSITE! (@alexegesis) November 27, 2019
In other obvious yet infuriating news, your professors were probably never taught how to teach:
Professors receive little to no teacher training while in graduate school https://t.co/ZXuEiabSIJ
— anthony c. ocampo, ph.d. ????????????️???? (@anthonyocampo) November 27, 2019
Many PhDs have no real training in pedagogy and teaching. :) Freaks my students out every time.
— Midbook Review ????♠️???? (@MidbookReview) November 24, 2019
The majority of higher education faculty have no preparation for the work of teaching. And most elite universities, even ones paying lip service to teaching and learning, have no intention of taking necessary steps to change this. https://t.co/mGyuL0pE8N
— Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer) November 27, 2019
You really don’t have to “rate and review” your favourite podcast:
reviews on apple podcasts mean nothing and have no bearing on discoverability https://t.co/q5D8DYhWiG
— Wil `Internet Gas` Williams (@wilw_writes) November 27, 2019
It’s pretty obvious that speeches are ghostwritten, but less obvious that all other important policy documents are too:
basically everything you will ever read by a public figure or a sector expert is ghostwritten https://t.co/DfqHFYwkH9
— tyron, the creator (@TyronWilson) November 27, 2019
Lawsuits and top-down pressure have successfully had a chilling effect on journalism, says Guardian columnist Moira Donegan:
A lot of media organizations now rely on the patronage of billionaires to survive, and their editorial policies reflect those billionaires’ preferences. Others don’t criticize or investigate billionaires for fear of being sued out of existence, like Gawker. https://t.co/bXXxPJkJrt
— Moira Donegan (@MoiraDonegan) November 27, 2019
It’s nice to know that the one famous mitochondria fact, used as a meme to illustrate how little people remember from school, is not precisely correct:
“The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell” is grammatically incorrect because “mitochondria” is the plural form of “mitochondrion.”
— Lenasai @ Animal Crossing Quarantine (@Lenasai_) November 27, 2019
This fucked me up when I first learned it years ago. Like so many concepts I learned in school, the concept of a “species” is actually a construct built by scientists, not a physical absolute:
No one will ever successfully define what a species is https://t.co/okEmSGW1S3
— John McCormack, Stay-at-Home Human (@LAevolving) November 27, 2019
You can’t really know anything about a planet until you shoot a spacecraft at it, says planetary scientist Emily Lakdawalla:
Historically, whenever we send a spacecraft to a world, we discover that most of the papers that scientists have written about that world before are at least partly and more often mostly and sometimes egregiously wrong https://t.co/MPYGp24lrI
— Emily Lakdawalla (@elakdawalla) November 27, 2019
Hank Green, author and popular YouTube personality, says that platforms like YouTube only work because they inflate the expectations of the people making the actual content:
YouTube/TikTok/Twitch/etc's success are reliant on constantly teasing massive numbers of people with potential rewards that will come for only a tiny percentage of them, making it different from Hollywood only because, on YouTube, at least you get to own your own work.
For now. https://t.co/BmzGUTAZ9L
— Hank Green (@hankgreen) November 27, 2019
While Facebook knowingly lied about its audience size, digital media everywhere is running on shaky metrics, says podcaster and video maker Mike Rugnetta:
All the metrics that measure how popular a piece of media is on the internet are lies which measure not much at all, and are easily (nearly undetectably) inflated with financial investment - but the company’s c-suite likes big numbers so ¯_(ツ)_/¯ https://t.co/C5jsi7GdGA
— Fuit Gummy Vibe Check Malarkey (@mikerugnetta) November 27, 2019
Some sizes of clothing are subsidized by others, says lingerie writer Cora Harrington:
Different sizes take different amounts of time and money to make. https://t.co/sPve1K9FpL
— Cora Harrington (@lingerie_addict) November 27, 2019
If you’re swimming in or near the ocean, there are sharks all around you:
There’s a decent chance a shark is within 100 yards of you if it’s a comfortable swimming temperature and you’re in a body of water connected to the the ocean. That said, most of them will be quite small. https://t.co/nCYc2iluAM
— Chuck Bangley (@SpinyDag) November 27, 2019
Researchers and scientists will happily send you their work for free:
Academia is no longer my field, but: most researchers will send you their scholarly articles for free if you email them - you don't actually have to pay for that publication (funds which don't go to the researcher at all anyway).
Saw on twitter years ago & it's worth repeating https://t.co/zZsSgcSWAq
— Jordan Massingill (@JordanGMassing1) November 25, 2019
Most essential oils you can buy aren’t even real, says scent consultant Nick Gilbert:
The vast majority of essential oils are adulterated at best and complete forgeries constructed from the identical chemical compounds at worst. Every year more of these oils are sold than are capable of being produced. And quality control is an arms race with suppliers. https://t.co/vUiEgblipa
— Nick Gilbert (@nickrgilbert) November 25, 2019
Alcoholics Anonymous is running on reputation, not on results, says Marie Davis:
This IS my field and you are right. Harm reduction works!
— emily taylor (@uniquelyemily) November 27, 2019
As are rehab clinics, says Tracey Helton Mitchell:
The vast majority of rehabs do not work. This drives up the cost of private health insurance, as well as choking out other effective treatments that aren’t as “popular”.
— tracey helton mitchell MPA (@traceyh415) November 26, 2019
Outpatient treatment for one. Many systems have abandoned OP treatment that cost less and can be more effective for 28 “spin dries”. Also many rehabs are based on the 12 steps and do not allow patients to be on medications for recovery.
— tracey helton mitchell MPA (@traceyh415) November 26, 2019
A few of the joke answers were actually funny:
the latch on that gate over yonder hasn't been catching right since spring and any of these cows could get out at any time but no one says anything because you know what? let 'em run, see how they like it on their own https://t.co/vM4tTVdRkZ
— Rock Pereira (@whitneyarner) November 27, 2019
the earth is hollow like a Kinder Egg https://t.co/ZJckJ6b0R0
— JP (@jpbrammer) November 27, 2019
Most TV is only shoulders up to hide our lizard tails https://t.co/QFO33vjB7C
— Elizabeth Nolan Brown (@ENBrown) November 27, 2019
Everyone who designs websites has struck and killed someone with a car https://t.co/oLB8LxPFGB
— illy bocean (chimp mode) (@IllyBocean) November 27, 2019
nobody know how computer work - nobody - magic rock that can do numbers - but nobody knows how https://t.co/3FwA1rCJ92
— dan nolan (@dannolan) November 27, 2019
For more industry secrets, read all the quote-tweets of Myk’s question here. Don’t make life decisions based on any of these statements without fact-checking.
Oh, but remember, professional fact-checking is actually a house built on sand:
Magazine fact-checkers often have to rely on books and daily newspapers, neither of which have fact-checkers. https://t.co/Y7FnxJThCc
— Christopher Bonanos (@heybonanos) November 27, 2019
This story has been updated since its original publication.