The top ten: Questions to which the answer is 'no'
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at King's College, London, and at Queen Mary University of London. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Sunday 01 September 2013
I have a strange hobby: collecting headlines in the form of questions to which the author or publisher implies that the answer is yes when anyone with any sense knows it is no. I published a book of QTWTAIN last year and have continued to compile them since. Here are 10 of the best new ones spotted over the past year.
1. 'Is China more democratic than the West?' Martin Jacques, BBC News Magazine, 2 November 2012. Quickly changed to: "Is China more legitimate than the West?"
2. 'Could Hitler come to power today?' Unexpectedly asked by The Economist, 25 June 2013. It meant in Germany, not here.
3. 'Is Spongebob Squarepants the new Che Guevara?' Asked by Vice, 15 January 2013, about T-shirts seen among Egypt's democracy protesters.
4. 'Could Abu Qatada Trigger a Snap General Election?' Simon Heffer in the Daily Mail, 27 April 2013.
5. 'Are Militant Atheists Using Chemtrails to Poison the Angels in Heaven?' Asked by a poster in a forum on Elite Trader, a website for investors, on 13 July 2013.
6. 'Did blowing into Nintendo cartridges really help?' Asked by Chris Higgins, at the Mental Floss website, 24 September 2012. (Actually, he says the answer is no, but it is a great question.)
7. 'If everybody in the US drove west, could we temporarily halt continental drift?' Asked by a contributor to the website What If?, 16 April 2013.
8. 'Are we literally starving students into submission?' Barbara Ellen, The Observer, 25 November 2012. Fewer students turned up for a demo than she thought should have done.
9. 'Is this proof the Virgin Queen was an imposter in drag' Daily Mail, 9 June 2013. Joyously at odds with 2006 headline, "The proof the Virgin Queen had a secret love child?"
10. 'Has the whole QTWTAIN thing run its course yet?' Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP, on Twitter, 18 April 2013. We all know the answer to that one.
Next week: Douglas Adam quotations
Coming soon: The original titles for novels, starting with 'Catch-18'. Send your suggestions (by 10 September), and ideas for future Top 10s, to firstname.lastname@example.org
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- 4 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 5 Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb
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