Get ‘Edumacated’ With Fun Facts!

Title: The Edumacation Book: Amazing Cocktail-Party Science to Impress Your Friends
Author: Andy McElfresh
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Publisher: Weldon Owen
Review Spoilers: Low
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Edumacation is a popular fun-fact podcast co-hosted by the author of this companion book, Andy McElfresh. Andy is a fun-fact genius – as he explains in his foreword, he’s been enthralled with information since he was a kid leafing through the glitzy, tchotchke-filled pages of the Scholastic book catalog.

Edumacation is like peeking into Andy’s fact-filled brain – each topic is silo-ed into rough categories packed to the brim with historical and scientific information. 

Luckily for us fun-fact ingenues, Andy walks readers through each topic conversationally. He litters the book with his funny banter and crunches large topics into more manageable, bite-sized pieces.

Overall, this book reads less like a scientific tome and more like a conversation with your best friend. It’s light, funny and you come out of it feeling good about yourself. You also pick up some neat trivia to share at parties! I don’t know what kind of parties you go to, but those are my type of parties.

My only criticisms (which to be fair, are inherent in these types of books) are that the format is a little repetitive and that sometimes McElfresh’s simplification of certain science for non-technical audiences results in inaccuracies. For example, I have some issues with the arguments he presents against genetically modified organisms (GMOs).* 

The editorializing on this issue made me take the rest of the book’s claims about areas I didn’t know as well with a healthy grain of salt.

Other than that, the other issues I see are nit-picky from my undergraduate background training to be a developmental biologist/geneticist. Nonetheless, they can harm the author’s credibility. Also, I really wish this book was sprinkled with citations because that would help me feel confident about its reputation, but it’s very cite-lite. A cursory scan of the pages doesn’t have any data sourcing for the claims or end-of-the-book works cited.

Still, this is a great coffee table book for fun fact nerds and fans of the Edumacation podcast. Just take the editorializing with a dose of scientific skepticism!

*For everyone dying to know. Long story short: big fan of GM foods with some caveats, I don’t buy the ‘not safe for lack of historical data’ argument and think the environmental impact argument against them is stronger.