I was reading some fiction and found quite a bit of it to be funny, not because it was meant to be funny, but because the authors clearly did not do the research on the subject matter. This is fairly common in fiction and some so called non-fiction. Some recently encountered examples:
Statement:two characters being adults. Setting Japan. Stated age of characters: 18.
Reason it's wrong: Age of adulthood is 20 in Japan. Update 3/11/2009: There has been debate in Japan to lower the age of adulthood from 20 (which it has been since 1876) to 18, though according to Japan Times a government poll shows that 70% of people polled are against the change.
Statement:Person makes statement indicating that they do not have freedom of speech in that country.
Reason it's wrong: Country was Japan and Article 21 of the Japanese constitution grants freedom of speech.
Statement: Mobile phones don't exist. Setting: Japan. Year: 1994
Reason it's wrong: Mobile phones have been around in one form or another for a long time. Radio phones were used in World War 2. Car phones have been around since at least the 1950's. The funniest thing about this though is that 1994 was a huge year for cell phones in Japan. In 1994 regulatory reform allowed for cellular phones to be purchased rather than rented in Japan and people bought a lot of them.
Statement: Don't worry I'm on the pill (birth control pill). Setting: Japan Year:1994
Reason it's wrong: Birth control pills were not legalized in Japan until June 1999. Even now people in Japan rarely use birth control pills (around 1.3 percent of Japanese females between 15 and 49 years old use it).
Statement: Safest place in the jungle is on a lions back.
Reason it's wrong: Lions don't live in the jungle they live in the Savannah.
Thing shown: Dinosaur eating grass.
Reason it's wrong: Grass did not evolve until around 55 million years ago, long after the dinosaurs died out. Update: 3/11/2009 there have been recent findings of 65-million-year-old phytoliths resembling grass phytoliths in some dinosaur feces, so some dinosaurs may in fact have eaten some plants very similar to grass.
Thing mentioned: Hunting animal in someway makes a noise announcing it's presence.
Reason it's wrong: Animals that are hunting attempt to be as stealthy as possible to avoid notifying it's prey.
Thing shown: A device is used that can see into the infrared spectrum will see pictures through walls.
Reason it is wrong: Heat simply doesn't go through walls in such a way to form a picture. An episode of mythbusters even showed the inability of infrared to look through glass.
Statement/thing shown: Asteroid belts are extremely difficult to traverse and require great skill.
Reason it's wrong: They are very easy to traverse, unmanned probes have no trouble, they are not that close to one another.
Statement: Mentions of Salem witch burnings.
Reason it's wrong: no witches were burned in Salem, they preferred to hang people.
Thing shown: Gun has no recoil
Reason it is wrong: Guns have recoil.
Superpower: Ability to use 100% of brain power.
Reason it is wrong: Mostly redundant, people already use 100% of their brain power. Many things like CAT, PET, and MRI scans have proven that there are no inactive regions of the brain.