There are magazines you read for specific how-to texts, like how to fix your kitchen sink. There are magazines you read to stay up to date with the latest news in the world, your field, or a given region. Then there are magazines like Mental_Floss, which is more like a "News of the Weird" magazine version release. These aren't brain puzzles to improve your memory a la Brain Age. They aren't research pieces that will test or challenge your mental ability. Instead, they are quirky factoids.
What is yelling "Geronimo" all about? Just what is a "Vegemite Sandwich"? There are all sorts of odd things covered here. Sometimes they touch on science, world politics or human relations - but often they're related to pop culture, the things you hear every day and never really thought about.
It's intriguing that how you react to this magazine is probably based a lot on what you have read until now. If what you've been reading has been mainstream newspapers aimed at the "lowest common denominator", or the Dummies series of books, you'll be greatly refreshed by this! This magazine doesn't assume you're a dummy with a dead brain. It assumes you want to learn, to grow, to find out the "why" behind the things in your world. It's aimed for people who pop onto Wikipedia when they hear about a new, interesting item on the news ... or people who jump onto IMDB to see what else an actor was in when they watch a movie. It's for people who are intrigued by those connections and backgrounds.
On the other hand, Mental_Floss generally provides a surface read. It's the perfect bathroom magazine - but for those who already get mentally challenging magazines, they might be let down by a magazine that is explicitly named Mental_Floss. This doesn't provide in depth or rigorous details on anything. If the academic magazines are at college level, Mental_Floss is more like the fun high school underground newsletter that tackles intriguing issues that might otherwise be ignored. Now, before you start to clamor that most newspapers write at a 5th grade level, that is in fact untrue! Here's a factoid for you :) The New York Times writes at a 12th grade level of vocabulary and comprehension, while most other newspapers fall between 9th and 10th grade. The 5th grade stat came from the 1700s and 1800s.
Still, every magazine has its target audience and its purpose in life. Mental_Floss isn't there to provide in depth education. There are other magazines for that. Instead, it gives you great tidbits on things that many people care about - things that are *super* to use at cocktail parties, networking events, dinners out with your boss or employees. Instead of getting into a discussion about religion or politics, and perhaps starting the third world war, you can give info on a topic that will intrigue most people there, and often impress them.
Definitely a magazine that just about every age group will enjoy - and that is very "useful"! If I have a real issue with this magazine, it's that it only comes out every other month. It'd be great if they could get this onto a monthly schedule, with more intriguing facts to keep us fresh and full of new information.