History vs. Myth

You don’t need fiction when history provides you with tales as crazy as the ones we’ve collected for you. Read up while your jaw drops.

How did an attempt to blind a pope establish the Holy Roman Empire?

A band of men assaulted the pope to force him out. When that failed, the pope sought asylum from the king. How did that form the Holy Roman Empire?

How the Grandfather Clock Got Its Name

Why do we call it a grandfather clock — instead of maybe grandmother clock?

Decades Later, the Disappearance of Judge Joseph Force Crater Remains a Mystery

His mysterious vanishing sparked tons of speculation and one of the biggest missing person cases in U.S. history.

The Hunt for Noah's Ark Is Ongoing, Probably Futile, Always Intriguing

The biblical flood myth has captivated millions, some so much that they go out looking to prove it actually happened, or build their own replica arks.

Ridiculous History: How an Irish Beer Became the Authority on World Records

What's the relationship between Guinness beer and the Guinness Book of World Records? How did it start?

There Was an Actual Jones Family Behind 'Keeping Up With the Joneses'

A crumbling brick fortress in New York state proves that it's not so easy to keep up with the Joneses after all.

Gender-specific Bathrooms Are a Relatively Recent Invention

Bathrooms have been a social battleground in the U.S., from the civil rights' movement of the 1960s to the contemporary struggles for equality. What's the big deal?

10 Ways to Spot a Fake News Story

Some stories are easy to spot as fakes: "Lindsay Lohan Gives Birth to Two-headed Monster!" Others are harder: "The President Suffered a Heart Attack!" So how can you tell the fake news from the real?

Was there a real John Henry?

The ballad and folktale of John Henry, the tireless railroad worker, is the stuff of American legend. An amazing story of the human spirit and work ethic, yes, but was John Henry a real person?

Was there a real Paul Bunyan?

The story of Paul Bunyan, the giant lumberjack, is one of the most enduring tall tales in North America. Most of us probably assume that the character is an entirely fictional creation, but was he actually based on a real person?

Did Vikings really have horns on their helmets?

You can immediately recognize Viking warriors by their helmets, with impressive horns protruding from either side. Doesn't seem very practical, though.