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.

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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.

Did William Tell really shoot an apple off his son’s head?

William Tell is associated with the Lone Ranger thanks to the music of Rossini's opera, but he's also a legendary figure in Swiss history.

Did women really burn their bras in the ‘70s?

The women's liberation movement conjures up an image that endures today: angry women burning their bras. So how often did undergarments get set aflame?

Does the Parthenon really follow the golden ratio?

The iconic Greek temple known as the Parthenon was thought to have been built following a mathematical concept called the golden ratio. Did it really?

Was Isaac Newton really hit in the head with an apple?

The story of Newton discovering gravity by getting hit in the head with an apple is a classic. Is there any truth to it?

Was Napoleon really short?

If someone of small stature exhibits bullying behavior, that person is sometimes said to have a Napoleon complex. Did Napoleon himself have one, though?

Were there binoculars aboard the Titanic?

Imagine that one vital piece of equipment could've saved the Titanic ... if only one person hadn't forgotten to pass along the key to where it was stored.

Were witches really burned at the stake in Salem?

The infamous Salem witch trials showed what mass hysteria can do. But did those falsely accused witches suffer further by being burned?

Did the Druids really build Stonehenge?

The Druids certainly used Stonehenge, but it appears that building the monument was more of a multi-group effort.

Did the Spanish Flu pandemic really start in Spain?

More people died during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 than during World War I, but is it unfair to associate this strain of flu with Spain?

Did Mussolini really keep the trains running on time?

Mussolini's dictatorship was brutal, but supposedly efficient. The saying is that he kept the trains running on time, but did he?

Did Romans really purge their bellies in vomitoria?

The ancient Romans were so decadent in their feasting that it's said they'd vomit mid-feast in a special room just so they could eat more.

Did people in the past really only live to be 30?

Since people generally didn't live past the age of 30, our ancestors didn't have to contend as much with issues of aging, right? Not exactly.

Did George Washington really have wooden teeth?

George Washington is the subject of numerous myths, including a persistent one about the material used to make his dentures.

Did Einstein really fail math?

Einstein's genius supposedly had at least one glaring flaw -- that he failed math at some point in his educational career.

Did Benjamin Franklin really use a kite to discover electricity?

Ben Franklin flying a kite during a lightning storm makes for a great image, but skeptics question whether it really went down that way.

Did Paul Revere really yell 'The British Are Coming'?

Since Longfellow's famous poem, Paul Revere has gotten the credit for warning colonists about the British attack in 1775, but is he worthy?

Did Johnny Appleseed really plant apples all over America?

Johnny Appleseed is as much a staple of American folklore as Paul Bunyan, but is the image of him selflessly planting orchards of delicious apples across the country true?


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