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.


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?

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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?

You've likely heard tales about the automobile all your life, including pearls of wisdom about maintenance and even best color choice. But not everything you think you know about cars is true.

If you can see the writing on the wall and know that all roads lead to Rome, you're using some expressions that are more than 2,000 years old. Where did they come from and why have they survived?

With all of myths about the Pilgrims, the notion that a beer shortage led to the Mayflower's landing seems ludicrous at best. Read on for the truth.

If you think Newton discovered gravity when an apple fell on his head or Napoleon was extremely short, you may need a history refresher. These 10 “facts” are really fiction.

Sixty-one percent of Americans think others beside Lee Harvey Oswald were involved in JFK's murder, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. While this is the lowest percentage in nearly 50 years, it's still very high. What are the leading conspiracy theories?

We use the term "suckers" lightly -- even experts have been fooled by some of the faux antiques on this list. How can a painting, sculpture or sacred document carry a false identity for so long, and what happens when the ruse is revealed?

Did you hear the one about Elvis meeting President Nixon to help the youth stay off drugs? Or 50 Cent performing at a bat mitzvah? These may sound like urban legends, but this time the events are all true.

Scarlett and Rhett's relationship drama may seem fit only for fiction, but plenty of real-life couples could go toe-to-toe with them as far as torrid affairs go. Here are 10 historical duos that fit the bill.

The search for the lost city of Atlantis has obsessed scientists and historians for centuries, thanks to Plato's written account of its destruction. But is it real? If so, where is it?

Democracy, a system of government that puts power in the hands of the people, is progressive enough to sound decidedly modern. But it's older than you'd expect. How did democracy come to be in the first place?

The 20th century was rife with genocide, from the atrocities waged by Nazi Germany to the massacre of Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s. But what was the century's first genocide, and who waged it?

Torture -- in all its variations -- has been around for centuries, but has the practice always been as controversial as it is today?

The legendary outlaw Robin Hood has scraped his way through history, stealing from the rich, giving to the poor and never missing his mark. But was there ever a real Robin Hood, and was he at all like the man in the myth?

Amelia Earhart vanished more than 75 years ago, and her fate still perplexes the world. What happened to this internationally acclaimed pilot? What's keeping us from finding out?

The 1970s was a tumultuous era that began with tragedy on Kent State's campus. Four students were killed in the midst of protests against the Vietnam War. But who's to blame is still up for debate.

The United States is the land of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So why were some West Coasters forcibly relocated after the attack on Pearl Harbor?