BS Musing: 8 historical misconceptions

This article requires a disclaimer. The things you are about to read are totally true, and are fascinating. However, no one will give a shit. The next time you’re over at a friends house and she brings up one of these dusty rumors as if she’s stating a fact you are more than welcome to slap that bitch in the face with truth. Tell her she’s wrong, and insult her mother for good measure. And even with the shining brilliance of your intellect laughing in the face of her stupid ignorance she will give no shits. That’s because people love clichés. They make people happy. It’s easier to shove ideas into little cubbies and never let them get out than it is to learn new stuff. If you don’t believe me you can just ask the entire country music industry (burn!). Stereotyping is a quick way to get around in life and people will resent you if you try to take that away from them. I’m sure there are deep points you can make about the human condition if you think about this too much, but I’m not going to. Most of my life involves avoiding being that guy. Yes these facts are fun, but I wouldn’t suggesting telling your friends about them in casual conversation because they will stare blankly at you slowly realizing how little you matter to them. You’re welcome to read on just don’t expect it to come to anything.

8.) Columbus Proved The Earth Was Round

Myth:

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, laughing in the face of logic and conventional wisdom. While under the impression that the world was a big ball, he believed it was quicker to go west by sea to get to India than to go east by land. This was because everyone at the time absolutely knew the earth was flat. Hell, even the King of Portugal told Columbus (whose name was actually Christóbal Colombo) that he would surely fall off the earth. Part of the reason people thought this was that maps were flat, so they figured the real earth looked just like a big ass map. That’s what made it so difficult for Columbus to even get his expedition to happen. People didn’t want to invest money into a journey that was certainly going to end in three ships falling into the ether. There was some controversy over what was over the edge of the world, but most people knew that if you went far enough you would definitely die.

Flat Earth

No word on where the moon went in the day time

Behind the Bullshit:

It would be a waste of time to say that it’s a myth that Columbus discovered America. Everyone knows he didn’t, and in fact he never even went to the United States. It’s less common knowledge that virtually no educated person in 1492 believed the Earth was flat. Colombo was not breaking ground by not falling into nothingness. The real reason he had problems getting investors was because they correctly thought he had miscalculated the distance from Spain to India going west. While no westerner was aware that the New World existed, scientists had already calculated the approximate circumference of the earth many centuries before Columbus. The Greek philosopher Eratosthenes actually figured out, not only the earth was round but he calculated the circumference with astounding accuracy seventeen hundred years before anyone sailed any ocean blue. The origin of this misconception probably comes from Colombo’s miscalculation of the Earth’s size. He wasn’t trying to prove the world was round, but rather that it was much smaller than it actually is.

Tiny Earth

“Seems about right” – Chris Columbus

Despite centuries of geometry, and cartography the Spanish explorer was still arrogant enough to think he knew better than Aristotle, Pythagorus, and several other Greek geniuses (he was also thought Japan was about twice as far from China than it was and that Europe was much wider than it was). Columbus’ foolishness gave him a reputation, which is why some still believe that he never actually found out he wasn’t in India.The truth is Columbus wasn’t that smart for a self-taught rich Spaniard. His idiocy has most likely bled into legends about him, leading people to think that his contemporaries were just as arrogant and foolish as he was.

7.) Vomitoriums Were Not Vomit

Myth:

Romans were so obsessed with beauty that bulimia was considered culturally common. If you want to be attractive you have to be thin, and to do that you need to throw up all that fatty food that was so common in lavish and beautiful Rome. In fact they even had special rooms for this. Every theater and public place set aside a special area at the entrance and exit so that the more beautiful elements of society could purge in specially designated receptacles.

Toilet throw up

Nowadays we put ours in less convenient places

Behind the Bullshit:

Vomitorium only has root word similarities to the word vomit. The latin word they both come from means “to move a lot of stuff through a small space,” essentially. People never actually threw up in them, probably. For anyone who knows anything about architecture, theater, or Roman history this myth has been a thorn in your side for a long time. Vomitorium is just the word for exists in certain types of theaters. While this is a much more boring explanation, it does speak more highly about human nature. Even if we can’t make fun of the savage assholes from the past, at least we can take comfort in knowing that those assholes knew better than to accept vomit as the Roman equivalent of slap bracelets. After all they are some of our ancestors.

Vomitorium

“Damn I was really hoping to see some vomit.” – you

6.) Iron Maidens Tortured People In the Middle Ages

Myth:

One of the most feared torture devices of all time were iron maidens. As if spikes weren’t bad enough they added claustrophobia. Of course the tight spaces wouldn’t be so bad if you were big enough. A fat enough person would have to good fortune to be gutted in the frightening death device. It was essentially a olden days version of the chokey from Matilda. The Iron Maiden not only tortured bodies, but gave all wrong doers incentive to cut the proverbial shit. The terrifying threat of this device was enough to stun medieval criminals with its very existence.

Image

Iron Maiden fans were only slightly more scary

Behind the Bullshit: 

There is some controversy on this point. There’s pretty much no doubt that they were never used in the middle ages. In fact the idea of a human sized spiked torture device wasn’t invented until the very late 1700’s. The most likely story is that it was put on display to show the cruelty of eras gone by. The irony in this was that the cruelty in this case was only imagined and it makes the 18th century seem a lot more dickish that the 16th. Specifically one person. A museum curator wanted to make his medieval torture exhibit more interesting and thought the best way to get people through the door was to sex up the the place some old parts he found lying around. What he came up with was a chamber slightly bigger than a person with some spikes on the inside. The audience was so horrified that their stories have lasted longer than the truth about the Iron Maiden.

Iron Maiden Device

Arts and crafts project for the sadist in your life

5.) VIkings Wore Horns

Myth:

Quick, stop yourself from thinking about Vikings! You thought of a viking, didn’t you? God damn you! Well, you might as well stop reading this too. You’re still reading? You’re a real fucker. While I’ve got you here, what did your viking look like? Chances are there was a lot of fur, big shields, and horns on a helmet. Probably a great warrior who burned people in boats while they wore those hilariously stupid looking hats.

Image

Adrian Son of Peter

Behind the Bullshit:

Ever notice how those helmets are on opera singers half the time. Ever also notice that Vikings didn’t have operas? Those helmets were invented by an opera set designer because he had no clue what Vikings wore. The guy probably didn’t expect for people to eventually believe that the horns on the helmets were accurate. All he was trying to do was show how proud of killing those crazy Scandinavians were. Putting the demonic horns on the old norsemen was one way to show this. It was all in the name of showing the character for the show. If you’re in to opera I’m sure that one was pretty good. As far as creative decisions go the helmets do strike a certain level of fear into hearts. Even if the weird guy in your frat always wears one to parties.

Viking Hat guy

Fucking Steve again

4.) George Washington’s Teeth Were wooden

Myth:

Everyone knows the famously stern face that has seen the insides of thousands of stripper ass cracks all over this great nation. If you get enough boring people in a room they will shuffle their hands in their pockets and figure out there’s a dollar hiding down there. Then a rousing conversation about that enigmatic frown will skyrocket that party into funville. “Hey did you know that he never smiled because his teeth were made of wood!” one delightful idiot will scream in your face, their dimwittedness in no way tamping their joy.

George Washington Money Portrait

“He also never blinked, because his eyelids only existed in on a different timeline”

Behind the Bullshit:

Using common sense this should be a simple math problem. One of the most famous people in the world becomes the leader of a gigantic, brand new country and all he can afford is wood? Washington was a beloved figure until his death, and people probably would have been glad to give their teeth to him. In fact, they did.

George Washington Teeth

Tell that idiot that these are his actual teeth

There is also this idea floating around that George Washington was unique in the fact that he had no teeth in his late life. Not only was this common in the 18th and 19th century, it was par for the course for every civilization on earth before fluoride was added to drinking water. Fluoridated water was one of the most successful public health campaigns in the history of all civilization. It also marked the first time in history that the average citizen of an entire country was given the luxury of dying with their own teeth.

3.)  Mussolini Made The Trains Run On Time

Myth:

“Say what you will about Mussolini, but at least he made the trains run on time,” some weird old guy will say to you if something isn’t going his way and he wants you to believe he invented this sarcastically short sided semi-joke. All humor is based in some truth, if not total fact. The sentiment behind this joke is clear. The out-dated comedian is saying that he would trade personal freedom if it meant the little things would be easier from day to day. And why not? After all, Benito Mussolini was a fascist, sure. But, his infrastructure was so well maintained that the entire country worked like a well oiled machine!

Ugly Fiat

Hopefully it ran and looked better than every single Fiat ever made

Behind the Bullshit:

In reality the Italian culture has always valued punctuality.It was for this reason that they built a state of the art, extremely reliable train system. Before Mussolini took power, that was. Not only did Mussolini’s government have nothing to do with the railroad time tables, it is very likely that as his leader ship went on, Mussolini hurt rather than helped the process. This is because the budget of fascist Italy was all but entirely uninterested in anything other than blowing shit up. Like almost every other dictatorship ever, Mussolini’s Italy obsessed with its military. The budget was improperly balanced and focused mainly on shooting people. Toward the end of his 12 year iron fisted rule over the country the trains fell into disrepair just like everything else.

Italian Train

This thing was probably too busy murdering humping teenagers to care about you getting to work

2.) FUCK is an acronym

Myth:

The worst word you can say has a rich history. “Fornicate Under Consent of the King” and “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” are each one of the two phrases that have been abbreviated to the word “fuck.” One myth holds that King George was worried about all of the British people leaving his country for the new world. To stave off under population he decreed that his people should be having sex more often, hence the king acronym.

Burger King

I also decree that I should be allowed to watch

The other explanation is that “FUCK” used to be a a shorter way to explain rape. Instead of saying that a suspect had been raping a victim they used the more polite phrase, which was “FUCKing.” Each of these stories have infected parts of the country’s culture in spite of their total lack of reality.

Behind the Bullshit:

Fuck is not an acronym, in fact almost no words in English are. Like just about every other word, fuck has its origin in another language. Fuck is close to unique in the fact that it can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, and pronoun. The funniest part about the word is that it wouldn’t be so dynamic if it wasn’t also a curse word. Whenever anyone says “the fucking this” or “this fucker there” they are essentially saying they don’t like this or that, giving the word its versatility.

The first modern use of the word was in a poem called “Flen Flyys.” This odd poem written in modified Latin almost definitely did not invent the word. It used the word “fuccant” which would eventually become everyone’s favorite “F” word. It was written partly in code, and was meant to make fun of monks. The real truth is that we have no hope of ever finding out where the word came from, because it was probably an organic unassuming phrase that just happened to gain traction as profanity. Language is a mostly natural process, that isn’t forced into existence the way this lie suggests. It is also important to note that the words “consent” and “unlawful” are both newer than the supposed acronyms.

 Carmelite Monk

They probably get made fun of because they look like human penises.

 

 

1.)  A Radio Broadcast Nearly Destroyed The Foundation Of American Society

Myth:

War Of The Worlds by H.G. Wells is a wordy, yet awesome turn of the century science fiction novel. With his deep insistent voice the Orson Welles’ narration brought this electrifying tale to life. For some the radio broadcast was a little too life-like, especially for those who tuned in after the announcement that the show was to be a work of fiction. Anyone who missed the disclaimer was likely to think that this was a real news story, and not the special production that it was. After all, people were thrown into mass hysterical panic because they thought that Martians were actually coming to kill us all. Children screamed, women wept, and men looked to the sky in silent horror waiting for the inevitable end. Quiet at-home orgies using the radio at background noise gained a whole new purpose when they found out about our alien overlords. Everything anyone had ever been worth was about to be useless because the radio just told us all that hostile evil aliens are on their way to overthrow our very existence.

Orson Welles War Of The Worlds

Pictured: Humanity’s final somber messenger

Behind the Bullshit:

After a millisecond of thought you figured out this was obviously a lie. Radio was like TV back in the day. Can you imagine if a bunch of people had turned on Sharknado at the wrong time and assumed that giant killer fish were flooding the streets and eating washed up actresses. The story was first invented by several newspapers, including the New York Times. Many print industry insiders had their own panic when hearing that broadcast that had nothing to do with alien invaders. They were afraid that the success of the broadcast, and others like it would lead to the elimination of the print industry. We know now that the print industry is nearly impossible to eliminate. In the olden days though, they thought their darling little news papers were in danger of being replaced by the more environmentally conscious, easier to use, totally free counterpart. Entire books have been dedicated to this specific misconception, unfortunately they weren’t text books so the lie persists.

Sharknado Chainsaw

Oh sweet christ! That poor brave man!

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