There are some historical facts that we just love to talk about.
They humanize the faraway past by reminding that the human beings of long ago are humans all the same, full of petty flaws, shocking capacities for selfishness, and very weird traditions.
But those fun historical facts, though popular for their surprising nature, are actually not true at all. Perhaps that's why they were so surprising in the first place.
A recent list on Reddit showed that a head-scratching historical face may be stunning for a reason.
Here's to exercising healthy skepticism the next time someone drops one of these at a party.
doggies_keeper asked, "What historical fact sounds truthful but is actually false?"
A Grotesque Imagination
"The Iron Maiden was a medieval torture device."
"As far as I recall, the concept was created by a rich old crazy man in the late 1800s for a display and it sort of worked its way into the public consciousness."
"But it was never used as a torture implement, medieval or otherwise."
Stranger Than Fiction
"I'm from the UK and I have a Aussie friend who couldn't believe that Sherlock Holmes was fictional and that 'Jack the Ripper' was a real person. If you think about it, it makes sense."
"A shrouded, invisible slasher prowling the streets of London (who's identity to this day is a mystery) is a real historical figure..."
"...and a man who investigates and solves real crimes who's address is known and who actually has a real statue outside of a tube station in London is a character made up in a fictional series of novels."
Vomit Them Out
"Vomitoriums were places for Romans to vomit during feasts so they could continue eating."
"They were actually just entrances/exits to amphitheatres." -- Lucaanis
"I've heard it said that the Colosseum in Rome could empty in 15-20 minutes. This was amazing design." -- displaced_virginian
Collective Will is the True Variable
"Electric cars are pretty recent technology."
"Actually, around 1900 about 30% of cars were electric. New York even had a grid of public charging stations." -- MeltingDog
"It is astounding how much engineering has been (rightly) justified by gasoline's simple energy density advantage."
"The internal combustion engine has been refined for more than a century, and even now is orders of magnitude more complex, expensive, and fragile than an electric motor... but it runs on gasoline and that's enough." -- aetius476
"Napoleon wasn't short. He was average height." -- thedudeisalwayshere
"For his time, it was even a bit more than average!" -- Taurock
"It was pretty much propaganda by the British. His personal guards were all big guys too, so gave the appearance of him being shorter." -- tunkerz
Get This Straight
"The 1989 Tiananmen Square protests were peaceful and the 'Tank man' standing in front of the tank was the highlight of the protests."
"In reality somewhere between 300 and 10,000 students were massacred."
What Was Nero Like?
"Nero playing the fiddle as Rome burned"
"1.) That instrument hadn't been invented yet, and wouldn't be for centuries."
"2.) Even if you swapped it out with a lyre, historical sources disagree on Nero's true character (as they do for many emperors)."
"He might have actually done all he could to save as many lives as possible during the fire (e.g. opening the gates of his imperial gardens, so people trapped in the cramped urban space had somewhere to evacuate to)"
And Tour Guides Have Been Dealing With It Ever Since
"Marie Antoinette said, 'let them eat cake.'"
"Actually, she didn't, and this is such a widely accepted mistake, that when you take a tour of Versailles one of the first things your tour guide will tell you, unprompted, is 'and no, Marie Antoinette did not say let them eat cake, please stop spreading this lie.'"
A Hodge Podge of All Things Not Calcium
"George Washington's teeth..."
"Despite many people believing they were made of wood, they contained no wood. They were actually made of slave teeth, as well as other materials such as hippopotamus ivory, brass, or gold."
"That Vikings had horns on their hats. That was invented by the Victorians." -- GLaDOS815
"If they did have horns, they wouldn't be very useful. They're just a target to knock your hat off, or if it's strapped on, a lever to chop your head off." -- BlueManedHawk
Don't Over-Analyze It
"In brothels in Ancient Rome and Pompeii they had picture over the doors to show what the prostitute was offering."
"Nah, they were just sexy pictures guys."
Not Rude, Poisonous
"Putting your elbows on the dinner table is considered rude, but it traces back to 19th century British copper mining."
"Miners would come home for dinner and, by putting their elbows on the table while eating dinner, transfer copper ore residue to the table."
"That residue would then make its way to other surfaces, particularly dishware and cutlery, and the members of the household would eventually ingest toxic levels of copper, leading to illness and death."
Not At All Consensual
"'Romans were openly accepting of gay relationships and sex.'"
"The homosexual acts that occurred during the time were by men of a higher status forcing themselves onto slaves and underage boys."
"It wasn't a sexual utopia by any means and was based on toxic ideals of hyper masculinity, slavery, and class."
Nope, They Kept the Boobs
"That Amazon warriors cut off their breasts in order to shoot a bow. Like that's even necessary."
"That came from someone saying the word was Greek in origin, and jamming together 'a' (without) 'mazos' (breasts). Except the word isn't even Greek. It's suspected to come from an Iranian compound."
Cities All of Wood
"The statement that pre-Columbian USA was made entirely of hunter-gatherers."
"Nope. In some parts they farmed corn, built pyramids and had a city that was once bigger than London. The reason why you don't see so much of it today is because wood doesn't preserve very well."
"General Sherman set the whole of Atlanta on fire after occupying it. The reality is Sherman took the city, kicked everyone out, and before he left ordered the business district burned and anything of military or logistical value destroyed."
"In fact, the popularized image of Atlanta burning given to us by Hollywood via Gone With the Wind was actually from Confederate General John B. Hood's destruction of 80 railcars of ammunition as they retreated."
"The reality is, Atlanta did not burn down, only parts of it. And it wasn't entirely of Sherman's doing. Not that facts or historical accuracy are a large part of the southern narrative for the war, anyway."
Anglo Saxons Have a Great PR Team
"Vikings were dirty stinky barbarians and Anglo Saxons were very clean like you see in all the tv series.'"
"It was actually the other way around by the standards of those days cause Vikings would bathe once a week and Anglo Saxons would only bathe once a year."
"We also know that vikings had things like combs for their hair and beards and would bleach their hair in winter to kill of things like lice because washing in winter would be a damn sight colder."
Read the Name!
"Christopher Colombus discovered America."
"Probably the ultimate hoax in american history. Outside of, obviously, the people already on the continent, he'd been beaten by the vikings and Amerigo Vespucci who has actually set foot on the continent (instead of the Carabibbean) and literally put his name on it to call dibs"
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Some jobs really don't serve a purpose to society, or they are a relic of times past that society has yet to say goodbye to.
Spam Spam<p>The person whose job it is to send physical spam mail. Nobody even reads it anymore.</p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/Random_Fangirl888/" target="_blank">Random_Fangirl888</a></p><p>My wife went to med school and her student loans are all federal and are at 0% interest and are in forbearance right now. At least once a week she gets a letter from SoFi to refinance her loans which would make her ineligible for any sort of loan forgiveness or federal assistance. So much wasted paper and postage sending those letters.</p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/schu2470/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">schu2470</a></p>
Stuck In The Middle W You<p>In my experience: A large percentage of middle management. Usually they just wind up inventing fake work reports so they can appear to be adding value.</p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/PasteTank/" target="_blank">PasteTank</a></p><p>My company is trying to cut costs, and thankfully some of the layoffs and unfilled vacancies have been middle management. It makes me wonder what their purpose was in the first place? I swear management makes new management positions to give their work to.</p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/C0PPER13/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">C0PPER13</a></p>
Grumble Grumble<p>My MIL tells me that during the days of the USSR there were people who sat at desks at the entrances of subway stations. They didn't actually do anything, but that was their job since by law for a while in the Soviet Union everyone needed to have a job.</p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/heybrother45/" target="_blank">heybrother45</a></p><p>Their job is to be unhelpful and surly. Those jobs still exist in some post-Soviet countries.</p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/jtbc/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">jtbc</a></p>
Jogging Doggos<p>Driving around Las Vegas I passed a mobile dog treadmill service. They come to your house and let your dog walk on a treadmill inside a Sprinter van.</p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/jesset60819/" target="_blank">jesset60819</a></p><p>idk i can see the value in this. las vegas can easily get over 100 degrees F outside, not guaranteed safe to walk a dog in that, could overheat or burn their paws. and not everyone wants a treadmill in their house</p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/PizzaQuest420/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">PizzaQuest420</a></p>
Yeah, Why?<p>Bathroom attendant. Elevator operator. </p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/openletter8/" target="_blank">openletter8</a></p><p>Imma dispute Bathroom attendants by saying, their actual job is to keep drunks form trashing the stalls, the whole towels and mints shebang is to give them something to do on the meantime</p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/Maycrofy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Maycrofy</a></p>
I Am The Captain Now<p>Casino Barge Captain.</p><p>Many places in the US have riverboat casino laws that are used to justify large casino barges that are tethered in position and never move, not even having any engines or other means of conveyance. </p><p>Since they are technically barges despite being immobile they are legally required to have a Captain certified to operate vessels of that tonnage and crew on board at all times of operation.</p><p>I can't imagine a more gravy position than "exist on the premises with your piece of paper"</p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/Umbrella_merc/" target="_blank">Umbrella_merc</a></p>
You May NOT Touch Your Gas<p>For the states that require it, the gas station employees that fill up your tank. I ended up in New Jersey and it was super awkward.</p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/DaveyJonas/" target="_blank">DaveyJonas</a></p><p>Saw this woman standing next to her SUV for ten minutes at the gas station. Finally she asks me why no one is pumping her gas for her. So I says to her "We hate you cause you're from New Jersey." </p><p>She looks at me amazed and asks how we can tell. Eventually I let her in on the joke and helped her pump her gas. She was in her 40s, had she never driven out of NJ before?</p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/damasu950/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">damasu950</a></p>
Up And Down<p>Elevator Operator. It's a union job. A dude sits in a chair next to the buttons. He asks you what floor you want to go to and he pushes the button.</p><p><span></span><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/Real_Time_Delay/" target="_blank">Real_Time_Delay</a></p><p>SF hired elevator operators for the subway stations. They're only there to ensure people don't piss on the elevators... which they would otherwise do.</p><p><span></span><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/tyinsf/" target="_blank">tyinsf</a></p>
Sell Sell Sell!<p>Car sales people. Because you end up dealing with the sales manager when you actually purchase the vehicle. Car sales people can't even give you a price without checking with sales manager. They are literally there to babysit you.</p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/user/Aroon164/" target="_blank">Aroon164</a></p>
Life doesn't come with a blueprint, instructions, nor a roadmap of what to expect in the days and years ahead. It does, however, contain all kinds of people who've lived life for longer than you.
Until It's Breezy<p>"Study to the point where the tests seem like they're insulting your intelligence. Best calc professor Ive had" -- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gthzyk0?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">Fruooop</a></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"That's a really good way of putting it. I'll have to remember that."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Something I've read in the past, that's sort of similar: 'Don't just study until you *can* get the questions *right*. Study until you *can't* get the questions *wrong*.' " -- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gtj84pl?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">skullturf</a></p>
Stock Up First<p>"Pay your savings account FIRST."</p><p>"Don't wait until the day before you get paid to move the left overs into an account."</p><p>-- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gthl3w1?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">FrostyRain5286</a></p>
Actions, not Words<p>"Anyone can replace you in the job you do. It's not your job to boast about how irreplaceable you are, but to prove to them that they don't WANT to replace you."</p><p>"There's a difference." </p><p>-- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gti7zi9?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">[deleted]</a></p>
The Cardinal Directions<p>" 'When it's her moment stand behind her. When she's nervous stand beside her. When she's scared stand in front of her. The rest you'll figure out.' - My Grandmother on women" -- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gthtx99?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">WholeMilkStandard</a></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I love your grandma!!" -- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gtjky5h?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">Neverthelilacqueen</a></p>
Keep Rage At Bay<p>"From my friend's late father, a wise old man from Trinidad:"</p><p>"Any man can get your goat, if you let him know where your goat is tied."</p><p>-- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gthmelk?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">JimmyBallocks</a></p>
Check Your Sources<p>"Don't take criticism from someone you wouldn't take advice from" -- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gthtigw?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">thehotdeskpodcast</a></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Well that rules out like 98% of the people I interact with." -- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gti82zo?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">MrEngin33r</a></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Thank you. No need to give our power away." -- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gtjihka?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">kittanjaan</a></p>
People Are Not Psychics<p>" 'You have to ask for what you want from people, make your position clear.' "</p><p>"Don't just assume people know what your problem is, communication is key. It is great for relationships, work, friendships, school and even playing team sports or video games."</p><p>-- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gti4ssq?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">SuecidalBard</a></p>
Let It Go<p>" 'You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. If words can control you, that means everyone can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.' "</p><p>"It's easier said than done, but it's 100% true."</p><p>-- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gthmxbc?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">mytwoquarters</a></p>
Give More Love<p>"Don't be afraid to show gratitude. I don't know why, but for most of my life I was embarrassed to reach out and thank people for a variety of things." </p><p>"I'd say 'thanks' to stuff like everyone does. But feeling comfortable giving specific and thoughtful expressions of gratitude has been a journey well worth taking."</p><p>-- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gtikmwh?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">wtfreddititsme</a></p>
Comparative Suffering Doesn't Work<p>" 'It doesn't matter if someone has it worse than you, you're still having a hard time and that makes your problems valid and gives you the right for help.' " -- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gtjac08?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">BenaBenaBadBad</a></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I remember one similar to this that was like 'just because someone else is in a full body cast, it doesn't mean that your broken arm doesn't hurt' " -- <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mkqicu/what_is_the_best_piece_of_advice_youve_ever_gotten/gtl6ln4?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank">UnwaveringBear</a></p>
A school is supposed to be a place for educating and care for children.
Probably Shouldn't Be Around Kids Anymore<p>There's telltale signs when a person most likely shouldn't be around children. The following stories are those educators who should maybe consider a job doing something else. </p>
Unable To Keep Her True Thoughts Together<p>The one at a private school who broke down crying yelling "You're all f-ck-ups!" to the class and stormed out. </p><p>She was hired just out of college and didn't last long.</p><p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mm3as2/what_was_the_worst_teacher_you_ever_had/gtoz53w?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3">dougiebgood</a></p>
Silly Rules Which Benefit No One<p>A 6th grade teacher.</p><p>She was very mean to all the students and not just from our perspective. She was very particular about how things were done and in many ways it was unfair.</p><p>Example:</p><p>We were not allowed to take our sheets out of the three ring binder to write on them. The problem is, I'm left handed, so the rings were in the way of my hand and then she would yell at me for my handwriting.</p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mm3as2/what_was_the_worst_teacher_you_ever_had/gtp5fke?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3">AntiqueStatus</a><a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mm3as2/what_was_the_worst_teacher_you_ever_had/gtp5fke?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3"></a>
Taking Personal Issues Into The Classroom Way Too Far<p>Had this one teacher who'd hit me for almost no reason. Found out years later she had problems with my mum at the time</p><p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mm3as2/what_was_the_worst_teacher_you_ever_had/gtox0ae?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3">tattooedbutemployed</a></p><p>Wait why didn't your mom file a lawsuit because of this?</p><p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mm3as2/what_was_the_worst_teacher_you_ever_had/gtq228k?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3">Yung_Mulann365</a></p><p>This was pretty normal where I grew up. (Really small Pacific island, rather not say exactly) Disciplining your kids in and out of the house was normal. Like every morning all us kids had to line up in front of the classroom with our hands out. If our fingernails were too long or dirty, you get hit with ruler. </p><p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mm3as2/what_was_the_worst_teacher_you_ever_had/gtq461w?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3">tattooedbutemployed</a></p>
Enacting Improper Teaching Procedures<p>Becoming a decent teacher means taking hours of training, attending professional development classes, and doing everything you can to try to perfect your craft.</p><p>Or you might encounter one of these individuals leading a class with their less than stellar skills. <br></p>
Classic Awful Behavior<p>Ms C, sixth grade.</p><p>She would frequently body shame kids she didn't like and she was racist AF I was the only Asian in class and she would openly say things like, "what breed of dogs do you think is the delicious-est?" There was only one white kid in class and whenever he did something kinda dumb, she'd say, "What a white person thing to do."</p><p>She had no respect for other people's privacy and would openly announce grades. There was a dyslexic student who got poor grades and she would mock her for that.</p><p>She would never actually teach the class, she'd literally just rant about her life. She'd gossip about the other teachers and she was just a b-tch.</p><p>Did I mention she was a toxic feminist with a hatred for men?</p><p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mm3as2/what_was_the_worst_teacher_you_ever_had/gtp46ps?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3">PuppyCumMeowMeow</a></p>
Little Reason For Choices<p>Social Studies teacher in 6th grade. I worked incredibly hard on a project for National History Day and she pulled me aside, threw it in the trash and said she'd be ashamed to put her name on it. Still makes me mad to this day.</p><p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mm3as2/what_was_the_worst_teacher_you_ever_had/gtp7hz5?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3">SnugBear</a></p>
Inappropriate Disciplinary Behavior<p>Had a woodworking teacher that used to lock disruptive students in a closet/room. Think he got fired for locking a girl in there. </p><p>Also had a teacher in primary school that whacked the class clown over the head with one of those old wooden 1m rulers and It snapped</p><p><a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mm3as2/what_was_the_worst_teacher_you_ever_had/gtp7epu?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3" target="_blank"></a><a target="_blank">Existing_Lettuce_639</a></p>
Being Too Much Of A Creeper<p>Then there's those teachers we've encountered who...</p><p>Well, just take a look. </p>
Maybe Don't Talk About Boys' Willys?<p>Mrs. Thomson, fourth grade. She was a Brit who was always going on about how boys shouldn't let their "willy" do the thinking. I didnt even know what a "willy" was.</p><p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mm3as2/what_was_the_worst_teacher_you_ever_had/gtp1evk?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3">ChaseDonovan</a></p>
What A Jerk<p>My History teacher in 9th grade. 1970's style, grey chest pubes popping out of his shirt with a gold necklace entangled in them. well over the line of obese but still not waddling. This was right after 9/11, so we all had to wear IDs around our necks and he'd always stare at girls' boobs saying he was checking ID. He used to give me detention if I walked in the class when the bell was ringing, but if anyone showed up after me it was fine. Made it a point to give me a hard time and belittle me in class, and I even had a meeting about it with him with out principal. Nothing happened of course because he'd been working there for 20 years. </p><p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mm3as2/what_was_the_worst_teacher_you_ever_had/gtozbsj?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3">mmm-pistol-whip</a><br></p>
Wait Until Your Personal Time<p>The one who got sacked for watching porn in his lunch break at school</p><p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/mm3as2/what_was_the_worst_teacher_you_ever_had/gtowryd?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3">CupperT2</a></p>
Human bodies are weird, man. And at times, they're completely unexplainable. Like, I can link my arms and bring them around my body all the way, without letting go. Don't ask me how I figured it out, but weird, right?!