When we think about learning history, our first thought is usually sitting in our high school history class (or AP World History class if you're a nerd like me) being bored out of our minds.
Unless again, you're a huge freaking nerd like me. But I think we all have the memory of the moment where we realized learning about history was kinda cool.
And they usually start from one weird fact.
Here are a few examples of turning points in learning about history, straight from the keyboards of the people at AskReddit.
Redditor Tynoa2 asked:
"What's your favourite historical fact?"
Let’s start off with some super weird facts that you probably never even considered. These are the best.
Trees are honestly really effing cool.
"For 60 million years trees didn't decay. When they died the just fell over and laid there. For 60 million years trees existed before the enzyme that broke them down when they died. So tons of massive trees in the oxygen rich environment just laid on the ground. Until they burned. That's how we have coal."
Did they believe her though?disney bambi GIFGiphy
"In 1726 there was a woman called Mary Toft who tricked doctors into believing that she gave birth to rabbits."
"There was another woman who would take the eggs from her chicken, etch 'jesus has come' into them and shove them back into the chicken who would then lay it again and people actually thought the chicken was a prophet."
A whole river.
"Some time in around the beginning of the 1500's Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli conspired to try to steal the Arno river. They both lived in the city of Florence and at the time there was hostilities with the city of Pisa which was nearer to the mouth of the Arno river and controlled trade on it."
"Da Vinci came up with the plan to create a canal to divert the river so it no longer flowed to Pisa which would allow Florence to dominate the whole region. Da Vinci drew up the plans and Machiavelli put them into action. However Da Vinci didn't oversee the project and instead the engineer who did decided to do it his own way."
"Which would take longer and need more people. In the middle of the project war broke out and the project had to be scrapped due to attacks from Pisa so it never came to be. Still a great historical footnote though."
Some of the most stunning facts come from assassinations for some reason. Especially the ones that survive.
"Roosevelt was shot in the chest during a speech and just continued on like nothing happened."
"He was shot just before his speech and he knew it hadn't pierced his lung since he wasn't coughing up blood, so he bandaged it and went to give his speech."
In another timeline, things might have been different.John F Kennedy Democrat GIFGiphy
"It is very possible - and some consider likely - that JFK could've survived the assassination had he not been wearing a thick, girdle-like back brace that kept him stiffly upright when in public. Kennedy had terrible back problems since serving in WWII that were continually worsening."
"The back brace began as early as JFK met Stalin for the first time and wanted to appear tall and strong since it was at the height of the Cold War, however his pain was so bad he often walked around the WH hunched over and looked decrepit. JFK continued to wear the brace to keep himself upright and portray the strong youthful image he crafted."
"When the first shot was fired, the brace made it nearly impossible to move, much less crouch down in the back seat to get out of the line of fire. He was then struck with the infamous shot to the back/throat which rendered him more immobile and finally the headshot that killed him."
"Parkland doctors testified to the Warren Commission how surprised they were at the size and tightness of the brace and how long it took to get off. One remarked it likely made him a "sitting duck" because of how immobile it would've rendered him."
Good to know before she was beheaded.
"When King Henry VIII was still married to Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard(his future fifth wife) was one of Cleves' ladies in waiting. They were close, even after Cleves' divorce. With all the tragedy and abuse from the men in her life, I'm just glad that she at least had one friend to trust."
Here’s the part you’ve all been waiting for- the facts about famous animals. You’re welcome.
The student teaches the teacher.
"Benjamin Franklin had a pet squirrel. As a little girl, I dressed as him, with a squirrel beanie-baby on my shoulder. My teacher had to look it up on the internet to check if I was right. She was amused."
Sounds on-brand for Jackson.happy dr pol GIF by Nat Geo Wild Giphy
"When Andrew Jackson died they had to remove his pet parrot from the funeral because it couldn't stop swearing."
"He also had a comically large cheese wheel."
Lastly, we gotta shout out the presidents. Sometimes they actually did weird sh*t.
I guess we’ll never know.
"Abraham Lincoln once gave a speech which was so good that all of reporters forgot to take notes, still to this day we don't know what exactly he said."
Well-portrayed in the Hamilton musical.
"That George Washington was known as this Really Talented Dancer, and was very in tune with the dances at the time of his being... Idk why I just never woulda thought this at all but it's dope to hear that dancing/socializing was always a thing!"
"Like from the passage I read it seemed like Whenever George was in attendance at the function, everyone knew he was gonna cut a rug and tear the house down.. and the ladies considered themselves lucky to be his dance partner."
When in Prussia...
"August von Mackensen, imperial German field marshal, commander of the death's head hussar regiment (who the SS would later steal imagery from), was born in 1849. He therefore grew up watching telegraph and train systems grow up around him, and would be 9 when the first ironclad warship was commissioned in France (1859)."
"At that time several of Napoleon's famous marshals were still alive. He served in the Prussian and later German military, and would lead the invasions of Serbia and Romania in WWI. He died in November 1945, just before his 96th birthday.
"Having grown up with muzzle loaders, wooden warships, horse carts, and trains only just being adopted, he ultimately witnessed the rise of telegraph, cinema, radio, powered flight, electricity for the home, recorded music and later film, the early theories of the atom, automobiles, submarines, airships, plastics, early computers, the jet plane, and the nuclear bomb."
"He witnessed 6 German regimes, saw both the rise and fall of imperial Japan, being alive while it was still in isolation, and watched the US go from civil war to superpower. That's how much the world changed in a single documented lifetime, from the mid industrial revolution to the end of WWII. The sheer rate of change boggles the mind. He also had a really cool hat."
Little FellaLooney Tunes Animation GIFGiphy
"Stalin was only about 5’4” and wore high raised boots to make himself look taller"
Don't Hit Snooze
"Hitler overslept on D-Day and refused to send reinforcements because he believed it was a decoy."
"Another funny story about him: The Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun became a scumbag Nazi sympathiser in the 30’s and 40’s, which led to him having a meeting with Hitler."
"Since Hamsun’s hearing was very poor, he kept asking Hitler to speak louder, and louder, till Hitler was screaming in rage. Witnesses said they had never heard him so angry, and Hamsun was lucky to live. I think he was declared as a national disgrace. His books were good, too, but he was a despicable man."
Fast & Furious
"Orville Wright of Wright Brothers fame lived long enough to see an airplane fly faster than the speed of sound."
"Yeah it's weird to think about: the first flight was 1903, and we landed on the Moon just 66 years later. That's easily within a single lifetime."
Get the Dogs
"In WWII the Soviets tried to make anti-tank dogs which were dogs strapped with bombs trained to run under tanks. The problem was that they trained on soviet tanks that ran on gasoline when German tanks ran on diesel. So long story short the first field test resulted in them running under their own tanks instead of the Germans and thus ended that wild chapter of history."
"Coolidge also liked to have Vaseline rubbed onto his head while he ate breakfast. Presidential fun facts are wild. One of my favorite ones is Andrew Jackson's inauguration turning into an absolute rager. And him beating the living crap out of his almost assassin with a cane."
"Mary Lincoln had to invite people over for breakfast because Mr.Lincoln would just start working and then forget to eat, which was apparently a very common occurrence. He'd be socially obligated to join everyone for breakfast."
Tag! You're it!scooby doo halloween GIF by Boomerang OfficialGiphy
"Calvin Coolidge, as president, played hide and seek with the secret service."
"The taunt 'kiss my a$' was first recorded being used by a German mercenary lord named Gotz von Berlichingen and nicknamed Gotz of the Iron Hand. (He lost a hand in battle and a blacksmith made him a high tech fake iron hand). He shouted that taunt to his enemy when he was told the surrender a fort he was defending."
"Nobody truly knows who was the first person to reach the top of Mount Everest. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first recorded people to reach the top, but many think climbers Mallory and Irvine reached the top before dying on the descent."
"Evidence pointing to this theory being correct is that Mallory always said how he would leave a picture of his family at the summit, and when his body was found in 1999 the picture was not in the pocket (but other papers like bills and otherwise unimportant notes were found)."
"The last person to see them alive noted that they were determined to reach the top that day and he saw them pushing towards the summit. Mallory's body was found with a pick-axe wound to the head, suggesting that his tool had bounced off a rock when he tried to use it to stop himself from falling, killing him."
The Bardwilliam shakespeare GIF by will herringGiphy
"William Shakespeare, one of the greatest writers, poets and playwrights of British history, could not spell his own name right consistently, spelling it at least six different ways in his lifetime."
As for me, my favorite weird historical fact is that Anne Boleyn had an extra finger. That fact is frequently overlooked in favor of her identity as Henry VIII sixth wife. I could go into that, but they already made a whole musical about it.
Anyway, I hope this made history a little more fun for you. It's not all memorizing dates- sometimes you never know what you'll find in a history book
Want to "know" more?
Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again.
Remember the Dreamcast? If you don't, then you've been missing out. Sit down, sweet summer child, and listen up.
The Dreamcast was a console so ahead of its time that console has been a Dreamcast since there was a Dreamcast. Too advanced to match its competitors, not appealing enough to be considered part of the next generation. I have fond memories of that console. Crazy Taxi was a gem.
Not everything comes out at the right time. We heard about a few other examples after Redditor rentinghappiness asked the online community,
"In your opinion, what’s something that flopped because it was way ahead of its time?"
"It was vastly overhyped..."
"The original Segway. It was vastly overhyped, but now, we're seeing rental scooters and e-bikes change the way people get around urban areas. If the company had offered a Lime-style rental system from the beginning, the product might've become ubiquitous."
The problem with Segway seemed to be that they could not make them cheaply enough to fit into a reasonable personal transportation niche. They were the price of a small, used car. Not great.
"This was before major smartphones..."
"In 2005, two guys tried to create a service called “MyMobileMenu.” The idea was you could order food using a cell phone, similar to DoorDash."
"This was before major smartphones, so When that flopped, they later tried a new adventure and created a company you might’ve heard of: Reddit."
They actually started Reddit from the same code base and haven't updated the video player since.
"Brilliant show that perfectly toed the line between history and fiction. Extremely compelling characters and kick@ss cast. Wasn't very accurate but always authentic."
"Got way too expensive and was canceled after two seasons. If it had been released after GOT or any other epic show in this day and age and it would have been a smash hit."
James Purefoy as Mark Antony is one of my favourite performances from any media ever. What a show. We were robbed of so much further glory!
"An airline called Muse Air failed in 1985 largely in part because it was the first all non-smoking airline. Now everything is nonsmoking. It was purchased by Southwest and dismantled two years later in 1987."
And look at airlines now! Poor Muse Air.
"Those poor bastards waited..."
"Apparently Skype. Those poor bastards waited for the TV Guide channel to slowly scroll for years and just when what they were looking for showed up, they got distracted by the infomercial in the top right corner."
Somehow Microsoft bought it and despite consistently overwhelmingly negative feedback from users, its new director went forward with his own personal vision, and not only put in changes that no one wanted or asked for, but started stripping legitimate preexisting functionality out of the program.
"Sega Channel was such wizardry for the mid-1990s. It was like Christmas every month when they cycled in new games."
I remember this! It was so ahead of its time. It felt like being in the presence of actual magic!
"The movie tanked..."
"Videodrome '83. The movie tanked, but it was so spot on about people being addicted to media, ultraviolence becoming the norm, people adopting online personas, etc."
Truly... David Cronenberg is a twisted genius.
"It was the first commercial film to be shown in stereo and it used an early precursor to surround sound. WWII, high production costs, and the burden of building the sound equipment for showings prevented it from making any money at the time."
This is true! It's a spectacle that was definitely not appreciated at the time of its release.
"Smirnoff has been the laughing stock of alcohol for years. Now all of sudden everyone and their mother wants to drink fermented sugar drinks."
Funny how people came around – seemingly overnight.
"I distinctly remember..."
"The TV show Arrested Development. I distinctly remember the commercials for it and thought, Jesus that looks moronic. Fox chose the more obvious jokes to highlight and tried to make it seem like a zany hijinks type of comedy. They practically added slide whistles and “boing” sound effects to the commercials for it."
"Once I finally watched it I realized it’s brilliant. It was the first American show to do that style of comedy. Hand-held camera work, flashbacks, cutaways, etc. Which is ironic because later everyone would do it."
They made a huge mistake.
Arrested Development is a cult classic, a show made for streaming years before streaming was a thing.
You don't always realize you have a great thing going – and so much of success comes down to timing.
Have some examples of your own to share? Tell us more in the comments below!
Consumers who have money to burn often buy things they don't really need, like travel accessories, specialized sports equipment for an activity they've only done once, or even cookbooks, when plenty of recipes can be found online.
They might be missing out on buying things that could actually make life so much easier because it never occurs to them.
Curious to hear recommendations of items that can improve your life, Redditor icandoitw asked:
"What are some life-changing purchases that are 100% worth it?"
People thought it was worth spending a little extra for a better quality of life.
"Sounds simple but honestly, something as basic as a good pair of shoes that fit you well."
"A good mattress and pillow. We spend a third of our lives lying on it, why not invest in it? Anything that you use a lot, you should seriously invest in, like I have a $400 custom mechanical keyboard. People say I am crazy, but I use it every day, for hours on end, it’s my job."
"If you have trouble sleeping, a weighted blanket. I’ve gone from about 5.5 hrs average sleep per night to 7 hours average which is incredible for me, and I wake up feeling so well rested"
Better In The Dark
"Blackout curtains. Especially in the summertime, they help you sleep so much better."
"Good quality re-useable ear plugs. Soooo much better than the cheap foamy ones."
"They will definitely improve your life if you go to loud concerts. Filter our overtones so you can hear the music better at a loud punk show. Also hearing loss is irreversible and there's no cure for tinnitus."
Clear The Air
"For blind/visually impaired people: A smartphone. They literally are life changing, and can function as numerous separate and extremely pricy accessible devices and can do things like color and money recognition, text recognition, the uses are amazing."
"In general though, if you have allergies, especially seasonal or pet, AIR PURIFIER. When we bought our hous a few years ago, my allergies got so bad, we were almost considering moving, but then i bought an air purifier and it was so life changing, i got one for each floor of our house. One of the best purchases ever."
Life can be made easier with the help of these items.
"A second monitor."
"Suprised i didnt see this yet, but it improves productivity so much as you can have tabs open and type whatever you want on the other or even watch youtube etc."
Taking Stock In This
"3+ gallon stock pot. Boil pasta, potatoes, or whatever without a boil over. No more starch water burning all over the burner."
"a fully functioning computer."
"many people don't have one, they exist in phones or tablets, and holy sh*t they are missing out."
"Washer and dryer. No planning days and accumulating quarters for laundry. Just dump a load in a go about my business."
Save your back and your money by hiring people to do hard labor.
Refrain From Heavy Lifting
"paying for movers to do everything from pack to move all of it."
"never doing that sh*t again."
You Deserve It
"People really underestimate the power of this."
"At least in my social circle, for a long time it was just understood that if someone was moving everyone was showing up that day to lift and lug from house A to house B with the rich reward of beer and burgers after, as if it had all been some fun party everyone loved. This persisted even after people could conceivably afford movers."
"I personally think it is A LOT to expect of friends do that for you. Yeah, when you're young and you have three bags of clothes, two boxes of books, and a futon (and no disposable income at all), it's understandable. But paying for movers and then packers is something I did as soon as I had any money to pay for it. That is what money is for, it's not necessarily what friends are for."
The best pandemic purchase I made that was worth every penny was for several sets of free weights.
Once I canceled my gym membership, I invested in some dumbbells so I could follow YouTube workout videos in the comfort of my home.
They are not cheap; however, I'm saving more money in the long run without having to pay a monthly gym membership fee.
I've seen more gains from using the free weights and following an instructor on a monitor, and my motivation to work out is higher than ever.
If you find yourself plateauing at the gym, you may want to invest in making some changes to your exercise regimen that works for you.
You know, try as I might, I just can't bring myself to bother with The Walking Dead. I quit the show some years ago, probably around the time of that weird fakeout with Glen in the dumpster (and then his actual death right after that), but the truth is that the show was getting on my nerves for some time before that.
Did anyone actually care about all the nonsense going on with Deanna and the citizens of Alexandria? And can we go back a bit further and talk about how ludicrous Beth's death at the hands of some power-tripping officer in a hospital ward was? There was such a noticeable drop in quality after the third season that I questioned why I kept tuning in.
But this show is far from the only one to make people want to throw their remotes at their television screens. People shared their thoughts with us after Redditor regian24 asked the online community,
"What TV show was amazing at first but became unwatchable for you later on?"
The Walking Dead
"The Walking Dead."
"First few seasons were great with pretty good pacing. Later seasons devolve into telling one story at a time. They’d have a cliffhanger of a character maybe dying and do 3 weeks of other stories. By the time it gets back to the cliffhanger you have no idea what’s happening. That and it got repetitive."
See?! What did I tell you? After a splendid first season – one that could have been a standalone miniseries at that – the rest of the series just failed to live up to its initial promise.
"I watched every new episode of Glee when it came out and was slightly obsessed with the show. But as soon as it finished it all crumbled. The show makes no sense, is not good, and I could never rewatch it."
I just couldn't get into it. I found it grating. And the fact that the quality noticeably slipped afterward did not make my friends happy.
"Heroes: biggest drop in quality after season 1."
To be fair, the writer's strike really hurt that show's future. It never stood a chance after that – and my God, did I hear that that second season was horrible.
"Happy Days! Once Fonzie jumped the shark, while waterskiing and wearing his jacket, the show just got progressively worse."
This is the classic answer to this question. Gen Xers like me even use the term "jumping the shark" to refer to things that were once great but now suck.
"The Blacklist. So many loopholes and a never ending plot. I mean, the female hero (forgot her name) was wanted and had her pictures broadcast nationwide live, but a couple of weeks after she can do undercover work."
I couldn't even stand the first episode. I quit right after that. I could tell the quality was questionable.
"Arrow. It's what happens when you try to make so many seasons for a show meant for only a few."
This is true about lots of shows. The writers and executives just don't know when to quit.
Once Upon a Time
"Once Upon a Time. The first 3 seasons were good! And then after that they just kept getting worse."
People actually liked that show? I know, I know... I'm the worst. I just didn't see the appeal and it heard it got so ridiculous.
"A hilarious and intriguing show that slowly grew to be about a bunch of unlikable a-holes making bad, selfish decisions. When there's no one with any redeeming characteristics, there's no one for the audience to get behind."
It started out great but really started to go off the rails with characters making increasingly nonsensical choices. Nancy marrying the Mexican drug lord was the beginning of the end.
That '70s Show
"Not the worst offender, but That '70s Show tanked pretty hard once Eric left. He was sorely needed to make the chemistry of the group work."
Yeah, the way these characters continued to stick together even after that was just embarrassing.
House of Cards
"The first two seasons were amazing. After that it started to get progressively worse."
I would argue that even the second season began to stretch the limits of credulity. I lost interest after the fourth season (and both the third and the fourth seasons were a slog for me to get through).
There is some amazing television out there – I am currently making my way through Six Feet Under again – but there is even more disappointing television that should never make its way into your eyeballs.
Sorry if you've suffered.
Have some suggestions of your own? Tell us more in the comments below!
More often than not, what gets us to keep tuning in to our favorite TV shows, or drawn to certain movies, is to get a glimpse into various professions which fascinate us, but which we wouldn't ever want to work ourselves.
Needless to say, there aren't many people who find the Indiana Jones films to be a remotely accurate depiction of archaeology, or that the Jurassic Park films show what paleontology is really like.
But many people tend to watch iconic procedurals like Grey's Anatomy and Law & Order under the notion that they both give an accurate depiction of the medical field and the legal world.
Only, how accurate are they?
Redditor Just_Surround_2108 was curious to learn which professions have been documented on screen without as much research as one might expect, leading them to ask:
"What profession does Hollywood get completely wrong in films and TV?"
In case you had any doubts about hacking...
"Don't nobody code that fast lol."- lmoore0621
The better question is, what does Hollywood get right?
"Just about anything medical, including deaths."
"Just about anything dealing with space."
"Just about anything dealing with natural disasters."
"Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think Hollywood really gets anything right about anything."- Xyrus2000
"Especially in big firms, it’s a lot of just endless hours in front of a desk doing doc review."
"Sincerely, someone studying to do endless hours in front of a desk doing doc review."- geeeeeetarSeason 2 Nbc GIF by Law & OrderGiphy
For better or worse...
Don't let them in the operating room...
"Nursing."- buhzkillWake Up Coffee GIF by FOX TVGiphy
Drop that baton!
"Oh my god just take a lesson or two and learn how to hold the instrument right."- soysaucemmm
Crunching those numbers... incorrectly...
Accountants. I'm sorry, but the action Thriller "The Accountant" starring Ben Aff-lack, was in no way a true representation of my job. - User Deleted
Defying all laws of motion...
"It's hilarious how they act!."- Prestigious-Order-62back to the future 121 gigawatts GIFGiphy
At least depending on where you went to school...
If we're being honest, most people tune in to watch films or television shows to escape from reality, and aren't usually looking for a documentary on these professions.
Though, for anyone thinking they want to be a scientist after watching Back To The Future... you might want to really think that one over...