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.
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.
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
Many people found high school history class exceptionally boring. There was so much reading, the years-old scuffles and cultural trends seemed far away in time as well as geography.
Add a boring teaching into the mix--if you were so unlucky--and you can forget it. That whole class period was a snooze fest.
But you also probably remember the occasional bolt of lighting that woke everybody up. The teacher, with a weird grin and twinkly in their eye, was excited to share a truly bizarre occurrence from the period in question.
Finally, the class was interested. Something just petty, grotesque, or inexplicable enough had been mentioned, and history was fun, if only for a fleeting moment.
Some Redditors recently gathered to toss around those bizarre events.
inmyelement asked, "What historical event from way back is just plain bizarre to you?"
A good amount of people found themselves most attracted to the inexplicable. They focused on the stories of people, groups, and even animals that behaved in a way that doesn't quite add up in our head.
Some of those old events even triggered a sense of spookiness. But most just left people feeling entirely bewildered.
A True Soldier
"Wojtek the Bear."
"He was a bear taken in by the wojska lądowe (polish army in ww2) and he helped move ammunition. his favorite thing to drink was beer and he was taught to salute when greeted."
"edit: he also liked to smoke and eat cigarrettes. there is also a statue to him in kraków :)"
"One of the weirdest historical events was the dancing mania that happened in Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. People suddenly started to dance and couldn't stop."
"It could be up to thousand people just dancing and not stopping. They danced until they got exhausted and just collapsed. No one is sure why this happened."
A Persistent Corpse
"Dimitri, the Tsar of Russia, was killed, mysteriously reappeared, killed, mysteriously reappeared, killed, then mysteriously reappeared, then killed, then reappeared, then killed before they finally decided that he was really dead and no one after that could possibly be Dimitri."
"I might be exaggerating a little, but only by one death and reappearance."
"The lost army of Cambyses. Around 524 BCE the Persian king Cambyses II sent an army of 50,000 men out into the African desert to subdue a rebellious outpost resisting the king's conquest of Egypt and surrounding areas."
"The army supposedly encountered a massive dust storm, which completely engulfed them and covered them with fatal dunes of sand. They were never heard from and never found."
"In modern times some archeologists have claimed to find remains but their claims are not universally accepted by their peers."
Other people gave their attention to singular historical figures.
After all, when we survey all the people who've lived over the past hundreds--even thousands--of years, we're bound to encounter some truly compelling biographies.
All About Personality
"Rasputin's whole life. The idea that this scraggly wizard/priest/maybe not even a real priest was able to influence the Russian royal family is just so wild to me" -- booboogriggs7467
"Kinda but also kind of completely normal for a celebrity to be attracted to nonsense. I.E. Carl Lentz, Gwyneth Partlow, Scientology." -- Upstairs_Past
"What is wild to me that for a smelly, unattractive, weirdo had so much game. He was sleeping around all over St Petersburg. NGL He is in the top 5 of my historic figures I would hook up with." -- lisasimpsonfan
Gluttony All Around
"A Swedish king killed himself by eating to much pudding..."
"...and a French noble had to be removed from his own court because he couldn't stop master baiting for more then a half hour"
When You Just Can't Let Go
"The Cadaver Synod in 897, when Pope Stephen VI put on trial the corpse of his predecessor, Pope Formosus, who by then had been dead for about 7 months."
"The body of Formosus was found guilty of perjury - it was declared he had never truly been Pope so all his acts could be annulled instantly."
"Though that didn't help Pope Stephen much as the bizarre event helped spark a popular uprising that deposed him. He was eventually strangled in his prison cell."
A Historic Boss
"Michelangelo, the man's whole life was him being a bada**. He was literally like an Italian cowboy with the profound ability to create mesmerizing sculptures." -- nNoodl
"So that's where Spaghetti Westerns originate." -- HotelMemory
An Incredible PR Turnaround
"A man named Diego Maradona scored a goal using his hand, even though that's an illegal move on Football, it was counted, and his reputation around the world escalated immensely after that move which would be called 'The Hand Of God' "
"I mean rest in peace Diego but c'mon that was illegal"
When Scientology is Only Half the Story
"L Ron Hubbard, the creator of Scientology, was big into black magic and used to hang out with Aleister Crowley and his whole crew."
"He had a weird battle of egos with Jack Parsons, a rocket scientist, and they all performed the Moonchild ritual to summon the antichrist. And the details of the ritual came to pass."
"After performing the ritual a 'scarlette woman' was supposed to appear and give birth to the antichrist. The next day a random red-headed woman showed up at their place insisting she be involved in their magical/sexual escapades."
"Coincidence or not that she was there, they knocked her up thus fulfilling the requirements of the ritual."
"Then Hubbard, Parsons and his wife banded together to flip yachts for a profit. Hubbard stole the investment money and Parsons wife and disappeared to start Scientology later on."
"The Bal des Ardents,' or 'The Ball of the Burning Men/Man.' "
"Charles VI of France (1368-1422) and some of his friends crashed the 3rd wedding of his wife's lady in waiting by wearing suits made of tar-soaked linen and strands of dried hemp."
"Unfortunately, Charles's own brother, drunk as ever, brought a torch into the ceremony, which had been forbidden. One of the men went up in flames before it spread to almost every single one of them, apart from Charles."
"Charles, seeing his friends go up in flames, hid underneath his 15 yr old aunt (Joan II, Countess of Auvergne)'s dress. 4 of the other 5 dancers died, save one who managed to jump into a barrel of wine in time to save himself from being too badly burned."
"The presidency of Chester A. Arthur. This was a man neck deep in the political corruption machine back in the day. Every step of his career was built on the spoils system of the time, including how he became vice president."
"He enjoyed it too, building fabulous wealth during his time at the New York Custom House and giving favors to his associates as Vice President."
"You would think that this man would only continue this as President, but NO!"
"In his very first address to Congress, he specifically requested civil service reform. He wanted to dismantle the very machine that got him his wealth and power."
He was perfectly happy doing favors as a VP and being the recipient of other favors, but the second he became the big man he wanted to change the whole system for the better."
"In a little under two years after Garfield's assassination, Arthur signed the reform bill that mandates government positions are awarded based on merit."
And finally, with so many wars occurring throughout time, there are plenty of military events to choose from.
With so much at stake, when coincidences or strange circumstances struck in these situations, one can't help but wonder how different things could have been if just one or two variables were different.
All About the Angles
"Not really bizarre but more amazing was the Siege of Vicksburg by Grant during the civil war. The fortifications on the Mississippi River were damn impressive..."
"...but they didn't take into account that if you got close to the river's edge, the guns angle couldn't reach that far down, so by hugging the edge of the river closest to Vicksburg, grant essentially had a free shot at the city and allowed him to take out the last heavily fortified city on the Mississippi."
"The siege lasted like a month"
"The Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated almost by accident. His killer had missed him earlier."
"Then, when the Archdukes car made a wrong turn, the assassin was sitting in a cafe when he happened to come down the street. Unfortunate history unfolded."
Plenty of Choices
"The fact that there are multiple incidents answering to the name 'Defenestration of Prague.' " -- KamilDonhafta
"The Prague Yeet!" -- OldElPasoSnowplow
"Other countries: Angry debates, violent fights, etc."
"Bohemia: Y E E T" -- ButterLander2222
"It's not a single event, but it's amazing to me how much trouble people used to have crossing the English Channel."
"Starting with William the Conqueror and effectively ending with John, English kings held lands in both England and France."
"But even for royalty, it was difficult and risky to cross the Channel. And when they did cross, they were never quite sure where on the coast they'd land."
Bizarre, No Wait. Totally Believable.
"I thought that the Petty Coat Wars were bizarre when I learned about them in high school..."
"...but now I know that some politicians are just children with a lot of power, so of course a president fired most of his cabinet because their wives wouldn't sit with someone else's wife."
Undoubtedly, there are bizarre historical events happening as we speak in some part of the world. You don't even have to look far, just hopen the paper.
Who knows which of the strange events of modern times will make the kids of the future perk up in their chairs.
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Paul Revere, Jesus Christ, our parents... Anthony Fauci. Why is it humans always choose to ignore signs and try to discredit the truth tellers? Are we truly that arrogant? Now that I'm an adult I feel like I should always be on an apology tour to my elders who always warned me about growing up; they were right, youth is wasted on the young.
Thank goodness there always seems to be a handful of people who are willing to risk everything to expose what needs to told. And those people are never travelling an easy road. They are often ridiculed and lambasted. But thankfully, most of the time, they do get their "I told you so" moments.Redditor u/MeargleSchmeargle wanted to discuss some of the people who tried to warn everyone and blow the whistles on so many things, though it often all landed on deaf ears; they asked... Who was crazy until they were right all along?
Ludwig Knowsdigging self destruct GIFGiphy
His equations and formulas explained the physical properties of matter, but as it went against the then accepted Laws of Physics, he was ridiculed and ignored for years while fighting for atom theory to be accepted.
He took his own life just 3 years before Ernest Rutherford discovered the nucleus of an atom, proving Boltzmann's theory.
Hemingway, before he took his life he became extremely paranoid the FBI was following him. His wife and people around him just thought he was mentally ill and grew deeply concerned. Hemingway went as far as getting electrotherapy at a psychiatric hospital to try and help with the perceived delusions. Turns out the FBI had been following and bugging him for years according to declassified files.
No One Would Listen
Harry Markopolos spent ten years trying to convince everyone (investors, journalists, regulatory agencies, etc.) that Bernie Madoff was a fraud, based on forensic accounting. Madoff was one of the most respected names on Wall Street and despite the overwhelming evidence, no one was willing to entertain the thought he might be running a Ponzi scheme. Harry's book, No One Would Listen is a pretty great account of financial detective work and just the abject frustration of being absolutely certain you're right but no one believes you.
EDIT: If you want to see Congressman Ackerman absolutely destroy the SEC right after Markopolous's testimony, here you go.
In 1912 the meteorologist Alfred Wegener described what he called continental drift, an idea that culminated fifty years later in the modern theory of plate tectonics.
Wegener expanded his theory in his 1915 book The Origin of Continents and Oceans. Starting from the idea (also expressed by his forerunners) that the present continents once formed a single land mass (later called Pangea), Wegener suggested that these separated and drifted apart, likening them to "icebergs" of low density granite floating on a sea of denser basalt.
 Supporting evidence for the idea came from the dove-tailing outlines of South America's east coast and Africa's west coast, and from the matching of the rock formations along these edges. Confirmation of their previous contiguous nature also came from the fossil plants Glossopteris and Gangamopteris, and the therapsid or mammal-like reptile Lystrosaurus, all widely distributed over South America, Africa, Antarctica, India, and Australia. The evidence for such an erstwhile joining of these continents was patent to field geologists working in the southern hemisphere. The South African Alex du Toit put together a mass of such information in his 1937 publication Our Wandering Continents, and went further than Wegener in recognising the strong links between the Gondwana fragments.
Wegener's work was initially not widely accepted, in part due to a lack of detailed evidence. The Earth might have a solid crust and mantle and a liquid core, but there seemed to be no way that portions of the crust could move around. Distinguished scientists, such as Harold Jeffreys and Charles Schuchert, were outspoken critics of continental drift.
So many have pleaded with us through science and fact. More often than not science can sound like fiction but reality is far stranger than fiction. It may seem odd that a plague is coming, or that certain aspects of the human body cause breakdowns and pain, because we don't initially understand the specifics. Sure, some truths feel too simple and others too vague, but rest assured plenty of people have known.
Dr. Fauci?Corona Stay Home GIF by INTO ACTIONGiphy
That dude who suggested that it might be a good idea to wash your hands before performing surgery.
Semmelweis supposedly suffered a nervous breakdown and was committed to an asylum by his colleagues. He died 14 days later after being beaten by the guards, from a gangrenous wound on his right hand which might have been caused by the beating. Semmelweis's practice earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory.
For a very long time the medical community thought that stomach ulcers were caused by stress.
A doctor in Australia called Barry Marshall claimed they were wrong and that they were caused by an excess of certain bacteria, and the cure was simple antibiotics. The medical community ridiculed him and nearly ended his career. He eventually decided the only way to prove he was right was to infect himself, develop the ulcers and cure himself.
In curing himself he was proved right and won the Nobel prize for his efforts, and now stomach ulcers are very easily treatable (they previously affected 1 in 10 people).
"The Great Missoula Flood"
J Harlan Bretz
He was a geologist that in the 1920s came up with a theory about why the Dry Falls and surrounding scablands of Eastern Washington state were so sharp and abrupt, instead of smooth as should be with the general understanding of erosion. Especially since the falls have no real river to speak of to create erosion.
His theory was that a giant flood, created by an even more massive lake, ripped through the region millions of years ago, reshaping the landscape in a matter of days. He was laughed at and discredited in the geology community for almost 50 years. Until someone discovered evidence in the 1950s of an ancient and massive lake that started just north of Montana that stretched all the way to southern Utah.
The lake was believed to have been created by glacial dams (ice walls) during the last ice age. It would fill up over thousands of years and then hit a point where a glacial dam broke and the lake water would fire out the break like a water cannon, drain the lake, and reshape an entire region over several days as the water flowed toward the ocean. This happened several times.
Since the flood that carved the Dry Falls likely started from the Lake Missoula area in modern day Montana, it was named the "The Great Missoula Flood". Bretz was given an award in 1979 for his contribution to geology when he was 96 years old. He joked "All my enemies are dead, so I have no one to gloat over."
Never underestimate the people who seem like they're just spreading gossip. Within every lie, there is truth. And gossip has to be born from somewhere, it's sort of a parody of truth. And don't negate facts that seem so outlandish they can only be a masterwork of creativity. The wildest tales are never made up.
Martha Mitchell, she was the wife of Nixon's AG, John Mitchell. She was outspoken in the extreme and was one of the first to talk openly about what really happened re:Watergate. Since she was also known to love her martinis, she was widely written off as a drunk, crazy woman. Behind the scenes, a White House doctor began heavily sedating her and her husband locked her away from the press. No one believed her until Nixon resigned and the story came out. To this day, most people only remember her as that loud-mouth, Martha Mitchell.
When the Civil War broke out, everyone on both sides thought it would be a quick victory. However Sherman kept saying it would be a bloodbath that would drag on for years. His superiors decided he was insane and sent him out west to fight Native Americans just to get rid of him.
After it all came true and they needed some better generals, they said "Maybe we should bring back that Sherman guy."
John Knowsgame of thrones winter GIF by got50Giphy
John Snow (yes, that's his name) was laughed at for believing that the multiple cholera outbreaks could be traced back to a specific source and that it was due to contaminated water. Essentially, making him one of the fathers of epidemiology. He has a fascinating life that went beyond that as well!
The "dingo ate my baby!" lady. Got made fun of constantly, most notably in Seinfeld and I believe went to jail because nobody believed her. Turns out a dingo ate her baby. She is still made fun of.
There was a sci-fi writer Philip K Dick who was convinced the FBI was monitoring him so he kept sending demand letters that they release his file.
His daughter was interviewed years after he passed (extras on Scanner Darkly dvd iirc):
"I heard you've actually seen your father's FBI file and it is quite large"
"Yes it's rather large, but the only thing in there are copies of his demand letters".
The Radium Girls.
When Radium had just come to the US and was being marketed on dials for war and watches, girls used their lips to fix the paintbrushes to make their numbers and dials perfect. Eventually they started suffering horrible, painful experiences due to the radium.
These girls fought for YEARS to figure out A) what was wrong with them, B) who was responsible, and C) how they were going to pay their bills/support their families.
It's a horrible injustice. These girls needed support and validation that they weren't crazy, that it WAS radium; and it took far too long and too many deaths for it to happen.
Hey Ladies...Hey Girl Ladies GIF by Amanda Cee MediaGiphy
When I was in Boy Scout camp we had this counselor named Don. He was kind of odd, he knew everything about trees and only really talked about trees.
We had just gotten back from a hike that Don was on with us and we were just sitting around talking and he suddenly goes "You know, they're gonna let girls into Boy Scouts soon". We were all like, "yeah okay Don". But sure enough less than 3 years later, they did it.
Mr. Burry gets it...
Michael Burry. The first guy to predict the 2008 housing market crash. He was a hedge fund manager for Scion Capital at the time and basically bet his entire funds liquidity (all the money the fund had) that there would be a crash.
No one believed him except a few other people who also bet against the market. Several of his clients sued him for tying their money up in what they considered to be a foolish bet all to have him be right in the end. He made his fund something like $1.3 billion and the value increased about 489%.
The movie the Big Short is about him and the few other people who were wise enough to bet against the market at the time. I've watched the movie like 5 times in order to try to understand exactly what happened but still don't fully get it. I recommend it to anyone who's interested
Fun fact: Michael Burry was also ahead of the curve* in the recent GameStop surge. I think he had something like 1.2 million shares of GameStop months before the price shot up (might need to fact check myself).
Rotted to the Core
Johnny Rotten said in an interview that he knew Jimmy Savile was into all kinds of "seediness". People dismissed it as typical Johnny Rotten anti establishment talk (for which he is famous). As it turned out, he was right.
Pity Me Partyboy...
Me. About my (now disowned) cousin.
He kept stealing things from me which my family felt was no big deal. But it escalated. It went from stealing candy, to my things, to cash, and after that I asked them how much longer they would support him and call me "selfish" for "not sharing." The line was finally crossed when he stole our grandmothers credit cards and her car.
She finally wrote him off.
This was AFTER he had stolen all of her jewelry, including the last present (anniversary ring) my grandfather was ever to give her.
Oh, but he tried to say that our family kicked him out because he's gay. No. None of us cared about that, it was because he's a thief.
His "friends" have bailed him out of jail and then dropped him when he steals from them.
But he claims the world is "just unfair" to him.
Now he tells his pity story and milks the "my family disowned me because I'm gay" to everyone he begs from. I learned this when he tried to do it to one of my friends.
You're SaneSeason 5 Nbc GIF by The OfficeGiphy
The ex-husband of my ex-girlfriend . Turns out he wasn't the crazy one after all. He kept trying to tell me and if I would have listened from the beginning I could have saved 4 years of my life.
The people who discovered prions. All the other biologists thought they were crazy to suggest one protein could be an infectious agent. Nope those biologists were wrong and Nobel prizes were awarded.
The people who were tortured as a part of MK Ultra. Imagine trying to convince the people around you that the government is trying to make you crazy with mind control, only years later to find out that not only was it true, but you wouldn't get compensation for it. And you were subject to illegal human experimentation.
Don't Tell MeGiphy
The classic example, of course, is Cassandra; in Greek mythology she was cursed to know the future, but for no one to believe her when she told them.
It just seems like eternal human error to constantly repeat bad patterns and already lived through cycles -which is the definition of insanity by the way- so that lessons are never learned. When will believe those that are trying to warn us for our greater good, the first few hundred times they tell us? Wash your hands, wear your mask and prepare to combat climate change. You've been warned... A LOT!!
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Life is often far more unbelievable than the stories we create. Look at out current political climate, if you had read about it in a fiction book you'd file it under science fiction. But that isn't a current reality, history is littered with wild tales and stories you think you'd have to see to believe. Thank God for historians and autobiographers. At this rate, when the aliens get here, Star Trek will a documentary.
Redditor u/SkunkytheSkunk7 wanted to know about some of the stories in history that sound like they might have been authored and not done in real time by asking.... What sounds like fiction but is actually a real historical event?
The allies planted a dead body with fake battle plans to trick the Germans into thinking that the allies were going to attack Sardinia when they were in fact going to attack Sicily.
They built an entire life for this dead, fake, military man, dumped him in the ocean, and successfully distracted the Germans.
Edgar Allen Poe wrote a novel in 1838 in which 4 shipwrecked survivors, at the point of starvation, choose to resort to cannibalism. So they kill the young cabin boy, Richard Parker, and eat him.
In 1884, a ship called the Mignonette sank. 4 crewmembers survived. At the point of starvation, they killed and ate the youngest of them: Richard Parker.
Ken Rex McElroy.
The death of Ken Rex McElroy. He terrorized Skidmore, Missouri for decades. Stalking, assaulting, and murdering two 14 year olds who were his "wives." He had an expensive attorney so he was never charged. The law never helped the poor town. One day, the town gathered for a meeting on how to deal with McElroy. Details get a little vague here, but apparently someone alerted the room that McElroy was in the bar up the street.
Quietly and calmly, everyone got up and walked over to the bar. As McElroy got into his truck, someone shot him in the back of the head. The town just went back to their business. When the witnesses (like the entire town) were questioned, everyone claimed they didn't see anything. No one as ever been arrested.
the winter of 1941-42...
The Soviet scientists starving to death saving the seed bank of Leningrad during Hitler's invasion in the winter of 1941-42 despite it being full of corn, wheat and potatoes.
That level of dedication is just unimaginable. To go against your survival instincts and starve to death in order to not eat that food. I can't even comprehend.
Wojtek was a bear who fought Nazis in return for cigarettes and beer. He didn't die until 20 years after WW2.
My favorite part about that story is that after the war he lived in a zoo. It was common for soldiers from the bear's company to come visit and simply jump into the enclosure to play with him, much to the zoo keepers' annoyance.
I'm gonna die laughing!
Apparently, death from laughter is an incredibly rare but a completely legit cause of death.
In the third century BCE, Chrysippus, a Greek Stoic philosopher, died of laughter after he saw a donkey eating his figs.
And Chrysippus' is not the only isolated case. Among the few other cases, a fifth-century BCE Greek painter, Zeuxis, is said to have died laughing at his painting of the goddess Aphrodite for which an old woman (who had commissioned the painting) had insisted on modeling.
Also, Cleopatra, the ruler of Egypt in the first century BCE, claimed that her retainer died laughing at her husband's death.
According to the linked Wikipedia article, the most recent case is that of Ole Bentzen, a Danish audiologist, who saw a funny scene in a comedy film and laughed so hard that his heart rate rose to a point where he had a fatal heart attack, in 1989.
From what I understood from reading up on this topic, it's not the act of laughing itself but rather a fatal repercussion from a fit of laughter, such as cardiac arrest, asphyxiation or aneurysm, which causes death.
For instance, Ole Bentzen suffered a heart attack as a consequence of the terrible fit of laughter he had. It's possible that such was the case of Chrysippus (and others) as well.
(I always thought of 'I'm gonna die laughing!' as a hyperbole, and I myself use it quite liberally. But I guess every hyperbole has a grain of truth to it.)
Codename : "stargate"
The CIA was researching psychic abilities for 30 years as a way to spy on the USSR. After 30 years, the program was terminated, and their conclusion was that psychic powers probably don't exist.
Edit: The actual conclusion was that the evidence for remote viewing was un-falsifiable (and therefore un-provable).
Many of the more promising results were believed to be caused by information leakage, meaning that test subjects had prior knowledge about the subject they were asked about. They were unable to verify any of their results because of this, and even if the psychic abilities were real, they were unreliable at best.
Edit 2: The codename fro the project was "stargate" you can find the documents on the CIA website here.
Lakes of Louisiana....
In 1980 Lake Peigneur in Louisiana drained like a bathtub with the plug removed. Oil Drillers on a rig in the lake had hit a mine shaft below. The rig, barges, a tugboat and part of a nearby island got sucked into the largest man-made whirlpool ever.
The Battle for Castle Itter near the end of WWII saw US soldiers, French POWs, and the German army fighting on the same side to hold the castle against an SS tank division.
To make it even weirder, the French prisoners included several prime ministers and a tennis star.
I'd still like to see the Tarantino version, though.
Hilariously, this article is titled 'The Battle of Itter Castle: The Day When Reality Exceeded Tarantino'. They refer to the story of Castle Itter as 'a real Tarantino adventure that no one has told yet'.
What an absolute legend.Giphy
In 1971, a teenage girl named Juliane Koepcke was on a plane that was struck by lightning and disintegrated in the air. She plummeted 3,000 meters strapped to her seat, and landed in the Amazon rainforest.
Her mom had been on the flight with her, and Juliane searched in vain for her mom, but Juliane was the sole survivor of the crash. She survived 11 days alone, treating her maggot-infested wounds with fuel and using tracking techniques her father had taught her, before she found a boat that she used to make her way back to civilization.
What an absolute legend.
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History is an overwhelmingly broad realm of study. Collecting all of the formative events, by all the influential people, in all of the places in the world--and their interactions--is an insurmountable project.
And that is to say nothing of the minor quirks that, while influential in a niche area of the human story, rarely get much real estate in history text books or discussions.
The task offers internet crowd sourcing a time to shine. One Reddit thread became a common space to collect all those minute happenings from all of time.
The forum assembled a trove of off-hand remarks from teachers, stray paragraphs when a history book author had a little fun, and the commonly omitted marginalized perspectives.
Negative-Pie asked, "What are some history facts that few people know?"
"It's an Honor to Mow for You, Sir"
"Harry Truman was the first US president to have secret service protection after his presidency. He wasn't happy about it and had them do his yard work so they weren't just sitting around doing nothing."
"He was also known to sneak away and go to the bank and by the time they realized he was gone he was on his way back home."
"Mexico City is technically an artificial island. It was built by filling up a lake with dirt to create an island, and then making a city on top of that. The Spaniards then built a city on top of that city."
"This is why the earthquakes are so severe, because the soil is basically the shlurpy stuff at the bottom of a lake."
Glad That Stopped Early
"The Soviets trained dogs strapped with Bombs to run under tanks in WWII. The Soviets mistakenly trained them on their own tanks which run on diesel whereas the German tanks ran on gasoline."
"When they field tested the dogs they ran under their own tanks and that ended that insane piece of history."
It's All About Appearances
"The Netherlands has a city or town named Turkey. The story behind it is that way back in the day Spain claimed to go to war with the Netherlands. The Netherlands not being that powerful asked the Ottoman Empire for their support."
"The Ottoman empire gave the Netherlands one Ottoman flag and one soldier uniform and told them to have someone walk around in that with the flag near it's shores for the Spaniards to see as they arrive (cause they told the Netherlands that they'd attack from sea)."
"The Ottoman empire also sent a message to the king or duke of Spain (idk who the leader was and what he was called at the time) stating that the Netherlands is under their protection and so attacking them ment declaring war on the Ottoman Empire, as the fleet saw the soldier uniform and flag, and got word of the letter they fled before a single shot even occurred."
"As a thanks they named a city after the empire and as the empire then became Turkey of today they change the name of the city too. Not many people know this and I mention it as often as I can when a Dutch person badmouths the Ottomans."
*Very* Influential Figure
"A lot of people know that during the crusades of Ghengis Khan, he wiped out 10% of the worlds population. What many don't know is that he and his army sexually assaulted so many women and had so many babies that the 10% was actually restored."
"This is the reason that a decent percentage of East Asian people descended from Ghengis Khan (and his army)."
"French fries are from Belgium."
"Fortune cookies are from San Francisco."
"Danishes are from Austria."
"Salmon sushi is from Norway."
"During the 1936 Olympics games. Haiti and Lichtenstein both came in with the exact same flag which was blue on top and red in bottom. Up until now both countries weren't aware that they both had the same flag."
"So to stop confusion between the two countries, Lichtenstein added a crown to their flag while Haiti put a white square with their coat of arms inside."
Can't Imagine a Car Chase
"The first car made available to to general public (not just rich people) was the Ford Model T. It was mass produced, keeping it cheap enough for the average working man (and in the process perfecting the assembly line), and it's why everyone has a car nowadays, when it used to be a luxury."
"The catch? Every single Model T was painted black because black was the cheapest paint that dried fastest, so they could get Model Ts off the line faster."
"Every. Single. Car."
"Part of why other car manufacturers eventually became more popular was because they offered a color OTHER than black."
Dairy Is Not a Given
"It's reported that one of the many reasons the Vikings were driven out of what is now Canada was the inadvertent poisoning of many of the Native people by trading dairy with them, which they could not digest due to cattle not yet being introduced to North America."
How to Spin Violence
"Maybe not super niche, but I'm sure most people have not thought of it in this way."
"The bikini became a brilliant marketing strategy for the US military to deflect from the impact of it's nuclear testing. The very first bikini was named after the nuclear testing in Bikini Atol, that devastated the island chain and displaced its indigenous people."
"The London Symphony Orchestra was originally booked to perform on the Titanic on its maiden voyage, but they ended up on another boat at the last minute."
"That surely would have been worse than London Bridge falling down!"
A Rare Unity
"May 5, 1945. Battle of Castle Itter. I believe French POWs were being held in that castle, it was a few days after Hitler's suicide."
"The United States and Defected German Soldiers fought alongside each other against the SS into defending the castle. The only time in the war were 2 opponents turned friendly."
History's Back Room Deals
"The Boston Tea Party wasn't about taxes, it was about blocking free trade. The East India Company had previously been prohibited from selling directly to the colonies, they had to go through middlemen first."
"The Tea Act removed that restriction which cut the price of tea in half. This was bad for American smugglers, like Sam Adams, who were importing tea from France and Spain."
Every Coin is a Portrait
"The eagle on U.S. coinage has a name; Peter."
"In the 1830's the mint in Philadelphia was very rural. The eagle would watch the minting of coins and hung out in the open windows of the mint."
"One day he suddenly flew into one of the presses and was mortally wounded. He later died and was stuffed and placed in the mint as a sort of mascot. He was later used as a model for the eagle on coinage."
"President Abraham Lincoln is in the Wrestling Hall of Fame. Before he was president, Abraham Lincoln was declared a wrestling champion. The 6'4" president had only one loss among his around 300 contests."
"He earned a reputation for this in New Salem, Illinois, as an elite fighter. Eventually, he earned his county's wrestling championship."
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