History is the study of the human past.

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Did stone age people have an income of slightly below $2 a day? [closed]

In his 2014 book "War! What Is It Good For?", historian Ian Morris writes: Ten thousand years ago, there were only about six million people on earth. On average they lived about thirty years and ...
9
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714 views

Is Obama the First President to Write a Computer Program?

According to a recent Wired article, US President Barack Obama was the first president to write code: President Barack Obama told the world that everyone should learn how to code. And now he’s ...
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1answer
710 views

Did 80% of Soviet males born in 1923 die in WWII?

I found this fact on OMG Facts: 80% of Soviet males born in 1923 died in WWII. Not surprisingly, Russia was the country with the highest WW2 causalities, with over 21 million. I can't find ...
8
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1answer
379 views

Did men sell their wives on Wednesbury market?

To my knowledge wife sales on Wednesbury market were a bit of a family legend my great-grandfather used to tell. However, it seems to be more widely spread than that. I have found an article which ...
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4answers
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Was the Emancipation Proclamation an Executive Order that bypassed Congress and freed 3 million slaves?

This should be an easy one, but I wanted to ask so we have confirmation or refutation. This image is making the rounds on facebook: So, how factual is this statement?
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2answers
353 views

When is the origin of Datura in India?

The abstract for this paper on PubMed, Historical evidence for a pre-Columbian presence of Datura in the Old World and implications for a first millennium transfer from the New World says, Datura ...
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1answer
1k views

Did Adolf Hitler's family make a pact to ensure the line died out?

Today on facebook I saw a claim under the heading of "11 mind blowing facts from history". The very first one states: Adolf Hitler's remaining relatives made a pact to never have children, ...
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231 views

Did Malian sailors reach the Americas in 1311 CE?

Some sources claim that Malian soldiers arrived in the Americas in 1311 CE. For example, in Silicon Africa: 100 African Cities destroyed by Europeans: Malian sailors got to America in 1311 AD, ...
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157 views

Was SS Californian intended to be a rescue vehicle for the passengers of a deliberately-sunk Titanic?

I keep running into a (quite frankly daft) conspiracy theory regarding the sinking of the Titanic. It posits that the RMS Olympic was secretly swapped in to replace the RMS Titanic and was ...
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2answers
4k views

Did humans almost become extinct about 70,000 years ago?

I received this screenshot which is actually a post on Facebook by 8facts. It claims that humans nearly became extinct 70,000 years ago when the population sunk to 2,000. Is there any evidence ...
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345 views

Was the North Korean leader, Kim Il-Sung, an imposter?

Some claim the founder of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung, was an imposter who adopted the name of another leader. Article from globalsecurity South Korea claims that the present-day ruler of North ...
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501 views

Did some Romans clean their teeth with urine?

buzzfeed The Romans used to clean and whiten their teeth with urine. Apparently it works. Is this true?
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321 views

Was Johnny Cash the first American to learn of Stalin's death?

I just came across this claim in a letter to The Economist: He worked the line SIR – Charlemagne considers it “safe to assume that Johnny Cash… gave little thought to European foreign ...
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193 views

Was there inscribed over the gate of Agra this story about divorce?

An 1825 piece claims: The following inscription is written, in large characters, over the principal gate of the city of Agra, in Hindostan: "In the first year of the reign of king Julief, two ...
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0answers
191 views

How accurate are estimates of death tolls attributed to Hitler, Stalin and Mao Zedong? [closed]

When one searches the Internet for the biggest killers in world history, the general consensus seems to be: Mao (~60m fatalities) Stalin (~30m fatalities) Hitler (~10m fatalities) However most ...
7
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1answer
370 views

Did Martin Luther refer to physicians who assume diseases come from natural causes as “ignorant blockheads” (or the German equivalent)?

I found this quote, attributed to Martin Luther: Idiots, the lame, the blind, the dumb, are men in whom the devils have established themselves: and all the physicians who heal these infirmities, ...
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0answers
254 views

Did Napoleon write an elegy to Imam Hussain(a.s)?

In this YouTube video, noted Pakistani scholar, Allama Zamir Akhtar Naqvi claims (in Urdu) that Napoleon wrote a letter or poem in honour of the historical figure [Imam Hussain] ...
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2answers
325 views

Did the Lydians invent games?

On this TED talk, Jane McGonical states that Lydians invented games a few centuries ago, as dice games they would play to forget about famine. 12:14 So, I take my inspiration from something that ...
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1answer
3k views

Did Niccolo Machiavelli advocate to fake your own death?

Well it is getting September the 13th pretty soon and it will then be 18 years ago that 2Pac (Tupac Amaru Shakur), the famous American gangster rapper, was murdered in Las Vegas. There are a lot of ...
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210 views

Was St Peter a bishop of Rome?

The Roman Catholic Church claims that St Peter was the first pope, which would imply that he was also one of the first bishops of Rome. Some statements from the New Testament make this seem unlikely: ...
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0answers
140 views

Did the pitchforks ever come for the plutocrats? [closed]

Nick Hanauer recently wrote an article where he claims that income inequality is rising to extreme levels, and soon the lower classes will rise up and overthrow the financial elite in bloody ...
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0answers
149 views

Was Elizabeth Báthory a serial killer? [closed]

I've read in countless magazines that Countess Elizabeth Báthory (1560-1640) was the most prolific serial killer and it is taken as accepted. But it might also be possible that Bathory was framed! ...
2
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1answer
475 views

Was Hermann Göring a transvestite/cross-dresser?

Although I have been unable to come up with the proper quote, Eddie Izzard - himself a transvestite - has allegedly remarked that he's not a [...] drag queen or weirdo like J. Edgar Hoover and ...
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1answer
389 views

Did Nintendo own Love Hotels?

Is this claim accurate? Before developing video games, Nintendo owned 'Love Hotels.' Private short-stay rooms that were used for sexual encounters.
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1answer
472 views

Did Julius Caesar tell his captors to double their ransom demands?

According to a Time.com article, Julius Caesar was kidnapped by pirates when he was 25. He charmed them, telling his captors to double their ransom demand and joking about how he would punish ...
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206 views

Why aren't the Jewish settlements legal under International Law, Canon Law, US domestic law, and historic rules for obtaining sovereignty? [closed]

The Supreme Council of the Allied Principal War Powers recognized the Jewish People as the owners of the political rights to Palestine, but put them in trust for World Jewry until they attained a ...
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3answers
682 views

Did the ballet/orchestral work 'The Rite of Spring' provoke a riot?

I took this from a newspaper article in the telegraph. It is often said that The Rite of Spring are what caused the outrage, but pulsating rhythms at least have an appeal at a visceral level (an ...
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50 views

How did people sleep in the past? [duplicate]

Recently I was told by a friend: People used to sleep in two shifts, one from 8pm to midnight, then wake up for an hour or two, before taking a second sleep shift from 2am to 6am. He claims that ...
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1answer
558 views

Did a Soviet nail factory produce useless nails to improve metrics?

We've all heard the story, which sounds for all the world like a typical urban legend. It goes something like this: Once upon a time, there was a factory in the Soviet Union that made nails. ...
4
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1answer
370 views

Does the Piri Reis map demonstrate the Antarctic coast was ice-free?

The Piri Reis map is supposed to be a 300 year old map compiled from much older sources (possibly thousands of years old) that shows an accurate antarctic coastline. This site claims that it is ...
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2answers
579 views

Did life expectancy increase by 6 years during Great Depression?

According to Michael Mosley, life expectancy rose through the Great Depression. In his Horizon programme Eat, Fast and Live Longer he claims: From 1929 to 1933, in the darkest years of the great ...
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1answer
216 views

Was the Jenkins Continuous Build Integration server named after Tom Jenkins, Thomas Jefferson's slave master?

I heard this rumor today and I was wondering if there is any truth to it. I guess there are two parts to it: Did Thomas Jefferson have a slave master named Tom/Thom/Thomas Jenkins? Was the Jenkins ...
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172 views

Were there Hungarian speaking Indians in South America?

The following story is a translation from Hungarian, with a lot of discussion in the blog's comments: http://www.cakravartin.com/archives/south-american-natives-speak-ancient-european-language The ...
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1answer
471 views

Were firearms prohibited in Dodge City, Kansas in the 1870s?

This image has made the rounds in various discussions of gun control in the USA. The picture was purportedly taken in Dodge City, Kansas (Popular culture's quintessential Wild West town, populated ...
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2answers
344 views

Were Alpine glaciers much smaller in Roman times?

In a critique (or possibly a rant) against modern climate science, Swiss geologist Christian Schlüchter makes a very specific claim that Alpine glaciers were essentially non-existent (or very much ...
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2answers
1k views

Did the head of the Joint National Committee on language claim Jesus spoke English?

In Bill Bryson's book The Mother Tongue, it is claimed, that Dr. David Edwards, head of the Joint National Committee on Languages once said: "If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for ...
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0answers
140 views

Did John Langdon Down say that persons with Down's Syndrome have an evolutionary “reversion”? [closed]

John Langdon Down is a 19th century physician best known for his description of what is known today as Down's syndrome. I know that Down attempted to classify various types of mental disorders by ...
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1answer
422 views

Did goldsmiths invent fractional reserve banking?

Wikipedia defines fractional reserve banking as: the practice whereby a bank holds reserves in an amount equal to only a portion of the amount of its customers' deposits to satisfy potential ...
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2answers
299 views

How responsible was Christianity for the Dark Ages of Western Europe? [closed]

I am well aware that during this period there were many scientific and technological achievements in many parts of the world, including the Islamic World, the Late Roman/Byzantium Empire, and the East ...
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1answer
571 views

Have airlines as a whole been unprofitable over their history?

I recently overheard a discussion in which it was claimed that the airline industry has generated more losses than profits when we take its whole history into account. This is basically a repeat of ...
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1answer
453 views

Did Fred Smith, founder of FedEx, gamble on blackjack to keep the company afloat?

There is a commonly cited claim that in the early 70s, Fred Smith - the founder of Fedex, risked the company's last $5,000 in a casino gamble: Desperate to pay bills, he flies to Las Vegas, wins ...
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78 views

Was the Meridian of Antwerp indeed the prime meridian of Mercator's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum?

On Wikipedia it is stated that The meridan of Antwerp is one of several prime meridians that have been used for geographic referencing. It is running through the city of Antwerp, in Flanders, ...
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0answers
150 views

How correct are some dramatized documentaries about proto-humans?

There are some documentaries, e.g. by David Attenborough, that dramatize the life of proto-humans (e.g. Neanderthals, etc..) Some of these documentaries show/dramatize the proto-humans communicating ...
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1answer
8k views

Were two brothers killed on the same moped by the same taxi driver, exactly a year apart?

I was sent an email today with a bunch of "coincidences," many of which are probably false. This one stood out since it has a year and an age (some specifics), so perhaps it has the chance of being ...
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368 views

Did Benjamin Franklin almost cause a war between England and France over a hoax letter to a London newspaper?

This story shows up a lot in sites like Reddit: In the late 1700's, a letter appeared in the major London newspaper complaining that England was being forced to take deported French prisoners. The ...
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3answers
552 views

Does paper beat rock in RPS due an ancient Chinese tradition that draping paper over rock mean rejecting a request?

I have heard a few times that paper beats rock in rock-paper-scissors due to the following reason: It comes from an ancient Chinese tradition where when a request was sent to the ruler on a ...
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891 views

Did Christians burn the Great Library of Alexandria?

The Great Library of Alexandria was one of the wonders of ancient civilisation having collected many thousands of scrolls containing knowledge and literature from across the known world. The 2009 ...
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1answer
292 views

Has the number of sovereign states increased over time in history?

Has the number of sovereign states (defined as member states of the United Nations) increased over time in history? (This question has been split off from a previous one.)
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259 views

Is the novel “Sleepers” a true account?

Sleepers is a novel about four boys who are sexually abused at a school for boys, and later exact revenge on their tormentors. However there is a lot of skepticism about whether the story is actually ...
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1answer
540 views

Have textile workers created such finely detailed textiles that they have gone blind?

When visiting a touring exhibit of Vatican museum treasures, my mother pointed at a garment with very fine embroidery. She told me that the artists who made such garments could only make one in their ...