History is the study of the human past.

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Was St Peter the first bishop of Rome?

The Roman Catholic Church claims that St Peter was the first bishop of Rome (and therefore the first Pope). Some statements from the New Testament make this seem unlikely: A church already existed ...
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97 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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65 views

Did “brushwoodsmen” exist? [migrated]

While talking to someone about surnames and ties to various jobs in the past ("Coopers" worked on barrels, "Smiths" made things, etc.) I asked about "Brushwood". He said that name tied to ...
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120 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! ...
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1answer
241 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
338 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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438 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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99 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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629 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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44 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
412 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. ...
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1answer
300 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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527 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
205 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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140 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
372 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
315 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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131 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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260 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
257 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
524 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
428 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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68 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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138 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
5k 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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216 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
501 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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1answer
809 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
249 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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233 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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337 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 ...
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Has the Holocaust been exaggerated?

I am not a Holocaust denier but I am skeptical of some of the reported numbers and details of the historical event. Is there any evidence that 6 million Jews were executed as part of a plan to ...
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1answer
533 views

Are these gigantic stones in Russia from a technologically advanced ancient civilization?

According to the Atlantean Gardens blog humans worked 3000 ton stones were found in Russia. The Rundown Live has more photos. Dr Valery Uvarov thinks they are man-made. He is "Head of the ...
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1answer
5k views

Did Gandhi trump Professor Peters in a number of interactions?

I saw the following story on truthbook and wanted to know if it is true. (This one was found on the internet. We cannot corroborate its accuracy, but it is an amusing story...) When Gandhi ...
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1answer
514 views

Did the Ourang Medan “ghost ship” exist?

According to rumors, the S.S. Ourang Medan was a Dutch cargo ship whose crew mysteriously all died on the seas. The bodies were found in terrified postures, and when a rescue ship attempted to tow the ...
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1answer
349 views

Was Mao's Great Leap Forward responsible for 30 million deaths?

I recently found an article calling into question the effect of Mao's policies on the famine during the Great Leap Forward in China towards the end of the 1950s. The author doesn't go as far as to ...
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3answers
614 views

Did such a medical device ever exist that blew air into the anus?

Does the medical device described in Guliver's Travels, published in 1726, resemble anything that actually existed, or has there ever been a medical need to pump air into the anus? I was ...
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1answer
3k views

Is the flavor of artificial banana flavoring based on the “Gros Michel” banana?

I've heard the claim that artificial banana flavoring doesn't taste like bananas since it was based on a different cultivar than the one we know today. Until the 1950's the main banana cultivar ...
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2k views

Was pepper once worth its weight in gold?

It's a frequent claim that common black pepper was worth its weight in gold in early modern times. Just yesterday I heard it again in a documentary about the Dutch East India Company's spice trade in ...
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Did St. Patrick rid Ireland of druids and other pagans?

I've read that the common story about St. Patrick ridding Ireland of "snakes" is actually a reference to ridding Ireland of druids and other pagans. Some sources say that he accomplished this through ...
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1answer
539 views

Have there been any fatalities caused by octopi?

To what extent are octopi violent towards humans? Has there been any confirmed fatalities? The source of all knowledge claims that some have the capacity to kill humans, and claims there have been ...
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275 views

Did Nizari Ismailis assassins commit murders under the influence of hashish?

From Wikipedia: The Assassins (from Arabic: حشّاشين‎ Ḥashshāshīn) were an order of Nizari Ismailis, particularly those of Persia and Syria that formed in the late 11th century. In time, the ...
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2answers
743 views

Do hieroglyphs in Egypt depict aircraft?

In the article, Impossible? 3,000 Year-Old Hieroglyphics Depict Modern Day Technology! Markings of the Fallen Angels?, they claim that there are aircraft depicted in 3000-year-old Egypt hieroglyphs: ...
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1answer
3k views

Did Lyndon Johnson have an amphibious car?

I came across an info graphic that says that former U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson had an amphibious car and would drive guests into the lake while screaming about the brakes. Is this true?
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1answer
270 views

Was the Taj Mahal originally called Tej-o-Mahal?

I have been reading this article. And it was pretty controversial in claiming that the Taj Mahal is actually a Hindu temple and not an islamic tomb. Tajmahal is not a Islamic mausoleum but an ...
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1answer
503 views

Has a company fired its employees by deactivating their access badges?

A few years ago, at the beginning of the financial crisis, there was this rumor that traveled from mouth to mouth about some company that did some layoffs. The story says the company's management ...
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66 views

Was the take off of neural computing research in the 80's due to Japan? [closed]

Chow, Tommy WS, and John Sum. "Guest editorial: special issue on the emerging applications of neural networks." Neural Computing & Applications 20.7 (2011): 923-924. says: The take off of ...
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1answer
475 views

Was Hitler a vegetarian?

It is commonly believed that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian. Sometimes that is used as some sort of argument-by-association that vegetarianism is a bad idea: For example, "Vegetarians Are Evil" ...
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2k views

Did a magnitude 8.2 earthquake hit Jerusalem in 33AD?

A Telegraph article makes an interesting claim, in a discussion about the Shroud of Turin: However a new study claims than an earthquake in Jerusalem in 33AD may have not only created the image ...