Secret Histories

April 1, 2015

Some things not taught in history, probably because they muddle up the stories…

The American Revolution: Fighting Against Freedom

During the American Revolution, Britain proclaimed that any American slaves who escaped their rebel masters and made it to British held territory would be freed.* Thousands risked their lives to take the British up on their offer, including some of George Washington’s slaves. Although the French friend of the Revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette, strongly urged Washington to free at least the slaves who fought for the colonists, Washington refused and, after the War, tried to convince Great Britain to return freed slaves to their former masters. The British declined, staying true to their word. Some were kidnapped by slave traders, but many thousands were evacuated by the British first to Nova Scotia and later to Great Britain. The Americans lobbied for years to get the British to pay compensation to the American slave owners who had lost their “property.”

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Things Not True Too!

March 22, 2012

Previously, I brought to the attention of readers several widespread urban legends that stubbornly refuse to disappear. These included origin stories for candy canes, picnics, Lifesavers candies, and fuck. Recently, I have noticed that the internet is reinforcing numerous falsehoods through blog posts wherein people copy & paste lists of amazing alleged facts. These fake facts may seem insignificant and harmless, but they still irritate me with their persistence.

Truth may not always be as fun as fiction, but I urge you to help spread this list far and wide in an effort to truthify the internet:

Paper can only be folded 7 times: Not True! Although it would be extremely difficult to fold standard writing paper more than 7 times, there is no physical attribute of paper that disallows more than 7 folds. Here is a Mythbusters video demonstrating this reality.

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Things Not True

January 10, 2011

Have you ever been told something that just seems too perfect to be true? Here are some urban legends that I have come across. In each case, the person promoting it is completely convinced of its authenticity, but a small amount of research reveals the story to be utterly false.

Candy Canes for Jesus

I visited an outdoor shrine, decorated with thousands of Christmas lights. There was a building dedicated to children’s birthday wishes to the baby Jesus. Featured prominently on the wall was the story of the religious origin of the candy cane. The sign said that the popular Christmas candies were designed to be Js for Jesus, and then went on to describe the religious symbolism of the candy.

This struck me as sketchy, especially since these candies are always marketed as candy canes, not candy Js. I looked it up, and sure enough, the story is a myth. The original candy canes didn’t even have red stripes, which the story at the shrine attributed to Jesus’ blood. The funny thing is that this false history of the candy cane is so attractive to some people that several children’s books have been published that teach the story as actual history.

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