44 People Share True History Facts That Sound Made Up Because They’re Ridiculous
Facts might be our bread and butter, but separating the wheat from the chaff is no easy feat. When you’ve got so much fake news, different ideological narratives, and fictional stories for the sake of attention floating about, sometimes even real, genuine facts can sound completely made up because they sound absolutely ridiculous. But fact is often stranger than fiction.
And that’s what this post is all about. Reddit user Youfellforityoufool asked their fellow redditors to share real history facts that sound so stupid, they don’t even seem real. Check some of the best ones out below and upvote the ones that impressed you the most (and, let’s face it, made you laugh while asking ‘how is this real?’).
Oh, and to pre-empt any confusion: the thing about people eating mummies? That’s actually true! Honest! Read on to find out why (spoiler warning: it's not as dumb as it sounds on paper).
In the 2015-2016 New Zealand Flag referendums, where New Zealand voted on a new flag for the country, one of the highest voted results was an image of a kiwi firing lasers from it's eyes. Google "New Zealand laser kiwi flag" if you don't believe me.
During 1774 Frederick the Great of Prussia had a free potato policy to help the people through the famine. A lot of people initially rejected the potatoes and so he had guards feign patrol of the potato fields so they looked more valuable and people would steal them in the night.
Even though they were totally free.
How the Berlin Wall fell. In order to calm mounting protests, German Democratic Republic (GDR) officials decided on loosening travel restrictions between East and West, but not opening the border completely.
Notes of the new rules had been handed to a spokesman who hadn't had time to read them before the press conference. "Private travel outside the country can now be applied for without prerequisites," he said. Surprised journalists clamoured for more details. Shuffling through his notes, he said that as far as he was aware, it was effective immediately. In fact, it had been planned to start the next day, with details on applying for a visa. But the news was all over television - and East Germans flocked to the border in huge numbers.
As the border became inundated with East Berliners wishing to reunite with family and/or escape the GDR, border guards became overwhelmed and with no orders to either shoot upon the crowd or open the gate, only a handful of guards facing hundreds and thousands of citizens, rather than fire and create a stampede and potentially kill hundreds, the head of the guards decided to give the order "Open the barrier!" What came next was a spontaneous chain reaction with Berliners on both sides arriving at Checkpoint Charlie to celebrate this momentous event and to demolish the wall.
So, basically, an ill-prepared functionary made a flippant remark and a border guard captain, unable to get orders on how to proceed, led to one of the most defining moments of the late 20th Century in Europe.
Bored Panda spoke about separating facts from fiction, as well as how some conspiracy theories can turn out to be close to the truth (and might not all be bad!) with Joseph M. Pierre, a professor of psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
According to the professor, most recent conspiracy theories—from what happened to JFK and Princess Diana to 9/11 or the Flat Earth theory—”have been fairly inconsequential without any largescale behavioral ramifications.”
In other words, they haven’t had many negative real-life consequences for the vast majority of society, even if they’re full of lies and make a mockery of the truth. However, there is one exception to this. Climate change. And that’s a real pickle!
In WWII, the Russians trained dogs to run under tanks with time bombs on their backs - "anti-tank dogs." But, the Russians trained the dogs on Russian tanks, so when they set them free on the battlefield, the dogs turned around and started blowing up the Russian tanks instead of the German tanks.
Alright I don't remember the specifics. But there was a king (I believe a sumerian king) who was told by an oracle that "Disaster would befall the king." So he had a gardener crowned as king for a day, and that night the gardener would be executed, thus fulfilling the prophecy and saving the real king.
Soon after the gardener's coronation, the real king choked on soup and died. The gardener ruled for 24 years
Canada and Denmark have been at war since 1984.
Hans island: disputed since the 1930's, but since 1984 each country's military visits and erects their flag taking down the other flag. With it a note welcoming the next visitor to Canada or Denmark.
Canadians leave whiskey, Danes leave schnapps.
And the cycle continues.
Professor Pierre suggested that there are some conspiracy theories about climate change that might be close to the truth and actually encourage people to act for the sake of the planet, not just deny global warming in the first place.
“Not all of the debate around that topic involves a conspiracy theory,” the professor pointed out. “In fact, the most conspiratorial claim about climate change may be that ‘big oil’ companies, like ‘big tobacco’ decades before, know that climate change is real and is caused by human CO2 production, but that they’re purposely claiming otherwise and putting out misinformation to the contrary that refutes what the vast majority of climate change scientists have stated in order to protect profits from the industry.”
The professor continued: “Those of us who believe that conspiracy theory (remembering that some conspiracy theories are true!) argue that real-life physical actions—moreso on the part of industry than individuals per se—are necessary now.”
The Great Pig War (aka the San Juan Boundary Dispute) between the US and UK/Canada lasted seven whole years. At maximum belligerence, the order of battle included 2,600 ground troops, five powerful ships of the line, and nearly a hundred cannon.
But fortunately, the combatants never actually got around to doing much combatting. In fact, the only recorded injury was a Royal Marine who got hit in the eye by a rock thrown from the American trenches. He was shipped to a nearby militry hospital, recuperated, and eventually rejoined his unit.
Most of the opposing troops' energies were spent sneaking across the lines to each other's outposts - to play cards, swap stories, and to trade American tobacco and fresh food for navy rum swiped from the British quartermaster's stores.
Generally acknowledged as The Best War Ever.
A Finnish sniper named Simo Häyhä was able to kill around 500 Soviet soldiers in the Winter War of 1939 by literally hiding in the snow and taking random shots every couple hours. In March 1940 he was struck in the jaw by an explosive bullet and seriously wounded. He was very disfigured, unconcious, and presumed dead when he was found, and later he was thrown onto a pile of bodies. A fellow soldier noticed a leg twitching in the pile and they brought him home alive. He lived to be 96.
Not one but two kings of France perished by smashing their heads on the top part of a door, or lintel.
Charles VIII in 1498 (the shock probably caused something else but still).
Louis III was pursuing a fair lady (who was actually trying to escape him) on his horse on August 5, 882, when she passed a door. The horse went through, but not the king, who broke his skull and died instantly.
There’s no doubt that there are plenty of people who believe false facts, fake news, and tinfoil conspiracy theories. Others, however, profit off of those beliefs and use them to create a platform for themselves, leading to potential financial gain. Separating the true believers from the con artists is no easy feat, however.
Professor Pierre said that figuring out whether somebody genuinely believes a conspiracy theory or is cashing in on the gullible is a complex issue. “Determining if someone is lying isn’t easy and is complicated by the fact that we don’t really have clear agreement of what it means to ‘believe’ something, much less genuinely.’”
The professor highlighted how people like Alex Jones and his lawyers have been called to answer about “belief conviction in various lawsuits against him.” However, he’s always been able to get away from stating outright whether his beliefs are real or just for show. “[He] has been able to skirt a firm account of whether he’s a huckster or true conspiracy theory believer.”
William the Conqueror exploded at his funeral.The short of it, the intestinal infection that killed him ended up eating up his body from the inside. All the gas from the decomposition was trapped in there, but as some people tried to fit him back into his coffin, his body exploded from the pressure. Guess he had to go out with a bang.
A Skylab satellite's guidance system was failing and ended up crash landing in Australia. Instead of giving the satellite back, Skylab was charged with a $500 littering fine.
After the fine was paid, the company wanted to put the satellite in a museum but was refused on the basis that since the satellite fell from space, its legally Australia's now. So now, Skylab pays a monthly rent to Australia to display its own satellite in a museum.
A man from New York missed his friends who were fighting in Vietnam. So he traveled thousands of miles to track them down in a combat zone to personally give them beer and letters from home. He even wrote a book about it called The Greatest Beer Run Ever
Meanwhile, let’s jump back to some of the weirdest real history facts. Or rather one particular fact about how people have been munching on mummies. The Science History Institute explains that aside from artists using mummies for paint pigments, Europeans have been eating Egyptian mummies as medicine since the 12th century.
“In later centuries unmummified corpses were passed off as mummy medicine, and eventually some Europeans no longer cared whether the bodies they were ingesting had been mummified or not,” the SHI writes. “The eating of Egyptian mummies reached its peak in Europe by the 16th century. Mummies could be found on apothecary shelves in the form of bodies broken into pieces or ground into powder. Why did Europeans believe in the medicinal value of the mummy? The answer probably comes down to a string of misunderstandings.”
The way the world is today and an immense portion of its problems can be traced back to one 19 year old kid shooting an archduke in 1914.
Jack Daniel (yeah, that Jack Daniel) died from an infected stubbed toe caused by him kicking a safe containing money to which he had forgotten the combination.
The second person to go down Niagara Falls in a barrel and live later perished by slipping on an orange peel.
In brief, when Europeans first saw the black stuff coating ancient Egyptian mummies, they assumed it was bitumen (aka mumia, which has been used as an ingredient in some embalming processes, has antimicrobial and biocidal properties, and has been recommended as a cure for many things since the times of the ancient Romans).
“Eating mummies for their reserves of medicinal bitumen may seem extreme, but this behavior still has a hint of rationality. As with a game of telephone, where meaning changes with each transference, people eventually came to believe that the mummies themselves (not the sticky stuff used to embalm them) possessed the power to heal,” the Science History Institute explains.
Everything Olga of Kiev did after her husband was killed by an opposing tribe (the opposing tribe killed him by tying his legs to trees they'd bent down and then releasing the trees)
Cliffs: -Buried 20 men alive -Burning another 20 alive after she'd lured then into a bath house
Slaughtered 5000 of the opposing tribes solders after she'd gotten them piss drunk. -Telling the opposing tribe she'd end the assaults if each house gave her "3 pigeons and 3 sparrows". She then had her soldiers tie sulfur to each of the birds and set them free so that they would return home to nest in their original villages. Eventually the villagers bedtime fires would ignite the sulfur and burn the town to the ground.
Also she's a "saint" in the Orthodox and Roman Catholic church.
There was a real plan to spike Hitler's food with estrogen to try to turn him into a woman and make him give up on war.
People used to think women's uteruses would go flying if they rode the train.
“Scholars long debated whether bitumen was an actual ingredient in the Egyptian embalming process. For a long time they believed that what looked like bitumen slathered on mummies was actually resin, moistened and blackened with age. More recent studies have shown that bitumen was used at some point but not on the royal mummies many early modern Europeans might have thought they were ingesting. Ironically, Westerners may have believed themselves to be reaping medicinal benefits by eating Egyptian royalty, but any such healing power came from the remains of commoners, not long-dead pharaohs.”
President Andrew Jackson had a pet parrot. Jackson was also a very vulgar man and his parrot learned a lot of curse words from him. At Jackson’s funeral they had to remove the parrot from the funeral because it wouldn’t stop cursing.
A Greek philosopher called Chrysippus died from laughing too much at a drunken donkey eating rotting (therefore fermented) figs.
Honduras and El Salvador had a 3-day war over a football game.
A quote from Winston Churchill when he was visiting the White house and the president walked in on him buck naked: "The prime minister of the UK has nothing to hide from the president of the US."
In 1956 a man named Tommy Fitzpatrick stole a small plane from New Jersey for a bet and then landed it perfectly on the narrow street in front of the bar he had been drinking at in Manhattan. Two years later, he did it again after someone didn't believe he had done it the first time.
What's also crazy is that the punishment for the first time ended up being only a $100 fine, since the charges were dropped by the owner of the plane, and the second resulted in only 6 months in jail.
King George II Was so constipated while he was taking a poop his heart actually physically burst.
Benjamin Hornigold was a pirate in the late 1600s and early 1700s who once robbed a merchant vessel purely for the crew's hats - because he and his crew got so drunk the night before that they all threw their own hats overboard for no good reason.
"Gorilla gorilla gorilla" This is the scientific name of the western lowland gorilla
Not only did Australia lose its 17th Prime Minister at the beach (he drowned) but we named a public swimming pool after him.
It is said that Greek tragedian Aeschylus died because an eagle dropped a tortoise on his bald head, mistaken for a rock, in order to break the shell of the tortoise.
In 1518 in Strasbourg, a woman started dancing for no reason. Over the course of a month, 400 other people joined her. Soon close to 50 people would dance themselves to death in what became known as the Dancing Plague of 1518. Realistically, people were probably caught up in a case of mass hysteria. Another theory is that the grain they grew locally was poisoned by ergot fungi. Whatever caused it, I can’t imagine the feeling knowing a family member died because they danced until their heart exploded.
Carrots don’t actually help improve eyesight. It was a lie made up by the British during WWII to hide their radar technology and explain how British pilots always knew where the Germans were coming from.
The Titanic look-outs did not have binoculars. It was believed they had accidentally been left in Southhampton, but they were locked in a safe on board.
In 1184, a number of nobles from across the Holy Roman Empire were meeting in a room at the Church of St. Peter, when their combined weight caused the floor to collapse into the latrine beneath the cellar and led to dozens of nobles drowning in liquid excrement.
It is referred to as the "Erfurt latrine disaster."
Fidel Castro loved milk so much that when his cow who holds the world record for most milk produced in a day died, he had her taxidermied, had a marble statue of her built and a full eulogy and obituary written for her in his state newspaper, and Cuban scientists have repeatedly tried (and failed) to clone her. Her name was Ubre Blanca, which means White Udder.
Corn flakes were originally marketed as an anti masturbation cereal and the man who made them, John Harvey Kellogg, adopted all 8 of his kids and didn't even sleep in the same room as his wife
Albert Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel but turned it down.
The US and the UK scrapped plots to assassinate Hitler as they believed his poor judgement would bring an end to the war quicker.
The reason there [aren't] a lot of mummies around anymore? It's because we ate them.
In Hartlepool, England a monkey was hanged because they thought the monkey was a french spy, they had never seen a monkey or a french person before so they thought that the monkey was speaking french, the monkey was hanged on a beach and there is a statue remembering the monkey
As WW2 revved up, the US realized that fast and cheap was the way to go with manufacturing ships (ex Liberty Ships). But there was a line of escort carriers made with so little armor that some Japanese armor-piercing shells went through the hull and out the other side without exploding, a nice surprise.
During WWI, Germany converted and armed a passenger cruise liner, the SMS Cap Trafalgar, into a cruiser, and sent to the Atlantic Ocean to disrupt British shipping. Off the coast of Brazil though, when they received word that a British ship was coming to flush out German ships disrupting British shipping, the SMS Cap Trafalgar decided to disguise itself as another ocean liner-turned-cruiser, the HMS Carmania, so that they wouldn't be shot at.
The British ship that came to deal with the SMS Cap Trafalgar was... the HMS Carmania.
Which promptly sunk the fake one.
Whilst on his death bed, George Washington was drained of almost half his blood and given treatments that caused him to violently vomit and [poop] himself. He perished anyway.
Bill Clinton, who hasn't been president in 20 years is 4 years younger than Joe Biden
Adolf Hitler had many physical ailments, many of which are known. He had in particular severe stomach cramps and also bouts of insomnia, so his quack doctor (Theodor Morell), in his infinite wisdom, gave Hitler sleeping pills and laxative, resulting in very severe gas problems.
Note: this post originally had 96 images. It’s been shortened to the top 44 images based on user votes.