Ten Common Misconceptions
Vikings did not wear horns on their helmets. Think about wearing such a helmet. Think about drawing the arm back to strike a blow in battle.
Yes, Coral Snakes have deadly venom. They are however a shy rear-fanged snake that doesn’t bite in defence. And even if it does bite, it would have to be allowed to chew for a while for the rear fangs to work. The one known Coral Snake death is believed to be suicide.
The vomitorium was the exit from the Colosseum, not a place to go vomit. Some rich Romans did binge and purge. They were considered as disgusting then as they would be now. Though in Rome if the binging person was of high social rank and thin skinned, one had best hide their disgust with great skill.
How bumblebees fly is quite well understood. Some early calculations in the 1930s came to the conclusion that they couldn’t fly, but were quickly corrected. Yet in the popular parlance one still runs across the idea that science can’t explain how bumblebees fly, I repeated it myself for years.
Late medieval plate armour allowed full range of movement and weighed less than a modern infantryman’s gear. Knights could and easily did get on horseback without aid. It was also essentially impervious to piercing and slashing weapons … so for the most part the armoured knight carried some sort of hammer into battle, specially designed to damage plate armour. Another romantic historical image trashed, the hammer in the stone doesn’t have quite the same zing.
No correlation has been found between eating before swimming and cramps or drowning. So eat away before jumping into the pool. However, a significant correlation has been found between drinking alcohol and drowning. Remember: Drinking and diving don’t mix.
Napoleon wasn’t short, in fact he was a little above average for his time. His nickname, “The Little Corporal” was a sign of affection, not of his height. He also stuck his hand in his waistcoat because that was a common portrait pose at the time, nothing more.
The Lunar Effect is not real, numerous large studies have found no correlation between full Moons and crime, hospital admissions, psychiatric admissions, etc. If someone is sure they have seen such correlations in their life, they are experiencing confirmation bias.
Stalin did not kill more people than Hitler, his death toll was exaggerated during the Cold War. (Guess why.) It’s now believed Stalin killed between 4-5 million civilians. (The gulag system was horrible, but they were not death camps, most inmates served their time and were released.) Hitler killed between 10-12 million civilians.
Nero didn’t fiddle while Rome burned. He rushed to Rome, personally participated in rescue efforts, sometimes even without his bodyguard, opened his palace to house the homeless, and financed food and relief efforts. And he directed that the burned areas be rebuilt so that they were not so vulnerable to fire. Caligula on the other hand, really was a sick bastard.
(The above image is being used legally, it is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Credit and copyright: John Erling Blad. It’s the only known complete Viking helmet in existence, it’s called the Gjermundbu helmet, because it as excavated on a farm called Gjermundbu.
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