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Professor Buzzkill History Podcast

Professor Buzzkill is an exciting new blog & podcast that explores history myths in an illuminating, entertaining, and humorous way.
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Professor Buzzkill History Podcast
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Now displaying: 2019
Dec 12, 2019

The truce between the trenches in Christmas 1914 is one of the most famous stories from World War I. Was it one big truce across the whole Western Front? Or was it lots of little ceasefires? How did it happen, and what did the soldiers do during the Christmas Truce? Did they become friends for a day? Did they play football? Did they exchange cigarettes and pose for pictures? Professor Theresa Blom Croker explains all!

Dec 6, 2019

Professor Phil Nash joins us to explain the myths and misconceptions about the December 7th, 1941, as well as the complexities of the cultural importance of the attack since then. Did FDR know about the attack ahead of time? And who was the attack more devastating for - the United States or Japan? You’ll learn more about an event that you thought you already knew well by listening to us!

Dec 4, 2019

Sometimes, Buzzkillers, the stars just seem to align. There's a meteor shower and a rainbow on the same day. And a whole bunch of writers, pundits, journalists, and aphorists come up with roughly the same idea at roughly the same time. Or at least they come up with it over a couple of decades, and, in terms of the history of quotations, that's the story of the aphorism and witticism, "life is just one damn thing after another." But it's easier to attribute such a quotation to Mark Twain, and that's what people have done. Did he ever say it? Listen and learn.

Nov 29, 2019

How “clean” was the regular German army (Wehrmacht) during World War II? The Nazis and the SS usually get all the blame for war crimes and for the Holocaust. How much blame can be placed at the feet of “ordinary” German military units? Turns out that the “clean Wehrmacht” story is not only a myth, but it also greatly influenced how post-War Europe was re-built. Professor Nash joins us to examine how deep and wide the war guilt goes.

Nov 21, 2019

President Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats” are famous for breaking new ground in how political leaders communicate with their people. But where they really as ground-breaking as we all tend to believe? Did they really help the American people get through the Great Depression and World War II? Was it FDR’s tone and confidence that connected to the people, or was there something more mundane that explains the popularity of the Fireside Chats? Professor Phil Nash enlightens us!

Nov 20, 2019

Legendary American football coach, Vince Lombardi, was fond of telling his players “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” He employed it many times to motivate them, as well having it posted all around the locker room. And he’s usually the person who gets credit for the quote. But was he the first person to say it? Find out in this episode of Quote or No Quote!

Nov 12, 2019

1919 was one of the most tumultuous years in American history. Economic struggles, labor unrest, the Red Scare, anarchist bombings, and race riots plagued the country. 1919 saw the end of the Progressive Era, the beginning of anti-immigration laws, an attempt to “return to normalcy,” and the approach of the much heralded “Roaring 20s.” But is 1919 so easily defined by the well-worn phrases? Professor Nash joins us to explain all!

Nov 8, 2019

Is Watergate the story of heroic journalists working against all odds and in great danger to get at the truth of presidential corruption? Is it more complicated than that? How accurate was All the President's Men? Who really brought the Nixon presidency down? Professor Buzzkill's new episode explains all!

Nov 5, 2019

The Berlin Wall seemed to define Cold War tension and opposition in stone. From 1961 to 1989 it divided East Berlin from West Berlin, and was the focal point of potential Soviet vs. US confrontation. But the history of why it was built and how the citizens of Berlin lived with it is rife with myth and misunderstanding. Professor Philip Nash joins us to explain it all. Listen and learn!

Oct 31, 2019

Halloween is a demonic holiday chock full of sin and endangered by razor blades in trick or treat candy, right? Wrong. Nothing about the origins of Halloween can be called demonic, satanic, or anti-Christian. And the adulterated candy thing is an urban legend. Get the full story from the Buzzkill Institute. 

Oct 29, 2019

Harriet Tubman is one of the most famous and important figures in American history. Directly and indirectly responsible for freeing many slaves through the Underground Railroad in the 19th century, she also an armed scout and spy for the Union Army in the Civil War. Whether she ever said, “I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves,” is more uncertain. And we examine the quote in this brief episode. Listen and learn.

Oct 25, 2019

Listen, oh Buzzkillers, and you shall hear,

the true story of the Ride of Paul Revere.

Silversmith, patriot, brave man and true,

but he wasn’t the only one to carry the news.

Oct 23, 2019

Did Gandhi say “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”? If he didn’t, where did it come from? The Bible? The Canadian House of Commons? Movie script writers? And is there something more significant in how this phrase has come down to us as an essential Gandhi-ism? Listen and learn with your eyes open in this flashback episode, Buzzkillers!

Oct 16, 2019

Many things seemed phallic to Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. But did this include the humble cigar? Or did Freud just dismiss overanalysis by saying, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”? What that a genuine Freudian quip? Did Groucho Marx agree? Find out by listening to this brand new Quote or No Quote episode!

Oct 15, 2019

Professor Ryan Swanson explains the complex history of the relationship between President Theodore Roosevelt and the modernization of American sports culture. We learn about TR’s “tennis cabinet,” his fitness programs, and his role as the “invigorator in chief.” But we also learn about TR’s dislike of the rising professionalization of sports, and about the proper role of sports in American life.

Oct 10, 2019

The Cuban Missile Crisis! Kennedy, Castro, Khrushchev, missiles, submarines, cigars! It was the closest we’ve gotten to World War III and nuclear annihilation. Professor Philip Nash joins us in the Buzzkill Bunker as we sweat the details and the minute by minute tension of the standoff. Wear your diapers, Buzzkillers, it’s intense!

Oct 8, 2019

One of the most famous Churchill-isms is “an empty taxi pulled up and Clement Attlee stepped out of it.” It implies, of course, that Attlee was a political non-entity, weak and ineffective. But did Churchill ever say it? And what do skinny French actresses have to do with it? We explain all in this episode of Quote or No Quote!

Oct 4, 2019

“Amazing Grace” is one of the most popular songs in Christian songbooks, and one of the most recognizable songs in the world. By one account, it is sung over 10 million times annually. It has also been the font of historical myths and misunderstandings. One particularly dramatic one, and one that has been flying around the internet for over a decade, is that the author John Newton had a Christian conversion after surviving a devastating storm that almost wrecked his ship. True story? Afraid not. Listen and learn from a Buzzkill favorite! 

Oct 2, 2019

Is it possible to determine who was the first woman to cast a ballot in a modern, democratic election? Not really. But, in this episode, we’re going to talk about three of the “first” women to vote. 2019-2020 is the centenary of the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. It prohibited states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to American citizens on the basis of gender. During this centenary year, we’re going to look at women’s voting in modern history in a number of pioneering countries, and this is the first of those episodes.

Sep 27, 2019

Did radio listeners really think that Nixon won the first 1960 presidential debate, while TV viewers thought the more telegenic Kennedy won? This story is the most repeated myth in the history of presidential debates. The Professor explains why. Make sure to listen and tell us what you think about the Professor’s “presentation.”

Sep 26, 2019

Impeachment? The 25th Amendment? Resignation? How do the American people remove a president from office? Why is it so complicated, and what's the history behind each way to get a dangerous, criminal, or just plain crazy chief executive out of the highest office in the land. Join Professor Buzzkill and Professor Nash as they work through all the possibilities, and illuminate all the history and politics behind the various processes. Listen and learn in this Throwback Thursday episode, Buzzkillers!

Sep 24, 2019

President Kennedy usually gets all the credit for inspiring American to reach for the moon. And President Nixon’s signature is on the ceremonial plaque laid there at the end of the Apollo 11 landing. But President Lyndon Johnson hardly ever gets credit for the American space program. The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Shesol joins us to explain LBJ’s pioneering efforts in the space race.

Sep 19, 2019

The Lost Cause is one of the most troubling aspects of American history. The ways in which the Confederacy and the pre-Civil War south has been romanticized and fictionalized has done immense damage to American historical consciousness and interpretation. Professor Philip Nash joins us to discuss how the Civil War, the period of Reconstruction, and the Jim Crow era were twisted into an ahistorical mythology that has plagued our national discourse for over a hundred years. Listen and learn.

Sep 17, 2019

We continue our discussion with Dr. Andrew Ramey from Carnegie Mellon University about the long history of climate change science. The study of climate change grew rapidly in the 20th century, almost as quickly as climate change itself started to affect the earth dramatically. By the 1970s, however, countervailing forces (including the fossil fuel industry) moved into the scientific debate and started well-funded political campaigns to stop any effective governmental action to reduce climate change. Just at the time when the scientific evidence was undeniable and compelling, politics got in the way.

Sep 13, 2019

The tragic story of the ship "Marie Celeste" has been told for over a hundred years. And the tale gets wilder and wilder every time. On December 5, 1872, the vessel was found drifting in the Atlantic Ocean about 1,400 miles west of Portugal. The crew and passengers were gone, but the ship was in near perfect condition, with all her lifeboats intact, and all the supplies, clothing, and provisions for her occupants intact. It was as if the people had evaporated. What happened? Find out, and also learn what the "Marie Celeste" tells us about how historical myths and misconceptions start and spread! 

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