Did the Roman emperor Nero really fiddle while his glorious city of Rome burned? Politicians may often be bad guys, Buzzkillers, but there’s no good evidence for this level of mania in old Nero. It’s a good story, but that’s all it is, a story.
One of the most most popular history exercises in elementary schools these days is to have students learn about Quilt Codes and the Underground Railroad and make some designs themselves. Students are told that quilt patterns gave escaped slaves directions and warnings on their way to freedom. Alas, it’s a myth, Buzzkillers. But it’s a highly textured one. Geddit? Listen in!
Find any fraternity member who’s also a freshman history major. Get him drunk, and he’ll start reeling off myths like crazy. One of them will probably be that Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia (1729-1796) died by being crushed by a horse. While she was having sex with that horse! In bed! You can probably guess whether it’s true, Buzzkillers!
Inside Churchill’s Brain
The Literary Churchill, Buzzkillers! We finally get to hear what was going on inside the old bulldog’s head. Prof Jonathan Rose schools us on how Churchill’s reading, writing, and acting affected his decisions and political career. We even play Churchill Quote or No Quote!
You’ve probably always seen Napoleon depicted as a shorty. And you may have heard that his ambition was driven by a classic “short man’s complex.” Alas, it’s not true. At least not by his measured height. The nickname came about differently. Listen to the podcast, Buzzkillers, to find out how and why.
Here's an encore presentation of Episode 9 - Rosa Parks.
Meek and mild Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in 1950s Alabama because she was just tired after a long day at work. That’s mostly myth, and it obscures all the work that Mrs. Parks did, as well as over-simplifying the complicated politics of the civil rights movement. Join us as we interview Professor Jeanne Theoharis, author of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks.
Read more at http://professorbuzzkill.libsyn.com/page/2/size/25#WMg7CxjmJ4clxE9w.99
Did Ben Franklin really discover electricity by flying a kite in a lightning storm? Well, he may have flown the kite, Buzzkillers, but knowledge of electricity’s been around a long, long time. Take the journey of discovery back in time with the old Professor.
Like all good Americans, I just had a PB&J for lunch. I couldn’t help thinking of George Washington Carver, the reputed inventor of peanut butter. You won’t be surprised to hear that the invention of peanut butter is much more complicated (and more important) than is usually told. Listen in over your own PB&J, Buzzkillers!
What a great way to get taxes lowered! Get your land-owning husband to agree to lower property taxes if you ride naked on horseback right down main street. That’s just what Lady Godiva agreed to do in 11th century England in order to get her tight-fisted husband to lighten up on his tenants. But is it true or just another mini-myth? Listen in Buzzkillers!
It’s an exciting and romantic tale: a future Roman hero has to be cut out of his mother’s womb as she’s dying in childbirth. The procedure is later named after the famous baby who survived — Julius Caesar. Alas, the story is as mythological as the one about storks delivering babies down chimneys. Hang on, I just heard a tiny thumb and a muffled cry coming from the living room…...
The Cuban Embassy in Washington DC re-opened yesterday, symbolizing the thaw in US-Cuba relations in the past year. This is all warm and fuzzy, but we look at one of the most important historical myths of US-Cuba relations since the start of the Cold War. There were many more missiles in the Cuban Missile Crisis than you probably think. And the “eye-to-eye” showdown between Kennedy and Khrushchev had both sides blinking!
It’s time to go over the top, Buzzkillers! We interview Professor Richard Grayson about the wildly popular BBC television series, BlackAdder, and how close it was to historical reality. There are probably more myths about war than any other part of history, and BlackAdder addressed many of them. Let’s “go forth!” and see if they got their history right.
Herr Hitler gets credit for an awful lot, Buzzkillers, including the invention of the Volkswagen. The story is that he demand a “people’s car” that the average German could afford. Alas, Buzzkillers, the story is much more complicated than that, and Adolph played only a small part in the invention of the cute, little VW Beetle.
The Buzzkill has landed! Right in the heart of London, in Parliament Square. We interview Dr. Caroline Shenton, from the Parliamentary Archives, about myths surrounding the Houses of Parliament. We broadcast directly from Westminster Hall, the oldest and most important part of the building. Centuries of myths are struck down in this ye olde myth busting feste!
Abner Doubleday didn’t invent baseball, and he didn’t do it in Cooperstown in 1839, Buzzkillers. Once again, a second- or third-hand story created a persistent myth. It was Alexander Cartwright in Manhattan in 1845. The Baseball Hall of Fame is still a great place to visit and I hope to run into you there sometime, Buzzkillers!
Cold War Berlin was a tense place, and certainly not the place to make an embarrassing gaffe in a major speech. So it’s a good thing that President Kennedy didn’t call himself a jam doughnut while speaking to a massive crowd in front of the Berlin Wall. Imagine the warning bells that would have gone off in Washington DC and Moscow if Cold Warriors suddenly thought, “oh no, we’re in a pastry war”!
Pity the poor Dutch, Buzzkillers!. They travelled all over the world and get almost no credit for it. Captain James Cook of England wasn’t the first European to discover Australia. Willem Janszoon was. Ever heard of him? I didn’t think so.
“The Great Train Robbery” (1903) was not the first feature film, despite what you learned in film studies class, Buzzkillers (or from some tiresome, drunken film-studies major at a boring film-studies party). The Aussies beat Hollywood to the punch. Find out how they did it!
June 15th is the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, Buzzkillers. But was it such a big deal? Does it deserve the attention and praise it’s gotten? Join the Professor’s Pre-Dawn Raid to find out!
Robin Hood did not force King John to sign Magna Carta. Neither did King Arthur or Merlin, or Gandalf for that matter. Magna Carta (800 years old today) is a cluster-bomb of myths. The Professor defuses them and makes the world safe for democracy!
It’s a great and heart-warming story, Buzzkillers, but meek and modest Betsy Ross did not design or sew the first American flag. The story itself follows the classic myth pattern, a second-hand family tale that caught on with a receptive public. Listen up as some young American Buzzkillers help set the record straight.
Warner Bros Studios pumped out this myth, Buzzkillers, before production had even started on the movie. But Bogie had the part all along!
Did you struggle over long division, Buzzkillers? Did your math teacher try to console you by telling that Einstein was bad at math when he was young? Well, I hate to bust one of your cherished childhood stories, but it isn’t true. Einstein rocked the mathematics. Don’t use that excuse when you can’t balance your checkbook.
The weather report for the morning of October 29, 1929, the day of the famous Wall Street Crash, called for falling stockbrokers. Ruined businessmen were supposed to be flinging themselves out of their high office windows in despair. Alas, Buzzkillers, forecast didn’t prove true. Stay tuned right here for the update.
A Viking horned helmet would have been very impractical, and perhaps dangerous, in battle, Buzzkillers. There is only one depiction of a horned helmet in ancient Nordic art, and it was probably ceremonial. Horned helmets are most likely the invention of legendary opera composer Wagner’s costume designer in the 19th century.