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Professor Buzzkill

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
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Jan 11, 2017

What is the actual history behind "The Nuclear Button" and "The Nuclear Football"? And what has to happen before the missiles are launched? Is it automatic, or are there confirmation measures in place? Could we ever find ourselves in a Dr. Strangelove scenario? Listen to Professor Buzzkill calm us down!

Jan 9, 2017

Mohandas K. Gandhi should also be known as the Mahatma of Misquotation. Did he ever say, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” as we read in so many inspirational tweets and messages? Listen as Professor Buzzkill delves into the origin of this quote, avoiding snake bite and 1970s urban violence along the way!

Jan 4, 2017

What actually happened on the Eastern/Russian Front during World War II? Why did the Germans invade? And why did they get beaten? Was it the Russian winter? Was it the “Russian Horde”? Or are those myths? Super Buzzkiller Professor Nash joins us to explain all the complications, myths, and misunderstandings!

Jan 2, 2017

One Winston Churchill’s most famous quotes supposedly occurred at a social occasion in the 1920s, and went like this. Lady Astor (never one of Winston’s admirers) said, “If I were married to you, I'd put poison in your tea.” Churchill replied, “And if I were married to you, I'd drink it.” Great reply, but did he really say it? Find out, Buzzkillers!

Dec 29, 2016

Should old acquaintance be forgot? What? Should we forget old friends? Should we sing about remembering them. What does Auld Lang Syne actually mean? Why do we sing it every New Year’s Eve? Join the Professor as he waxes lyrical and sentimentally about Auld Lang Syne, Scotland, and good auld Robert Burns!

Dec 27, 2016

Was there special, secret meaning behind the lyrics in the famous Christmas song, The 12 Days of Christmas? Ten Lords a Leaping and Nine Ladies Dancing sounds like a pretty good party! But why wasn’t Professor Buzzkill invited? We explain it all and wish all you Buzzkillers out there a happy holiday season!

Dec 22, 2016

Was Jesus born on December 25th, over 2000 years ago? Buzzkill Institute historians estimate that the chances are about three-tenths of one percent – or one out of 365. In other words, December 25th is as good a candidate for Jesus’s birthday as any other day of the year, but it is certainly no better than the other 364 possibilities.

Dec 20, 2016

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 15, 2016

The Great Escape (1963) is in the pantheon of World War II films, and deservedly so. Generations of Buzzkillers have grown up watching Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, and other film stars try to outsmart their captors at Stalag Luft III. But how true was the “Great Escape” story that became a best-selling novel and box-office smash at the movie theater? Listen carefully, or Professor Buzzkill will send you to the cooler!

Dec 13, 2016

Christian churches and institutions, especially Catholic ones, keep a lot of relics. In some churches or reliquaries, you may see a small piece of the true cross, or a lock of St. John’s hair, or even an alleged piece of Christ’s foreskin – since all the rest of him was taken up into heaven, of course. But are these remnants ever genuine? You may be surprised at the answer.

Dec 8, 2016

Candy canes are a well-known symbol of the holiday season, but what is the origin and meaning of this peculiar candy? Some say it was invented by a German choirmaster in the 17th century. Others say it was invented by an Indiana confectioner in the 19th century. Or maybe it was a Catholic priest? Is the candy cane is full of religious symbols that represent the blood of Christ, the nativity, and the strength of the Christian church? Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!

Dec 6, 2016

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 1, 2016

In 1814 we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississipp’. We took a little bacon and we took a little beans. And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.” It’s a stirring folk song, perfect to stoke the patriotic fires of a young nation. But did the Battle of New Orleans really take place after the War of 1812 was over? Keep your powder dry, Buzzkillers, because you’re about to find out!

Nov 29, 2016

President Lincoln comforted Lydia Bixby over the loss of her five sons during the Civil War in the one of the most famous letters in American history. But what really happened to Mrs. Bixby’s five sons? Did they all die fighting for the Union? Or, were things a lot more complicated than that? Find out, Buzzkillers!

Nov 24, 2016

One of the legendary stories that re-appear during Thanksgiving season is that no less a luminary and Founding Father than Ben Franklin thought that the bald eagle was an improper choice as national bird and a national symbol. Franklin preferred the more “dignified” turkey, and tried to convince Founding Fathers to agree. Apparently they thought Ben was a senile old sentimentalist, and so they ignored him. But is any of this story true? Listen and find out!

Nov 23, 2016

As the pilgrims pushed their chairs back from the first Thanksgiving table, their stomachs full of turkey and potatoes, Squanto appeared with bushels of popped corn and spilled it out on the tables for the Pilgrims to enjoy. That’s how Americans got popcorn, right Buzzkillers? Well, maybe not. but you’ll have to listen to find out!

Nov 22, 2016

The Pilgrims and Indians sat down on the fourth Thursday of November in 16-something and started the first Thanksgiving dinner, right? You guessed it. Wrong! It took almost 300 years to get to Norman Rockwell’s painting and the Macy’s Parade. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!

Nov 17, 2016

Did George Washington have a vision one evening at Valley Forge? Did an angel descend and tell General George about the future of the country, and give him the emotional stamina to carry on and win the Revolutionary War? Or is this Revolutionary-era story really a product of the 1860s? Find out, Buzzkillers!

Nov 15, 2016

Was the Black Death really the most deadly disease in human history? And did it really come from outer space? From the time of the first plague outbreak all the way until now, the Black Death has ignited imaginations. Some cite it as the first example of biological warfare, while others say that the death toll estimates you learned about in school are actually too low. Professor John Giebfried join us to examine the real history of the Black Death, and separate truth from fiction!

Nov 10, 2016

The blackout of November 1965 was a big event in the north-east of the United States and in Ontario. But did it result in an increase in babies born nine months later? When deprived of other “entertainments,” did people divert themselves with love? Snuggle up with the Professor, Buzzkillers, and hear the full story.

Nov 8, 2016

Did Richard Nixon genuinely “concede” the 1960 Presidential Election to John Kennedy the day after the election, as so many commentators now tell us? Or did he qualify his remarks so much, and work so feverishly behind the scenes to overturn the election, that he should be considered a “sore loser”? Find out in this episode, Buzzkillers!

Nov 6, 2016

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!

Nov 1, 2016

Professor Perry Blatz joins us to explain why democracy didn’t work well enough in the US election of 1860, and why it led to the Civil War. The Democratic party split over the issue of slavery, the Republicans were fraught over the issue, and a whole new party, the Constitutional Union party for formed. The country ended up with four political parties running candidates for president! This election makes the complicated 2016 election seem like amateur-hour!

Oct 31, 2016

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 27, 2016

We look at the story that men dressed as women to get into lifeboats escaping the sinking Titanic, which struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage to New York close to midnight on 14 April 1912. Didn’t those men know that it’s “women and children first”? I hope they weren’t Buzzkillers!

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