How did New Year’s Day end up in the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere (and the middle of summer in the southern hemisphere)? Wouldn’t a day in spring be more fitting? Find out how people celebrated New Years in past centuries and why things turned out the way they did.
Who was Santa Claus, Buzzkillers? The jolly old man from Miracle on 34th Street? The round-bellied man wearing a red costume, driving a sleigh pulled by 8 tiny reindeer? Was there a Rudolph involved?
The rule of thumb about history myths is that they’re persistent. Ever hear the one about an ancient law that allowed a man to beat his wife with a stick as long as it was not thicker than his thumb? Well, it’s a myth, Buzzkillers. But how it became a myth is fascinating!
Walt Disney is one of the most famous names in entertainment. But have you ever heard of Ub Iwerks? Good old Ub was the real artistic genius behind many of Disney’s most beloved characters, including Mickey Mouse. Yet there is no IwerksWorld, no Iwerks animation empire. Tune in to find out why, Buzzkillers!
How do you solve a problem like Sound of Music myths? When did The Captain and Maria get married? How anti-Nazi was he? How many dozens of kids did they have? How did the von Trapps escape the Nazis? Movie myths are always fund, Buzzkillers!
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!
Everyone was killed at the Alamo. Right, Buzzkillers? That’s why “Remember the Alamo” is such a famous rallying cry in American history. But was everyone killed inside the Alamo? Civilians? Women and children? Was Santa Anna essentially a murderer? Find out, Buzzkillers, by listening to our latest MiniMyth!
Remember, remember, the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot….
Children’s rhymes make poor history. So do modern day movies, like V for Vendetta. Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators weren’t radicals fighting for the working people. So why do we all wear that mask?
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.
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.
“Give me liberty or give me death,” Virginia patriot Patrick Henry was supposed to have said in a stirring speech before the American Revolution. We Buzzkill this quote and show that, like most “quotes,” it was written decades after the event. Download Professor Buzzkill and download death to history myths!
The Cold War was about more than nuclear missles and bomb shelters, Buzzkillers. Literature and art were weapons in the Cultural Cold War, according to Professor Greg Barnhisel. He overturns decades-old myths about Cold War era writers and artists who were sponsored by the US government. Duck and cover, Buzzkillers, it's quite a bombardment!
He may have had a GPS system named after him, but Ferdinand Magellan wouldn’t have needed it during his trip around the globe back in the early 1500s. He only made it halfway, dying in the Phillipines at the hands of natives who got sick of him asking for directions. But since it was his ship that eventually got back to Europe, he gets the credit. Oh well, Buzzkillers. Who cares about the details anyway?
Burn the witch! Burn the witch! It makes for a dramatic story, with about as final an ending as you can imagine. Suspected witches were nabbed, put on trial, convicted, and burned at the stake in the 1690s in Massachusetts. But it’s just not true. The convicted witches faced a far more mundane fate. Listen and find out!
It’s a great “Gone with the Wind” romantic-type story. The defeated, but honorable, General Robert E. Lee offered his sword to the victor, U.S. Grant, during the Confederacy’s surrender at Appomattox Court House. Grant, just as honorably, refused to take it. But it didn’t happen, Buzzkillers. It was a made-up press report that caught the public’s attention and kept getting repeated.
Did your great-granny tell you that your family name was Americanized at Ellis Island? Well, either she was mainlining the dinner sherry, or she had bought into an old historical myth. Join the Buzzkill team as they walk Vito Corleone and other immigrants through the halls of the Ellis Island processing center and find out whether their ethnicity gets mangled!
The Republican Primary this year will see a lot of havering between all the different candidates. They all will be breaking Ronald Reagan’s famous 11th Commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Speak ill of a Fellow Republican.” The historical problem is that Reagan broke his own commandment many times, even against a sitting Republican president. The deification of Reagan as a great Republican unifier is a myth and pundits should stop repeating it! Enjoy!
Almost nothing about Sir Walter Raleigh is true, or at the very least it’s all been highly exaggerated. He didn’t lay his cloak down for Queen Elizabeth, and he didn’t introduce potatoes and tobacco to Europe after his travels in the New World. He cuts a dashing figure through popular history, nonetheless. Put your romanticizing aside, Buzzkillers and hear the truth!
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!
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.