“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!
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Climate change is a much older subject than is commonly assumed. As early as 1750, Enlightenment thinkers such as David Hume and Thomas Jefferson analyzed and wrote about the role that human activity played in climate change. French scientist, Joseph Fourier discovered the greenhouse effect in the 1820s. So, the study of climate change did not come from a bunch of hippies in the 1970s! Dr. Andrew Ramey from Carnegie Mellon University joins us to explain the early history of climate change research, and we dispel a lot of climate change myths along the way!
Myths about Poland during World War II are everywhere. Professor Philip Nash and I destroy some of the biggest ones in this episode. They include: Polish cavalry going up against Nazi tanks, and the story that Poland fell quickly and easily. Not only that, the overall Polish contribution to Allied victory in Europe is generally unknown and overlooked. Listen to us explain it all.
Becoming a citizen by being born in a country is an topic that flares up whenever there are controversies about immigration and immigrants. This episode explains birthright citizenship and how it developed in the United States and the western hemisphere. And, of course, it explains the complicated history of the tradition, especially how it was applied to Native Americans and freed slaves. It wasn’t as simple as you might have thought. Listen and learn!
One of the most common Einstein No Quotes you see coursing around the internet is: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Sometimes the mis-quote-meisters add “so is a lot,” to this pithy quote saying about knowledge, and we end up with “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot.” It’s probably the type of thing Einstein would say, but did he ever actually say it? Find out in this episode!
In this Flashback Friday Episode, journalist Mary Pilon joins the Professor to discuss the history of the game Monopoly and its wonderful twists, turns, complications, and lawsuits! It all starts during The Depression and doesn't stop until the 21st Century! Make sure to listen, and tell a playing partner about the show!!
When asked about being drafted for the Vietnam War, Muhammad Ali is often quoted as saying, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong." This was immediately followed by the now-more-famous quote, “No Viet Cong ever called me n*****,” in a one-two punch of defiance. Ali's "quote" summarized in one glaring sentence the idea that oppression against African-Americans started at home, in the United States, and that, as he saw it, African-Americans were being drafted to fight the wrong fight, against the wrong people. It's one of the most famous sayings from the Vietnam war protest period, but did Ali actually say that phrase, or, more to the point, did Ali coin it? Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!
One of the Republic of India’s Founding Fathers, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is not as well-known outside India as he should be. This Man Crush Monday is the brief story of his life and career, as perhaps the man most responsible for the unification of India between 1947 and 1950. And you’ll also learn why the tallest (that’s right, the tallest) statue in the world is of him.
Douglas MacArthur is one of the most famous and celebrated generals in American history. Along with Patton, however, he’s one of the most misunderstood and most mythologized. Born in the 19th century, MacArthur served in both World Wars, the Korean War, and other, less extensive US military actions. Yet he is also considered another attention hound (like Patton), sometimes overly-dramatic, and often letting his over-inflated view of his own abilities and destiny get in the way of sound judgement. In this Throwback Thursday episode, the Professors look at his career from the end of World War II to his dismissal by Truman in 1951, and try to determine who was the real Douglas MacArthur.
How did the National Rifle Association become one of the most controversial and divisive organizations in American history? It used to be a sportsmen’s group. Since the 1970s, however, it has taken a very strict view of the US Constitution’s Second Amendment and has gone to extremes in its defense of gun ownership. We explain how and why this happened, and dispel historical and cultural myths along the way.
There's a great quote and sentiment about sticking with a righteous movement for much-needed change, particularly when it's faced with a big, entrenched and powerful foe. That quote goes like this: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." It's often attributed to Gandhi. That's not very surprising. But we here at the Buzzkill Institute don't call him the Mahatma of Misquotation for nothing, and as we'll see in a couple of minutes, if you were forced to boil down one of Gandhi's very lengthy and sophisticated arguments to a bumper sticker slogan, the "First they ignore you…" saying would fit, more or less. Find out the full story in this episode!
Douglas MacArthur is one of the most famous and celebrated generals in American history. Along with Patton, however, he’s one of the most misunderstood and most mythologized. Born in the 19th century, MacArthur served in both World Wars, the Korean War, and other, less extensive US military actions. Yet he is also considered another attention hound (like Patton), sometimes overly-dramatic, and often letting his over-inflated view of his own abilities and destiny get in the way of sound judgement. In this Throwback Thursday episode, the Professor looks at his early life and his career through World War II and tries to determine who was the real Douglas MacArthur.
Japan’s defensive perimeter kept shrinking during 1944 and 1945, yet the war dragged on. The battles for Iwo Jima and Okinawa were as bloody and horrific as any others during the Pacific war. Strategic bombing of Japan increased, both from the Asian mainland, and from the Pacific side. Japan eventually surrendered in 1945, but we discuss why that was so complicated and difficult. And we bust the many myths surrounding the “unconditional surrender” of Japan. Listen and learn!
The Harry Truman “quote” about socialism being a Republican scare word is flying around the internet, in response to the over-heated rhetoric of American politics these days. But did “Buck Stops Here” Harry really say it? If so, when, where, and in what context. We explain all in this highly relevant Quote or No Quote episode. Don’t listen to the American news these days without listening to us first!
"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 brutality of World War II in the Pacific continued from Guadalcanal to the Aleutians, from China to the Solomon Islands, and was also a propaganda war at home in Japan and in Allied countries. Professor Nash comes back to tell us about these middle years in the Pacific War, and explain how the power balance shifted to the Allies, and yet why the fighting still took so long and why it was so bloody. Listen and learn!
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 is to historical reality. There are probably more myths about war than any other part of history, and Black Adder addressed many of them. Let's "go forth!" and see if they got their history right.
Superstar historian, Professor Nash, joins us to talk about the opening years of American involvement in Pacific during World War II. From Pearl Harbor to Midway, it’s a brutal chess match across the Pacific - a chess match that includes massive battles, massive casualties, and massive war crimes. And that’d only through 1942! So this is Part 1 of our WWII in the Pacific series. Listen and learn.