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    18 "Facts" About History That Are Actually False So You Can Contradict The Next Guy Who Tries To Mansplain History To You

    Actually, Ellen, that's not the truth.

    Recently, I rounded up historical "facts" that are actually lies from this Reddit thread from user u/throwaway0006891, and now I'm back with more! Here are 18 more historical facts that really aren't facts at all:

    1. That Jim Jones fed his cult members Kool-Aid.

    Jim Jomes

    You've probably heard the phrase "Drink the Kool-Aid," which comes from the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, in which 909 members of Jim Jones' cult drank cyanide-laced Kool-Aid to commit mass suicide at his command. wasn't Kool-Aid. It was Flavor-Aid.

    person holding Flavor Aid

    2. Also, that everyone willingly drank the poison.

    coffins being taken from Jamestown

    Jones reportedly said that if they didn't comply with his orders and drink the poison, the Guyanese Army would torture them, castrate the men, and eventually kill them. Security guards also pulled people from their seats toward the poison, and around 70 people were estimated to have been injected with the poison. Others were shot by armed guards as they ran.


    3. That ninjas wore black/the "ninja outfit."


    In reality, ninjas more likely wore navy blue, which blended in better.

    ninja in navy blue

    The misconception seems to have come from Japanese Kabuki theater.

    illustration of the theater

    4. That in the original story, it's Pandora's box.

    illustration of Pandora opening the box

    It's actually "Pandora's Jar." A translation error caused the meaning to be muddled a few hundred years ago.

    Pandora opening the jar

    5. That in World War II, the United States mainly fought the Nazis to free the Jews.

    Jewish prisoners filing into concentration camp

    According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum's website, the US prioritized military victory over saving Jews being persecuted and killed by Nazis. They didn't even enter World War II until 1941 (it had begun in 1939), when they were attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor.

    newspaper headline saying US declared war on Japan

    Much of their fighting was against the Japanese in the Pacific. It wasn't until 1944 (a year before the war's end, and two years after credible reports that millions of Jews were being killed began to widely circulate) that the US actively began trying to rescue Jews through the War Refugee Board.

    ship of soldiers in the Pacific

    In fact, the US actively turned away thousands of Jewish refugees during the war, despite not having filled their quota for German immigrants.

    refugees being turned away

    6. That Italy switched sides in World War II.

    Italian soldiers lined up

    This is overly simplistic. Dictator Mussolini had sided with Hitler, but Mussolini had been deposed, and his successor, Pietro Badoglio, reached an armistice with the Allies.

    Pietro Badoglio

    However, Nazis seized strongholds in Germany and broke Mussolini out of jail to make him leader of the parts of Italy they controlled, creating the Italian Social Republic.

    members of The Italian Social Republic

    So basically, Italy was going through a civil war near the end of World War II, with different parts siding with the Allies vs. the Axis powers.

    7. That Benjamin Franklin ever said that beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

    Benjamin Franklin

    He said something similar about wine: “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”

    someone pouring wine

    8. And that he said, "A penny saved is a penny earned.” What he actually wrote was, "“A penny saved is two pence clear.”

    person holding a penny

    9. That the Library of Alexandria was destroyed in one big fire.

    library/Alexandria on fire

    There were many reasons for the library's decline, including yes, multiple fires — but also because the institution of the library was devalued in society and attendance waned as the library itself fell into disorganization and neglect. Even the fires happened far apart from each other — there was no one event that destroyed the library.

    the library

    The claim that the Caliph Omar was the perpetrator of one of the fires is also disputed. First of all, Jewish and Christian texts in the library would've also been sacred Muslim texts. And it's unclear if the library even existed at the time of its "burning" — there is no mention of the event from writers of the time, and the account of the burning was written three centuries after it supposedly took place.

    the Caliph's people burning library texts

    10. And also that losing the library set humanity back centuries.

    the library

    It was not the only library to exist at the time, and many of the texts were copies of texts that were returned to their owners, and the discoveries and inventions that scientists and mathematicians made spread through society and existed outside the library.

    steam engine description and picture

    11. That Anastasia didn't die with the rest of her family.


    This claim persisted for a few reasons, one of which being that people kept claiming to be Anastasia — most notably, Anna Anderson (her claims were later disproved).

    Anna Anderson

    And because in 1991, the grave of the family was discovered, and two children's bodies were missing. However, in 2007, more remains were found a bit away from the rest, and the remaining two children (Alexei and one of his sisters) were found.

    the Romanovs

    12. That Neanderthals were the only other human species to exist alongside Homo sapiens.

    human and neanderthal

    At least nine species existed 300,000 years ago, one of which may have outlived the Neanderthals — the Denisovans. Some sources say they went extinct 50,000 years ago — while others say it was more like 15,000.

    person presenting model and skulls of denisovans

    13. That knights were chivalrous.


    Chivalry was introduced in the Middle Ages to curb the mass civilian casualties that brutish and violent knights had been causing — but even after its adoption, it was more about fitting in among the noble class than being honorable to civilians. Burning and looting towns as well as raping townspeople were still common.

    knights in battle

    In fact, much of the literature about chivalrous knights was either not written by knights themselves (but instead clergy or poets) or was written after the fact, adapting the word "to define ideal male behavior."

    king knighting a man

    14. That Roman gladiators were all convicts and slaves.

    gladiators fighting

    While it may have started that way, many people signed up for fights willingly to prove their prowess, and some gladiators became celebrities.

    Spartacus with other gladiators

    15. And that gladiator fights were always to the death.

    gladiator looking up at crowd after defeating opponents

    Somewhere between 1 in 5 and 1 in 10 matches ended in death, but many times they did not. Promoters put money into training and housing their gladiators, and didn't want them killed so easily.

    gladiators fighting

    16. That Marilyn Monroe was a size 16.


    While Monroe is now often called "curvy" and lauded for a non-traditional figure compared to other actors during the Golden Age of Hollywood, she actually would've been around a size 4 by today's standards.

    17. That Einstein failed math or didn't get good grades in school.

    Einstein sticking his tongue out

    While Einstein was expelled for being rebellious — though he later re-enrolled at another school — his science and math grades were actually great, according to a biographer.

    Einstein writing on a chalkboard

    18. And finally, that the ancient Egyptians worshipped cats.

    cat in front of wall of hieroglyphics

    They had some feline-appearing gods, but this did not mean they worshipped cats. They simply admired them, as we do today.

    statue of the goddess Bastet

    What are some other historical misconceptions that always bother you? Let us know in the comments below!