4Feminist Bra Burnings
For a few decades the "bra-burning feminist" was as much an archetype as the "dope-smoking hippie." On The Simpsons, Marge met Homer because she was in detention for participating in a bra burning.
The story goes that at protests in the late sixties, feminists raging against the male-dominated world defiantly removed and set fire to their bras. It was a powerful statement, symbolically declaring the women's desire for their feminine power to burst out of its patriarchal restraints and bounce free, no longer confined by the lace and spandex of traditional social mores.
We at Cracked support sweet bouncy freedom.
But in Reality...
This one literally never happened as far as anyone can tell. Women protesting against the 1968 Miss America contest in New York did toss several items into a trash can, including bras, girdles, high heeled shoes and women's magazines, labeling them "instruments of torture." But no fire was involved, except for the fire of burning feminine rage. Neither did the women actually remove their bras at the protest, inexplicably opting to gather the bras beforehand, and remain fully clothed.
It wasn't long after the era of Vietnam protesters burning their draft cards, and a journalist or two presumably conflated one of the concepts with the other. After all, they're all hippies, right?
Why Do We Believe It?
There's the fact that it involves topless women. Even the Wall Street Journal knows you get more readers if you can tie the story to unrestrained titties. Also, most of us want to believe people with non-mainstream opinions are all on the far-out fringe, doing crazy things they'll be embarrassed by later in life.
It saves us the trouble of listening to them. A woman demanding equal pay for equal work is making a point you have to address. A woman burning a bra and claiming it's a torture device is just a silly sideshow you can safely dismiss after a few minutes of vigorous masturbation.
3America Goes Crazy Over War of the Worlds
Oh, how gullible we used to be.
In 1938, Orson Welles' radio production of the H.G. Wells novel War of the Worlds played out as a massive prank on the nation, reporting a Martian invasion as if it were real. The broadcast plunged millions of Americans into mass hysteria, as frightened listeners overloaded phone lines, fled cities, rushed to warn their loved ones, rioted and even attempted suicide for fear of the alien attack.
Life Magazine even ran a photo of a farmer defending his land against the Martians, shotgun in hand:
Newspapers happily jumped on reporting the panic in the days and weeks afterward, and even Adolf Hitler commented on the supposed hysteria. Something to the effect of, "An army of futuristic war machines trying to take over the planet?! Ha! You people are crazy to think such a thing could happen. If it did, you'd damn well know about it."
But in Reality...
That photo up there, of the farmer with the shotgun? Life Magazine just had the guy pose for it. Most of the War of the Worlds freak-out was exactly as fake as that photo.
There's no doubt that some people thought the broadcast was real. Radio was still new and a fake news broadcast had literally never been done before. But virtually all of them reacted in exactly the way you would have: flipped to another station, or called somebody to ask what was going on.
Reports of people immediately flying into a panic--attempting suicide, hallucinating alien death rays or fleeing to the countryside with guns in hand--were almost all anecdotal stories told second hand with no names attached. And although the phone lines to the studio were unusually busy that night, mixed in with the people asking for information, were people praising or complaining about a show that seemed like it was clearly designed to create a mass panic.
"This broadcast is terrible!"
"Wait till you see the movie!"
There were also the people who tuned in late, and only caught the part about an "invasion" and "poison gas" (the Martians' main weapon) and assumed they were hearing reports of the Nazis invading, which wasn't ridiculous at all in 1938.
It's true that a few people probably actually did stupid shit, but keep in mind there were six million listeners that night. In any group of six million people, you'll find a certain number of them doing stupid things anyway, probably because they're stoned.
Why Do We Believe It?
You know how they keep trying to tie terrible crimes or trends to the Internet? Some teenager dies due to "cyber bullying" or gets jailed due to "sexting" or somebody loses everything on a Craigslist scam, and the story somehow implies it's the technology that's making people evil?
It happens all the time.
Radio was the scary new technology once. The old media at the time (newspapers) was eager to jump on anything that made the new media seem dangerous and irresponsible.
Of course, the story stuck after that because it gives us the chance to do the thing we love doing most: look down on people. They fell for it, we didn't, therefore we're smarter than our grandparents. We're the enlightened generation, and don't believe in stupid bullshit. Oh, on an unrelated note, here's a website about how Lady GaGa is a puppet of the New World Order.