As we've reminded you before, people in the past just didn't give a shit. They were too busy being crazy and taking pictures of it to be bothered with how those pictures would make them look in 80 or 90 years. It's like they're daring us to make sense of them, and once again, we've risen boldly to the challenge.
#15. "That's Two People Sharing a Costume, Right?"
OK, this is definitely some kind of optical illusion. The little girl's real legs are clearly hidden behind that log or something, because otherwise they would've had to spend a lot of time digitally erasing all of the villagers trying to set her on fire.
Pictured here is Ella Harper, a Tennessee native better known across the country as the Camel Girl. She suffered from congenital genu recurvatum, which is a disorder that weakens the ligaments in the knees and causes them to bend backward, gradually or all the damned way. Like many people with physical deformities in the 1800s, Ella was a star circus attraction for many years, which presumably then segued into a featured role in Charlie Sheen's The Arrival.
It kind of looks like she has two geese in a leg lock.
She actually made a good living this way, at one point taking home $200 a week, or the equivalent of $5,000 a week in today's money, and was able to retire from the sideshow business in 1886, which we're thinking is a happier ending than what other sideshow attractions got back in those days.
Hey, speaking of which ...
#14. "Those Are Just Wacky Novelty Shoes, Right?"
Clearly, this woman stabbed Mr. Potato Head in the YMCA locker room and made off with his shoes. But, no, there are huge feet inside there:
"Someone find me a pair of boogie boards to use as flip-flops."
That is Fannie Mills, better known as the Ohio Big Foot Girl.
"Marriageable men take notice."
She is believed to have suffered from Milroy disease, which turns the lower half of your body into a Ninja Turtle and the upper half into a low-wage carnival worker. She was otherwise healthy and could actually walk (although with some difficulty). She was married and lived a normal life, aside from her career being a "look at my giant feet" sideshow freak.
Her disease did unfortunately mean that she would pass away at age 39, but then again, average life expectancy at the time was only 49, so it could have been worse.
#13. UFOs Caused the Dust Bowl
Those men are not running in terror from an alien spaceship or a time traveler's pod arriving from the year 2250. It's just a tetrahedral kite, developed by Alexander Graham Bell in an attempt to build kites large enough for people to ride in. Which, you have to admit, sounds awesome.
The idea was also to make them so a motor could be installed, thus creating the first manned aircraft, but the end result was just a bunch of admittedly cool-looking kites that could only ever possibly be piloted by G.I. Joes.
"Come on ..."
"Come on ..."
"Oh, who am I kidding? Let me quit fucking around and just invent the goddamned telephone."
#12. Fritz the Talking Nazi Bear
Despite the perfectly legible road sign, these Nazis decided to stop and ask a bear for directions and were delighted to find him sympathetic to their cause! See, kids, cartoons are real! But only for the Nazis!
Honestly, that isn't far from the truth. This is literally a road sign somewhere between Berlin and St. Petersburg hilariously outfitted with a Nazi bear (it's just a stuffed bear, sadly). These guys stopped and took a picture because you totally would have, too.
That's not an isolated situation, by the way; for some reason that the History Channel has never bothered to explain, Nazi funny bones were well and truly tickled by taxidermy bears. And they were all adorable!
AAAAAHHHH, WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!?
#11. Depression-Era Robot Porn
What, you thought robot porn was invented in Internet-era Japan? That picture up there is from 1935, bitches. We bet you didn't think they even had robots back then.
This is in fact a picture of some guy dressed up as Alpha the Robot, a popular World's Fair attraction, for the 1935 World's Fair in San Diego. He just happened to stumble across some nudists, who for some reason were also at the World's Fair, and posed with them for a few pictures, most of them containing way more FDR-era nudity.
"Any of you ladies want to go to space? Because that's totally where I'm from."
#10. Time-Skipping Bounty Hunter
This guy looks like he's about to storm a hive of bees and assassinate their queen, or collect a bounty on Jackson Pollock.
In reality, that second joke isn't far from the truth -- the man in the picture is about to engage in bloodless dueling, essentially the precursor to paintball.
Although the battlegrounds were designed with somewhat less imagination.
It was popular in the early 20th century, and for some reason required everyone to dress like the futuristic guards from the Christian Bale movie Equilibrium:
#9. Pointy Two-Skull
There really isn't any imaginary explanation for this one that's weirder than the truth: This is a photo of the remains of the Two-Headed Boy of Bengal. It currently resides in the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of London, because when the boy's parents refused to donate his body after he died from a cobra bite at the age of 4, the English courageously dug him up and chopped his head off. For science.
Because let's be honest, no one is going to believe this nonsense.
#8. The Sphinx, as Seen in a Dystopian Future
This looks like the Great Sphinx of Giza got buried in the sand after the Mummy threw his angry-face sandstorm tantrum at Brendan Fraser in one of those movies. Or maybe it's what the Sphinx will look like a thousand years from now, after mankind is no longer around to maintain it.
It's actually the opposite of that -- this is just what the Sphinx used to look like, before excavators finished uncovering it in the early 20th century. Today it looks like this:
"Finally, some damn leg room."
Which could lead you to believe that the ancient wonder was in pristine condition when it was built 4,500 years ago, and has steadily degraded to its current state over the centuries. The reality is that it got completely buried in sand a few thousand years ago, and stayed that way until the 1800s:
"C'mon, guys. If we dig down a little bit further, there have to be boobs."
Multiple attempts at excavation and restoration have been undertaken over the last 35 centuries or so to turn it into something tourists would actually drive to see.
And sometimes dudes would just stop and have lunch on it.