History! For many of you, it was probably the second most boring class in school -- beaten only by math. If you didn't have a satisfying history education, it's not because the past was boring. Your teachers -- and generations of their predecessors -- have conspired for years to keep all the REALLY fun stuff out of your textbooks. It's total bullshit, and Cracked has spent years fighting to bring the balls-out insanity of our shared past to light. Collected below are the craziest examples of hidden history we've found so far. It's time to get re-educated.
#44. Ancient Christians Weren't Biblical Literalists
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Ah, creationism! The age-old belief that everything in the Bible is literal, up to and especially Genesis. Its believers insist that God created the world literally in seven days, about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. As such, things that don't fit the idea -- like evolution and dinosaur bones and tons of scientific proof -- can freely and vigorously suck it.
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"You're just putting random bones together to make random bullshit. I can do that with LEGOs."
The rabid anti-evolutionary school of religious thought that most people picture when they think of creationism is actually a recent and radical subset called Young Earth Creationism. Based on a long-standing fringe theory about the Earth being merely a few thousand years old, the idea of a "young Earth" was popularized in the early 20th century by a man called George McCready Price, a Canadian wannabe geologist and anti-evolutionist who made up for his total lack of scientific training with an unbridled enthusiasm for ignorance. Seriously, he was proud of the fact that he never caught "the disease of Universityitis."
Even in ancient times, Christian scholars didn't buy that bunk. Take St. Augustine of Hippo, who was extremely clear that no one should view the Book of Genesis as a documentary. St. Augustine, it should be mentioned, lived in the 5th century. For centuries, it was understood that the Genesis was an allegory: The "days" of creation weren't actual 24-hour periods, but metaphors for a really long time, which in the eyes of an eternal, omnipotent, time-transcendent God just seemed like an average work week. That's not just the stance of one surprisingly progressive Hippo; this very view was and remains the Vatican's (and therefore the Catholic Church's) official stance on the subject.
#43. If the Nazis Had Just _________, Germany Would Have Won the War
Just about everybody.
The idea is that Nazi Germany was a military juggernaut for a brief period in the '40s, and that the entire planet would have collapsed if it wasn't for one or two minor blunders.
If only he remembered to put oxygen in that helmet ...
Why It's Bullshit:
To say that Hitler sleeping late decided the war ignores the fact that he needed supernatural good luck to do as well as he did in the first place. For instance, it was blind luck that he avoided assassination in 1938, before he could even get his war plans off the ground. And it's a pretty safe bet he never would have gotten very far if his father hadn't changed his name from the far less catchy Schicklgruber.
But the major reason Hitler was never this close to making your grandparents goose-step through Times Square: the Soviet Union. Today, it's widely believed that Hitler's, or really anyone's, chances of winning a war against the Soviet Union were on par with a snowball in a cage match with a chainsaw-wielding Mike Tyson in hell.
What 11 time zones of Joseph Stalin looks like.
Yes, Hitler plowed through Europe and had the U.K. on the ropes, and could have done more. It didn't matter. Stalin was waiting on the other side, and Hitler was never going to win that war. It was just a matter of how much of Europe he would control at the moment Stalin eventually crushed him.
But had it been through a nuclear bombardment of Berlin or through a continued war of attrition, Stalin was going to be in the winner's corner of WWII, no matter what.
Behind all those trucks is a battalion of motorcycles to ramp them.
If all of this makes it sound like we think Hitler was kind of an idiot, well, that brings us to our next myth ...
#42. Albert Einstein Had Most of His Big Ideas at 26
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If you don't know who Albert Einstein is, we're afraid we really can't help you. Who doesn't know the famed 16-time bobsled champion and world-renowned professional wrestler?
To say nothing of his three consecutive spelling bee titles.
But that's not what we're here to talk about today. Right now, we're more about Einstein's more boring endeavors -- namely, the theories of general and special relativity that cemented his reputation as one of the most brilliant minds in history. Now, because every single photo you've ever seen of Einstein looks like the above -- wild white hair, gray mustache, lines around his eyes -- you have to assume all of that work was the culmination of a long life spent doing math stuff. But he came up with all of that shit when he was just 26. That is, right around the time when many of us are realizing our hip-hop career probably isn't going to take off.
The year was 1905, and Albert had just completed his thesis at the University of Zurich, and found employment as a patent examiner, because, fuck you, a paycheck is a paycheck. Being a deeply inquisitive young man, he used his off hours to dabble on theories on physics and matter. You know, every 20-something needs a hobby. But where we lovingly draft fanfic erotica featuring Betty Rubble and Mogo the Living Planet, his after-work endeavors actually plopped out a total of four theories that would become the bulk of his -- and modern science's -- legacy.
He also invented a car door lock that still opens if someone lifts the handle; but, unfortunately, it was lost to the ages.
He started his streak in January and February, casually proving Newton wrong and saying that space and time are not absolute, thus coining the theory of special relativity. In March, Einstein came up with quantum theory, a.k.a. the one about light being all about tiny particles that would eventually become known as photons. Finally, between April and May, he published a couple of papers that proved the thus far impossible-to-verify existence of the atom.
At that point, most of us would have whipped out our sunglasses and ridden into the sunset. Einstein, on the other hand, just pushed on, adding more layers to his theories about light and, finally, creating a little formula regarding the equivalence of energy and matter that you might have heard about:
As made famous by the Animaniacs.
For no-shit-related reasons, the year is now known in physics circles as Annus mirabilis, the Miracle Year. But really, the most impressive thing about it was that Einstein somehow managed to pull this all off at an age, when most of us still can't say with any certainty what we want to be when we grow up.
#41. America Never Went 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 6 million listeners that night. In any group of 6 million people, you'll find a certain number of them doing stupid things anyway, probably because they're stoned.
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.