Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Debunking the Debunking: 20 Greatest Myths of History?

Posted by Alan Childress

I am big into myths and hoaxes, and looking forward to the Clifford Irving biopic movie.  He would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids!   Because I already posted on debunking legal myths and those infamous passed-on chain emails suggesting someone won a big verdict for getting coffee in the back of an RV while it crashed etc. -- as well as on email hoaxes of medical and472087_george_washington health news -- I felt duty bound to post a link to this blog post (HT to Electronic Ephemera) purporting to detail and debunk the 20 greatest historical legends that are not true.  Number one is supposedly that George Washington was not our first President of the United States.  Not Prez #1?  Apparently he would be more appropriate for the 15 dollar bill.

But the true entertainment is in the 115 (!) and counting angry comments following the post, which blast the writer for being wrong most of the time in all sorts of ways, as well as another guy's blog post refuting the original list item by item.  Some of the other commenters provide persuasive reasons why some of the myths are indeed wrong, but not for the reasons cited by the 368000_historical_show_1original poster (e.g., the proper date for U.S. independence). 

I am, however, intrigued by the possibility that Napoleon was actually taller than me, which may serve as some distinction when 1Ls make their complex analogy on my Torts student evaluations.  Maybe they mean I have stomach problems.  Anyway, the original top-20 list got picked up by Digg for its requisite 15 minutes of spam, but says one arch debunker, "I don’t know why, since everyone in the blog’s comments and on Digg is maligning it, and rightfully so."

I do wish that someone would compile a list debunking the most common and pervasive legal history577438_spilled_milk_2 myths.  Unrelated, I once enjoyed a thorough law review article arguing in detail why footnote 3, not 4, of Carolene Products should have been the foundation for modern Equal Protection law.  Footnote 3 deals with the butterfat content in various forms of milk and milk products.  It was a great article.

More on hoax:  Here is a list of the ten greatest college pranks and hoaxes of all time.  Certainly Caltech has the best one, in the 1961 Rose Bowl.  Worthy of George Clooney himself.


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