Bullshit history that turned out to be true

Have there been times when old sources make claims about history that everybody knew were totally made up nonsense, until they weren’t?

Well, there was the discovery of Homeric Troy by Charles Maclaren, the Calvert family, and most famously Heinrich Schliemann. Prior to that, Troy was assumed by most scholars to be completely mythological.


There was the “urban legend” about the Newlywed Game contestant who answered “where is the weirdest place you’ve ever made whoopee” with “That would be in the butt, Bob” … which turned out to not be an urban legend. (At most, it was a not quite verbatim recollection of how she phrased it, but clearly the footage is of the event that people recalled).

Dingos really did eat her baby.

I hate to bring this up, as its not proven as real at all yet and its still a source of serious racist feelings and promulgated by an administration bent on telling lies…but…

It might really be possible that Covid-19 originated in the Wuhan lab.

I’ve personally gone from; “That’s Bullshit” to “I don’t know”…and it might actually be true

I don’t think this is the part that is controversial. The part that is controversial is whether it was created as a bio-weapon or not; the other controversial part is whether the outbreak in the lab was covered up in a way that allowed the disease to spread to the populace at large before any attempt was made to control it. Either of those, if true, would be grounds for resentment and anger from the whole world. But the proper target of that would not be a race, but a system of government that encouraged or allowed that to happen.

If the outbreak was in the lab but was accidental, and if they really did everything they were aware of to try to control it (and had no idea how easily it would spread) then there is probably little or no legitimate beef with the government of China. And none at all with Chinese/East Asian people as a cultural or racial group.

A few short months ago, it certainly was controversial. And even now, I’m sure people are convinced that this is still clearly one of Trump’s lies. I was. Now, I’m not so sure.

Just so I’m clear Roderick. Do you accept that the origin was clearly from the lab and not a natural source? And that the only question was the purpose of the research and coverup? I’ve not yet accepted the lab theory yet and I may never.

Vikings came to the Americas before Columbus.

The Sagas of the Icelanders documented expeditions to “Vinland” c. 1000 AD. After Columbus’ voyages, it was pretty widely believed in Scandinavia that “Vinland” was in North America. However, scholars in the rest of Europe largely discounted these accounts as confabulations.

Then, in the 1960s, archaeologists uncovered the famed Viking-era settlement at L’Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland.

I thought it has been established that Covid is not a bioweapon. Near as I can gather genticists can detect if some virus or bacteria has been genetically tampered with and that is not the case here. Perhaps the lab in Wuhan was studying Covid but they did not engineer Covid.

Of course, one could then say it is all a cover-up but as a great man once said, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” (Carl Sagan)

Perhaps I’m stretching the definition of “history” here… but it turns out it’s not just your overactive imagination that the west coast of Africa and the east coast of South America look like they fit together.

No, I neither accept nor reject it. I am not an expert in such things by far, but even if it originated in the lab, it still could have been a natural case of a disease crossing from one species to another. My point was that this by itself is not cause for condemnation, if the research had a legitimate purpose.

I only mentioned these because I have heard them put forward as charges by people who have an anti-Chinese agenda. I am not proposing either of them as fact. They really only deserve a place in this thread if they are ever proved to be true – which they have not been

I forget which book I read it in but when the idea of plate tectonics was just starting there was a lot of pushback. One of the things that helped the theory was finding rocks on the east coast of the US that the only other place they existed was in Morocco (NW coast of Africa).

The 1983 Atari Game Burial was something that was a rumor and believed to be bullshit for the longest time.

Basically the Great Video Game Crash of 1983 caused Atari to lose a ton of money, and it was rumored they buried in a giant landfill millions of unsold new in box video games including infamously the worst video game of all time, E.T. for the Atari 2600. The reason people believed it was bullshit was because Atari claimed they were only burying already destroyed material not brand new video games, and the only direct sources were news articles written after the burial, so it was just called a rumor up until 2014.

In 2014 a documentary was made where a group did their research and excavated the landfill and wound up finding something like 14,000 cartridges before stopping excavation having proven that it actually happened.

The discovery of Richard III’s burial place in a Leicestershire car park. The archaeologists were expecting to find the remains of a Franciscan Friary. Philippa Langley of the Richard III society believed it to be the burial place of Richard III. She wasn’t taken very seriously. Channel IV had commissioned a documentary but in the earlier scenes it is clear from the rather jokey delivery of the presenter that it was intended to be one of those eccentric British people pieces. Then they took a good look at the skeleton they found on the first day and suddenly it wasn’t.

Nice article here on people whose lives were changed by the discovery

It was finding the ocean ridges and then magnetic seafloor striping that really sealed the deal. All of which required the oceanography that only started post-WWII.

For me, it was the rediscovery of Zimbabwe and Mapungubwe and other medieval Southern African kingdoms like that, which really were those lost African kingdoms of gold that Rider Haggard and the like wrote about.

The way I’ve heard it is that, ironically, the Odyssey is more historically accurate than Homer himself.

ETA. What I meant is that I’ve heard it’s more likely that Odysseus was real than that Homer was real.

There’s a youtuber named Simon Whistler that has like a dozen youtube channels (Today I Learned, TopTenz, Biographics, Megaprojects etc). I’m almost positive he’s done a video on this subject.

I’m never quite sure about how to parse these claims. The Iliad and the Odyssey exist, and so therefore someone must have written them. Even if the author didn’t personally go by the name “Homer” (or whatever the Greek equivalent of that is), that would just mean that Homer was a pseudonym, and that “Homer” existed just as truly as “Mark Twain” did. At most, you could argue that the Iliad and the Odyssey were written by two different individuals, but then we’d just say that one of them (presumably the Iliad, the first of the two) was written by “Homer”, and the other was written by someone else.

Whistler’s channels are all YouTube clickbait.

Entertaining nuggets at best.

Like a puddle. Wide but shallow.

The way I’ve heard it put is “The Iliad and the Odyssey were written by Homer, or if not Homer, someone else of the same name.”