Bullshit history that turned out to be true

Should also mention the very advanced Mayan civilization with a large population, which collapsed several centuries before the conquistadors arrived.

Everything I’ve read about the Iroquois and their extensive political organization makes no mention of a pandemic collapse in the century or so prior, after the white man arrived.

I suspect that, between “we did no harm” and “we killed 95% of the natives” - the truth lies somewhere in between.

Chaplin and Lucille ball were found to be spies?

In any case, once McCarthy and supporters decided to go after the Eisenhower administration and the military, it became clear that while there were communists and spies, there was also the realization that the overreach was worse than bullshit, it was an abuse of power. Regardless if some were indeed guilty.

One history that was declared to be just a legend (or bullshit as the thread puts it) was the case of the Angel Glow during the Civil War.

One of my favourite stories concerns “angel glow”. Reports of this particular phenomenon can be found from as far back as the U.S. Civil War and World War I, with reports of a mysterious blue glow in the open wounds of some injured soldiers. Why Angel Glow? Because these soldiers were less likely to suffer from infections often leading to sepsis and death, hence the “angel,” and at night their wounds glowed an angelic luminescent blue, accounting for the ‘glow’. In a time before the easy identification of microbial life it was much easier to label the blue healing glow divine intervention but of course there was more to the story.

The wounds of the soldiers healed faster and without infection because of this anti-microbial cocktail. The best thing about this unusual interaction is that both Photorhabdus and Xenorhabdus spp. are not very infectious to humans. So they keep the wound clean, then are promptly cleared by the immune system. Having said that, infections with these bacteria do occur and generally result in localised ulceration and require prior skin breakage to gain entry.

But we still haven’t covered why they glow. Research seems to indicate that this is a baiting mechanism used to tempt new prey. Individual bacteria do glow but are not terribly luminescent, but, during the hollowing out of the insect larvae the bacteria reach sufficient concentrations to produce a visible glow that is thought to attract nearby larvae making the next meal attracted to the carcass of the last.

One historical tragedy to notice: If there had been enough knowledge and advances and someone looking why this was healing people, it would have been in the US that antibiotics would have been discovered. Decades before Paul Ehrlich or Fleming. As it was, angels remained the best explanation then.

As I said, there are long sections of the African coast that are uninhabited today, when the population of Africa is, what, 10x, 20x, 50x ? what it was 2,500 years ago.

As far as I’m concerned, he’s a spammer.

Lack of records is the big problem here. I’ve gone down a minor rabbit hole on this and discovered Eudoxos of Cyzicus, ancient explorer.

He seems to have opened up the Indo-European trade @GreenWyvern mentioned, being the first to sail the monsoon system to India. (Although trade in volume didn’t really get going till Roman times.) But also: he was blown south on a return trip, ending up on the African coastline where he found a wrecked ship which he believed came from Gades (modern Cadiz). Inspired by this, he set out to retrace their steps, sailing anti-clockwise round Africa from Spain. The first voyage failed and they turned back. There was a second voyage - we don’t know what happened, annoyingly.

There was also Hanno of Carthage, who also set off anti-clockwise and had to turn back at some point, but the surviving account is unclear: some interpretations say he got to modern Gambia, others that he didn’t get much past modern Morocco.

So that’s five recorded attempts available by easy Googling:

  1. Herodotus’ Phoenicians made it round
  2. The wrecked Gadetans Eudoxos found did not make it
  3. Eudoxos 1st expedition failed
  4. Eudoxos 2nd expedition…???
  5. Hanno’s expedition failed

As you say, that’s not going to be a complete record of attempts so no firm conclusions but it’s probably also worth factoring in that ships were expensive so we wouldn’t expect large numbers of failed expeditions because at some (quite early, I’d guess) point, people would start muttering about throwing good money away after bad. So even the failed expeditions would need to show enough promise to justify the next.

You’re right, but it’s interesting to wonder why. Early contact with India led to large volume trade; why did at least five voyages not produce enough of interest to pursue? Hard to believe that there was nothing the Med and the south-east coast of Africa had to trade with one another but for some reason it didn’t get going.

Southern Africa did not have ironworking or agriculture when Phoenician explorers may or may not have circumnavigated it. It wasn’t unpopulated, but not by anyone who would have had produce to trade with the Phoenicians.

Me, I’m on the fence about Hanno etc., but am pretty sure the Egyptians etc weren’t completely ignorant of the Southern Hemisphere, because the East African coast has always been pretty populated, and Kush was very developed, so getting down to around Tanzania would not have been some miracle of seamanship or even just land trade and even absent that, some trade northwards would still have happened.

Climate zone changes mean that large parts of SW South Africa are unsuitable for growing the crops that Bantu people brought with them from Central Africa, so there was historically, pre-colonial times, a very clear line where grain farming ended and only pastoral agriculture was practiced.

They were not uninhabited, but they were uninhabited by crop farmers. At the time we’re talking about, they weren’t even inhabited by pastoralists, who only arrived later (around the start of the first millennium). Just hunter-gatherers, who don’t have surpluses to trade.

Several centuries before the European conquistadors arrived, at least. The fall of the Mayan civilization was probably due mostly to conquest by the Aztecs. White people don’t have a monopoly on brutal warfare.

Am i wrong assuming part of this is a reference to 1200 mile long coast where the Namib Desert is?

No, I’m referring to the Western Cape, which is a winter rainfall area, unlike the summer rainfall areas of the Eastern and North-Eastern parts of South Africa. But in no way a desert.

You might want to check the timing on when the Classic Mayan “Collapse” happened, vs the Aztecs even existing.

Re Phoenicians growing wheat on their trip round Africa, see:

Wheat production and breeding in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) produced a total of 7.5 MT on a total area of 2.9 Mha [in 2017]

The most important wheat producing countries in SSA are Ethiopia, South Africa, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Zambia in descending order. Ethiopia accounts for the largest production area (1.7 Mha) followed by South Africa (0.5 Mha).

Even Angola and Mozambique grow wheat.

It seems plausible that a ship with a crew of 20-30 (?) could find a quiet spot near the coast of any of these countries and grow a few acres of wheat for themselves.

Indeed, it’s hard to find anyone at all who was formally accused in the 1950s, by Congress or a court, of espionage or of belonging to the Communist Party specifically, who wasn’t later shown, by their own admission or declassified evidence, to be guilty of exactly what they were accused of.

Ball was never formally accused. She did briefly register as a Communist.

The point was that they were not spies, as I said that one being a communist in America was not equal to being a spy or traitor, that bit is what the abuse of power was referring to. The livelihoods of many were ruined just because abusers of power decided to demonize ideology rather than just the evil that was to betray a nation.

When those abusers of power decided to bite the ones with liberal views (not communists even) in the Administration and the army is that then everybody did notice that the effort was doing more harm than good to America.

No one said they were spies. Nor were they formally accused of being spies.

Just because someone was questioned by the HUAC does not = “formally accused”.

Uh, the other poster did: he said that the left in America had the mantra that “communist spying didn’t exist” That was indeed the main argument that was done then by guys like McCarthy, communist = traitor = spy.

Again the point was about the abuse of power and the dismissal of rights that Guys like McCarthy and others were involved, that they did find a few that were traitors to America does not eliminate the fact that they shredded the American constitution while doing so. What it has to be noted is that nowadays people like the Rosembergs (the husband) would have been in prison for a long time, and chances are that the wife would have a lesser sentence when the ideological scare of the day was not there.

Not history, but science – although other examples have already been cited.

Continental drift has a long history of people observing how well the continents fit together like a jigsaw puzzle before Alfred Wegener came along and gave it a name and possible mechanism. The theory was rejected for about forty years, until evidence for a plausible mechanism surfaced.

Also mentioned in post #12

Incidentally, what is bullshit still is the cousin of the flat earth idea, the expanding earth.

There are “expanders” who think that the continent’s shapes are complimentary as a result of the earth expanding.

Lucille Ball did in fact belong to the Communist Party. You can see the membership card she signed online.

Chaplin was in hot water with HUAC because he was in fact a communist and was listed as such by former associates; whether he was a big-C is perhaps debatable, but this is the sort of thing the committee investigated. The investigation uncovered his predilection for serially impregnating teenagers and several laws he had violated in doing so. This all took place in the Martin Dies era and culminated before McCarthy became prominent. I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for his subsequent barring from the U.S. as an undesirable alien. Living out his life free and wealthy in England and Switzerland was better than doing so in a U.S. prison, which very well could have happened.

One can condemn the excesses of McCarthyism (as I did in my original post) while still recognizing that the essence of the original accusations - that the State Department and entertainment industry were absolutely riddled with people who belonged to the Moscow-controlled Communist Party and were taking orders from Stalin’s regime to commit espionage and spread pro-Soviet propaganda in the U.S. - were 100% true, and that many people who vigorously denied this truth made absolutely no change to their accounting of what happened in the 1950s and why after the evidence came out in the 1990s.