When initial reports made goofs that stuck ever after

Dan Cooper—a subject recently revisited—in the swirl of breaking news, got erroneously reported in the media as “D. B. Cooper,” who was someone else entirely, picked out of a phone book. Even though the error is always explained, the “D. B.” seems indelibly ingrained in the public’s minds.

Australia’s Tamam Shud guy—the initial news report of him printed a typo of the Persian phrase for ‘it is finished’ (تمام شد), and ever since then, he’s always under the heading of “Taman” Shud, which would be Persian for ‘it became calm’ (طةأن شد) if anything. An obvious typo, not surprising considering how few Australian typesetters happened to know Persian. Even though people interested enough to read about the mystery will learn the correct spelling, the typo has stuck firmly.

There have got to be more examples like this? There are lots of cases where breaking news got something wrong, but soon afterward the truth was established. I’m looking for initial errors that persist for many years, even despite later corrections.

Speaking of typos, I was trying to type “طمأن شد” but missed the edit window.

Since the newspaper was Australian, it may be possible that from Indonesia they’d come across the common Malay word taman meaning ‘garden’, which is used in various place names, and subconsciously remembered that. Just a guess.

General (and later President) Ulysses S. Grant’s name is a misnomer, as he was born Hiram Ulysses Grant. When he was nominated into West Point, the U.S. military academy, his name was erroneously given as Ulysses Simpson Grant. He just went with it.

Also, it is common knowledge that spinach is a great source of iron. The proof? A typo in a study done in the 1870s, which put the decimal point in the wrong place. In fact, spinach has about as much iron as a leafy green vegetable could expect.

So Popeye got it all wrong then… Or did he?

It seems that the decimal point typo is a myth and Popeye ate spinach for the vitamin A.

When Jayne Mansfield was killed in a car accident, the top of the car had been sheared off, responders found blonde hair tangled up in the wreckage, and thought she had been decapitated. In fact, the tangled hair was a wig, and Mansfield’s head was still firmly attached to her body. That hasn’t stopped people from still believing the original reports.

Everyone knows the ‘tongue tastebud map’, with its clearly defined areas for sweet, salty, sour and bitter receptors. It was ‘invented’ by researchers looking at a study done in 1901 by a German scientist, and misinterpreting the results.

In fact, the tastebud map was pretty much debunked by the 1930s. Nevertheless, it was still accepted (still is by some people), and I certainly did the ‘touch different parts of the tongue with a cotton bud dipped in various tasting substances’ at school in the 70s. No wonder it didn’t work for me (I thought I had a faulty tongue!).

Your tastebuds are scattered all over your tongue (and mouth), with the different receptors found everywhere.

Carrots improve your eyesight.

I don’t think this counts. It’s not based on a news report but rather the result of deliberate propaganda from the RAF in WWII.

Everybody “knows” the normal human body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Except that this is unduly precise (the 19th-century study the figure came from gave the temperature in Celsius, rounded to the nearest whole degree); and there have been more accurate studies since then that place the average at more like 98.2; and what’s actually normal varies from person to person (and time to time).

urban legend says Mama Cass choked to death on a sandwich. She actually died of heart failure in her sleep.

Trivia - 4 years later in 78 Keith Moon died in the same London apartment.

Intial reports of Elvis Presley’s death had paramedics finding him sitting on his toilet when he died which has lead to decades of jokes. In actuality, he was sitting on the toilet priot to his death, then had massive chest pains which caused him to get up and then collapse on his bathroom floor in a fetal position as he died.

sopranos had a guy die on the toilet , I wonder if they did that based on the elvis story.

Lots of people die on a toilet, though. Straining to have a bowel movement can cause fatal cerebral hemorrhages and equally fatal cardiac arrhythmias.

:eek: Eat your vegetables, folks.

Qadgop, not that I disbelieve you, but do you have a cite for how common it is?

How about the “streak of light” up to TWA 800? Not sure if that would count or not.

Not sure how common, but it’s a well-documented phenomenon. Here’s some info, including frequency.

Consider this article: Commode Cardia—Death by Valsalva Maneuver: A Case Series

Conspiracy theorists pitch their tents on confused initial reports, because it lends their nonsense a legitimacy it wouldn’t otherwise have to be able to say “Real news media say this! The news said it! I’m just reporting the news!” even though they proceed to not report anything the news said after those first few moments, or anything people who were there at the time said.

Because apparently, an organization which can commit a huge crime and get away with it can’t control the news about the crime from the first moment, but can control it completely thereafter.

It’s part of the larger practice of anomaly-hunting, or trying to find flaws by ignoring all evidence except that which you can nitpick and find fault with. It seems like actual research, in that they can produce prodigious documents full of supposed flaws in things people actually said, but poke too hard at their prodding and it falls down into a mass of misunderstandings, taking confusion as gospel, and outright lying about what people said or did.

This sarcastic list has a few specific examples of this from 9/11 Troofers although they certainly didn’t invent it.

That the vietnam war ended in January 27, 1973 with south vietnam protected ?

Watergate scandal was far far beyond the Watergate buildings, and so should be called “the Nixon scandal”. We know what Richard Nixon did… So in a way the initial report of the Watergate scandal has erronesously and misleadingly stuck to label the whole scandal. People still ask what the name Watergate applied to. As if that was it.
Nixon recorded anyone anywhere.

You certainly have that about Dr Charles Drew, who improved blood plasma transfusions, dying because of segregation laws that refused him service. It is cited in a “MASH” episode and apparently still cited today. Yet as the Master pointed out in 1989, Dr Drew received the best care possible and was only refused a transfusion because his injuries made it so a transfusion would just kill him quicker. Sadly, his injuries were too severe