Professor Buzzkill

By Joseph Coohill

On Going since Apr 2015 • Updated monthly

Professor Buzzkill is an exciting new blog & podcast that explores history myths in an illuminating, entertaining, and humorous way

All Episodes

  Direct Link   Download 45 Minutes 17 Sep 2019

We continue our discussion with Dr. Andrew Ramey from Carnegie Mellon University about the long history of climate change science. The study of climate change grew rapidly in the 20th century, almost as quickly as climate change itself started to affect the earth dramatically. By the 1970s, however, countervailing forces (including the fossil fuel industry) moved into the scientific debate and started well-funded political campaigns to stop any effective governmental action to reduce climate change. Just at the time when the scientific evidence was undeniable and compelling, politics got in the way.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 24 Minutes 13 Sep 2019

The tragic story of the ship "Marie Celeste" has been told for over a hundred years. And the tale gets wilder and wilder every time. On December 5, 1872, the vessel was found drifting in the Atlantic Ocean about 1,400 miles west of Portugal. The crew and passengers were gone, but the ship was in near perfect condition, with all her lifeboats intact, and all the supplies, clothing, and provisions for her occupants intact. It was as if the people had evaporated. What happened? Find out, and also learn what the "Marie Celeste" tells us about how historical myths and misconceptions start and spread!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 36 Minutes 10 Sep 2019

Climate change is a much older subject than is commonly assumed. As early as 1750, Enlightenment thinkers such as David Hume and Thomas Jefferson analyzed and wrote about the role that human activity played in climate change. French scientist, Joseph Fourier discovered the greenhouse effect in the 1820s. So, the study of climate change did not come from a bunch of hippies in the 1970s! Dr. Andrew Ramey from Carnegie Mellon University joins us to explain the early history of climate change research, and we dispel a lot of climate change myths along the way!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 53 Minutes 03 Sep 2019

Myths about Poland during World War II are everywhere. Professor Philip Nash and I destroy some of the biggest ones in this episode. They include: Polish cavalry going up against Nazi tanks, and the story that Poland fell quickly and easily. Not only that, the overall Polish contribution to Allied victory in Europe is generally unknown and overlooked. Listen to us explain it all.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 31 Minutes 29 Aug 2019

Becoming a citizen by being born in a country is an topic that flares up whenever there are controversies about immigration and immigrants. This episode explains birthright citizenship and how it developed in the United States and the western hemisphere. And, of course, it explains the complicated history of the tradition, especially how it was applied to Native Americans and freed slaves. It wasn’t as simple as you might have thought. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 28 Aug 2019

One of the most common Einstein No Quotes you see coursing around the internet is: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Sometimes the mis-quote-meisters add “so is a lot,” to this pithy quote saying about knowledge, and we end up with “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot.” It’s probably the type of thing Einstein would say, but did he ever actually say it? Find out in this episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 31 Minutes 23 Aug 2019

In this Flashback Friday Episode, journalist Mary Pilon joins the Professor to discuss the history of the game Monopoly and its wonderful twists, turns, complications, and lawsuits! It all starts during The Depression and doesn't stop until the 21st Century! Make sure to listen, and tell a playing partner about the show!!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 6 Minutes 21 Aug 2019

When asked about being drafted for the Vietnam War, Muhammad Ali is often quoted as saying, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong." This was immediately followed by the now-more-famous quote, “No Viet Cong ever called me n*****,” in a one-two punch of defiance. Ali's "quote" summarized in one glaring sentence the idea that oppression against African-Americans started at home, in the United States, and that, as he saw it, African-Americans were being drafted to fight the wrong fight, against the wrong people. It's one of the most famous sayings from the Vietnam war protest period, but did Ali actually say that phrase, or, more to the point, did Ali coin it? Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 11 Minutes 19 Aug 2019

One of the Republic of India’s Founding Fathers, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is not as well-known outside India as he should be. This Man Crush Monday is the brief story of his life and career, as perhaps the man most responsible for the unification of India between 1947 and 1950. And you’ll also learn why the tallest (that’s right, the tallest) statue in the world is of him.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 46 Minutes 15 Aug 2019

Douglas MacArthur is one of the most famous and celebrated generals in American history. Along with Patton, however, he’s one of the most misunderstood and most mythologized. Born in the 19th century, MacArthur served in both World Wars, the Korean War, and other, less extensive US military actions. Yet he is also considered another attention hound (like Patton), sometimes overly-dramatic, and often letting his over-inflated view of his own abilities and destiny get in the way of sound judgement. In this Throwback Thursday episode, the Professors look at his career from the end of World War II to his dismissal by Truman in 1951, and try to determine who was the real Douglas MacArthur.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 28 Minutes 13 Aug 2019

How did the National Rifle Association become one of the most controversial and divisive organizations in American history? It used to be a sportsmen’s group. Since the 1970s, however, it has taken a very strict view of the US Constitution’s Second Amendment and has gone to extremes in its defense of gun ownership. We explain how and why this happened, and dispel historical and cultural myths along the way.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 07 Aug 2019

There's a great quote and sentiment about sticking with a righteous movement for much-needed change, particularly when it's faced with a big, entrenched and powerful foe. That quote goes like this: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." It's often attributed to Gandhi. That's not very surprising. But we here at the Buzzkill Institute don't call him the Mahatma of Misquotation for nothing, and as we'll see in a couple of minutes, if you were forced to boil down one of Gandhi's very lengthy and sophisticated arguments to a bumper sticker slogan, the "First they ignore you…" saying would fit, more or less. Find out the full story in this episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 46 Minutes 01 Aug 2019

Douglas MacArthur is one of the most famous and celebrated generals in American history. Along with Patton, however, he’s one of the most misunderstood and most mythologized. Born in the 19th century, MacArthur served in both World Wars, the Korean War, and other, less extensive US military actions. Yet he is also considered another attention hound (like Patton), sometimes overly-dramatic, and often letting his over-inflated view of his own abilities and destiny get in the way of sound judgement. In this Throwback Thursday episode, the Professor looks at his early life and his career through World War II and tries to determine who was the real Douglas MacArthur.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 60 Minutes 30 Jul 2019

Japan’s defensive perimeter kept shrinking during 1944 and 1945, yet the war dragged on. The battles for Iwo Jima and Okinawa were as bloody and horrific as any others during the Pacific war. Strategic bombing of Japan increased, both from the Asian mainland, and from the Pacific side. Japan eventually surrendered in 1945, but we discuss why that was so complicated and difficult. And we bust the many myths surrounding the “unconditional surrender” of Japan. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 7 Minutes 29 Jul 2019

The Harry Truman “quote” about socialism being a Republican scare word is flying around the internet, in response to the over-heated rhetoric of American politics these days. But did “Buck Stops Here” Harry really say it? If so, when, where, and in what context. We explain all in this highly relevant Quote or No Quote episode. Don’t listen to the American news these days without listening to us first!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 263 Minutes 24 Jul 2019

"Give me liberty or give me death," Virginia patriot Patrick Henry was supposed to have said in a stirring speech before the American Revolution. We Buzzkill this quote and show that, like most "quotes," it was written decades after the event. Download Professor Buzzkill and download death to history myths!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 32 Minutes 23 Jul 2019

The brutality of World War II in the Pacific continued from Guadalcanal to the Aleutians, from China to the Solomon Islands, and was also a propaganda war at home in Japan and in Allied countries. Professor Nash comes back to tell us about these middle years in the Pacific War, and explain how the power balance shifted to the Allies, and yet why the fighting still took so long and why it was so bloody. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 47 Minutes 19 Jul 2019

It's time to go over the top, Buzzkillers! We interview Professor Richard Grayson about the wildly popular BBC television series, BlackAdder, and how close it is to historical reality. There are probably more myths about war than any other part of history, and Black Adder addressed many of them. Let's "go forth!" and see if they got their history right.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 39 Minutes 16 Jul 2019

Superstar historian, Professor Nash, joins us to talk about the opening years of American involvement in Pacific during World War II. From Pearl Harbor to Midway, it’s a brutal chess match across the Pacific - a chess match that includes massive battles, massive casualties, and massive war crimes. And that’d only through 1942! So this is Part 1 of our WWII in the Pacific series. Listen and learn.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 241 Minutes 11 Jul 2019

It's a great and heart-warming story, Buzzkillers, but meek and modest Betsy Ross did not design or sew the first American flag. The story itself follows the classic myth pattern, a second-hand family tale that caught on with a receptive public. Listen up as some young American Buzzkillers help set the record straight.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 262 Minutes 09 Jul 2019

The one thing that everyone knows about Marie Antoinette (Queen of France in the late 18th century) is that, when told that the peasants were starving because they had no bread, said, “then let them eat cake.” How cold is that, Buzzkillers? It’s Royal Arrogance of the First Order. She deserves some kind of medal for her sheer bravado. But did she actually say it? Listen and find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 36 Minutes 02 Jul 2019

Every July, American Buzzkillers get inundated with chain emails, Facebook posts, and Tweets that spread more myths about the Declaration of Independence. No matter how many times they’ve been disproved, the seem to crop up every year. John Hancock signing his name so large that “King George can read it without his spectacles.” And “The Price They Paid” -- the undying email myth about what happened to the signers of the Declaration. We explain these, and a lot more!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 26 Jun 2019

Mohandas K. Gandhi should also be known as the Mahatma of Misquotation. Did he ever say, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” as we read in so many inspirational tweets and messages? Listen as Professor Buzzkill delves into the origin of this quote in this flashback episode, avoiding snake bite and 1970s urban violence along the way .. . .

  Direct Link   Download 23 Minutes 25 Jun 2019

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  Direct Link   Download 35 Minutes 20 Jun 2019

Why did Woodrow Wilson get the rock star treatment in Paris in 1919? He arrived to help negotiate the Treaty of Versailles that was supposed to settle World War I. Did he deserve his rock star reputation? Did he get the treaty approved by the US Congress? How did the treaty finally get approved by the Europeans? What was its long term significance and its historical reputation and interpretations? We discuss all!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 39 Minutes 18 Jun 2019

How did World War I end, and what led to the Paris Peace Conference? How did the Conference proceed, how were the various national demands handled? What territorial changes resulted? And was it a purely European Conference? How did it affect other parts of the world? We discuss all these things and more!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 85 Minutes 14 Jun 2019

Professor Phil Nash explains how the myths and misconceptions about the Vietnam War started, grew, and have plagued our historical consciousness since the late 1950s. Among other things, the large number of myths about the Vietnam War shows us that our understanding of even relatively recent historical events can be twisted. From the "JFK wouldn't have Americanized the war" to the "POW-MIA" myth, the true history of American involvement in South-East Asia has often been obscured by myths and myth-making. It's one of our very best episodes, and we hope you find it enlightening.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 9 Minutes 12 Jun 2019

It’s June 12th! Loving Day! Loving Day is being celebrated world-wide. You might think that Loving Day is Valentine’s Day, February 14th, but it’s not, it’s today, June 12th. If you don’t know what Loving Day is, listen to the story we tell you in this brief, special episode. And go to lovingday.org to find out more!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 19 Minutes 11 Jun 2019

The Professor calls for social and fiscal revolution! Harriet Tubman’s portrait was supposed to replace Andrew Jackson’s on the US $20 bill, but that’s been delayed yet again. In this episode, we explain why change is actually the tradition in the history of American currency, and we insist on more change in the years to come! Of course, our suggestions for changed imagery and design are the best! Listen and join the movement!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 51 Minutes 07 Jun 2019

Professor Phil Nash explains the history of Vietnam in the 20th century, and the very complicated ways in which it was torn apart by war and civil war throughout the mid-century. Along the way, we learn about the deep complications in the history of the Vietnam War that have allowed myths and misconceptions to solidify. In particular, we talk about how post-World War II wars in Vietnam become Americanized. Finally, we discuss the impact of the war in the United States, as well as its impact in Vietnam itself. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 74 Minutes 06 Jun 2019

D-Day, June 6, 1944, is one of the most well-known events of World War II. Why did it happen the way it did and why did it succeed? Was it the turning point in the war in Europe? How many other military operations were going on at the same time in Europe that might explain victory in Europe? There are so many complications to the story that you need the Buzzkill Institute to help explain it all!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 36 Minutes 04 Jun 2019

Prof Craig Hammond joins us to discuss the violence used in maintaining slavery, both on the farm/plantation, and in broader society before the Civil War. The violence and terror inflicted on slaves is horrific by our 21st standards. Yet, slave-owners did not consider themselves sadistic torturers. But how did they justify the punishments inflicted on insubordinate slaves, or on slaves suspected of rebellion?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 10 Minutes 03 Jun 2019

Tommy Flowers was a very important British scientist and engineer during the first half of the 20th century. Not only did he do essential work in cracking secret German codes during World War II, he is usually credited with inventing (and building) the world’s first programmable electronic computer, the Colossus. He’s not as famous as Alan Turing, but he’s at least as important to history. Listen to our Man Crush Monday!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 62 Minutes 31 May 2019

We usually hear that surgery and medical treatment during the Civil War was backward butchery. But was it? Historian Nic Hoffman from Kennesaw State University tells us how complicated it really was. We discuss: medical care before the war; the shock of Civil War carnage and how medics initially reacted; and changes in medical treatment and surgery because of the War. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 25 Minutes 28 May 2019

Dr. Keri Leigh Merritt joins us to argue for a new documentary series about the US Civil War. It’s been nearly 30 years since PBS aired the famous series. We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of that classic series, as well as why PBS’s new series on Reconstruction might serve as a template for a new Civil War documentary. Dr. Merritt schools old Professor Buzzkill about the possibilities of new media and new media venues for dynamic historians. Listen and Learn! PBS’s Reconstruction Series may be found on-line at: https://www.pbs.org/show/reconstruction-america-after-civil-war/ Professor Merritt’s website is: kerileighmerritt.com. . .

  Direct Link   Download 47 Minutes 24 May 2019

In this Flashback Friday, the Professor interviews Professor Marcus Rediker about his book, Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist. Benjamin Lay was one of the most famous anti-slavery protesters in colonial Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. He agitated against slavery and the slave trade in very unusual ways, and was eventually kicked out of his church, the Quakers, for his actions. He was also one of the pioneers of political boycotting of certain consumer goods. Professor Rediker tells the story of one of the most interesting men of the early 18th century, and learn why he deserves more attention from historians!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 21 May 2019

“If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain” is always bandied about when discussing political differences, particularly during election season. But who said it, and what did they mean? Was it George Bernard Shaw, François Guizot, Benjamin Disraeli, Otto von Bismarck, or Mark Twain? Or perhaps it was that massive, rotund planet in the quotation universe -- Winston Churchill. Find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 41 Minutes 17 May 2019

FDR became governor of New York and later President for four terms despite having contracted polio. Professor Matthew Pressman from Seton Hall University joins us to discuss how the press and the American public were told about his disability, and how they reacted. We also learn how the Roosevelt campaign and administration tried to control public knowledge of FDR's condition by managing how information was obtained and used. We examine whether the famous "gentlemen's agreement" between the FDR administration and the press to suppress information about the president's condition was true. A fascinating episode about a complex historical issue.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 58 Minutes 14 May 2019

In this Encore Episode, Professor Marie Hicks joins PB to discuss the yummy history of computer dating. Did it start with Operation Match at Harvard? Or was it a young entrepreneur in London? What were their reasons for thinking that computers could match people better than people could match people? And was the early history of computer dating as neat and clean as a computer punch card? Perhaps not! If you don't want Professor Buzzkill to fill in your profile for you, you'd better give this episode a listen!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 7 Minutes 07 May 2019

It’s Tuesday, and this is a combined Man Crush Monday and Woman Crush Wednesday! Today we’re going to look at a couple, Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, who were a driving creative force behind perhaps the biggest popular music revolution in American history in the 1950s. Often called the first professional songwriters in Nashville, the Byants wrote songs for The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, and nearly every aspiring singing act of the 1950s.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 19 Minutes 03 May 2019

The "pizza effect" helps explain why assumptions about the history and development of certain cultural practices and traditions are among the strongest historical myths out there, how they are self-reinforcing, and how they can build up mistaken images and misunderstandings about cultural identity. Along the way, we'll learn about such things as the "pizza renaissance" in Italy, the "Hindu renaissance across India, the "Cornish pasty renaissance" in south-west England, and the "Clancy Brothers" or "traditional music renaissance" in Ireland! Listen and let it all sink in!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 29 Minutes 01 May 2019

Professor Colin Woodward joins us to discuss the importance of slavery in the minds of Confederate soldiers, as well as its effects on military policy and decision making. He tells us about the Rebels’ persistent belief in the need to defend slavery and deploy it militarily as the war raged on. Slavery proved essential to the Confederate war machine, and Rebels strove to protect it just as they did Southern cities, towns, and railroads. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 76 Minutes 30 Apr 2019

Today’s episode is special! It’s an interview I gave to Colin Woodward from the American Rambler podcast. Among other things, we talk about how I started doing the show, and about the nature of historical myths and how damaging they can be. Colin even drags a few personal things out of me! Lady Buzzkill will be horrified!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 12 Minutes 26 Apr 2019

Hitler storming out of the stadium after Jesse Owens won the 100-meter dash in the 1936 Berlin Olympics is one of most enduring images we have of the tumultuous history of Nazi Germany. Hitler famously “snubbed” Jesse Owens and all African-American athletes because of his ideas of Aryan racial superiority. But did it actually happen? And did it happen the way we usually think? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 10 Minutes 22 Apr 2019

Umrao Singh was one of thirty-one British Indian Army soldiers awarded the Victoria Cross during WWII, and was the only NCO in Royal Artillery or Royal Indian Artillery to receive a VC during WWII. On the night of 15-16 Dec 1944, Singh commanded a field gun detachment close to front. His defense of his position and his counter-attack on Japanese forces was heroic and has become legendary. But listen to our Man Crush Monday to get the full story!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 29 Minutes 19 Apr 2019

Practically nothing in the history of the United States has suffered from myth-making and misunderstanding as much as the history of race relations and racist violence. The history Ku Klux Klan is no exception. This is ironic. In its various incarnations, the KKK was supposed to be a secret organization. But historians know a great deal about it, and have analyzed it deeply. We explain the three periods of KKK, how each version of the Klan was different, but also how each version had one crucial thing in common -- hate. Listen, learn, and contemplate.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 56 Minutes 16 Apr 2019

Puerto Rican nationalists tried to assassinate President Harry Truman in 1950. Then, in 1954, different Puerto Rican Nationalists opened fire in the House of Representatives, wounding Congressmen. Professor Perry Blatz joins us to explain the background to Puerto Rican nationalism and its impact on US political life in the mid-20th century. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 51 Minutes 12 Apr 2019

Professor Marie Hicks joins us to talk about gender and employment in the emerging field of computing in Britain, and all the historical myths that surround them. In 1944, Britain led the world in electronic computing. By 1974, the British computer industry was all but extinct. We examine why this happened in the tense post-war world, as Britain was losing its role as a global leader and innovator. Professor Hicks calls this a story of gendered technocracy, and it undercut Britain's flexibility in the technology age. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 6 Minutes 09 Apr 2019

Many of you have written in to ask me to trace the origins of the phrase, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”. Was it Shakespeare, Voltaire, or Thomas Jefferson? Some of you have even seen it attributed to Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and that famous magnet for all quotations, Winston Churchill. Well, we explain it all in this Quote or No Quote episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 251 Minutes 05 Apr 2019

In the Academy Award-winning film, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Colonel Nicholson is portrayed as a man who willingly betrays his country and his men for an easier ride as prisoner of war. He collaborates with his captors in order to build a railway bridge that is key to Japan's war efforts in Burma and Thailand. While the men under his command are initially intent on sabotaging the bridge, Nicholson convinces them otherwise, ostensibly in order to maintain troop morale, and to show that British engineering is superior to that of the Japanese. The only problem, Dear Buzzkillers, is that the real commanding British Colonel on the River Kwai was was nothing like the character portrayed in the movie.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 31 Minutes 02 Apr 2019

Income tax is a troubling issue in American politics and history. We explain its long and complicated history, and delve into the even more complicated history of how personal income tax has related to the question of equality and inequality in US society. Professor Nash tells us how the American government has raised funds for peacetime needs and, of course, times of war. It’s not a simple tale of taxes rising as the country grew and the US government grew. Taxation is perhaps the most difficult thing to explain in American governmental history, but we make it easy to understand.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 62 Minutes 29 Mar 2019

Professor Jeremy Young joins us to discuss the Age of Charisma (1870-1940). It was an exciting period in US history: industrialization was in high gear; railroads and telegraph lines were spreading widely; mass media was born; and increased concentration on charisma, magnetism, and emotion in politics, religion, and social reform. Styles of public speaking changed and founded the phenomenon of personality politics.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 7 Minutes 27 Mar 2019

It’s a rare thing indeed to find someone in history who stands up and rebels against almost all the things she finds oppressive in society. Such a woman was Qiu Jin, the Chinese revolutionary whose short but dramatic life has led her to be called “China’s Joan of Arc.” She rebelled not only against the strictures placed on her as an individual, but also against the broader restrictions and repression against women in Chinese society in politics and society in the early 20th century. A great woman for a Woman Crush Wednesday!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 34 Minutes 22 Mar 2019

Meek and mild Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in 1950s Alabama because she was just tired after a long day at work. That’s mostly myth, and it obscures all the work that Mrs. Parks did, as well as over-simplifying the complicated politics of the civil rights movement. Join us as we interview Professor Jeanne Theoharis, author of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 77 Minutes 19 Mar 2019

Was Jesse James a famous “western outlaw” or is the story more complicated than that? Listen as Professor Nash takes us through James’ life and explains the centrality of the Civil War, and how the bitterness enhanced by the civil war motivated his post-war life of crime. And how about Jesse James as a modern-day Robin Hood? We explore that myth and how the celebration of Frank and Jesse James has been based on hype, hatred, and histrionics.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 9 Minutes 17 Mar 2019

What can possibly be wrong with St. Patrick’s Day? Not much, except that there’s very little historical basis behind stories about St. Patrick. And there’s certainly no historical basis for excess drinking, green beer, and the Chicago River turned green. Or is there? The Professor becomes more open minded right before our very ears!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 35 Minutes 15 Mar 2019

The Irish slaves myth claims that Irish people were enslaved by the British and sent to the Americas (especially the Caribbean) to work on plantations. This myth primarily appears in emails and Facebook posts, and goes like this: Irish people were enslaved in greater numbers than people enslaved from Africa, and treated worse than African slaves. Irish slave women were forcibly bred with African slaves in order to produce valuable mulatto children slaves. The history of Irish slaves has been buried by our politically-correct world, so the myth goes, and has been replaced by an over-emphasis on the enslavement of Africans in the New World. But is there any truth to it, Buzzkillers? Listen and learn.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 15 Minutes 12 Mar 2019

The Professor seems to want to make enemies in this episode. He shows that many things central to Irish culture and identity are actually British in origin -- St. Patrick, “the craic,” and “Danny Boy” come under his withering analytical gaze. But he may surprise you with the ultimate conclusions he reaches. Maybe he’s not that much of a buzzkill after all.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 66 Minutes 08 Mar 2019

Super Buzzkiller Prof Philip Nash joins us to examine some of the zillion myths surrounding Adolf Hitler and his early years. We discuss the myth of his brutal childhood and youthful poverty, the complicated story of his service in World War I (and the ways in which he wrote about it later in Mein Kampf), and the myths surrounding his early political career and political activism. It’s very deep and complicated, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 28 Minutes 05 Mar 2019

The “Non-Smoker” as a category of persons seems obvious in the 21st century. But it wasn’t always this way. Professor Sarah Milov gives the history of the non-smoking movement, including the medical, legal, and political battles that eventually led to smoke-free public places. Hear about pressure groups like GASP, ASH, and the countless local movements that helped clear the air.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 21 Minutes 01 Mar 2019

Huge numbers of listeners have flooded the Buzzkill Institute with emails, faxes, texts, and Tweets, asking about President Donald Trump’s Executive Orders. They’ve come so fast and furious! With a little help from Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan, we explain the nature and operation of Executive Orders, as well as the history behind this fascinating aspect of American history and government.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 43 Minutes 26 Feb 2019

20th century automobile travel was supposed to represent freedom, but what else did it represent? Professor Cotten Seiler from Dickinson College joins us to discuss the difficulties and hazards of traveling in the United States faced by African-American motorists in the 20th Century, especially during the height of segregation and Jim Crow. Specifically, we learn how important guides like the Negro Motorist Green Book and the popular Travelguide: Vacation and Recreation Without Humiliation were to the reality of “traveling while black.”. . .

  Direct Link   Download 13 Minutes 25 Feb 2019

Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis became known as the “savior of mothers” due to his pioneering work in antiseptic procedures during childbirth. His clinical and laboratory research proved that hand disinfection for doctors was essential in preventing infections and complications for mothers and newborn infants. Shunned and ridiculed by the medical establishment at the time, Semmelweis fought valiantly to have his new procedures adopted in delivery rooms and maternity wards. He was the pioneer of antiseptic treatment that Louis Pasteur and Thomas Lister later turned into standard medical practice.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 133 Minutes 22 Feb 2019

Did women’s rights protesters go so far as to burn their bras in public in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in the same way that anti-war protesters burned their draft cards? Well, no, Buzzkillers. They did throw them in “freedom trash cans,” along with girdles, high-heeled shoes, and cosmetics. Not as dramatic as burning them, but a whole more sensible, from a public safety point of view, wouldn’t you say?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 42 Minutes 20 Feb 2019

Why was Hitler’s fascist party named the “National-Socialist German Workers' Party”? “Socialist” and “Fascist” usually have totally different, indeed opposite, meanings. How did they get combined and what did the “National Socialist” label mean in the 1930s and 1940s? And why are democratic socialists nowadays tarred with the “Nazi” brush by the talk radio circus clowns? Professor Nash helps us understand it all. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 267 Minutes 15 Feb 2019

The blackout of November 1965 was a big event in the north-east of the United States and in Ontario. But did it result in an increase in babies born nine months later? When deprived of other “entertainments,” did people divert themselves with love? Snuggle up with the Professor, Buzzkillers, and hear the full story.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 250 Minutes 14 Feb 2019

Valentine’s Day is here again, Buzzkillers, and you can be certain that we’re depleting the Buzzkill bank account at a rapid clip so that we can give Lady Buzzkill all the best tokens of love and affection befitting her rank and station. And it’s always around this time of year that people ask me about St. Valentine. Did he really pass a heart-shaped note to an admirer and sign it “Your Valentine”? Was this the first Valentine’s Day card? Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 21 Minutes 12 Feb 2019

Border walls have long been a feature in history. But why were they built? Was it for protection, as imposing symbols, to regulate trade and migration? Did they work, and for how long? Despite what you may hear in contemporary political debates, the answers from history are murky and complicated. But listen as the Professor explains it all for you.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 8 Minutes 06 Feb 2019

Seeing a German soldier killing an infant in 1942 was a transformative moment for Irene Gut, a young Polish nurse. She dedicated the rest of her wartime life to rescuing and hiding Jews, despite the some of the most harrowing circumstances imaginable. Listen to Professor Nash explain the life of a woman who truly deserves to be called “Righteous Among the Nations.”. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 01 Feb 2019

It’s a story that drives tour guides and historians of engineering crazy. A worker falls into a pool of wet concrete that’s being poured as part of a major construction project. Before he can be saved, his body slips beneath the surface and he drowns in the thick soup of the concrete. It’s too difficult to extract the body and the construction bosses don’t want to stop the “concrete pour,” so he gets entombed in the concrete pillars of the bridge, or the concrete walls of the dam, or whatever it is they’re building. Were bosses that cold? Was the march of progress so heartless? Find out, Buzzkillers.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 31 Minutes 29 Jan 2019

Becoming a citizen by being born in a country is an topic that flares up whenever there are controversies about immigration and immigrants. This episode explains birthright citizenship and how it developed in the United States and the western hemisphere. And, of course, it explains the complicated history of the tradition, especially how it was applied to Native Americans and freed slaves. It wasn’t as simple as you might have thought. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 39 Minutes 25 Jan 2019

St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most popular saints in the Christian religion. He’s known as a lover of animals, the first eco-warrior, and a peace-negotiator during the crusades. How much of this is true, and how much is myth? “Make me the instrument of your buzzkilling!”. . .

  Direct Link   Download 26 Minutes 21 Jan 2019

After the Treaty of Paris ended the Seven Years’ War in 1763, British America stretched from Hudson Bay to the Florida Keys, from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River, and across new islands in the West Indies. To better rule these vast dominions, Britain set out to map its new territories with unprecedented rigor and precision. Max Edelson’s The New Map of Empire pictures the contested geography of the British Atlantic world and offers new explanations of the causes and consequences of Britain’s imperial ambitions in the generation before the American Revolution. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 18 Minutes 18 Jan 2019

Is Watergate the story of heroic journalists working against all odds and in great danger to get at the truth of presidential corruption? Is it more complicated than that? How accurate was All the President's Men? Who really brought the Nixon presidency down? Professor Buzzkill's new episode explains all!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 9 Minutes 14 Jan 2019

Listen to the FIRST Man Crush Monday episode (encore performance of episode #233): Professor Phil Nash joins us on our very first Man Crush Monday to tell us about the most important American Civil Rights leader that most people haven't heard of -- A. Philip Randolph, labor leader, and founder of the idea for a march on Washington. Randolph started his national career by organizing the first major African-American labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, in 1925. His pressured FDR to ban discrimination in defense industries in 1941, and Truman to end segregation in the armed forces in 1948. Perhaps most importantly, his plan for a March on Washington in 1941 set the precedent for the eventual 1963 March on Washington. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 46 Minutes 11 Jan 2019

Flashback Friday Episode! From 1876, when the first effective dynamo/generator that produced a steady current of electricity was invented, Americans reacted to this new phenomenon of electricity in many different ways. Professor Jennifer Lieberman is one of the first academics to study that reaction, especially how it appeared in popular literature, both fiction and non-fiction. And in doing so, she raises a lot of very important questions about our relationships with technology and the natural world. We interview her about the cultural reactions to electricity as a new technology is the topic of this episode. Listen and be electrified!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 25 Minutes 08 Jan 2019

Professor Sarah Milov explains the political and medical environments in which the 1964 US Surgeon General’s Report on dangers of smoking appeared in 1964. In addition to the medical and scientific concerns in producing the report, there were significant non-medical concerns and obstacles to overcome. One of the most significant of these was the political ways in which the Report was treated, both inside and outside the government. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 15 Minutes 31 Dec 2018

Should old acquaintance be forgot? What? Should we forget old friends? Should we sing about remembering them. What does Auld Lang Syne actually mean? Why do we sing it every New Year’s Eve? Join the Professor as he waxes lyrical and sentimentally about Auld Lang Syne, Scotland, and good auld Robert Burns!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 251 Minutes 30 Dec 2018

How did New Year’s Day end up in the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere (and the middle of summer in the southern hemisphere)? Wouldn’t a day in spring be more fitting? Find out how people celebrated New Years in past centuries and why things turned out the way they did.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 14 Minutes 28 Dec 2018

Did George Washington have a vision one evening at Valley Forge? Did an angel descend and tell General George about the future of the country, and give him the emotional stamina to carry on and win the Revolutionary War? Or is this Revolutionary-era story really a product of the 1860s? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 14 Minutes 21 Dec 2018

Was there special, secret meaning behind the lyrics in the famous Christmas song, The 12 Days of Christmas? Ten Lords a Leaping and Nine Ladies Dancing sounds like a pretty good party! But why wasn't Professor Buzzkill invited? We explain it all and wish all you Buzzkillers out there a happy holiday season!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 265 Minutes 18 Dec 2018

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, come and sit here by me,” is one of the best snarky-isms ever uttered. But who said it? Dorothy Parker? Joan Crawford? Lady Buzzkill? Hear the full story and learn what in the world Teddy Roosevelt, Nellie Taft, and Thomas Dewey have to do with it all? Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 44 Minutes 14 Dec 2018

The truce between the trenches in Christmas 1914 is one of the most famous stories from World War I. Was it one big truce across the whole Western Front? Or was it lots of little ceasefires? How did it happen, and what did the soldiers do during the Christmas Truce? Did they become friends for a day? Did they play football? Did they exchange cigarettes and pose for pictures? Professor Theresa Blom Crocker explains all!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 32 Minutes 11 Dec 2018

Professor Brian Balogh from the University of Virginia enlightens us about how historians have studied the US Presidency since the 1950s. It’s certainly had its ups and downs, and many historians abandoned the study of the presidency during the 1970s. Rather than just track the fall and rise of presidential history, Professor Balogh explains that the widening of historical fields will “bring the presidency back in” to mainstream historical study. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 49 Minutes 07 Dec 2018

Professor Phil Nash joins us to explain the myths and misconceptions about the December 7th, 1941, as well as the complexities of the cultural importance of the attack since then. Did FDR know about the attack ahead of time? And who was the attack more devastating for - the United States or Japan? You’ll learn more about an event that you thought you already knew well by listening to us!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 18 Minutes 05 Dec 2018

Madame C.J. Walker was a pioneer in the hair care industry, and in broad-based national marketing during the height of Jim Crow in the United States. As an African-American woman, she faced obstacles every time she tried to improve her business. Nevertheless, she went on to become one of the wealthiest women in America. Listen to Professor Corye Beene explain it all!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 11 Minutes 30 Nov 2018

President Lincoln comforted Lydia Bixby over the loss of her five sons during the Civil War in one of the most famous letters in American history. But what really happened to Mrs. Bixby's five sons? Did they all die fighting for the Union? Or were things a lot more complicated than that? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 44 Minutes 27 Nov 2018

Professor Andrew Huebner joins us to discuss his fascinating new examination of the what World War I meant for Americans. Was it to “make the world safe for democracy” or was it for home and family. Find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 251 Minutes 23 Nov 2018

As the pilgrims pushed their chairs back from the first Thanksgiving table, their stomachs full of turkey and potatoes, Squanto appeared with bushels of popped corn and spilled it out on the tables for the Pilgrims to enjoy. That's how Americans got popcorn, right Buzzkillers? Well, maybe not. But you'll have to listen to find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 13 Minutes 22 Nov 2018

The Pilgrims and Indians sat down on the fourth Thursday of November in 16-something and started the first Thanksgiving dinner, right? You guessed it. Wrong! It took almost 300 years to get to Norman Rockwell's painting and the Macy's Parade. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 18 Minutes 19 Nov 2018

William Henry Johnson eventually became one of the most decorated soldiers in World War I. His medals and military decorations came only eventually, however. He acted bravely and heroically in the Argonne Forest in May, 1918, killing multiple German soldiers and saving an American comrade, all the while being heavily wounded himself. The French military awards him the Croix de Guerre, their highest honor. Johnson’s heroism was not recognized by the American military and American government until much later. Find out how much later, and why there was such a delay, listen to this Man Crush Monday episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 8 Minutes 16 Nov 2018

One of the legendary stories that re-appear during Thanksgiving season is that no less a luminary and Founding Father than Ben Franklin thought that the bald eagle was an improper choice as a national bird and a national symbol. Franklin preferred the more "dignified" turkey and tried to convince the Founding Fathers to agree. Apparently, they thought Ben was a senile old sentimentalist, and so they ignored him. But is any of this story true? Listen and find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 45 Minutes 11 Nov 2018

Did World War I end with a bang or a whimper? Prof Phil Nash joins us to discuss the complicated road to the armistice of November 11, 1918. A dozen countries were involved, the Russian Revolution intervened, and the US military provided fresh troops for the Triple Entente of Britain, France, and Russia. And the German alliance gradually fell apart. But there’s so much more than that! Listen and learn.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 09 Nov 2018

Everybody knows that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, but how did he do it? Did he really paint the entire ceiling from atop a scaffold while reclining on his back? Well, not really. In some cases, the truth is even more amazing than the myth, and this is one of those cases, Buzzkillers. Not only did Michelangelo paint one of the most famous masterpieces in the history of art, he did so under great duress. Listen to find out why the painting of the Sistine Chapel is even more awesome than you thought.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 12 Minutes 06 Nov 2018

The poem that begins “First they came for the socialists, and I did not not speak out --- because I was not a socialist,” goes through a series of other oppressed, but ignored, groups, and ends with, “and then they came for me --- and there was no one left to speak for me,” is one of the most touching and thought-provoking expressions of human and communal responsibility of the 20th Century. It was, of course, said by Pastor Martin Niemöller, a German Lutheran, after the World War II and the Holocaust. But the history of that poem is just as heart-rending, and prompts just as much self-reflection about political and social responsibility as anything that came out of that horrific period. Please listen.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 02 Nov 2018

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, The Gunpowder treason and plot... Children's rhymes make poor history. So do modern day movies, like V for Vendetta. Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators weren't radicals fighting for the working people. So why do we all wear that mask?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 34 Minutes 01 Nov 2018

One of the things that makes the recent hate crimes in the United States so shocking and outrageous is that they seem to go against the grain of American life. They’re out of character, and un-American. But, as one of my fellow historians said recently, “The citizen in me hates what is happening in America now. The historian in me knows that this has always happened in America.” Today, I’ll say a few very general things about the history of hate crimes in the US. And then we’ll play the show we previously did on the KKK. It addresses many of the underlying issues of hate and bigotry that seem to be continually with us in the United States.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 22 Minutes 30 Oct 2018

In the wake of over a dozen football-related deaths in 1905, President Teddy Roosevelt rode in in, and threatened football leaders that if they didn’t make the game safer, he’d ban it. They implemented reforms, and Rough Rider Teddy gets the credit for saving American football from itself. But is that what happened, or is it far more complicated and historically interesting than that? We explore how the American style of football started and developed, why it was so violent, and why it was reformed in the early 20th century. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 11 Minutes 26 Oct 2018

Halloween is a demonic holiday chock full of sin and endangered by razor blades in trick or treat candy, right? Wrong. Nothing about the origins of Halloween can be called demonic, satanic, or anti-Christian. And the adulterated candy thing is an urban legend. Get the full story from the Buzzkill Institute.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 13 Minutes 24 Oct 2018

It’s a Woman Crush Wednesday! Maria Bochkareva’s life reflects almost all of the tumultuous period of the Russian Revolution (1917-1922). During World War I, she fights, and eventually leads, the “1st Russian Women’s Battalion of Death.” She then connects with the White forces in the Russian Civil War, does diplomatic work for them in the US and Britain, and returns to Russia to fight in 1918. Listen and learn what eventually happened to her!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 38 Minutes 16 Oct 2018

Richard Nixon was already known as “Tricky Dick” long before the Presidential Election of 1968. But would he do anything so tricky as to negotiate with a foreign country against American interests in order to get elected? Professor Nash comes to the Buzzkill Bunker to explain all the shenanigans of the 1968 election, and whether the Nixon and his team crafted an October Surprise to win in November. This story is full of intrigue, drama, and dread. Listen in!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 71 Minutes 12 Oct 2018

President Roosevelt's "Fireside Chats" are famous for breaking new ground in how political leaders communicate with their people. But were they really as ground-breaking as we all tend to believe? Did they really help the American people get through the Great Depression and World War II? Was it FDR's tone and confidence that connected to the people, or was there something more mundane that explains the popularity of the Fireside Chats? Professor Phil Nash enlightens us!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 08 Oct 2018

Benjamin Lay was one of the most famous anti-slavery protestors in colonial Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. He agitated against slavery and the slave trade in very unusual ways, and was eventually kicked out of his church, the Quakers, for his actions. He was also one of the pioneers of political boycotting of certain consumer goods. Listen to the story of one of the most interesting men of the early 18th century, and learn why he deserves more attention from historians!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 20 Minutes 05 Oct 2018

The history of immigration to the United States is very complicated, Buzzkillers! Millions of people came from all over the world to the United States, and there are almost as many myths about immigration as there were immigrants. What did it mean to come to the United States "legally" during the high points of the history of immigration to the United States? When did the government try to restrict immigration and how did they do that? Listen to this Buzzkill favorite to find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 66 Minutes 02 Oct 2018

1968 was a dramatic, upsetting, and confusing year in many parts of the world. The American Presidential Election was equally strange and unusual. Protests, riots, assassinations, major political parties in turmoil, and a segregationist third party candidate. All in the shadow of the Vietnam War. No election before or since has been so tumultuous. How did the country survive. Professor Phil Nash explains it all in this episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 8 Minutes 28 Sep 2018

"Molly Pitcher" was the legendary water carrier who kept American soldiers hydrated and poured cool water on cannon barrels during the crucial Battle of Monmouth in 1778. But was she a real person? If so, who was she? As you'll find out, Buzzkillers, she was more a product of the American Revolutionary Centennial celebrations in 1876 than the Revolutionary War itself.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 6 Minutes 25 Sep 2018

Did Gandhi say, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”? If he didn’t, where did it come from? The Bible? The Canadian House of Commons? Movie script writers? And is there something more significant in how this phrase has come down to us as an essential Gandhi-ism? Listen and learn with your eyes open, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 20 Minutes 21 Sep 2018

Did Richard Nixon genuinely "concede" the 1960 Presidential Election to John Kennedy the day after the election, as so many commentators now tell us? Or did he qualify his remarks so much, and work so feverishly behind the scenes to overturn the election, that he should be considered a "sore loser"? Find out in this episode, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 39 Minutes 19 Sep 2018

20th century automobile travel was supposed to represent freedom, but what else did it represent? Professor Cotten Seiler from Dickinson College joins us to discuss the difficulties and hazards of traveling in the United States faced by African-American motorists in the 20th Century, especially during the height of segregation and Jim Crow. Specifically, we learn how important guides like the Negro Motorist Green Book and the popular Travelguide: Vacation and Recreation Without Humiliation were to the reality of “travelling while black.”. . .

  Direct Link   Download 6 Minutes 14 Sep 2018

For decades, a story flew around that Coke was originally full of coke, as in cocaine. The early developers of Coca-Cola stirred cocaine into its famous syrup, so the legend goes. Once mixed with energizing carbonated water, early Coca-Cola became irresistible, and customers became addicted. That's how Coke dominated the soft drink market. Is this a myth? Is it a half-myth? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 12 Minutes 12 Sep 2018

Ada Lovelace is frequently called “the first computer programmer,” but is her story more complicated than that? In this Woman Crush Wednesday show, we give a brief overview of what she contributed to the history of computing, and argue that she was more important than the “first computer programmer.” Find out how we give her more historical praise by listening now!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 265 Minutes 07 Sep 2018

Enigma, the German World War II message encoding machine, was famously cracked by British codebreakers led by Alan Turing. But were there more people involved? Buzzkillers in Dayton, Ohio, will be very proud to hear that one of their native sons, Joseph Desch, was an Enigma hero. And Buzzkillers in Poland will welcome the fact that we're gonna remind everyone that Polish cryptanalysts were the first to crack Enigma.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 31 Minutes 04 Sep 2018

Journalist Mary Pilon joins us to discuss the history of the game Monopoly and its wonderful twists, turns, complications, and lawsuits! It all starts during The Depression and doesn't stop until the 21st Century! Make sure to listen, and tell a playing partner about the show!!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 112 Minutes 31 Aug 2018

A Viking horned helmet would have been very impractical, and perhaps dangerous, in battle, Buzzkillers. There is only one depiction of a horned helmet in ancient Nordic art, and it was probably ceremonial. Horned helmets are most likely the invention of legendary opera composer Wagner's costume designer in the 19th century.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 256 Minutes 27 Aug 2018

Ron Stallworth, featured in the new Spike Lee film, BlackKkKlansman, was a Colorado police detective who convinced the local Ku Klux Klan to accept him as a member in 1979. Using tremendously creative undercover skills, Stallworth was able to dupe the Colorado Springs KKK to accept him as a member. Stallworth was able to gather vital intelligence about Klan activities in the West, including plans for bombings and other major terrorist activities. Find out how he did it in today’s episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 159 Minutes 24 Aug 2018

The great influenza pandemic of 1918-1920 was one of the worst disasters in human history. Somewhere between 50 and 100 million people were killed by the flu worldwide. But did it start in Spain? Was the Spanish health-care system to blame? Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 37 Minutes 21 Aug 2018

I got so sick of idiots posting completely ahistorical things about American Political Parties on Twitter and Facebook, that I called Professor Nash in for an emergency episode. We were able to diagnose the interpretative the wound, stop the bleeding, and heal the wound. We explain why political parties have the same name, but totally different attitudes and policies over the centuries of US history. Necessary listening for the elections coming up this year! Listen and be enlightened!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 227 Minutes 17 Aug 2018

Abner Doubleday didn't invent baseball, and he didn't do it in Cooperstown in 1839, Buzzkillers. Once again, a second- or third-hand story created a persistent myth. It was Alexander Cartwright in Manhattan in 1845. The Baseball Hall of Fame is still a great place to visit and I hope to run into you there sometime, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 29 Minutes 14 Aug 2018

Professor Colin Woodward joins us to discuss the importance of slavery in the minds of Confederate soldiers, as well as its effects on military policy and decision making. He tells us about the Rebels’ persistent belief in the need to defend slavery and deploy it militarily as the war raged on. Slavery proved essential to the Confederate war machine, and Rebels strove to protect it just as they did Southern cities, towns, and railroads. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 216 Minutes 10 Aug 2018

The silk top hat was common headwear in high society from the middle of the 18th century all the way to at least the beginning of the 20th. By the middle of the 20th century, however, the top hat was in rapid decline-- and many blame President John F. Kennedy for its demise. Did Kennedy break with tradition by not wearing a top hat during his inauguration-- and if he did, how much did that really contribute to changing fashions? Listen and find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 270 Minutes 07 Aug 2018

Are you cursed to be living in interesting times? Would a boring era be easier on the Buzzkill blood pressure? And is “may you live in interesting times” actually an old Chinese curse, or is the history of the saying more complicated? We take you from Chinese folks tales in 1627 to 20th century British politicians in this episode of Quote or No Quote, trying to track down who said what when. Listen and learn.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 162 Minutes 03 Aug 2018

Pity the poor Dutch, Buzzkillers! They traveled all over the world and get almost no credit for it. Captain James Cook of England wasn't the first European to discover Australia. Willem Janszoon was. Ever heard of him? I didn't think so.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 60 Minutes 31 Jul 2018

All wars are bad. But why was World War II so extreme? Coming less than 20 years after World War I (the most extreme war up until that time), the Second World War’s death toll is _conservatively_ calculated at 60 million people. And some estimates are higher than that. Professor Phil Nash joins us to explain why the death and destruction were so severe, and to give us grim statistics on some overlooked facts. These include: the number of civilian deaths outweighing military deaths, and the number of Allied deaths far exceeding Axis deaths. If this episode doesn’t bring the peace-nix in you out into the open, we’ve failed to convince you. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 119 Minutes 27 Jul 2018

The weather report for the morning of October 29, 1929, the day of the famous Wall Street Crash, called for falling stockbrokers. Ruined businessmen were supposed to be flinging themselves out of their high office windows in despair. Alas, Buzzkillers, the forecast didn't prove true. Stay tuned right here for the update.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 7 Minutes 25 Jul 2018

So far, this is the most famous woman we’ve ever featured on a Woman Crush Wednesday. Henrietta Lacks was a cancer patient in the early 1950s. Her cancer cells were studied and analyzed, and found to be “immortal” under laboratory conditions. They formed the famous “HeLa” cell line, the first immortalized cell line, which helped create the polio vaccine and hundreds of other medical advances. But the story is more complex than that. Listen to this episode to find out why!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 247 Minutes 20 Jul 2018

Was a junk food diet really used as a defense in a murder case? Did the Twinkie do it? Alas, Buzzkillers, the answer is no, but the story about this myth is fascinating. Sit back, unwrap one of your favorite snacks, listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 62 Minutes 17 Jul 2018

How close have the United States and the Soviet Union come to nuclear war in the past several decades? How many accidents, miscommunications, and misunderstandings have brought us to the brink of annihilation? Professor Phil Nash joins us to explain how many times we’ve been on the brink of nuclear war, what happened in these incidents, and what mistakes were made. You’ll be very surprised (and made uneasy) at how many times simple human error brought the world close to nuclear war. Take a deep breath, Buzzkillers, and listen with the lights on!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 132 Minutes 13 Jul 2018

Droit du Seigneir (French: "right of the lord") refers to the "right" of a feudal lord to sleep with the bride of his vassals on their wedding night. While this "right" appears as early as the Epic of Gilgamesh (c 2100 BC), is an important plot device in The Marriage of Figaro (the play by Beaumarchais, written in 1788) and in Mel Gibson's film Braveheart (1995), there's no solid evidence that it ever existed in medieval European law or that it was ever practised then.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 12 Minutes 09 Jul 2018

Melvin Purvis, head of the Chicago Division of the young FBI, is usually overshadowed by the character of J. Edgar Hoover. But who did the real work of capturing or killing Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger. Professor Nash joins us to discuss G-Man Melvin Purvis and where he belongs in the history of American law enforcement. Listen in!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 190 Minutes 06 Jul 2018

The one thing that everyone knows about Marie Antoinette (Queen of France in the late 18th century) is that, when told that the peasants were starving because they had no bread, said, "then let them eat cake." How cold is that, Buzzkillers? It's Royal Arrogance of the First Order. She deserves some kind of medal for her sheer bravado. But did she actually say it? Listen and find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 20 Minutes 03 Jul 2018

When was the Declaration of Independence signed? July 4th? August 2? Later? Why did John Hancock sign so prominently and hugely right in the middle? Did he have signature envy? What price did the signers pay for their patriotism? And how did the story of the signers' sacrifices get so out of control by the mid-20th century? Professor Buzzkill puts his John Hancock on this episode, and answers all these questions.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 290 Minutes 01 Jul 2018

Did Canadians burn the White House in 1814, in the last few months of the War of 1812, as President Trump apparently believes? Who was in command, Tim Horton? Bob and Doug MacKenzie? Or was it British forces, as we’ve been told in our history classes since, well, 1814. And, by the way, what the hell does Napoleon have to do with it? Find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 25 Minutes 30 Jun 2018

Government internment of “enemy aliens” during World War II has been a controversial topic ever since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Not only is the history much more complicated than is popularly known, the various policies applied at the time were very complicated, and often contradictory. In this episode we talk about how Japanese-Americans, Italian-Americans, and German-Americans were treated during the 20th Century’s darkest years.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 29 Jun 2018

Everyone was killed at the Alamo. Right, Buzzkillers? That's why "Remember the Alamo" is such a famous rallying cry in American history. But was everyone killed inside the Alamo? Civilians? Women and children? Was Santa Anna essentially a murderer? Find out, Buzzkillers, by listening to this Mini-Myth!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 20 Minutes 19 Jun 2018

The history of immigration to the United States is very complicated, Buzzkillers! Millions of people came from all over the world to the United States, and there are almost as many myths about immigration as there were immigrants. What did it mean to come to the United States “legally” during the high points of the history of immigration to the United States? When did the government try to restrict immigration and how did they do that? Professor Buzzkill’s new episode explains all!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 124 Minutes 15 Jun 2018

He may have had a GPS system named after him, but Ferdinand Magellan wouldn't have needed it during his trip around the globe back in the early 1500s. He only made it halfway, dying in the Philippines at the hands of natives who got sick of him asking for directions. But since it was his ship that eventually got back to Europe, he gets the credit. Oh well, Buzzkillers. Who cares about the details anyway?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 12 Jun 2018

One of the most common Einstein No Quotes you see coursing around the internet is: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Sometimes the mis-quote-meisters add “so is a lot,” to this pithy quote saying about knowledge, and we end up with “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot.” It’s probably the type of thing Einstein would say, but did he ever actually say it? Find out in this episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 132 Minutes 08 Jun 2018

Burn the witch! Burn the witch! It makes for a dramatic story, with about as final an ending as you can imagine. Suspected witches were nabbed, but on trial, convicted, and burned at the stake in the 1690s in Massachusetts. But it's just not true. The convicted witches faced a far more mundane fate. Listen and find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 43 Minutes 05 Jun 2018

1865. The Civil War is over. Slavery has been abolished. The country is “reconstructing” itself. This should have meant that the lives of African-Americans improved during this period. But it didn’t. 1865-1930 is often called the “nadir of African-American life.” Not only did they gain very little economic or social benefit from the end of slavery, white Southerners built up a system of race oppression that still stains American consciousness. Listen as Professor Phil Nash explains it all!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 139 Minutes 01 Jun 2018

It's a great "Gone with the Wind" romantic-type story. The defeated, but honorable, General Robert E. Lee offered his sword to the victor, U.S. Grant, during the Confederacy's surrender at Appomattox Court House. Grant, just as honorably, refused to take it. But it didn't happen, Buzzkillers. It was a made-up press report that caught the public's attention and kept getting repeated.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 8 Minutes 30 May 2018

The board game Monopoly seems too complicated to have had one single inventor, right? Well, no. Elizabeth Magie invented it in the first few years of the 20th century, and called it The Landlords Game. But the original game was anti-landlord, and embodied many aspects of communitarianism. Find out about it, about Elizabeth Magie, and why it became “Monopoly” on this Woman Crush Wednesday!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 190 Minutes 25 May 2018

Walt Disney is one of the most famous names in entertainment. But have you ever heard of Ub Iwerks? Good old Ub was the real artistic genius behind many of Disney's most beloved characters, including Mickey Mouse. Yet there is no IwerksWorld, no Iwerks animation empire. Tune in to find out why, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 190 Minutes 25 May 2018

Walt Disney is one of the most famous names in entertainment. But have you ever heard of Ub Iwerks? Good old Ub was the real artistic genius behind many of Disney's most beloved characters, including Mickey Mouse. Yet there is no IwerksWorld, no Iwerks animation empire. Tune in to find out why, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 42 Minutes 22 May 2018

The Reconstruction period (1865-1877) after the Civil War was at least as complicated as the war itself. It’s also been fraught with different historian interpretations over the generations. Professor Phil Nash joins us to untangle what happened and put the strands back together to understand the history of the period and the people involved.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 139 Minutes 18 May 2018

Almost nothing about Sir Walter Raleigh is true, or at the very least it's all been highly exaggerated. He didn't lay his clock down for Queen Elizabeth, and he didn't introduce potatoes and tobacco to Europe after his travels in the New World. He cuts a dashing figure through popular history, nonetheless. Put your romanticizing aside, Buzzkillers and hear the truth!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 10 Minutes 14 May 2018

Tommy Flowers was a very important British scientist and engineer during the first half of the 20th century. Not only did he do essential work in cracking secret German codes during World War II, he is usually credited with inventing (and building) the world’s first programmable electronic computer, the Colossus. He’s not as famous as Alan Turing, but he’s at least as important to history. Listen to our Man Crush Monday!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 145 Minutes 11 May 2018

Did the Roman emperor Nero really fiddle while his glorious city of Rome burned? Politicians may often be bad guys, Buzzkillers, but there's no good evidence for this level of mania in old Nero. It's a good story, but that's all it is-- a story.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 18 Minutes 09 May 2018

Major social and political forces led to the establishment of Mother's Day as a major and official holiday. Our new episode explains those forces, and also tells us who founded Mother's Day. Was it Julia Ward Howe with her famous "Appeal to Womanhood" Peace Proclamation in 1870? Or did Anna Marie Jarvis found it, honoring her own mother in 1908? And what did war and campaigns for international disarmament have to do with the history of Mother's Day?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 285 Minutes 04 May 2018

One of the most popular history exercises in elementary schools these days is to have students learn about Quilt Codes and the Underground Railroad and make some design themselves. Students are told that quilt patterns gave escaped slaves directions and warnings on their way to freedom. Alas, it's a myth, Buzzkillers! But it's a highly textured one. Geddit? Listen in!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 222 Minutes 01 May 2018

Politics is a messy business, even in the best of times, and especially in the worst of times. Many people console themselves with this reality by quoting Otto von Bismarck, the 19th century Prussian politician who, among other things, was the the first Chancellor of the German Empire (from 1871 to 1890). He was also a strong believer in realpolitik, the idea that realism and practicalities should outweigh ideology and emotion in political decisions. It’s not surprising, therefore, that he often quoted as saying, “Laws are like sausages. It is best not to see them being made.” The analysis implicit in that phrase certainly fits Bismarck’s political personality. But did he actually say it? Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 102 Minutes 27 Apr 2018

Find any fraternity member who's also a freshman history major. Get him drunk, and he'll start reeling off myths like crazy. One of them will probably be that Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia (1729-1796) died by being crushed by a horse. While she was having sex with a horse! In bed! You can probably guess whether it's true, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 18 Minutes 24 Apr 2018

Is Watergate the story of heroic journalists working against all odds and in great danger to get at the truth of presidential corruption? Is it more complicated than that? How accurate was All the President's Men? Who really brought the Nixon presidency down? Professor Buzzkill's new episode explains all!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 111 Minutes 20 Apr 2018

You've probably always seen Napoleon depicted as a shorty. And you may have heard that his ambition was driven by a classic "short man's complex." Alas, it's not true. At least not by his measured height. The nickname came about differently. Listen to the podcast, Buzzkillers, to find out how and why.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 45 Minutes 17 Apr 2018

Did the United States really “bail the French out in two world wars,” or is it a blustering, bigoted myth? Professor Phil Nash joins us to discuss what actually happened in World Wars I and II, and whether the United States was “bailing out” the French or repaying a major debt from the American Revolution. Join us as we discuss all the issues. Lafayette, the Buzzkillers are here!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 135 Minutes 13 Apr 2018

Did Ben Franklin really discover electricity by flying a kite in a lightning storm? Well, he may have flown the kite, Buzzkillers, but knowledge of electricity's been around a long, long time. Take the journey of discovery back in time with the old Professor.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 6 Minutes 11 Apr 2018

Alice Hamilton was a pioneer in occupational medicine and industrial toxicology. And it’s not an exaggeration to say that she was the most important person in helping to make the American workplace safer. She also campaigned for women’s rights, social and economic reform, and international peace. There are very few people who need more historical fame and glory than Dr. Alice Hamilton. Listen and be inspired!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 297 Minutes 06 Apr 2018

Like all good Americans, I just had a PB&J for lunch. I couldn't help thinking of George Washington Carver, the reputed inventor of peanut butter. You won't be surprised to hear that the invention of peanut butter is much more complicated (and more important) than is usually told. Listen in over your own PB&J, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 40 Minutes 04 Apr 2018

Historian Ray Boomhower joins us to analyze the famous speech given by RFK in Indianapolis, on hearing about the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968. It’s one of the most famous and touching speeches in modern American history, and is usually credited with keeping Indianapolis calm in the wake of that horrible tragedy. We talk about the background to the speech, what else contributed to Indianapolis’ peaceful reaction to what happened, and what part it played in the race for the 1968 Democratic Presidential Nomination. Listen and be inspired.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 40 Minutes 03 Apr 2018

Martin Luther King did so much more for American society, and wanted so much more from the US government and US elite, than most people realize. Popular history has airbrushed out far too much about his life and work. Professor Phil Nash reminds us of the importance of King’s work, especially during the forgotten period between his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and his assassination in 1968. Listen and learn.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 168 Minutes 30 Mar 2018

What a great way to get taxes lowered! Get your land-owning husband to agree to lower property taxes if you ride naked on horseback right down main street. That's just what Lady Godiva agreed to do in 11th century England in order to get her tight-fisted husband to lighten up on his tenants. But is it true or just another mini-myth? Listen in, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 6 Minutes 26 Mar 2018

Robert Sherrod was the pioneering journalist who portrayed the Pacific battles in World War II, and risked his life in doing so. In a time when stark battle news was largely kept from the American public, Sherrod convinced President Roosevelt to allow a grim documentary entitled With the Marines at Tarawa to be released to the general public, over the objections of Warner Brothers (who produced the film). This was perhaps the first instance in modern media history that some of the horrors of war were shown at home.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 141 Minutes 23 Mar 2018

It's an exciting and romantic tale: a future Roman hero had to be cut out of his mother's womb as she's dying in childbirth. The procedure is later named after the famous baby who survived -- Julius Caesar. Alas, the story is as mythological as the one about storks delivering babies down chimneys. Hang on, I just heard a tiny thumb and a muffled cry coming from the living room.... . .

  Direct Link   Download 62 Minutes 20 Mar 2018

We usually hear that surgery and medical treatment during the Civil War was backward butchery. But was it? Let's cross over the inter-sphere to listen, as historian Nic Hoffman from Kennesaw State University tells us how complicated it really was. Here we go. We discuss: medical care before the war; the shock of Civil War carnage and how medics initially reacted; and changes in medical treatment and surgery because of the War. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 9 Minutes 17 Mar 2018

What can possibly be wrong with St. Patrick's Day? Not much, except that there's very little historical basis behind stories about St. Patrick. And there's certainly no historical basis for excess drinking, green beer, and the Chicago River turned green. Or is there? The Professor becomes more open-minded right before our very ears!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 194 Minutes 16 Mar 2018

Cold War Berlin was a tense place, and certainly not the place to make an embarrassing gaffe in a major speech. So it's a good thing that President Kennedy didn't call himself a jam doughnut while speaking to a massive crowd in front of the Berlin Wall. Imagine the warning bells that would have gone off in Washington DC and Moscow if Cold Warriors suddenly thought, "oh no, we're in a pastry war"!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 13 Mar 2018

After his first speech as prime minister, Winston Churchill's "blood, toil, tears, and sweat," got shortened and re-arranged. As "blood, sweat, and tears," it's become one of the most quoted Churchill-isms. But like some many of these "quotes," the idea of "blood, sweat, and tears," has been around for centuries, and used by many writers and military leaders. Listen as we explain it all on Quote or No Quote!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 17 Minutes 09 Mar 2018

The Great Escape (1963) is in the pantheon of World War II films, and deservedly so. Generations of Buzzkillers have grown up watching Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, and other film stars try to outsmart their captors at Stalag Luft III. But How true was the "Great Escape" story that became a best-selling novel and box-office smash at the movie theater? Listen carefully, or Professor Buzzkill will send you to the cooler!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 47 Minutes 06 Mar 2018

We interview Professor Marcus Rediker about his new book, Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist. Benjamin Lay was one of the most famous anti-slavery protesters in colonial Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. He agitated against slavery and the slave trade in very unusual ways, and was eventually kicked out of his church, the Quakers, for his actions. He was also one of the pioneers of political boycotting of certain consumer goods. Professor Rediker tells the story of one of the most interesting men of the early 18th century, and learn why he deserves more attention from historians!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 22 Minutes 05 Mar 2018

I live a happy life. I really do. I've got Lady Buzzkill and the Buzzlings, a fulfilling career, and money in the bank. But I guess I never knew true happiness until I was asked to be on The Reality Check Podcast, also on the Entertainment One network. The Reality Check is the weekly podcast that explores a wide range of controversies and curiosities using science and critical thinking. We talked about historical controversies and curiosities, and this bonus episode brings you that show. Please subscribe to The Reality Check wherever you get your podcasts, and go to their website to get all their social media info. www.trcpodcast.com. . .

  Direct Link   Download 240 Minutes 02 Mar 2018

Was Civil War Union General Joseph "Fightin' Joe" Hooker's last name the origin of the slang term for prostitute? He had a perhaps undeserved reputation as a party animal, but did that reputation actually add a new word to the language? Listen to this classic Buzzkill episode to find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 19 Minutes 28 Feb 2018

Alison Palmer was a pioneer in gaining increased women's rights and human rights in the American State Department. While working there in the 1950s and 1960s, Palmer ran up against the glass ceiling when trying to advance in the civil service at the State Department. She found it almost impossible to become a foreign service officer, and was forced to remain in the clerical ranks until she sued the Department. She spent years in court, and wasn't fully vindicated until the mid-1970s. But even more complicated than that. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 212 Minutes 23 Feb 2018

The rule of thumb about history myths is that they're persistent. Ever hear the one about an ancient law that allowed a man to beat his wife with a stick as long as it was not thicker than his thumb? Well, it's a myth, Buzzkillers. But how it became a myth is fascinating!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 67 Minutes 20 Feb 2018

Professor Phil Nash helps us explain the complicated and much-mythologized history of the Pentagon Papers, which is shorthand for the government-funded study of US involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. Once leaked by Daniel Ellsberg and others, American newspapers, led by the New York Times, printed significant extracts from the Papers. This led to a large freedom of the press controversy, ending in a Supreme Court ruling which allowed publication. 2017's dramatic film, The Post, chronicles the Washington Post's participation in the Pentagon Papers controversy. We explain it all, and critique the film!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 58 Minutes 13 Feb 2018

Professor Marie Hicks joins us again, this time to discuss the yummy history of computer dating. Did it start with Operation Match at Harvard? Or was it a young entrepreneur in London? What were their reasons for thinking that computers could match people better than people could match people? And was the early history of computer dating as neat and clean as a computer punch card? Perhaps not! If you don't want Professor Buzzkill to fill in your profile for you, you'd better give this episode a listen!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 262 Minutes 12 Feb 2018

Valentine's Day is here again, Buzzkillers, and you can be certain that we're depleting the Buzzkill bank account at a rapid clip so that we can give Lady Buzzkill all the best tokens of lova and affection befitting her rank and station. And it's always around this time of year that people ask me about St. Valentine. Did he really pass a heart-shaped note to an admirer and sign it "Your Valentine"? Was this the first Valentine's Day card? Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 09 Feb 2018

Herr Hitler gets credit for an awful lot, Buzzkillers, including the invention of the Volkswagen. The story is that he demanded a "people's car" that the average German could afford. Alas, Buzzkillers, the story is much more complicated than that, and Adolph played only a small part in the invention of the cute, little VW Beetle.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 50 Minutes 06 Feb 2018

Impeachment? The 25th Amendment? Resignation? How do the American people remove a president from office? Why is it so complicated, and what's the history behind each way to get a dangerous, criminal, or just plain crazy chief executive out of the highest office in the land. Join Professor Buzzkill and Professor Nash as they work through all the possibilities, and illuminate all the history and politics behind the various processes. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 46 Minutes 30 Jan 2018

From 1876, when the first effective dynamo/generator that produced a steady current of electricity was invented, Americans reacted to this new phenomenon of electricity in many different ways. Professor Jennifer Lieberman is one of the first academics to study that reaction, especially how it appeared in popular literature, both fiction and non-fiction. And in doing so, she raises a lot of very important questions about our relationships with technology and the natural world. We interview her about the cultural reactions to electricity as a new technology is the topic of this episode. Listen and be electrified!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 174 Minutes 26 Jan 2018

The painting Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze is one of the most iconic images in the American cultural consciousness. But how accurate a depiction is it? By standing up in the boat, did George risk tipping over and falling into the icy river? Would his soldiers have laughed or panicked? Listen to this Buzzkill classic to find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 7 Minutes 22 Jan 2018

Varian Fry started life as a journalist. He spent the early years of World War II, however, rescuing Jews from occupied Europe, and agitating against immigration restrictions against refugees. Working with a small team of dedicated volunteers in Marseilles, Fry saved the lives of over 2,200 people. He helped them get out of France, through Spain and Portugal, and to safety in the United States. Recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" long after his death, Varian Fry should appear much more often in the history books. Listen and learn.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 6 Minutes 19 Jan 2018

Gregor Rasputin (1869-1916) is one of the most fascinating people in modern history. Who was he? Religious visionary? Mystic healer? Charlatan? Spiritual con man? Political snake? All of the above? The story that it took being drugged, poisoned, shot, beaten, and drowned for him to die is a myth, Buzzkillers. But the broader story is fascinating. Listen and learn.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 19 Minutes 16 Jan 2018

The "pizza effect" helps explain why assumptions about the history and development of certain cultural practices and traditions are among the strongest historical myths out there, how they are self-reinforcing, and how they can build up mistaken images and misunderstandings about cultural identity. Along the way, we'll learn about such things as the "pizza renaissance" in Italy, the "Hindu renaissance across India, the "Cornish pasty renaissance" in south-west England, and the "Clancy Brothers" or "traditional music renaissance" in Ireland! Listen and let it all sink in!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 10 Minutes 15 Jan 2018

Lots of people take comfort from the quote "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice," and it's usually credited to Martin Luther King Jr. He said it, but was it an original MLK thought? The long history of this famous quote is fascinating and uplifting. Listen to this Buzzkill favorite to find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 154 Minutes 05 Jan 2018

"The Great Train Robbery" (1903) was not the first feature film, despite what you learned in film studies class, Buzzkillers (or from some tiresome, drunken film-studies major at a boring film-studies party). The Aussies beat Hollywood to the punch. Find out how they did it!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 15 Minutes 31 Dec 2017

Should old acquaintance be forgot? What? Should we forget old friends? Should we sing about remembering them? What does Auld Lang Syne actually mean? Why do we sing it every New Year's Eve? Join the Professor in this classic Buzzkill episode as he waxes lyrical and sentimentally about Auld Lang Syne, Scotland, and good auld Robert Burns!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 251 Minutes 29 Dec 2017

How did New Year's Day end up in the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere (and the middle of summer in the southern hemisphere)? Wouldn't a day in spring be more fitting? Find out how people celebrated New Years in past centuries and why things turned out the way they did by listening to this Buzzkill favorite!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 42 Minutes 26 Dec 2017

The truce between the trenches in Christmas 1914 is one of the most famous stories from World War I. Was it one big truce across the whole Western Front? Or was it lots of little ceasefires? How did it happen, and what did the soldiers do during the Christmas Truce? Did they become friends for a day? Did they play football? Did they exchange cigarettes and pose for pictures? Professor Theresa Blom Croker explains all!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 231 Minutes 22 Dec 2017

Who was Santa Claus, Buzzkillers? The jolly old man from Miracle on 34th Street? The round-bellied man wearing a red costume, driving a sleigh pulled by 8 tiny reindeer? Was there a Rudolph involved? Check out this Buzzkill favorite to find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 276 Minutes 20 Dec 2017

Egyptologists consider Hatshepsut, the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, one of the most powerful pharaohs in Egyptian history. Her name means "Foremost of the Noble Ladies" and she was very successful in trade negotiations, diplomacy, and building projects. Join us as we have a Woman Crush Wednesday about the Egyptian pharaoh who the famous American archaeologist and Egyptologist James Henry Breasted called, "the first great woman in history" that we know about.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 77 Minutes 15 Dec 2017

General George Patton was one of the most famous, colorful, and talked about US generals in World War II. He is also among the most misunderstood military men in history. Famously played George C. Scott in a 1970 movie, Patton's image is one of the most enduring in 20th century American history. He is frequently referred to as one of America's great generals, and just as frequently referred to as one of the most arrogant, out-of-control, and over-rated. Listen to this Buzzkill favorite to learn more!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 12 Minutes 12 Dec 2017

Was there a special, secret meaning behind the lyrics in the famous Christmas song, The 12 Days of Christmas? Ten Lords a Leaping and Nine Ladies Dancing sounds like a pretty good party! But why wasn't Professor Buzzkill invited? We explain it all and wish all you Buzzkillers out there a happy holiday season!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 190 Minutes 08 Dec 2017

Walt Disney is one of the most famous names in entertainment. But have you ever heard of Ub Iwerks? Good old Ub was the real artistic genius behind many of Disney's most beloved characters, including Mickey Mouse. Yet there is no IwerksWorld, no Iwerks animation empire. Tune in to find out why, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 265 Minutes 07 Dec 2017

Movie scripts are responsible for more mis-quotes than almost any other source. In Tora! Tora! Tora! Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is shown reacting to the attack on Pearl Harbor by saying, "I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant." Like Rommel and Patton "quotes," this one seems so authentic to the character that it must be true. Is it? Find out here on Professor Buzzkill!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 49 Minutes 05 Dec 2017

Professor Phil Nash joins us to explain the myths and misconceptions about the December 7th, 1941, as well as the complexities of the cultural importance of the attack since then. Did FDR know about the attack ahead of time? And who was the attack more devastating for - the United States or Japan? You'll learn more about an event that you thought you already knew well by listening to us!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 144 Minutes 01 Dec 2017

It's a Buzzkill favorite! Warner Bros Studios pumped out this myth, Buzzkillers, before production had even started on the movie. But Bogie had the part all along!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 27 Nov 2017

Benjamin Lay was one of the most famous anti-slavery protestors in colonial Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. He agitated against slavery and the slave trade in very unusual ways, and was eventually kicked out of his church, the Quakers, for his actions. He was also one of the pioneers of political boycotting of certain consumer goods. Listen to the story of one of the most interesting men of the early 18th century, and learn why he deserves more attention from historians!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 251 Minutes 24 Nov 2017

As the pilgrims pushed their chairs back from the first Thanksgiving table, their stomachs full of turkey and potatoes, Squanto appeared with bushels of popped corn and spilled it out on the tables for the Pilgrims to enjoy. That's how Americans got popcorn, right Buzzkillers? Well, maybe not, but you'll have to listen to this Buzzkill favorite to find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 10 Minutes 23 Nov 2017

The Pilgrims and Indians sat down on the fourth Thursday of November in 16-something and started the first Thanksgiving dinner, right? You guessed it. Wrong! It took almost 300 years to get to Norman Rockwell’s painting and the Macy’s Parade. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 85 Minutes 21 Nov 2017

Professor Phil Nash shows how the myths and misconceptions about the Vietnam War started, grew, and have plagued our historical consciousness since the late 1950s. Among other things, the large number of myths about the Vietnam War shows us that our understanding of even relatively recent historical events can be twisted. From the "JFK wouldn't have Americanized the war" to the "POW-MIA" myth, the true history of American involvement in South-East Asia has often been obscured by myths and myth-making. It's one of our very best episodes, and we hope you find it enlightening.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 57 Minutes 17 Nov 2017

Was there an actual decision whether or not to use atomic bombs in World War II? If not, what were the questions and issues about using the bomb? Why did the US choose Hiroshima and Nagasaki as targets? Did Truman do it to scare the Soviets? Did dropping the bomb actually save lives compared with how many would have died during an invasion of Japan? Professor Philip Nash enlightens us.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 14 Nov 2017

There's a great quote and sentiment about sticking with a righteous movement for much-needed change, particularly when it's faced with a big, entrenched and powerful foe. That quote goes like this: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." It's often attributed to Gandhi. That's not very surprising. But we here at the Buzzkill Institute don't call him the Mahatma of Misquotation for nothing, and as we'll see in a couple of minutes, if you were forced to boil down one of Gandhi's very lengthy and sophisticated arguments to a bumper sticker slogan, the "First they ignore you…" saying would fit, more or less. Find out the full story in this episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 182 Minutes 10 Nov 2017

Did you struggle over long division, Buzzkillers? Did your math teacher try to console you by telling that Einstein was bad at math when he was young? Well, I hate to bust one of your cherished childhood stories, but it isn’t true. Einstein rocked the mathematics. Don’t use that excuse when you can’t balance your checkbook.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 51 Minutes 07 Nov 2017

Professor Phil Nash explains the history of Vietnam in the 20th century, and the very complicated ways in which it was torn apart by war and civil war throughout the mid-century. Along the way, we learn about the deep complications in the history of the Vietnam War that have allowed myths and misconceptions to solidify. In particular, we talk about how post-World War II wars in Vietnam become Americanized. Finally, we discuss the impact of the war in the United States, as well as its impact in Vietnam itself. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 55 Minutes 03 Nov 2017

Prof. Phil Nash joins us once again to bust US history myths. This time it’s about President Woodrow Wilson. How much of a progressive was he? What were his real attitudes towards race? How much idealism did he pump into his policies on foreign affairs? How effective was he in ending World War I and negotiating things at Versailles? And, finally, did his wife really take over after his stroke in late 1919?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 7 Minutes 01 Nov 2017

It's our first Woman Crush Wednesday! Professor Marie Hicks tells us the story of Stephanie Shirley, one of Britain's computer programming pioneers. Imagine starting your own company with just £6 (roughly $12) and building it into one of the most powerful programming companies in Europe. That was Stephanie Shirley did, starting in 1961. Later in life, she went on to become one of Britain's leading philanthropists and has donated most of her life to helping good causes, especially those close to her heart. She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000 for her work in information technology and for her extensive charity work. Listen and admire, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 11 Minutes 31 Oct 2017

Halloween is a demonic holiday chock full of sin and endangered by razor blades in trick or treat candy, right? Wrong. Nothing about the origins of Halloween can be called demonic, satanic, or anti-Christian. And the adulterated candy thing is an urban legend. Get the full story from the Buzzkill Institute.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 113 Minutes 27 Oct 2017

A Buzzkill favorite! A Viking horned helmet would have been very impractical, and perhaps dangerous, in battle, Buzzkillers. A sword blow to the head might glance off a smooth helmet. But it would surely catch on a horn and send the helmet flying, leaving the Viking bareheaded and highly vulnerable to a death blow to the skull. There is only one depiction of a horned helmet in ancient Nordic art, and it was probably ceremonial. We get the image of Vikings in horned helmets from the 19th-century revival of interest in Nordic culture. Northern Europeans romanticized what they saw as the purest form of medieval culture, as a kind of counter-balance to the glories of the ancient Mediterranean cultures of Greece and Rome. There was a mini-mania for all things Norse in the 19th century. This was nowhere more highly expressed than in Richard Wagner’s operas. Wagner’s costume designer, Hans Thoma, is primarily responsible for the image we have today of horned-helmeted Vikings.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 77 Minutes 23 Oct 2017

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was one of the most important events in the 20th century. Professor Nash joins us to untangle the extremely complicated history of Russian politics between 1905 and 1917. He tells us what happened and why. Why, for instance, were there so many revolutions (or "state coups") between the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 and the October Revolution of 1917? Why did World War I have such an accelerating effect on the pace of changes in Russia? Why were there so many competing political parties in Russia, and how did the Bolsheviks eventually become paramount? Listen and learn, Buzzkillers.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 12 Minutes 20 Oct 2017

“Amazing Grace” is one of the most popular songs in Christian songbooks, and one of the most recognizable songs in the world. By one account, it is sung over 10 million times annually. It has also been the font of historical myths and misunderstandings. One particularly dramatic one, and one that has been flying around the internet for over a decade, is that the author John Newton had a Christian conversion after surviving a devastating storm that almost wrecked his ship. True story? Afraid not. Listen and learn from a Buzzkill favorite!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 9 Minutes 16 Oct 2017

Professor Phil Nash joins us on our very first Man Crush Monday to tell us about the most important American Civil Rights leader that most people haven't heard of -- A. Philip Randolph, labor leader, and founder of the idea for a march on Washington. Randolph started his national career by organizing the first major African-American labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, in 1925. His pressured FDR to ban discrimination in defense industries in 1941, and Truman to end segregation in the armed forces in 1948. Perhaps most importantly, his plan for a March on Washington in 1941 set the precedent for the eventual 1963 March on Washington. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 11 Minutes 13 Oct 2017

Captain’s Quint’s story about the USS Indianapolis in the movie “Jaws” is only the beginning of a gut-wrenching piece of history, Buzzkillers. There’s a lot more to the Indianapolis sinking than most people know. Listen and learn from one of the Buzzkill favorites!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 51 Minutes 10 Oct 2017

Professor Marie Hicks joins us to talk about gender and employment in the emerging field of computing in Britain, and all the historical myths that surround them. In 1944, Britain led the world in electronic computing. By 1974, the British computer industry was all but extinct. We examine why this happened in the tense post-war world, as Britain was losing its role as a global leader and innovator. Professor Hicks calls this a story of gendered technocracy, and it undercut Britain's flexibility in the technology age. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 33 Minutes 06 Oct 2017

Introducing the first ever Professor Buzzkill Flashback Friday! Every Friday we'll be re-releasing old favorites. This week we have episode #56 - the Scopes Trial! On April 24, 1925, a high school teacher named John Scopes taught a class in Dayton, Tennessee, using a state-mandated textbook that included a chapter explaining Darwin’s theory of evolution. In doing so, Scopes was in violation of Tennessee’s Butler Act, passed earlier in the year. He was arrested, tried, convicted, and fined $100. The verdict was later overturned on a technicality, but the case has gone down in history as an example of faith against science, ignorance against knowledge, and tradition against progress. But what really happened? Why was the Scopes Trial held? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 7 Minutes 02 Oct 2017

General Curtis LeMay became one of the most important US military leaders during the Cold Wa. One of the most famous or well-known things about LeMay is that he reportedly said, in the mid-60s, that, in order to win the Vietnam war the US Air Force should, "bomb the North Vietnamese back into the Stone Age." Did LeMay say it? Or, more accurately, was he the first person to say it? And was he the first to present it as the distillation of a wartime policy idea? Oh, it's complicated, Buzzkillers. Find out in this episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 12 Minutes 28 Sep 2017

We're bringing back one of your favorites, Buzkillers! Hitler storming out of the stadium after Jesse Owens won the 100-meter dash in the 1936 Berlin Olympics is one of most enduring images we have of the tumultuous history of Nazi Germany. Hitler famously “snubbed” Jesse Owens and all African-American athletes because of his ideas of Aryan racial superiority. But did it actually happen? And did it happen the way we usually think? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 6 Minutes 25 Sep 2017

When asked about being drafted for the Vietnam War, Muhammad Ali is often quoted as saying, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong." This was immediately followed by the now-more-famous quote, “No Viet Cong ever called me n****r,” in a one-two punch of defiance. Ali's "quote" summarized in one glaring sentence the idea that oppression against African-Americans started at home, in the United States, and that, as he saw it, African-Americans were being drafted to fight the wrong fight, against the wrong people. It's one of the most famous sayings from the Vietnam war protest period, but did Ali actually say that phrase, or, more to the point, did Ali coin it? Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 35 Minutes 21 Sep 2017

The Irish slaves myth claims that Irish people were enslaved by the British and sent to the Americas (especially the Caribbean) to work on plantations. This myth primarily appears in emails and Facebook posts, and goes like this: Irish people were enslaved in greater numbers than people enslaved from Africa, and treated worse than African slaves. Irish slave women were forcibly bred with African slaves in order to produce valuable mulatto children slaves. The history of Irish slaves has been buried by our politically-correct world, so the myth goes, and has been replaced by an over-emphasis on the enslavement of Africans in the New World. But is there any truth to it, Buzzkillers? Listen and learn.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 243 Minutes 18 Sep 2017

As a parting piece of wisdom about generational stewardship of land and nature, Chief Seattle supposedly said to American colonizers pushing west, "we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children." But, like spiritual quotes that get attached to Gandhi, political quips and gibes that get attributed to Churchill, and thoughtful sentiments that drift toward Martin Luther King, there's no evidence that Seattle ever said it. Listen and learn who did, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 68 Minutes 14 Sep 2017

The Lost Cause is one of the most troubling aspects of American history. The ways in which the Confederacy and the pre-Civil War south has been romanticized and fictionalized has done immense damage to American historical consciousness and interpretation. Professor Philip Nash joins us to discuss how the Civil War, the period of Reconstruction, and the Jim Crow era were twisted into an ahistorical mythology that has plagued our national discourse for over a hundred years. Listen and learn.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 231 Minutes 11 Sep 2017

Sometimes, Buzzkillers, the stars just seem to align. There's a meteor shower and a rainbow on the same day. And a whole bunch of writers, pundits, journalists, and aphorists come up with roughly the same idea at roughly the same time. Or at least they come up with it over a couple of decades, and, in terms of the history of quotations, that's the story of the aphorism and witticism, "life is just one damn thing after another." But it's easier to attribute such a quotation to Mark Twain, and that's what people have done. Did he ever say it? Listen and learn.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 63 Minutes 07 Sep 2017

Cause. Singular. Not plural. We talk about the cause of the American Civil War because there was one overwhelming cause -- slavery. Not tariff disputes. Not states' rights. The Civil War was fought over the preservation of slavery in the south and its expansion to the west. But, perhaps no other aspect of the history of the United States has been so distorted and mythologized as the causes of the Civil War. Professor Philip Nash joins us to explain why slavery was such a dominant issue from the founding of the United States until 1865.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 264 Minutes 04 Sep 2017

Anybody who's completed an elementary school education knows that Abraham Lincoln finished his dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863 by saying that, "...we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." But I thought the background of the quote might fascinate you, and also provide more ammunition for your assault on the ignorance among your office-mates and/or neighborhood pals. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 51 Minutes 31 Aug 2017

When and why were statues to Confederate soldiers, generals, and politicians put up across the American south? Why is the Confederate Battle Flag so proudly waved and displayed in many parts of the US? Professor Nash joins us to explain why all of this happened, who was selected for commemoration, and what it all means for American history and culture. We expose the falsehoods that are used as rationale for the construction and retention of Confederate statues and memorials. The whitewashing of history, and the myths that support it, are a national disgrace. And we do our best to try to stop it. Listen and learn.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 272 Minutes 28 Aug 2017

Upon seeing "The Birth of a Nation," the ground-breaking, if highly racist, piece of cinematography in 1915, President Woodrow Wilson is often quoted as saying, "It is like writing history with lightning." Nearly every American Buzzkiller out there has probably heard this in a 20th Century US history class, or a cinematography class, or on the myth-sustaining History Channel. But did he say it?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 29 Minutes 24 Aug 2017

Practically nothing in the history of the United States has suffered from myth-making and misunderstanding as much as the history of race relations and racist violence. The history Ku Klux Klan is no exception. This is ironic. In its various incarnations, the KKK was supposed to be a secret organization. But historians know a great deal about it, and have analyzed it deeply. We explain the three periods of KKK, how each version of the Klan was different, but also how each version had one crucial thing in common -- hate. Listen, learn, and contemplate.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 21 Aug 2017

In the aftermath of the Dunkirk evacuation and the fall of France in June 1940, things looked pretty bleak for the British, and indeed they were. The Battle of Britain followed almost immediately, and lasted until the end of October 1940, but the British outlast the German bombing raids. The next year, not long after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Churchill went to North America on a morale-boosting trip, both to welcome Britain's new ally (the United States) and to thank its long-standing ally (Canada). While addressing the Canadian Parliament in their House of Commons in Ottawa, Churchill famously quipped that Britain, despite being bombed almost into oblivion by the Luftwaffe, never had its neck wrung like a chicken, by saying "some chicken, some neck." That's right, Buzzkillers, this is a Churchill quote that's genuine. It was said by him. No, really, it was. We have the actual recording, but listen to this episode to hear the rest of the story!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 21 Minutes 17 Aug 2017

The Buzzkill Institute has been inundated with phone calls, text messages, and panicked faxes after President Trump's recent response to North Korea's nuclear threats. He said: "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen." Did he mean it? Could the President launch nuclear weapons in response to, for instance, a verbal threat? Or does the North Korean threat need to be actual, tangible, and immediate? Does the President need to know that the nuclear button on the North Korean leader's desk is about to be pushed before he pushes the button on his desk in the Oval Office? Find out in this episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 288 Minutes 14 Aug 2017

I like this "no quote," Buzzkillers, because it's history of full of all the things we've been talking about on this show -- phrases and sentiments that "sound" like they were said by a prominent person so "they must be from him," misplaced (or moved) punctuation, and the glorious and rapid assumptions displayed on social media that keep the Buzzkill Institute funded. "I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy." - Martin Luther King, Jr. It's a clear and touching expression of true pacifism, and is certainly the type of thing that Martin Luther King, Jr. would have said. But he didn't. What he did say (or, more accurately, write) about killing was this, "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." It appears that Dr. King used this sentiment in sermons in the late 1950s, and it was published in his 1963 book, Strength to Love (which we've put on the Buzzkill Bookshelf). But the "I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives…" sentiment actually comes from someone else. Find out in this episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 58 Minutes 10 Aug 2017

Professor Phil Nash joins us for part three of our examination of John F. Kennedy in the 100th anniversary of his birth. This episode looks at how the JFK legacy was constructed in the immediate aftermath of the assassination in 1963, how it was burnished by the first generation of Kennedy historians, and how it has been revised and re-interpreted since the 1970s. Along the way, we hear about the vital roles played by Jackie Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Theodore H. White. Finally, we learn how the American public was as important in creating the legacy as well as absorbing it.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 170 Minutes 07 Aug 2017

In 1972, Chinese premier Zhou Enlai was asked about the impact of the French Revolution. "Too early to say," he replied. Given that the French Revolution of 1789 had occurred nearly 200 years before, Zhou Enlai was expressing the long view of history in a very witty and Oscar Wildean way. News of this quote flew quickly around the chattering classes in the west, and it was soon used as evidence that the Chinese (especially Chinese intellectuals and leaders) took the long view of things, that they were a patient civilization, and that, when they thought about the future, it was hundreds of years distant. But did he say that? Could he have been referring to something else?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 33 Minutes 03 Aug 2017

It's 2017, Buzzkillers, 77 years after the Battle of Dunkirk and the subsequent evacuation of allied troops from that area between the 26th of May and the 4th of June 1940. The evacuation has become a very famous and celebrated event in World War II history and especially in British history. "Dunkirk Spirit," the British refusal to give up in the face of disaster, and to keep plugging away at a problem until it's solved, comes from the whole Dunkirk experience. But Dunkirk history and Dunkirk myths are very important parts of World War II and the subsequent ways in which it has been taught. We examine some of the bigger Dunkirk myths and misunderstandings in this episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 201 Minutes 24 Jul 2017

Finally a quote that's actually true! Yes, Teddy Roosevelt did say that the best advice he'd ever heard about dealing with foreign affairs and potentially hostile foreign powers is to, "speak softly and carry a big stick." Speaking softly and carrying a big stick will mean that, "you will go far." When he was Governor of New York at the very end of the 19th century, he sometimes said in letters to other politicians, "I have always been fond of the West African proverb: 'Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.'" And he used it in speeches when he became President in 1901, and it was soon referred to as his "motto." In fact, both his domestic and his foreign policy have been called "big stick ideology" both at the time and by historians since.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 41 Minutes 20 Jul 2017

FDR became governor of New York and later President for four terms despite having contracted polio. Professor Matthew Pressman from Seton Hall University joins us to discuss how the press and the American public were told about his disability, and how they reacted. We also learn how the Roosevelt campaign and administration tried to control public knowledge of FDR's condition by managing how information was obtained and used. We examine whether the famous "gentlemen's agreement" between the FDR administration and the press to suppress information about the president's condition was true. A fascinating episode about a complex historical issue.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 72 Minutes 13 Jul 2017

How “clean” was the regular German army (Wehrmacht) during World War II? The Nazis and the SS usually get all the blame for war crimes and for the Holocaust. How much blame can be placed at the feet of “ordinary” German military units? Turns out that the “clean Wehrmacht” story is not only a myth, but it also greatly influenced how post-War Europe was re-built. Professor Nash joins us to examine how deep and wide the war guilt goes.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 179 Minutes 10 Jul 2017

"Quotes" supposedly from the Founding Fathers seem to rear their misattributed heads in the United States every year in the weeks surrounding July 4th. And Americans are often treated to a number of false quotations from the George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the boys to give them inspiration for the rest of the year. You often hear, "the best government is that which governs least…" attributed to Thomas Jefferson (primary author of the Declaration of Independence and the third US President). But did TJ ever say it, much less coin it? Was it Thomas Paine? Or was it someone else? The Professor explains all. . .

  Direct Link   Download 20 Minutes 04 Jul 2017

When was the Declaration of Independence signed? July 4th? August 2? Later? Why did John Hancock sign so prominently and hugely right in the middle? Did he have signature envy? What price did the signers pay for their patriotism? And how did the story of the signers' sacrifices get so out of control by the mid-20th century? Professor Buzzkill puts his John Hancock on this episode, and answers all these questions.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 26 Jun 2017

Ah, Buzzkillers, good old Oscar Wilde, the author of so many excellent plays, novels, and poems. Dripping with epigrams, Oscar entertained literary circles in London, Paris and Dublin with his wit, often pairing philosophical and comical themes to excellent effect. There are dozens of legitimate Oscar-isms, but is there any evidence that he ever said "Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken"? Find out in this episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 62 Minutes 22 Jun 2017

Professor Jeremy Young joins us to discuss the Age of Charisma (1870-1940). It was an exciting period in US history: industrialization was in high gear; railroads and telegraph lines were spreading widely; mass media was born; and increased concentration on charisma, magnetism, and emotion in politics, religion, and social reform. Styles of public speaking changed and founded the phenomenon of personality politics.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 19 Jun 2017

We all love, and should live by the sentiment expressed in "It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness." But did Eleanor Roosevelt say it? Was it Confucius or an ancient Chinese proverb? Or does it come from the 19th century? We explore the origins of the ideas behind the quote, who said it, and how it got attached to Eleanor Roosevelt. Listen to the brand new Quote or No Quote episode of Professor Buzzkill!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 76 Minutes 15 Jun 2017

Professor Nash joins us to discuss the misconceptions and the realities of JFK's presidency, its successes, its failures, and its legacies. We look specifically at the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, and Civil Rights. And we address the question of whether JFK was a liberal, a conservative, or a mixture of both. And on top of all that, we hear audio from some of Kennedy's most telling statements, speeches, and press interviews. It's a fully-rounded episode, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 9 Minutes 14 Jun 2017

Samir Lakhani, the founder of Eco-Soap Bank (one of our Buzzkill partners) has been named a CNN Hero for 2017. We interview him about the project and how the CNN recognition has affected the Eco-Soap Bank. The Buzzkill Institute is committed to helping this great project by contributing $1 for every Buzzkiller who donates to the Eco-Soap Bank. Go to ecosoapsbank.org/donate and type “Buzzkill” in the comments section of the on-line donation form. A donation of just $25 provides soap and hygiene education for 250 Cambodians and recycles 35 pounds of soap from the hospitality industry. And it supports ongoing employment of local people in Cambodia. See the CNN Hero announcement at: http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/04/health/cnn-hero-samir-lakhani-eco-soap-bank/index.html. . .

  Direct Link   Download 262 Minutes 12 Jun 2017

The exact wording of the "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing…" quote varies a little bit from time to time, but it essentially conveys the same message -- Americans are a self-interested people, but they eventually do the right thing. But did Churchill ever say this, or even something like it? No. At least he never said it publicly, and there's certainly no evidence that he ever said it privately. Like dozens and dozens of other political quotes, they get attached to Churchill somehow. It's as if he's standing on a busy street corner and passers-by keep slapping unattributed quote bumper stickers on him until he rivals Shakespeare and the Bible for the world quote record.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 73 Minutes 08 Jun 2017

Frank Lloyd Wright is the most famous architect in American history. But why is he so famous, and was it just about his architecture? In his own mind and in the popular mind, he is often considered a god and an artistic prophet. How did he become so famous and how did his fame and myth-making develop during his career? Architect Eric Osth helps us understand the deep complexities and twists-and-turns in Wright's highly public and media-savvy approach to his architectural design, as well as the public's embrace of it.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 287 Minutes 05 Jun 2017

One of Yogi Berra's best-known "Yogi-isms," "it's like déjà vu all over again," has a complicated history, Buzzkillers. He may have said "déjà vu all over again" after Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle hit back-to-back home runs in a Yankee game in 1961, but there's no record of it. Further, "déjà vu all over again" attributions to Yogi Berra didn't really appear until the mid-1980s. And Yogi himself denied in 1987 that it was one of his Yogi-isms. What's the full story? Find out when you listen to the brand new Quote or No Quote episode of Professor Buzzkill!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 74 Minutes 01 Jun 2017

D-Day, June 6, 1944, is one of the most well-known events of World War II. Why did it happen the way it did and why did it succeed? Was it the turning point in the war in Europe? How many other military operations were going on at the same time in Europe that might explain victory in Europe? There are so many complications to the story that you need the Buzzkill Institute to help explain it all!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 139 Minutes 30 May 2017

Albert Einstein was a scientific genius, and he often discussed many topics outside his field. Is it any wonder, therefore, that the quote, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" is attributed to him? Alas, Buzzkillers, quotes like this seem to attach themselves to Einstein at the speed of light, and there's no evidence he ever said it. Listen to this episode where Professor Buzzkill explains all! And don't forget -- it's not insanity to rate and review our podcast on iTunes!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 88 Minutes 25 May 2017

John F. Kennedy was one of the most fascinating Presidents in US history. And perhaps more fascinating are the ways in which he is remembered by succeeding generations. In this first part of a three-part series, Professor Nash joins us to discuss JFK's background, youth, service in World War II, and his political career. The sweep of his life is as complex and interesting as you can imagine, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 228 Minutes 22 May 2017

P. T. Barnum, the famous 19th century American showman and founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, is often quoted as saying "there's a sucker born every minute." This "quote" is usually trotted out to refer to something that con-men or other shysters who try to separate people from their hard-earned money (as in, selling them tickets to a circus) would say. But did good old P. T. ever say it? And how many Buzzkillers are born every minute? Find out here!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 19 Minutes 16 May 2017

Is Watergate the story of heroic journalists working against all odds and in great danger to get at the truth of presidential corruption? Is it more complicated than that? How accurate was All the President's Men? Who really brought the Nixon presidency down? Professor Buzzkill's new episode explains all!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 173 Minutes 08 May 2017

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes," according to Mark Twain, perhaps the most most-quoted writers and humorists in American literary history. But does the history of quoting Twain repeat itself, or does it simply rhyme? In this episode of Quote or No Quote, we learn that Twain said something close, but more wordy. And we also learn the history of that concept and quote. Listen in, Buzzkillers and see how far back the idea goes!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 23 Minutes 05 May 2017

The history of immigration to the United States is very complicated, Buzzkillers! Millions of people came from all over the world to the United States, and there are almost as many myths about immigration as there were immigrants. What did it mean to come to the United States "legally" during the high points of the history of immigration to the United States? When did the government try to restrict immigration and how did they do that? Professor Buzzkill's new episode explains all!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 01 May 2017

Did President Harry Truman coin the phrase, "The Buck Stops Here"? Did he use the quote as a way to define his Presidency? And what does the phrase "I'm from Missouri" have to do with it? It's all more more interesting than just a simple midwestern truism, Buzzkillers. The Quote Stops Here! Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 46 Minutes 26 Apr 2017

What were "medieval indulgences"? Were they a way for rich people to buy their way into heaven, and help corrupt priests to line their own pockets at the same time? "Indulgences" aren't mentioned in the Bible, but they became heavily used in the Middle Ages. Why? Listen as one of greatest Buzzkillers, Professor William Campbell, enlightens us on the fascinating complexities! Won't cost you a cent, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 254 Minutes 24 Apr 2017

Most people believe they know what Adolf Hitler's plans for a post-war world would be -- German domination. After all, didn't he say, "Today Germany, Tomorrow the World"? Well, Hitler certainly expressed ideas along these lines, although there is no record of him saying it in so few words. The closest Hitler quote that Buzzkill Institute researchers can find comes from Mein Kampf (1925): "If the German people, in their historic development, had possessed tribal unity like other nations, the German Reich today would be the master of the entire world." Where does "Today Germany, Tomorrow the World" come from? Professor Nash enlightens us!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 17 Minutes 14 Apr 2017

What is the actual history behind "The Nuclear Button" and "The Nuclear Football"? And what has to happen before the missiles are launched? Is it automatic, or are there confirmation measures in place? Could we ever find ourselves in a Dr. Strangelove scenario? Listen to Professor Buzzkill calm us down!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 207 Minutes 10 Apr 2017

What do the letters “S.O.S.” actually stand for? “Save Our Ship”? “Save Our Souls”? And why were those three letters chosen? The Professor explains this famous quote, and also the myth that it was first used by telegraph operators on the Titanic after it struck the iceberg in 1912. It’s more complicated and interesting than you can possibly imagine! Send out a distress signal for your brain!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 15 Minutes 05 Apr 2017

One of the absolute best stories emailed by your nutty uncle is the one where a young Scottish farmer boy saved a young English aristocrat from drowning. The aristocrat's grateful father pays for the farmer boy's education. That young farmer boy grows up to become a doctor and discover penicillin. In later life he receives an emergency call to come save a prominent politician's life. The farmer boy's name was Alexander Fleming. The life he saved twice? That was Winston Churchill's. Hear the real story in Professor Buzzkill's new episode. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 03 Apr 2017

The phrase and sentiment, "A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song," is one of the best-known expressions of the intrinsic nature of art and beauty. It has been quoted by presidents and school teachers, and practically everyone in between. And we all "know" that quote comes from Maya Angelou. The US government even said so. But did Maya Angelou really say it? Join Professor Buzzkill as he sings out the answer!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 64 Minutes 29 Mar 2017

Was the Nazi high command, including Hitler, soaked in hard drug use? Over the course of the war, Hitler became increasingly dependent on injections of a cocktail of drug (including a form of heroin) administered by his personal doctor. Drugs alone cannot explain the Nazis’ toxic racial theories or the events of World War II, but if drugs are not taken into account, our understanding of the Third Reich is fundamentally incomplete. Professor Nash gives us the clean story!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 184 Minutes 27 Mar 2017

In times of political turmoil and rhetorical strife, commentators sometimes wheel out this old "quote" by the French philosopher and Enlightenment writer, Voltaire: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." They do this in an attempt to calm things down, but also to support the principle of freedom of speech. Voltaire was indeed a champion of free speech and free-flowing political discourse. But did he actually write or say: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"? Or is this another example of biographers and later scribes putting words in a great thinker's mouth?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 17 Minutes 22 Mar 2017

What is the actual history behind "The Nuclear Button" and "The Nuclear Football"? And what has to happen before the missiles are launched? Is it automatic, or are there confirmation measures in place? Could we ever find ourselves in a Dr. Strangelove scenario? Listen to Professor Buzzkill calm us down!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 193 Minutes 20 Mar 2017

One Winston Churchill’s most famous quotes supposedly occurred at a social occasion in the 1920s, and went like this. Lady Astor (never one of Winston’s admirers) said, “If I were married to you, I'd put poison in your tea.” Churchill replied, “And if I were married to you, I'd drink it.” Great reply, but did he really say it? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 13 Minutes 15 Mar 2017

What can possibly be wrong with St. Patrick’s Day? Not much, except that there’s very little historical basis behind stories about St. Patrick. And there’s certainly no historical basis for excess drinking, green beer, and the Chicago River turned green. Or is there? The Professor becomes more open minded right before our very ears!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 254 Minutes 13 Mar 2017

The number of different images and different sayings or phrases printed on t-shirts exploded in the early 70s. And one of the most striking was the t-shirt from the women’s rights movement which said, "A Woman Needs a Man Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle," most famously worn by the feminist champion, Gloria Steinem. Did she coin the saying? We explain the history behind that great phrase.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 72 Minutes 08 Mar 2017

President Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats” are famous for breaking new ground in how political leaders communicate with their people. But where they really as ground-breaking as we all tend to believe? Did they really help the American people get through the Great Depression and World War II? Was it FDR’s tone and confidence that connected to the people, or was there something more mundane that explains the popularity of the Fireside Chats? Professor Phil Nash enlightens us!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 191 Minutes 06 Mar 2017

Have we all been fooled all the time by people applying this quote to Abraham Lincoln? Where did the quote originate? Honest Abe or someone else? When was it said? During the Lincoln-Douglas Debates? During the 1860 Presidential Election? Find out in this brand new Quote or No Quote episode of Professor Buzzkill!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 72 Minutes 01 Mar 2017

How “clean” was the regular German army (Wehrmacht) during World War II? The Nazis and the SS usually get all the blame for war crimes and for the Holocaust. How much blame can be placed at the feet of “ordinary” German military units? Turns out that the “clean Wehrmacht” story is not only a myth, but it also greatly influenced how post-War Europe was re-built. Professor Nash joins us to examine how deep and wide the war guilt goes.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 207 Minutes 27 Feb 2017

Many things seemed phallic to Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. But did this include the humble cigar? Or did Freud just dismiss overanalysis by saying, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”? What that a genuine Freudian quip? Did Groucho Marx agree? Find out by listening to this brand new Quote or No Quote episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 46 Minutes 24 Feb 2017

Join members of the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army as they interview Professor Jennifer Keane and our own Professor Buzzkill! We discuss the complicated history of the end of World War I, as well as the historical legacy of the 82nd Airborne, the "All American" division. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 11 Minutes 22 Feb 2017

George Washington has every political ideal in the country ascribed to him at one time or another. Big government. Limited government. Freedom of religion. Freedom from religion. What did he really think? What were his political principles and beliefs? Where did they come from? Find out in this episode, Buzzkillers.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 252 Minutes 20 Feb 2017

Lots of people are credited with coining the great phrase, “well-behaved women rarely make history.” These include Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Roosevelt, Anne Boleyn, and our own Aunt Ginger from the Buzzkill Institute. Given time, any powerful woman with backbone and verve will get credit for this phrase and sentiment. Listen and learn who said it first.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 21 Minutes 15 Feb 2017

Huge numbers of listeners have flooded the Buzzkill Institute with emails, faxes, texts, and Tweets, asking about President Donald Trump’s Executive Orders. They’ve come so fast and furious! With a little help from Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan, se explain the nature and operation of Executive Orders, as well as the history behind this fascinating aspect of American history and government.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 256 Minutes 13 Feb 2017

Valentine’s Day is here again, Buzzkillers, and you can be certain that we’re depleting the Buzzkill bank account at a rapid clip so that we can give Lady Buzzkill all the best tokens of love and affection befitting her rank and station. And it’s always around this time of year that people ask me about St. Valentine. Did he really pass a heart-shaped note to an admirer and sign it “Your Valentine”? Was this the first Valentine’s Day card? Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 9 Minutes 07 Feb 2017

The 2017 Super Bowl ad by 84 Lumber was dramatic and touching. It shows a Mexican mother and young daughter trying to get to the United States. They struggle for many days to reach the border, but are confronted by a huge obstacle when they get there. Find out why Professor Buzzkill thinks this ad owes a lot to historical parallels, and why it meant a lot to him personally.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 197 Minutes 06 Feb 2017

Legendary American football coach, Vince Lombardi, was fond of telling his players “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” He employed it many times to motivate them, as well having it posted all around the locker room. And he’s usually the person who gets credit for the quote. But was he the first person to say it? Find out in this episode of Quote or No Quote!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 24 Minutes 01 Feb 2017

The tragic story of the ship “Marie Celeste” has been told for over a hundred years. And tale gets wilder and wilder every time. On December 5, 1872, the vessel was found drifting in the Atlantic Ocean about 1,400 miles west of Portugal. The crew and passengers were gone, but the ship was in near perfect condition, with all her lifeboats intact, and all the supplies, clothing, and provisions for her occupants intact. It was as if the people had evaporated. What happened? Find out, and also learn what the “Marie Celeste” tells us about how historical myths and misconceptions start and spread!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 200 Minutes 30 Jan 2017

At the height of World War II, the British people and British government finances were stretched to the limit. A journalist asked Winston Churchill if the government should cut funding for the arts. The Prime Minister replied, “Then what are we fighting for?” But did he actually say this? The real story is much more interesting. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 64 Minutes 25 Jan 2017

German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel has gone down in history not only as a genius soldier and commander, but also as a military leader above politics, and a hero because he participated in the plot to kill Hitler. How much of this is true, and how much of this is myth? How much of the myth was generated by the German propaganda machine, and how much was boosted by British media buying into it? Professor Phil Nash joins us as we unravel The Rommel Myth.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 10 Minutes 23 Jan 2017

Lots of people take comfort from the quote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” and it’s usually credited to Martin Luther King. He said it, but was it an original MLK thought? The long history of this famous quote is fascinating and uplifting. Listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 88 Minutes 18 Jan 2017

Who was Andrew Jackson? Youngest POW in the Revolutionary War. War hero in the War of 1812. Passionate dueler. Senator. Seventh President of the United States. Highly controversial historical figure. All these things! Listen as Professor Perry Blatz and I disentangle the history and the mythology surrounding this towering icon of American history.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 237 Minutes 16 Jan 2017

“Give me liberty or give me death,” Virginia patriot Patrick Henry was supposed to have said in a stirring speech, trying to convince his fellow Virginians to join with the other colonies in opposing British rule. We Buzzkill this quote and show that, like most “quotes,” it was written decades after the event. Subscribe to Professor Buzzkill and sound the death knell for history myths!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 17 Minutes 11 Jan 2017

What is the actual history behind "The Nuclear Button" and "The Nuclear Football"? And what has to happen before the missiles are launched? Is it automatic, or are there confirmation measures in place? Could we ever find ourselves in a Dr. Strangelove scenario? Listen to Professor Buzzkill calm us down!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 09 Jan 2017

Mohandas K. Gandhi should also be known as the Mahatma of Misquotation. Did he ever say, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” as we read in so many inspirational tweets and messages? Listen as Professor Buzzkill delves into the origin of this quote, avoiding snake bite and 1970s urban violence along the way!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 66 Minutes 04 Jan 2017

What actually happened on the Eastern/Russian Front during World War II? Why did the Germans invade? And why did they get beaten? Was it the Russian winter? Was it the “Russian Horde”? Or are those myths? Super Buzzkiller Professor Nash joins us to explain all the complications, myths, and misunderstandings!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 193 Minutes 02 Jan 2017

One Winston Churchill’s most famous quotes supposedly occurred at a social occasion in the 1920s, and went like this. Lady Astor (never one of Winston’s admirers) said, “If I were married to you, I'd put poison in your tea.” Churchill replied, “And if I were married to you, I'd drink it.” Great reply, but did he really say it? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 15 Minutes 29 Dec 2016

Should old acquaintance be forgot? What? Should we forget old friends? Should we sing about remembering them. What does Auld Lang Syne actually mean? Why do we sing it every New Year’s Eve? Join the Professor as he waxes lyrical and sentimentally about Auld Lang Syne, Scotland, and good auld Robert Burns!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 14 Minutes 27 Dec 2016

Was there special, secret meaning behind the lyrics in the famous Christmas song, The 12 Days of Christmas? Ten Lords a Leaping and Nine Ladies Dancing sounds like a pretty good party! But why wasn’t Professor Buzzkill invited? We explain it all and wish all you Buzzkillers out there a happy holiday season!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 268 Minutes 22 Dec 2016

Was Jesus born on December 25th, over 2000 years ago? Buzzkill Institute historians estimate that the chances are about three-tenths of one percent – or one out of 365. In other words, December 25th is as good a candidate for Jesus’s birthday as any other day of the year, but it is certainly no better than the other 364 possibilities.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 44 Minutes 20 Dec 2016

The truce between the trenches in Christmas 1914 is one of the most famous stories from World War I. Was it one big truce across the whole Western Front? Or was it lots of little ceasefires? How did it happen, and what did the soldiers do during the Christmas Truce? Did they become friends for a day? Did they play football? Did they exchange cigarettes and pose for pictures? Professor Theresa Blom Croker explains all!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 18 Minutes 15 Dec 2016

The Great Escape (1963) is in the pantheon of World War II films, and deservedly so. Generations of Buzzkillers have grown up watching Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, and other film stars try to outsmart their captors at Stalag Luft III. But how true was the “Great Escape” story that became a best-selling novel and box-office smash at the movie theater? Listen carefully, or Professor Buzzkill will send you to the cooler!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 41 Minutes 13 Dec 2016

Christian churches and institutions, especially Catholic ones, keep a lot of relics. In some churches or reliquaries, you may see a small piece of the true cross, or a lock of St. John’s hair, or even an alleged piece of Christ’s foreskin – since all the rest of him was taken up into heaven, of course. But are these remnants ever genuine? You may be surprised at the answer.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 08 Dec 2016

Candy canes are a well-known symbol of the holiday season, but what is the origin and meaning of this peculiar candy? Some say it was invented by a German choirmaster in the 17th century. Others say it was invented by an Indiana confectioner in the 19th century. Or maybe it was a Catholic priest? Is the candy cane is full of religious symbols that represent the blood of Christ, the nativity, and the strength of the Christian church? Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 52 Minutes 06 Dec 2016

Professor Phil Nash joins us to explain the myths and misconceptions about the December 7th, 1941, as well as the complexities of the cultural importance of the attack since then. Did FDR know about the attack ahead of time? And who was the attack more devastating for - the United States or Japan? You’ll learn more about an event that you thought you already knew well by listening to us!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 01 Dec 2016

In 1814 we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississipp’. We took a little bacon and we took a little beans. And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.” It’s a stirring folk song, perfect to stoke the patriotic fires of a young nation. But did the Battle of New Orleans really take place after the War of 1812 was over? Keep your powder dry, Buzzkillers, because you’re about to find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 11 Minutes 29 Nov 2016

President Lincoln comforted Lydia Bixby over the loss of her five sons during the Civil War in the one of the most famous letters in American history. But what really happened to Mrs. Bixby’s five sons? Did they all die fighting for the Union? Or, were things a lot more complicated than that? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 8 Minutes 24 Nov 2016

One of the legendary stories that re-appear during Thanksgiving season is that no less a luminary and Founding Father than Ben Franklin thought that the bald eagle was an improper choice as national bird and a national symbol. Franklin preferred the more “dignified” turkey, and tried to convince Founding Fathers to agree. Apparently they thought Ben was a senile old sentimentalist, and so they ignored him. But is any of this story true? Listen and find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 258 Minutes 23 Nov 2016

As the pilgrims pushed their chairs back from the first Thanksgiving table, their stomachs full of turkey and potatoes, Squanto appeared with bushels of popped corn and spilled it out on the tables for the Pilgrims to enjoy. That’s how Americans got popcorn, right Buzzkillers? Well, maybe not. but you’ll have to listen to find out!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 13 Minutes 22 Nov 2016

The Pilgrims and Indians sat down on the fourth Thursday of November in 16-something and started the first Thanksgiving dinner, right? You guessed it. Wrong! It took almost 300 years to get to Norman Rockwell’s painting and the Macy’s Parade. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 14 Minutes 17 Nov 2016

Did George Washington have a vision one evening at Valley Forge? Did an angel descend and tell General George about the future of the country, and give him the emotional stamina to carry on and win the Revolutionary War? Or is this Revolutionary-era story really a product of the 1860s? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 36 Minutes 15 Nov 2016

Was the Black Death really the most deadly disease in human history? And did it really come from outer space? From the time of the first plague outbreak all the way until now, the Black Death has ignited imaginations. Some cite it as the first example of biological warfare, while others say that the death toll estimates you learned about in school are actually too low. Professor John Giebfried join us to examine the real history of the Black Death, and separate truth from fiction!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 273 Minutes 10 Nov 2016

The blackout of November 1965 was a big event in the north-east of the United States and in Ontario. But did it result in an increase in babies born nine months later? When deprived of other “entertainments,” did people divert themselves with love? Snuggle up with the Professor, Buzzkillers, and hear the full story.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 20 Minutes 08 Nov 2016

Did Richard Nixon genuinely “concede” the 1960 Presidential Election to John Kennedy the day after the election, as so many commentators now tell us? Or did he qualify his remarks so much, and work so feverishly behind the scenes to overturn the election, that he should be considered a “sore loser”? Find out in this episode, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 7 Minutes 06 Nov 2016

Abner Doubleday didn’t invent baseball, and he didn’t do it in Cooperstown in 1839, Buzzkillers. Once again, a second- or third-hand story created a persistent myth. It was Alexander Cartwright in Manhattan in 1845. The Baseball Hall of Fame is still a great place to visit and I hope to run into you there sometime, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 75 Minutes 01 Nov 2016

Professor Perry Blatz joins us to explain why democracy didn’t work well enough in the US election of 1860, and why it led to the Civil War. The Democratic party split over the issue of slavery, the Republicans were fraught over the issue, and a whole new party, the Constitutional Union party for formed. The country ended up with four political parties running candidates for president! This election makes the complicated 2016 election seem like amateur-hour!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 11 Minutes 31 Oct 2016

Halloween is a demonic holiday chock full of sin and endangered by razor blades in trick or treat candy, right? Wrong. Nothing about the origins of Halloween can be called demonic, satanic, or anti-Christian. And the adulterated candy thing is an urban legend. Get the full story from the Buzzkill Institute.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 295 Minutes 27 Oct 2016

We look at the story that men dressed as women to get into lifeboats escaping the sinking Titanic, which struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage to New York close to midnight on 14 April 1912. Didn’t those men know that it’s “women and children first”? I hope they weren’t Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 63 Minutes 25 Oct 2016

Super Buzzkiller Professor Philip Nash joins us to dispel myths about Hitler during World War II. We talk about strategic and operational blunders (especially Operation Barbarossa), harsh occupation policies, declaration of war against the US, and imperial overstretch. We also examine the Holocaust and Holocaust deniers, Hitler’s micromanagement, his declining health, the plots to kill him, and his eventual suicide. Join us in the Buzzkill Bunker!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 236 Minutes 21 Oct 2016

Churchill wouldn’t be Churchill if there weren’t myths about him from the very beginning. Stories about his birth in 1874 usually include the “facts” that he was born in a closet or ladies’ room at Blenheim Palace. The birth was premature, dramatic, and rushed, according to legend. And there wasn’t time to find a more suitable room. Or was there? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 23 Minutes 18 Oct 2016

Marco Polo was a Venetian Merchant who left Europe in 1271 at age 17, traveled all around the Mongol Empire in the time of Genghis’ grandson Kublai Khan, and then came back to Europe in 1295, age 41. But did he really go on this trip, or are the stories that he made it all up true? Professor John Giebfried enlightens us, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 13 Oct 2016

We call them “Levis,” no matter what brand they are. But maybe we should call them “Jacobs.” Blue jeans weren’t invented by Levi Strauss, but by Jacob Davis, a fellow European immigrant and tailor. Was it a story of expropriation and exploitation? Thankfully, no, Buzzkillers. Both men worked together to bring “Jacobs” to the world, and we are all grateful.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 45 Minutes 11 Oct 2016

Laura Trevelyan from the BBC joins us to discuss to her new book, Winchester: the Rifle that Built an American Dynasty. She busts myths about the famous rifle and family, and explains its importance in American history. Recorded live in Georgetown, Washingtong DC! The first Buzzkiller who emails us - info@professorbuzzkill.com - gets a signed copy of the book!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 6 Minutes 06 Oct 2016

The 1937 Hindenburg disaster was one of the most dramatic events of the 20th century. And it certainly was dramatically reported. But what if the report we're used to hearing was partly the result of a mechanical error in the recording equipment? What if the emotion that comes through in the "oh the humanity" quote was inadvertently enhanced through this error? Would the disaster "sound" different to us if we heard the genuine report?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 10 Minutes 04 Oct 2016

Did radio listeners really think that Nixon won the first 1960 presidential debate, while TV viewers thought the more telegenic Kennedy won? This story is the most repeated myth in the history of presidential debates. The Professor explains why. Make sure to listen and tell us what you think about the Professor’s “presentation.”. . .

  Direct Link   Download 234 Minutes 29 Sep 2016

The White House is called the “White House” because it was painted white to cover up the fire damage from its burning by the British army in 1814, right? Well, no. But that’s the myth that has been flying around the internet for years. Unfortunately, the story is less dramatic, but the history of the White House name is interesting. Listen up, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 52 Minutes 27 Sep 2016

Super Buzzkiller Prof Philip Nash joins us to examine the many myths surrounding Adolf Hitler’s rise from Chancellor to the outbreak of World War II. These include: how Nazi Germany functioned; the myth of purely tyrannical dictatorship; and the myth of an efficient, orderly dictatorship. We also explore Hitler’s genuine popularity, and explain the successes of Hitler’s diplomacy and expansionism. It’s very deep and complicated, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 245 Minutes 22 Sep 2016

Was Civil War Union General Joseph “Fightin’ Joe” Hooker’s last name the origin of the slang term for prostitute? He had a perhaps undeserved reputation as a party animal, but did that reputation actually add a new word to the language? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 35 Minutes 20 Sep 2016

So you think you know all about Genghis Khan, the 13th century Mongol who built an enormous empire by slaughtering millions? but much of what you know is either exaggerated or just plain untrue. He was unmistakably brutal, but not as brutal as you may think. Listen to our interview with Professor John Giebfried, an expert on this period!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 15 Sep 2016

Hello again, fellow Buzzkillers. In this week’s mini-myth, we tackle Isaac Newton’s famous apple – an object we all heard about in grade school that allegedly hit Isaac Newton on the head some time in 1666, causing him to have a sudden epiphany about the universal law of gravitation. So, did Sir Isaac really discover the secrets of the heavens because of a sudden, concussive insight under an apple tree, or is this just a fruity story, embellished over time by overzealous Newtonians?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 66 Minutes 13 Sep 2016

Super Buzzkiller Prof Philip Nash joins us to examine some of the zillion myths surrounding Adolf Hitler and his early years. We discuss the myth of his brutal childhood and youthful poverty, the complicated story of his service in World War I (and the ways in which he wrote about it later in Mein Kampf), and the myths surrounding his early political career and political activism. It’s very deep and complicated, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 186 Minutes 08 Sep 2016

The painting Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze is one of most iconic images in the American cultural consciousness. But how accurate a depiction is it? By standing up in the boat, did George risk tipping over and falling into the icy river? Would his soldiers have laughed or panicked? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 06 Sep 2016

Everybody knows that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, but how did he do it? Did he really paint the entire ceiling from atop a scaffold while reclining on his back? Well, not really. In some cases, the truth is even more amazing than the myth, and this is one of those cases, Buzzkillers. Not only did Michelangelo paint one of the most famous masterpieces in the history of art, he did so under great duress. Listen to find out why the painting of the Sistine Chapel is even more awesome than you thought... . .

  Direct Link   Download 244 Minutes 01 Sep 2016

“Ring Around the Rosie” has been a popular nursery rhyme for a very long time. Many of us learned it when we were children. But we often hear people claim that the rhyme is traceable to the time of the Black Plague, and that each line is a morbid reminder of the horrors of Bubonic disease. But was it?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 290 Minutes 30 Aug 2016

In the Academy Award-winning film, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Colonel Nicholson is portrayed as a man who willingly betrays his country and his men for an easier ride as prisoner of war. He collaborates with his captors in order to build a railway bridge that is key to Japan's war efforts in Burma and Thailand. While the men under his command are initially intent on sabotaging the bridge, Nicholson convinces them otherwise, ostensibly in order to maintain troop morale, and to show that British engineering is superior to that of the Japanese. The only problem, Dear Buzzkillers, is that the real commanding British Colonel on the River Kwai was was nothing like the character portrayed in the movie.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 222 Minutes 25 Aug 2016

The silk top hat was common headwear in high society from the middle of the 18th century all the way to at least the beginning of the 20th. By the middle of the 20th century, however, the top hat was in rapid decline – and many blame President John F. Kennedy for its demise. Did Kennedy break with tradition by not wearing a top hat during his inauguration – and if he did, how much did that really contribute to changing fashions? Read on and find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 8 Minutes 23 Aug 2016

Who built the ancient monument, Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain in England. Merlin and King Arthur? The Devil? The Druids? And what was it used for? Religious rituals? As a solar or seasonal calendar? A burial site? Or as site of ancient healing? Find out, Buzzkillers. The Professor tells all, along with help from Spinal Tap.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 248 Minutes 18 Aug 2016

Like most Americans, I suppose I assumed that Jesse Owens was the only African-American athlete at the 1936 Olympic Games. A new documentary, Olympic Pride, American Prejudice not only shows that there were 18 African-American athletes on the US team in Berlin, but that they were remarkably successful in winning medals and representing their country. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 9 Minutes 16 Aug 2016

The idea that the “original” Olympics in ancient Greece (which ran from 776 BC to AD 393) were only open to amateurs, void of cheating and corruption, free from commercialism, and a time of peace across Greece is just a myth. It didn’t exist in Greek mythology, though. The myth of an amateur Olympics is entirely a product of the late 19th century, when the idea of organized, regularly-scheduled games with international participation was conceived.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 273 Minutes 11 Aug 2016

Enigma, the German World War II message encoding machine, was famously cracked by British codebreakers led by Alan Turing. But were there more people involved? Buzzkillers in Dayton, Ohio, will be very proud to hear that one of their native sons, Joseph Desch, was an Enigma hero. And Buzzkillers in Poland will welcome the fact that we’re gonna remind everyone that Polish cryptanalysts were the first to crack Enigma.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 69 Minutes 09 Aug 2016

It’s election time, Buzzkillers! Should we pillory Hillary? Throw the Trumpster in the dumpster? Distinguished historians join me to discuss "fringe" candidates from the glorious American past. Listen in and cast your vote!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 280 Minutes 04 Aug 2016

It’s the classic image from Hollywood movies about ancient Egypt -- slaves (usually Israelites) building the pyramids under the harsh lash of their masters. While Egyptian pyramid builders might have been harsh, relationships with their workers were much more complicated than master-slave. Recent archaeological evidence has put this old myth to rest.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 8 Minutes 02 Aug 2016

George Washington has every political ideal in the country ascribed to him at one time or another. Big government. Limited government. Freedom of religion. Freedom from religion. What did he really think? What were his political principles and beliefs? Where did they come from? Find out in this episode, Buzzkillers.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 237 Minutes 28 Jul 2016

This week’s MiniMyth takes on the Iron Maiden! No, not the heavy metal band, the “medieval torture device.” We also look at the Pear of Anguish and the Spanish Chair. Take extra pain medication, Buzzkillers, this episode rips apart a big historical myth. And the blood flows everywhere!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 12 Minutes 26 Jul 2016

Hitler storming out of the stadium after Jesse Owens won the 100-meter dash in the 1936 Berlin Olympics is one of most enduring images we have of the tumultuous history of Nazi Germany. Hitler famously “snubbed” Jesse Owens and all African-American athletes because of his ideas of Aryan racial superiority. But did it actually happen? And did it happen the way we usually think? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 163 Minutes 22 Jul 2016

The Venus de Milo is considered one of the most beautiful representations of ancient Greek sculpture. But she is probably more famous for her missing arms. Were they really broken off in a fight over her by zealous archaeologists? And what would she look like if her arms weren’t missing? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 12 Minutes 19 Jul 2016

Was Amelia Earhart really an important aviation pioneer? Did she deserve all the attention she got? Hell yes, Buzzkillers! She was an aviation rock star! What she did was amazing, and an important part of her contribution to the 20th century was promoting female aviation. So the hype was worth it. But the myths and conspiracy theories about her disappearance have tended to swamp the history of her actual accomplishments and those of other early female aviators.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 273 Minutes 14 Jul 2016

In 2010, Time magazine called the traditional school year calendar a “legacy of the farm economy.” And a few years later, National Public Radio referred to summer vacation as having its origins in an “agrarian calendar that dates back to farm cycles and harvests.” It’s always been that way, precisely so school children can be freed up to work on the farm back home. Right, Buzzkillers? Find out in today’s episode!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 8 Minutes 12 Jul 2016

“Molly Pitcher” was the legendary water carrier who kept American soldiers hydrated and poured cool water on cannon barrels during the crucial Battle of Monmouth in 1778. But was she a real person? If so, who was she? As you’ll find out, Buzzkillers, she was more a product of the American Revolutionary Centennial celebrations in 1876 than the Revolutionary War itself.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 6 Minutes 07 Jul 2016

Was the Liberty Bell used to announce the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776? Did get its crack from zealous and patriotic bell-ringing? Those are the standard stories, Buzzkillers. But, like the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, there’s more myth and mis-understanding in that story than actual historical fact. And most of the symbolic history of the Liberty Bell comes from the 19th century, rather than the 18th century. Proclaim Buzzkilling throughout the land!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 36 Minutes 05 Jul 2016

[fusion_text]The bombing of Dresden on 13-14 February 1945 was one of the most destructive of the Allies’ late-war bombing campaigns over Germany. Somewhere between 22,000 and 25,000 people were killed and a famously beautiful city was leveled. It’s been called an Allied war crime, and Kurt Vonnegut’s famous novel, Slaughterhouse 5, reinforced that idea in the public mind for at least a generation. But was it a war crime? Was it unnecessary? Listen in, Buzzkillers, as Professor Phil Nash enlightens us![/fusion_text]. . .

  Direct Link   Download 184 Minutes 30 Jun 2016

The Star Spangled Banner has been the national anthem of the United States since its founding, right? Wrong. Francis Scott Key wrote it 1814, and the song didn’t become the official national anthem until 1931, 117 years after it was written, and 155 years after the Declaration of Independence founded the nation.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 46 Minutes 28 Jun 2016

Douglas MacArthur is one of the most famous and celebrated generals in American history. Along with Patton, however, he’s one of the most misunderstood and most mythologized. Born in the 19th century, MacArthur served in both World Wars, the Korean War, and other, less extensive US military actions. Yet he is also considered another attention hound (like Patton), sometimes overly-dramatic, and often letting his over-inflated view of his own abilities and destiny get in the way of sound judgement. In this episode we look at his career from the end of World War II to his dismissal by Truman in 1951, and try to determine who was the real Douglas MacArthur.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 189 Minutes 23 Jun 2016

Did Adolph Hitler really dance a little victory jig after the surrender of France in June 1940? Could such a nasty and maniacal person really show such light-hearted emotion? Turns out that high-quality film editing and special effects by the British wartime propaganda services put that little lilt in Hitler’s step.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 46 Minutes 21 Jun 2016

Douglas MacArthur is one of the most famous and celebrated generals in American history. Along with Patton, however, he’s one of the most misunderstood and most mythologized. Born in the 19th century, MacArthur served in both World Wars, the Korean War, and other, less extensive US military actions. Yet he is also considered another attention hound (like Patton), sometimes overly-dramatic, and often letting his over-inflated view of his own abilities and destiny get in the way of sound judgement. In this episode we look at his early life and his career through World War II and try to determine who was the real Douglas MacArthur.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 111 Minutes 16 Jun 2016

Many of us “know” that, in the Garden of Eden, Eve was tempted by a serpent to eat an apple from the tree of knowledge. She ate the apple and that led to God expelling her and Adam from the Garden of Eden. This is known as the “Fall of Man.” But was an apple responsible for Adam and Even being kicked out of the Garden of Eden and for the Fall of Man? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 8 Minutes 14 Jun 2016

Listen, oh Buzzkillers, and you shall hear, the true story of the Ride of Paul Revere. Silversmith, patriot, brave man and true, but he wasn’t the only one to carry the news.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 254 Minutes 09 Jun 2016

The myths about the RMS Titanic, which sank on April 15, 2012, are themselves so big and numerous that we could call them titanic in their own right. In fact, they’ve lasted so long they might be considered unsinkable. Listen and learn the real story, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 33 Minutes 07 Jun 2016

On April 24, 1925, a high school teacher named John Scopes taught a class in Dayton, Tennessee, using a state-mandated textbook that included a chapter explaining Darwin’s theory of evolution. In doing so, Scopes was in violation of Tennessee’s Butler Act, passed earlier in the year. He was arrested, tried, convicted, and fined $100. The verdict was later overturned on a technicality, but the case has gone down in history as an example of faith against science, ignorance against knowledge, and tradition against progress. But what really happened? Why was the Scopes Trial held? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 239 Minutes 02 Jun 2016

The image of the Pony Express is very strong in the American consciousness. Here’s what we “remember” -- a rider galloping as fast as the wind through the wild west, ignoring the elements, dodging hostile Native Americans, and delivering the mail. But that image owes more to Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show and Hollywood movies than to the history of the actual Pony Express. According to the US Department of the Interior, “Few events in U.S. western history have generated more myths and half truths than the Pony Express.” Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 6 Minutes 31 May 2016

It’s a story that drives tour guides and historians of engineering crazy. A worker falls into a pool of wet concrete that’s being poured as part of a major construction project. Before he can be saved, his body slips beneath the surface and he drowns in the thick soup of the concrete. It’s too difficult to extract the body and the construction bosses don’t want to stop the “concrete pour,” so he gets entombed in the concrete pillars of the bridge, or the concrete walls of the dam, or whatever it is they’re building. Were bosses that cold? Was the march of progress so heartless? Find out, Buzzkillers.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 165 Minutes 26 May 2016

The great influenza pandemic of 1918-1920 was the one of the worst disasters in human history. Somewhere between 50 and 100 million people were killed by the flu world-wide. But did it start in Spain? Was the Spanish health-care system to blame. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 39 Minutes 24 May 2016

St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most popular saints in the Christian religion. He’s known as a lover of animals, the first eco-warrior, and a peace-negotiator during the crusades. How much of this is true, and how much is myth? “Make me the instrument of your buzzkilling!”. . .

  Direct Link   Download 225 Minutes 19 May 2016

Was the Ty Cobb, the Georgia Peach, rotten to the core? He is often referred to as one of greatest baseball players of all time. But was his professional greatness mirrored by personal reprehensibility? As is so often the case, his soiled reputation was mostly the product of a bad biography and reporters repeating old rumors. Play ball, Buzzkillers, and don’t forget to sharpen your spikes!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 8 Minutes 17 May 2016

George Washington has every political ideal in the country ascribed to him at one time or another. Big government. Limited government. Freedom of religion. Freedom from religion. What did he really think? What were his political principles and beliefs? Where did they come from? Find out in this episode, Buzzkillers.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 6 Minutes 12 May 2016

The 1937 Hindenburg disaster was one of the most dramatic events of the 20th century. And it certainly was dramatically reported. But what if the report we're used to hearing was partly the result of a mechanical error in the recording equipment? What if the emotion that comes through in the "oh the humanity" quote was inadvertently enhanced through this error? Would the disaster "sound" different to us if we heard the genuine report?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 7 Minutes 10 May 2016

For decades, a story flew around that Coke was originally full of coke, as in cocaine. The early developers of Coca-Cola stirred cocaine into its famous syrup, so the legend goes. Once mixed with energizing carbonated water, early Coca-Cola became irresistible, and customers became addicted. That’s how Coke dominated the soft drink market. Is this a myth? Is it a half-myth? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 142 Minutes 05 May 2016

Did women’s rights protesters go so far as to burn their bras in public in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in the same way that anti-war protesters burned their draft cards? Well, no, Buzzkillers. They did throw them in “freedom trash cans,” along with girdles, high-heeled shoes, and cosmetics. Not as dramatic as burning them, but a whole more sensible, from a public safety point of view, wouldn’t you say?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 44 Minutes 03 May 2016

This episode looks at the dramatic combination of advancing industrialization, and the dirty business of coal mining both from the miners’ side and from the operators’ side. Specifically we’re going to talk about what happened when poor industrial relations, bigoted immigrant relations, and distrust between workers and bosses ignited violence, murder, undercover police work, and crime and punishment in the late 19th century coal fields of industrial America. In short, the Molly Maguires! Read more at http://professorbuzzkill.libsyn.com/page/2/size/25#PfYrrTbDe9PyEhw1.99. . .

  Direct Link   Download 111 Minutes 28 Apr 2016

Everyone loves the cowboy hat. Even if you don’t wear one, you want to see your cowboy movie heroes wearing one. Anything else would be un-American, right? Wrong. The classic, iconic cowboy hat design didn’t appear until 1865 and didn’t become popular until the end of the 19th century.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 13 Minutes 26 Apr 2016

The U.S. Treasury has finally taken our advice, Buzzkillers! Harriet Tubman will be the new image on the $20 bill. It took a lot of work on our part to convince the old fuddy-duddies at Treasury to make the change, but it was worth it. You’re welcome, America. The Professor is now emboldened to make more quality suggestions for new portraits on the currency. As usual, he’s completely right, and it’s only a matter of time before the government submits to his superior thinking.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 97 Minutes 21 Apr 2016

Queen Victoria Not Amused? There is no good evidence for the quote “we are not amused” being uttered by Queen Victoria. The original story is dubious, Buzzkillers. Find out why. Read more at http://professorbuzzkill.libsyn.com/page/5/size/25#1qF2mSbO6pYGGvv8.99. . .

  Direct Link   Download 68 Minutes 19 Apr 2016

Hey you Buzzkillers and backfillers, you listeners and glisteners! Did you think The Sarah was the first whackadoodle presidential candidate? Distinguished historians join me to discuss "fringe" candidates from the glorious American past. Listen in and cast your vote!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 177 Minutes 15 Apr 2016

Is there any truth to the story that the saying, “my name is/will be mud,” or “your name is/will be mud,” refers to the stain on Dr. Samuel Mudd’s reputation based on his relationship with John Wilkes Booth in the aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination in 1865? Find out, #Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 78 Minutes 12 Apr 2016

General George Patton was one of the most famous, colorful, and talked about US generals in World War II. He is also among the most misunderstood military men in history. Famously played by George C. Scott in a 1970 movie, Patton’s image is one of the most enduring in 20th century American history. He is frequently referred to as one of America’s great generals, and just as frequently referred to as one of the most arrogant, out-of-control, and over-rated.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 153 Minutes 11 Apr 2016

It’s an American election year, Buzzkillers, and we can absolutely count on misquotes and other abuses of history. Join us on this Pre-Dawn Raid as we expose Sarah Palin’s mis-use of General George Patton during this year’s election. It’s a doozy!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 260 Minutes 07 Apr 2016

Was a junk food diet really used as a defense in a murder case? Did the Twinkie do it? Alas, Buzzkillers, the answer is no, but the story about this myth is fascinating. Sit back, unwrap one of your favorite snacks, listen and learn!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 56 Minutes 05 Apr 2016

Prof. Phil Nash joins us once again to bust US history myths. This time it’s about President Woodrow Wilson. How much of a progressive was he? What were his real attitudes towards race? How much idealism did he pump into his policies on foreign affairs? How effective was he in ending World War I and negotiating things at Versailles? And, finally, did his wife really take over after his stroke in late 1919.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 7 Minutes 31 Mar 2016

Gregor Rasputin (1869-1916) is one of the most fascinating people in modern history. Who was he? Religious visionary? Mystic healer? Charlatan? Spiritual con man? Political snake? All of the above? The story that it took being drugged, poisoned, shot, beaten, and drowned for him to die is a myth, Buzzkillers. But the broader story is fascinating. Listen and learn.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 16 Minutes 29 Mar 2016

“Quotations” from Chief Seattle (c.1786-1866), particularly those that have ecological tone, appear on posters, photographs, monuments. These “quotes” are used almost everywhere that people want to express the idea that Native Americans had natural wisdom about the land and that the tragedy is that it was taken away from them. But what did Chief Seattle actually say? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 24 Mar 2016

Everyone was killed at the Alamo. Right, Buzzkillers? That’s why “Remember the Alamo” is such a famous rallying cry in American history. But was everyone killed inside the Alamo? Civilians? Women and children? Was Santa Anna essentially a murderer? Find out, Buzzkillers, by listening to our latest MiniMyth! Read more at http://professorbuzzkill.libsyn.com/page/2/size/25#PPREystcRcXdtAxg.99. . .

  Direct Link   Download 13 Minutes 22 Mar 2016

“Amazing Grace” is one of the most popular songs in Christian songbooks, and one of the most recognizable songs in the world. By one account, it is sung over 10 million times annually. It’s has also been the font of historical myths and misunderstandings. One particularly dramatic one, and one that has been flying around the internet for over a decade, is that the author John Newton had a Christian conversion after surviving a devastating storm that almost wrecked his ship. True story? Afraid not.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 9 Minutes 17 Mar 2016

What can possibly be wrong with St. Patrick’s Day? Not much, except that there’s very little historical basis behind stories about St. Patrick. And there’s certainly no historical basis for excess drinking, green beer, and the Chicago River turned green. Or is there? The Professor becomes more open minded right before our very ears!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 72 Minutes 15 Mar 2016

The Honor Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier seem superhuman. Their ceremonial duties are handled with the ultimate in precision and professionalism. But are the email stories about them having to live like military monks for the rest of their lives true? We interview First Sergeant Dennis McMahon from the Society of the Honor Guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to get the lowdown, Buzzkillers! Read more at http://professorbuzzkill.libsyn.com/page/2/size/25#FlhXd7VZKIxJh2ZF.99. . .

  Direct Link   Download 154 Minutes 10 Mar 2016

“The Great Train Robbery” (1903) was not the first feature film, despite what you learned in film studies class, Buzzkillers (or from some tiresome, drunken film-studies major at a boring film-studies party). The Aussies beat Hollywood to the punch. Find out how they did it! Read more at http://professorbuzzkill.libsyn.com/page/4/size/25#SqoE7S2WYSK2gMUf.99. . .

  Direct Link   Download 36 Minutes 09 Mar 2016

Is the “west” locked in “conflicts unending” with Islam? Is it a “clash of civilizations”? Professor Karl Barbir from Siena College in New York shows us the problems with this overly general thinking. Things were much more subtle and complex in the long history of international relations between European cultures and Middle Eastern cultures.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 187 Minutes 03 Mar 2016

Did you struggle over long division, Buzzkillers? Did your math teacher try to console you by telling that Einstein was bad at math when he was young? Well, I hate to bust one of your cherished childhood stories, but it isn’t true. Einstein rocked the mathematics. Don’t use that excuse when you can’t balance your checkbook.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 11 Minutes 01 Mar 2016

Captain’s Quint’s story about the USS Indianapolis in the movie Jaws is only the beginning of an gut-wrenching piece of history, Buzzkillers. There’s a lot more to the Indianapolis sinking than most people know. Join me for a special episode prompted by the popularity of Episode 44 on the Atomic Bomb.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 186 Minutes 25 Feb 2016

The painting Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze is one of most iconic images in the American cultural consciousness. But how accurate a depiction is it? By standing up in the boat, did George risk tipping over and falling into the icy river? Would his soldiers have laughed or panicked? Find out, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 58 Minutes 23 Feb 2016

Was there an actual decision whether or not to use atomic bombs in World War II? If not, what were the questions and issues about using the bomb? Why did the US choose Hiroshima and Nagasaki as targets? Did Truman do it to scare the Soviets? Did dropping the bomb actually save lives compared with how many would have died during an invasion of Japan? Professor Philip Nash enlightens us.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 42 Minutes 18 Feb 2016

Professor Andrea from the University of Vermont, and co-author of Seven Myths of the Crusades (2015) continues his explanation of the Crusades, why they’ve been so misunderstood, and why they have become used as a political tool in our own time. Listen and Learn, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 49 Minutes 16 Feb 2016

Professor Andrea from the University of Vermont, and co-author of Seven Myths of the Crusades (2015) explains the complexity of the medieval crusades to all the Buzzkillers out there. He enlightens us about how and the crusades were launched. He explains the major schools of interpretation on the crusades and why it’s such a fascinating topic to this day.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 288 Minutes 11 Feb 2016

One of the most most popular history exercises in elementary schools these days is to have students learn about Quilt Codes and the Underground Railroad and make some designs themselves. Students are told that quilt patterns gave escaped slaves directions and warnings on their way to freedom. Alas, it’s a myth, Buzzkillers. But it’s a highly textured one. Geddit? Listen in!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 15 Minutes 09 Feb 2016

The cracking of the German Enigma Code by Polish, British, American, and other Allied cryptologists during World War II has been celebrated since the 1950s as one of the major factors in the Allies winning the war. The celebration and dramatization of Enigma code-cracking has usually exaggerated things like infallibility of the Enigma code, the individual genius of some of the code crackers, and which allied country was most responsible for breaking Enigma. Trust us, Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley didn’t break the Enigma code, no matter how attractive they looked doing it in the movie.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 142 Minutes 05 Feb 2016

Droit du Seigneur (French: “right of the lord”) refers to the “right” of a feudal lord to sleep with the bride of one of his vassals on their wedding night. While this “right” appears as early as the Epic of Gilgamesh (c 2100 BC), is an important plot device in The Marriage of Figaro (the play by Beaumarchais, written in 1788) and in Mel Gibson’s film Braveheart (1995), there’s no solid evidence that it ever existed in medieval European law or that it was ever practised then.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 68 Minutes 02 Feb 2016

Hey you Buzzkillers and backfillers, you listeners and glisteners! Did you think The Sarah was the first whackadoodle presidential candidate? Distinguished historians join me to discuss "fringe" candidates from the glorious American past. Listen in and cast your vote!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 28 Jan 2016

We call them “Levis,” no matter what brand they are. But maybe we should call them “Jacobs.” Blue jeans weren’t invented by Levi Strauss, but by Jacob Davis, a fellow European immigrant and tailor. Was it a story of expropriation and exploitation? Thankfully, no, Buzzkillers. Both men worked together to bring “Jacobs” to the world, and we are all grateful.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 39 Minutes 26 Jan 2016

We interview Professor Michael Rectenwald of NYU about his new book, Nineteenth-Century British Secularism (2016). We learn how diverse non-religious philosophies were and what the real meaning of secularism was in its early decades. Secularism sought to build a society were believers and non-believers could co-exist peacefully and equally before the law. It was not anti-religion. In fact, many secularists saw willful atheism as harmful to society. One of our most thought-provoking shows, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 10 Minutes 19 Jan 2016

The popular image of military tactics during the American Revolutionary War is that the crafty colonists wore their buckskins and other camouflage, hid behind trees and sniped at British soldiers marching in columns and wearing red coats with white crosses on the chest. The British, apparently, thought their military tactics were the envy of the world and more than a match a bunch of amateur backwoods guerilla fighters. And, you guessed it, Buzzkillers, it’s more less completely a myth. That’s story’s far too simplistic. The Colonials used standard European-style battle formations when they needed to, and the British used guerilla tactics whenever those fit the battle goal.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 15 Jan 2016

Herr Hitler gets credit for an awful lot, Buzzkillers, including the invention of the Volkswagen. The story is that he demand a “people’s car” that the average German could afford. Alas, Buzzkillers, the story is much more complicated than that, and Adolph played only a small part in the invention of the cute, little VW Beetle. Read more at http://professorbuzzkill.libsyn.com/page/3/size/25#GPGDoXQ404ldFObh.99. . .

  Direct Link   Download 44 Minutes 12 Jan 2016

This episode looks at the dramatic combination of advancing industrialization, and the dirty business of coal mining both from the miners’ side and from the operators’ side. Specifically we’re going to talk about what happened when poor industrial relations, bigoted immigrant relations, and distrust between workers and bosses ignited violence, murder, undercover police work, and crime and punishment in the late 19th century coal fields of industrial America. In short, the Molly Maguires!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 228 Minutes 07 Jan 2016

Abner Doubleday didn’t invent baseball, and he didn’t do it in Cooperstown in 1839, Buzzkillers. Once again, a second- or third-hand story created a persistent myth. It was Alexander Cartwright in Manhattan in 1845. The Baseball Hall of Fame is still a great place to visit and I hope to run into you there sometime, Buzzkillers!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 32 Minutes 05 Jan 2016

The Martians were invading! People went hysterical and ran for their lives! Some committed suicide. Farmers brought out their shotguns to protect their homesteads. Americans panicked, or did they? Find out on Professor Buzzkill!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 31 Dec 2015

How did New Year’s Day end up in the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere (and the middle of summer in the southern hemisphere)? Wouldn’t a day in spring be more fitting? Find out how people celebrated New Years in past centuries and why things turned out the way they did.. . .

  Direct Link   Download 21 Minutes 30 Dec 2015

How do you solve a problem like Sound of Music myths? When did The Captain and Maria get married? How anti-Nazi was he? How many dozens of kids did they have? How did the von Trapps escape the Nazis? Movie myths are always fund, Buzzkillers! Read more at http://professorbuzzkill.libsyn.com/#xoGQekcUwp2M307l.99. . .

  Direct Link   Download 16 Minutes 29 Dec 2015

Can you predict the future? Can anybody? Or are there as many myths about the future as there are about the past? Hmm. Big questions, Buzzkillers. But the Professor takes them head on and goes where no Buzzkiller has gone before. Join him!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 35 Minutes 28 Dec 2015

The Literary Churchill, Buzzkillers! We finally get to hear what was going on inside the old bulldog’s head. Prof Jonathan Rose schools us on how Churchill’s reading, writing, and acting affected his decisions and political career. We even play Churchill Quote or No Quote!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 5 Minutes 24 Dec 2015

Who was Santa Claus, Buzzkillers? The jolly old man from Miracle on 34th Street? The round-bellied man wearing a red costume, driving a sleigh pulled by 8 tiny reindeer? Was there a Rudolph involved?. . .

  Direct Link   Download 16 Minutes 22 Dec 2015

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree. Where in the world did you come from? Was it Latvia or Germany? Prince Albert or the Prussian Army? Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree. How lovely is your mythology!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 238 Minutes 18 Dec 2015

The rule of thumb about history myths is that they’re persistent. Ever hear the one about an ancient law that allowed a man to beat his wife with a stick as long as it was not thicker than his thumb? Well, it’s a myth, Buzzkillers. But how it became a myth is fascinating!. . .

  Direct Link   Download 9 Minutes 15 Dec 2015

History myths start and spread in many similar ways that rumors and urban legends do. According to experts, it’s due to something called “certainty decay.” What’s that? You’ll have to listen to find out, Buzzkillers!. . .