The Boogeyman. The Tooth Fairy. Santa Clause. We all know these are myths and legends made up by storytellers and parents, but there’s a part of all of us desperate to be told the truth: “It’s all real!”
People on Reddit were asked: “What was something you thought was a myth but turned out to be true?” These are some of the most interesting answers.
The landfill of Atari ET cartridges was considered an urban legend for a long time. When it was initially reported, people within the company gave conflicting reports on whether or not the landfill existed and how big it was. Hilariously, this turned out to be true as the landfill was discovered in 2014 and had some ET cartridges.
For centuries, sailors out on the oceans occasionally reported giant waves coming out of seeming nowhere, even in otherwise calm seas and clear weather. These monster-sized waves were probably responsible for quite a few ship disappearances and sinking over the centuries. However, no one really believed the sailors and rogue waves were relegated to sea myth and tall tales. It took until the late 20th Century for photographic evidence and satellite imagery to prove their existence once and for all.
Nobody used to believe they existed because those who found them had to go so far to do so and weren’t guaranteed a spotting.
The discovery of viking/norse colony at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada that was settled between 990-1050. Rumors of Norse landings in North America were dubious, often alluded to in the Icelandic or Greenlander Sagas as the colony of Vinland. In 1961, a colony was located, excavated and dated to over 400 years prior to Columbus.
Rob Ford, Toronto Mayor, on crack.
When this rumour broke, most people just thought it was a dumb rumour. Given his character, it seems like the kind of thing somebody would invent or overzealously stretch evidence to attempt to make real. Even people that didn’t like him (many people) didn’t give this any credit.
Then the video surfaced and the admissions came and it was surreal.
I had perfectly normal periods until I was 24/25. One day I was sitting at work and dropped my pen. Instead of just leaning over to pick it up, I started crying. I just sat there with tears running down my face like “What the hell is going ON here?!”
Sure enough, the next morning I was greeted with my monthly negative pregnancy test.
Now every time I start getting choked up when I can’t find my car keys or realize I’m out of oatmeal I know to put on a liner before I go to sleep.
It was widely regarded to be a myth that the first emperor of a united China, Qin Shi Huang, built a massive replica of his empire as his mausoleum. The stories said he had thousands of statues of soldiers constructed to guard his empire in the afterlife and had an underground palace with rivers of mercury. In 1974, more than 8,000 terracotta warriors were uncovered in Xi’an China.
Orichalcum. Plato wrote of this precious metal several times, remarkably when he wrote about his fantasy kingdom of Atlantis. Since this metal obviously doesn’t exist, historians thought for a long time that Plato was using Orichalcum as a representation of power, to show how powerful the Atlanteans were that they even had the whole outer wall of the city decorated with Orichalcum. Plato even admitted that, though he knew the name and the appearance of the thing, the metal itself was lost in the past as well as the methods for its fabrication.
For a very long time it was accepted that it was simply a fictitious metal, made up for Plato’s writing. Historians were very surprised when in 2015 they found an ancient Greek shipwreck containing 39 ingots of a brass red, bright metal, around 2600 years old, that pretty accurately fit the descriptions of Orichalcum. Later, two soldier helmets were found on another shipwreck, also of this red metal. It turned out to be a copper alloy, which apparently did exist and was used in Greece at a time. I think it is unknown when and why the techniques for creating this alloy were lost to the Greek, if it was actually them who smelted it in the first place.
People like to say that it’s a myth that dark roast coffee has more caffeine than light roast, and that the truth is the opposite.
While it is true that, bean-for-bean, dark roast doesn’t contain more caffeine than light, light doesn’t contain more than dark either. Caffeine is incredibly stable during the roasting process, so if you take two beans from the same cultivar and roast one dark and the other light…the difference in caffeine content would be negligible at best.
That said, a brewed cup of light roast will not have the same amount of caffeine as a brewed cup of dark roast. The reason being that they have different weights and different densities. A single bean of light roast is slightly heavier than a single bean of dark roast due to water content. So if you weight out, say, 100 grams of ground light roast coffee, it will consist of fewer beans than 100 grams of dark roast coffee, and the pot made from the dark roast will end up with a higher caffeine content.
However, dark roast doesn’t compress as much as light roast does. So if you grind it up and measure 10 scoops of light roast, it will be made up of more beans than 10 scoops of dark roast and therefor a pot made with that measure will have more caffeine.
All of that said, the difference between these is not very much. If 100 grams of dark roast contains, say, 800-830 beans…100 grams of light roast will contain something like 720-750 (beans weigh, on average, between .12 and .14 grams). The difference between cups weighed by scoops will be even smaller.
With caffeine content at about 1mg per bean, that’s maybe 100mg of caffeine difference across 12-14 cups of coffee, meaning your difference is between 5-8mg per cup. Your average 8oz coffee has close to 100mg of caffeine in it, so you aren’t going to notice a difference that small.
Bottom line: Drink the one that tastes better. If you really need a caffeine jolt, buy something built for that purpose.
That Seinfeld is about nothing…
I had watched the show for years, mostly just in repeats on TV or throwing on random episodes from my DVDs. I know that it’s a “show about nothing” but that had never clicked for me. Until last night. I have been going through it and I was laying in bed and I realized: “Absolutely nothing happens to these people in the course of nine years. Absolutely nothing.”
Kangaroos were once classified as cryptids (along with Bigfoot, Loch Ness monster, etc.)
Before it was established that they kept their babies in their pouches, it was told that they were “creatures with two heads”. Makes me think what other cryptids we actually are just seeing wrong.
The one that always sticks in my mind was that the Mongolians would always boil their water before drinking to “get rid of the tiny evil spirits’.
That’s a pretty good description of germs and bacteria for the time period.
There exists an oral history of a tremendous wave striking the Pacific Northwest among various coastal tribes. It was broadly viewed as being nonsense before they uncovered evidence of a colossal thrust earthquake and tsunami from around 1700.
The way they confirmed it is pretty awesome too. The Japanese have kept a history of earthquakes and tsunamis for hundreds of years. They just happened to have a record of a tsunami that paradoxically had no preceding earthquake (it did, but they didn’t feel it since it was on the other side of the Pacific Ocean) at the exact same time that a huge swath of the Pacific coast had a ton of trees die from a sudden inflow of saltwater.
Cigarette companies really were actively spreading misinformation that they were safe.
The Black Swan. It used to be used as a phrase to mean something that was impossible to exist, or an affront to nature. Then they sailed into the swan river in Western Australia, and lo and behold, there they were.
One of my favorites is Lake Nyos in the Republic of Cameroon.
The local legend was that an evil spirit or a monster lived in the lake and would come out at night to kill anyone who lived too close to the lake. One of the local groups, the Bafmen, settled in the high ground near the lake due to the legends. Different groups moved into the area in the mid 1900’s and lived closer to the water’s edge, disregarding the customs of the Bafmen.
In 1986, nearly 1,500 people living near the lake were found dead. Those who lived in the higher ground were fine.
It turns out the lake was very deep, and would essentially become carbonated. A land slide could trigger a release of CO2 from the lake waters. On that night in 1986, an enormous release occurred and since CO2 is heavier than air, anyone in the lower areas simply suffocated and didn’t wake up.
So while the myth about the evil spirits wasn’t entirely true, there really was something in the lake to fear!
Cups of microwaved liquid apparently exploding, aka Superheated Water. When it first was reported no one would believe it – people getting scalded when they take an apparently still, non-boiling cup of liquid out of a microwave and have the contents suddenly burst up out of the container.
There was tale of a massive eagle that stole babies in Maori legend. Pakeha (European settlers) didn’t believe it until at least after 1871 when a dude found the 400+ year old remains of an eagle in a swamp. They were 20-33 lb/9-15kg and had a 8.5-10 foot/2.4-3m wingspan.
It would kill its prey by diving at ~50mph/80kph toward the neck or head and the “striking force [was] equivalent to a cinder block falling from the top of an eight-story building.”
It hunted Moa, which were 12 feet/3.7m tall. It definitely could have stolen a baby.
I didn’t think that Italians actually gesticulated quite as much as the stereotype made out. Not 5 minutes after having driven into Italy from Switzerland, I saw a guy holding a phone to his ear with his shoulder, using both of his hands in a pleading motion. To a phone.
This turned out to be a very common occurrence.
For a few hundred years the Micronesians, a stone-age culture, had the fastest sailboats in the world. The first few reports of how fast the boats went were derided as fantasy. It wasn’t until George Anson made actual measurements and drawings in the 1740s it was taken seriously.
If I’m not mistaken I have two:
African Pygmies. Europeans thought they were something that the locals had made up or maybe they were runaway children or something that made more sense to them than a civilization of tiny humans. Then anthropologists, curious about this yet undisturbed culture ventured into the jungle and found them!
Anacondas. Reports of them were given to explorers by natives, and Europeans just couldn’t believe that giant snakes existed. Until they encountered giant snakes.
The eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. When Pliny’s account of the eruption was first found by Victorian’s, none believed such a ‘fanciful’ tale. Only with modern reconstructive science and study of the geology do we know that his account was mostly accurate.
The Shang Dynasty, China’s second dynasty according to traditional historiography. Until the 20th Century, there was no direct evidence that it had existed besides records describing it left behind by dynasties that came centuries after them, and it was ascribed semi-mythical status.
Then one day somebody realized that “dragon bones” being ground up by a bunch of villagers to make medicines were actually oracle bones, the first direct written evidence of the Shang Dynasty’s existence left by the dynasty itself.
The dynasty preceding the Shang, the Xia Dynasty, is still considered mythical, and since it precedes writing its existence is harder to verify.
In the 1960s there were rumours that the US government had been carrying out secret germ-warfare tests on its own citizens. These rumours were strongly denied.
Then in the 1970s, when pressed by Senate hearings, the military admitted that, between 1949 and 1969, such tests HAD taken place, most notably on the New York subway system.
It wasn’t clear whether King Richard III was really deformed, or if people who wrote about him after he died were just making it up. Some people thought he must have been physically normal, but writers added the deformity to make him seem more hatable. When his remains were found, there was evidence of severe scoliosis that would have made one shoulder higher than the other. Not a hunchback, but at least a bit lopsided.
Moby Dick was in fact a real sperm whale. He was known as Mocha Dick because he lived off the island of Mocha. He sent numerous ships to the depths of the ocean.
Mountaineers found a small lake in the himalayas, absolutely covered in bones. As they searched, they found the bodies of at least two hundred, as well as potentially up to three times that many in the lake itself. All of them died of blunt force trauma from what appeared to be a rockslide, but there was no sign of any such rocks.
According to legend, Raja Jasdhaval, the king of Kanauj, was traveling with his pregnant wife, Rani Balampa. They were accompanied by servants, a dance troupe, and others as they traveled on a pilgrimage to Nanda Devi shrine, for the Nanda Devi Raj Jat, which takes place every twelve years. As they traveled, they were overcome by a sudden, severe hailstorm with extremely large hail stones. The storm was too strong, and with nowhere to take shelter, the entire group perished.
It was long thought to be a legend, but now they think it actually happened, almost exactly the way it was said to have happened.
Some of this material has been edited for clarity.