The Lincoln County War was once called "a war without heroes". However, it did manage to produce an American legend. Billy the Kid would eventually be celebrated as a righteous avenger who fought for the little guy. But how accurate is this depiction? Was Billy the Kid really much more than a hired thug? Tune in and find out how the Princess Bride, the best scene in the Godfather, and some dude named Brushy Bill all play a role in the story.
There are few times and places as romanticized as America's "Old West". It has a robust mythology peppered with gunslingers, outlaws, and rugged pioneers. One of the most recognizable of these legendary rogues has to be Billy the Kid. The young outlaw barely lived to see twenty-one, but his legend would prove to be immortal. In a world that produced hundreds of outlaws and gunfighters, why has Billy the Kid been so lovingly mythologized? Tune in and find out how laundry theft, a gun hidden under a breakfast for two, and some dude named "Windy" all play a role in the story.
In the world of Atlantis research there are many who believe that ruins of the lost city can, and will, be found. By carefully considering the details in Plato's dialogues some researchers believe that fabled sunken city can be accurately located. Is there anything to the many theories about Atlantis' real location? Tune in and find out how the largest volcanic eruption in human history, math jokes, and Gotham City all play a role in the story.
The world of Atlantis research can be a very strange place. Some researchers believe that Atlantis was a real Bronze Age city whose ruins might one day be found near the rock of Gibraltar. Others believe that the true "lost civilization" is actually far more ancient. Perhaps the real Atlantis was a sophisticated maritime society that existed during the last ice age. Could it have been that the climate change that accompanied the end of the ice age also wiped away this amazing civilization? Tune in and find out how sleeping prophets, Noah's Arc, a brave muskrat, and our buddy Graham Hancock all play a role in the story.
In 360 BCE the Greek philosopher Plato wrote of a powerful island nation that had been sunk to the bottom of the ocean by wrathful gods. Plato called this lost city Atlantis. Little did he know that this story would go on to launch an entire genre of pseudo-historical speculation. The myth of the dazzling lost civilization would inspire countless amateur theorists and would-be archaeologists. Was a there a real city that inspired Plato's story, or was Atlantis just a figment of the philosopher's imagination? Tune in and find out how Graham Hancock, Charles Darwin, and the OFH drinking game all play a role in the story.
In the history of the Blues there are few musicians as revered as the great Robert Johnson. Although he saw little success in his own lifetime, his music would go on to influence generations of singers, songwriters, and guitar players. Legend has it that Johnson gained his great talent after he sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads. His tragic life and violent death are often explained as the dark fallout of his ill advised contract with Satan. What can be said for certain about the most mysterious figure in American music? Tune in and find out how fake mothers, poisoned whiskey, Levon Helm, and guy named "Honeyboy" all play role in the story.
In the early 1600's most English people assumed that Captain John Smith was a liar. His memoirs were peppered with romantic stories of shipwrecks, duels to the death, and exotic lovers. His contemporaries were pretty sure he had made it all up. This included his most famous exploit--- when he was saved from execution by Pocahontas. Over the years this tale has been scrutinized by countless historians. Despite the fact that it seems completely made up, there are many who believe that there is more truth to Captain Smith's story than one might assume. Tune in and find out how defiant epitaphs, fairytale inventions, and running into your ex-girlfriend at the movies plays a role in the story.
The story of Pocahontas is one of the most enduring legends of America's early colonial period. Her relationship with the Englishman John Smith would become the inspiration for everything from cheesy romance novels to Disney films. However, the reality behind this beloved story is far more grim. Should the story of Pocahontas be written off as a romantic fable, or is there some truth to be found? Tune in and find out how international men of mystery, legitimate piracy, and three severed heads all play a role in the story.
Archimedes was one of the ancient world's most important mathematicians. His discoveries would form the foundation upon which all future western science was built. However, he's probably best remembered for his amazing inventions that saved his city from attackers during the siege of Syracuse. The most discussed of all of these amazing devices has to be Archimedes' "Death Ray". This mysterious machine was said to be able to set ships on fire from hundreds of meters away. Did this fabled "Death Ray" really exist, or is just another legend in a life filled with mythology.
P.T Barnum did everything he could to curate his own historical legacy. He was deeply concerned with how people would remember him after he was gone. Would he go down as a greasy hustler, or would he be celebrated as a great entertainer? Since that time historians have debated Barnum's legacy as a hoaxster and manipulator of the media. Were Barnum's "humbugs" just good fun, or was he too quick to dispense with morality in order to make a buck. Tune in and find out how fish-monkeys, a woolly horse, and the town of St. Thomas, Ontario all play a role in the story.
In the 19th century there were few Americans more famous than P.T Barnum. Long before he founded the circus that would bear his name, Barnum made a name for himself by pulling off elaborate hoaxes. Barnum's so-called "humbugs" walked the line between charming practical jokes and cynical frauds. How much should we believe about a man who lied for a living? Tune in and find out how fake news, George Washington's wet nurse, clockwork robots, an someone named "zip the pinhead" all play a role in the story.
The Crimean War cavalry action known as “the charge of light brigade” was immortalized by the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson . The poet described a glorious charge into the mouths of Russian cannon carried out by men who would sooner die than disobey their orders. But is any of this actually true? What was the real charge of the light brigade? Why has one of history’s biggest military blunders been remembered so fondly? Tune in and find out how the sick man of Europe, being “sporting”, and a whole lot of donkeys play into the story.
When Tsar Nicholas II was executed in 1918 the Bolsheviks pumped the Russian media full of misinformation. The official story was that the Tsarina and the Prince had been spared and moved to a safe location. Absolutely nothing was said about the four imperial princesses. This would give rise to one of the most robust historical myths of the twentieth century--- that the Princess Anastasia had escaped the execution and made her way to freedom. Soon impostors started popping up all over Europe claiming to be the missing princess. But were any of these claims legitimate? Tune in find out how "Dad behaviour", Jamie Lee Curtis, the German Kaiser, and the best brother in the world all play a role in the story.
If there is anything stranger than the life of Grigori Rasputin, then it has be his unbelievable death. As Rasputin's influence at court increased the rumours about his debauched personal life became even more intense. Could it be that he had actually seduced the Tsarina? His meddling in the Tsarist government eventually earned him powerful enemies who were happy to put the peasant out of his misery. But perhaps these assassins bit off a little more than they could chew. Tune in and find out how cool code names, cyanide laced cream puffs, and a well-placed genital wart all play a role in the story.
There are few twentieth century figures as mysterious as Grigori Rasputin. The Siberian mystic has been portrayed as a scheming dark magician who seduced the Russian Queen and made a cuckold of Tsar Nicholas II. He’s been blamed for everything from the First World War to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. But how much should we believe about this strange Russian peasant? Is there anything to the legend of Rasputin? Tune in and find out how children with iron teeth, religious sex-parties, Robert Redford, and Homer Simpson all play a role in the story.
The deeper you dig into the claims made in 1421: The Year China Discovered America the weirder the story becomes. The author Gavin Menzies boldly asserts that the fleets of the Chinese Admiral Zheng He managed to circumnavigate the globe some 100 years before Europeans. But he is not content to stop there! By the end of his controversial book Menzies has the junks of Zheng He accomplishing feats of navigation that would not be repeated again until the late 19th century. But does his evidence stand up to scrutiny? Tune in and find out how paranormal maps, forged carbon dating tests, and prehistoric giant sloths all play a role in the story!
One of the most controversial historical theories to emerge in the last 15 years is the so-called "1421 thesis". The theory was originally formulated by the former British submarine commander Gavin Menzies. He contends that during the Ming Dynasty the Admiral Zheng He led an impressive fleet of Chinese junks on an unprecedented journey of discovery. According to Menzies this journey took them to the New World nearly 80 years before Columbus. But is there any proof to support this incredible claim? Tune in and find out how dragon thrones, giraffes masquerading as unicorns, and the Chinese Luke Skywalker all play a role in the story.
Our Fake History is celebrating its one year anniversary! In honour of this milestone we have turned the show over to the listeners. In this episode Sebastian does his best to answer as many of your questions as he possibly can! Tune in and find out how Fender Telecasters, know-it-all students, and the young Julius Caesar all play a role in the story.
Ty Cobb has been remembered as one of baseball's greatest villains. Despite being universally recognised as one of the game's most talented players, Ty Cobb is mostly remembered as violent racist who was hated by all who knew him. However, a new biography is claiming that Ty Cobb's reputation was unfairly tarnished by an unscrupulous biographer looking to make a name for himself by exposing the "real Ty Cobb". Was Ty Cobb really the monster that so many believe him to be? Tune in and find out how forged letters, pistol whippings, and Tommy Lee Jones all play a role in the story.
It has been nearly six hundred years since Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake in Rouen. Since that time there have been no shortage of conspiracy theorists and armchair psychologists who have tried to explain the girl who stubbornly resists explanation. This episode we dive deep into the weird theories about France's favourite Saint. Tune in an find out how LSD experiences, the plot of Star Wars, and a Bishop called Pierre the Pig all play a role in the story!
If Joan of Arc's rise to fame was unexpected, then her success on the battlefield was completely flabbergasting. Joan would score a series of impressive victories over the English and clear a path to Rheims so her Dauphin could become King of France. But what's a girl to do when her mission from God wraps up more quickly than anticipated? How should a modern lover of history make sense of a life so filled with miracles and impossible deeds? Tune in and find out how foot spikes, a proud bastard, and an archer named Lionel all play a role in the story.
An historical myth managed to get loose and pass itself off as a fact in Episode #21! In this "Mini-Episode" Sebastian does his utmost to wrangle the loose myth and banish it to the pit. What results is a brief history of the most obscene gesture in the western world. Tune in and find out how Socrates, The Boston Bean Eaters, and the namesake of the "Charlie Horse" all play a role in the story!
The story of how Joan of Arc, an unassuming peasant girl, became the leader of French armies is one of the most dramatic in all of European history. In many ways Joan's biography can read like a fairytale, or like the classic hero's journey. As you might imagine it is a story that is coated in a healthy layer of mythology and exaggeration. Parsing the legends from the verifiable historical facts can get messy when it comes to France's most unlikely national hero. Tune in find out how a man made of glass, the history of obscene gestures, and the best way to shut down a cat-caller all play a role in the story.
There are few expeditions from the so-called "age of discovery" as harrowing as Ferdinand Magellan's attempted circumnavigation of the globe. The journey was plagued by storms, scurvy, starvation, and mutiny. By the time the expedition was over only one leaky boat and 18 traumatized sailors managed to make their way back to Spain. What became of the man who has so often been celebrated as the first person to sail around the world? Tune in and find out how blood filled goblets, vengeful slaves, and Quentin Tarantino all play a role in the story.
Famous historical "firsts" tend to be controversial as a rule, and the world's first circumnavigation is no exception. Ferdinand Magellan is often celebrated as the first person to sail around the world, but is that actually true? In many ways the expedition that is given credit for completing the first circumnavigation may have actually been one of the era's most disastrous sea-voyages. Who really deserves the title of "first person to circle to globe?" Tune in and find out how the flat earth, an island of people with no heads, and a retirement plan based on cloves all play a role in the story!