Misconceptions

The Passport Is Surprisingly Ancient

The first mention of anything like modern-day passports comes from a Bible verse—Nehemiah 2:7-9. The Mongols issued one of the earliest passports in the form of an iron medallion presented to foreigners who were in Mongol territory and under the protection of the Khan. It wasn’t until nearly World War I that the more familiar format (which included details like height and eye color) was implemented. British government officials fought that idea for decades, claiming it was “degrading.”

Gold-Capped Teeth Have Been Around A Long, Long Time

As disgusting and un-hygienic as much of history has been, there’s one thing that many cultures have had in common—the practice of dental implants and tooth decorating. While the Maya blinged out their teeth by drilling holes and inserting minerals and stones, evidence suggests that the Celts followed the Etruscan example of sporting gold teeth. The Vikings, on the other hand, went a little simpler and just etched a series of lines into their teeth.

Many Death Row Inmates Remain Surprisingly Positive

When studies looked at the last words of death row inmates, they found that many of them were going into their final moments with words of positivity, hope, forgiveness, and love. They suggest that this is a sort of psychological defense mechanism that allows us to cope with the overwhelming knowledge of what’s about to happen. Another study of the final hours of a person’s life has found that those who have made peace with their guilt and the inevitability of death are more likely to request a last meal and more likely to request something high-calorie.

Did The Nazis Give ‘Companionship’ Dolls To Their Troops?

According to the story, Heinrich Himmler ordered a whole legion of “companionship” dolls called gynoids to be made based on Aryan appearances. The dolls would accompany Nazi troops across Europe and beyond, allowing them to satisfy their desires without coming into contact with dirty, foreign women of ill repute. But there isn’t much evidence for the story. It’s based on a few questionable photographs of the dolls before they were all supposedly destroyed in the bombings of Dresden. So did the Borghild Project actually happen?

Vegetarianism Originally Had Little To Do With Animal Rights

Today, many of the most vocal vegetarians aren’t afraid to say they’re doing it for the animals even though the origins of the vegetarian lifestyle had less to do with saving animals and more to do with maintaining a clean, bland lifestyle that would curb sexual desire and prevent the downfall of society. The movement was started by the Reverend Sylvester Graham (of graham cracker fame). He pushed the idea of a meat-free, flavor-free diet in order to help curb sexual appetites and free people from the need for masturbation. It wasn’t until some of his followers—the Kellogg family—decided to try their hand at making fake meat that the Seventh-day Adventist Church got hold of the idea and came up with the now-familiar hot dogs and burger patties.

Massive Use Of Wind Turbines Could Increase Temperatures

As our fossil fuels run out rapidly and changing conditions damage our planet, we turn to renewable resources for solutions to the ever-looming energy crisis. Wind power has always been lauded as one of the best alternatives, but some studies suggest that wind turbines on a massive scale could significantly raise global temperatures.

The Golden Age Of Cinema Wasn’t When You Probably Think It Was

The Golden Age of Cinema is a blanket term referring to the (supposedly) greatest era in movie-making history. It’s a time when men were real men who invariably wore hats, and when women were femme fatales and glamorous damsels. It was the 1930s to the beginning of the 1950s, but taking a look at the numbers shows that it’s not all it was cracked up to be. It was only when the studios’ stranglehold on the industry broke that we got some of the most creative movies out there, and the so-called Golden Age should be referring to the 1960s and 1970s.

The Moon’s Near Side Is Darker Than The ‘Dark Side’ Of The Moon

Most of us are aware that we Earthlings see only one side of the Moon. Until the Soviet’s Luna 3 snapped a handful of pictures of it in 1959, no one had ever laid eyes on half the lunar surface. This is because the Moon rotates at the same speed it orbits the Earth (every 27.3 days) and keeps the same side facing us. But because the Moon orbits the Sun along with the Earth, the far side is not any darker—or lighter—than the side we’re familiar with. However, Luna 3 and subsequent Apollo missions revealed that that the far side does not have the coffee-colored maria or lunar seas that cover much of the near side.

The Grammatically Incorrect Origins Of ‘OK’

We say it all the time, but until Allen Walker Read, we had no idea where “OK” came from. There were plenty of claims, from a French village known for its rum all the way to army biscuits and German ranks and titles. But Read determined that it was from a rather unlikely source, first used in the Boston Morning Post to mean “Oll Korrect,” combining two fads of the day: initials and misspellings.

Spanking In Schools Has Lasted Longer Than You Might Think

Ohio only stopped corporal punishment in schools in 2009, and it only stopped in New Mexico in 2011. A few years later, it’s still legal in 19 states thanks to a ruling in a 1977 Florida court case that stated schools have every right to hit their students under the Constitution. When students took their school to court, saying paddling and spanking violated their Eighth Amendment rights of freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, the courts said the amendment was designed to protect convicts, not students.