Because of conflicting accounts of history small errors are commonplace, but some misconceptions have become so popular that they’re now accepted as truths. We put five of the most widespread historical inaccuracies to rest.
1. Although Independence Day is celebrated on the 4th July every year, the signing did not actually occur on the 4th July 1776. Most of the delegates signed the document on the 2nd August of the same year, although the declaration was officially adopted by congress on the famous date.
2. The common image of Vikings with horns on their helmets is incorrect. There’s no evidence at all that the Vikings ever wore horned helmet and this idea is thought to have been inspired by the Der Ring des Nibelungen opera cycle by Richard Wagner.
Panic on the streets
3. When Orson Welles’ classic 1938 radio adaption of The War of the Worlds aired, newspapers across the country reported widespread panic. But it seems the papers were as unreliable then as they are today. The small incidents of panic were inflated massively by the reporters in an effort to discredit radio. Little did they know this myth would only serve to further the attention the adaptation would receive.
4. For those of us less mathematically inclined, it comes as a source of comfort to learn that Einstein too failed maths at school. But sadly this is also a myth. Einstein is reported as saying, “I never failed in mathematics… Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus.” Better get back to the books then.
Holidays are coming
5. Although I’m sure they’d be quick to argue otherwise, the Coca Cola Company did not create the popular image of Santa Claus in his jolly red coat. Coca Cola first used Santa Claus’s image in the 1930’s by which point the common image was already used widely throughout mass media.