History

11 Of The Biggest Lies In History We All Totally Fell For

ABC Education / Smithsonian Magazine

History was one of my favorite subjects in school. I found it fascinating to learn about the world before us, but it turns out that it may not be as real as we thought!

There are a lot of people who believe what hear from others and take it as fact, but sometimes lies find their way into the picture.

These are some of the biggest lies in history, either told at the time or widely believed today.

1. George Washington's Cherry Tree

History For Kids

As kids, most of us heard the story about former president George Washington cutting down a cherry tree when he was a boy. He had gotten an hatchet for his birthday and damaged his father's cherry tree, and when his father found out, Washington confessed.

“I cannot tell a lie…I did cut it with my hatchet.”

In a crazy twist of irony, that never actually happened. The story about being honest was actually a lie. William Holmes McGuffey, an author and a minister, had created this story to teach kids about honesty in 1836, and it ended up getting published.

2. The Berlin Wall

AP

“Nobody has the intention of building a wall," said German communist leader Walter Ulbricht, on the same day that the wall was built.

The Berlin Wall remained standing for almost 30 years, separating families and the city before finally being torn down.

3. The Titanic

AP

"This ship is unsinkable!"

Is it though?

Tying into that unsinkable lie, there's also misconceptions on what actually happened to the Titanic. Of course, the most popular theory is that it hit an iceberg, new evidence suggests it actually sank due to a fire.

"The official Titanic inquiry branded [the sinking] as an act of God. This isn't a simple story of colliding with an iceberg and sinking," said journalist Senan Molony in a documentary. "It's a perfect storm of extraordinary factors coming together: fire, ice and criminal negligence. Nobody has investigated these marks before. It totally changes the narrative.

4. Einstein's Math Grades

AP

I definitely used this one as a kid..."But mom, even Einstein failed math when he was in high school!"

Uh, no he didn't.

Einstein himself was asked about this ridiculous rumor long ago, and he laughed it off. Turns out, the genius had mastered differential and integral calculus by 15, so unless you can do that too, there's no point in using it as an excuse.

5. Chris Columbus Discovering America

AP

Everyone credits Christopher Columbus with discovering America, but it was actually Norse explorer Leif Erikson. Columbus may have colonized the land, but it was definitely discovered before he accidentally ended up there.

6. "The British Are Coming"

AP

Alright, so they actually were coming, but Paul Revere never shouted that. He didn't even ride through Concord. The whole thing was fabricated by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow after Revere's death in his poem "Midnight Ride."

7. Horned Viking Helmets

History

When you think of a viking, you probably think of a big, bearded man with a giant horned helmet going into battle. But here's the thing, those helmets weren't as common as we think.

They existed, of course, but the horned helmets were from the Bronze age, and used for religious ceremonies, not impaling people while in battle.

8. Armor Weighs A Ton

Dapper Cadaver

If movies have taught us anything, it's that suits of armor weighed hundreds of pounds and were darn near impossible to walk in. However, that's not entirely the case!

The suits only weighed about 30-50lbs. Sure, it's heavy if you were just going to lift it up, but wearing a suit that weights 30lbs isn't as bad as it sounds. Plus, it stopped you from getting stabbed by a sword...so I'll call that a win-win.

9. Stonehenge Stayed The Same

AP

One of the biggest tourist destinations is Stonehenge. It's believed to have been constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC, and also believed that it has never moved or been tampered with.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is hard evidence that shows not only has Stonehenge undergone restoration, but that many of the stones have also been rebuilt or replaced.

10. Van Gogh's Ear

AP

It's a story of true love, or so we thought. Van Gogh allegedly cut off his ear and mailed it to his girlfriend. Dedication, right? Wrong.

That being said, it's still a pretty cool story. Historians are now saying that his fellow painter Paul Gaugin sliced off Van Gogh's in a sword fight. So...not for love. But still awesome.

11. The Sphinx Nose

NBC News/Sphinx

It's widely believed that Napoleon shot off the nose of the iconic Egyptian statue, but that's not the case at all. The nose was actually gone for hundreds of years before Napoleon was even born!

Religious leader Muhammad Al-Sa’im Ad-Dahr destroyed the nose on the Sphinx when he saw people worshiping it. The Muslim faith prohibits people from worshiping idols, and Ad-Dahr thought this would stop them. It didn't.

How many of these "facts" did you know were lies?