Category Archives: History

How a Donkey and an Elephant Came to Represent Democrats and Republicans

Donkey-and-elephant

Jennifer asks: Why is a donkey and an elephant associated with the Democrats and the Republicans? The donkey is stereotypically bumbling, slow, and stubborn; the elephant– big and clumsy. Being compared to one of these animals is not exactly flattering in this sense. Yet, for well over a century, they have been the popular symbols of America’s major political parties […]

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The True Story Behind The Appalling Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

Tuskeegee_study

Controversial research programs, unethical experimentation, and human trials have been part of the medical field for centuries. It doesn’t make it any less wrong, but certain scientists with questionable ethics have gotten away with a lot in the name of, well, science. The more (in)famous examples of wayward science include eugenics sterilization, electroshock therapy, ionizing radiation experiments, and the CIA […]

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Why Native Americans Didn’t Wipe Out Europeans With Diseases

native-american-disease

Greg H. asks: Diseases from Europe wiped out most of the Indians, so why didn’t the Europeans also get wiped out by diseases from America? While estimates vary, approximately 20-50 million people are believed to have lived in the Americas shortly before Europeans arrived. Around 95% of them were killed by European diseases. So why didn’t 19 out of 20 […]

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The Stanford Prison Experiment

stanford

In the summer of 1971, on the campus of one of the nation’s top universities and under the supervision of a faculty member, 11 students tortured 10 others over a six-day period, all in the interest of “science.” The Experiment Intended to last two weeks, according to the study’s author, Professor Phil Zimbardo, the original focus of the experiment was […]

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The Coushatta Massacre

louisiana

For a few bloody weeks in August and September 1874, in an effort to retake control of their communities, white supremacists rampaged across Louisiana. By the time the smoke cleared (and federal troops arrived), at least six white men and many dozens of black freedman had been killed. The Carpetbaggers Following the end of the Civil War, a white man […]

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The Large Number of Human Remains Found In Ben Franklin’s Basement

human-bones

For eighteen years, Ben Franklin, the great American inventor, diplomat, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was a tenant in a beautiful four story Georgian house at 36 Craven Street in London, mere blocks from the River Thames. As ambassador from the colonies, he entertained, lived, and even allowed other intellectuals of the time to stay at the house […]

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The Fascinating History of Eugenics

dna

The name deriving from the Greek “eugenes,” meaning “well-born,” it should be no surprise that “eugenics” seeks to engineer a better human race by purposefully selecting good traits, and eliminating bad ones, as is common when breeding animals. Over the years, eugenics has had a number of proponents, from some of the greatest and most admires thinkers in western civilization […]

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The First Battery

batteries

Fourteen cm in height and eight around, the world’s first battery looked more like primitive pre-Columbian art than an amazing piece of ancient technology. Although most experts agree that the device produced electricity, there is little consensus on what that power was intended to do. Discovery Archaeologists searching for “evidence of Biblical tales like the Tree of knowledge and Noah’s […]

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