12 Historical Facts That Will Ruin Everything You Ever Thought You Knew

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History lessons are taught to students as indisputable facts. However, uncovering new knowledge challenges what was accepted as the truth. Some of these truths are so stunning they’ll make you question everything you’ve ever known. Participants from an online discussion board provided astonishing responses about what they’ve learned that shook them to their core.

1. Ancient Antarctica

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According to the history that’s taught, Antarctica is an uninhabited continent that’s mostly ice and snow. In truth, millions of years ago, Antarctica was part of the African continent and had a tropical climate with warm temperatures. One commenter on the thread states, “Ancient Antarctica was a rainforest, a lush and verdant paradise, filled with flora and fauna.” It was only after separating from Africa that Antarctica’s climate began to cool.

2. Oxford University

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A participant in the discussion describes being floored after discovering that England’s esteemed Oxford University predates the Aztec Empire. Oxford University, as it’s known today, started in the 13th century. At the same time, the earliest known Aztec empire was built in Mexico during the 14th century. Several on the discussion board had the mistaken impression that the Aztec Empire dated further back.

3. The Cradle of Civilization

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Unbeknownst to many, the Middle East was the center of culture, knowledge, and education. Called the Islamic Golden Age, the period from the 8th through the 13th centuries was a high point of scientific, educational, and cultural advancement.

4. Domesticated Pigeons

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Humans once domesticated pigeons, using them to deliver messages and as a food source. Eventually, the birds fell out of favor, with passenger pigeons hunted to extinction.

5. Newborns Feel Pain

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It was a surprise to someone that until the late 1980s, it was standard practice among surgeons not to use anesthesia when performing operations on newborn babies because they supposedly did not feel pain. Their professional opinion was also that anesthesia posed too much risk to babies.

6. The Evils of Colonialism, Part 1

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The brutality of colonialist rule shocked another person in the discussion, describing their horror upon learning about the treatment of the Congolese people under the iron fist rule of King Leopold II. Leopold II forced the Congolese to work harvesting rubber and ivory. He ordered their hands to be severed when they failed to meet their quotas.

7. The Evils of Colonialism, Part 2

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In the aftermath of the European explorers landing in the Americas, an estimated 95% of the indigenous populations died from diseases like smallpox, brought by the colonizers.

8. Agent Orange

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The U.S. military used this chemical herbicide during the Vietnam War, with millions of gallons sprayed in the skies above Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam for a decade. Agent Orange contained a lethal poison called dioxin, causing cancer and congenital disabilities, among other health and psychological disorders.

9. Cleopatra

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Timewise, Cleopatra’s life is closer to our time than she was to the construction of the Egyptian pyramids. The Great Pyramids at Giza were built about 2,500 years before the famed Egyptian queen was born. Her birth was approximately 2,000 years before John F. Kennedy Jr. was elected president in 1960. That 500-year difference means her birth and life are closer to contemporary times than ancient times.

10. The Tulsa Race Massacre

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Many people never heard about the Tulsa race massacre of 1921 until recent years. The racism-fueled massacre took the lives of hundreds of African Americans. It destroyed more than 1,000 properties. “Never learned about it in school, and it changed the way I think about race relations and the history of the U.S.,” a contributor on the forum writes.

11. Closed Borders

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During World War II, a ship of more than 900 Jewish refugees attempting to escape Nazi Germany was not allowed entry into Cuba, Canada, or the United States. Some passengers were given sanctuary in some countries. Still, hundreds were returned to Nazi-occupied Europe and died in the Holocaust.

12. Lost History

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We’ll never know the true extent of world history, laments somebody from the forum, “so much of history was burnt down or destroyed by various conquerors that we may never know the truth about anything,” which is an indisputable fact.


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Written by Stephanie Allen

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