In Chinese folklore the first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, is never presented as a hero. Instead he is always presented as villain who is undone by his own arrogance and impiety. He is often introduced in folk tales as the "Wicked Emperor Qin Shi Huang". However, historians believe that many of the most salacious stories about China's first emperor may have been exaggerated or invented by later writers who did not care for his preferred philosophy. Has one of China's most significant figures been the victim of fake history? Tune in and find out how ghost tablets, huge dongs, and a philosophy more Machiavellian than Machiavelli all play a role in the story.
If you were going to make a list of the most historically influential people to have have ever lived, Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, should probably be in the top 10. In the mid 2nd century BC, the ruler of the State of Qin embarked on series of conquests that would unite China after centuries of discord. But despite this impressive achievement, the first emperor has been saddled with a particularly nasty historical reputation. Even the ancient Chinese historians did not remember him fondly. Does he really deserve this vicious reputation, or has he been the victim of fake history? Tune-in and find out how a scheming merchant, a castrated historian, and 8000 clay soldiers all play a role in the story.
The rebellion led by Boudica, the Iceni warrior woman, nearly dislodged the Roman empire from the island of Britain. She had the numbers, the momentum, and a righteous cause. So why was she ultimately not successful? Tune in and find out how Druids casting spells, a mythical train platform, and a badass post-hardcore band name all play a role in the story.
The ancient rebel leader Boudica has become an icon in her native Britain. She is celebrated as a symbol of resistance and female power. However, getting a sense of her true character is nearly impossible when examining the historical sources. Roman historians wrote elaborate speeches that they claimed she delivered to rapt audiences. But perhaps these speeches tell us more about the Roman authors than they do about the Celtic war leader. Tune in and find out how ancient Eminem verses, Heart of Darkness, and superhero origin stories all play a role in the story.
They say that history is written by the winners. While it's a trite cliché, there might be some truth in it. It's especially true when examining a figure like the Celtic-British freedom fighter Boudica. In 60 AD Boudica led her people in a violent revolt against the Roman Empire. Unfortunately everything we know about her was written by Romans. What should we believe? Tune in and find out how Winston Churchill, the end of the earth, and tiny bean sized meals all play a roll in the story!
When did the Renaissance begin? When did it end? Do these questions even have proper answers? In this episode Sebastian frets over the so-called "Renaissance Myth" and tries to draw some conclusions. Should the idea of a "Renaissance" be ditched, or does the period just need some clever re-branding. Tune in and find out how good people in hell, the fall of Rome, and all the Ninja Turtles play a role in the story.
The Renaissance has been touted as one of the most important moments in European history. 19th century historians like Jules Michelet and Jakob Burckhardt made the case that a "rebirth" starting in the 1300's laid the ground work for the modern world. This idea has been massively influential, but its not without its critics. Why do some claim that Renaissance is actually a historical myth? Tune in and find out how weird lawn aeration jobs, snobbish ideas about Italy, and lost cities all play a role in the story.
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In the 1890's a team of physicians and scientists discovered the cause of bubonic plague, a bacteria they named Yersinia Pestis. It was assumed for most of the 20th century that Yersinia Pestis also caused the infamous Black death of the 14th century. But starting in the 1980's a number of experts started to question this assumption. Does this theory still stand up to scrutiny? Tune in and find out how ebola, basilisk potions, and the top speed of a rat all play a roll in the story.
When studying the plague of the 14th century it can be easy to focus on the death, but on Our Fake History we are so much more interested in life. The people who lived through the plague dealt with the horror of the disease in a variety of weird and wonderful ways. Some people turned to religion, others to hedonism. Some felt like the only option was to whip themselves in public. Tune in and find out how plague parties, the alignment of Mars and Jupiter, and a plague hag named "Pesta" all play role in the story.
The epidemic known as the Black Death struck Europe in 1347 and completely upended medieval society. It's been estimated that roughly half of the European population was killed by this gruesome disease. Despite huge advances in our understanding of this epidemic debate still remains about the true cause of the plague. The so-called "Great Mortality" also remains the source of a number of tenacious historical myths. Tune in and find out how biological warfare, pockets full of posies, and rattus rattus all play a role in the story.
In November 2019 Sebastian was asked to perform at the Toronto Hot Docs Podcast festival. Our Fake History was featured on a show called "Sounds of the Six". Sebastian was given 15 minutes to both introduce newcomers to the podcast and tell a story about the city of Toronto. The weird story of Toronto's Phillip Experiment fit the bill perfectly. Tune in and find out how fake ghosts, amateur sketches, and psychokinesis all play a role in the story.
The Santa Claus legend may be one of the most sturdy pieces of mythology in modern times. While other magical creatures have faded from our common lore, the legend of Santa Claus has only grown. However, the evolution of this beloved holiday character has been downright strange. How did a lank and serious Bishop from Anatolia become the jolly bringer gifts we know today? Tune in and find out how pickled kids, Dwight Shrute, and horned gods all play a role in the story.
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In celebration of Our Fake History's 100th episode Sebastian runs the podcaster's gauntlet in front of a live crowd. Your host tells tales, plays guitar, and interviews an illustrious guest. But the show is stolen by guest Katie Daubs and the tales from her new book The Missing Millionaire. Tune in and find out how ritual murder, the French revolution, and the mysterious disappearance of Drake all play role in the story.
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These days it's impossible to speak about the mysteries of the pyramids without saying something about aliens from outer space. Thanks to the writings of authors like Eric Von Danieken and a slew of cheesy cable shows, the ancient astronauts hypothesis has thoroughly infected the popular understanding of the pyramids. Is there anything to these theories? What about the belief that an army of ancient Israelites was forced to builds great tombs? Tune in and find out how Carl Sagan, a monument to botched construction, and Sebastian's favourite bible story all play a role.
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The most elaborate theories concerning the pyramids of Giza usually position those monuments as deeply different and distinct from all other Egyptian pyramids. However, to fully understand the pyramids of Giza we need to understand them in the context of the monuments that came both before and after. As soon as we add that context some of the more audacious claims about Egypt's pyramids become much harder to believe. Tune in and find out how Pimp My Ride, missing mummies, and way too many OFH call backs all play a role in the story.
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The Egyptian pyramids are easily the most mythologized pieces of architecture on the planet. They have inspired historical myths and misconceptions essentially as long as "history" has been a literary genre. The so-called "father of history" Herodotus was one of the first writers to try and explain the construction of the Pyramids. But should we really trust a guy who has been called the "father of lies". Tune in and find out how my weird dating system, ancient machines, and Egyptian bathroom habits all play a role in the story.
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In the 1930's a famous California history professor thought he had discovered a long lost historical treasure. It was a brass plate apparently inscribed by the famous English adventurer Sir. Francis Drake. The plate was heralded as an amazing discovery, but it was actually an elaborate hoax orchestrated by an irreverent secret society. The group behind the hoax is known as E Clampus Vitus and it may be America's weirdest secret society. Tune in a find out how tin-can medallions, "widders", and a Grand Noble Humbug all play a role in the story.
Since The Prince was first published in 1532 it has attracted an eclectic group of admirers. Figures as diverse as Napoleon Bonaparte, Jean-Jaques Rousseau, and Tupac Shakur, have managed to find some deep wisdom in the pages of Niccolo Machiavelli's little book. Machiavelli's enduring allure has always been fueled by the controversy that swirls around his work. To this day there is no consensus around what Machiavelli's "real" goal was when he wrote The Prince. Is it possible to determine if Machiavelli deserves his bad reputation when there is so little agreement about him? Tune in and find out how 90's rap beef, The Grateful Dead, and the weirdest job application in history all play a role in the story.
There are few political thinkers with as evil a reputation as the Florentine writer Niccolo Machiavelli. Machiavelli's philosophy was believed to be so cutthroat and cynically ruthless that some thought it was demonically inspired. There is even a historical myth that Niccolo Machiavelli's first name inspired the English to call the devil "Old Nick". Despite the fact that the story probably isn't true, Machiavelli's Satanic reputation has persisted. However, we need to ask if Machiavelli's reputation deserved. Have people been misunderstanding his writing for centuries? Tune in and find out how Beelzebub, Leonardo Da Vinci, and the Pope's Banker all play a role in the story.
Once someone has embraced the moon landing hoax conspiracy it can be hard to change their mind. More often than not it's arguments concerning the Van Allen radiation belts and tiny photographic cross-hairs that convince people that the moon landings were faked. What makes these arguments so convincing? Should they be believed? In the season finale Sebastian evaluates these claims and even speaks to someone who worked on the Apollo missions. Can we finally put this conspiracy theory to rest? Tune in and find out how radiation donuts, golf balls on the moon, and Neil Armstrong's love of hobbits all play a role in the story.
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The foundational text for all moon landing conspiracy theories is a humble little book called We Never Went To The Moon. It was self-published by the author, Bill Kaysing, in 1976 and soon became the de-facto bible of moon landing deniers. In this book Kaysing collects a handful of anomalous photographs, suggestive quotes, and common sense arguments that help him build a case against the reality of the moon landings. How well does Kaysing's "evidence" stand-up to scrutiny in 2019? Tune in and find out how suicidal astronauts, Watergate, and joy of RVing all play a role in the story.
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As we near the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission many have started to reflect on the legacy of the moon landings. However, in 2019 it's hard to discuss this amazing human achievement without mentioning that it has also been the subject of one of the most tenacious and widely believed conspiracy theories. As the moon landings move further into our collective past do they risk becoming labelled "fake history". Tune in and find out how Nazi scientists, farmers meeting a spaceman, and Buzz Aldrin punching a guy all play a role in the story.
Part 2 of this 3 part series will launch on July 16th.
Want to learn more about the moon landing? "Make it to the Moon" uncovers the unsung heroes of the moon landing and premieres on Discovery Canada on Sunday, July 14th at 9PM.
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Thanks to the mysterious pirate historian Captain Charles Johnson, Blackbeard became a truly legendary villain. According to the Captain, Blackbeard indulged in practically demonic behavior. The devil himself was rumored to be a crew member aboard Blackbeard's infamous flagship, The Queen Anne's Revenge. However, most of the really scandalous stories about the pirate cannot be verified by independent sources. Does Blackbeard really deserve his terrifying reputation? Tune in and find out how sniveling puppies, swimming headless bodies, and the ultimate double-cross all play a role in the story.
Blackbeard may be the most iconic pirate to ever roam the seas. His fearsome reputation and distinctive sense of personal style have made him the template upon which countless fictional pirates have been based. But how much do we really know about Blackbeard? How many of his infamous exploits really took place? Do we even know this guy's real name? Tune in and find out how gentleman pirates, punk rock poseurs, and the criminal patriots all play a role in the story.
There are few periods in history as hotly contested as the so-called "Dark Ages". Traditionally, the 5th to 10th centuries in Europe have been characterized as "bizarre and monstrous". But is this perception justified? Also, if there was a "dark age" should it be understood as a global phenomenon? Tune in and find out how Chinese paper, the biggest domed roof in the world, and Matt Damon movies all play a role in the story.