Wednesday 9 September 2020

Received Ideas in Quotes 17

The "hive mind" seems to be so active in societies/communities. People just seem to repeat the norm rather than think outside the box. I see this in lots of different aspects of life including sports, music, politics, etc. People seem to just go with the status quo and repeat what is familiar, perhaps as a way to relate/fit in. (Matt Robillard)

Sometimes folk wonder why most academics are left-leaning. It's because the lifeblood of conservatism is currently 'it's only natural', 'it's hard-wired', 'it's always been that way', 'it'll work out for the best' & 'leave it alone'. Received truths are antithetical to the job.

ABBA wore those wild costumes because Swedish tax law would only let you write off costumes/clothes as business expenses on your taxes if you couldn’t possibly wear them on the street.

According to legend pirate mutineers invented the 'round robin'. A contract with the signatures arranged in a circle. If the mutiny was discovered, it was impossible to know who the leader was! (@GoldenHinde_)

Tory: The name originated in mid-16th century Ireland and derives from the Gaelic word Toraidhe, meaning, plunderer, robber, thief, barbarian, yobbo. (Via yougov)

A spinster was a woman who had a sufficient level of skill at spinning that she did not need to marry if she did not feel so inclined. (SB via Facebook. Surely a woman forced to spin for a living because nobody wanted to marry her?)

The facade of St. Botolph's Priory, Colchester reads like a text book diagram of how intersecting rounded Norman arches lead to the discovery of the structurally stronger, and more heavenward aspiring, pointed Gothic arch. (@QuintinLake)

I'm told that Boarhunt in Hampshire is pronounced Borant. But some would-be scholar in the eighteenth century decided that name was derived from a boar hunt being there and changed the spelling. (PD via

Ever wonder why there are so many pirates buried in our old grave yards? The skull and cross bones was the sign used to show the person buried beneath it was a merchant, or had died of the plague. (Via FB. (And a skull and crossbones on a crucifix shows that it was made during WWI. It is Adam’s skull: Jesus was crucified on the same spot that Adam was buried.)

The literal meaning of the verb 'to pray' is 'to work on oneself'.
(Via FB)

Briceville Church in Tennessee was built in 1888 by immigrant Welsh coal miners. The church has twin steeples and entrances because the Welsh miners and their families had reportedly broken into two factions. Each faction entered through its own door. (@ChicagoTafia)

They drank ale for breakfast because tea was so expensive. (Margie Clarke, Antiques Road Trip)

The only things that change minds are stories; not ideas, much less arguments. (@ChicagoTafia)

[The pandemic] is exposing fallacies and falsehoods everywhere: the lie that free markets can deliver healthcare for all; the fiction that unpaid work is not work; the delusion that we live in a post-racist world; the myth that we are all in the same boat, because while we are all floating on the same sea, it’s clear that some are in superyachts while others are clinging to the floating debris. (Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General)

I've been told that skewed panelling was sometimes deliberate in order to repel or confuse witches and evil spirits. I'm not sure if there is any truth in it; but there does seem to have been a belief throughout the middle ages that perfect symmetry was hubristic. (Austen Redman)

It appears as though the plumb bob and spirit-level were only "discovered" about the time that Dutch architects began influencing our builders, bringing the "Flemish Bond" method of brickwork with them, and also straight lines... in the 17th century? (Chris Bland via FB. The plumb bob and set square were known to the Egyptians. Wonky old houses have settled and warped over time.)

Hungarian grammar is widely claimed to be a resistance tactic to make foreign occupiers lose their nut and run away. (@DanKaszeta)

The 'sn' in 'sneeze' is a historical hiccup. The original word was 'fnese', but someone in the Middle Ages mistook the f for the old form of s, ſ. Fneezing would be a much better sound match. (@susie_dent. There was no long S in medieval Gothic or Uncial script.)

There is a story that the many pubs named after the Marquis of Granby were set up by the old general to provide jobs for wounded soldiers, and to make sure that wherever he travelled he could get a free drink. (Via FB)

My sister in law's home in Tasmania was built in the early 1800s from timber used as ballast in tea clippers.
(Via FB)

Carol Prisant writes, “But Canton export porcelain was affordable – so inexpensive in fact, that the merchant ships carrying it from the Orient to America and England used it as ballast.” (Antiques Roadshow Primer, 1999)

It’s complete myth. Bricks and cobblestones... cost money to produce – ballast is free. When a ship needed ballast they sent the sailors and the ship’s boat over to the shore and started digging. I can’t say with absolute certainty that cobble rock (round smooth rocks found on beaches) was never loaded as ballast and then dumped on a street, but it doesn’t make good paving material. If you want a good road surface, the stone must be cut and fitted closely – again requiring that somebody be paid to do so which eliminates it from the ballast category. Bricks and cobblestones might get a cheaper shipping rate if the main cargo wasn’t heavy enough, but they were still cargo, NOT ballast. (Joe Greeley at As another poster says, why import bricks when you could make them near the site?

Some say the prayers are difficult
And hard to understand,
That they are out of date; or that
The language is “too grand”.

Yet when my mother prayed those prayers
They seemed quite plain to be.
And so the Prayer Book that she used
Is clear enough for me!
(Girls’ Own Annual, 1920)

Some plague rats escaped to the sewers a decade ago in New Jersey after animal rights terrorists freed them. (Ty Larson)

Years ago show houses would be furnished using specially-made furniture that was a bit smaller than standard. (GL via

Was the Union Jack flown upside down as a covert distress signal?

The problem with the theory is that ships at sea don't actually fly the Union Jack – they fly one of the Red (merchant navy), White (Royal Navy & Royal Yacht Squadron, plus Trinity House on royal escort duties) or the Blue Ensigns (some other yacht clubs). The Union Jack is normally only flown by naval ships in port, from the jackstaff on the bow of the ship, in addition to the ensign on the stern. Otherwise, the Union Jack is only normally seen on visiting ships who don't understand the somewhat arcane rules concerning courtesy flags and don't realise they should be flying the Red Ensign. (RM via

Social historians are in the habit of informing their readers that in any epoch with which they happen to be dealing Society is no more. The rigid hierarchy of yesterday is gone; the influx of the nouveaux-riches has blurred the old aristocratic demarcation; only money and not birth now counts. The curious thing is that this seems to have happened so often. (James Laver, Taste and Fashion)

Just made myself a steaming hot coffee, and reminded of my mum's unshakable belief that a hot cup of tea "cools you down" on a hot day, despite logic, physics, etc. (@KeefJudge)

I am Swedish and in some older cemeteries (18th century and older) we have stairs over the wall next to the entrance with gates. The stairs have been the only entrance for those not worthy to walk through the gates - doomed or homeless people, or even women who have just given birth. (LM via FB. The gates were for carriages, the stairs for pedestrians?)

Lars Tharp on Antiques Roadshow says that in Denmark the wives of fishermen would keep Staffordshire dogs on the windowsill. When their husbands were at home, the dogs would be turned to face the room. When the men were at sea, the dogs would be turned to face out of the window. “You catch my drift?” says Lars.

It's 1839, & our Batley mill owner is unhappy with The Youth of Today: 'They work hard and drink hard and seems to care little for the futer... have all risen from the lower ranks and they ride their gigcarts and their horses and goes to spars and drinks and trifles most of their time'.

Children be so brought up, that if they be not all daie by the fire with a toste and butire, and in their furres, they be streight sicke. (John Caius, 1552. A Boke or Counseill against the Disease Commonly Called the Sweate or the Sweating Sickness)

Culturally our stories are of plucky underdogs, but actually our national story was of massive expenditure on the world’s most complex weapons systems and smashing the s**t out of less fiscally [secure] and technological societies. Dan Snow (Secure?)

Kenneth Branagh talked about his upcoming Agatha Christie mystery film, Death on the Nile, and why it might be much darker than people are expecting. ( What To Say About all Agatha Christie remakes.)

I personally come down somewhere in the middle between “Dreams are meaningless, ignore them” and “Only dreams tell us what we really want and feel—do whatever your dreams tell you to do.” If your goal is to “figure out the reason why” you dream the way you do, you may be at it for a long, long time. There’s no single established reason for dreaming or for assembling meaning or structure out of dreams; you really do have the freedom to make meaning for yourself. (Dear Prudie,

This is one of the most iconic buildings in Bradford: Listers Mill. The local legend says you could drive a horse and cart round the top of the chimney.
(Angie Taylor Petty)

The monks of mediaeval Kilwinning Abbey constructed a 2 mile long tunnel to Eglinton Castle, big enough for a coach and four! (Heather Upfield)

I was taking a trip right back to the very origins of what we define as human! ... Around 40,000 years ago, the ancestors of many of us found these caves to be the perfect location to not only camp, but stay for prolonged periods, playing, making music and worshipping. For the first time, we begin to see something beyond existing. (@MikeStuchbery_)

Gallileo introduced the revolutionary departure from the medieval, ludicrous notion that everything worth knowing was already known. (Mario Livio)

Magna Carta is an obscure Latin text... Essentially a document produced by a bunch of baronial millionaires in their own interest. (Lord Sumption)

If people from poorer parts of East London, also known as Cockneys, dropped their ‘h’s, in words like happy, then anyone wanting to be thought cultured would not do so. If people in the South-West of England pronounced the ‘r’ after a vowel, in words like cart, then cultured speakers would not. If people ‘up north’ said bath with a short ‘a’, then cultured speakers would make it long: bahth. (David Crystal, making out that Received Pronunciation is just "not Cockney".)

Apparently all new cars record sound in case “it‘s helpful after an accident” and location “in case it’s stolen”. I know because a friend was told how to turn it off by the garage and the guy who told her got told off resoundingly. (CW via FB)

Beer, small, an undrinkable drink, which if it were set upon a colander to let the water run out, would leave a residuum of – nothing. Of whatever else it may be guilty, it is generally innocent of malt and hops. (Victorian joke. “Small beer” was low or lacking in alcohol.)

Perfumery: An article that indolent young ladies make use of to supply the place of clean water and soap. (Victorian joke)

It was the custom of the higher order of Teutones, a people who inhabited the northern part of Europe, to drink mead or metheglin, a beverage made with honey, for 30 days after the wedding. From this custom comes the expression, “to spend the honeymoon”. (Victorian fascinating fact)

Freud was startlingly correct in his assertion that we are not masters of our own mind. He showed that human experience, thought and deeds are determined not by our conscious rationality, but by irrational forces outside our conscious awareness and control. (George Dvorsky, He doesn’t produce any evidence, just says that “everybody accepts it now”.)

A “surprising source of misinformation is literary fiction”. (Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful Debiasing, Stephan Lewandowsky, Ullrich K. H. Ecker, Colleen M. Seifert et al., 2012)


Okay, so according to the latest from a certain prime minister, the reason for the Soros network to "generate" the "migrant crisis" is that the crisis forces governments to take out loans "with huge interest". Who gives these loans? You-know-who. Yes. That's the official line.

We can't believe we have to say this in 2020 but here we are. The claim that Jews dominated the slave trade is a libel made up in 1991 by Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. (@TheMossadIL)

I had an Irish uncle who was a Dunkirk veteran. He told me that when the “Great English flotilla of small boats” went to pick up the soldiers they deliberately left the Scots and the Irish. (@no1_nicola)

More here, and links to the rest.

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