Friday 5 January 2024

More Received Ideas 36

Shakespeare is hard to understand because he wrote in Old English.

The canonical books of the Christian Bible were chosen at the Council of Nicaea.
Buddhism is a philosophy not a religion.

Documents signed in purple ink are not legally binding.

Feminists don't need protecting.
The official foot was based on the length of the reigning King’s foot.

There were no Jews in Palestine before 1948. Jews are white, and hence settler colonialist oppressors. Atheists cannot be Jews.

The Titanic never sank, the “remains” are of another ship, or mocked up by NASA.
Before Gutenberg, there were only 30,000 books in the whole of Europe. (Die Zeit, paraphrase)

If you think people don’t like you it means you don’t like yourself. 
Do small grave slabs give rise to tales of people being buried upright?

Your NI contributions then aren’t paying for your pension now.
 (OK, OK, but I’ve paid money in and now I’m getting some out, aren’t I?)

Black people can’t be racist because “we are not the majority, we don’t have power”, says Kelisa Wing (@kelisa). 

There's “a real disconnect between the generations,” says Laura Kuenssberg (.She’s too young to remember the “generation gap” of the 60s.)

Schindler’s List was partly filmed at the Woodberry Down estate in Manor House, North London. (Debunked by @HistoryOfStokey.)

If we achieve net zero CO2 emissions, all the trees will die because they breathe CO2. (There is CO2 in the atmosphere, and what do they think the trees did before we came along?)

Sharks can smell a single drop of blood from a mile away – and locate the source. (You’d need more, closer blood, say sharksperts.)

A titled lady was travelling alone in a first-class carriage in a corridor-less train. At the next station a large lady climbed in – it was the mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers. “The most extraordinary people travel first class these days,” remarked Sayers, to the air. “Yes, and they get in at every station!” riposted the duchess.

Dorothy Sayers wrote Five Red Herrings (unengaging timetable mystery full of Scottish dialect) for a bet.

Agatha Christie – or was it Ed McBain? – revealed that she wrote an entire book without deciding who the murderer was. She then decided, worked out how they did it, and tied up the loose ends in the last chapter. (Some mystery writers allegedly write a whole book as if X was the murderer, and then at the last moment switch to Y.)

Queen Victoria visited, incognito, a soup kitchen run by nuns. She was shown round by the Mother Superior. Queen Victoria became irritated by the way all the nuns “bobbed” at her (dropped little curtseys), and she murmured to the Mother Superior that this wasn’t necessary. “Oh, they are curtseying to ME,” said the head nun.

The use of “spastic” as an insult among young people can be traced to “a Blue Peter episode of the early 80s”. (It was common at my school in the 60s.)

Nobody wants to work any more because they prefer to live on benefits. (Someone has compiled newspaper quotes from 1916 saying exactly the same – in the same words.)

All National Treasures and classic authors were upper class: Darwin, Dickens, Jane Austen, the Brontës. (Darwin was an English gentleman, Dickens’ father was a clerk who was imprisoned for debt, and CD himself worked in a factory for some time as a child, Austen lived in a modest way on her brother’s charity. The Brontës’ rather was a vicar and they themselves worked as teachers.)

All of “Shakespeare’s” plays were written by a black woman, Amelia Bassano. Shakespeare could barely write his own name.

In the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible, “rib” is a mistranslation. (On reddit, a biblical scholar comes along with good evidence that it’s “rib”.)

The original Little Compton Street, with original signs, can be seen through a grille in Charing Cross, lower than the present street level. It was buried when the new road was pushed through. (The signs mark the location in a network of underground service tunnels.)

The Daily Mail in the 30s recommended including onions in family meals to prevent colds: bake, and stuff with mince. Sara Cox says “Garlic is good for you” on Morning Live. Thins the blood, says BBC Good Food. “Eating raw garlic can protect against cough, fever, and cold illnesses” says “Although many people use garlic as a home remedy for the common cold, there is not enough evidence to confirm that it is effective,” says

Delia Smith taught us how to twirl spaghetti in the 70s – or was it Elizabeth David in the 50s? Before that people broke it into short lengths, we're told. I’ve just read a magazine article from the 1930s explaining how to twirl spaghetti. “Cheap and nutritious”, said the writer, “but should not be eaten on toast.” 

In the 19th century ice cream was sold in “penny licks” – a scoop of ice cream in a shallow glass that the customer licked clean. They weren’t washed, but were filled with ice cream for the next buyer. A late 19th century magazine complains that the ice cream itself had been shown to be contaminated with bacteria, and that the glasses were “never washed, but merely rinsed” between customers. Waffle cones came in, and the glasses were banned by the 1920s, but a feeling lingered that ice cream sold in the street was unhealthy. My mother wasn’t allowed it because it was “made of seaweed”. The glasses, rinsed in dirty water, transmitted TB and cholera, but it’s unlikely they were reused after being merely “licked clean”. (Via Atlas Obscura and other sources.)

Per the Times on Emmanuel Macron, the French always think the country is going to the dogs, menaced by communists or the bogeyman du jour. (See FlaubertTIMES, OUR Call them a time of transition, or decay.)

In case the Queen abdicated, the BBC prepared some non-committal music to follow the announcement, and inadvertently used the overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor. (Via @RaphaelHarris9)

Periods hurt because young girls are infantilised by smothering mothers. Periods hurt because women don’t understand how their bodies work. Periods hurt because you haven’t had a baby yet. Periods hurt because women eat too much meat. Women only think periods hurt because... [insert succession of silly reasons here]. Periods can't possibly hurt because there are no nerve endings in the uterus. 

All these and more in my expanded and updated book What You Know that Ain't So.

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