142 votes

Is there a historical precedent to the vaccine scare?

My personal favorite is the early history of the lighting rod. Lightning likes to try to ground itself via the tallest, pointiest thing around. This means that because of their architecture, ...
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  • 110k
76 votes
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Was race really unimportant in the 1660's?

(Disclaimer: definition of race varies. Wikipedia offers this: "a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society" and that is ...
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  • 95.9k
56 votes

When and why did having long hair become associated with women, and short hair with men?

The First World War is often identified as a turning point in men's hair length. Prior to the war, both men and women commonly kept long hair, at least in western societies (and the Far East). This ...
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  • 95.9k
53 votes

Why was the Scout movement so successful?

Baden-Powell had been besieged in the town of Mafeking during the Second Boer War. He had formed the Mafeking Cadet Corps, which was a group of youths that supported the defending troops by carrying ...
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  • 76.2k
47 votes
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What defined a Jew in the context of WW2?

The "classification" of Jews in Nazi Germany (and occupied territories) was governed by the Nuremberg laws and based on "heritage." Basically, someone with no Jewish grandparents was considered non-...
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  • 103k
40 votes
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Why is it that the maiden name is traditionally dropped when a woman is getting married?

Is this something that predates back many civilizations ago? Or is this a relatively newfound trend? In general, it is a relatively new trend of the last few centuries, and many old cultures have/had ...
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  • 95.9k
40 votes
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Why do the Japanese sing Ode to Joy during the Japanese New Year?

This modern tradition has its roots in the First World War, when Japan entered on the side of the Allies following the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Japan's entry carried an initial, overt goal of ...
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  • 95.9k
40 votes
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Did people use to marry much younger during the last millennium?

Not really. Generally speaking, most European women since married in their early to mid twenties, to men in their mid to late twenties. The age gap for the commoners, i.e. the vast majority of the ...
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  • 95.9k
38 votes

When and why did having long hair become associated with women, and short hair with men?

It's obvious that having short or long hair is an identity sign for men and women respectively, more or less worldwide. No, it's not obvious, especially not in history. You may be mistaking a ...
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36 votes
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Is there a historical precedent to the vaccine scare?

Actually, the exact same thing happened in Brazil, but with a real uprising: Vaccine Revolt (Wikipedia). This is a matter of great discussion in Brazilian history, with most historians arguing that ...
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36 votes
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How could Jews integrate into Western modern society back when Saturday was a normal working day?

You can find a very detailed description of how Jews integrated into English society here. The only bit directly about the Sabbath is this: Another feature of the Jewish religion which tended to ...
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35 votes
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Why don't people without access to clean water drink beer anymore?

"In the medieval ages, peasants used to drink beer instead of water because the plain water wasn't safe to drink... Why did this practice emerge in some countries but not others?" One really good ...
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  • 2,286
35 votes
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When did challenging to a duel cease to be a practice in English culture?

During the 1830s and 1840s. In the twenties dueling was still common. From 1815 to 1830 Castlereagh, Canning, and Wellington were responsible in turn for the government of England, and they all ...
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35 votes
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Is the scarlet letter 'A' a real historical thing?

tl; dr There were certainly laws requiring that adulterers had to wear the letter 'A' stitched upon their garments in the late seventeenth century. The letter was not required to be scarlet - just a ...
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30 votes
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How wide-spread was antisemitism in the USA during WWII?

How often were Jews barred from academic and social clubs in the early 20th century? Feynman's experience was hardly unique: At the turn of the twentieth century, quota requirements limited Jews’...
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  • 4,113
30 votes
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Did classical Romans wear any sort of swimwear?

The Romans, and indeed the classical world in general, would've usually swam in the nude. See for instance the following depictions of naked divers, though they are not precisely Roman. Frescoes ...
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  • 95.9k
29 votes

Jewish Slave Owners in the United States

There is some truth to the claims, but the numbers are extremely prima facie distorted. Especially since they are (apparently) given in terms of "households", with no immediately obvious method by ...
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  • 95.9k
29 votes

Is there a historical precedent to the vaccine scare?

In Korea: Fan Death (dates to the 1920s) In US and Europe: Poisonous Tomatoes (dates to their discovery in the New World, but not clear if/when there were "authorities" stating the truth) Reasons ...
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  • 3,143
28 votes

Was race really unimportant in the 1660's?

IANAH(*), so I can't (and won't) answer about the rest of the world, but in the XVI-XVIII centuries, colonial Spaniards took race pretty seriously, dividing them in castes. Here you see a contemporary ...
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  • 397
27 votes
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What is the earliest reference to "space aliens"?

The main storyline to Lucian's Αληθή διηγήματα (2nd century CE) is the war between the people of the Sun and the people of the Moon over colonization of the Morning Star. As you can probably imagine ...
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  • 14.5k
27 votes
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Was touching your nose a greeting in second millenium Mesopotamia?

It seems like this was the 'polite' gesture of greeting in ancient Sumeria, and is actually the meaning of a Sumerian phrase for greeting: She faces in the direction of the cultic activity, her ...
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  • 34.1k
26 votes

During the U.S. Prohibition, how did they get away with drinking alcohol?

They probably got away with it because it was not illegal to drink alcohol. In fact, the Prohibition outlawed only the "manufacture, sale, or transportation" of alcoholic drinks. No mention of ...
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  • 95.9k
26 votes
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How was Martin Luther King Jr. viewed by white Americans at the time?

Actually, a good modern analogy might be to look at how white mainstream America views the Black Lives Matter movement currently1: open hostility from social conservatives, and a lot of patronizing ...
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  • 110k
26 votes

Was race really unimportant in the 1660's?

In the early middle ages or ancient times that might have been the case. But certainly not by the 19th or early 20th century - scientific/darwinist racism was in full swing by then. 17th century ...
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24 votes
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Why did families in 6th century Mecca send their babies to be raised in the desert?

Because they believed their infant would have a better chance of surviving in the desert. The child mortality rate from disease and malnutrition in Arab settlements was horrendously high, and it ...
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  • 95.9k
22 votes

Is there a historical precedent to the vaccine scare?

From the 1930s. Mentioned on Huffington Post. The older blog referred to in the HP article is no longer available, to so prevent the same thing from happening to the HP article, here's the relevant ...
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21 votes
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Did Peter the Great promote rights for women? If so, how?

The short answer is he didn't, not really. By "participated more actively", your source likely just means socialisation, rather than women's rights or activity in general society. To be sure, some of ...
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  • 95.9k
21 votes

Is there a historical precedent to the vaccine scare?

There is a belief which for want of a better term I will call Draft Theory. This is the belief that a draft, defined as a stream of air blowing on the body from one direction, such as from an open ...
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  • 397
21 votes

How does one wash with sand?

Sand is an "abrasive". As such, it is good for dislodging/removing dirt, etc. trapped in clothes. But after you do this, you have to wash out the sand. Soap does a similar job in a different way (...
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