T.E.D.
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Did Bill Gates steal the GUI concept from Steve Jobs?
183 votes

Microsoft "stole" the GUI in roughly the same way that every scriptwriter has "stolen" their movies from Shakespeare. Ideas are important, but implementation is everything. I'll start by saying I ...

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Is there a historical precedent to the vaccine scare?
142 votes

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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Why did Columbus cross the mid-Atlantic instead of exploring from Greenland?
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131 votes

There's a lot in the question that seems to be assuming modern knowledge that Columbus most likely did not possess. There is no good evidence the Iberian maritime community in the late 15th century ...

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Why Were Madagascar and New Zealand Discovered So Late?
125 votes

By and large new uninhabited landmasses were discovered in one of three ways: By hunter-gatherers, walking there when the sea level was much lower at the end of the last glaciation. By hunter-...

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Did China ever consider a phonetic writing system?
119 votes

No, there is no known record of that kind of native linguistic script analysis in pre-modern China, although its quite possible it came up and was rejected, for reasons I'll outline below. The main ...

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How did the authorities not find the speakeasy clubs during the prohibition?
94 votes

Prohibition was enacted largely at the behest of pressure groups. This was a very new political tactic in the US where a group uses an emotional issue to create themselves a sizable cadre of single-...

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Why didn't the Norsemen colonize North America?
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80 votes

They actually did try, they just failed. The main problem was that all they really discovered was marginal territory for the purposes of Norse culture. Meanwhile they had to compete with other native ...

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Why did North America economically prosper, and maintain stable government and South/Central America didn't?
79 votes

I don't believe the answer to this is known objectively. However, it may be worth looking at the different settlement histories of the two areas you are comparing. Most of the American possessions, ...

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Why are many African-Americans in Mississippi concentrated in the northwestern area?
78 votes

You are describing part of what is referred to as the Black Belt in the American South. It can be seen here in a map of majority-black US counties. Your suspicions for the reason for this are quite ...

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Why, in the US, is Japanese brutality ignored compared with the Nazi brutality in WW2?
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75 votes

Perhaps this is a generational thing? As a Gen-X'er, I grew up hearing about things like the Bataan Death March, The Rape of Nanking, and how in general the Japanese didn't feel like adhering to the ...

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Which European Languages are not Indo-European?
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70 votes

Overview Since there are a fair amount of them, languages are grouped below by language family: Basque A linguistic isolate native to the Pyrenees mountains between Spain, and France. Source: &...

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Why do western monotheistic religions seem to be so full of conflict over dogma?
69 votes

A very astute observation. If you compare linguistic maps to sectarian maps (McEvedy's Penguin Atlas series are great for this), you'll notice something else: they have a distinct tendency to align. ...

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What is the significance behind "40 days" that often appears in the Bible?
67 votes

There seems to be a bit of pushback on Pieter's (correct) answer, so perhaps a bit more detail is in order. It is not at all uncommon in languages to have words that, while technically a specific ...

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Is there evidence to suggest that Abraham and Hammurabi influenced one another?
65 votes

I'm going to mention up-front that I'm a practicing Christian myself, in hopes that you might not dismiss me as a hater when I report the following: This is unlikely, as the current historical ...

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What exactly is the US national anthem?
Accepted answer
57 votes

There is no "exactly". First, one minor clarification: the bill itself actually passed Congress in 1930 (April 21st), but wasn't signed into law until March 1st of 1931. What you linked ...

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Did ancient Germans take pride in leaving the land untouched?
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57 votes

It's probably nonsense, but it's nonsense with an interesting history. The actual ancient Germanics were herders and farmers, with cattle, barley, and wheat as their staples. Given the natural ...

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What is the source of quote attributed to W.E.B. Du Bois: "When you have mastered numbers..."
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56 votes

Good editor. I wouldn't have thought to challenge that, but its true that numbers weren't exactly Du Bois' thing. Not saying he wasn't good with them, just that isn't what he's famous for, or spent ...

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Were Alexander the Great and Hephaestion lovers?
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55 votes

The author of that particular claim appears to have been Diogenes the Cynic. This is the same man who was said to carry around a lantern in broad daylight, claiming to be (futilely) looking for an ...

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Is there a possibility that the Islamic civilization visited America before Columbus?
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55 votes

Columbus was not, in fact, the first to cross the Atlantic. There were Norse communities living in Greenland from the 10th Century. They even had some temporary settlements in North America proper. ...

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Has there ever been an instance of an active nuclear power plant within or near a war zone?
54 votes

Best example I know of is the Zhaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant. Its in Southern Ukraine, which unfortunately put it right within the area that the Russians "separatist rebel forces" wanted to use to ...

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How were the cities of Milan and Bruges spared by the Black Death?
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50 votes

I found this op-ed by John Mulhall*, a member of the Max Planck-Harvard Research Center for the Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean, who attributed Milan's relatively good performance largely ...

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Did the Tamil People discover that the earth was round 2000 years ago?
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50 votes

It is actually a bit of a myth that everyone believed the world to be flat until Columbus. It is true that a lot of ancient societies believed that as a matter of cultural mythology. This was true ...

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Why didn't Great Britain give the colonies voting rights?
Accepted answer
48 votes

I think there were two basic issues here: First off, it had never been done before in England. This was effectively the first colony outside of the British Isles peopled almost entirely with ...

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Did the Byzantines ever attempt to move their capital to Rome?
47 votes

The Early Middle Ages were not kind to Rome, and the long destructive war to recapture it didn't help things. By the time the dust settled, Rome had practically ceased to exist as a major city, with ...

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Why didn't Aboriginal Australians invent agriculture?
46 votes

This is a class of question we here on History.SE called a Guns, Germs, and Steel question. This is because we get a lot of them, and even though the question details may be different, the answers to ...

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Did Pope Urban II issue the papal bull "terra nullius" in 1095?
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46 votes

It seems likely this is a historical myth. According to WikiPedia's list of Papal Bulls*, Urban II did issue a bull that year, but it had to do with who was allowed to excommunicate the ruler of the ...

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How did warriors age historically?
46 votes

The Romans were known to retire their soldiers with a pension after 25 years of service. That would probably have put most of them in their early to mid 40's. Given that experienced veterans are ...

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What is the origin of the stereotype that Polish people lack intelligence?
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45 votes

Personally, I suspect this is mostly an American (USA) stereotype, which chiefly originates from a couple of factors. We had a couple of large waves of East European immigration in the nineteenth and ...

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Why did really old paintings use such bizarre, unnatural perspective/proportions?
44 votes

It sounds like you are talking about the transition from Romanesque/Gothic painting styles to Renaissance styles. This is a big topic in Art History (or at least was when I took it back in the '80's). ...

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Why of all units is Time standard?
43 votes

Most likely because it wasn't until the modern era that anyone really needed, or could achieve, much precision with time measurements. Prior to modern timekeeping, people pretty much lived on daily ...

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