In a world where fake news and false factoids are rampant, it is hard to distinguish what is true and what isn’t, especially when it sounds so unbelievable. We have gone through some crazy news stories and unbelievable tales from history and culled even more of the most interesting, unbelievable facts that sound like BS, but are completely true.
10. There’s a Novel That Doesn’t Contain the Letter E
In 1936, author Ernest Vincent Wright set out to write a book that did not contain the letter “E,” which is the most common letter in the English language. He got really excited about the project because other people said it would be impossible to do without ignoring the rules of grammar. Yet, Wright was able to bang out a 50,000 word novel, called Gadsby. To ensure he didn’t use the “E” key on his typewriter, he disabled it. He said that the hardest problem was avoiding words that ended with “-ed.”
The plot of Gadsby revolves around the fictional city of Branton Hills, which was in a decline. The book’s main character, John Gadsby, leads a group of young people to help rejuvenate it.
The novel wasn’t successful when it was first released, but the book has developed a following in later years and a first edition is now highly collectable.
9. A Woman Paid $10,000 for Invisible Art
Oh James Franco, sometimes you seem all right. But other times it’s hard not to figure out where you live, travel there, and then hit you up the backside of your head. Case in point is his the Museum of Non-Visible Art, which, you may have gathered, is full of art that doesn’t physically exist. Instead, the artist imagines a piece of art and explains it to the audience. If that wasn’t ridiculous enough, people can also buy the works of art. The purchaser gets a card with the piece’s name, and then the owner takes it and puts it on their wall. And then they have to explain the art to their audience. Basically, it’s the most pretentious-sounding endeavor you can probably imagine (and then you can sell that imaginary endeavor, if you’re James Franco).
Strangely, Franco is not the most pretentious person in this story. That would be the woman who bought a piece of invisible art for $10,000. Fresh Air was purchased by Aimee Davison, who says her title is a new media producer. We have to say, good choice of giving away your money to a rich movie star like James Franco; we don’t think there are any starving children who could have used that money to, you know, eat.
8. Saudi Arabia Imports Camels from Australia
The first thing about this factoid that you may be surprised to learn is that Australia has camels. They were imported onto the continent in the 19th century from Arabia, India, and Afghanistan because they were well suited to Australia’s outback. However, when the combustion engine came along, the camels weren’t needed. So they were released into the outback, and today it is a huge problem. There is one roaming pack that has 750,000 camels.
Another thing you may be surprised to learn is that Australia also exports camels to Saudi Arabia, a place you’d think would be plentiful with camels. It would be like Canada importing beavers.
While there are plenty of camel farms in Saudi Arabia, their camels are bred for domestic uses and racing. The camels from Australia are mostly used for meat, which is a delicacy in many countries in the Middle East.
7. Cleopatra was Greek, Not Egyptian
One of the most famous Egyptian rulers of all time is Cleopatra VII. When she was 18, in 51 BC, she became co-regent of Egypt with her 10-year-old brother and she more or less ruled for the next three decades.
While Cleopatra is a famous Pharaoh, she and the other Macedonian rulers of Egypt were Alexandria-based, which was the center of Greek culture. Cleopatra, like other rulers of the Macedonian dynasty, spoke Greek and observed Greek customs.
What made Cleopatra so beloved among the Egyptians was that unlike other leaders, she learned to speak Egyptian and ommissioned art of herself in traditional Egyptian style. As a result, Cleopatra was one of the most beloved of the Pharaohs, even though she was Greek.
6. The Internet Weighs as Much as a Strawberry
You may be wondering how the internet can have a weight, since it is data. Well, it turns out that when you download something to a device, let’s say a song to your iPod, it increases the weight of the device. The reason the device gets heavier is because when data is added to a device, it results in something called trapped electrons and they have higher energy than untrapped ones, and the higher energy increases the weight. However, since the increase is so slight it is impossible to notice.
Using that information, the YouTube channel VSauce figured out how much all the data on the internet weighs. That includes all the cat pictures and pornography, and it is about 50 grams, or roughly the weight of a strawberry.
5. It’s Possible for Twins to Have Two Different Fathers
While it’s very rare, it is possible for a set of twins to be fathered by two men. The condition is called heteropaternal superfecundation, and it happens when a woman ovulates twice in one month and has sex with two different men while ovulating. There are only a few recorded cases of it in history (a lot of that could stem from the fact that DNA tests have only been around since 1984), but what is really amazing is that it has happened not once, but twice at the place where people go to get paternity matters dealt with – Maury!
The first case of two different men fathering a set of twins happened in 2008. A woman named Regina was on the show to see if her ex-boyfriend was the father of her twins, and he was only the father to one of them.
The second time was in 2011 when 19-year-old Alejandrina went on the show claiming that her boyfriend Jose was the father of her twins. She also emphatically denied sleeping with anyone else but Jose. Well, the lie detector determined that was a lie, and the DNA test proved that Jose was only the father to one of the twins.
Both times it happened on the show, Maury and the audience were shocked. Mostly by the whole “twins by different parents” thing, but probably at least in part by the fact that Maury is still on the air.
4. The Voice Actors who were Mickey and Minnie Mouse Were Married in Real Life
Wayne Allwine got his start at Disney in the mailroom in 1966. Over the next several years, he was able to work his way up to the sound department, and became the third man to voice Mickey Mouse, a position he held for 30 years.
In 1985, Disney was starting a new show called Totally Minnie and Russi Taylor was hired on to be the voice of Minnie Mouse. After a recording session, they met in the hallway and hit it off immediately.
The couple was married for 18 years, until Allwine’s death in 2009 at the age of 62. Taylor is still the voice of Minnie Mouse and she also provides the voices of Martin Prince, Üter, and Sheri and Teri on The Simpsons.
3. Guy Gets Heart Transplant from a Suicide Victim, Marries his Widow, Commits Suicide the Same Way
In 1995, when Sonny Graham was 57, he needed a new heart or he’d die from congestive heart failure. The good news for Graham was that a donor heart had come available, because 33-year-old Terry Cottle had shot himself.
After getting the heart, Graham was grateful, so he sent thank you letters to Terry’s family. This led to Graham corresponding with Terry’s widow, Cheryl Cottle. In January 1997, when Cheryl was 28, she and Graham met. Graham said it felt like he’d known Cheryl his whole life.
In 2001, Graham bought a house for Cottle and her children to live in and three years later, Cheryl and Graham were married. 12 years after getting Terry’s heart, in April 2006, Graham committed suicide. Just like Terry, it was from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
2. The Night Before his Execution an Inmate Escaped, but was Killed the Following Night in a Bar Fight
On November 21, 1973, 20-year-old Troy Leon Gregg was hitchhiking. He was picked up in Gwinnett County, Georgia, by Fred Edward Simmons and Bob Durwood Moore and at some point, Gregg decided to rob the two men. In the process of the robbery, Gregg shot both men to death. He was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death in 1974.
After appealing the sentence, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence and Gregg was scheduled to be executed on July 29, 1980. However, the day before Gregg was to die, he and three other death row inmates escaped by sawing through the bars of their cells, and then wore fake guard uniforms.
However, Gregg’s freedom was short lived. He was beaten to death on the night he should have been executed at a biker bar by James C. “Butch” Horne Jr. The other three escapees were arrested three days later, though it’s unclear whether they, too, met some Final Destination-like fate.
1. Hitler was Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize
One of humanity’s greatest villains was Adolf Hitler. It’s impossible to figure out how many deaths he and the Nazis were responsible for, but it is in the tens of millions.
Three months after starting World War II with the invasion of Poland in 1939, (and 16 months after being named Time’s Man of the Year), Hitler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Swedish politician Erik Gottfrid Christian Brandt. Another nominee that year was Mahatma Gandhi.
What the Nobel committee didn’t get was that Brandt’s letter nominating Hitler was ironic. Brandt was anti-fascism and he wanted to provoke Hitler and the Nazis. When Brandt realized that the committee didn’t know it was a joke, he immediately withdrew his nomination. We hope in part because he realized that if you have to explain a joke, it’s just not funny anymore.
In the end, no one won the 1939 Nobel Peace Prize because of the outbreak of World War II. But we’re hoping it would have been Gandhi over Hitler.