Why Seventeenth-Century French Noblemen All Looked Like Grandmas

Giant, poofy white hair—something those of us alive today all associate with grandmas—somehow, for nearly a dozen generations, became a symbol of male power and virility. How did this happen?

For Several Decades Quicksand Was the Most Dangerous Thing on TV and Movie Screens…and Exactly Nowhere Else

If quicksand is really so dull, though, how did it become such a popular trope in cinema? And how did it disappear just as quickly?

So You Just Found Out You’re in a Cult: A Socratic Dialogue

Wait! Conspiracies happen all the time! Why are people so down on conspiracy theories these days?

No, Y2K Wasn’t a World-Ending Disaster. It Also Wasn’t a Silly Hoax.

Of course, as overblown as much of the Y2K panic was, the it-was-all-a-big-hoax assessment wasn’t really accurate either.

Maybe the Real War on Christmas Was the Friends We Made along the Way

The backlash against O’Reilly’s 2004 fabrication of “The War on Christmas” was as swift as his declaration of it to exist.

The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of 3D Cinema

When you factor in the higher costs, the uncomfortable glasses, and the headaches, it was probably only a matter of time before the novelty wore off.

We All Should Have Seen the Beanie Babies Crash Coming, but We Didn’t

For anyone who didn’t live through the nineties, it’s difficult to explain how big a deal Beanie Babies were.

You Will Probably Not Be a Rock God, and Neither Will I: Some Deep Thoughts on Bill and Ted Face the Music

We’re not, it turns out, a civilization of rock gods and their devotees; we’re all connected, and we all depend on each other.

No, the Medieval Era Wasn’t Characterized by Rampant Witch-Burnings. You’re Thinking of the Modern Era

Under the extreme stress of plagues and environmental disaster, people were undoubtedly looking for someone to blame, which—hmm, that sounds familiar.

MSG Is Perfectly Safe to Consume, but We All Spent Several Decades Freaking Out over It Anyway

By the late sixties, “chemicals” were no longer magical things that were going to solve all of our problems; they were dangerous things that were going to kill us all, and MSG was no exception.

Alvin Kelly and the Flagpole Sitters of the 1920s: They Weren’t Sick, but They Weren’t Well…

It was the 1920s, and it felt like humanity could do anything—and it took the opportunity to do really stupid stuff, like pass off urinals as art, chase after nascent fascism, and—yes—sit around on flagpoles for days at a time.

Videogames Probably Don’t Cause Violence, but They Sure Seemed like a Good Scapegoat in 1993

Joking aside, though, I’m sure you’re wondering—do violent videogames cause violence? The answer, according to science, is “Well, mayb…no. Prolly not.”

The Sisters Who Pulled a Prank and Accidentally Started a Religion

For Kate (age ten) and Maggie (age fourteen), the whole thing started as a harmless prank, but evolved into a movement of millions trying to talk to the dead.

For a Few Years, Everyone in France Was Wearing Squid Hats, and the Guy Who Wrote Les Misérables Was to Blame

So-called cephalomania first took off in France, where it suddenly became fashionable to host octopus- and squid-themed parties, and for a few years, squid-shaped hats were considered to be the height of fashion among French women.

How Lava Lamps Made Sex Boring Again

Walker described the lamp as “Freudian” and evocative of the primordial ooze, because apparently no one bothered to take him aside and say, “It’s just a lamp, Ed.”

McCarthyism Was Driven by a Lot of Bluster, Paranoia, and Hearsay, Which for Legal Purposes Is a Fact Unrelated to the Present Political Moment

These hearings, like everything McCarthy had done up to this point, were fueled mainly by McCarthy’s desire to further his own career.