Don't You Believe It!: Exposing the Myths Behind Commonly Believed Fallacies

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Skyhorse Publishing Inc., Feb 9, 2010 - Games & Activities - 156 pages
Our cherished culturally shared beliefs stem from a variety of sources, many of which propagate old wives’ tales, myths, self-serving fantasies, innocent fallacies, or sheer nonsense. History is replete with stories of great men and events that either never happened or didn’t happen the way we were told they did. Such items are part of our common knowledge. They are taught in schools. They are passed down to us by our families and friends and have become part of shared cultural knowledge, accepted without question. And they are wrong. Here, Herb Reich explodes 200 myths that you probably accept as fact, including:
  • Jackie Robinson was the first black baseball player in the major leagues.
  • The captain of a ship can perform marriages.
  • Mussolini’s trains ran on time.
  • Charles Lindbergh was the first man to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Baseball was invented by Abner Doubleday in 1839.
  • The Mason-Dixon line was drawn to separate the slave South from the free North.
  • Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag.
  • Cleopatra was Egyptian.
  • Chicago is called “the windy city” because of the gusts off Lake Michigan.
It is a cliché that history is written by the victors. But Don’t You Believe It! will demonstrate that it is also written by teachers, by newsmen, by heirs, by hucksters, and occasionally by someone who has a lousy memory or an axe to grind.

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While there is some interesting material here, there is little that is new or significant. Mostly Mr. Reich sets up targets that are easy to shoot down. Each "myth" sounds familiar but on close inspection is stated in such a way that makes it technically false. He doesn't always resort to this; sometimes he is merely picky about the facts. There are some obscure facts that you probably didn't already know. There must be better books for clearing up the facts. 


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About the author (2010)

Herb Reich spent fifteen years as senior acquisition editor at JohnWiley & Sons. Before that, he administered the behavioral sciencepublishing program at Basic Books and served as editorial directorof the Macmillan Book Clubs. Along the way, he edited TheOdyssey Scientific Library and contributed to The Random HouseDictionary of the English Language and the Corsini Encyclopedia ofPsychology . The author of Don't You Believe It! and Numberpedia , he lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

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