Jul 15 2010

What are some unbelievable things that have actually happened?

Published by at 9:47 pm under Believability,Comedy

Just because something has happened doesn’t necessarily make it believable.  Here are some examples.

John Quincy Adams kept a pet alligator in the White House.  (Not surprisingly, he faced no assassination attempts).

Unwacky: Brett Favre’s first completed pass was to himself.
Barely wacky: Austria’s World Cup team threw a key match to West Germany to screw Algeria.  The game got so bad the announcer asked viewers to change the channel.
Wackier: “You were like 50 feet away.  How could you be so sure that the ball crossed into the German goal?”  “Stalingrad.”
Outlandish: “The Band Is On the Field!”

Pretty much everything involving Aaron Burr, but especially the parts where he shot and killed the former Secretary of the Treasury and plotted to seize control of parts of Texas and the Louisiana Territories.

An Australian Prime Minister drowned while swimming.  His body was never recovered.

Coconuts kill ~15 times as many people per year as sharks.  In the United States, each deer is six times as likely to kill somebody as an alligator is.  (Hitting a deer with a car is much more dangerous).  On average, America’s 3 million alligators kill 1-2 Americans each year.  Each alligator is considerably less likely to kill a human in a given year than a priest or teacher is.

One of the World Trade Center bombers tried to collect the $400 deposit on the van used in the bombing by claiming that it had been stolen.  “And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those darn VINs!”  Okay, maybe he didn’t say that.

Hoping to use the noise of laughter to mask the sound of his gunshot, John Wilkes Boothe waited until the funniest part of Our American Cousin to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.  Here it is: “Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal — you sockdologizing old man-trap…”

While researching how the military, doctors and police would respond to a zombie outbreak, Max Brooks (the author of World War Z) found that most of the professionals he spoke to had thought about such a scenario at least a little.  Relatedly, military officers sometimes war-game crazy stuff like ghost invasions to force themselves to think out of the box and test their initial assumptions.  Until 1939, the U.S. had a war plan against the United Kingdom.  Not to be outdone, the Canadians devised a 1921 plan to seize Seattle, Minneapolis and Albany to preempt a U.S. invasion.  Perhaps more unbelievably, the Canadian plan came first.

The Soccer War between El Salvador and Honduras.  Also, The War of Jenkins’ Ear.  The Rhode Island rebellion of 1842-3.

World War II, apparently.

So they invent a completely implausible superweapon that they’ve never mentioned until now. Apparently the Americans got some scientists together to invent it, only we never heard anything about it because it was “classified”. In two years, the scientists manage to invent a weapon a thousand times more powerful than anything anyone’s ever seen before – drawing from, of course, ancient mystical texts. Then they use the superweapon, blow up several Japanese cities easily, and the Japanese surrender. Convenient, isn’t it?

…and then, in the entire rest of the show, over five or six different big wars, they never use the superweapon again. Seriously. They have this whole thing about a war in Vietnam that lasts decades and kills tens of thousands of people, and they never wonder if maybe they should consider using the frickin’ unstoppable mystical superweapon that they won the last war with. At this point, you’re starting to wonder if any of the show’s writers have even watched the episodes the other writers made.

One response so far

One Response to “What are some unbelievable things that have actually happened?”

  1. Tomon 19 Jul 2010 at 8:49 am

    I love that ‘World War II is full of plot holes’ rant.

    Truth truly is stranger than fiction…

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