"Truth is stranger than fiction," said Mark Twain, who lived long before the digital age. Today, we often see weird information online from friends or strangers that we easily laugh off or dismiss as wild and unbelievable. Being wary of online facts that sound fake is smart, but being open-minded is a virtue, too, even when what you're asked to believe sounds unbelievable.
Here are some surprising facts and things we didn't know that might make you doubtful at first, but we promise you... they're true.
- 1527 VOTES
In France, It's Legal To Marry Your Dead Partner
"'Til death do us part" doesn't have to be the final word for every couple in France: The country's Civil Code permits marriage to someone who is deceased.
The law became especially popular after WWI due to the high number of men who were slain during the conflict and left behind fiancees. The most current form of the law goes back to 1959, after the Malpasset Dam in Fréjus burst and 423 people lost their lives. The pregnant fiancee of one of the deceased petitioned to be allowed to marry her deceased fiance to ensure her child’s legitimacy. France's National Assembly then passed a law allowing the president to authorize such marriages if certain conditions are met, such as evidence of a couple’s intention to marry before the passing of one of the parties, and a serious need for establishing such a partnership.
The law is used about a few dozen times each year. In 2017, for example, a French citizen asked to marry his partner who was slain in a terrorist incident. The marriage date was recorded as the day before the partner perished.
- Photo: Weredragon / Shutterstock.com2333 VOTES
The Scilly Conflict Lasted 335 Years And Had Zero Casualties
The start and end of a war are big news moments in any country’s history. But this didn't happen for the two players in the longest war in history: the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly - an archipelago off the coast of southwest England.
During the English Civil War, the Dutch decided to join forces with the Parliamentarians because they believed the latter would be victorious. The move was seen as a betrayal by the Royalists, who began raiding Dutch ships that went through the English Channel. Unfortunately for the Royalists, the Dutch were right, and by 1651, Parliamentarian forces had managed to push the Royalist army onto the Isles of Scilly.
The Dutch saw this development as the perfect opportunity to go to the isles and recoup some of the losses that occurred during raids. The Dutch declared war on the Isles of Scilly, but after three months, they retreated when the Royalists were forced to surrender and the Parliamentarians gained control of the isles. Centuries later, in 1985, historians discovered that in their hasty retreat, the Dutch had not signed a peace treaty with the Isles of Scilly. On April 17, 1986, a peace treaty was signed by both parties, formally ending the 335-year conflict.
- 3354 VOTES
The First Form Of The Necktie Can Be Traced Back To Mercenaries Who Sought To Protect Their Necks From Swords
Today, neckties are associated with fashion and professionalism, but the accessory has far more practical roots. The tie’s ancestor, which was more of a scarf, first appeared on Croatian mercenaries working for King Louis XIV in Paris in 1636. As part of their uniform, they wore cloth bands around their necks to hold the top of their jackets in place, protect them from the elements, and ward off potential sword slashes to their necks.
The young king of France reportedly liked the article of clothing so much that he began wearing a scarf around his neck, as well. The rest of France followed the king, and soon the tie became a fashion staple in France and eventually the rest of Europe.
- 4398 VOTES
The Crew Of The 'Challenger' Likely Survived The Initial Blast
On January 28, 1986, 73 seconds after liftoff, the Space Shuttle Challenger tore apart in the air as horrified spectators watched from below. Investigators later discovered that due to low temperatures, a fuel seal had weakened in the days leading up to takeoff. The seal couldn't withstand the power of liftoff and failed, allowing hot gas to pour through the leak. This caused the fuel tank to collapse and tear away from the shuttle, which for a few brief seconds still had enough momentum to continue its upward trajectory and reach 65,000 feet before falling to Earth.
During a news conference, Dr. Joseph P. Kerwin, director of life sciences at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, explained that the crew probably remained conscious for at least 10 seconds after the explosion occurred. While it’s likely the crew would have lost consciousness after their cabin lost pressure, records indicate that at least three emergency air systems had been activated on board after the explosion. These air systems had to be manually activated.
The shuttle landed in the ocean at 200 mph a full 2 minutes and 45 seconds after the explosion, and although there is no way to know whether any of the crew regained consciousness on the way down, it's a possibility.
- 5380 VOTES
To Fund His Church, Jim Jones Sold Spider Monkeys Door-To-Door
Jim Jones, cult leader of the Peoples Temple, was responsible for the mass slaying-suicide of more than 900 of his followers and others in 1978 at Jonestown in Guyana.
He came from an unstable background, was described by friends as a "really weird kid," and as an adult became known as a chronic liar. In need of funds for his new church, Jones came up with a scheme to sell monkeys. He imported the animals from Calcutta, India, then sold them door-to-door as pets in Indianapolis. Jones also gave them to followers who brought in new parishioners.
The scheme came to an end when some of the monkeys arrived in Indianapolis deceased. A few others were abandoned in a customs warehouse by Jones, who refused to pay air freight fees.
- 6340 VOTES
Australia Started A War Against Emus - And Lost
Humans have tried to dominate nature since the dawn of time. For Australia in 1932, this uncontrollable force of nature turned out to be... emus.
Emus, the third-largest birds in the world (after ostriches and cassowaries), are flightless and can sprint at speeds of up to 20 mph. Their native homeland is Australia, and for farmers in the 1930s, the birds' migration habits caused problems. Australian farmers were already struggling amid an economic depression, and when emus began migrating inward during breeding season, they began eating the farmers' crops. In response, the Australian government declared war on the emus, and a group of ex-soldiers took up arms against the birds.
Emus proved to be a tough enemy; they scattered in small groups and were difficult to exterminate. After just one month, the soldiers withdrew from the field of combat. Although the number of emus felled is unknown, today they remain one of the most common animals in Australia.