Professor Buzzkill

Professor Buzzkill is an exciting new blog & podcast that explores history myths in an illuminating, entertaining, and humorous way.

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Professor Buzzkill is an exciting new blog & podcast that explores history myths in an illuminating, entertaining, and humorous way
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-11-12 18:44
last episode published
2019-11-12 08:00
publication frequency
3.44 days
Professor Buzzkill author  
Joe owner  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
Society & Culture Education History Literature Arts



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

1919: A Year in the Life of the United States

1919 was one of the most tumultuous years in American history. Economic struggles, labor unrest, the Red Scare, anarchist bombings, and race riots plagued the country. 1919 saw the end of the Progressive Era, the beginning of anti-immigration laws, an ...

Watergate: Special Impeachment Encore!

Is Watergate the story of heroic journalists working against all odds and in great danger to get at the truth of presidential corruption? Is it more complicated than that? How accurate was All the President's Men? Who really brought the Nixon presidenc...

The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall seemed to define Cold War tension and opposition in stone. From 1961 to 1989 it divided East Berlin from West Berlin, and was the focal point of potential Soviet vs. US confrontation. But the history of why it was built and how the citi...

Quote or No Quote: Harriet Tubman | “I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves."

Harriet Tubman is one of the most famous and important figures in American history. Directly and indirectly responsible for freeing many slaves through the Underground Railroad in the 19th century, she also an armed scout and spy for the Union Army in ...

*Flashback Friday* Paul Revere

Listen, oh Buzzkillers, and you shall hear, the true story of the Ride of Paul Revere. Silversmith, patriot, brave man and true, but he wasn’t the only one to carry the news.

*Wisdom Wednesday* Quote or No Quote: Mahatma Gandhi | An Eye for An Eye Makes The Whole World Blind

Did Gandhi say “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”? If he didn’t, where did it come from? The Bible? The Canadian House of Commons? Movie script writers? And is there something more significant in how this phrase has come down to us as an e...

*Wisdom Wednesday* Quote or No Quote: Sigmund Freud | Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar

Many things seemed phallic to Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. But did this include the humble cigar? Or did Freud just dismiss overanalysis by saying, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”? What that a genuine Freudian quip? Did Groucho Marx agree? ...

Teddy Roosevelt and American Sports

Professor Ryan Swanson explains the complex history of the relationship between President Theodore Roosevelt and the modernization of American sports culture. We learn about TR’s “tennis cabinet,” his fitness programs, and his role as the “invigorator ...

Quote or No Quote: Winston Churchill | Atlee and the Empty Taxi

One of the most famous Churchill-isms is “an empty taxi pulled up and Clement Attlee stepped out of it.” It implies, of course, that Attlee was a political non-entity, weak and ineffective. But did Churchill ever say it? And what do skinny French actre...

Woman Crush Wednesday: “First” Woman to Cast a Vote

Is it possible to determine who was the first woman to cast a ballot in a modern, democratic election? Not really. But, in this episode, we’re going to talk about three of the “first” women to vote. 2019-2020 is the centenary of the passage and ratific...

*Flashback Friday* Kennedy-Nixon Debates

Did radio listeners really think that Nixon won the first 1960 presidential debate, while TV viewers thought the more telegenic Kennedy won? This story is the most repeated myth in the history of presidential debates. The Professor explains why. Make s...

*Throwback Thursday* Impeachment, Presidential Removal and Replacement

Impeachment? The 25th Amendment? Resignation? How do the American people remove a president from office? Why is it so complicated, and what's the history behind each way to get a dangerous, criminal, or just plain crazy chief executive out of the highe...

LBJ and the Space Program

President Kennedy usually gets all the credit for inspiring American to reach for the moon. And President Nixon’s signature is on the ceremonial plaque laid there at the end of the Apollo 11 landing. But President Lyndon Johnson hardly ever gets credit...

*Throwback Thursday* The Lost Cause Myth

The Lost Cause is one of the most troubling aspects of American history. The ways in which the Confederacy and the pre-Civil War south has been romanticized and fictionalized has done immense damage to American historical consciousness and interpretati...

Climate Change Science 1900-2000

We continue our discussion with Dr. Andrew Ramey from Carnegie Mellon University about the long history of climate change science. The study of climate change grew rapidly in the 20th century, almost as quickly as climate change itself started to affec...

Climate Change Science 1750-1900

Climate change is a much older subject than is commonly assumed. As early as 1750, Enlightenment thinkers such as David Hume and Thomas Jefferson analyzed and wrote about the role that human activity played in climate change. French scientist, Joseph F...

Poland and World War II

Myths about Poland during World War II are everywhere. Professor Philip Nash and I destroy some of the biggest ones in this episode. They include: Polish cavalry going up against Nazi tanks, and the story that Poland fell quickly and easily. Not only t...

*Throwback Thursday* Birthright Citizenship

Becoming a citizen by being born in a country is an topic that flares up whenever there are controversies about immigration and immigrants. This episode explains birthright citizenship and how it developed in the United States and the western hemispher...

*Wisdom Wednesday* Quote or No Quote: Albert Einstein | "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

One of the most common Einstein No Quotes you see coursing around the internet is: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Sometimes the mis-quote-meisters add “so is a lot,” to this pithy quote saying about knowledge, and we end up with “A little k...

*Flashback Friday* The Monopolists

In this Flashback Friday Episode, journalist Mary Pilon joins the Professor to discuss the history of the game Monopoly and its wonderful twists, turns, complications, and lawsuits! It all starts during The Depression and doesn't stop until the 21st Ce...

*Wisdom Wednesday* Quote or No Quote: Muhammed Ali | "No Vietcong Ever Called Me N*****"

When asked about being drafted for the Vietnam War, Muhammad Ali is often quoted as saying, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong." This was immediately followed by the now-more-famous quote, “No Viet Cong ever called me n*****,” in a one-two pun...

Man Crush Monday: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

One of the Republic of India’s Founding Fathers, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is not as well-known outside India as he should be. This Man Crush Monday is the brief story of his life and career, as perhaps the man most responsible for the unification of In...

*Throwback Thursday* Douglas MacArthur Part 2

Douglas MacArthur is one of the most famous and celebrated generals in American history. Along with Patton, however, he’s one of the most misunderstood and most mythologized. Born in the 19th century, MacArthur served in both World Wars, the Korean War...

How Did The NRA Become Extremist?

How did the National Rifle Association become one of the most controversial and divisive organizations in American history? It used to be a sportsmen’s group. Since the 1970s, however, it has taken a very strict view of the US Constitution’s Second Ame...

*Wisdom Wednesday* Quote or No Quote: Mahatma Gandhi | First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

There's a great quote and sentiment about sticking with a righteous movement for much-needed change, particularly when it's faced with a big, entrenched and powerful foe. That quote goes like this: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then t...

*Throwback Thursday* Douglas MacArthur Part 1

Douglas MacArthur is one of the most famous and celebrated generals in American history. Along with Patton, however, he’s one of the most misunderstood and most mythologized. Born in the 19th century, MacArthur served in both World Wars, the Korean War...

WWII in the Pacific: the Defeat of Japan, 1944-45

Japan’s defensive perimeter kept shrinking during 1944 and 1945, yet the war dragged on. The battles for Iwo Jima and Okinawa were as bloody and horrific as any others during the Pacific war. Strategic bombing of Japan increased, both from the Asian ma...

Quote or No Quote: Harry Truman | "Socialism is a Republican Scare Word"

The Harry Truman “quote” about socialism being a Republican scare word is flying around the internet, in response to the over-heated rhetoric of American politics these days. But did “Buck Stops Here” Harry really say it? If so, when, where, and in wha...

WWII in the Pacific: Guadalcanal to the Philippines, 1942-44

The brutality of World War II in the Pacific continued from Guadalcanal to the Aleutians, from China to the Solomon Islands, and was also a propaganda war at home in Japan and in Allied countries. Professor Nash comes back to tell us about these middle...

WWII in the Pacific: Pearl Harbor to Midway, 1941-42

Superstar historian, Professor Nash, joins us to talk about the opening years of American involvement in Pacific during World War II. From Pearl Harbor to Midway, it’s a brutal chess match across the Pacific - a chess match that includes massive battle...

Quote or No Quote: Marie Antoinette | “Let Them Eat Cake”

The one thing that everyone knows about Marie Antoinette (Queen of France in the late 18th century) is that, when told that the peasants were starving because they had no bread, said, “then let them eat cake.” How cold is that, Buzzkillers? It’s Royal ...

The Many Myths about the Declaration of Independence

Every July, American Buzzkillers get inundated with chain emails, Facebook posts, and Tweets that spread more myths about the Declaration of Independence. No matter how many times they’ve been disproved, the seem to crop up every year. John Hancock sig...

Roe v. Wade


The US and the Treaty of Versailles

Why did Woodrow Wilson get the rock star treatment in Paris in 1919? He arrived to help negotiate the Treaty of Versailles that was supposed to settle World War I. Did he deserve his rock star reputation? Did he get the treaty approved by the US Congre...

The Treaty of Versailles and the World

How did World War I end, and what led to the Paris Peace Conference? How did the Conference proceed, how were the various national demands handled? What territorial changes resulted? And was it a purely European Conference? How did it affect other part...

*Flashback Friday* Vietnam: Myth and Memory

Professor Phil Nash explains how the myths and misconceptions about the Vietnam War started, grew, and have plagued our historical consciousness since the late 1950s. Among other things, the large number of myths about the Vietnam War shows us that our...

Loving Day

It’s June 12th! Loving Day! Loving Day is being celebrated world-wide. You might think that Loving Day is Valentine’s Day, February 14th, but it’s not, it’s today, June 12th. If you don’t know what Loving Day is, listen to the story we tell you in this...

Harriet Tubman on the Currency

The Professor calls for social and fiscal revolution! Harriet Tubman’s portrait was supposed to replace Andrew Jackson’s on the US $20 bill, but that’s been delayed yet again. In this episode, we explain why change is actually the tradition in the hist...

Vietnam: War and History

Professor Phil Nash explains the history of Vietnam in the 20th century, and the very complicated ways in which it was torn apart by war and civil war throughout the mid-century. Along the way, we learn about the deep complications in the history of th...

Violence and Terrorism in American Slavery

Prof Craig Hammond joins us to discuss the violence used in maintaining slavery, both on the farm/plantation, and in broader society before the Civil War. The violence and terror inflicted on slaves is horrific by our 21st standards. Yet, slave-owners ...

*Encore Episode* Man Crush Monday: Tommy Flowers

Tommy Flowers was a very important British scientist and engineer during the first half of the 20th century. Not only did he do essential work in cracking secret German codes during World War II, he is usually credited with inventing (and building) the...

*Flashback Friday* Civil War Medicine

We usually hear that surgery and medical treatment during the Civil War was backward butchery. But was it? Historian Nic Hoffman from Kennesaw State University tells us how complicated it really was. We discuss: medical care before the war; the shock o...

Why We Need a New Civil War Documentary

Dr. Keri Leigh Merritt joins us to argue for a new documentary series about the US Civil War. It’s been nearly 30 years since PBS aired the famous series. We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of that classic series, as well as why PBS’s new series o...

*Flashback Friday* Benjamin Lay and Anti-Slavery in the 18th Century

In this Flashback Friday, the Professor interviews Professor Marcus Rediker about his book, Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist. Benjamin Lay was one of the most famous anti-slavery protesters in colonial ...

Quote or No Quote: Winston Churchill | "If you're not a liberal at 25, you have no heart..."

“If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain” is always bandied about when discussing political differences, particularly during election season. But who said it, and ...

FDR, Polio, and the Press

FDR became governor of New York and later President for four terms despite having contracted polio. Professor Matthew Pressman from Seton Hall University joins us to discuss how the press and the American public were told about his disability, and how ...

*Encore Episode* Computer Dating

In this Encore Episode, Professor Marie Hicks joins PB to discuss the yummy history of computer dating. Did it start with Operation Match at Harvard? Or was it a young entrepreneur in London? What were their reasons for thinking that computers could ma...

WCW & MCM: Felice and Boudleaux Bryant

It’s Tuesday, and this is a combined Man Crush Monday and Woman Crush Wednesday! Today we’re going to look at a couple, Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, who were a driving creative force behind perhaps the biggest popular music revolution in American histo...

*Flashback Friday* The Pizza Effect

The "pizza effect" helps explain why assumptions about the history and development of certain cultural practices and traditions are among the strongest historical myths out there, how they are self-reinforcing, and how they can build up mistaken images...

*Encore Episode* Slavery, Race, and the Confederate Army

Professor Colin Woodward joins us to discuss the importance of slavery in the minds of Confederate soldiers, as well as its effects on military policy and decision making. He tells us about the Rebels’ persistent belief in the need to defend slavery an...