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(Buzzfeed)   Ten historical "facts" we think we know but actually don't   ( buzzfeed.com) divider line
    More: Interesting, Colonial Williamsburg, Caligula, cohesiveness, Continental Congress, land areas, Quakers, literacy rates, Paul Revere  
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19033 clicks; posted to Geek » on 28 Sep 2012 at 5:03 AM (5 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2012-09-28 06:11:40 AM  
2 votes:

KrispyKritter: they may have been shorter because their diets were limited to pretty much what was available locally,

People were shorter due to that for a long time. And indeed increase in height owing to improved nutrition is something that has been witnessed in several parts of the world just over the last several decades. As for how much shorter people were? Well, it comes down to where and when you want to look. Two hundred years ago the average American man was somewhere between 5'6" and 5'7". At the same time, the average Englishman was actually a touch taller, keep in mind you had a lot of French and others in the US and they were shorter on average than the English so they'd bring down the average for all American men. Now if you want to look at heights across Europe, it does depend on when and where and averages of ethnic groups can be a bit deceiving as there could be pretty wide disparities between people from different regions and even within one region owing to whether or not they lived in a city, a small town or some peasant village. All of those things could, and did, effect things like the quality and variety of food available, the diseases one was exposed to and other things. One thing that influenced the increase in the heights of Americans was the mixing together of people from all over the place. A tall man of German background could marry a woman of English background, who while not tall by English standards, would be tall by the standards of wherever the German's background was from. And so they may end up having kids that are taller than if the German had married someone of the same background. Mind you this won't push the average height up very much very fast but over time, it will nudge things upwards.

As for the effect of nutrition and living conditions on height, an good example is North and South Korea. As far as genetics goes, a Korean is a Korean, so as far as genetics are concerned both populations have the same potential to grow. In South Korea the average man is about 5'8 1/2" and the average woman is about 5' 3 1/2", in North Korea the average man is about 5'5" and the average woman about 5' 1".

And as for how heights have changed, this picture is from 1900 and each man is within the expected height range for his place of origin, going left to right, Great Britain, United States, Australia, India, Germany, France, Austro-Hungary, Italy and Japan. If you were to take an equivalent picture now of men who are average or near average, the variation between tallest and shortest would be much smaller and also the ordering from tallest to shorter would be different. Though with the Indian you'd have to find one from the same region as the one in the picture as average heights across India vary quite a lot even today.

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2012-09-28 05:38:53 AM  
2 votes:

I sound fat: people werent shorter that much shorter in the past

Well, actually it is common for people to assume people in the past were shorter than we are. Of course, that's partly true, they were. The average height for an American man 200 years ago was shorter than it is now. In his day Thomas Jefferson at 6'2" was far more unusual than a man of the same height is today. Now where you get into misconceptions is how much shorter people were. If you look at the old beds, you'd figure people were quite a bit shorter than they actually were. This based on assuming they'd like as much extra length in a bed as we do, and also that they slept as we do. Neither of which was necessarily the case. Also people who visit Europe and see the old buildings, and I'm talking 400 or more years, will see the doorways are a lot smaller than doorways are now. Now the size of the doorways was less of a problem for Europeans back then because they were smaller, but not so small they could fit through a 5' tall door without ducking down. What people often miss, is that if you look in through the windows, you'll notice the ceiling isn't much if any lower than it is in a modern place. Reason for the small doorway is that in winter it would help keep your place warm. This particularly being the case for those places where there were no door jams and in order for the door to swing open easily you had to have a little bit of a gap between the door and the stone floor/front step. In winter cold air would just flow in through that gap at the bottom. And also as there were gaps along the sides and top, hot air would flow out. And even in places with door jams, the fit of the doors wasn't what we're used to, and as anyone who has lived in a house with an older door with no weather stripping can attest even recently built houses can have lot of cold air get through the front door.
2012-09-28 09:05:18 AM  
1 vote:

Great picture, though I think a little bit of imperial stage managing is going on there. The British guy, although clearly superior to any foreigner in any regard by simple virtue of being British, is only slightly taller on account of his hat, and that he's a fraction of a pace closer to the camera.
2012-09-28 08:46:37 AM  
1 vote:
The Amendment granting women the right to vote was passed during the administration of our first woman president, Edith Wilson. Her husband, President Woodrow Wilson, had been almost completely incapacitated by a stroke. Edith and the White House staff hid this fact from the public, and Edith took over the duties of president.
2012-09-28 08:02:10 AM  
1 vote:
That would be a prime point to mention the whole "People thought the world was flat before Columbus!" thing

Which wasn't true. They'd known since the greeks the world was round (Hell, the Greeks figured it out by lunar eclipses! "Huh. The shadow we cast on the moon is round, so.. OH HOLY CRAP, THIS IS A SPHERE!"), and the Greek calculation of the circumfrence of the earth was remarkably close to accurate.

If I recall correctly, Columbus basically went "Nah, those greek dudes are wrong. The earth is totes smaller, and I can totally reach India if I sail west!". Thus, the reason people wouldn't fund him was less "You'll fall off the edge of the earth!" And more "Nnnnooo, you're just going to die out in the open ocean, and I'd really rather not waste my money, kthxbye." And had America not been in the way, they'd probably have been right...
2012-09-28 04:00:19 AM  
1 vote:

ShawnDoc: 11) The Boston Tea Party was about high taxes

11A) The TEA Party is about high taxes.
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