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Hoaxes & Myths


A traditional story accepted as fact

Can't find what you're looking for below? Check these hoax debunking sources... Urban Legends & Folklore | |

Click on the title to see the complete hoax text, a description, brief history, reporting date in a new browser window. In many cases, the hoax description site may also include reactions from hoax subjects, an extensive history, and provide links to additional analysis and interviews.


Only Child- or Only-Son Military Exemption - A long-running myth says that if you are the only child, or only living son, you are legally exempted from compulsory military service. This is not true.

This belief is a misunderstanding of Selective Service rules enacted after World War II. offers the following:

a) You are not exempt from military service simply because you are an only child or an only son. You are exempt only if one of your siblings or parents (mothers are now included) has died as a direct result of military service.

b) You do not have to be a sole remaining son to meet this requirement - the exemption applies to all remaining sons from qualified families.

c) This exemption is not in effect during declared war.*

*A conflict or military action is NOT a "declared war" unless the U.S. Congress declares so. The President can not "declare" war.

Check out the Selective Service fact sheet.

Titanic First Ship to Use SOS - Myth has it that wireless operators on board the maiden voyage of the British ship Titanic were the first to use the SOS morse code distress signal. This is not true. reports, in a very insightful discussion of Titanic's history, that by April 1912, ships from other European countries had already used the SOS, and earlier that month the French liner Niagara had issued an SOS when it was damaged by ice in roughly the same part of the Atlantic. There is a good possibility that Titanic was the first British ship to use this distress call.

It's also interesting to note, according to, that initially Titanic's senior wireless operator, Jack Phillips, sent the British distress code CQD, and only changed to the SOS distress signal upon suggestion of Harold Bride, the Titanic's junior wireless operator.

Titanic Never Called "Unsinkable" - "History" has been very clear in it's claim that the Titanic was "unsinkable". More recently history was "corrected" to acknowledge that Titanic was never given that label. This is not true. weighs in on this legend in a very thorough discussion. Apparently various statements by White Star officials and their own advertising did use the word "unsinkable".

Coriolis Effect on Draining Water - This wide-spread myth says that water will drain in a clockwise swirl in the Northern hemisphere, and counter-clockwise in the Southern hempisphere. This is not true. discusses the Coriolis Effect.


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