History is littered with stories and anecdotes about how seemingly insignificant details changed the world. While many of these stories are just apocryphal, strange circumstances and coincides cannot be discounted. Because in the face of extraordinary events, anything could be possible.
10Joan of Arc’s Epilepsy
Joan of Arc is famous today for using divine guidance to fight against invading English armies during the Hundred Years War. However, the fact that Joan claimed that heavenly voices inspired her actions has caused many modern researchers to suggest more organic causes. Namely, epilepsy.
Joan of Arc may have suffered from a particular type of epilepsy called idiopathic partial epilepsy with auditory features, or IPEAF. She claimed to have heard and occasionally saw saints like St. Catherine and St. Margaret, which is the sort of episode common in epileptics with IPEAF. Joan also said that many of her experiences were preceded by the “sound of bells,” which is similar to other epileptics who say that certain noises trigger episodes.
Unfortunately, this diagnosis can’t be affirmatively diagnosed. Tests could be done on Joan’s DNA, but there are currently no DNA samples from Joan known to exist.
9Moses’s Burning Bush
Moses remains one of the most important figures of all time, but the Moses of tradition may actually be quite different from the historical Moses. The acacia tree, frequently mentioned by Moses throughout the Old Testament, contains the powerful hallucinogen dimethyltriptamine, or DMT, which is used in a concoction known as ayahuasca. This could mean that Moses’s famous “burning bush” may have fueled his religious experiences through hallucinogenic drugs.
During the events at Mt. Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments, he may have been high on DMT, which causes flashes of light similar to the account described in the Bible. Ayahuasca’s effects have been studied extensively in the Amazon region, where it is used as part of religious ceremonies, and most data suggests that Moses may have been tripping the whole time.
8The Hatfield And McCoy Anger Disorder
The Hatfield and McCoy family feud is so famous that it has almost permanently become part of American folklore. While the violence between the two clans has long since ended, one of its causes has lived on in the form of Von Hippel-Lindau disease.
Von Hippel-Lindau disease is a rare disorder which can cause tumors on the adrenal gland. Because of the stress on the adrenal glands, those who suffer from the disease have symptoms including high blood pressure, severe headaches, and excessive production of the “fight or flight” hormones. All of this combines to make a short temper and aggression. It is found in three-fourths of the McCoy family, and past ancestors are also textbook cases.
Could this rare disorder have caused the ferocity that fueled the Hatfield-McCoy feud? It seems likely, because many of the McCoys today display similar symptoms, even down to the tumors.
7Anthony Eden’s Sickness And The Suez Crisis
Soon after Winston Churchill’s resignation as Prime Minister of England in 1955, a crisis erupted in Egypt when Abdul Nassar seized the Suez Canal, the most important route by which oil was shipped to Europe. Anthony Eden, Churchill’s successor, was forced to take on the situation, but a lingering illness could have compromised his leadership.
In 1953, Eden had undergone an operation on his gallbladder, but there was a complication when a knife cut his bile duct. This left Eden with long-term pain that he used painkillers, barbiturates, and amphetamines to deal with. Eden’s behavior was extremely erratic during much of the Suez crisis, and he made a series of poor decisions that ultimately caused Great Britain’s decline as a world power. He was eventually forced to resign in shame in 1957.
6Fashion And Tuberculosis
During the Victorian era, attractiveness and fashion were linked to many bizarre trends, but one fad was influenced by a curious factor—tuberculosis. Tuberculosis was so romanticized during the time that many considered it the standard for feminine beauty. From 1780 to 1850, cosmetics and clothing were actually made to emulate the appearance of someone dying from the dreaded disease. Things changed after Robert Koch isolated the tuberculosis bacteria in 1881 and the germ theory began to gain traction.