Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Damn You Mythbusters!!

I ran across a Cracked list of pirate myths and, sure enough, number 3 is that they wore eye patches so that they could see in dark holds. The justification for this was the Mythbusters pirate episode. The rest of the list wasn't very good either and I'm not going to bother linking to it. In fact, their lists aren't very well researched. In a list on real people who were hard to kill, they implied that Lt. Maynard's two sloops were bigger than Blackbeard's. Actually, Maynard's sloops were so small that they didn't have any cannon and only one of the sloops was involved in the actual fighting.

While it was nice that Mythbusters did a pirate episode, I suspect that they made up some of their pirate myths. Using rum for washing? The one real pirate myth, that splinters were more dangerous than a cannon ball, they got wrong. Their tests showed a cannon ball cleanly penetrating a hull with minimal splinters. This contradicts centuries of actual experience. What happened? They shot their cannon ball at close range with a full charge. If they had backed off a few hundred yards or used less powder then the ball would have made more splinters (the British have actually tested this).

As for eye patches, I never heard of anyone wearing an eye patch to preserve his night vision before a fantasy novel written in 2000 and that did not have any pirates. A soldier would go into a seedy tavern and flash some money while wearing an eye patch. He would go back into the night and remove the eye patch. Then he and his companions would seize and would-be robbers and confiscate their money.

I can imagine this making its way to the Mythbusters as a pirate myth and they did not spend any time checking the historic accuracy of the myths they tested. They just went with them.

Then their fans across the country accepted it as fact.

Damn you Mythbusters!

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