Debunking pirate myths

Pirates never made people walk the plank -- that came from Peter Pan. Pirates didn't have treasure maps -- that came from Treasure Island. Pirates didn't talk like pirates, either -- that came from Treasure Island actor Robert Newton. Want more of the sad truth about real pirates? Watch Museum Secrets on the History Channel. The good news? Pirates really did fly Jolly Roger flags!

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  1. And modern pirate scholars don’t drink beer all day at work or while filming educational shows for children on the Museum Channel.

    Oh wait, another myth debunked.

  2. Everybody knows  pirates talked like pirates.  If they didn’t, then how did we get Talk Like a Pirate Day, hmmm?

  3. Well, obviously pirates talked like pirates.  They were pirates after all.   They just didn’t talk the way we think they talked.

  4. We know enough about Blackbeard to know that there WERE some who opted for an exaggerated appearance. Perhaps common sailors may have had similar casual dress to the pirates of their day, but there were officers who wore uniforms, too. And many pirates were formerly in the Navy (of a given country) or had been privateers. It stands to reason that their individual histories and the influence of dealings in the Caribbean might show in their dress, customs, and habits. 

  5. “Pirates never made people walk the plank — that came from Peter Pan. Pirates didn’t have treasure maps — that came from Treasure Island. Pirates didn’t talk like pirates, either — that came from Treasure Island actor Robert Newton. … Pirates really did fly Jolly Roger flags!”

    Past tense used a lot there.  Could the biggest myth be that all pirates are buccaneers?

  6. Before we let the History Channel debunk some myths, let’s debunk the myth about the History Channel having anything to do with History first.

  7. Robert Newton wasn’t making it up. He was talking like they talked in the book Treasure Island.  Robert Louis Stevenson made a decent attempt to transcribe the British West Country accent that many sailors had in those days (and indeed, if you go to Bristol today, most people talk like that). It’s not mysterious – many criminal seafarers 200 years ago came from Bristol and the surrounding area. Check out this example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsB90aJ6Jp8

  8. For a great actual history of actual pirates, I highly recommend “The Republic of Pirates” by Colin Woodard.  The truth is more interesting than the myth.

    1.  Because you asked… the standard ninja outfit we all know and love came not from actual ninja (who in reality dressed like normal people), but from stage hands in traditional Japanese theatre, who dressed head-to-toe in black so the audience would know to ignore them.

  9. Pirates do not talk like that you scurvy curs!  Real pirates say things like, “Oh, heck Piratebay is down again!” and such.

    1. Oh, better far to live and die
      Under the brave black flag I fly
      Than play a sanctimonious part
      With a pirate head and a pirate heart

  10. Of all of the pirate myths they could have discussed they failed to examine the two most important ones:
    1) Are pirates holy, and
    2) Do pirates prevent global warming?

  11.  Pirates are really (and always have been) anarchists.

    In other words, they’re the good guys (and always have been).

    It’s the bastards in charge that are the true criminals.

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