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The rule of sixty six by Nigel Roth



Fifty-four years ago this very month, a game show named Call My Bluff was being hailed as the latest entertainment triumph from the BBC. In it, two teams of three people tried their hardest to bluff their opponents with fake definitions of obscure words, like queach or morepork, jirble and ablewhacket, the true definitions of which I shall leave you to look up at leisure.

For more than twenty years, guest teams in the British show refined their ability to say things that were totally fake without batting an eyelid. The format itself was based on an American show of the same name, but that only ran for six months, before being mysteriously cancelled.

It’s not the only show the United States has cancelled, of course, but rejecting a program in which two out of three sentences were fake is somewhat ironic, because that proportion, around sixty-six percent, is about the norm for the US, historically.

For example, you may have been taught that the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus discovered America on the third of August 1492, setting the nation on the glorious strada to the country you see today.

And of course, only a part of that statement is correct.

Columbus, of course, was Spanish, not Italian, so it was a carretera not a strada. Also, and more importantly, America had already been ‘discovered’ at least five hundred years earlier by Leif Erikson and his Norse seafarers, and Columbus didn't actually set foot on any part of the United States. It did happen on that date, though, and that seems enough for the US to have named twenty-three places after him, and erected one-hundred-and-fifty statues in celebration of the confused Spaniard.

Years later, the Pilgrims arrived from Holland, and, after enjoying the pleasant journey on the Mayflower, determined to seek advice from the local Indigenous people on how to survive in this new world, and sat down with them for that enduring American celebration called Thanksgiving, centered around a warm-hearted and loving meal with their Native American brethren, devouring turkeys to solidify their friendship.

But of course, that’s mainly the triptofan talking.

In reality, the Pilgrims were attempting to steal their neighbors' food supply for their own needs. They practiced trickery, gave the indigenous population diseases they had no defense against, and acted with pure hatred, not friendship, for their ‘savage’ neighbors. It really wasn’t any celebration at all, although the Pilgrims did bring several turkeys to America on that epic voyage in 1620.

After the Pilgrims progressed from conning locals to enslaving strangers, they began to flourish in what you’ve been taught, if you’re an American, were the thirteen original colonies of the United States. And again, you've been misled.