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10 Top Tips for Practical Immortality

On the one hand, extending life to the point of practical immortality (longevity escape velocity, or LEV) is an absurdly bad idea, the epitome of human hubris, fraught with all manner of social, economic, and philosophical problems—many of which we probably can’t foresee.

On the other hand, if aging is a disease like any other (as epigeneticists tend to think), and our number one killer at that, aren’t we morally obliged to work on a cure—especially if, as researchers claim, a cure most definitely exists? Aubrey de Grey, one of the most public advocates of life extension research, answers the question of why he wants to cure aging with another: “What the hell is wrong with everyone else that stops them from being motivated to cure aging? It’s responsible for the overwhelming majority of global suffering. WTF?”

On yet another hand (who knows, maybe we’ll graft one on next), if you’re enjoying life, why not prolong it indefinitely? It’s not like we’re going to eliminate death entirely and force everyone to live forever; we’re just looking at ways to tackle its primary cause.

In any case, wherever you stand on life extension, there are certain things you can do right now to improve your odds of living long enough to see it happen. And, even if when that day comes you opt out of “living forever,” these top 10 tips for practical immortality can only improve your health in the meantime. For the most part anyway.

10. Take supplements

Although there’s very little evidence in favor of supplementing nutrients for longevity (something de Grey himself points out), life extension zealot Ray Kurzweil takes hundreds of pills every day. If you want to stand a chance of living forever, he insists, you must “be aggressive with your supplementation.”

Stephen Coles, another life extension enthusiast, appears to agree, prescribing a daunting nutrient cocktail of vitamins (B, C, E, etc.), fish oil, soya lecithin, and many, many other supplements.

Obviously the cost of so many pills can rapidly get out of control. It’s also no small feat keeping up with the often contradictory research and adjusting your regimen accordingly, while at the same time accounting for differences in size, weight, gender, health, lifestyle, diet, and so on. Given that individual supplements could end up interfering with, duplicating, or even counteracting the effects of the others, fine-tuning your intake can become a rather tedious full-time job. And it’s probably not worth the hassle.

But if you’re serious about supplementation (because there is in fact reason to be), then the best way to get started is to plan out your own “personal supplement pyramid.” The idea is to start with a reliable foundation of supplements recommended for everyone—multivitamin, CoQ10, essential fatty acids, probiotics, and so on—before customizing your intake from there. First, you’ll add supplements recommended for your own medical profile (e.g. pomegranate extract for a family history of heart disease), and then you’ll top off your pyramid with some of the more faddish or experimental wonder-supplements (or drugs) of the day. These might include protein-refolding supplements, Basis, or metformin. Ned David, co-founder of Unity Biotechnology, is said to look 20 years younger, in part because he uses metformin—a diabetes drug that helped even elderly diabetics live longer than a healthy control group.

9. Watch what you eat…

As with supplements, Aubrey de Grey doesn’t think much of fad diets when it comes to extending longevity. Obviously an unhealthy diet can significantly shorten your lifespan, but slavishly following the Atkins or paleo diet (for instance) might be a waste of your time—unless of course you’re overweight.

That said, you can’t go wrong with a traditionally healthy diet. That means ample fiber (prunes, whole grains, potato skins, etc.), fatty acids (from oily fish or vegetarian supplements), and plenty of vegetables. Antioxidants are especially useful for slowing the production of free radicals that cause havoc to aging cells. Antioxidant foods include walnuts, pomegranates, ginger, and blackberries. Red wine contains the powerful antioxidant resveratrol and evidence suggests drinking it in small quantities could help protect against a variety of age-related disorders, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Green tea, with its polyphenols, antioxidants, and antibacterial qualities, is also recommended. Meanwhile, you should limit your consumption of saturated/trans fats, meat, dairy, chemical additives, sugar, starches, and heavily processed foods. And you should never eat brains.

Some nutritionists believe we should eat the same as “Blue Zone” residents, i.e. those living in areas with the most centenarians. People in Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Ikaria (Greece), and Loma Linda (California), for instance, have longer lifespans on average, perhaps because of their seafood-rich and otherwise plant-based diets.

It should be noted, however, that such a diet is not really feasible for most of us. Our use of chemical pesticides has rendered many foods (especially apples, peppers, peaches, spinach, and strawberries) actually toxic, and our polluted seas have increased methylmercury levels in fish to potentially dangerous levels.

In short, it’s probably best to follow de Grey’s golden rule for diet and eat whatever doesn’t make you feel ill.

8. …but eat less of it

People in “Blue Zones” also tend to eat less, for example by stopping when they’re “80% full” as opposed to fully stuffed. According to many life extension fanatics, this kind of calorie restriction may be key to extending longevity.

In fact, we’ve actually found that animals tend to live longer when they’re kept hungry—perhaps because a starving body focuses less on reproduction and more on surviving the famine, investing energy and resources into repairing cells and boosting resilience. One monkey put on a 30% calorie restricted diet at the age of 16, for example, turned 43 in 2017 (the equivalent of 130 in human years), breaking the longevity record for his species. Other studies have demonstrated the same effect in smaller animals such as nematode worms and rats.

Calorie restriction is tough, though, even if it’s only temporary. In one study, participants who restricted their calories on only five days per month for just three months of the year had a dropout rate of 25%. For some, calorie restriction just isn’t worth it. It diminishes their quality of life too much, even if it does extend the duration. And it could also be harmful. Many researchers are keen to point out that calorie restriction is really more of a focus for studying aging in the lab than a practical lifestyle recommendation. A drug with the same effect, i.e. of dampening the mTOR signalling pathway to regulate cellular metabolism, would be far preferable.

Still, calorie restriction might be a good idea if you’re currently overweight.

7. Get into shape

De Grey doesn’t live much of a temperate lifestyle himself; he drinks as much as he likes and doesn’t even bother with exercise because he’s “so well optimized” genetically (i.e. with high glucose tolerance, low insulin, and low triglycerides). Nor does he think it’s essential for anyone to lose weight or stop smoking to stand a chance of reaching LEV. You might gain a couple of extra years but this is nothing compared to the long-term goals of de Grey’s SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) Research Foundation. Within 30 years, he insists, we should be able to reverse any kind of lifestyle damage anyway. And we’ve already seen the first stirrings of the gene therapy era with the “impossible” advent of CRISPR, a revolutionary gene-editing system.

For many, though, especially if another 30 years would be pushing it, adopting a healthy lifestyle now is probably a good idea. For one thing, just like calorie restriction, exercise puts the body under strain and dampens the mTOR signalling pathway. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can also reduce your chance of mortality from any cause by a massive 61%, potentially increasing your lifespan by more than a decade.

But you don’t need to go crazy. The best (and safest) exercise might just be walking. Evidence suggests that it’s just as effective as vigorous exercise for lowering cholesterol and preventing hypertension, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. It also lowers blood sugar, improves digestion, eases fatigue, boosts mood, and enhances sleep, all of which are vital for getting into (and staying in) shape.

6. Stay safe

Even if you do live to see age and possibly disease eliminated, you’ll still be at risk of accidental death and murder.

You can actually run your own simulation here to see how long humans would live in a world without age or disease, based on data from the Insurance Information Institute. In one simulation of 500 practical immortals, for instance, the oldest person to die was 54,258 years old and the cause of death was a car accident. Other causes of death, including shooting and drowning, limited the average life expectancy to a paltry 8,938 years.

Setting aside the question of how car safety and other factors will have improved by the 563rd century (around the time that last quadragintiquinquagintimilliquinquagintiducentinarian crashes his car), these statistics can help us frame the dangers that we face every day. After age and disease, car accidents are the most common cause of death by far. You have a 0.011% chance of dying this way every year. The next most common cause of death, in the US at least, is assault by firearm. You have a 0.0035% chance of this.

Obviously the answer is to invest in self-driving cars, or to avoid driving altogether. Tighter gun laws might help too (although armed police apparently pose the real threat, killing more American civilians every year than mass shooters, terrorists, and gangsters put together). Then there are the freak accidents none of us see coming.

Unfortunately, you can’t eliminate risk entirely without severely limiting your quality of life. So you’re better off sticking with the essentials. Keep a first aid kit handy (and know how to use it); learn CPR and the Heimlich maneuver (and make sure those around you do too); and know exactly what to do in a variety of life-threatening situations.

While you wait around for LEV, you should also stay on top of regular medical and dental check-ups, including twice-yearly prophylactic cleaning in the latter case, and all essential vaccinations.

5. Minimize stress and get plenty of sleep

Importantly, don’t freak out about the risks that surround you each day. Avoid all stress in general, including about your age. Frequent bursts of adrenaline can be dangerous and cortisol can actually corrode bodily tissues. Stress also constricts blood vessels, potentially leading to angina.

De-stressing your life doesn’t have to be stressful. Some common tips are to avoid routine emergency deadlines, take time out when you need it, and use public transport instead of driving in big cities.

Getting good quality sleep is also important, so you should never go to bed on an argument or with unfinished business in mind. Sleeping pills are a bad idea because they interfere with the crucial REM phase of sleep. Take naps if you need to, but try to stick to a regular schedule that allows at least seven hours of sleep.

Incidentally, if you snore, you should get it checked out by a doctor. Snoring is often a symptom of sleep apnea and may indicate your blood and brain aren’t getting enough oxygen while you sleep.

4. Get out more

Research suggests that getting out into nature can also help to reduce stress levels. It’s such a powerful remedy, in fact, that even just looking at pictures has been found to produce similar effects. Indeed, spending time outdoors is often more effective than pharmaceuticals for treating a range of unhelpful conditions, including depression and dementia.

Untreated depression in particular can dramatically shorten your life expectancy, and this has little to do with suicide rates. Depressed individuals are at greater risk of heart disease and stroke and tend to have unhealthier lifestyles, being more prone to heavy drinking and smoking. In other words, if you want to “live forever” but you’re depressed, getting un-depressed should be your top priority.

It’s also important to surround yourself with good friends. Studies have consistently shown a correlation between good friendships and better health and well-being, including a lower incidence of disease and depression. According to a 2010 study, loneliness and isolation is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and actually worse than being obese. The right friends can also help to promote healthier behaviors in general. Interestingly, relationships with family members do not appear to be quite as beneficial.

3. Have sex daily

Less than a third of Americans aged between 18 and 59 have sex more than twice a week. And this isn’t anywhere near enough. According to a 1997 study, 45 to 59-year-old men having sex less than once a month were twice as likely to die over a 10-year follow-up period as those having sex the most frequently. The optimum, according to L. Stephen Coles, is to have sex with a (willing) sexually healthy partner every single day, and this goes for any age group, so long as it doesn’t risk aggravating existing problems like heart conditions. But there’s apparently no requirement for orgasm. It’s just the intercourse that’s important.

It may also be important, particularly if you’re male, to avoid being single too long. On average, married men tend to live longer than their unmarried counterparts, and this may have something to do with taking fewer risks, as well as benefiting from a wider social circle.

2. Support causes

When Aubrey de Grey was asked what the best thing anyone can do to extend their life is, his answer was simple: “Give SRF [SENS Research Foundation] lots of money.” The next best thing? “Persuade others to.”

As far as he’s concerned, there’s really nothing else to do at this point. Our hopes for practical immortality rest squarely with longevity research. If you want to live forever, it makes sense to give what you can.

So why aren’t more of us investing? De Grey suggests it may have something to do with selfishness. Older investors may believe they stand little chance of personally benefiting from the research and refuse to part with their cash. Younger tycoons tend to be more enthusiastic.

But the odds aren’t actually that slim, even for the oldest billionaires. At 50-odd, de Grey gives himself a roughly 50/50 chance of reaching LEV, which not only means halting aging but actually reverting his body to the biological age of 30 and keeping it there indefinitely. More promisingly, he believes the first person to live to the age of 150 has already been born, and that they’re already over 60. Couple that with Kurzweil’s prediction that we could reach LEV by 2029 and there’s every reason to give money to SENS—just to hurry things up and improve your own chances of living long enough to benefit from the breakthroughs. (Then again, maybe that’s the idea; all religions make bold claims to get us to cough up donations.)

But there are other reasons to support causes in the name of longevity. Having something to believe in obviously gives you something to live for. And of course making the world a better place should be a priority if you’re planning to stay in it. You might therefore want to change your political alignment (and work to change others’) to vote for the most peaceful, science-literate, and non-climate-change-denying politicians. You might also want to campaign for nuclear disarmament, for preserving the oceans, and against Monsanto killing our bees. Ensuring you’ve actually got a world to live in is a no-brainer if you want to live forever.

Again, though, it’s important not to stress out over it. Having a purpose is one thing, and improving the world is fantastic. But go with the flow wherever you can and live and let live for longevity.

1. Have a backup plan

So you’re taking the right supplements, watching what you eat (and eating less of it), you’re in shape, keeping safe, getting plenty of peaceful sleep (after nightly sex), and you’re spending a lot of your time outdoors with friends. You’re even supporting SENS research with some of your (not too stressfully) hard-earned cash. You’re well on your way to reaching LEV and attaining practical immortality.

But everyone needs a backup plan.

Many life extension enthusiasts see cryonics as the next best thing, opting to have their bodies or heads cryogenically frozen in case they die before reaching LEV. This could also be a safeguard, going forward, against accidental death—even as a practical immortal. If you die in a car accident, for example, you could simply be frozen until we figure out a way to resurrect you. There’s no guarantee we ever will, of course, but it’s safer than rotting in the ground.

Some life extensionists also look to the 2045 Initiative, which seeks to eliminate the body entirely by uploading human consciousness to a digital format. Even the Dalai Lama is said to support this so-called “Avatar” project, whereby uploaded consciousnesses will be installed into humanoid robots.

While this might sound totally far-fetched, many just think it’s inevitable. In fact, as the name of the initiative suggests, they think it’s inevitable by 2045.

So it’s 30 years (ish) again. All signs point to this as the golden number. Live another 30 years and you stand a fairly good chance of “living forever”—in one form or another.

Just so long as there’s still a world in which you can do so.

Fascinating Mars-Like Places on Earth

Will humans ever be able to live on Mars? That’s the big question that a lot of people wonder about. Nicknamed the Red Planet because of its bright rust color, it is the fourth planet from the sun and Earth’s neighbor.

Despite being much colder than Earth with an average temperature of around -80 degrees Fahrenheit, there are many other obstacles in the way of humans colonizing there right now, such as the fact that there isn’t any oxygen to breathe. Scientists, however, are searching for new ways to make it possible for humans to eventually move to Mars, such as potentially heating up the planet to create an atmosphere in which people can breathe in oxygen.

The progress that scientists are making is amazing and it may be very possible for humans to inhabit our planetary neighbor in the not-so-distant future. Having locations on Earth that are similar to the conditions on the Red Planet are extremely helpful for researchers… like these six Mars-like locations right here on our planet.

Lake Vostok, Antarctica

Lake Vostok, Antarctica is one of the biggest subglacial lakes on Earth. The lake, which is located near the South Pole in East Antarctica, is 143 miles long, 31 miles wide, and over 2,600 feet deep. It is buried beneath more than two miles of ice and is located close to Russia’s Vostok research station. It is estimated that the lake has been covered with ice for at least 15 million years, with no access to light, and is sealed from the atmosphere which makes it one of the most extreme environments on the planet.

A Russian geographer/pilot first noticed the buried lake in the 1960s when he spotted from the air a smooth patch of ice on top of it. In 1996, British and Russian researchers then confirmed that there was indeed a lake buried there. Despite the age of the lake being unknown, scientists believe it is only thousands of years old.

Although the location has an average temperature of around minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the lake itself is believed to be around 27 degrees Fahrenheit because of the huge weight of the ice on top. Scientists also believe that the freshwater lake could have creatures living in the darkness and the extreme cold. In fact, they did find that the lake contains microbes and multicellular organisms. And this gives hope that life can be found in the similarly extreme environment of Mars.

Dry Valleys, Antarctica

The Dry Valleys are a row of valleys located west of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. The valleys, which are subjected to cold permafrost, are said to be the closest terrestrial environment similar to the very north of Mars. Researchers have found bacteria that live in freezing temperatures where the water has turned to ice and where nutrients are scarce. Oligotrophs are slow-growing organisms that live in environments where nutrients are hard to find and they could help scientists figure out how life could possibly exist on Mars.

Researchers believe that Mars’ polar north may have supported life at one time because it received a lot more sunlight millions of years ago, which means the possibility of water and, of course, life. So researchers began drilling at this location in Antarctica to decide which machinery would be best to use on the northern locations of Mars. Scientists have found a patch of soil covering a layer of ice at the polar north of the Red Planet, and the environment is very similar at Dry Valleys, so that’s why this drilling research is being conducted there.

Atacama Desert, Chile

The Atacama Desert in Chile is a plateau approximately 1,000 kilometers long and is so extremely dry that it’s one of the most Mars-like locations on the planet. In fact, it can take decades of time between rainfalls, which ranks it among the driest locations on Earth. That is why, in 2004, scientists that were NASA-funded spent four weeks in the desert doing research on how life could possibly survive on Mars. And what they found is definitely mind-blowing.

In the dry core of the desert, scientists have found microbial life. And if they can find it on an immensely dry location like the Atacama Desert, where many people believe that nothing is able to survive, there’s a very real possibility that they could also find life on Mars. A planetary scientist from Washington State University was quoted saying “If life can persist in Earth’s driest environment, there is a good chance it could be hanging in there on Mars in a similar fashion.”

Pico de Orizaba, Mexico

Pico de Orizaba is a volcano located in south-central Mexico. It rises on the south edge of the Mexican Plateau and is located about 60 miles east of Puebla. The volcano, which has been dormant since 1687, is the third highest peak in North America, registering at 18,406 feet tall.

One big question in regards to the possible colonization on Mars is how would humans make it habitable? That is why scientists are so interested in Pico de Orizaba. It has one of Earth’s highest tree line elevations at over 13,000 feet and researchers are using this location to try to figure out how they could begin life on Mars.

Scientists believe that if they could warm up the Red Planet by using heat-trapping gases, raising the air pressure, and beginning photosynthesis, that they could possibly create and maintain an atmosphere that would support humans and other life forms that need oxygen to breathe. If they could use these gases to heat Mars to 41 degrees Fahrenheit, that would equal the temperature of the tree line on the Pico de Orizaba volcano.

Death Valley, California

Scientists have done extensive research and testing for decades at Death Valley because of the location’s ancient rock layers. Even NASA’s Curiosity was tested there to see how it would handle to harsh terrain on Mars. Death Valley is located in the southeast of California and is the lowest, driest, and hottest part of North America. The valley is approximately 140 miles long by 5 to 15 miles wide. Although the valley is excessively hotter than Mars, the harsh rocky terrain is said to be quite similar.

Since 2012, Death Valley holds a yearly event called MarsFest where engineers and scientists discuss with the public the similar relationship between that location and Mars. People can visit Mars Hill, which is covered with volcanic rubble and rocks, as well as take a walk to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, the Ubehebe Crater volcanic field, and the Little Hebe Crater.

Devon Island

Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island on the planet. Of all the islands on Earth – habited and uninhabited – it is the 27th largest. It is part of an archipelago (a group of islands) called the Parry Islands in Nunavut, Canada. It is located in the Arctic Ocean, south of Ellesmere Island and west of Baffin Bay. Devon Island is approximately 320 miles long and 80-100 miles wide with an area of just over 21,000 square miles.

The island, which was discovered in 1616 by William Baffin, has a huge 14-mile wide crater called the “Haughton Crater.” It is estimated that the crater was created around 39 million years ago when a comet two kilometers in diameter hit the area. Described as a polar desert, the impact zone is cold, dry, windy and dusty which makes it quite similar to the many craters on Mars, especially with all the loose rock in this earthly crater. Although Devon Island has an average temperature of 1 degree Fahrenheit and Mars averages -76 degrees Fahrenheit weather, the island is one of the closest comparisons to our planetary neighbor.

Pascal Lee is a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute and is leading the NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) where the Haughton Crater is being used for research of new technologies and strategies which will hopefully help prepare humans and robots for the exploration of the Red Planet. Every summer since 1997, Lee has led missions to the isolated island where they have tested many things that will help them for a trip to Mars, such as spacesuits and robots, as well as drills.

Top 10 Movie Characters You May Not Know Are Based on Real People

As Mark Twain famously put it, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” And so it is with movies. As authors and screenwriters use their imaginations to come up with some truly amazing stories, they do draw inspiration from the real world on occasion. Events, places, and even characters are influenced by what really is out there. Believe it or not, many of our beloved protagonists, or villains for that matter, are rooted in real life.

Read the full list!

The Story of Mexico’s Infamous Island of Dolls

If you want to explore an incredibly creepy and bizarre location, Mexico’s Island of the Dolls is definitely the place to go. Located in the Xochimilco canals, approximately 28 kilometers south of Mexico City, the island is entirely full of dolls – thousands of them – hanging from trees and wires.


From the sad legend of a young girl’s death, to the reclusive man who isolated himself on the island for fifty years, to the thousands of dolls hanging around the island, this place is extremely bizarre and frightening to say the least. This article will inform you about the very creepy, yet surprisingly popular, Island of the Dolls.

The Legend of the Island and Don Julian

Legend has it that a young girl drowned under bizarre circumstances on the island many years ago. A man named Don Julian Santana Barrera found the girl’s floating body in the canal and later discovered her doll in the water, which he hung from a tree to show respect to the deceased child. He blamed himself for not being able to save her and the reclusive man moved alone to the island and became its caretaker.

He claimed to have heard footsteps and screams of a woman in the dark although his hut was situated deep in the woods and several miles away from civilization. He was also sure that the girl’s ghost was possessing the doll he found, so he started hanging many more dolls around the island in order to bring peace to her spirit. In fact, for fifty years, he decorated the entire island with hundreds of dolls – some that are even missing body parts.

He survived by growing vegetables and flowers that he sold in a nearby town but supposedly he didn’t speak to anybody. He lived a lonely life on the island until his mysterious death in 2001. As a matter of fact, his nephew found him dead in the exact same canal where he found the drowned girl’s body fifty years before.

Tourist Attraction

Ever since Barrera’s death, his relatives now run the area, known as the “chinampas,” which has become a popular tourist attraction. Visitors even bring their own dolls to hang up – as if the island needed any more creepy dolls. They also leave coins and different types of trinkets at the doll shrines found on the island.

The easiest way to reach the island is to take a ferry there on one of the boat trips. After a two-hour boat ride through the maze-like canals surrounded by singing birds and beautiful scenery, the island appears after a bend and nearly takes your breath away (not in a good way) with the sight of countless creepy dolls hanging from the trees.

Visitors have reported hearing whispers, as well as feeling the dolls’ eyes following them while they explored the eerie island. And if it’s not bad enough that the frightening dolls are hanging from trees and wires, there are said to be many more that are concealed by the overgrown grass.

The Dolls

Without even mentioning the paranormal side of things, the sight alone of these dolls is beyond frightening, to say the least. While some dolls are missing limbs, others are without their entire bodies, so all you see is just a head hanging from the trees. Since many of the dolls have been on the island for numerous years, the continuous outdoor exposure has caused them to decay. In addition to that, some dolls have spider webs on them and lice in their hair, as well as insects crawling out of their mouths and eye sockets.

As for the paranormal aspect of the island, the dolls are supposedly extremely haunted, some say by the girl who drowned there. Reports have surfaced of the dolls moving their arms, heads, and even their entire bodies. They are also said to open their eyes, whisper to each other, and one of them has even been heard crying as if she had batteries (which the doll was found to have no batteries).

And the dolls are everywhere! Not only are they seen hanging from trees and wires, they can be found clustered at the bottom of trees and in the grass.

Ghost Adventures

The island has even captured the attention of professional ghost hunters. In 2014, the Ghost Adventures crew investigated the disturbing location. While the crew was conducting interviews, a professor told them that during the Mexican Revolution in 1911, a lot of bodies were dumped in the Xochimilco canals. They also interviewed Don Julian’s nephew, who found his uncle’s body in the water.

During the investigation, the crew heard cans moving and then a fire mysteriously started in the fire pit where they just were moments before. Nobody else was on the island except for the crew and they were all together. Then they heard what sounded like two cats fighting when all of a sudden one of the dolls started laughing hysterically. After further investigation, they confirmed that no batteries were found inside of the laughing doll.


While locals describe the island as “charmed,” many others feel as if it is a deeply disturbing and bizarre location. One professional photographer even described the island as the creepiest place she has ever visited. Whether a person believes in the paranormal or not, the Island of the Dolls is definitely a unique place to visit. From the chilling history of the island, to the thousands of dolls who seemingly watching your every move, this is one place worth visiting.

10 Times Countries Accidentally Invaded Their Neighbors

We’ve all been there. You’re driving along at the head of your armed forces, minding your own business, when all of a sudden you accidentally drive into another country and de-facto invade your neighbors. Whoops! What a hilarious mistake, huh? Hard to believe it could actually happen in real life.

Well, hold onto your backsides, everyone, because it could and it does. While not exactly common, it turns out there are just enough blundering generals out there, and just enough borders not demarcated clearly enough, to result in a handful of nations over the years inadvertently wandering onto their neighbor’s lawns and nearly starting an actual war. In fact, there’s precisely 10 of them. What a coincidence…

10. A Google Maps Error Causes Nicaragua to Invade Costa Rica

2010 nearly saw perhaps one of the cruddiest “firsts” in internet history – the first Google Maps war. In November, Nicaraguan military commander Eden Pastora was leading his men on patrol near the Costa Rican border when he saw a sight that made him spit. There, flying brazenly on the Nicaraguan side, was a Costa Rican flag. Pastora knew it was on the Nicaraguan side, because he double-checked with Google Maps. So he rounded up his men, had them march over to the flag, tear it down, and send up a Nicaraguan one in its place. At which point, things got all sorts of embarrassing.

It turned out that Costa Rican flag flying in Nicaragua had been no such thing. It had been a Costa Rican flag flying in Costa Rica, put up by that country’s government, and now just torn down by an invading Nicaraguan force. Thanks to a lack of good data on the disputed border, Google Maps had miscalculated the true position by nearly 3 kilometers. Commander Eden was now technically leading an invasion force. It took a grovelling apology from Nicaragua, an admission of error by Google, and a UN diplomatic intervention to stop this dumb mistake from spiraling into an actual war.

9. Northern Irish Police Accidentally Blockade a Road in the Republic of Ireland

If you’re not up on your Irish and British geography, you should know that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are two very different places. One is a constituent part of the United Kingdom, while another is the Ireland you’re always hearing about from drunken co-workers around St. Patrick’s Day. Thanks to a history between the two best described as “troubled,” the border between each is non-existent. Great if you’re a resident wanting to live in or trade on the other side, less good if you’re a slightly dim cop without a working sat-nav.

Well, meet two of those cops. In 2010, officers in the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) accidentally drove 100 yards into the Republic. Apparently unaware they had no official powers or jurisdiction and should probably get the heck out, they then set up a roadblock and started searching Irish cars.

As far as invasions go, it wasn’t exactly “Germany invades Poland.” Someone pointed out that the cops had messed up and they quickly retreated. Still, it did cause a diplomatic incident between Dublin and Belfast.

8. Venezuelan Troops Unintentionally March into Colombia, Destroy Some Bananas

Despite their long, shared history, Colombia and Venezuela are not friends. Colombia has long resented Venezuelan support for leftist rebels fighting the Colombian state, while Venezuela has long resented Colombia’s role as a major US supporter in the region. So any disputes between the two nations can have the potential to turn very nasty indeed. Disputes like that time a bunch of Venezuelan soldiers marched across the border, set up camp in Colombia, and destroyed a banana plantation.

The reason for the incursion was, umm, bad weather. See, parts of the ultra-remote Colombia-Venezuela border are marked only by natural features, such as rivers. In 2017, heavy rainfall led to one of these rivers swelling and changing course slightly, making the plantation appear to be in Venezuela. So the troops considered it totally legitimate for them to set up camp there, despite the fact that a natural border shifting does not actually mean the political border shifts with it (as to why they destroyed the plantation, that can best be summed up with a confused shrug). The incident triggered a war of words between Bogota and Caracas. Luckily, a war of words was all it was.

7. British Marines Aim for Gibraltar, Miss and Attack Spain

Gibraltar is a big lump of rock off the coast of southern Spain that has belonged to Britain for 300-odd years. Occasionally, the UK military uses it to stage exercises, nearly always being extremely careful not to needlessly provoke Spain, which still maintains a claim on the rock. We say “nearly always,” because there’s at least one case on record in which that careful attitude went not just out the window, but out the city, out the stratosphere, and out of the planet’s orbit. In 2002, British marines stormed a beach in Gibraltar, firing off mortars and waving machine guns. It was only when they saw the dumbfounded fishermen that they realized they’d accidentally landed in Spain.

Madrid responded with commendable grace, sending only a pair of local cops to quietly ask the presumably-embarrassed marines to politely leave. Which they did, quickly realizing that the gigantic Gibraltar-shaped rock nearby was evidently where they were meant to be. Still, the “invasion” did complicate negotiations between Spain and Britain on the future of Gibraltar.

6. China’s Army Mistakenly Starts a Construction Project in Bhutan

Pity poor Bhutan. A tiny and impoverished Himalayan country, it has the misfortune to be stuck between two regional heavyweights: China and India. Both countries have some serious issues regarding their borders with one another, and microscopic Bhutan keeps getting caught in the middle. In Summer 2017, they got embroiled in yet another China-India face off. Chinese army engineers accidentally wandered into Bhutan and starting building a road. Rather than let Bhutan take care of it, India marched right on in to stop them itself.

The result was a tense standoff on Bhutanese soil that went largely underreported, but could have had crazy catastrophic consequences for everyone involved. The last time China and India got into a border dispute, it resulted in the Sino-Indian War of 1962, which left a bare minimum of 2,000 dead and many more wounded. We’re glad to report that cooler heads prevailed this time.

5. Australia’s Calculating Blunders Lead to Six Separate Invasions of Indonesia

If land borders are vague and ill-defined enough to result in accidental invasions, just think how much more difficult maritime borders must be to handle. In the wide blue emptiness of the ocean, it can be all too easy to cross into another country’s sphere of influence once or twice, or even three times. Heck, even four unintentional incursions doesn’t seem too hard to believe. But six? That requires either a special dedication to annoying your neighbors, or being repeatedly drunk at sea to the point of incapacity. Meet the nation combining dangerous alcohol consumption with cheerfully incompetent sailing: Australia.

In 2014, an internal inquiry by Australia’s navy found that its ships had repeatedly miscalculated local maritime borders, leading to six separate incidents where ships accidentally invaded Indonesia’s waters. While we can’t prove the sailors were actually necking cans of Foster’s and playing boomerang instead of navigating, we also technically can’t prove that wasn’t what was happening, so we choose to believe it. And, really, isn’t that better than believing Australia’s state of the art warships are currently captained by people who can’t even figure out how to use a sat-nav?

4. Russia “Accidentally” Invades Ukraine (again)

So, this one should probably be taken with a pinch of salt, largely because of who it involves and when exactly it happened. In 2014, so the story goes, a group of Russian soldiers were on patrol near the country’s borders when they lost track of their location and went blundering on into a neighboring country. Cue many red faces and Vladimir Putin being forced to apologize. Sounds legit, right? So why are we treating this entry as any different to the others? Because of which neighboring country the Russians “accidentally” wandered into: Ukraine.

If you’ve recently awoken from a medical coma induced in late 2013, you may be surprised to hear that Russia isn’t exactly a trustworthy actor when it comes to Ukraine. Moscow annexed the Crimea in early 2014, and sent in troops to help prop up two breakaway republics in Eastern Ukraine soon after, helping fuel a civil war that is still ongoing and has killed well over 10,000 people. At the time of their “mistake,” the Russian troops were supposed to be observing a ceasefire, so it’s certainly possible they were in Ukraine by accident. However, it’s also possible that Putin is a big liar, liar with his pants on fire, determined to use those burning pants-flames to reignite conflict in Ukraine. Hmm… what to believe?

3. Mexico and the US Repeatedly Violate One Another’s Territorial Integrity

With all the fuss in the news over it, you would think the US-Mexican border was an impenetrable, fortress-like wall that can’t be crossed without a zillion security clearances. Well, apparently not, because Federal agents for both the US and Mexico are apparently frolicking back and forth across it like each side is trying to rack up more incursions than the other. By some counts, Mexico and the US are technically invading one another at a rate of nearly once a week. A 2014 analysis of figures put unauthorized Mexican military crossings of the border at 500 in the previous decade.

To be completely fair, this isn’t totally one sided. The same report revealed that US agents also go scampering into Mexico in pursuit of criminals, resulting in a border that looks like a Swiss cheese. While all this is unlikely to ever lead to an actual war, it does make for some uncomfortable situations. US agents have gotten into standoffs with Mexican troops, and border vigilantes have nearly been blown away by Mexican soldiers mistaking them for drug runners.

2. Switzerland Repeatedly Invades Liechtenstein

Micronation Liechtenstein is so small that it relies on the Swiss postal service to keep its residents connected to the mail. That’s not some super-lame reformulation of the classic “yo momma’s so fat that…” joke. It’s the literal state of relations between the two countries. Liechtenstein (population: 37,666) relies on Switzerland for everything. It doesn’t even have its own airport. The Swiss, in turn, see Liechtenstein as almost a little brother, practically an extra canton in their mountain nation. All of which may help explain why the Swiss army keeps accidentally invading Liechtenstein – even the army doesn’t realize it is a separate nation.

And, boy, do they ever keep invading. Most famously, in 2007, 150 Swiss soldiers crossed the border in the dead of night before realizing their mistake and hot-footing it back. So sleepy and lacking in border guards is Liechtenstein that no-one realized the invasion had happened until the Swiss foreign ministry called up the next day and confessed. But there have been other dramatic incursions, too. In 1968, Swiss soldiers accidentally shelled a Liechtenstein ski resort in a live fire exercise; a few years later they were training with flamethrowers and accidentally burned down a Liechtenstein forest. In 1995 Swiss soldiers even occupied a house across the border, only to be chased off by the village mayor. Well, you know what they say, Liechtenstein: with friends like these, who needs enemies?

1. The US Accidentally Builds the Anti-Canada Fort Blunder in Canada

Weird as it sounds now, there was a time in American history where the biggest threat to the US was Canada putting aside its maple syrup and hockey violence and invading. The War of 1812 had seen British Canadians burn down the White House, and the US wasn’t too keen on having that happen again anytime soon. So James Madison ordered the construction of an impenetrable fort right at the point where Canada bordered New York state. Construction began… at which point it became clear that somebody, somewhere had made a major blunder. Rather than building their anti-Canada fort on the US-Canadian border, Madison’s government had gone and built it in Canada.

Thanks to an inaccurate survey, it turned out that the US border was actually a mile south, meaning the US had technically invaded Canada. Rather than sparking a new war, though, it sparked a resigned sigh on the Canadian side, and an eventual offer to move the border so so-called Fort Blunder (in actuality, Fort Montgomery) was really in the USA. That’s exactly what happened in 1842, and the border was shifted one mile north to save American face. Wow, Canada. Even when people invade you, you’re just so darn polite.

10 Billionaires You’ve Never Heard Of

Billionaires are front page news. Most people have heard of Bill Gates, who is the 2nd wealthiest man in the world and also a billionaire. He is well-known, not only for his huge brain and tech innovations but also for his philanthropic efforts to help the world with malaria. Jeff Bezos, who founded and runs the uber successful is yet another billionaire name that most recognize. Then there’s Oprah Winfrey, an international media mogul who has inspired millions to change and improve their lives.

Billionaires are not just people who make money, they are also kinda rock stars. We watch their TED talks, see them simply be amazing, and read their books about how we can be, too. Even if you have the teensiest bit of ambition, we bet you admire at least one of the famous billionaires, like Richard Branson, founder and President of Virgin and ultimate adventure fanatic.

It might surprise you to know that there are quite a few, more secret billionaires out there. They are not writing books or on Twitter. No, these unknown billionaires are just diligently making money, staying very low profile in today’s totally connected world. You can’t follow them on Instagram or Twitter – and please don’t follow them in person… really! But seriously, they are highly dedicated to their businesses and investments and have no desire to be famous. Leave the TED Talks to the others who have three commas to their ultra impressive bank accounts.

Here are 10 billionaires that you may not know by name. Their products and companies are probably instantly recognizable. You may have them in your fridge, medicine cabinet, or be wearing them right now! Their names are likely known and respected in their industry. But we bet if you heard the Starbucks barista call any of these names to give them a fancy coffee, that you wouldn’t connect it to who they are and what they do to earn this huge amount of money. So let’s get to know them now…

10. Sergey Brin

Net worth: $47.5 Billion
President of Alphabet, Inc. (the parent company of

Sergey Brin is a rather successful guy you don’t know. As of spring 2018, he is considered to be the 13th richest person on the globe. Brin co-founded Google with Larry Page. Now, he is the President of Alphabet, Inc., which is the parent company for Google.

Both Brin’s father and grandfather had a passion for math and science. Brin attended Stanford University to get his PhD, and this is where he met Larry Page. They began Google in a garage and, as we know, the company certainly grew.

One of Brin’s strong interests has been Google’s driverless cars. He also has done philanthropic work through Google’s charity,, to help with alternative energy and combating climate change.

9. Bernard Arnault

Net worth: $72 Billion
Chairman & CEO of LVMH

Bernard Arnault is the 3rd richest person in the world and is also the wealthiest person in the fashion industry. He is the Chairman for Christian Dior S.A. and the Chairman and CEO for LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE. This company is a French international luxury goods company, with its headquarters in Paris.

It will come as no surprise that Arnault admires aesthetics and beauty, so he is a dedicated art collector. His personal art collection focuses on contemporary art and includes works by well-known artists such as Picasso, Henry Moore, and Andy Warhol. Arnault has made LVMH a major patron of art in France. One thing to note that is quite admirable: each year LVMH hosts The LVMH Young Fashion Designer international competition, for students at fine art schools. The winner receives a wonderful prize of a grant to develop their own designer label and a year of mentorship from LVMH.

Arnault has made some savvy investments, which include Netflix, and then buying Princess Yachts in 2008. He also owns 10% of France’s biggest supermarket retailing chain, through a California company.

8. Ma Huateng

Net worth: $45.3 Billion
Chairman & Founder of Tencent Holdings

Ma Huateng is quite successful… to put it lightly. He owns one of the biggest Internet companies for investment, gaming and entertainment in the world. This is considered to be Asia’s most valuable company today – keep in mind that Huateng’s Tencent Holdings manages China’s largest mobile instant messaging and other services related to smartphones, such as payment systems, entertainment, and even the smartphones themselves. Today, he is considered to be China’s wealthiest man and is the 14th wealthiest person on the globe. Hauteng’s great wealth comes from owning 9.7% of Tencent Holdings. Some of his wise investments include real estate in Hong Kong, and he is an art collector.

One thing Hauteng is especially known for is having a truly “low profile” entrepreneurial style. He rarely appears in public and is known for being a very private person. One thing we do know about him is a favorited nickname of “Pony,” because of the translation of his name in English, which means “horse.” In 2018, Time magazine called him “one of the world’s most influential people.” He is also a deputy to the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Congress, and has served in the 12th National People’s Congress.

7. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers

Net worth: $42.2 Billion
Chairwoman of holding company for L’Oréal and heiress to Liliane Bettencourt

According to L’Oréal Finance, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers and her family are the largest shareholder in the company, with 33.13% of the stock. The next shareholder is International Institutional Investors, with 29.28% of the stock. 23.17% of the company is owned by Nestle.

Bettencourt Meyers is considered to be one of two of the richest women in the world. The other is Alice Walton, who is the heiress to the Walmart fortune.

She is a private person, preferring to spend her time with family and friends. One of her favorite things to do is to play the piano for several hours each day. Bettencourt Meyers is an academic who wrote two serious, scholarly books. One was a five volume study about the Bible, and another was a thorough genealogy study of the Greek gods. It is clear that Bettencourt Meyers is quite the intellectual.

6. Hui Ka Yan

Net worth: $30.3 Billion
Chairman of China Evergrande Group of Shenzhen

Hui Ka Yan is the largest shareholder of the China Evergrande Group, which is is likely Hong Kong’s busiest and most successful real estate development firm. They have more than 700 projects in 240 China cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Nearly 75% of their projects are in what are considered to be 1st and 2nd tier cities.

Yan was overtaken as the richest man in China not too long ago, and is now the 3rd richest person in China and worked hard to become successful. He grew up in a rural area but had a passion for real estate. His company is now the biggest real estate developer in China, and he’s considered by many to essentially be China’s answer to Donald Trump (back when Trump was simply a real estate mogul, at least).

5. Jorge Paulo Lemann

Net worth: $27.4 Billion
Co-founder of 3G

Jorge Paulo Lemann is an investor, and quite a savvy one. He is considered to be the 29th richest person in the world. Lemann is also the richest person in all of Brazil.

He attended Harvard University and studied economics. Lemann is the co-founder of a Brazilian investment firm called 3G Capital. They own popular USA brands many of us know including Heinz, Burger King, and Anheuser-Busch.

Lemann is a quite private person, but people who’ve known him have compared him to Warren Buffett and Sam Walton.

4. Carlos Slim Helu

Net worth: $67.1 Billion
Owner of Grupo Carso

Carlos Slim Helu is considered to be the 7th richest person in the world, and the wealthiest person in Mexico. He owns a company which has holdings in many industries from education, to health care, to real estate, to energy, as well as technology, financial services, sports, and more. His holdings are 40% of the listings on the Mexican Stock Exchange. Helu’s net worth is about 6% of Mexico’s gross domestic product.

Even at a young age, he knew he wanted a career in business. He taught himself accounting and financial statements. He graduated from college as a civil engineering major. Helu credits his math skills as a critical key to his business success. In his office, Helu does not like to use computers, but keeps financial data in notebooks, written by hand.

Helu is active with charitable giving and especially cares about the arts, education, sports, health care and downtown restoration of Mexico City.

3. Mukesh Ambani

Net worth: $40.1 Billion
Chairman, Managing Director & Largest Shareholder of Reliance Industries

Mukesh Ambani is the wealthiest person in India and is the 18th richest person in the world. He is also one of the wealthiest sports owners in the world, as the owner of the Indian Premier League franchise Mumbai Indians.

As top shareholder in Reliance Industries, India’s largest gas and oil company, Ambani owns 44.7% of the stock. He got an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering and went to Stanford University for his MBA. But he left Stanford to help his father start Reliance when it was still a small and growing company.

Charity matters to Ambani. He is considered the 5th top philanthropist in India by China’s Hurun Research Institute. In his personal life, he is private and serious minded. He is a vegetarian and a teetoler.

2. Susanne Klatten

Net worth: $25 Billion
BMW and Altana Heiress and Investor

Susanne Klatten is an heiress from Germany. Her maiden name is Quandt. She is considered to be the wealthiest woman in Germany and also is the 38th richest person in the world.

She has found that being so wealthy has been a problem occasionally, so she has worked at times under the name “Susanne Kant.” Klatten has an undergraduate degree in finance and also a MBA. She has worked for a London bank, and also for the bank Bankhaus Reuschel & Co.

Klatten owns 19% of BMW and she is on their supervisory board. When her father passed away, she received his 50.1% stake in Altana, a pharmaceutical and chemicals manufacturer company. Klatten also owns 25% stake on Nordez, a German wind turbine company.

1. Amancio Ortega

Net worth: $70 Billion
Co-founder & Chairman of Inditex and pioneer of “fast fashion”

Many know about Amancio Ortega’s fashion brand Zara, which has both clothing and accessories. Ortega is considered to be the 2nd wealthiest person in Europe and the 6th richest in the world. He is one of the pioneers of what is known as “fast fashion” – to have styles available even quicker than simply every season to satisfy customers’ demands, much to their delight.

His first Zara store was opened in 1975 with his wife. Now his empire has more than 6,000 stores which include Zara and brands such as Tempe and Stradivarius. He has more than 90,000 employees.

Ortega is known for having a very simple lifestyle. He also keeps a truly low profile. Up until 1999, there was no photograph of Ortega that had ever been published. Now, even when photographed for the public, he refuses to wear a tie. Ortega has only given three public interviews.

Philanthropic efforts matter to him. In 2012, he donated $20 million to Caritas International.

10 Suspicious Deaths of Artists and Entertainers

Just last year a fantastic film called Loving Vincent was released, detailing the death of the legendary painter Vincent van Gogh. The experimental film raised doubts as to whether his death was actually a suicide as widely reported. This got us thinking: How many other artists have died under suspicious circumstances? The answer is quite surprising. Here are 10 artists and entertainers who died under suspicious circumstances.

10. Vincent van Gogh

While van Gogh has come to be known as the ultimate tortured artist, taking his own life to escape the world, his death may not have been at his own hands. It is true that van Gogh was troubled, notably cutting off his own ear after a confrontation with his friend, Gauguin. He suffered from depression and spent time in psychiatric hospitals before settling in Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris, where he came under the care of doctor Paul Gachet.

Many have suggested that Van Gogh took his own life because of his brother’s suggestion that he may not able to support him financially as he did in the past. During his life, van Gogh only sold one painting and was being funded solely because of his brother’s belief and affinity for his work. However, what most don’t take into account is the manner in which van Gogh died. He supposedly shot himself in the stomach – an odd thing, for someone trying to end their own life. Van Gogh then walked nearly two miles back to his room, and died 30 hours later. Forensics expert Dr. Vincent Di Mateo has stated, on record, that it’d highly unlikely that van Gogh shot himself.

He was interviewed by biographers Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, who in their book argue that the artist had been most likely shot by accident by a couple of boys. On his deathbed, van Gogh stated that only he should be blamed for his death, and no one else, leading the authors to believe he had decided to protect them by accepting the blame. If true, his decision to take responsibility and free the young boys of a lifetime of imprisonment is even more profound than a tortured artist who can’t live in this world.

9. Kurt Cobain

Arguably one of the biggest (or at least one of the most influential) rock stars of all time, Kurt Cobain also met with a suspicious end. Like many artists, Cobain was a kind and caring individual but had his difficulties with drugs and other demons. Before he was found dead in his Seattle home, Cobain had checked himself out of a drug rehabilitation clinic and was reported as suicidal by his wife Courtney Love.

On April 4, 1994, Police found Cobain dead and forensic analysis determined that he had killed himself. A shotgun lay across his body, and a head wound along with a suicide note was found. Many believed that his was a clear cut case of suicide but private investigator Tom Grant found otherwise. Despite being hired by Cobain’s widow, Grant would put forward a conspiracy of foul play that implicated Love. Grant believed that the suicide note left by Cobain did not suggest suicide but his intention of leaving Love and the music industry. He believed the last section of the note was the only implication of suicide, and was likely forged. Additionally, Grant argues that the amount of heroin in Cobain’s system makes it nearly impossible for him to have had the capacity to kill himself.

As Grant’s theories gained more attention, journalists and filmmakers began to study Cobain’s death. In his own investigation, filmmaker Nick Broomfield interviewed The Mentors’ bandleader Eldon “El Duce” Hoke, who claimed that Love had offered him $50,000 to kill Cobain. He would go on to say he didn’t do it, but knew the man who did.  Coincidentally, it was the last interview Hoke would ever give. He died days later when he was struck by a train in the middle of the night.

8. Biggie and Tupac

There’s been so much written about the deaths of these two music icons that it’s hard to cover new ground. What can’t be overstated is the tremendous loss they were to the hip-hop community and music in general. The killers of Biggie and Tupac were never arrested or charged but new revelations by LAPD officer Greg Kading seem to put the story to rest.

According to Kading, as a result of the growing tensions between the two factions (East Coast vs. West Coast, essentially), Sean “Puffy” Combs offered a bounty on Tupac and Suge Knight. The jumping/altercation in the Vegas hotel lobby was enough to prompt gang members Orlando Henderson and Keffe D to try and collect on the reward. Keffe D would later admit to being in the car while the shootings took place, identifying his nephew Orlando Henderson as the shooter. Henderson would die just two weeks later in a gang shooting. The death of Biggie Smalls was retaliation for the murder of Tupac. According to Kading, circumstantial evidence including money transfers, the shooter’s car, and statements by those working at Death Row Records points to Wardell Fouse (aka Poochie) as the killer of Biggie Smalls. The only silver lining in this tragic tale is that Suge Knight is currently in jail, serving time for murder in a hit and run case.

7. Jim Morrison

Probably one of the most eyebrow-raising cases on our list is the death of The Doors frontman Jim Morrison. What’s so startling about his demise is how little is known. It happened almost in a flash. Like Cobain, Morrison was in a dark place before his death. His voice was going as a result of all his drinking, and he was struggling to write lyrics. Morrison decided to go to Paris to escape it all with his girlfriend, Pamela Courson. To this day, the exact timetable leading to his death is unknown. The commonly held notion is that Morrison and Courson went to a theater and then returned home to watch Super 8 films. Courson claims to have gone to bed, leaving Morrison to stay up and listen to old records. After awhile, Morrison complained of being sick, and Courson suggested they call a doctor. Instead, he drew a bath. The last thing Courson remembers hearing are his calls: “Are you there, Pam? Pam, are you there?”

At 6 a.m., she woke up and found him in the tub, submerged in water. He was dead. For some reason, Courson told the coroners that he had no immediate family. A lie. She also purchased the cheapest casket available, equivalent to $75, and within 72 hours a doctor visited and a death certificate was signed. An autopsy wasn’t performed. The questions that we all should have was put perfectly by Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who asked, “How do you even know Jim was in the coffin? How do you know it wasn’t 150 pounds of f***** sand?”

6. Johnny Thunders

Like too many of the great artists on our list, Johnny Thunders had a drug problem. The guitarist for the legendary hard rock band the New York Dolls, along with The Heartbreakers, Johnny Thunders checked into the St. Peter’s Guest House in New Orleans looking like a ghost. According to the desk clerk on the the night of April 22, 1991, Thunders was sweating and looked like a Geisha girl when he entered the hotel. The next day Thunders was found dead and methadone and cocaine were uncovered in the room.

However, according to Thunders’s manager, the autopsy showed no traces of methadone in his system. In addition, the manager also claimed that the room appeared “wrecked” as if a violent altercation had taken place. There are numerous theories on Thunders’s death. Some believe that drug dealers had killed Thunders, after he had scored some LSD from them at a neighboring club. Others believe that it was actually an overdose on another substance. Thunders’s sister dispelled some of these theories, claiming that his autopsy showed that he was in an advanced stage of leukemia. Was that what killed him? We’ll never know.

5. Paul Williams

A member of the iconic group The Temptations, Paul Williams sang lead on several of their hits including, “Your Wonderful Love.” In addition to having drinking problems, Williams had sickle cell anemia which only exacerbated his health issues. Much of his health issues can be traced to when he began his affair with Winnie Brown, the hair stylist for the Supremes. He was still devoted to his family, and was torn apart by his inability to find peace in his life. A man whose strongest drink used to consist of milk, he took to drinking and the group struggled to help him fight his alcoholism. Eventually, they were forced to employ a stand-in just in case he was unable to perform.

Although he had significant health issues, Williams’s death was not health related. He was found in an alley, sitting in a car after getting into an argument with another girlfriend. Police found a gun near his body, and ruled the death a suicide. However, Williams’s wound was on his left temple, and the gunpowder remnants were found on his right hand. To further raise suspicions, two bullets were fired from the weapon, and only one found its mark.

4. Bobby Fuller

At the height of the counterculture movement, Bobby Fuller knew he had a hit. He recorded “I Fought the Law” and just months after the song became a hit he was found dead. His body was doused in gasoline, and bruises were found up and down his body.

Despite all this, his death was considered a suicide. Police later amended their cause of death and ruled it as accidental. Nobody knew what to make of it. Some suspected the mafia, others the Manson Family, and of course some pointed their fingers at the police. So what (or more specifically, who?) caused Fuller’s death? Unfortunately, we’ll almost certainly never know.

3. Brian Jones

Some might not know this, but Brian Jones was actually the founder of the Rolling Stones. He played everything from guitar, to harmonica, to piano, and even marimba. Jones was behind some of the most daring decisions that the group made, including the marimba on “Under my Thumb.” Despite his tremendous impact, he was pushed out of the group, and only a month later, he was dead.

Jones’s death was declared an accident, labeled as “death by misadventure.” He was found dead in his pool, and the coroner suggested that both alcohol and drugs were in his system. Despite the police report, UK journalist Scott Jones contended that Jones was actually murdered by Frank Thorogood – the last man to see him alive. The Sussex police reviewed Jones’s claims but decided not the re-open the case. According to reports, Thorogood admitted to the murder to the Rolling Stones’ driver, Tom Keylock, but later denied it. Brian Jones was only 27-years-old.

2. Cornell Gunter

The lead tenor of the Coasters, the group that brought us hits like “Yakety Yak” and “Charlie Brown,” was shot dead in his car in Vegas. He had been performing with the Coasters since 1957, but left the group a few years later. Gunter was beginning to regain some of his fame, performing in Las Vegas with his new group, Cornell Gunter and the Coasters, when he was murdered in 1990.

The 1987 inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was allegedly heard getting into an argument with a man at an intersection. Police found Gunter slumped over in his car with two gunshot wounds in the chest. No charges were were ever filed and the case remains unsolved. As a tribute to the singer, his group still performs under the name The Original Cornell Gunter’s Coasters Inc.

1. Thomas Ince

Thomas Ince wasn’t a musician or artist, but no one would argue that he wasn’t an artist. A struggling actor who transformed himself into a film producer, he revolutionized the film industry by inventing the shooting script along with creating the first movie studio (Inceville). After his film studio burned down, he created another one in Culver City that would later become MGM. Classic films like Gone with the Wind, King Kong, and Citizen Kane were shot on his studio lot. Later, he’d sell the rights to the studio and form another that eventually became Paramount Pictures.

After several failed projects, Ince was on the brink of bankruptcy. In 1924 he boarded a yacht owned by newspaper man William Randolph Hearst (the man who inspired Citizen Kane). Other passengers included Charlie Chaplin and Hearst’s mistress Marion Davies. And that’s where things get weird, right down to the fact that no one can even agree exactly where he died, let alone how.

There are several accounts of what occured on the yacht. Some believe that Hearst, angered by his mistress’s deceit, fired a shot at Davies or Chaplin and accidentally shot Ince. A newspaper actually ran a story stating that Ince had been shot on the yacht. However, his death certificate stated he died of heart failure. Other accounts hold that Ince simply became extremely ill on the ship and was taken ashore by a water taxi. And yet witnesses claim to have seen Ince bleeding from a bullet wound to the head as he left the yacht. His wife was quickly ushered to Europe after Ince was cremated and rumors continued to swirl that Hearst paid off Ince’s wife to keep her quiet. It seems will never know the truth about the death of the film legend.

10 Popular Pieces of Movie Trivia (Debunked)

From to preshows in movie theaters to… well, TopTenz, everyone wants to provide small novelty pieces of information about beloved movies. Unfortunately, the high demand means that the product has gotten a bit diluted over time. Misunderstandings or even outright lies now permeate the pop culture landscape. We’re inclined to believe a lot of them if for no other reason than the reputation that people have in show business for being weird, or for crazy things to happen when millions of dollars are spent on make believe.

Here at TopTenz there’s too much respect for the truth to let that stand. Well, at least we want to help our readers put some smug people who think they’re the smartest people in the world because they know some piece of trivia in their place.   

10. Alien’s Gender Flip

Since Ellen Ripley’s status as the main character (and sole survivor, not counting the cat) of the Alien franchise was a surprise in the original film of the series, the part being played by Sigourney Weaver instead of, say, her then-more famous male co-star Tom Skerritt made it a subject of a lot of discussion from 1979 onwards. One of the claims that popped up over the years was that the character was originally intended to be male. This seems to be a carryover from the genderflipped character Ruth Leavitt in the slightly less famous 1971 science fiction classic The Andromeda Strain.

None other than screenwriter Dan O’Bannon refuted the story. He clarified that, intentionally, none of the characters were gender specific in his script so that the casting director could take care of that. He had even included notes about this decision on the last page of his original screenplay. We’ll leave it up to the reader to decide what if anything this says about gender roles in fiction.

9. Johnny Depp/Jackie Earle Haley

It’s a classic story of an audition with a comical twist: Someone who doesn’t even intend to be an actor is just going along with a friend to audition for a job. Turns out the casting director prefers the friend who wasn’t intending to act, and that person goes on to be a big star. Something very similar to that happened to Bob Hoskins, for example. The single most famous example of this would likely be in 1983, when Jackie Earle Haley brought Johnny Depp along with him for a role in A Nightmare on Elm Street and ended up launching his friend’s career. Then for a fun coincidence, Jackie Earle Haley was cast as Freddy Krueger for the 2010 remake.

Except… no. Haley clarified in an interview in Esquire that all this talk of him and Depp at the audition was just a rumor. He doesn’t even know what the origin of the rumor could have been, just that him not bringing Depp there was crystal clear.

8. Daniel Day Lewis’s Insane Method Acting

Daniel Day-Lewis is as much famous for his extreme method acting as he is for winning three Academy Awards for Best Actor. For example, playing the primarily paralyzed Christy Brown in My Left Foot involved him staying in a wheelchair for the duration of the shoot. He supposedly insists on only being referred to by his character’s name. It’s all designed to instill the belief that he spends all day trying to think of himself as the character in some maniacal worship of the acting profession.

On the podcast I Was There Too, Paul F. Tompkins (who worked with him on There Will Be Blood) clarified that Lewis wasn’t so intensely in character at all. Between takes he would discuss the characters as if they were characters, he wouldn’t insist at all on being referred to by his character’s name, and he was fine with dropping the accent once the shoot was done for the day. Indeed, as Tompkins opines, it would be an indication that Lewis isn’t a good actor if he makes others uncomfortable with such unreasonable demands, since part of the nature of being a good actor is to pay attention to the needs of your collaborators.

7. Tricking Alan Rickman

No, this isn’t an assertion that it’s untrue that Alan Rickman was ever tricked. This is referring to a story that, in order to get a better reaction out of Hans Gruber for the shot when he is dropped off Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard, supposedly the director told him that he would be dropped on the count of three. However, to get a genuinely shocked reaction before Rickman had properly braced himself, though, he was dropped on the count of one.

Sorry to ruin everyone’s fun, but Rickman was asked about this very thing during a Q&A event. He unambiguously didn’t remember it happening, which – considering how vividly he remembered the director saying “we’re going to drop the actor” – means that would have been an aspect that would have stuck in his memory. Considering he remembered the fall being higher than the generally reported (40 feet instead of 25) he clearly wasn’t in the mood to downplay anything.   

6. Al Capone’s Tailor

Bringing it back to the subject of method acting, we all know perhaps the second biggest method actor in the world was Robert DeNiro for years and years, starting with becoming a real cab driver for weeks to prepare to play Travis Bickle in 1974’s Taxi Driver. By the time 1987 rolled around, for The Untouchables the news went around that DeNiro was supposedly personally tracking down Al Capone’s tailor so that the pajamas he wore (and even his underwear) matched the crime lord’s.

As was pointed out by others well after this misconception spread, given that there was a 56-year gap between Capone’s incarceration and the production of The Untouchables, Capone’s tailor was very unlikely to be in the right shape to work. For one thing, Capone’s tailor was actually Louis Dinato, an associate of Capone’s whose main noteworthy aspect was being repeatedly questioned by the police even after Capone was imprisoned (to no avail), as if he were some sort of interrogation punching bag. The person who actually did the costume work for DeNiro was Rich Bruno, and given that he was only 52 when The Untouchables was made, it would have been quite a trick for the costumer to be tailoring for Al Capone.

5. Spider-Man’s 156 Takes

This one has been a favorite of trivia sites for years: Somehow Sam Raimi’s 2002 film Spider-Man had enough time in the production schedule to devote hours and hours (if not days) to shoot 156 takes of Tobey Maguire catching a tray full of food. Now granted, in 2002 CGI affordable enough for a throwaway gag wasn’t quite up to scratch, so there’s plenty of reason to do it mechanically instead of with computers. But Maguire didn’t do it alone and the “156 takes” claim is certainly a joke (evidenced by the fact that in its source, a commentary track, the commenter gets a laugh from it).

It explicitly was a combination of using a “mechanical rig” to drop the food and gluing the tray to Maguire’s hand, and using force-absorbing gel on the bottom of said food. In fact, if you go frame-by-frame, you can see a white substance stuck to the bottom of the apple. That at least confirms it wasn’t CGI, since why would a CG artist put that on there? Still, it definitely puts this back in the “SFX” category.   

4. Werner Herzog’s Shoe Bet

Errol Morris and Werner Herzog are two of the most interesting documentary filmmakers working today, and their film careers were connected in a rather befuddling way. Errol Morris began his career in 1978 with the cult documentary Gates of Heaven (particularly beloved by Roger Ebert) at a time when he had little funding and getting distribution for the film would have been extremely difficult. Herzog came up with a bizarre bet to motivate his friend: If the movie were completed, Herzog would eat his shoe at the premiere. It was enough of an event that a short film was made of the preparation of the meal.

Then Morris came along during a Q&A session at the Lincoln Center and revealed that they actually didn’t have a wager – it was just something that Herzog had made up as an excuse to eat a shoe. Not wanting to be comedically upstaged, while telling the truth about this, Morris said he would joke for years that the bet had actually stipulated Herzog’s foot.    

3. The Dark Knight’s Remote Futzing

Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in this 2008 blockbuster was so compelling that much of his manic behavior felt completely natural, leaving audiences open to the notion that even the biggest parts were improvised. A scene where the Joker claps in jail is an example. But the best known example is the scene where the Joker is blowing up Gotham General Hospital, but stops when there seems to be a problem with the detonation. In what was alleged to be improv, Ledger messes with the remote, and then the explosion resumes, leaving him to scramble onto the bus.

As director Christopher Nolan explains in a behind the scenes feature included on The Dark Knight blu-ray, the sudden stop in the explosion and the Joker’s pause was actually planned in advance. In fact, Warner Brothers provided a CGI mockup of how the scene would be staged as evidence. That’s much further than most studios go in debunking a piece of trivia.

2. Citizen Kane’s Non-Plot Hole

Since this 1941 film has for decades been known as arguably the best ever made, it was a delight for film buffs and critics alike to claim that the story has a gigantic plot hole right in the middle of it. The impetus for the story is that the titular Kane’s last word was “Rosebud” and it was supposed to be said to an empty room. Which begs the question of how anyone heard what his final word was if he was alone. There was a story circulated that this was pointed out to auteur Orson Welles by a member of the crew, and Welles responded some variation on “don’t you ever tell anyone this.”

The problem with the plausibility of that little story is that it’s not consistent with the content of the movie. While the opening scene has been watched by cinefiles and parodied many times by shows such as The Simpsons, the scene’s person who heard the words doesn’t appear until much later. Very near the end, the reporter that’s been spending the movie trying to learn from Kane’s intimates what Rosebud could mean has a brief chat with the butler Raymond, who explicitly says he’s the one who heard it. Raymond’s other main contribution to the movie is telling the reporter about the famous scene where Kane wrecks his room until he sees a snow globe and says Rosebud the first time. So if someone had asked Orson Welles about who heard the words, Welles would just have said Raymond instead of acting as if his entire movie were in jeopardy.    

1. Being John Malkovich’s Beer Can

A lot of this trivia took a concerted effort to debunk or a celebrity to wanted to set the record straight. In this case, the thing that disproved it was completely unintentional. Indeed, the performer in question might not even have ever heard of the false story.

In Being John Malkovich, there’s a scene where the titular actor is walking by a road while he’s in a rut. An extra in a passing vehicle yelled “Hey Malkovich, think fast!” and threw a beer can at his head. Supposedly the scene was completely unscripted and instead of being rebuked for potentially ruining a take, the actor got a raise (some versions say he got a Screen Actors Guild card) because the line of dialogue was used.

The truth didn’t come out until Malkovich was doing a question and answer session known as a “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) on the popular website Reddit. One of his fans asked about that particular scene without mentioning it was supposedly completely spontaneous. The actor said that he was especially fond of that scene, and had been looking forward to it… as soon as he read it in the script. In fact, director Spike Jonze wasn’t even sure if any of the actors would be able to hit Malkovich in an acceptably low number of takes. In hindsight, it would have been a pretty bad idea to actively encourage extras to do things that might harm actors and ruin takes, so everyone should have found the story dubious even before Malkovich accidentally corrected them.    

Fun Fact: Dustin and Adam Koski also wrote a hilarious and exciting fantasy novel.

Parents in the ’80s Thought Dungeons and Dragons was Evil

When you hear the words “Dungeons and Dragons,” you may think about an epic role-playing adventures with your friends. Even if you’ve never played the game yourself, you’re probably at least familiar with it because of movies and TV series like Stranger Things. But in the 1980s, some Christian parents thought Dungeons and Dragons was the work of the devil. They believed that the fictional spells children learned in the game were actually real, and it was like a gateway for joining a Satanic cult.

If you thought witch hunts ended with the Puritans in Salem, think again. The so-called Satanic Panic had parents worried that Lucifer himself was ready to steal the souls of teenagers everywhere, and he was using demonic entertainment to lure them in. Whether it was through heavy metal music, Ouija boards, or video games, nothing even remotely fun was safe from fundamentalist Christians.

Now, this idea didn’t just come out of nowhere. It took quite a few years for society to quietly slip backwards with their progress in logic and scientific thinking into a full-fledged fear that demons were coming to get their children.

The Church of Satan was founded in 1966, and while it sounds rather scary, it’s actually an Atheist group that is trying to make a point. With freedom of speech, they can make a religion that praises anything. Instead of believing in Heaven or Hell, Satanists believe that all of these names and symbols of crosses and images of the devil are just that. They’re symbols of make-believe. They believe nothing exists after death, and people should embrace the life they have on Earth without feeling guilty with concepts like sin. Sure, they sometimes perform scary-looking rituals, but the idea behind them is to believe that your mind can shape your own reality. When you think of it that way, even books like “The Secret” and the philosophical idea of the “law of attraction” could be considered to be Satanist ideology.

Unfortunately, most people never bother to figure this out. Even today, most people think “Satanism” is actual devil worship. After the horrific killings of serial killers like Charles Manson, and an uptick in awareness about cults, people had a difficult time digesting how this kind of evil could exist in the world without a real Devil to blame for it all. Every time people turned on the news, something else horrible was happening… We wouldn’t know anything about how that feels, right?

For fundamentalist Christian groups, this was a sign that the end of days was upon them, and the battle of good versus evil was just around the corner. It was a perfect opportunity for new hyper-Christian groups and so-called experts to appear, and people found comfort in believing that they were one of the good guys.

One of the instigators of this movement was a conspiracy theorist named John Todd. He claimed that he was raised in a family of real witches, and it was only through the power of Christianity that he was able to escape the clutches of the devil. He claimed that the Illuminati and Satanists were trying to come after Christians, and that there was a war on the horizon. This was all fiction, of course, and Todd changed his name more times than a catfish on a dating app. One of his many lies was that Dungeons and Dragons had contributed to his occult upbringing, and that it was a sort of guide book on how to do real-life magic.

For anyone who has ever actually played Dungeons and Dragons even once or twice, you’ll know that you’re more likely to fall asleep waiting for your turn than to feel compelled to do Satan’s bidding. But that didn’t stop parents from completely misunderstanding how the game worked. But these fears became justified in the minds of parents when the game began to be connected to a series of murders and suicides.

One of the most notable cases happened when a Michigan State University student named James Egbert III disappeared from his dorm room. James enjoyed computer programming, and played Dungeons and Dragons with his friends. Kids in that area spent a lot of time exploring tunnels that went under the local power plant, so when he went missing, Egbert’s parents hired a private detective named William Dear to find him. Since Dear knew about these tunnels, he decided to check to see if Egbert had gone there as well. Sadly, he was right, and he found the body of James Egbert, who had committed suicide by shooting himself.

The fact that someone who was so young and with such a bright future ahead of them chose to take his own life is a hard thing for people to wrap their heads around. Instead of recognizing that he was suffering from depression, and he had a history with drugs, the media used D&D as their scapegoat. He was playing this “evil” game. They tried to claim that he and his friends live action role played their games in the underground tunnels, and that when his character died, he needed to die, as well. For anyone who has ever played the game, you’ll know that it’s relatively easy to just pull up a new character sheet, but parents decided all on their own that this was the reason why he died.

The Tom Hanks movie Mazes and Monsters was made based on the story. In the film, the players don’t just sit around rolling dice. They take the game out into the real world, and Hank’s character, who is based on James Egbert, becomes brainwashed into believing the game is all too real.

Sadly, the deaths and suicides related to D&D did not stop there. But as the owner of Dungeons and Dragons pointed out during a 1985 interview with 60 Minutes, millions of children played D&D during the 1970s and ’80s, and 5,000 kids committed suicide in America in 1985 alone. So if one or two kids just so happened to play the game, it was a coincidence. And as they rightly pointed out, school sports or TV wasn’t getting the blame for their deaths, even though there it was even more likely for teens to share those kinds of hobbies.

Just like every fear-mongering epidemic in the media, there is always a so-called expert witness. In this case, it was a psychologist named Thomas Radecki. He called Dungeons and Dragons “violence worship” and even tried to claim that he witnessed kids summoning demons and astral projecting while they played the game. When asked for proof of the mental disorders caused by D&D, he cited Mazes and Monsters, which we have already established is a complete work of fiction. He later formed a group called the National Coalition on Television Violence. In the end, Dr. Radecki wasn’t exactly a saint, himself. He ended up going to prison on charges related to drugs.

Despite the logic that was right in front of them, Christian parents still tried to ban the game, and they raised their children to stay away from it. One Evangelical comic artist named Jack Chick wrote a story called “Dark Dungeons” about a young girl who gets pulled into the “cool crowd” of D&D players, and she also loses touch with reality. He claimed that the game was training for practicing the occult, and that children would eventually be invited to partake in Satanic rituals. In the comic, he claims that if you truly love Jesus, you would go and burn all of your rock music and expensive D&D materials right away.

In 2014, a group called Zombie Orpheus Entertainment decided to make a movie based on Dark Dungeons. While they decided to play out the story exactly how it was portrayed by Jack Chick… it is clearly a parody. It’s easy to see how ridiculous the concept is that someone could get addicted to D&D like drugs and alcohol at a college party.

But, of course, as the number of D&D players around the world has grown to 20 million people and counting, and the world still hasn’t caused a portal to Hell to open up below us, the idea that the game was to blame for death and destruction fizzled out of the memories of the public.

Now, the culprit for brainwashing young people happens to be video games. If we can learn anything from the Satanic Panic, it would be that fundamentalist Christian groups are going to find a way to blame the devil for nearly every new thing kids happen to love, and it’s best to use your logic before you fall prey to fear mongering.

Dark Moments from Disney’s Past

Disney is known for being one of the most family-friendly companies you could imagine, and spends an incredible amount of money to maintain that illusion and appear as one of the most squeaky clean companies in the world. Disney is the company that bought Star Wars, and immediately banned the appearance of smoking in films – villain or otherwise – because of the children.

However, while today Disney tries their hardest to be the most non-offensive thing possible, this wasn’t always the case. In the past, Disney hasn’t always been entirely family-friendly, and their past is checkered with racism and other abuses. Disney himself may not have necessarily been a racist or a misogynist, but he was certainly not progressive for his time, and his attitudes were reflected in the culture of his company and the products they produced.

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