Rumor Doctor blog archive

Can nylon stockings prevent blisters on marches?

You might not think nylon stockings would come in handy on a long march, but some infantrymen wear them underneath their socks because that layer of nylon acts as a second skin, stopping their feet from rubbing against socks and thus preventing blisters.

But how well does this technique work? The Rumor Doctor would be the last person to know because he hasn’t walked more than a mile since 1996. So The Doctor turned to experts on pain and endurance.

Did Gen. Mattis pull duty on Christmas so a Marine could be with his family?

Marine Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, is a tough guy. In fact, if you parachuted him unarmed onto an island inhabited by psychotic ninja robots, he would get more kills than famed Scottish warrior William Wallace.

But one reader asked The Rumor Doctor about a story that shows Mattis has a compassionate side to him. The story goes that Mattis stood duty on Christmas back when he was a brigadier general so that a younger Marine could spend the holiday with his family.

Can you use the .50-caliber on human targets?

There are a few things in life with which one does not mess, such as the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, known affectionately among troops as “Ma Deuce.” The weapon fires a round that can crack an engine block without breaking a sweat, so getting hit by one would ruin your day.

Legend has it that the .50-caliber is so powerful that the Geneva Conventions prohibit U.S. troops from using it against human targets, but does that make sense considering it is okay to fire much larger artillery shells against enemy troops?

Why was Edgar Allan Poe kicked out of West Point?

It’s not hard to believe that Edgar Allan Poe, author of “The Pit and the Pendulum” and other horror stories, went to the United States Military Academy at West Point, an institution conspicuously absent from the list of top party schools. 

Poe tried hard to get kicked out of West Point, and in 1831, he succeeded. Rumor is that the final straw came when he reported for drill wearing belts for his cartridges, a smile and nothing else, but did he actually do it? It’s time for a visit to The Rumor Doctor.