Rumor Doctor blog archive

Will the Iraqi government award U.S. troops liberation medals?

Whether or not any U.S. troops remain in Iraq beyond the end of this year, the U.S. military's involvement in the Iraq war is drawing to a close.

Since Saudi Arabia and Kuwait issued awards to U.S. troops in recognition for their service during the Gulf War, will the Iraqi government follow suit? That was a prominent rumor at one point.

Follow-up visit: The Rumor Doctor's dissertation on stress cards

In August, The Rumor Doctor thought he had thoroughly debunked the myth that the Army once issued recruits "stress cards," which soldiers allegedly could show to a drill sergeant when they felt overwhelmed by the physical and mental stress of basic training.

But a few of you said there was more to the story.

Do shipwreck survivors get to wear gold earrings?

The Rumor Doctor has spent a lot more time in freshwater than saltwater -- primarily because he is deathly afraid of sharks -- but The Doctor still appreciates hearing a good sea story.

By "sea story," The Doctor doesn't mean the kind that begin: "There was this time in Thailand." Real sea stories are more than ballads about drunken debauchery, tattoos and pending paternity suits. Sea stories are the timeless myths that crusty old Shellbacks love to tell young Pollywogs.

What are those big cats U.S. troops are seeing around Kandahar?

Recently, about a dozen troops in Kandahar province have glimpsed large cats that resemble cougars or jaguars, even though their Afghan counterparts say no such cats live in the area, according to writer Michael Yon.

Are man-eating cats lurking in the Kandahar region, waiting to pounce in a blinding whirlwind of teeth, claws and fur?  The Rumor Doctor sought to find out — while staying as far away from deadly cats as possible.

Did U.S. bombers target a German town for killing downed airmen during World War II?

For three bloody years, U.S. bomber crews based in England struck targets in Nazi Germany and occupied Europe, waging a war of attrition best described by then Stars and Stripes correspondent Andy Rooney.

"The Eighth Air Force history is a story of men necessarily buried under the damnably cold heap of statistics the Allies are trying to pile higher than Axis statistics," Rooney wrote in 1943. "When the pile is higher the airmen can go home."