7 times in history alternative facts fooled us and how we can avoid them in the future.

"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," said press secretary Sean Spicer during his first time in the White House briefing room. That claim: totally false.

According to the D.C. Metro, "subway entries Friday, during President Trump’s inauguration, totaled about 570,557 in a 20-hour period," which is lower than the totals of the previous three presidential inaugurations. The Women's March, held the day after the inauguration, saw more than 1 million entries.

"You're saying it's a falsehood and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that," said counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway in a heated interview with "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd.


Predictably, "alternative facts" have been all over the internet this week.

Even Merriam-Webster issued a brilliantly worded rebuttal to Conway's creation of "alternative facts."

"Alternative facts" aren't a new political tool. They've been used throughout history by people in power to maintain control and status. But each time we've been able to debunk these myths in the name of progress.

Here are seven times throughout history alternative facts were used — and later proven false:

1. Alternative fact: The world is flat.

Oftentimes alternative facts are accepted as truth until real facts and information can be sought out and proven, much like with the first global explorers who took to the seas in search of new lands.

What you see below was considered common knowledge during the Middle Ages. The Earth was "flat."

The Greeks discovered the Earth was round. Everyone outside of Europe believed it. It wasn't until the late Middle Ages that everyone inside of Europe finally caught up.

Washington Irving wrote “The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus” in 1828. From the title, you'd think it's a biography but in reality, it was mostly fiction and said that "Europeans learned from Columbus’s trips to the New World that the planet was round."

Because of this storyline and others like it, children were taught that up until Columbus, everyone thought the world was flat.

Photo by George Pickow/Three Lions/Getty Images.

Actual fact: The world is round.

Ancient Greek astronomer Eratosthenes is credited with discovering the spherical nature of the Earth in 240 B.C., 700 years before the Middle Ages and 2,000 years before Washington Irving picked up his first pen.

2. Alternative fact: Jesus was white.

The world's most famous refugee is often historically depicted as a blue-eyed, pale-skinned messiah:

"Sacred Heart of Jesus" via N. Currier/Library of Congress.

Actual fact: Jesus would not have been white.

Assuming Jesus existed, the BBC documentary "Son of God" used modern technology to show us what he would have actually looked like, based on ancient skulls of Semite people from the same era and geographical location.

Image from "Son of God," BBC.

3. Alternative fact: Slavery is a good thing.

In the 1820-30s, politicians in southern states defended slavery by professing the "positive good" of it and how important it was for the American economy. They claimed it allowed Africans to be civilized because white masters were letting them learn from them. (I did not make this up.)

Actual fact: Slavery is awful, inhumane, and wrong.

It took a bit longer in the U.S., but the British began the process of outlawing slavery and the slave trade in 1807. The moral ineptitude of treating humans like property and even valuing them as 3/5 of a person is a dark side of American history. It all finally came to a head with Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. This eventually helped end the Civil War but claimed up to 750,000 lives, including Lincoln's.

Image by Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

4. Alternative fact: Jews are the reason for Germany's problems.

Jospeh Goebbels was Hitler's minister of propaganda. Goebbels was a master of illusion and he used the murder of a German diplomat by a young Polish-Jew to launch the massive campaign to end Judaism. He did this by convincing the masses that the Jews were responsible for all of Germany's problems.

Image by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Actual fact: Germany needed an excuse to go to war in order to fix their economy that hadn't recovered from the last war.

The incarceration and murder of over 6 million Jews was the result of the German people looking the other way and believing in the above mentioned alternative facts. They had lost a lot of land in the previous global battle and were more than happy to launch into the worst war the world has ever seen. But we learned that lesson and hopefully will never let something like that happen again.

Image by Horace Abrahams/Keystone/Getty Images.

5. Alternative fact: AIDS is a gay problem.

White House press secretaries shouldn't make fun of minority groups ... but in the '80s, Larry Speakes was caught on tape espousing crude homophobic jokes when asked about the AIDS crisis. This sentiment carried over to mainstream thinking, with people assuming only gay people got AIDS.

Actual fact: AIDS can be transmitted in many ways.

About half the people who have died from AIDS in the U.S. since the epidemic began were gay men. Is that a large percentage? Sure. But the alternative fact created the perception that HIV/AIDS was not only a disease solely among gay men, but also one that it was only sexually transmitted.

6. Alternative fact: Iraq had WMDs.

We have been at war for 15 years because of this alternative fact.

Photo by Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images.

Actual fact: Nope. They didn't.

"The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction reports that the intelligence community was 'dead wrong' in its assessments of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities before the U.S. invasion," according to CNN.

7. Alternative fact:  Trump's inauguration had the largest, hugest, most "bigly" crowds ever.

Actual Fact: Photographic evidence.

Left photo by Lucas Jackson/Getty Images, right photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

Each of these examples was a heavily pushed alternative fact created by the ruling religion, class, race, military, or administration. But each was debunked.

Sometimes with technology. Sometimes with pure math. Sometimes with common sense, and sometimes with compassion. We are better off as a (round) planet because of it.

It's important to be critical of the media you consume and not listen to the loudest frequency on your social media feed (even if it is behind the seal of the president). With many unbiased, impartial news sources available at our fingertips through a free press, it's important to take advantage of them.

So next time the White House press secretary tells you something hilariously untrue, just know that in less than four years you can cast an alternative vote.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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