Biscuits and gravy


Did drinking a “shot” of booze originate in the Wild West when cowboys traded a bullet for a portion of rotgut? Did the greeting “hello” become popular because it was Alexander Graham Bell’s girlfriend’s surname? Inquiring minds want to know these things, and those that are clued in turn to the Snopes Guide to Fake Etymology. Since its 1994 founding, librarians have turned to, which calls itself “the internet’s definitive fact-checking resource,” and that’s no lie. As they state, “When misinformation obscures the truth and readers don’t know what to trust, Snopes’ fact-checking and original, investigative reporting lights the way to evidence-based and contextualized analysis. We always link to and document our sources so readers are empowered to do independent research and make up their own minds.”

Snopes was founded by Dave Mikkelson to investigate the veracity of urban legends, hoaxes and folklore, and originally he did all the writing. As Snopes began to delve in political claims and reports, the staff grew and now includes accredited researchers and has an unsurpassed record for disinterested reliability. When was asked if Snopes articles revealed political bias, they responded, “We reviewed a sampling of their political offerings, including some on rumors about George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, and we found them to be utterly poker-faced.” That’s why Snopes was included in Popular Mechanics’ 2019 list of “The 50 Most Important Websites of All Time.”

Greg Hill is the former director of Fairbanks North Star Borough libraries. He can be reached at