12 Common Titanic Myths Debunked or Impossible To Prove

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The Titanic tragedy led to international mourning over passengers, the crew, and their families. Even over a century later, the fascination regarding the sunken ship is not fading away, but with time, it has led to many myths, conspiracies, and urban legends. Some were easy to disprove, while others will keep the ship’s mystery alive because they cannot be disproved, even with testaments from survivors. 

A mummy’s curse 


William Stead, who was one of the passengers who lost his life in the Titanic disaster, had foreseen his own death, or so the legend says. The British newspaper editor believed in early 20th-century spiritualism and often discussed the cursed mummy. Some survivors told his story, and it did not help that The Washington Post ran a story, “Ghost of the Titanic: Vengeance of Hoodoo Mummy Followed Man Who Wrote Its History.” Yet, there is no proof that a mummy had anything to do with the Titanic tragedy. 

Men pretend to be women to get into lifeboats

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The common misconception is that women and children had an advantage by going first into the lifeboats. In reality, it was more like every man for himself. But that did not stop a story from circulating claiming that one passenger dressed up as a woman to get onto a lifeboat. William Thompson Sloper, the man in question, was pushed to the lifeboat by his friend, actress Dorthy Gibson. He was wearing his usual attire. 

Captain and the crew had one too many 

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Captain Smith and his crew were allegedly drunk, or at least that story picked up after a tabloid came up with it. Based on testimonies by first-class passengers George and Eleanor Widener, who had dinner with the Captain, he drank water and did not appear intoxicated. 

Heroic dog

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Rigel was a large black Newfoundland dog who saved numerous lives, or so the story goes. While there’s no doubt that a dog is man’s best friend, only three of the up to 12 dogs on the ship survived, and all were smaller. Sadly, there was no room in the lifeboats for larger dogs. 

Blaming J.P. Morgan 

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Conspiracy theory suggests that J. P. Morgan planned to have his “enemies” board the ship and then sink it to get rid of them. Among the rivals were millionaires Jacob Astor, Isidor Straus, and Benjamin Guggenheim. The reasoning behind this myth is that Morgan was supposed to travel the ship, but his plans were changed. Additionally, the millionaire rivals, who died at the hands of the freezing waters, were not really Morgan’s enemies. 

No Pope 

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According to the legend, Catholic staffers working on the Titanic in Belfast were stunned by what seemed to be a hidden message on the hull. The number 3909 04 could be interpreted as NO POPE when viewed backward, but that’s not what happened. The number 3909 04 doesn’t appear anywhere on the ship’s hull, and the workers were primarily Protestant. 

Last song 

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The band of eight musicians played until the very end on April 14, 1912, and they all shared the same tragic fight. However, their last song likely wasn’t “Nearer My God to Thee.” One surviving passenger, Harold Bride, recalled the last song was “Song d’Automne,” a waltz. Other survivors heard different tunes, including “Nearer My God to Thee.” But there is a reason many want to believe that the hymn was Titanic’s last song. Wallace Hartley, the lead musician, told fellow musician Ellwand Moody what he would play should he ever be on a sinking ship. You guessed it: it was “Nearer My God to Thee.”

Lightning speed 

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Many believe the tragedy occurred because Titanic was supposed to break a speeding record. Nothing suggests that the massive boat was trying to achieve speed since its maximum speed was 21 to 24 knots. Earlier Cunard liners achieved 26 knots. Titanic and similar ships were supposed to combine luxury and speed, but it was not a race or attempt to break any records. 

The first to know 

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RCA’s David Sarnoff reportedly was the first to learn about the ship’s tragic destiny. He said he notified The New York Times, but the equipment at the time was not strong enough to pick up signals all the way from Titanic. Sarnoff insisted that the tragedy popularized radio. What was more likely was that he picked up reports from the Olympic, one of the ships was closer to the shore. 

Titanic-Olympic “switch”

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One of the conspiracies claims that the Titanic never sank. This theory gained so much traction that historians had to debunk it again in 2023. The story claims White Star Line switched two ships to commit insurance fraud. The Olympic was damaged during a 1911 collision. Hoping to recoup the pricey repair not covered by insurance, White Star Line launched a similar Olympic instead of the newer Titanic, which would then be purposely sunk to collect insurance. Yet, the Olympics’s hull number was 400, and Titanic’s was 401, which should be enough to put this myth to rest. 

The “unsinkable”


The White Star Line never used the term “unsinkable,” and no advertisements were found with this term. The statement after the ship had already sunk fueled a widespread belief. White Star Line and International Mercantile Marine Company’s Albert Franklin said the vessel did not sink, and the passengers were inconvenienced. However, he had no idea that the journey took over 1500 lives. 

The mystery surrounding Titanic’s First Officer

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Titanic’s First Officer, William McMaster Murdoch, according to director James Cameron’s 1997 movie, took the lives of other officers and his own. However, according to the majority of witnesses, Murdoch spent his final hours organizing lifeboats along with Third Officer Pitman. Reportedly, he saved over 330 lives, and even Cameron later apologized for turning the First Officer into a murderer. Murdoch, like many, was believed to have died due to hypothermia. 

Kate Smith, a self-proclaimed word nerd who relishes the power of language to inform, entertain, and inspire. Kate's passion for sharing knowledge and sparking meaningful conversations fuels her every word.