The sinking of the RMS Titanic was one of the most devastating disasters in modern history. The luxury ocean liner infamously sunk on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City on an icy April night in 1912, resulting in the perishing of more than 1,500 passengers and crew. In her time, she was the largest ship to sail the Atlantic, and one of three new luxury White Star Line ships, making the media hype around the ship’s sailing a major topic of the day.

With such a tragic loss follows rumours and myths, some based on truth and others complete fabrications to add mystery to the sinking. After all, it was a highly publicised voyage and was carrying some of society’s richest when it sank in the North Atlantic just after 2 a.m. - the perfect formula for conspiracy.

Likewise, Hollywood’s obsession with the Titanic feeds the falsehoods about the real ship, and James Cameron’s 1997 box office hit Titanic is, unfortunately, the source of “facts” for many interested viewers. Fortunately, we do have contemporary evidence from photos and news articles, as well as from survivors themselves. The discovery of the wreckage of the Titanic in 1985 gave scientists new details of the sinking, which had previously remained unknown for over 70 years, so it’s time for us to listen to historic and scientific fact, and leave the cinematic productions in the realm of entertainment.

25 False: White Star Line Advertised Titanic As "Unsinkable"

The major misconception about the Titanic was that the White Star Line, the company that built Titanic, made a massive claim that their newest ship was so innovative that it was entirely unsinkable—its sealed watertight compartments equipped with doors that could shut off flooding in the event of an accident, and there was no fear of a disaster.

A crew member was reported to have said “God himself could not sink this ship!” as passengers were boarding, and though this has never been proven, the quote exploded after the sinking, perpetuating the rumour that it was a claim made by White Star Line.

24 False: The Captain And Crew Were Trying To Set A Speed Record

We’ve all heard that the Titanic was racing for New York, trying to substantiate claims that she was big and bad (and fast), and her captain not to be messed with. This is why the ship strayed into dangerous waters, steaming along the icebergs lurking at every turn.

In truth, people knew Titanic was fast and had the best engines and boilers in her day, but she wasn’t a racing boat. At the time of impact, most of Titanic’s boilers weren’t lit, the most solid evidence that the ship was casually travelling. Alternatively, if you look at a map of Titanic’s route, it’s not suitable for setting records.

23 False: Titanic Was The First Ship To Use The SOS Distress Call

The sinking of the Titanic may have popularised the Morse code distress call SOS—Save Our Ship, but it certainly was not the first to have used the call.

Titanic’s radio operators used the more common Marconi call, CQD, first, since it was well established and would be more recognisable than the newfangled SOS, which had come into international effect in 1908 after being proposed two years earlier at the International Radio Telegraphic Convention in Berlin. It was used a handful of times, but only became standard after the Titanic disaster.

22 False: The Women And Children First Policy Revolutionised The Maritime Industry

If there’s one thing that comes to mind when you think of Titanic’s crew loading passengers into lifeboats, it’s probably the “women and children first” protocol that the disaster became famous for. At first, it might seem a romantic and chivalrous sentiment, but what really happened that night is much different from the fictionalised accounts.

In truth, while women and children were given preference if they were present, men were not refused access to the lifeboats when the situation became dire, and neither was it a common practise after the event among other ships sinking.

21 False: The Band’s Final Song Was A Sombre Hymn

The story of Titanic’s band alone is the stuff of myth. According to legend, the band played on deck as the ship began to sink, and for hours as chaos broke out, they played on. They allegedly tried to keep frantic passengers calm as the stern began to rise vertically, and while this is true, there is much debate as to their final song.

They are reported to have played the hymn, Nearer, My God, To Thee, though anyone still aboard the ship by the time they played their last song would not have survived. In the aftermath, The Daily Mirror reported the band’s song choice, but as all seven members of the band perished, we’ll never truly know.

20 False: More Lifeboats Would Have Saved Everyone

After the sinking, we tried to place blame on every event leading up to it, and all the chaos surrounding the lifeboat crisis is one of the most legitimate causes of loss of life without factoring in conspiracy. It’s true the Titanic carried only enough lifeboats to fit 1,178 of her 2,224 passengers and crew, and even from that, only 705 were saved.

Naturally, if Titanic had been equipped with enough lifeboats for everybody, loss of life would have been dramatically reduced—except it wouldn’t have. Titanic had roughly 2.5 hours to save people, and even with the appropriate number of lifeboats, time is what was needed to save lives.

19 False: The Size Of The Tear In Titanic's Hull Was 300-Feet

At 11:40 p.m. ship’s time, Titanic grazed the iceberg—nothing too serious, the crew thought, at first. It woke a few passengers on the lower decks, but for the most part seemed like just a scrape. Except, apparently, that brushing the iceberg tore a 300-foot long gash through the starboard side and flooded the ship’s double bottom and watertight compartments.

Harland and Wolff architect Edward Wilding always argued against this theory, and recent ultrasonic scanning of the wreck shows that a series of small tears, each no longer than a few inches, caused the ultimate sinking of the ship.

18 False: There Was Cursed Treasure On Board

Perhaps the Titanic sank because it was carrying ancient treasure stolen from a tomb in Egypt—or worse, a mummy—naturally bringing a curse on board.

There was talk in the first-class smoking parlour among passengers Douglas Murray and T.W. Stead, who told stories of a cursed mummy back in England. Both survived, and later sold their story to the newspapers, which got distorted to the point of including the mummy in the story of Titanic.

The mummy in question, the Priestess of Amen-Ra, was never loaded onto Titanic, and in fact, has been on exhibit at the British Museum since before the disaster.

17 False: Titanic’s Sinking Was The Worst Maritime Disaster In History

There’s no doubt that Titanic’s unfortunate end is the most famous ship disaster in history, and we have mixed feelings about the story, including those of romantic sentiments and tragic devastation. It was widely publicised and still fascinates us as much as it captivated the world in its immediate aftermath.

However, it was not the worst maritime tragedy, and if we only consider peacetime shipwrecks, the worst goes to the Philippine ferry Doña Paz, whose sinking in 1987 caused over 4,300 people to perish.

Titanic’s sinking was notable in its day simply because it was the world’s largest ship.

16 False: Workers Were Trapped In The Hull During Construction

This rumour started as a pub tale in Ireland, Titanic’s native land, probably by those who worked on Titanic. White Star Line’s shipyard, Harland and Wolff was located in Belfast and consisted of mostly Irish workers.

More seasoned workers would tell tales to the younger ones, and they found that telling the amateurs that workers often were trapped in Titanic’s hull was especially hilarious.

In truth, the inspectors would often tap the hull to check the riveters at the end of the workday, and the sound could easily seem like someone trapped inside, leading to some mischievous workers to make up the stories.

15 False: Nearby Ships Spotted The Sinking And Did Nothing

Titanic frantically radioed messages as the crew realised she was doomed, and since the incident was late at night, many ships nearby had their radios switched off. However, ships did respond, and even Titanic’s sister ship Olympic sent word that it was racing to help.

Legend has it that a passing ship, the Samson, saw Titanic’s flares but carried on without a second glance. The Samson was nowhere near Titanic in reality, and the one ship that could have made it in time, the Californian, didn’t receive calls for help.

The first ship to reach Titanic’s survivors was the RMS Carpathia, two hours after the sinking.

14 False: Everything Captain Smith Did In His Final Hours

There has always been much debate about Titanic’s captain, Edward Smith, and since he perished with the ship, he wasn’t able to defend himself against unsubstantiated claims. Captain Smith played an imperative role in trying to save Titanic and to help passengers save themselves.

He captained White Star Line’s Olympic the year earlier, with even more pomp than Titanic, and was trusted with the second sister ship. But in an attempt to justify the tragedy, many turned to blaming the captain, despite claims being unsupported. We do know he went down with his ship, which was the most honourable thing a captain could do.

13 False: Titanic's Catholic Builders Believed It Was Cursed

One of the most ominous myths surrounding Titanic, and another supposed curse upon the ship was that of its anti-Catholic construction number. It was said that the Catholics (who were actually Protestant) who worked on Titanic noticed—when they weren’t playing pranks on the younger labourers—that the construction number on the hull was 390904, rather unsuspecting until you mirror the next and realise it strangely resembles the phrase “NO POPE.”

This was particularly haunting to Catholics, who knew before it was even finished that the ship was cursed. Debunking this, the number issued to her was 401, significantly less spooky.

12 False: White Star Line Ships Were Inherently Unlucky

Of all Titanic’s curses, you’d think at least one was true. White Star Line made a point of not holding launching spectacles for their ships when it was common practice to (for good luck, of course). On most ships’ debuts, companies would make a ceremony of transferring the new ship into the water, involving cheering, blessings, and large crowds, often smashing a bottle of champagne off the bow as a sacrifice.

Thing is, White Star Line never participated in such ceremonies with any of their ships, and if the legend is true, Titanic wasn’t blessed or properly bid good luck, which is why she sank.

11 False: First Officer Murdoch Was A Scheming Villain

Much of our image of First Officer Murdoch comes from James Cameron’s Titanic, and despite playing a rather small part in the film, gave viewers a lasting impression.

There were survivors’ reports of an officer taking his own life on deck just as crew members launched the last lifeboat, who could have been Murdoch, and Cameron took creative liberty in his film where this played out.

However, when it came to loading lifeboats, Murdoch launched quicker and fuller than his counterpart at the other lifeboat station and when there weren’t enough women and children to fill a boat, he loaded men on, saving over 60 more lives.

10 False: Men Dressed As Women To Get On Lifeboats

If you were a young man with no facial hair and a particularly feminine figure, maybe this would have worked. Unfortunately, nobody actually tried it. This never stopped the newspapers from reporting it, and targeting one story of a male survivor.

William Sloper was a first-class passenger and one of the first to learn of the danger. He happened upon Officer Murdoch’s lifeboats and was invited to get in. Not wanting to leave the brightly lit ship for the cold, dark water, his friend Dorothy Gibson demanded he enter the lifeboat with her.

The New York Herald later sensationalised his story so that he escaped in women’s clothing.

9 False: White Star Line Chairman, J Bruce Ismay Sacrificed Passengers In Order To Save Himself

Ismay was chairman of White Star Line at the time of Titanic’s sinking and was aboard the ship on its only voyage, making him one of the highest profiled survivors and the most controversial.

Almost everything we hear about Ismay is negative. Stories portray him as the greedy businessman who took a spot in a lifeboat while hundreds of poor women and children waited in line.

The story makes for a juicy movie scene, or, better yet, a newspaper article, which, like many other Titanic stories, was fabricated by papers owned by the Hearst empire. Ismay, in reality, just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

8 False: Media Giant David Sarnoff Was The First To Receive News Of Titanic's Sinking

David Sarnoff was a US radio pioneer and a prominent telecommunicator in the early 20th century. As far as his role in Titanic’s radio distress signals goes, he was committed to his post to confirm its fate.

Some say that he was the first in New York to receive Titanic’s calls for help, but this isn’t exactly true. He did receive its calls, but not until much later than they were sent. Once they came into his station at Wanamaker department store, he stayed for three days, dedicated to hearing more information, and when Carpathia docked in New York City, he was waiting at the port.

7 False: Passenger Frank Tower Survived Three Major Shipwrecks

If Titanic was inherently unlucky, then one of its crew members harboured all the luck the ship needed.

Frank Tower was supposedly a fireman who worked on Titanic’s lower decks. He managed to save himself during the sinking of the ship, then later went on to work on the Empress of Ireland, a ship that sank after colliding with another ship, Storsad, two years later. After surviving that, he happened to be aboard the RMS Lusitania during WWI, and escaped yet another sinking.

There’s no record of a Frank Tower ever boarding any of these ships, and thus is born out of urban maritime legend.

6 False: Steerage Passengers Were Locked Below Deck During Sinking

Our hearts have all collectively broken when we saw the steerage passengers locked behind gates in Cameron’s Titanic, an officer brandishing a gun when they try to storm them. Thankfully, this was never how passengers were treated on the ship, and were given just as much a chance as upper-class passengers.

It’s true there were lockable gates to lower decks, but these were only to be used when the poorer passengers, mostly continental European or Irish, were found to be carrying disease. Of course, this wasn’t the best way to treat your passengers, but the gates weren’t used in the event of disaster.