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May 31, 2024 60 mins

Trolls! These mythical creatures are -- nowadays -- beloved. Most folks think of trolls as creatures of myth, up there with the minotaur, the kraken, the selkie. And yet. In tonight's episode, Ben, Matt and Noel dive into the history of troll folklore, ultimately separating fact from fiction and posing a fascinating question: What if troll legends are an oral remnant of early encounters with a previous thing almost-yet-not-quite-human?

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
From UFOs to psychic powers and government conspiracies. History is
riddled with unexplained events. You can turn back now or
learn the stuff they don't want you to know. A
production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:24):
Hello, welcome back to the show. My name is Matt,
my name is Noel.

Speaker 1 (00:28):
They call me Bed. We're joined with our guest super producer,
Ben the Bed, the hatchet Hacket. Most importantly, you are you.

Speaker 3 (00:38):
You are here.

Speaker 1 (00:38):
That makes this the stuff they don't want you to know.
We'd like to begin this evening's show with a bit
of a reenactment and historical documentation of a run in
with a troll. Once upon a time, a guy tries
to cross a bridge. O hold it right, says a

voice beneath the stones.

Speaker 3 (01:03):
If are you pass me bridge? You have to answer
a riddle?

Speaker 1 (01:08):
Or what says the guy?

Speaker 3 (01:11):
Or achi?

Speaker 1 (01:14):
The guy pauses at the threshold of the bridge.

Speaker 2 (01:17):
Fair enough, what's the riddle?

Speaker 3 (01:20):
How do you count to six?

Speaker 2 (01:25):
Well, that's easy, one, two.

Speaker 1 (01:28):
The creature under the stones interrupts.

Speaker 2 (01:32):
A fee a fall.

Speaker 1 (01:34):
Five. The thing beneath the bridge pauses, confused, Six says
the human.

Speaker 2 (01:43):
Six is after five, you jerk.

Speaker 1 (01:47):
The human knew already this was going to be a
weird day. This is the old one of the old
stories about running into a troll. We love trolls, not
the Internet phenomenon. I think we made sure to put
that in the title here, But the old school trolls,
right the details, Yeah, bridge trolls also, Ben, can we

get some applause there for that dramatic retelling.

Speaker 3 (02:15):
Yeah, I can peep up the single hand clap.

Speaker 1 (02:16):
Yeah, I clap loud. It's true. But we move in numbers,
which is part of tonight's show. What do you guys
think about when you think of trolls.

Speaker 3 (02:28):
I think of the little kid going, oh my god,
you know, from troll to the movie. Oh, I think
it's a wonderful internet meme.

Speaker 2 (02:39):
That's yeah, it is. I think of Justin Timberlake and
a bunch of other actors as animated characters singing a
bunch of songs.

Speaker 3 (02:48):
That's a banger of a song right there, from Trolls,
the movie the soundtrack.

Speaker 1 (02:52):
I think of films like troll Hunters, where there's another
there's another film called Trolls, which is much more disturbed.
But look, we all kind of accept that trolls are
creatures of myth and legend these days outside of arguably
a small population of humans in Iceland. As we continue
our exploration of fact, fiction, cryptids, mythology, and the paranormal,

we had to get to trolls and spoiler fillow conspiracy realist,
we may have learned the truth. Here are the facts,
as we're saying, at least in the United States, trolls

are most commonly associated with fiction, and of course the
famous troll dolls.

Speaker 3 (03:43):
Remember these jewels in their tummies.

Speaker 1 (03:46):
Yes, I heard about that extensively because friend of the
show and my actual girlfriend, Brandy, was originally super excited
by this episode. She assumed we were talking about troll dolls.

Speaker 3 (04:01):
Another friend of the show, who shall remain nameless, has
a a tobacco pipe let's just call it that is
built to look like a troll. And you put the
tobacco in its belly button and you smoke it out
of its butthole.

Speaker 1 (04:15):
Wow, okay, the anti booth.

Speaker 3 (04:18):
Then Hackett made a face.

Speaker 2 (04:23):
Well, I was trying to imagine. Okay, you put the
tobacco in the belly button and then you go around back.

Speaker 3 (04:31):
Think of it lying on its back, right, and its
legs are kind of up in the air, and it's
not anatomically correct.

Speaker 1 (04:40):
Nobody tried to smoke through your friends.

Speaker 3 (04:44):
Yeah, genitals, at least troll dolls. They're like ken dolls
down there.

Speaker 1 (04:48):
Interesting. In one of the more disturbing stories I read
recent fiction, you know, the guy who wrote Let the
Right One in I.

Speaker 3 (04:58):
Don't remember the I love both versions of that film.

Speaker 1 (05:01):
He wrote a story that got adapted into another film,
and in that story, trolls are closer to the Scandinavian folklore.
They are hermaphroditic spoilers.

Speaker 3 (05:16):
They got Kloika's or something. No, I don't know about that.
You know what else I think of when of the controls,
I think of the Rankin and Bass Hobbit movie and
the whole thing where you know, Bilbo and company come
upon a band of trolls who very much want to
eat them and roast them.

Speaker 1 (05:34):
Yes, yes, I'm glad you mentioned the catabalistic tendencies, the
predatory nature. The story of folklore transmission, I think is
familiar to most of our longtime listeners. Trolls as a concept,
the word it comes from Northern Europe, Scandinavia, the so

called Low Countries, which is a weird joke. It's about
sea level and as taste well well. As Europeans migrated
to what we call the Americas today, they've brought their
folklore and beliefs along. This is a big part of
the narrative American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I'm leaning on

fiction a lot here, but I think it's pretty obvious
to that pre existing native cultures had their own long
standing legends of giants and half men and monsters and
things that were almost but not quite human. So if
you think about it, the idea of being an indigenous

or Native American and hearing someone tell you about trolls,
it would not have been entirely unfamiliar to you. You
would have said something like, oh the sea techa, right,
you know these other creepy things.

Speaker 2 (06:56):
Yeah, we just did that Reptilian episode, so you know,
when we're thinking about half man, half human, getting back
to centaurs getting back to what are some of the
other things. Mermaids all kinds of creatures that are, like
you said, ben almost human, but they got something a
little weird going on, usually on the downstairs.

Speaker 3 (07:16):
Oh man, I guess that's the thing. You know, wherever
you hail from or whatever your origin story or you know,
cultural heritage might be. We are all human at the
end of the day, and so we all have kind
of a similar set of equipment. Therefore, a lot of
the perceptions and fears and things that we develop as individuals,
despite where we come from or who we know, there's

a lot of parallel stuff going on in things like
religion and cultural practices and these sorts of mystical creatures.

Speaker 1 (07:44):
Yeah, it's a weird comparison. Since we were talking about
automotive things earlier. A weird comparison would be imagine your
typical American today, and you learned that people in the
United Kingdom also have cars, and their cars have trunks,

but they called the trunk the boot. It's the same concept.
It's a different name.

Speaker 3 (08:11):
Over here. We call them frunks. All right, get it right?

Speaker 1 (08:14):
I think it's a you thing, man, I like it on.

Speaker 3 (08:18):
It's an Elon musk thing. Yeah, that's what the cyber
truck boot is called. It's in the it's called a frunk.

Speaker 1 (08:26):
Mm hmm. All right. We'll teach their own and each
their own. Who are we to change, did you guys?

Speaker 2 (08:32):
Look? I saw a random instagram that I don't think
is real. This is a side note. It was about
a Kanye West cyber truck.

Speaker 1 (08:39):
I saw that.

Speaker 3 (08:40):
I saw it looked AI generated, but the thing it
looked like one of those stealth bombers. It was like
totally black with no windows, very sleek. He said, only
one existed. I don't think it was really either, but
maybe you know.

Speaker 1 (08:54):
I saw it in right, so I elected not take care.

Speaker 3 (08:57):
I'm sorry I did not investigate further. But Matt, I
do believe you're right that it is most likely fake.

Speaker 2 (09:03):
Okay, just want to make sure. Oh yeah, the Internet
says fully fake. Okay.

Speaker 1 (09:09):
The stories, yeah, the stories we tell ourselves. One for
the etymology nerds before we dive in the noun. Troll
come like now it is thought to be a very specific,
distinct creature in folklore, at least then noun. But back

in the day, it just meant It's kind of like
our exploration of the anti Christ. It just meant a
weird off vibe. And some people will tell you that
originally troll just described anyone who walked weird scans.

Speaker 3 (09:47):
I could see that.

Speaker 2 (09:49):
They said strolling.

Speaker 1 (09:50):
They were trolling, Yeah, in a truck.

Speaker 3 (09:54):
Ministry of Front funny walks.

Speaker 1 (09:56):
Side to side fashion, you know it. It reminded me
of a Charlie day and always sunny in Philadelphia, who
says he was going by Trontle the Great.

Speaker 3 (10:07):
What do they call that thing they do in the dune?
The worm walk? Whatever they have to like walk funny
so they don't attract the worm. Oh right, that would
be a troll patrolling. The origins of this word are ancient,
and the etymology comes far after the fact, so there's
a lot of debate, a lot of educated guessing. We

can kind of see that the phrase troll the way
we use it now derives from a Proto Germanic term
a language that came before all of the Germanic languages Truslan,
Trusolan or Trolan, and back in the day it was
just a general term for supernatural creatures or supernatural actions. Dude,

can you imagine how guttural and Proto german language would
have been and it has been all grunts.

Speaker 1 (11:01):
It's basically all all battle rap at that point, So
you can see. You can see roots of this in
Swedish terms like trolla, which meant to charm or bewitch,
or the old Norse troll de more meaning just witchcraft,
just not cool stuff or baby cool stuff.

Speaker 2 (11:23):
Well, that's really interesting because the mystic kind of goes
into there. That's really interesting as like at least what
we think of, well, some perceptions of trolls.

Speaker 3 (11:34):
I guess often that they have magical powers. There's big dunderheads.

Speaker 2 (11:39):
Again, some perceptions of that, right, and what we've learned
often in the show, when when magic is attributed to
like a group of people or a creature or a thing,
and it's given that kind of mythical uh, those mythical characteristics,
there's fear associated with that creature or being right.

Speaker 4 (11:58):
Well, how does it work? And magic the gathering with trolls. Yeah,
there's all sorts of different trolls. I'm imagining a lot
of them with fire.

Speaker 1 (12:10):
A lot of generative powers.

Speaker 2 (12:12):
I think, yep, regenerate was one of the original things
that trolls had, which is a really cool thing that
needs to come back. I don't think that's a mechanic
that exists right now.

Speaker 1 (12:23):
They're not doing it anymore.

Speaker 2 (12:25):
I think maybe it's in there, it's just not I
don't know. I haven't seen it in a while.

Speaker 1 (12:28):
I haven't called to you wizards, Wizards of the Dark,
Wizards of the Deep, of the Air, and of the coast. Yes,
Philadelphia would would have.

Speaker 3 (12:40):
Would having too many regenerative abilities be like an unfair
advantage or something? Is that why? Maybe they got rid
of it. It was like game breaking or something.

Speaker 1 (12:47):
Technically, too many regenerative abilities is cancer.

Speaker 2 (12:53):
That's that's man's proliferate. I think cancer is proliferate. To
regenerate emitted, it's pretty great. So if a creature with
regenerate would be dealt damage that would be sufficient to
kill it. You just tap a couple manna usually or
pay a little bit of life and then that thing
comes right back.

Speaker 1 (13:12):
And yes, I'm shouting out, I'm trying out a reference
to Flight of Dragons where they assemble all the wizards.
Do you guys remember Flight of Dragons? Doesn't matter, We'll
do a dragon's episode maybe. So the idea here is fascinating.
I think that the notes about magic the Gathering show

us like these creatures. The idea of trolls. It exists
in the modern day very much so, you know, and
it dates back to Nordic folklore essentially from what we
can tell in Old Norse folklore, trolls dwell in isolated
wild areas, craggy rock ranges, distant mountains, and deep caves.

It's only later in folk lif or that we get
specific types of trolls, like, you know, a forest troll
or a hill troll or whatever. You know, the new Pokemon,
the new Pokemon of folklore. Yes, I love the idea.
Pokemon is folklore too.

Speaker 3 (14:15):
I mean, isn't it isn't pot culture its own kind
of widely proliferated folklore in a way that I get
we accept as being fiction. I think that's maybe the
only difference. But I guess some people maybe don't know
the difference. I don't know.

Speaker 1 (14:28):
Well, give it twenty eight thousand years, that's exactly right.

Speaker 3 (14:32):
Then people will be worshiping Pokemon as gods.

Speaker 1 (14:37):
We conquer this empire for the glory of Chahrazad, the
name of Snawlax. That the trolls in myth often live
together in small packs or family units, again in caves.
They are not fans of humankind. If you catch them
on the wrong day, especially if you smell like one

of those as modern high faluting Christians, well then heck
that troll might eat you. That's the idea, the ancient
Christian they can smell you if you're if you're a Christian,
blood of Christ all over you. Yeah, And it's an

interesting way to deliver a message. So we've got some
notes on folklore. We know, of course, there are there are,
as we were saying, a lot of different vinn diagrams.
Folkloric overlap ancient sources oral traditions sometimes called trolls jot

nar the the idea conflating them with giants, and the
belief in these things is way older than Christianity. By
that time Christianity got like moved on up to the
north side of Europe, trolls were an established concept.

Speaker 3 (16:02):
Is it Jodenheim the land of the giants in the
God of War games and conversely also in Norse mythology?

Speaker 1 (16:11):
Yeah, yes, yeah, in both.

Speaker 3 (16:14):
In both I'm pretty sure God a War did it first.

Speaker 1 (16:16):
But you know, yeah, yeah, who are we to judge? Right?
It wasn't. It wasn't until much later the trolls got
more specific attributes, descriptions, abilities. They became distinct mythological creatures.
And what we can say for sure is various things

have been called trolls things that we might not describe
as trolls today, they're to your point. No, they're in
mythology all over the place pretty consistently, and today most
people generally do not believe in them. They're just really
cool features to put in a story, and no offense

to anybody who genuinely believes that there is some sort
of ten foot tall, vaguely rock like creature that hides
from the sun and eat to you. If you're baptized.
If that's your thing, go with it, and we hope
it doesn't mess up your day.

Speaker 2 (17:16):
If that is your thing. Watch the show Hilda on Netflix.
It is one of the best shows that I've seen
in a long time that I could share with my son,
and it deals directly with trolls. And when you're talking
about hiding from the sun thing. In this version of it,
it's a Canadian TV show. In this version of it,
the trolls are like stones.

Speaker 3 (17:38):
That they turned to stone in the sun in some tradition.
Isn't that right?

Speaker 2 (17:42):
Well, there are just stones out on the mountain side,
like just litter it everywhere, just huge stones, and then
at night they turn into you know, sometimes really dangerous things.
That attack the village. Other times, as you'll find out,
maybe they're not so dangerous.

Speaker 3 (17:57):
Well, but that's the thing though, they charge their stones
during the day because the sun turns them to stone exact. Yeah,
but I've seen I've seen that depicted in other places.

Speaker 1 (18:04):
That's really that's argoyles.

Speaker 3 (18:07):
That's exactly right.

Speaker 1 (18:08):
Yeah. Also, just for the record, the sun sucks. I
hate it, you guys.

Speaker 3 (18:16):
And butt head, Oh my god, you guys. I'm in Augusta, Georgia,
which is just two hours from Atlanta, but it's in
a in a valley, whereas Atlanta's kind of up on
a hill a little bit more. And I swear to god,
the humidity here knocked me on my butt, like it
is just absolutely uh, completely different feeling. And I had
to like go indoors.

Speaker 1 (18:35):
What's the troll content or troll demographic.

Speaker 3 (18:38):
I think there's a there's a decent troll population. They
only come out at night, and I went I stayed
in so I didn't see any because.

Speaker 1 (18:44):
Of the masters, like exactly.

Speaker 3 (18:46):

Speaker 1 (18:46):
Different flavor of trolls or golf trolls are the worst
kind classic We've got different categories of trolls. We've got
so much folklore about them. What if trolls are less
like a myth and more like a cryptid There be
any sand to the legends. We're gonna pause for a
word from our sponsors and we'll dive in. Here's where

it gets crazy.

Speaker 2 (19:16):
All right, Oh wait, all, here's where it gets crazy.
You're talking about golf controls, and I just I have
Happy Gilmore in my head with Shooter McGavin when he's
he's like, uh, it's I think it's the last game.
And or there's that guy that's constantly heckling him. Do
you know what I'm talking about? Mister Larson was his name,
and he's this huge dude. Uh and he's just like

tells me like barking lot. You do you guys remember
this at all? He looks like a troll to me.
And he's this huge dude that heckles him.

Speaker 3 (19:47):
Uprolls no, no, no, no, no, carry on.

Speaker 1 (19:50):
Yeah yeah, I remember Happy Gilmore featuring that up and
coming Adam Sandler.

Speaker 3 (19:56):
He's gone places here.

Speaker 1 (19:57):
I think he's going to get into comedy.

Speaker 2 (19:59):
Well yeah, Supher McDonald as Shooter McGavin, come on.

Speaker 3 (20:03):
Great, great, heal?

Speaker 1 (20:05):
We know one thing for certain about all human cultures,
just like Adam Sandler. They did and do get up
to incredibly stupid, funny, arguably self destructive things. But they
were not any more nor any less intelligent than human
beings today. You know, folklore is another communication platform, right,

It's as untrustworthy as Twitter or social media in general.
It's all, but it's all meant. It all comes from
this noble intention to see and to explain the world
around us. So our question then becomes fascinating. Instead of saying, oh,
people in Europe back in the day were dummies, we

should say what were these ancient people attempting to explain
to themselves, to their peers, to their children. What if
trolls weren't mythical giants? What if what we're seeing in
these stories is instead an attempt by Homo sapiens to
describe encounters with something real, something not quite human. More directly,

what if trolls are in fact a corrupted story based
on encounters with the Neanderthal.

Speaker 3 (21:26):
Okay, go on, you're.

Speaker 1 (21:29):
Well, I mean we get a learn about the Neanderthal first?
What are they? Are?

Speaker 3 (21:35):
They like?

Speaker 1 (21:35):
Cave folk?

Speaker 3 (21:36):
Yeah, sort of sloping, foreheaded, bad posture, slightly bigger than
the average bear a little dimmer too, right, early man.

Speaker 1 (21:47):
That's the idea. Oh, also shout out to our pals
on theme, Eves, Jeffcoat, and Katie Mitchell, who just casually
taught us that highbrow is a a problematic term originating
from phrenology. Right, you can find that episode wherever you

find your favorite shows.

Speaker 2 (22:12):
But but that's just saying the lowbrow of a neanderthal
in the high brow of a human.

Speaker 1 (22:18):
Yeah, that's the implication. Not to be too Dennis Reynolds
about it. But Matt, what do you think about when
you hear the word Neanderthal?

Speaker 2 (22:30):
Well, I think of I can't you go back to
popular depictions. I think of the television series The Cavemen.

Speaker 3 (22:36):
Based on the campaign. Yeah, yes, it was. That was
that progressive? It was an insurance company, wasn't it?

Speaker 1 (22:44):
Saturday Night Live? Sketch Caveman Lawyer?

Speaker 2 (22:51):
Just a simple but this is a whole series with
Nick Kroll like starring Nick Kroll.

Speaker 3 (22:56):
It really was based on an ad series for an
insurance company.

Speaker 2 (23:00):
Yeah, but but it is well, as we've learned. Okay, now,
Craig me if I'm wrong here, humans and Neanderthals are
very close when when you're thinking about DNA, but they
are a very specific and separate not species. What what
do you what do you call it?

Speaker 1 (23:19):
All of them? A distinct species? Is it? Uh? Yeah?
The I think the proper term we're supposed to use,
which we didn't on our previous episode on early humans. Uh,
the proper term is archaic humans because we can't call
them not human.

Speaker 2 (23:34):
Yeah, because they are.

Speaker 1 (23:36):
It's just.

Speaker 2 (23:38):
I don't know before a major split. But we're going
to talk about later in this episode about Neanderthals and
I guess modern what would be described as modern humans?

Speaker 1 (23:50):

Speaker 2 (23:51):
In mating and how that like changed.

Speaker 1 (23:54):
Everything kissing cousins. Yeah, okay, I see.

Speaker 2 (23:57):
It's just so confusing to me, Like how if they
are a distinct species, then how could they even breed?

Speaker 1 (24:04):

Speaker 2 (24:04):
How could humans and Neanderthals breed successfully?

Speaker 1 (24:08):
Well, they're closer than like a lion and a tiger,
and a lion and a tiger can create a liger.

Speaker 2 (24:13):
Yeah okay, yeah, totally that makes it.

Speaker 1 (24:16):
I didn't mean that to sound like lazy mumble wrap,
but bread for his abilities and magic, right right? We
need to regenerate this this idea. I think the Neanderthal
first off has been uh and beat me here, ben.
The Neanderthal has been upon for most of modern history.

When modern quote unquote humans first discovered quote unquote the
remains of what we will call a Neanderthal, it was
like eighteen twenty nine in Belgium, and the guy who
found it just said, oh, I found a dead, very

poorly developed human being. This was of course also Belgium
in the eighteen hundreds.

Speaker 3 (25:09):
So I had Homo neanderthalinensis.

Speaker 1 (25:13):
Yes, yes, sir, I think the age of Silent guys
dance and later discoveries followed. There were Neanderthal remains found
in Gibraltar, and when these things were discovered, that these
remains were woven into like the social and scientific attitudes

of the day. People found weird bones that looked pretty human,
but not quite modern human, as they would say, and
so they told their own stories to each other about
the provenance of those bones, and they usually confirmed pre
existing racist attitudes of Western science at the time. A

troglodyte a literal caveman. I don't even know if we
can say troglodyte on air. Isn't that an insult?

Speaker 3 (26:09):
I mean, there are insults that are acceptable to say
on air, I love trogoloid die. You can't take that
away from you can pry it for my cold dead hands.

Speaker 2 (26:16):
Oh, let's find out if they will.

Speaker 1 (26:20):
Troglodyte a member of a fabulous or a prehistoric race
of people that lived in caves, dens, or holes.

Speaker 3 (26:27):
I'm sorry, a fabulous Wow.

Speaker 1 (26:31):
They had a lot of bizaz.

Speaker 2 (26:33):
I didn't see that, I am. You can also describe
a person who is regarded as deliberately ignorant, or deliberately
old fashioned.

Speaker 1 (26:44):
Or deliberately reclusive.

Speaker 3 (26:47):
Someone might use it as a stand in for a Luddite,
you know, a Luddite is a very They are troglodytes
of technology.

Speaker 2 (26:54):
There you go.

Speaker 1 (26:55):
And the Neanderthal, mainly, as you can tell, folks of
the Neanderthal is always portrayed this kind of knucklehead, a
dim wit, you know, in bred maybe to the point
about Luddites, a hater of modernity in any form, a
real brute, a creature that you would either fear or conquer,

or in some cases both.

Speaker 2 (27:20):
So it's basically describing royal families across the leaders of
the Homo sapiens.

Speaker 3 (27:26):
Right, the royal family is gonna come for you, Matt.

Speaker 2 (27:31):
Do you think they're coming after me?

Speaker 3 (27:33):

Speaker 1 (27:34):
May No, you're not related to them exactly.

Speaker 2 (27:37):
Okay, that's true.

Speaker 1 (27:40):
If you're related to them, they'll find you, they'll get you.
So what was that John Goodman movie Duke of Earl?

Speaker 3 (27:51):
Oh, you're talking about King Ralph, King Ralph.

Speaker 1 (27:53):
Yes, they sing Duke of Earl, King Ralph.

Speaker 3 (27:57):
I just remember that was the first time I ever
heard of the British luxurious dish spotted dick. Yes, yes,
like a pudding of some sort with raisins.

Speaker 1 (28:09):
Spotted dick, barley water. They're nailing it with food names,
you know what I mean. We got to give them that.
I got lost for a second just thinking about the
weird food names used in the United Kingdom.

Speaker 3 (28:24):
Not to malign British cuisine as a whole. There's very
amazing fine dining opportunities there, but a lot of traditional
British food pretty gross.

Speaker 1 (28:33):
Looking, very much to malign it A sorry, a lot
like the Royal family see our stereotypes in play already,
and the British Empires still exists, the United Kingdom still exists,
and we're blowing smoke at it. Imagine what would happen
if you were gone for thousands and thousands of years.

Speaker 3 (28:56):
They're so much trash.

Speaker 1 (28:58):
There is no Neanderthal to hop up and do a
ted talk. You know. This is again the game of telephone.
So there's a wealth of incorrect assumptions about Neanderthals because
they fit the social framework of the day, and this stymied,
i would say even crippled science for generations. Afterward, the

more current civilization learns about the Neanderthal, the Denisovan, the
real life Hobbits, the early mixtapes of mankind, the stranger,
the story becomes because get this, Neanderthals human Basically, they're human.
They don't have superpowers, they don't turn to stone in

the sun. They are mainly reclusive because they're trying to
run from the other humans.

Speaker 3 (29:49):
Right, what are people referred to ben when they say
the missing link is sort of like a piece or
a type of Neanderthal that would have bridged the gap
between uh, you know, apes and humans or is that
sort of along the right lines.

Speaker 2 (30:05):
Yeah, it's it's the in the theory of evolution, it's
the chain between the actual great apes that we still
observe today and the you know, the Denisovin's the Neanderthals
between those two things.

Speaker 3 (30:19):
That's right.

Speaker 2 (30:19):
There's nothing there right now, at least no nothing that
we've found which would explain everything.

Speaker 1 (30:25):
Well, yeah, there's like Homo habilis, Homo erectus. But there's
this gap in the in the in the literal evolution,
you know what I mean.

Speaker 2 (30:34):
It's it's basically the standing up straight thing like where
is the full see the chart.

Speaker 1 (30:41):
Out of the trees, like non arboreal and uh you
know to quote, uh some fans of doctor Moreau to
walk on two legs, the bipedal versus the platro pedal. Uh. Anywait,
like I the thing is, we know that modern quote

unquote modern human beings hung out with Neanderthals. We literally
know this. This is not a conspiracy theory. We have
the receipts to prove it. We also understand that the
world was less densely populated with this kind of life form,

you know, up till about forty thousand years ago, when
the Neanderthal population seemed to disappear. But we haven't been
kind to the lives of the Neanderthals. We call them
lumbering morons. We again talk trash about them, But recent
discoveries have shown us some amazing things, like in those

caves where the Neanderthals lived, they did practice symbolism, They
had some understanding of object permanence, of great philosophical quandtry.
They lived, they loved, they were loved, They had kids,
they cared about their kids, They buried their dead.

Speaker 3 (32:07):
They also laughed, though I know they lived and loved.
We got to know whether or not they laughed.

Speaker 1 (32:12):
We know they were sick at music.

Speaker 2 (32:14):
Cool and drums have crazy residents, you know what I mean,
like the reverb in there.

Speaker 3 (32:19):
Oh yeah, I mean, I'm really not joking here, but
like early musical instruments you know, were derived from banging
on planks of wood and making different tones and even
like rocks and stuff. Those are really cool sounds, very
cool resonances.

Speaker 2 (32:32):
Precisely mat you guys think they survived some apocalypse and
they had to move into the caves. You know what
I'm talking about.

Speaker 1 (32:38):
Well, the world's sending for someone every day, right, Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah,
So I bet you're right. I bet maybe maybe there
was this hyperborean pre Neanderthal situation. Maybe Homo sapiens are
the remnet thereof I think that's cool. Anyway, we know
we know Neanderthals are route. There is a non zero

chance that encounters between the Sapien and the Neanderthal may
be the formative factor for some of humanity's oldest monster stories.
In fact, as we know, some of us in the
audience this evening make airy a bit of that legacy.

Speaker 2 (33:20):
Guys, before we go to our ads, we're not currently
sponsored by twenty three and a meter, but it says
on their website here that you can eat you can
find out if you have Neanderthal DNA. That's really quick?

Speaker 3 (33:32):
Is that an up charge?

Speaker 2 (33:33):
Maybe let's go to the ads.

Speaker 1 (33:43):
And we're back. Congratulations to everybody who just learned a
lot about themselves while at the same time sacrificing some
of the most private information you will ever possess.

Speaker 2 (34:00):
Yeah, you don't feel bad.

Speaker 3 (34:02):
I did it years ago, before it was even even
that interesting. I sacrificed my stuff for you're basically European dude.

Speaker 1 (34:13):
That was literally what the results said. They didn't really
judge it up any.

Speaker 3 (34:17):
That came with some sort of then diagram and like
a colored map. But I know it's come a long
way since then. But an I don't think they were
testing for that at the time. The technology just wasn't
that bad.

Speaker 2 (34:29):
It wasn't that I love the idea that somebody attached
to post it. They just said, I'm sorry, sorry, this
is boring. Yeah, I don't think.

Speaker 1 (34:41):
It's boring, right. You were fascinated in her twenty twenty
one book Growing Up in the Ice Age, as well
as her more recent work from just last year, Rethinking Neanderthals.
An archaeologist named April Noel from Canada University of Victori Area.
She broke down these questions like how much genuine consideration

have Homo sapiens given to the life form of the Neanderthal?
And she notes this DNA stuff we're talking about, She says, quote.

Speaker 3 (35:18):
Researchers have spelled out the entire Neanderthal genome from multiple individuals,
offering new insights into their biology as well as our own.
There is no longer any doubt that human beings and
neanderthals inter bred.

Speaker 2 (35:32):
I thought that was going to be that game where
you say, in bed after something.

Speaker 1 (35:38):
Multiple experts now agree in bed and a scientific consensus
is building in bed. It is irrefutable that the Neanderthal
and the Sapien interacted. We may never know the full
breadth of these engagements, but we know one species is extinct,
and the surviving species or group or whatever you want

to call it, people are still arguing about it. The
surviving thing carries within its population remnants flotsam jetsam of
the of the non existent group.

Speaker 3 (36:15):
Real quick. I'm sure we mentioned this book on the
on the podcast before, but Sapiens, A Brief History of
Humankind by you've all Noah Harari has a fantastic greed
and deals with a lot of this stuff in depth
in a very i would say, understandable and intelligent and
pretty poetic way.

Speaker 1 (36:34):
Yeah, I'm glad you mentioned Shapiens. Harari's doing some great work.
Not everybody loves him, but I think I read every book.

Speaker 3 (36:46):
I would just say, a very good science communicator.

Speaker 2 (36:49):
You know, guys, speaking of communicating science, we've heard a
lot about these Neanderthals. We talked about trolls. What do
they have to do with each other?

Speaker 1 (36:58):
My gosh, what a coincidence that we would arrive at
this point.

Speaker 3 (37:05):
No, that's right here in the outline.

Speaker 1 (37:07):
Yeah, oh jeez. So there is this idea of we
always say it there is a grain of truth carried
in most of these stories that people told themselves over millennia,
because we cannot forget that communication, and therefore stories are

a kind of technology, indeed one of the earliest forms
of technology. So humans typically will have a pretty insular,
self centered definition of themselves and the universe around them,
like most human cultures. In their native language, their name

for themselves is something like the people or the real
people were the true people. Yeah, everyone, it is not
that so it's not one person. Yeah. So think about this.
These humanoid creatures, these trolls, in all their varying forms

throughout history, they regularly seem to tick a lot of
boxes for what we understand about Neanderthals. They dwelling caves,
they're suspected of catibalism, they're reclusive and or unfriendly to modern.

Speaker 3 (38:30):
Society, and they're smoking hot.

Speaker 1 (38:33):
Well, everybody's got a type.

Speaker 3 (38:35):
Yeah, they're big, buff bodies.

Speaker 2 (38:39):
But they may not speak any languages that the modern
humans encountering them speak, which means there would be some
kind of territorial animosity. First of all, if you encroach on,
let's say, where they live in their home and they
can't understand anything you're saying at them. That kind of
makes sense. The Neanderthal will be cranky.

Speaker 1 (39:00):
Wouldn't you Someone bust into your house and they go like, Hey,
whoa your brakes? I don't want to call the cave cops.

Speaker 2 (39:13):
And I'm the only one series throwing rocks, telling you.

Speaker 1 (39:20):
Yeah and then eating you, grinding your bones to make
their bread.

Speaker 2 (39:25):
Well maybe maybe, but I think that's just because everybody
else ran away really fast when one guy fell, you
know what I mean, So who knows what happened to him?

Speaker 1 (39:38):
People needed better OPSEC really.

Speaker 3 (39:41):
But wasn't he a giant not a troll? Is there
other things that we discussed how they were kind of
interchangeable concepts.

Speaker 1 (39:47):
Right, interchangeable?

Speaker 3 (39:49):

Speaker 1 (39:49):
It's like the the question I always think about. Uh,
there are two versions of it. First, was Goliath tall
or was David short? Second, when we hear about sea
monsters in the age of maritime expansion, were they that
big or were the boats smaller?

Speaker 3 (40:08):
Yeah? Probably a combination. I mean, I'm sure if you
saw a whale breach for the first time, not knowing
that it was a relatively gentle giant, I would mark
that down as a sea monster real quick.

Speaker 1 (40:19):
I would my pants, I would other people's pants.

Speaker 3 (40:22):
I've told you, guys about my night terrors about being
in the water with a whale. I know it's not
going to hurt me in real life, but like, it's
just the hugeness of it. It's something that captivates the imagination.
And you just a big one that I can't see,
but I just know it's there, it's underneath, and it
terrifies me. I've had this recurring nightmare since I was
a kid.

Speaker 2 (40:43):
Guys, I'm seeing all kinds of different stories about how
tall David and Goliath both were. Some of the most common.
I guess depictions of David are below five feet tall,
and then Goliath is just a foot or maybe two
taller than him. So real beefy boy, though probably a
little beefy big boy. But maybe David was pretty small.

Speaker 1 (41:06):
That's the question, right, And this is this is the
nature of perspective, right, This is what informs a lot
of these legends. The idea of trolls as an embellishment
on human interaction with Neanderthal has been explored extensively in fiction.

William Golding, the guy who wrote Lord of the Flies,
wrote about it in a novel called The Inheritors. A
lot of people, a lot of academics from Finland are
super into the idea. And if we treat folkloric tradition
as a story with a meaning, a technology with a purpose,

then we can look at some of these more fantastical
claims and dismiss them as malarkey, no offense to winning
non Christians. But you cannot just smell someone and know
they are Christians. You can't smell anyone. You can't smell
anyone and know their religious affiliation.

Speaker 3 (42:14):
I'm just gonna agree with you. Right, You're right, Ben,
You're right.

Speaker 1 (42:18):
I mean, tell me, tell us if we're wrong. You know,
if you got a thing where you're like the Bahai
clearly smell of raspberries or something, I just have a little.

Speaker 3 (42:28):
Sensitive sniffer, you know, I've got to follow my nose.

Speaker 1 (42:32):
Par Giant.

Speaker 2 (42:32):
Maybe, man, I'm just saying, I think you could probably
post up in like a city center on a Saturday
and Sunday and just sniff around for like stale bread
or crackers and wine, and you could probably you could
probably you could probably way to a church Christian or
just some welches, you know what, I'm saying I think,

I think it might.

Speaker 3 (42:53):
I don't know.

Speaker 1 (42:54):
So you could do that with your your eyes your
eyes bound and your ears stopped.

Speaker 3 (42:59):
Yeah, that pepsi challenge any day of the week, Ben Bowling.

Speaker 2 (43:02):
It would just have to be a close talk, you
know what I mean, Get a little close talk and then.

Speaker 1 (43:07):
I can rest it. That'd be, you know what, what
an interesting experiment? Well we we do know. Okay, so
maybe that superpower is based in fact, perhaps, But what
about the idea that one would turn to stone in sunlight?

Speaker 3 (43:26):
Wait a minute, I think the trolls in the ranking
in Basshumm movie do turn to stone?

Speaker 1 (43:32):
Yeah, because they make them argue amidst themselves over the until.

Speaker 3 (43:37):
They turn the stone. I'm almost positive. And it's really
creepy when they do, because they get all like really
like you start to shake and kind of get all
rictus looking.

Speaker 1 (43:45):
Yeah, it's like electric light orchestra.

Speaker 3 (43:48):
There you go. Well, I mean the idea of an
evil being turning to stone in the face of a
cleansing presence or something that's you know, representative of life
or you know, growth like the sun is super common.
I mean like Medusa, for example, you know it turned
to stone if shown her own.

Speaker 1 (44:07):
Reflection, right, yeah again, or.

Speaker 3 (44:10):
Could turn people to stone, but then you turn that
power on Medusa and then you know.

Speaker 1 (44:14):
She was turned to stone. Another derivative of the fantastic
mythos of electric Light Orchestra, or as we call them
on this show, El.

Speaker 3 (44:24):
O Eello slaps dude. Mister I was about to say,
mister Bright's side. Mister Bluesky is one of my favorite gems. Actually,
that's one people know the most. But there's this album
of theirs called El Dorado, and the cover of it's
super cool. It's like the ruby slippers from Wizard of
Oz and like these kind of witch hands and there
is a song on it I can't get it out

of my head that I think is in my top
ten favorite songs of all time. It's absolutely incredible. Jeff
Lynn is a genius. Sorry, that's my yeah, I mean soapbox.

Speaker 1 (44:53):
The question is how did how did the story of
trolls turned into the Scandinavian top folklore story of all
time or one of those top ten, Because what we
see is if you take away the more extravagant claims, right,

we can attribute those to the hazard of eyewitness accounts
translated over a long period of time. The game of
telephone writ large what we find. Then, if we take
away the supernatural stuff, we find that the folkloric record
of trolls checks a lot of boxes for what we

know about Neanderthals. They are held in tradition to have
occupied what we call Scandinavia long long before humans in
the north or sapiens in the North. I should say,
they're called the old ones. They're described as unattractive relative
to humans. They're not socially oriented, they're relatively elusive. Maybe

they were prescient of this other encroaching life form. Maybe
they didn't so much smell the different Homo sapiens, but
they sensed them in the fact that resources were being
taken from them. Right, Animals were being hunted, I guess,

plants were being gathered. Humans have fire by this point,
so stuff was burning.

Speaker 3 (46:27):
Dude. It just occurred to me that I smell the
blood of an Englishman. That is probably strange to a
member of the Church of England, right, Yeah, it never
occurred to me until this moment. That's wild.

Speaker 1 (46:41):
Yeah, And I hope we are forgiven for our again
completely accurate historical rendition. At the top of this episode,
there's a great article by Patrick Hunt, writing for Electro Magazine,
who notes commonalities between descriptions of trolls and what we
know about Neanderthal.

Speaker 3 (47:02):
He says this, some of the commonalities between known Neanderthal
features and habitats and the folklore around trolls include heavy,
large boned skeleton, thick skinned for cold insulation, cave dwellers,
pronounced brows, broad based, possibly large fleshy noses, living in
remote or montane topography aka mountain trolls or beard trota

in Danish, or loki not considered optimum by increasingly sedentary
human Let's look back that real quick. Loki like as
in like locusts of control, Like, what is lokai referring
to here? I'm a little that's that's a that's a
big one.

Speaker 2 (47:41):
Is it locations like that concept?

Speaker 1 (47:44):
Yeah? Just that loki is like saying area within ki.

Speaker 3 (47:48):
I just I don't think I've seen it used that
way before. That's cool.

Speaker 1 (47:51):
Well, there. The argument is that the sapiens became an
agricultural enterprise, right, Yeah, that's what they mean, hunting in gathering,
so that the the humans or the homo sapiens here
because of the new practice, the new fangle practice of agriculture.

They're not ranging as widely. They're not going into the mountains.
They're not delving into the caves.

Speaker 2 (48:20):
Right and they're nine. They're not delving in the caves
and not going to the mountains, and they're not trolling around
those mountains right where they're They're hanging out by the
farm now because hey man, we got all these crops.
We can't go anywhere.

Speaker 3 (48:36):
They had all these potatoes.

Speaker 1 (48:38):
Often they'll get potatoes later.

Speaker 3 (48:41):

Speaker 1 (48:43):
Every so often one of them may venture into the
craggy wild, and every so often something may come from
the caves. Right, and modern Hue humans treat trolls and

Neanderthals like the same kind of creature. These are dumb,
These are scary. These are evil. They're both often presented
as the quote unquote bad guy by the same life
for that probably assaulted, murdered, and ate them. In at
least a few cases, we know that Homo sapien hunted, killed,

and consumed Neanderthals. The closest this is an unfair comparison,
but the closest analogue we could imagine is a scenario
where you say, Hey, I'm based in I don't know name,
mistake or right, any state in Georgia, Saskatoon, Okay, I'm

based in Saskatoon. The people who live people who live
in Maine are way too different. We should hunt them
and eat them and maybe assault them and then salt them.

Speaker 2 (50:08):
But that's a may. Right. Humans may have been eating Neanderthals,
or do we have evidence of that?

Speaker 1 (50:16):
We don't have. You're right, we don't have a smoking gun,
hard evidence like there's no written documentation from the prosata
or whatever where someone says I will always fondly remember
that time I ate a Neanderthal. Yeah I think like that.

Speaker 2 (50:35):
Oh well yeah, okay, I mean Charles.

Speaker 3 (50:37):
Darwin, sure what have if he got in his hands
on one, yeah, he would have one hundred percent.

Speaker 1 (50:43):
It's good that he's not here now. I love the
face you made there, Matt, so uh what, No, it's fine.
It's good that Charles Darwood is not here.

Speaker 3 (50:53):

Speaker 1 (50:53):
He would have.

Speaker 3 (50:54):
Eaten things you would have eaten us all.

Speaker 1 (50:57):
He might have eaten it like a phone, you know
what I mean? He would think he discovered that too.
He ate everything he discovered it just it wouldn't work
out well.

Speaker 2 (51:06):
He has a really popular TikTok this like will it digest?
In trying all the stuff?

Speaker 1 (51:14):
So we can provably verify the physical characteristics of Neanderthals.
We do have circumstantial, if not conclusive evidence of cannibalism,
similar to the story of the Cecha here in the
United States. But because trolls are considered mythical beings, getting

a hold of a specimen or remnants thereof that what
we would call a troll has proven pretty tricky, you know.
And then of course we can fast forward through some
of this. A lot of people listening tonight might say, hey, guys,
for a long time modern human we modern humans or

ai eyes or chat chepts at all. We know there's
no evidence of the Neanderthal in Scandinavia. But you didn't
think about the climate.

Speaker 3 (52:12):
What's that about the climate?

Speaker 1 (52:14):
Didn't think about the climate. This is thousands of thousands
of years in the past. Ice ages come and go,
interglacial periods, the northern reaches of Europe and Russia could
have easily supported Neanderthal populations.

Speaker 2 (52:29):
That makes sense, That makes a lot of sense. In
the caves, very caves, very nice when it's hot out.

Speaker 1 (52:36):
Yes, yes, think about the caves.

Speaker 2 (52:39):
Or cold it could be freezing.

Speaker 1 (52:41):
Mmm mm hmmm.

Speaker 2 (52:43):

Speaker 1 (52:44):
Also, you know, why build a house when you can
live in a cave? Why learn to build a house? Yeah?

Speaker 2 (52:50):
Man, Earth already made you one, and it's huge, and
it's it's climate controlled.

Speaker 1 (52:55):
Yeah, we're looking like a bunch of suckers right now,
aren't we. Seriously?

Speaker 2 (53:00):
Oh you guys, I got a bunch of wood and glass,
So let's live inside there. The temperature will modulate just
as it does outside.

Speaker 1 (53:07):
It's great. That's a disturbingly good point. And I'm kind
of upset that we have to pay mortgages.

Speaker 2 (53:17):
And reds seriously, but we won't get wet exactly.

Speaker 3 (53:21):
Oh man, I was just talking with my buddy who
I'm staying with, about how both fire and water are
two things that are necessary to create life, but also
on their own can destroy everything. Water will disintegrate your
house if you do not keep it in check, and
fire will just you know, burn it down.

Speaker 1 (53:41):
Robert Frost was right, Maybe that's nominative determinism for us.
But what was that poem? Fire and ice worth it? Yeah?

Speaker 3 (53:50):
The Song of Ice and Fire by Robert Frost classic
classic fantasy.

Speaker 1 (53:54):
I have opinions about Robert Frost, love to hear yours. Folks.

Speaker 3 (53:58):
Do the two roads divers in the Yellow Wood? H did,
knowing which was bloody bloody blue? I took the path
less traveled.

Speaker 1 (54:07):
I don't remember from that, and that's made all the difference.

Speaker 3 (54:09):
Hasn't made all the difference exactly?

Speaker 1 (54:11):
And then it explodes.

Speaker 3 (54:13):
Now that's a different poem.

Speaker 2 (54:14):
Ben, would you say you've cooled on Robert Frost.

Speaker 1 (54:19):
I'm still out about it. The opinions are strident and subjective,
and we'd love to hear yours. Also, always send us
your your favorite literary references with Neanderthals and trolls. If
this connection holds true, wouldn't we expect legends of something

like trolls to be most prevalent in areas of the
world where we can prove a longer lasting Neanderthal population, right,
like you know, even past the Ice ages. In short,
and I'm cursing a lot in this episode, we have
to logically ask what the happened in Scandinavia such that

an encounter or series of encounters could survive, transforming into
legend over the course of like twenty eight thousand years.
How terrible was that day? Someone might have walked over
a bridge and had that riddle.

Speaker 2 (55:21):
Yeah, I'm trying to see it in my mind how
it morphed that that far. But just as you as
you said, time is the thing that will change anything
and everything, like most assuredly, time's gonna change it. And
if it really is twenty eight thousand, thirty thousand years,

I bet nothing. I bet he was almost nothing. It
was like, uh, there was a there was an animal,
some kind of animal under the bridge, and it kind
of scared me. But I just kept going and I
got here a little faster and I normally would because
I was running.

Speaker 1 (55:58):
And it turned into this thousands of years later. Soone's like,
this thing was huge, it was maybe made of stone,
there were rocks nearby.

Speaker 2 (56:09):
It made me answer riddles.

Speaker 1 (56:12):
Oh wait, wait the guy makes it back to the
village or the tribe, what happened? Said No, I'm done
with riddles for today.

Speaker 2 (56:21):
That's it, and it all just now.

Speaker 1 (56:25):
It's a troll, cool, cool, everything's fine. This also, I
think gives us another idea. Right, So if this relationship
unproven between trolls and neanderthal is correct. Then the most
important thing to realize is that the trolls are still here.

The call is coming from inside the house in the
most real sense of the idiom. What does this tell
us about humanity today, humanity in the future, whatever the
thing we call humanity will become. I don't know. I
think it just tells us winners write the history.

Speaker 2 (57:07):
Yeah, it tells us that the term troll for that
thing some people do on the internet. Really it kind
of fits, kind of fits.

Speaker 1 (57:21):
I mean, i'd agree with that. Yeah. The more we
learn about the Neanderthal, the more we see the bad
guy of prehistory was relatively sophisticated, empathetic life for same questions,
same fears, similar hopes and dreams of its sapian cousin.
But perhaps it was just different enough to be seen

as prey, and just perhaps a lot of legends about
trolls are a slow cultural reckoning with the sins of
the human past.

Speaker 3 (57:54):
Slow clap, slow clap. No, well's that been I don't know.

Speaker 1 (58:00):
You know, it could be completely wrong. If you're a troll,
like an actual as our pal Lauren likes to say it,
actual facts, supernatural troll, and you're hearing this right, let
us know. We'd love to hear your opinions. We try
to be easy to find online.

Speaker 3 (58:16):
That's right. You can find us at the handle of
Conspiracy Stuff, where we exist all over the internet, on Facebook,
or we have our Facebook group Here's where it gets crazy,
on YouTube where we have video content rolling out every
single week, and on x fka Twitter. You can also
find us in the handle Conspiracy Stuff show on Instagram
and TikTok. But weight there's more.

Speaker 2 (58:36):
We also have a phone number. It's one eight three
three std WYTK. Call in. Tell us your examples of
trolls that you think about when you hear that word.
Tell us what you think about this episode. Tell us
anything and everything we want to hear from you. When
you call in, give yourself a nickname, and you've got
three minutes say whatever you'd like. Just include at some

point in there if we can use your name and
message on the air. If you've got more to say,
then can fit in that three minutes. One out Instead,
send us a good old fashioned email.

Speaker 1 (59:07):
We are the entities that read every single email we receive.
Be well aware of folks. Sometimes the void writes back,
would love to read your pros Eta that's a reference
for maybe few people here. All you have to do
is drop a line and send us a lenk, take
us to the edge of the rabbit hole or the cave,

and we shall do the rest. Conspiracy at iHeartRadio dot com.

Speaker 2 (59:52):
Stuff they don't want you to know is a production
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