A Few More Textbook Rewrites McGraw-Hill Should Get Working On

By The Second City | Oct 6, 2015

McGraw-Hill Publishers are scrambling to rewrite an embarrassing textbook entry that refers to African slaves as “workers.”

What’s worse is that this isn’t the first time McGraw-Hill has spread misinformation in their textbooks. Check out these major gaffes from the past that the troubled publisher would probably love to forget.

Mistaking Shakespeare’s Othello for the film There’s Something About Mary


Surely whoever wrote the entry in this literature textbook didn’t do their homework:

Of course, the best of Shakespeare’s plays was Othello, which was a ton of laughs, especially when the quiet kid beats on Ben Stiller for touching his earmuffs. Also, Stiller gets a great big part of his nut caught in a zipper. It seems impossible that he could crank his bean in the zipper that bad, but that’s Shakespeare for ya.   

Assuming coffee beans come from deer


Excerpt from a biology textbook:

Coffee beans are the stuff coffee is squeezed out of. Nobody knows where the beans come from, but if you ask me, they look like the little pellets deer leave around my property in the winter. I mean, pretty gross, but free coffee all winter, the Lord provides.

I mean, that’s just irresponsible.

Describing rain as “angel tears”


This one came out of a high school geography textbook:

Sky Water is super weird, and it always comes when you don’t have an umbrella. Seems like the sky is bummed out, so I bet there are some angels watching their favourite sports team lose a big game up there. This phenomenon was discovered by Eric Clapton in his landmark study, “Tears in Heaven.”

Identifying Ayn Rand as a former U.S. president


It’s a pretty major issue that it’s 2015 and there has never been a female U.S. president, so casually referring to their war-time leader as Atlas Shrugged author Ayn Rand is a bit off the mark:

“During World War II, Ayn Rand wrote a lot of books, and I’m pretty sure was the boss of the country because everyone was sad. The V.P. was Marilyn Monroe, who notably invented the song “Happy Birthday Mr. President.”

Inventing new types of diabetes


Yes, we all know about Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, but according to McGraw-Hill, there are over 40 types:

  • Type 15 Diabetes: Caused by too much kissing. Symptoms include sores around mouth.
  • Type 40 Diabetes: Caused by running up your credit card with Muppets merch. Symptoms include having to block a lot of 1-866 numbers on your phone.
  • Type 29 Diabetes: Caused by watching films starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Symptoms include smiling and laughing at this great actor!

Referring to Axis power crimes as “fooling around”


The Holocaust. The Nanking Massacre. Stalingrad. All of these incredibly important WWII-era events are summed up in a single sentence after four separate chapters on “fast, cool trains”:

Meanwhile, there was a little scrap going on in those weird countries that don’t speak English. The bad guys were fooling around a bit, but the good guys (America) told them to knock it off. They did.”

Claiming North America was “empty” when Europeans arrived


What is now the U.S.A. and Canada was once populated with a rich diversity of First Nations people who were systematically marginalized and oppressed. In a textbook called North America: Nobody Wanted It But Us, a paragraph actually claims that:

When settlers got to this great country, they shouted around and only heard an echo. “Are you sure nobody lives here?” they shouted, but to no avail. Only a couple raccoons were watching. They set up a couple burger joints, and now…here we are!”

Calling the band Korn the only music that ever mattered


“Mozart’s concertos angered his contemporary Saliere, who was bitterly jealous of the young prodigy. Of course, history would render both of their oeuvres (as well as all other music) irrelevant with the release of Korn’s second album, “Life is Peachy,” featuring the runaway smash hit single “A.D.I.D.A.S. (All Day I Dream About Sex). 

Actually, this one might be factual.


Joel Buxton (@JoelBuxton) is a writer, stand-up comedian and sketch performer with the multiple Canadian Comedy Award-winning troupe The Sketchersons.

Hilarious Right? Follow the Second City For More