While growing up, family, friends and teachers probably told you tidbits about the world that you accepted as the gospel truth. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact it is completely normal. But, it seems there are a great many widely accepted “facts” that are actually completely untrue. These misconceptions are fairly widespread, so you may be surprised that even today you were believing things that just weren’t true. So put on your learning hats, you’re about to get schooled.
1.) You aren’t born with all of the brain cells you were ever have. There is evidence your brain will continue to produce new cells in certain regions, a process called neurogenesis.
2.) The color of the mucus in your nose doesn’t indicate if you have a bacterial or viral infection. It can vary in color due to a variety of illnesses.
3.) Goldfish don’t have 30-second memories. In fact, they can remember things for months.
4.) Lightning CAN strike twice in the same spot. In fact, the Empire State Building is struck up to 100 times a year.
5.) Lemmings do not follow each other, committing mass suicide. The “fact” was wrongly perpetuated by a 1958 Disney documentary called White Wilderness, in which the filmmakers manually ran a pack of lemmings off of a cliff to make for good television.
6.) Disregard the phrase “blind as a bat,” because bats are NOT blind. They use echolocation to hunt and navigate, but they can see.
7.) The popular dinosaur, the Brontosaurus, didn’t actually exist. It’s actually an Apatosaurus. Paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh mislabeled an adult Apatosaurus as a completely different species (thus, the “Brontosaurus”).
8.) Pure water doesn’t conduct electricity well. The reason you would get shocked if in water is because of the minerals, dirt and other things IN the water that will conduct electricity well.
9.) Swallowed chewing gum will not take 7 years to digest. In fact, we don’t digest it at all. It passes harmlessly through our bodies.
10.) One gene does not equal one protein. Many genes make multiple proteins and some don’t make any.
11.) There is no such thing has having a truly “photographic” memory. Even people with exceptional memories don’t recall events with enough detail to mimic a camera.
12.) Fingernails and hair do not keep growing once we die. Instead, our skin shrinks, giving the appearance of growth.
13.) Cracking your knuckles won’t give you arthritis. Age, injury, obesity and genetics will give you arthritis.
14.) Not all people with Tourettes randomly yell out swear words, only a small percentage do. It’s more common for people with Tourettes to have involuntary movements and other sound tics.
15.) Shaving your hair doesn’t make it thicker. It might feel coarser, but that’s just because the ends are more blunt from being freshly shaved.
16.) Getting hit by a penny that was dropped from the top of the Empire State Building won’t kill you. The penny’s speed will max out at about 50 mph, which isn’t fast enough to kill. Although it would still probably hurt.
17.) Sharks can get cancer. The myth was created by I. William Lane in order to sell shark cartilage as a cancer treatment.
18.) It’s possible to stand an egg on its head any day of the year (and not just on the Spring Equinox). You just need patience and a textured egg shell.
19.) Microwave radiation doesn’t cause cancer. Only a few kinds of radiation can cause cancer (and it depends on the dosage).
20.) During the Middle Ages, most scholars accepted that the Earth was round. The myth that people thought the Earth was flat was started in the 1940s by the Members of the Historical Association.
21.) McDonald’s burgers can and will rot under the right conditions to break the processed food down.
22.) Stress doesn’t play a large role in chronic high blood pressure. Stress can temporarily increase blood pressure, but the main causes of hypertension are smoking, genetics and bad diets.
23.) It’s most likely HIV jumped to humans from monkeys through hunting, not cross-species intercourse.
24.) Giving children sugar doesn’t make them hyper. In several trials, kids were just as hyper, regardless of if they received the sugar-filled or sugar-free drinks.
25.) Ostriches do not stick their heads in the ground when they’re scared. In fact, they flop on the ground and play dead.
26.) The Northern Hemisphere of Earth is not closer to the sun when it is summer. It’s warmer in the summer because the Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards the sun, allowing us to get hit with the energy more directly.
27.) Most diamonds actually aren’t made from compressed coal. They are compressed and heated 90 miles below the surface of the Earth (and coal is found about 2 miles below the Earth’s surface).
28.) Organic food isn’t pesticide free. Pesticide levels on both organic and non organic food are so low they aren’t a concern, according to the USDA.
29.) Dogs and cats don’t see in greyscale, they see in shades of blue and green.
30.) The Great Wall of China isn’t the only man-made structure visible from space.
31.) Your blood is never blue. It’s red whether it is oxygenated or not. Your veins look blue because of your skin and tissue.
32.) People use more than “just 10%” of their brains. In fact, they use all of their brains. We just use different areas of the brain at different times.
33.) Ingesting poinsettias wont kill you or your pets, although the plants will make you sick with gastrointestinal issues.
34.) Frogs or toads won’t give you warts. Touching another person’s warts, though, will give you warts. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is what causes most warts.
35.) Redheads are not going extinct (genes do not go extinct). The gene for red or blonde hair can be recessive and carried throughout generations without ever emerging as a hair color.
Don’t feel bad if you have been fooled by these common misconceptions. Now, you can set the record straight at the next dinner party you’re at. And if you don’t believe any of them, Google will confirm. <img src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2/72×72/1f609.png" alt="