Myths and misconceptions are as old as humanity itself. But in our age of information, it’s staggering to see how certain falsehoods persist, even in the face of hard evidence to the contrary. These myths range from the quirky to the consequential, and they have implications for how we understand the world and our place in it. Here, we dismantle 18 such myths, showing where they originate and why they’ve stubbornly resisted the truth.
Swallowed Gum Stays in Your Stomach for Seven Years
This myth has parents cautioning their children for generations. The idea is that non-digestible gum sticks around in our guts. While it’s true that our bodies can’t digest gum fully, it doesn’t linger for seven years. Instead, it travels smoothly through our digestive system and is expelled like any other indigestible substance.
Cracking Your Knuckles Causes Arthritis
The tell-tale sound of knuckle-cracking has been wrongly accused of leading to arthritis. The noise originates from the bursting of gas bubbles in the joints. Multiple studies have shown no direct correlation between the habit and arthritis. So, while it might annoy those around you, your joints remain unharmed.
You Only Use 10% Of Your Brain
Popularized by movies and motivational speakers, this myth is compelling but untrue. Modern neuroimaging has shown that virtually all parts of the brain have some function. Over a day, nearly every portion of our brain gets its time in the spotlight.
Sharks Can’t Get Cancer
This misconception has led many to believe shark cartilage can treat or prevent cancer. Not only can sharks get cancer, but relying on unproven treatments based on myths can have potentially dangerous consequences for human health.
The Great Wall of China Is Visible From Space
This popular belief paints a picture of an impressive human-made structure seen from space. However, astronauts have confirmed that the wall isn’t easily discernible from orbit without aid. Due to their color and breadth, many other landmarks are more noticeable.
Hair and Nails Continue to Grow After Death
This eerie idea probably takes root from posthumous changes in the human body. In reality, dehydration of the corpse causes the skin to retract, making hair and nails appear longer. They don’t grow; it’s merely an illusion.
Touching Baby Birds Causes Rejection From Parents
The heartwarming intention behind this myth is to prevent human interference with nature. However, most birds have a limited sense of smell. Thus, parental rejection due to human scent is unlikely. It’s still wise to avoid disturbing wildlife for reasons other than this myth.
Humans Have Just Five Senses
Traditional teachings dictate sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. But humans possess more senses, like thermoception (temperature differences), equilibrioception (balance), and nociception (pain), among others.
Bats Are Blind
The phrase “blind as a bat” is catchy but misinformed. Most bats have eyesight, and while it might not be their primary sense, many species can see better at night than humans. Their echolocation is an added ability, not a sight replacement.
Napoleon Bonaparte Was Extremely Short
Historical tales have painted Napoleon as a tiny figure, possibly fueling his supposed complex. However, he stood around 5 feet 7 inches, average for his time. The misconception likely arises from the differences between French and English measurement units.
Eating Carrots Improves Night Vision
Carrots benefit eye health due to their vitamin A content but aren’t a nocturnal superfood. This myth originates in World War II propaganda, where the British spread it to hide their pilots’ use of radar technology.
Lightning Never Strikes the Same Place Twice
This adage is far from the truth. Like skyscrapers and towers, tall structures often get hit multiple times in a single storm. Lightning seeks the easiest route to the ground, and if a location has been struck once, it’s likely a preferred pathway.
People in the Middle Ages Thought the Earth Was Flat
This is a popular historical myth. By the Middle Ages, educated Europeans knew the Earth was a sphere. Ancient Greeks, like Eratosthenes, had even made reasonably accurate measurements of its circumference.
Goldfish Have a Three-Second Memory Span
A disservice to goldfish everywhere, this myth underestimates their cognitive abilities. Studies have shown they can remember information for months. They can even be trained to recognize different sounds and perform tricks!
Bulls Hate the Color Red
In bullfighting, matadors use bright red capes. But it’s not the color that riles up the bull—it’s the movement. Bulls, like other cattle, are color-blind to red.
Vikings Wore Horned Helmets
Contrary to popular depictions, no historical evidence shows Vikings sported helmets with horns. This image was popularized by 19th-century art and performances. Actual Viking helmets were practical and horn-free.
Sugar Causes Hyperactivity in Children
Many believe a dose of sugar sends kids bouncing off the walls. However, multiple studies have debunked the direct link between sugar and hyperactivity. The environments where sugary treats are consumed (parties, holidays) may play a role in heightened excitement.
Dropping a Penny From a Skyscraper Can Kill
The idea that a penny dropped from a great height could be lethal is misleading. Due to its shape and mass, a penny would reach a terminal velocity that’s discomforting but not deadly. Still, it’s best not to toss objects from heights for obvious safety reasons.
12 Surprising Facts About Your Favorite Fast Food Brands
Brightly colored, ever available, satisfyingly greasy. The comfort of a familiar, friendly fast food joint is uncontested. Most Americans know the famed yellow arches of a McDonald’s or the vivid green color of a Starbucks kiosk. And while a palm-sized cup of fresh french fries might not alter your perceptions of well-known fast food brands, these surprising facts just might.
18 Valuable Items Foolishly Thrown Away Daily
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure – this adage holds when we look at the surprising items that often end up in the trash bin. From seemingly mundane objects to antique relics, some discarded items have far more value than we realize. Here are 18 high-value items that people unwittingly dispose of every day.
Victoria Clarke is a passionate American author with a gift for bringing characters to life on the page. Born in the heart of New York City, she found her voice among the hum of daily life, weaving tales that resonate with the experiences of everyday people. From heartfelt family dramas to the intricate dynamics of modern relationships, Victoria has a knack for capturing the nuances of the human experience in her works.