Lux Therapy Presents the First 49 Myths for Free!
Chapter 1: General Myths
- When bulls see the color red, they get enraged.
If you think that the brilliant hue of matadors’ red capes causes bulls to rush at them, you’re not alone. Bulls, like other cattle, are red-green colorblind, according to the American Science Guide. The movement of the cape is what truly enrages the bull.
- The memory of a goldfish is just three seconds long.
Goldfish are known for having short memory. However, it turns out that the legend that these orange aquatic organisms can only recall things for three seconds is a fabrication. Not only has this myth been refuted by several studies over the years, but some study even suggests that goldfish may have a memory span of up to five months.
- Only 10% of our brains are used.
Many people think that humans only employ 10% of their minds; it’s also the main line of Scarlett Johansson’s 2014 film Lucy. However, neurologist Barry Gordon told Scientific American that this is a fiction. He claims that people “use practically every area of the brain” and that the majority of the brain is “active almost all of the time.”
- George Washington’s teeth were made of wood.
It turns out that our country’s first president didn’t have a set of wooden chompers. While George Washington had dental difficulties, according to historians at the Washington Library, his dentures were made of ivory, gold, lead, and even other human teeth—never wood. They think that this popular misconception stems from the ivory being tarnished over time, giving the false teeth a wood-like look.
- During the Salem Witch Trials, women convicted of witchcraft were burnt at the stake.
During the Salem Witch Trials in the late 17th century, most alleged witches were hung, while some perished in prison awaiting their trials, according to history. The legend that they were burnt at the stake stems from the fact that it was customary practice in Europe throughout the Middle Ages to kill convicted witches by mercilessly setting them on fire. Learn which 23 Basic American History Questions Most Americans Get Wrong to clear up even more historical misunderstandings
- Every day, you should drink at least eight glasses of water.
Don’t worry if you’re having trouble getting to your eighth glass of water every day—the quota isn’t a hard and fast rule for healthy living. The quantity of water you require each day, according to the Mayo Clinic, is determined by a number of variables, including your general health, your level of exercise, and where you reside. There is no single figure that applies to all individuals; some people may be properly hydrated with less than eight glasses, while others may need more.
- If you go swimming shortly after you eat, you’ll have cramps.
Though it is a popular misconception that swimming immediately after eating may cause muscular cramps, this is simply not true (no matter how many times your parents said it was). Yes, additional blood is required for digestion, but not nearly enough to prevent the muscles in your arms and legs from performing properly.
- Everyone assumed the globe was flat in the days of Christopher Columbus.
Pythagoras, an Ancient Greek philosopher, is said to have been the first to propose the theory that the Earth was flat around 500 B.C. Aristotle claimed with confidence that the Earth was, in fact, spherical not long after, in the middle of the third century B.C. And, although it took some time for everyone to accept the fact that our earth is, well, spherical, Christopher Columbus was not one of the skeptics. He knew Earth was a spherical when he sailed the ocean blue in 1492. “With very few exceptions, no educated individual in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. forward thought that the Earth was flat,” writes historian Jeffrey Burton Russell.
- Only black and white is visible to dogs
No, your dog doesn’t have a black-and-white vision of the world. Dogs “don’t see all of the hues that people see, but they can really discern between colors,” according to veterinarian Barbara Royal.
- When you add salt to water, it boils quicker.
There is no discernible difference between boiling water with salt and boiling water without salt. “The temperature of saltwater will get hotter faster than that of pure water,” Middlebury College chemistry professor Lesley-Ann Giddings told LiveScience, “but it still has a higher boiling point, and the mass is still greater when you add salt to the same volume of water; this doesn’t mean that the saltwater boils fast
- Gum takes your body seven years to digest.
You don’t have to worry about that bit of gum you ingested by mistake a few years ago. While it’s a popular misconception that chewing gum takes many years (the figure seven is the most often mentioned), this is simply not true. Even after seven years, your body can’t digest gum, according to the Mayo Clinic. Gum doesn’t linger in your stomach; it passes through your digestive system swiftly and disappears via your feces.
- In a year, you swallow eight spiders while sleeping.
You don’t have to be an arachnophobe to be disturbed by the fact that you swallow eight spiders in your sleep on average every year. But have no fear, because that rumor is completely false. Those eight-legged web-spinners don’t attempt to come into touch with people on purpose, according to Scientific American, and the vibrations from a sleeping person would definitely startle a spider. So, although it’s possible that you might swallow a spider while sleeping, it’s unlikely, and there’s no proof that you do so eight times a year.
- From orbit, the Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure visible.
Many people believe that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made building that can be seen from space, but this is simply not true. According to Snopes, this fake statistic arose as a result of an effort to depict the wall’s massive size. The Great Wall is not the only observable object from low space at 180 miles altitude, nor is it the most identifiable. NASA photographs show that you can see “highways, airports, bridges, dams, and components of the Kennedy Space Center,” and that the wall can only be seen in radar scans, not with the naked eye or even a photograph, as you go farther into space.
- To spite the poor, Marie Antoinette exclaimed, “Let them Eat Cake.”
Marie Antoinette has long been reviled as a symbol of royal excess for remarking, “Let them eat cake,” in response to news that French populace were without bread in 1789. However, historians claim that the Queen of France made no such remark.
Similar myths had circulated for years before the late 18th century, according to History, including one concerning Maria Theresa of Spain, who married King Louis XIV in 1660. She has been accused of proposing that the French consume “la croûte de pâté” (pâté crust).
Furthermore, Lady Antonia Fraser, the author of Marie Antoinette’s biography, believes the remark did not come from the French monarch, who was not only generous but also compassionate toward the poor. “In witnessing the people who treat us so generously despite their own tragedy, we are more obligated than ever to strive hard for their pleasure,” she wrote to her mother on the day of her husband’s coronation.
- Napoleon Bonaparte was a short man.
Napoleon Bonaparte is sometimes represented as an aggressive guy of abnormally tiny stature, which gives rise to the phrase “Napoleon complex,” which refers to males who use hostility to compensate for their lack of height. According to History, Bonaparte was most likely of ordinary height, at little over 5’5″ tall. Historians believe the notion that he was unusually short stems from a series of caricatures of the general by British artist James Gillray in the early 1800s.
- Someone might be killed by a penny dropped from the Empire State Building.
According to Scientific American, a penny is too small and flat to gain enough natural momentum to cause any kind of fatal impact. If you were hit, it would feel like being flicked in the forehead “but not even very hard,” according to Louis Bloomfield, a physicist at the University of Virginia, who spoke to Life’s Little Mysteries via HuffPost.
- Albert Einstein didn’t do well in math class.
It’s amusing to believe that Albert Einstein was a bad student—so bad, in fact, that he failed his grade school arithmetic class—but that’s simply not true. According to a Time article, the idea had spread so far that it was the subject of a 1935 “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!” episode.
Einstein refuted the assertion, noting that he was at the top of his class in elementary school and that he “had mastered differential and integral calculus before I was 15.”
- Before filing a missing person’s report, you must wait 24 hours.
Countless police dramas and crime thrillers have helped spread the myth that you must wait 24 hours before filing a missing person’s report (which has always seemed a little unsettling to us). Fortunately, this is only a “fact” in the fictional world of entertainment. According to Child Find of America, there is no time limit on when you must report a missing person. In fact, acting within the first 48 hours is critical to successfully locating a missing person.
- You will get warts if you touch a toad.
Kissing a toad won’t turn it into a handsome prince, but touching one won’t give you unsightly bumps, according to National Geographic. While toads do have wart-like bumps on their skin, these are just glands that don’t secrete anything that can cause warts, dermatologist Jerry Litt told the publication that actual warts are only caused by human viruses.
- The apple is the forbidden fruit in the narrative of Adam and Eve.
Yes, the Bible says that Adam and Eve ate a forbidden fruit, but despite many Sunday school stories and visual representations depicting that fruit as an apple, it’s never mentioned in the text. According to NPR, the apple depiction arose from a mistranslation of the Hebrew Bible into Latin, which used the term “malus,” which means both “evil” and “apple.”
- After you die, your hair and fingernails continue to grow.
True, a person’s hair and nails may look longer after death, but this is due to the skin surrounding their nails and hair retracting over time due to dryness of the body, not because their hair and nails are truly growing, according to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
- A newborn bird’s mother will reject it if you contact it with your bare hands.
It’s long been assumed that if you pick up a lost baby bird and return it to its nest, its mother will reject it once she smells a human. That’s because it is, according to Scientific American. “In general, wild animals bond with their young and do not quickly abandon them,” Laura Simon of the Humane Society of the United States explained to the publication.
- Alcohol causes your body temperature to rise.
While you may feel warmer after drinking alcohol, that’s just the alcohol and your brain messing with the rest of your body; alcohol actually reduces your core body temperature, according to a widely regarded 2005 research published in the scientific journal Alcohol.
- Over-cracking your knuckles might lead to arthritis.
The world’s knuckle crackers can rest easy, at least in terms of arthritis, because cracking your knuckles does not increase your risk of developing the painful joint condition, according to Harvard Medical School. That cracking noise is actually caused by collapsing gas bubbles. However, cracking your knuckles too often may weaken the strength of your grip (not to mention aggravate the nerves of the people around you).
- Georgia produces more peaches than any other state in the country.
Georgia may be known as the Peach State, but California is the leading producer of peaches in the United States, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. Georgia, despite having peaches as its official state fruit, was not even among the top three producers in 2017. (For those who are curious, New Jersey was second and Pennsylvania was third.)
- In youngsters, sugar creates hyperactivity.
A conclusive 1995 meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that sugar in children’s meals had no effect on their behavior.
- Bats have no vision.
Contrary to common belief—and the cliché “as blind as a bat,” these nocturnal critters can see—in fact, bats “can see three times better than humans,” according to Rob Mies, former executive director of the Organization for Bat Conservation, who told National Geographic.
- Lightning never strikes again in the same place.
While the ancient saying “lightning never strikes twice” is still used today, it’s not true—at least not scientifically. NASA dispelled this myth in 2003, finding that “lightning clearly hits more than one area.” In fact, it happens roughly a third of the time!
- Human beings have just five senses.
Many of us have been taught that humans have five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing; however, these are simply the five fundamental senses. While Aristotle coined the term “five senses,” many scientists believe that humans have between 14 and 20 senses.
- Shaving your hair encourages it to regrow thicker.
Shaving your arm hair doesn’t change its color, rate of growth, or thickness, according to the Mayo Clinic. All it does is give it a blunt tip, which may seem more coarse as it grows out, but it isn’t in reality.
- Chameleons alter their appearance to blend in with their surroundings.
Yes, chameleons can change hues, but the myth here is that they do it to control their temperatures or communicate with other chameleons, not to conceal themselves.
- On July 4th, the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Of course, the Fourth of July is a national holiday in which Americans commemorate their country’s independence—but don’t confuse it with the date on which the Declaration of Independence was signed: while Congress approved the final declaration on July 4, 1776, the document wasn’t signed until August 2 of that year.
- Bananas are a kind of fruit that grows on trees.
We all know that money doesn’t grow on trees, but many of us assume that bananas do. Unfortunately, we’re incorrect once again: the plants bananas grow on are really “large herbs related to lilies and orchids,” according to the Rainforest Alliance.
- Dogs perspire through their tongues.
Many people believe that dogs sweat because their tongues hang when they pant, but according to the American Kennel Club, dogs’ merocrine sweat glands are located on their paw pads and function similarly to humans’. They also have apocrine sweat glands, but these are found all over the body, not just on their tongues. Dogs pant to evaporate moisture from their tongues, nasal passages, and the lining of their lungs, which does help to coo.
- Food that has been on the floor for less than five seconds is safe to consume.
In a 2017 study, researchers from Clemson University showed that when bologna and bread were placed on a surface infected with salmonella for five seconds, “a large quantity of germs migrated to the meal within five seconds.”
- Deserts are all scorching hot.
Known as polar deserts, these dry places may be found in Iran (named Dasht-e Lut) and Northern Greenland, for example, and are distinguished by their lack of precipitation. While most of the world’s most recognized deserts are undoubtedly hot, there are some deserts that can endure extreme cold.
- Fortune cookies are Chinese in origin.
The fortune cookie was invented by Suyeichi Okamura, a Japanese immigrant who ran a confectionary store in Northern California during the early 1900s, according to the National Museum of American History. When Japanese Americans were interned during World War II, Chinese Americans took over the business.
- The sun has a bright golden color.
“It is a common misconception that the sun is yellow or orange or even red,” according to the Stanford Solar Center. In reality, “the sun is essentially all colors mixed together, which appear to our eyes as white.” The reason we see the sun as yellow or orange most of the time is because those colored wavelengths, which are longer, are the only ones that make it to our eyes. The other short-wavelength colors—green, blue, and violet—become scattered by the atmosphere.
- Mexico’s Independence Day is celebrated on May 5th.
The Cinco de Mayo celebrations have nothing to do with Mexican independence, but rather with a military victory: on May 5, 1862, the Mexican army defeated France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. Though the country’s victory was short-lived, people all over the world commemorate the battle with fireworks and fiestas every year.
- If someone gets stung by a jellyfish, you should urinate on them.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the right approach to cure a jellyfish sting is with hot water, not pee. Not only is urine not an efficient treatment procedure, but it may potentially intensify the pain!
- President Richard Nixon was impeached and removed from office.
Official impeachment hearings against Richard Nixon began in May 1974, but the 37th president announced his resignation on August 8, 1974, before anyone could successfully remove him from office.
- White eggs are not as healthy as brown eggs.
The color of an egg’s shell is simply determined by the breed of chicken that lays it, and here’s a fascinating fact: chickens with white earlobes generally produce white eggs!
- It makes you sick to go outside with wet hair.
Colds are caused by viruses, and they don’t care whether your hair is wet or dry. “You cannot get a cold or the flu just by going out with wet hair during the winter,” Anita Skariah, DO, a physician specializing in internal medicine and pediatrics at UNC Healthcare, told Bustle.
- Nuts, such as peanuts, are a kind of nut.
Peanuts, despite their deceptive name, are a kind of legume linked to clovers and chickpeas. They’re sometimes served alongside nuts like walnuts and almonds, although they’re more closely related to clovers and chickpeas.
- Twinkies don’t have a shelf life.
Twinkies won’t keep you fed during a zombie apocalypse, according to Theresa Cogswell, former vice president of research and development at Interstate Bakeries Corp. (and a self-proclaimed Twinkie fanatic), who told The Washington Post that the sweet snack has a shelf life of only 25 days, which is still a long time in the world of pastries, but unlikely to last through a nuclear winter.
- There is just one sign language that everyone understands.
Sign language is a manual form of communication with variations depending on the country and region you’re in, just like any other language. For example, American Sign Language (ASL) in the United States uses a one-handed finger-spelling alphabet, whereas British Sign Language (BSL) in the United Kingdom uses a two-handed alphabet. And the differences don’t stop there!
- Sugar gives you a headache.
It’s not the sugar that’s causing your headache; it’s the rapid drop in your blood sugar levels. For some people, eating a carbohydrate-heavy meal causes excessive production of the sugar-regulating hormone insulin, which causes glucose levels to drop and results in the throbbing headache you get after eating one too many cupcakes.
- Infertility is caused by using your laptop on your lap.
This myth gained traction in 2011 when Argentinian researchers published a study in the journal Fertility and Sterility claiming that laptop radiation can affect sperm production, but other scientists quickly debunked the findings.
- In a coin toss, the chances are always 50-50.
While a group of Stanford University researchers flipped a lot of quarters in 2007, they discovered that a coin was more likely to fall on the face that it began on, putting your true chances at closer to 51-49, so pay attention to which side of the coin faces the sky when making your decision!
- Every living thing eventually dies.
While most living things die, there is one jellyfish species that doesn’t actually die: the Turritopsis dohrnii, which reverts back to a juvenile condition after reaching maturity, allowing it to spend another life alongside its children!
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