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As we go through life, there are many “facts” we assume to be true. But it turns out, some widespread beliefs are inaccurate despite being universally accepted. From science misconceptions to myths about health and nature, many common “facts” are wrong. Here are 14 examples of things most people believe that simply aren’t true. Get ready to reconsider what you thought you knew.
The Penny Drop
Many believe that dropping a penny from a tall building, like the Empire State Building, could kill someone below. In reality, due to its shape and mass, a penny would flutter down and might sting, but wouldn’t cause serious harm.
Goldfish Memory Span
The common belief that goldfish have a memory span of just a few seconds is false. In fact, goldfish have a memory span that can last months. They can be trained to recognize different sounds, shapes, and even to perform tricks.
Eating and Swimming
The old warning that you should wait an hour after eating before you swim to avoid cramps is largely a myth. While it’s true that digesting food requires blood flow to the stomach, and vigorous swimming immediately after a big meal might cause discomfort, for most casual swimming, there’s no real danger.
The Great Wall of China Visibility
Contrary to popular belief, the Great Wall of China isn’t visible from the Moon with the naked eye. It’s a myth that has been debunked many times over. In reality, it’s very difficult to see the Wall from space without aid.
Diamond Durability: Hard, But Not Unbreakable
Here’s a gem of wisdom for you: despite their reputation for being indestructible, diamonds can be shattered with a good, hard whack from a hammer. It’s all a matter of differentiating between hardness and strength. While diamonds rate a perfect 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness (making them the hardest known material), they’re not invincible. Their crystalline structure makes them susceptible to a forceful impact. So if you were planning a diamond heist, leave the hammer at home, okay?
The Real Rhythm of Belly Dance
Shake off your preconceptions along with those hip scarves! The belly dance wasn’t created to woo a sultan in a harem, despite what those old movies might suggest. This dance form, which engages the torso and hips, has its roots in community folk dance. Traditionally performed by both men and women during family celebrations, it represents joy and unity rather than seduction.
Nosebleed Know-How: Tilt Forward, Not Back
Here’s a bleeding important fact: when dealing with a nosebleed, tilt your head forward, not backward! This is contrary to the old wives’ tale that has us picturing ourselves as reverse Pez dispensers. Holding your head back during a nosebleed could cause blood to flow into your throat and stomach, leading to potential complications. Instead, tilt forward and apply pressure just above the bridge of your nose.
Unveiling the Truth about the North Star
Stargazers, take note! The North Star, or Polaris, is not the brightest celestial body in the night sky, nor is it part of the Big Dipper. It’s a part of the Little Bear (Ursa Minor) constellation and it owes its fame to its unique position aligned with the Earth’s axis, making it a consistent point of reference for navigators.
The Pillow Tag Rebellion
Sleep easier knowing this: you’re allowed to rip off those annoying tags from your pillows and mattresses! Contrary to what we’ve all been led to believe, it’s not illegal for consumers to remove these labels. The ‘do not remove’ warning is only applicable to retailers and manufacturers, who are required by law to list what’s inside the product for health and safety reasons.
Footloose on the Road
Put your best foot forward on this one: it’s not illegal to drive barefoot. While it might be unsafe and uncomfortable (ever tried braking barefoot?), there are no laws specifically prohibiting it. Of course, if your lack of footwear leads to an inability to control the vehicle, you could face charges related to reckless driving.
Unlocking Brain Myths
Here’s a no-brainer: the oft-repeated claim that we only use 10% of our brains is false. Modern brain imaging technologies have proven that we use all parts of our brain, although not all areas are active at all times. It’s a complex organ, so let’s put 100% into understanding it!
Turkey Tryptophan Myth: Gobbled Up
Feeling sleepy after your Thanksgiving feast? Don’t blame the turkey! The belief that the tryptophan in turkey makes you drowsy is a common myth. In fact, turkey contains no more of this amino acid than other common meats. The real culprits are likely the copious amounts of carbohydrates, alcohol, and overall excessive eating that often accompany holiday meals.
Lightning Storm Safety in Cars
Car safety during a lightning storm has nothing to do with the rubber tires. The metal frame of the car provides what’s called a Faraday cage effect, which essentially allows the electric charge to be conducted around the occupants inside, keeping them safe. Next time you’re caught in a thunderstorm, remember that it’s the car’s metallic body that’s your savior, not the tires.
Undercover Cops: No Badge Required
Next time you’re caught up in a real-life cop drama, remember this: undercover officers aren’t obligated to show their badge upon request. Despite what every cop show has led us to believe, they don’t need to reveal their identity, and in fact, doing so could blow their cover and jeopardize ongoing operations. So much for that classic TV trope!
Combat Days in WW2 vs Vietnam
Facts from the war front can often take us by surprise. American troops in WW2 saw an average of about 10 days of combat per year. However, in Vietnam, that figure rose to an average of 240 days a year. These statistics not only reveal the intensity of the Vietnam war but also shatter the common misconception about constant combat in WW2.
Gladiator Verdicts: It’s All In the Fist
Turns out, those famous “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” gestures didn’t decide the fate of a gladiator in ancient Rome. It was actually the audience who used these gestures to express their opinion, and the emperor who delivered the final verdict with either an open or closed fist. Sorry Hollywood, looks like the truth isn’t as thumbs up as you portrayed!
Tongue Map: A Tasty Myth
Put this one on the tip of your tongue: the idea of a ‘tongue map’ with specific regions for different tastes is a myth. All areas of the tongue can detect sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami flavors, even though some areas might be slightly more sensitive to certain tastes. It’s a symphony of taste all across your tongue!
Ye Olde Mispronunciation
The next time you pass by a shop with a sign that reads “Ye Olde Shoppe”, remember that the correct pronunciation is actually “The Old Shop”. The ‘Y’ was a way to write the “th” sound in Middle English, a letter known as a “thorn”. Regardless of what a Renaissance fair performer might tell you, keep this linguistic fun fact up your ruffled sleeve!