Sorry to break the news to you but you’ve been lied to. Your teachers, friends, family members, they’ve all been steering you in the wrong direction. Maybe not in general but definitely when it comes to some common “facts” that are actually false. From historical events that never actually happened to common knowledge that turned out to be false, these “facts” are nothing more than fiction.
Viking Helmets With Horns Are Not Historically Accurate
Sure, Vikings running around in horned helmets makes for some great moments in movies but there’s absolutely no verifiable truth to this highly touted “fact.” The National Museum of Denmark notes that only one fully intact viking helmet has ever been found and there were absolutely no horns.
The museum also points out that other helmets also never featured signs of attached horns, although some did have raised eyebrows which helped protect a vikings face during battle. Mind officially blown.
Pee-Activated Pool Dyes Don’t Exist So Hold Your Mouth Closed Underwater
This urban legend has been helped along by hilarious scenes in movies such as Grown Ups. Parents haven’t helped the urban myth because they believe it’s true and have regularly warned their children about peeing while swimming.
In reality, while there are some dyes that can react to urine (there are dyes that can react to a lot of things), there are simply too many false-positives that can create embarrassing situations do to other chemicals reacting with those dyes. Either way, please don’t pee in the pool, that’s what trees are for. Editor’s note: Use a bathroom.
Cow Tipping Just Doesn’t Make Sense According To Science
We dare you to attempt a cow tipping, even with four or five of your friends. Actually, we don’t because the cow will likely kick you in the head and you’ll tip over and maybe never get up again. This is easy to disprove based on simple physics.
Let’s say you were tipping over a normal-sized cow, a 2005 scientific study found that you would need to exert 650 pounds of force. You would have to accomplish that goal without alerting the cow and you’d need to accomplish the goal very fast and with just the right directional force. Don’t believe us? Go find a 1,400-pound dairy heifer and see for yourself.
Blind As A Bat? We Wish!
You’ve likely heard the saying “blind as a bat” and that saying alone is incredibly misleading. Some species of bats can actually see up to three times better than humans. The myth was perpetuated because bats use echolocation to hunt at night.
Phys.org notes that “Microbats have small eyes and well developed visual centres in the brain.” They might lean on their echolocation but bats can see you from far away and many species also have excellent hearing.
Truth Serum Is A Lie
If Sodium Pentothal worked as an actual truth serum interrogations would be a thing of the past, In reality, “truth serum” as it’s often called in movies and TV shows, is not the chemical compound of truth-telling.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) did test the psychoactive medication as an interrogation method but it mostly just caused hallucinations and lowered a person’s inhibitions. It turns out that most people given the substance wouldn’t shut up and it became impossible to tell their ranting lies from the truth.
Jackalopes Are Not Real But Their Backstory And Sightings Are Interesting
American folklore is strange. Take for example the Jackalope, a jackrabbit with antlers. In the 1930s two brothers in Douglas, Wyoming used their skills in taxidermy to place antlers on jackrabbits. The duo then sold the strange-looking creatures to local businesses.
This myth has been perpetuated by a viral infection called Shope Papilloma which causes large tumors to form on the heads of some jackrabbits. If you think you’re looking at a Jackalope it’s likely a virus-infected jackrabbit.
George Washington Had Fake Teeth But Not Made From Wood
If your history teachers told you about George Washington’s wooden teeth when you were allegedly being educated you’re not alone. This myth of American history was taught for years but it turns out George Washington never had wooden teeth.
What we do know is that Washington developed issues with his teeth in his early 20s and he did have dentures. His teeth over the years were made from metals, animal teeth, and even from the teeth of slaves. Mount Vernon has the only known pair of Washington’s fake teeth (pictured) and they were definitely not made from wood.
The Trojan War And It’s Mythical Trojan Horse
Mythical is the keyword here. Scholars generally agree that there was no such conflict as the Trojan War. Research dating back to the time of the supposed war points to the possibility of a local skirmish but nothing like the stories told by Homer is his many poems about the conflict.
Oxford University classicist Dr. Armand D’Angour says of this myth: “Archaeological evidence shows that Troy was indeed burned down; but the wooden horse is an imaginative fable, perhaps inspired by the way ancient siege-engines were clothed with damp horse-hides to stop them being set alight.” Wow.
Sorry Cartoons, Bulls Don’t Hate The Color Red
Bulls don’t care if a cape is red, blue, black, or white. What bulls don’t like is having a piece of cloth waved in front of their face. It’s annoying and we’d probably charge at someone doing the same thing to us.
Researchers have actually conducted tests using three different capes and they found that red, white, and blue capes led to a bull charging when waved in front of the animal. Moral of the story, don’t anger a bull by acting mean to it.
The Only Real Iron Maiden Has Released 39 Studio Albums
Alleged to have existed during the medieval age, the iron maiden was a contraption formed to fit a human body and then outfitted with spikes attached to a closing door. Once placed inside the victim of this device would fall fate to a painful and very spikey death.
In reality, there is absolutely no proof that such a contraption ever existed. The device is believed to be the fictional work of German philosopher Johann Philipp Siebenkees. His work, published in the late 1700s, talked of the alleged execution of a coin-forger in 1515. Later, the devices started popping up in museums and curators were accused of faking the devices by piecing together various contraptions that were unrelated.
Betty Crocker Was A Lie That Spanned Generations
We might love biting into a Betty Crocker dessert but that after taste is deceit! Betty Crocker was a fictional character who was created by Marjorie Husted as part of a campaign for the Washburn Crosby Company.
The first name Betty was used because it sounded American and wholesome while the name Crocker came from the last name of former Director of the Washburn Crosby Company, William Crocker. The company later hired a voice actress to play Betty Croker on the radio from the 1920s through the 1950s and then an actress to take over the role for TV.
We Have More Than Five Senses
Sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste might be the five senses we most associate with human beings but that’s not the limit of our potential. While it’s a fact that those five senses exist, researchers have argued that humans might have up to 33 senses!
Neuroscientists point to things such as equilibrioception, a sense of balance and kinaesthesia, a sense of movement. Even as we talk about our history, the present, and the future we are demonstrating chronoception or a sense of how we perceive time. There are so many senses that making sense of them can be difficult for the average person.
A Goldfish Has More Than A 3-Second Memory
You’ve likely heard that goldfish only have three seconds worth of memory. Your parents might have told you that overfeeding them would cause them to die because they would just keep forgetting they just ate. A group of researchers tested this theory by playing a loud sound every time they would feed a goldfish. A few months later they let the fish go in the wild. Eventually, they found the fish and played the sound which caused the fish to react just as it did in captivity.
Another study forced fish to push a lever to receive food, the fish easily found the lever and even when it was only set to work once a day they would return during that time to push the lever.
Different Parts Of Our Tongue Don’t Taste Different Things
The taste map was popular in schools for decades thanks to a Harvard professor who incorrectly translated a paper written in German in 1901 by David P Hanig. The Harvard psychologist misunderstood the context of the paper and their translation stuck for years.
This myth was further pushed along by Edwin G. Boring in 1940 when they published the book Sensation and Perception in the History of Experimental Psychology. We now know that our tongue can taste sweet, sour, bitter, and salty foods on all parts of its surface.
Touch A Toad And Get Warts!
This urban legend is the result of someone lying about warts from toads simply because their backs look like warts. In reality, there is absolutely no connection between these hop-happy creatures and warts.
Science tells us that warts are the result of a human virus. With that in mind, some toads do have glands that secrete a poison meant to harm would-be predators so we still would recommend washing your hands after touching them or you might feel some irritation.
There Was No Apple In The Story Of Adam And Eve
After being tempted by the devil in the Garden of Eden, Eve takes an apple from a forbidden tree and takes a bite, thus casting humans out of paradise. In reality, there was no apple mentioned in the original story found in Genesis.
The Latin word mălum (evil) was misinterpreted for the world mālum (apple) and it stuck. In reality, the story only speaks of a vague forbidden fruit that Eve was tempted to taste.
Coffee Does Not Cause Dehydration
It’s 100% true that coffee and tea are diuretics but they are both mild diuretics. This means they cause the kidneys to flush extra sodium and water from the body while we urinate. However, the amount of lost materials is negligible compared to the water they provide.
Researchers now understand that when drinking coffee and tea, our bodies are capable of absorbing the liquid it needs while expelling the excess.
The Great Wall Of China Can’t Be Seen By The Human Eye In Space
Many of us were taught in school that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object that can be seen from space. In reality, the Great Wall can’t be seen from space without near perfect conditions and when aided by some type of magnification.
Objects that can be seen by astronauts aboard a craft such as the International Space Station include the Greenhouses of Almería which is a 50,000 acre compound, the Bingham Canyon Mine, and many urban areas that are now producing a staggering amount of light pollution.
Chameleons Don’t Change Their Colors To Blend Into Their Environment
There are over 160 species of chameleon and they have all adapted to change between very specific colors. Live Science notes that those color changes have nothing to do with camouflage but are used for very different purposes.
A color change, for example, may signal a chameleon’s desire to mate, another color change will alert other chameleons to an approaching predator. If two chameleons are ready to fight each other they may also change their colors. Some even change color when they are pregnant. This was a myth perpetuated by cartoons!
NASA Spent Millions Developing Pens While Russia Just Used Pencils
As the story goes, during the space race of the 1960s, NASA spent millions of dollars trying to develop a pen that would write in space. Russia chose to just use pencils. It’s a great tale of bureaucracy but it’s false. NASA did, however, once pay $4,382.50 for 32 mechanical pencils. After much public outcry cheaper pencils were used. The problem with pencils is that their tips break easily in space and those tips can float away and damage sensitive equipment.
The Fisher Pen Company eventually solved the space programs problem by investing $1 million to create the popular “space pen.” The pen can write upside-down, operates in frigid or hot conditions, and even works underwater. NASA didn’t pay anything to develop the pen. If it gets too hot though, its ink turns green.
A Dropped Penny Won’t Kill You
Many people have heard that it’s unsafe to drop a penny off a building. At some point, a rumor was spread that a falling penny could gain enough momentum to kill a person. Is that really true though? Nope.
The terminal velocity if a penny is 30 to 50 mph. That’s not enough to kill someone, but it would definitely sting, and possibly leave a mark. So it’s best not to throw pennies off buildings anyway.
Chewing Gum Doesn’t Stay In Your Stomach For Seven Years
Everyone’s school teacher always warned against swallowing your chewing gum. While there are some dangers that can come from swallowing gum it won’t stay in your stomach for seven years. Chewing gum should pass through your digestive system within about 24 hours, and definitely no longer than 48 hours.
Now, there is the possibility when you swallow chewing gum that it can get caught in your windpipe, but you’ll know almost immediately when that happens.
Your Hair And Nails Won’t Keep Growing When You Die
The rumor that our hair and fingernails keep growing after we die is false, but the truth about what really happens isn’t for those easy grossed out. In reality, our bodies dehydrate after dying. Basically, our organs and skin dry and shrivel up, kind of like a raisin.
That means our nails and hair might appear to be “growing” but it’s actually our skin pulling back to make them appear longer. To combat this for open-casket funerals, funeral homes with lather on moisturizer for the showing.
You Can Go Ahead And Swim Right After You Eat
The myth seems to have come from a belief that your body is spending so much effort digesting that your muscles aren’t at full force, and you could cramp up or drown. While theoretically, this is possible, there has never been a documented drowning that was caused by a full stomach.
Every child had to sit around and wait for an unbearable 30 minutes after eating that hotdog because their mom said they couldn’t swim on a full stomach. Well, the lie-detector determined that was a lie.
The Average Human Doesn’t Ingest Spiders In Their Sleep
The story behind this goes that humans who sleep with their mouths open will have a spider drop down to investigate the warm, cozy “cave” AKA our throats. Then, oops, we swallow the spider. The problem with this creepy myth is that spiders actually avoid humans.
Humans give off a lot of vibrations like our beating heart. For small spiders, they take that as a danger sign. Spiders just wouldn’t dare crawl into a mysterious vibrating cave.
Chocolate And Fried Foods Aren’t The Cause Of Acne
Acne is common with teenagers (except the lucky few with flawless skin) and many of them believe that it’s their diet which contributes to the zits. In particular, chocolate and fried foods have been the scapegoat of teenage acne. While your diet can negatively affect your skin’s health, most teenage acne is purely hormonal.
If you’re an adult suffering from acne, a more likely culprit is dairy or stress. Considering adulthood is just being constantly stressed out, maybe we should all just accept our bad skin.
Shaving Your Hair Won’t Make It Grow Back Thicker
Shaving hair, whether you’re a man or a woman, will do nothing to thicken the individual hair. This myth stems from the fact that your hair might feel thick or coarse because when it begins to regrow, it is less flexible than the other hair.
This myth seems to affect women more than men, mostly because women don’t usually want their body hair to grow back even thicker than before. Teenage boys on the other hand probably love the idea that their mustache might grow in even thicker next time.
Your Heart Still Beats Even When You Sneeze
Outrageous sneezers might think that their heart actually stops when they sneeze, but it’s completely made up. While sneezing might seem to put a pause on your entire body the signal from your brain to your heart to keep it beating works just fine.
Sneezing can cause irregular blood flow though, which might cause your heart to beat irregularly for a moment, but it will quickly adjust. So, in the immortal words of Celine Dion, just remember that “my heart will go on.”
Your Eyes Won’t Actually Pop Out If You Sneeze With Them Open
A sneeze can come out at a speed of 200mph and that pressure is known to affect your nose, throat, sinuses, and lungs. It won’t affect your eyes though because they are way too secure in their sockets to move.
Keeping your eyes open while you sneeze can cause enough pressure to burst a blood vessel though. Luckily, that will heal itself in time. You’ll just have to deal with the embarrassment for a few days.
“Feed A Cold And Stave A Fever” Is Just A Plain Lie
You might have heard this saying uttered by a grandparent but the fact is that there is no cure for the common cold, and you can only really treat the symptoms of a fever. Both colds and fevers cause dehydration so “starving” isn’t the best idea.
It’s normal to adjust what you eat and drink depending on your symptoms. If you can’t stomach solid food then try chicken noodle soup or apple sauce as a way to feed your body and stay hydrated.
Being Cold Doesn’t Mean You’ll Catch A Cold
Physically being cold doesn’t mean you’re more likely to be infected by a virus or bacteria. Being outside in cold weather does increase your chances though. That’s because cold weather allows airborne viruses to thrive for longer.
For example, an influenza virus can last up to 24 hours at a temperature of 39 degrees Fahrenheit but lasts only 30 minutes in warmer climates. So while it doesn’t matter what your internal body temperature is, it does matter how cold it is where you live.
Cracking Your Joints Won’t Give You Arthritis
That popping sound that comes when you crack your knuckles or finger joints isn’t because of the bones rubbing together. It’s actually a result of gas bubbles that have formed over time between the bones. When you move or “crack” the joints the bubbles burst.
If you enjoy doing it then don’t worry because no studies have shown it to play a role in developing arthritis. We’re 99% sure this myth was thought up by a high school teacher who simply hated the sound.
Eating Eggs Isn’t Bad For Your Heart
Eggs have gotten a bad rap for years by people claiming they negatively affect our cholesterol levels. That’s because of the high-fat levels in eggs, but the thing is, the fat in eggs is good fat. Cholesterol is made worse by saturated and trans fats, not healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Eggs contain a bunch of good things like omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamin D. They do have some saturated fats so if you’re worried, limit your egg intake to six per week.
Go Ahead And Eat That Watermelon Seed
Ah, the watermelon seed myth. We’re not sure is this was started as a ploy by parents to make sure their kids don’t eat the seeds, or if it’s just a school-yard joke that went too far. Whatever it was, almost every child has heard it and, luckily, it’s a complete lie.
No, the seeds won’t grow a watermelon in your stomach and in fact, they will barely do any damage. There’s a small chance a seed could cause bowel inflammation but it’s very unlikely.
Sitting Too Close To The TV Won’t Ruin Your Eyesight
The myth that you shouldn’t sit so close to a TV began in the 1960s when a study showed that GE TV’s emitted 100,000 times more radiation than what the government considered safe. Well, televisions and electronics have come a long way and no longer emit terrible rays that can ruin your eyesight.
It is true though that prolonged use of electronics as a kid can speed up vision problems that would likely still happen later in life. You can sit close to the TV but it’s probably a good idea to limit screen time anyways.
Sunburns Definitely Won’t Develop Into A “Base Tan”
The first sunburn of the year always sucks but many people take joy in it because they think it will fade into a tan. Not only is that wrong but it’s also dangerous. Sunburns affects a different level of your skin and can cause lifelong damage. On the other hand, a suntan happens gradually as the skin produces more melanin.
Getting sunburnt won’t help you achieve a sun-kissed look and one bad sunburn can increase your risk of melanoma skin cancer by 50%. It’s not worth it.
STIs Can’t Be Transmitted Through Dirty Toilet Seats
We’re not saying that toilet seats are the cleanest place on earth, but we are saying you won’t have to worry about picking up a venereal disease when you sit on one. Venereal diseases like STIs (sexually transmitted infections) don’t live long outside the body, especially not on a cold toilet seat.
There are some STIs like herpes and chlamydia that can be transferred through saliva and blood. Unless you’re kissing the toilet seat (and we really, really hope you aren’t) then you’re fine.
Waking Sleepwalkers Isn’t A Big Deal
There is a long-standing myth that you shouldn’t wake a sleepwalker that’s false…kind of. It is definitely a myth that waking up a sleepwalker will cause them to go into shock or brain damage. You don’t have to worry about that.
Waking up a sleepwalker can be dangerous to the sleepwalker or yourself though. That’s because waking them up might confuse or distress the sleepwalker and they may act out and try to hit anyone close to them.
Tupac Shakur Is NOT Alive
Sorry to burst your bubble if you’re one of the millions of Tupac Shakur fans that chooses to believe the legendary rapper is still alive. He isn’t. The whole tragic lie started when a fake CNN website posted a story about Shakur, after “dying,” shopping in Beverly Hills with his friends.
Fans, eager to believe the icon was still breathing, made the article go viral. Of course, the media was quick to point out the story wasn’t actually reported by CNN. Still, once it was on the internet, fans chose to believe what they wanted to anyway.
There Is No Evidence That Walt Disney Is Cryogenically Frozen
This is one of the longest enduring celebrity myths of all-time. We can say with near certainty that Walt Disney did not cryogenically freeze himself to avoid death. The story goes like this; Disney was going to die from cancer, but being aware of cryogenics, decided to freeze his body until there was a cure instead.
It is most commonly believed he is stored away at one of his many theme parks, underneath a ride; probably Pirates of the Caribbean. There is absolutely zero evidence, however, to support any of these outlandish claims.