Human beings believe an incredible amount of things that are not, and never have been true. Such man-made myths come out of our cultural ideologies, religious dogma, popular arts, and urban mythology. It is odd how many of these man-made ideas get lost in the human zeitgeist, only to be passed on and learned by so many of us, that we come to believe them ever real in the first place. This article is not going to focus on the why, but rather the what of human myth making. We will explore 30 things that people still believe from the past, yet hang on to as truth even today.
It is our hope that readers will learn something, argue about it with friends, and get some good laughs out of these myths exposed for possibly the first time. May your mind be blown and may you forget everything you have ever known. The truth maybe out there, but not in these cases.
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Lightning Never Strikes Twice
An old-time myth says that lightning never strikes in the same place twice, but this isn’t true. In reality, lightning always finds the path of least resistance. A lightning bolt will seek out the fastest route toward the ground. All such strikes literally ground out into the Earth, although sometimes into trees and other objects adjacent to the land under foot. An amazing fact states that the Empire State Building gets hit by lightning strikes approximately 100 times annually. So one myth blown away to begin our list of man-made myths.
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Humans Only Use 10% of Their Brains
This myth must have been made up by human beings that only use their brains part-time, because there is no basis to it in scientific fact. Although your brain might not be using every part of itself from moment to moment, most of the brain does get used in the average day. In a 24 hour period, your brain uses everything to keep the body and internal system functioning. So quit spreading the idea that people only use 10 percent of our brain cells all their lives. Please, it is embarrassing to think about.
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Never Eat Before Going Swimming
Almost everyone has heard this from their mother or other guardians in the summer time. Despite this wide-spread belief about aquatic athletics, nothing actually correlates any link between eating and getting cramps while swimming. The human body is perfectly able to digest a full meal and go out to the pool. This is also true for lakes, oceans, and other bodies of water. Swimming after you eat is alright, but this myth has ruined many a childhood day in the sun, at least for 30 minutes or so.
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Household Fans Will Blow Away Oxygen
This seems like it would obviously be false, but nobody questions this odd myth and it has been around for nearly a century. It is a quite popular myth coming from the Korean lands that claims leaving a room fan on will eventually blow away all the oxygen contained within a space, because the oxygen will all gather up on one side of a room. Apparently somebody though you might die, if you decided to stand on the oxygen free side of the area. Or maybe some other lucky person could live by hogging all the air on the opposite side of the household. Don’t hold your breath on this one being true kids.
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Human Blood Turns Blue Until Oxygenated
It is the veins in your arms creating the illusion which supposedly supports this modern myth. All blood turns a very dark color without oxygen, it really is almost black internally. Once the dark-colored and deoxygenated blood circulates through the respiratory system, it becomes rich with oxygen causing it to appear crimson in color. It is blood seen moving through the veins without oxygen that appears blue, mainly due to the filtering of the skin layers that make blood appear blue until oxygenated. Weird, isn’t it.
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Swords Have A Groove To Drain Blood
This falsehood must date back to the are of knights and damsels, since it involves a design concept called the fuller in swords. Since first made in history, swords have had a grooved fuller, but this part of the design is assumed by many to be used for draining blood. In fact, despite being called the blood groove through the centuries, it is really just an etched out section to make the entire sword weight less. The lighter sword makes it easier to maneuver in combat and makes for a stylish bit of metallurgic artistry.
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Plated Armor Is Heavy And Constricting
Another knightly myth is probably a historical assumption made by scholars that never wore a suit of real armor, or chain mail for that matter. Research historians know that the invention of plate armor was an attempt to upgrade maneuverability of knights in combat. Around the post 14th century, plated armor became the cutting edge of such military technology, as it weighed less than chain mail and allowed warriors to breathe easier. Plated armor actually is less heavy, than military standard issue battle wear in the armed forces deployments used today, including the carry on gear for individual soldiers.
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Flies Have A Lifespan Of 24 Hours
Many people believe that flies have a life cycle lasting one day, or even less. This is far from true, unless you are referring to flies that end up hit by a fly swatter. Truth be told, flies can live anywhere from a few days to several years time. Their lifespan is dependent on the particular fly species and the conditions that the fly is living in. Inside modern homes, the common house fly can live an average life lasting up to a month, sometimes longer. One day is a short-sighted myth that flies have been living with in shame too long.
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Velociraptors In Jurassic Park Looked Like…
The field of paleontology is often misrepresented in science, but nothing like the bad interpretation it is given by Hollywood scripts. Movies like Jurassic Park are a prime example. The velociraptor is a dinosaur that is presumed to have a major bird-like appearance, it probably even had feathers and molted during the seasons. Unfortunately, the lizard-like velociraptors in Spielberg’s movie are mostly creativity and not scientific data being utilized, but we all can’t be paleontologists.
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Mercury Is The Hottest Nearby Planet
In the solar system, Mercury is not actually the hottest planet, although it is closest to our sun. Venus is actually the hottest nearby planet, as it has an average temperature of 864 degree Fahrenheit on the surface. Mercury has been assumed hotter, because it is closer to the sun. Although Venus has a greenhouse effect of sorts that causes the whole planet to be like a gigantic sauna or swamp-like unlivable environment. Sorry little Mercury, but Venus wins props for this myth in our list.
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Astronauts Never Landed On The Moon
If anyone believes this myth, it is because they have not really investigated the evidence. Even measuring the distance from Earth to the moon can be done with a simple laser beam, so traveling there is far from impossible. The evidence is overwhelming, because we left lots behind to prove our astronauts made it there. The moon is full of space junk left by the visiting astronauts on the moon. So it is safe to say, this evidence is proof that we did land on the moon.
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The Rings Of Saturn Are Solid
This is another interplanetary falsehood. Not only are the rings of Saturn far from solid, they are made up of many different elemental parts. There is dust, ice, chunks of rock, and other materials that make up Saturn’s rings. These parts range from a kilometer in size to some that are almost microscopic. So don’t believe the hype, these rings are anything but solid, in fact you could fly through them carefully. Although it isn’t advisable unless you are an astronaut.
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Sailing By The North Star’s Brightness
Yes it is true that sailors and navigators have been using the North Star (Polaris) to guide them for centuries, but not because it is so very bright. Brightness may allow for seeing the North Star more easily, but its navigational properties have to do with positioning. The North Star Polaris is the only star that does not seem to move position in the sky. Over the course of a night, sailors were still able to navigate accurately with it because of this.
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Cracking Your Knuckles Causes Arthritis
This is among many old wives’ tales still believed today. Knuckle cracking does not cause or give you arthritis. Even though the act of cracking your knuckles sounds awful, it is not any more harmful than many other activities using the hands. In reality, there is no reason to think that cracking your knuckles will cause you to get arthritis, but your friends might appreciate it if you stop doing so.
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Gun Silencers Don’t Actually Work
Some people argue that real gun silencers aren’t very quiet, well this isn’t true. Silencers on any gun will muffle the sound of it being fired. Depending on what type of firearm it is, the typical gun silencer reduces the noise by about 14 to 43 decibels. This is still very loud to the ears, but is a considerable amount less than without using a silencing mechanism. So gun silencers do actually work, and they work rather well.
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Truth Serums Actually Do Work
Well this is a two-sided argument. In a way, truth serums do work. Giving anyone a dose of Amytal Sodium will act as a truth serum, as it may make them more apt to talk about things that they would normally keep to themselves. Although no truth serum actually can keep them from telling lies to you. So truth serums only work in getting people to be more talkative, not keeping them from lying. So you must decide the truth on this myth.
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Never Awaken Anyone Sleepwalking
This myth says that waking up a sleepwalking person may cause them harm, either by scaring them or that they may try to hurt the walker. The truth is that most sleepwalkers are less likely to be injured by being awakened, than they are likely to hurt themselves while walking about in their deep sleep trance state. So if you must, wake up a sleepwalking friend and just be careful when you do. You are the one who might get punched or slapped when doing so.
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Apple Computers Never Get Computer Viruses
This myth is more about hackers attacking the majority than the minority, when it comes to computers. For anyone who thinks that Macs or Apple computers don’t get viruses, they do sometimes. Truth be told, the majority of computer viruses are aimed directly at Microsoft software, often avoiding Apple computers altogether. Also the file tagging on older Mac systems helped avoid some computer viruses, but not all of them.
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Drop A Penny From Way High Up
This myths says dropping a penny from the top of the Empire State Building will kill someone on impact. Really that penny probably won’t kill anyone, even when dropped from way up high like that, but it could hurt them. Traveling at a speed of 50 miles per hour, it is possible that a penny would injure someone on impact, but the mass probably would be too small to kill them. So don’t drop pennies on people from way high up, it isn’t nice.
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Ostriches Don’t Bury Their Heads In Sand
This is an odd myth, because no ostrich has ever consciously buried its own head in the sand. What ostriches do however is lay eggs and bury them under the sand. After doing this, the parent ostriches will check on them several times a day or more often. While checking on their eggs, it might appear that they are keeping their heads in the sand, but not burying them at all. Nice to clear that up for everyone out there.
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Bananas Really Do Grow On Trees
Everyone knows bananas grow on trees, don’t they? Well bananas actually don’t grow on trees. Some people may call it a banana tree, because it definitely appears to be tall enough and big enough to be a tree. But it’s not, the so-called banana tree is actually a herbaceous plant, in other words it is an herb. It is just a really, really big herb. It is very hard to tell the difference, for most untrained observers. Especially banana lovers might get this confused, since the size will fool you.
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Hydrogen Peroxide Will Help Heal Wounds
This maybe news to many, but hydrogen peroxide does not help wounds to heal. It does act as an antiseptic, when a wound is new and will probably slow the bleeding. Even so, it does not help with the wound healing process. Truth be told, hydrogen peroxide causes cellular damage, which will make the healing time take longer. So after initially using it, don’t keep using hydrogen peroxide on your wounds, it doesn’t help.
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The Great Wall Is Visible From Outer Space
This is a big myth about a very large human construction. It is a misconception that anyone can see the Great Wall of China from up in space. This is a big false concept. Even from the International Space Station, the Great Wall cannot be seen. The ISS is positioned at approximately 173 miles high above the Earth, which isn’t considered true outer space. The best way to see the Great Wall is on Earth, while visiting it in China. It is much more visible as a visiting tourist.
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Goldfish Have Only Three Second Memories
This is simply not true, and is a myth that needs to be undone. Goldfish have better than normal memories for their species, and much better than three seconds of memory. Goldfish are known to actually have very good memory capacity. They can be taught to respond to various types of stimuli, so they are actually trainable for being a fish. Most aquatic species are not as smart as the average goldfish, so tell your friends and anyone you know who has goldfish.
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One Dog Year Is Equal To Seven Human Years
This maybe bad news for some dogs, especially for the really old ones living out there. The myth says that one dog year is equal to seven human years, when it comes to physical age. In fact, depending on what breed the dog is, one dog year may actually equal fifteen human years. That makes for some very old dogs living out there. At least if we are going by typical calendar years, so be nice to your old dog with this in mind. They maybe older than you think.
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Pangea Was The Name Of Earth’s Original Continent
See if you can remember this one from your childhood school days. In school you might have learned the idea that the world was one very large single continent. All the current continents were split apart from this original supercontinent named Pangea, or was that the right name. Actually Pangea was the seventh continent that split apart, the first one was named Vaalbara. Don’t worry, most people have never heard of this, or they were taught it wrong by their scholastic teachers.
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Hair And Finger Nails Continue Growing After Death
This is easily the most creepy myth on the list. In fact, when you die, your entire body start the process of decaying. Since the skin layers start to dry out first, they begin to recede. This gives the appearance that the hair and nails are continuing to grow. But this is simply a physiological illusion of sorts. Human nails and hair do not continue to grow after the body dies, they stop growing like everything else physically. So stop believing this very creepy and very gross human myth, it is not true and thank goodness it is not.
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Clouds Have No Measurable Mass Or Weight
Nope, this myth can be outed by science today. The popular unit of measure for cloud mass is called the Elephant. According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, this unit of measure is utilized worldwide and different climates cause the calculations to be slightly different when weighing clouds. For instance, the average cumulus cloud over the United States weighs in at the equivalent mass of 100 elephants. That is a lot of elephants, especially up in the sky, where you never expect elephants to be.
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There Are Three States Of Matter In Science
This myth will make you want to forget everything you ever learned in school, but mainly in science classes. Most of you dedicated science nerds will know that there are supposedly three states of matter scientifically, isn’t that right? Wrong, there are not three states of matter. There are actually a total of four states of matter; they are named solids, liquids, gases and plasmas. So put that in your notes for science class and try to remember it next time. There will be a quiz about this later, so study hard and be ready.
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The Odds Are 50/50 When Flipping A Coin
This one maybe a little confusing, but thankfully it is the last myth on our list. The odd are not 50/50 when flipping a normal coin. Stanford University students tested this time-honored coin flip tradition, and this is what they found out. If a coin flips and lands on heads the first time, it is progressively more likely to land on heads again. The Stanford student testers found that the odds on any coin flip are approximately 51/49. Isn’t that interesting, after you take some time to let it sink in. One assumes the same is true if the coin first landed on tails, but maybe it is a double-headed coin. Either way, the myth does not stand the test of scientific inquiry.