15 Lies You’ve Believed for Your Whole Life

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Newsflash: Everything you’ve ever known is a total lie.

OK, maybe not everything. 

But there are a number of “facts” that you’ve probably repeated to other people that are actually incorrect. And because everyone loves a pedant, I’ve decided to share them with you here.

In fact, they do. They have a shelf life of about 45 days but are typically only on store shelves for 7–10 days. Here’s hoping you weren’t storing up a bunch of them to chow down on during the apocalypse!

Ounce for ounce, espresso does have more caffeine than coffee — but a cup of coffee is much than an ounce. Even though the concentration of caffeine is higher in espresso, the higher volume of a standard cup of coffee results in its having more of that sweet, sweet drug.  

So if you’re looking for a morning pick-me-up, your best bet is to get a cup of coffee. Or several shots of espresso.

Actually, the fortune cookie that you encounter at most Chinese restaurants in the U.S. was invented in Japan and brought to the U.S. by the Japanese. They’re quite uncommon in China and are considered a symbol of American cuisine. Go figure, right?  

We all seem to have this collective assumption that the “witches” in Salem were burned at the stake. In reality, that’s not what happened. About 15 of the accused died in prison, 19 were hanged, and one was pressed to death with heavy rocks.

Not so! Napoleon was 5’7″ — actually above average compared to his fellow Frenchmen!

The confusion surrounding Napoleon’s height comes from the fact that after his death, his height was recorded as 5’2″ — but that was in French feet. That’s equivalent to — you guessed it — 5’7″ in Imperial measurements. There’s also the fact that Napoleon was often surrounded by members of his imperial guard, all of whom had been chosen specifically for their height. Naturally, he was shorter by comparison.

That’s not how entrapment works. Police officers do not have to disclose that they’re cops during sting operations or when they’re undercover.

In fact, they’re allowed to straight-up lie to you. Entrapment law is actually more concerned with law enforcement officers coercing people into committing crimes which they wouldn’t otherwise have committed.

Some people like to get fancy and say things like “ye olde tavern” and pronounce that first word with a Y sound. But that’s simply not correct. The confusion comes from the Middle English character þ (called a thorn). It makes the “th” sound and was often used as an abbreviation for the word “the.” When written out, it kind of resembles the word “ye.” But rest assured. The word “the” has always been “the.”

The “chubby Buddha” or “laughing Buddha” statues don’t depict the Buddha at all. Rather, they’re statues of a 10th-century folk hero named Budai. He’s considered by some to be an incarnation of the Bodhisattva who will become a Buddha after the teachings of the historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) are forgotten.

And while we’re talking about the Buddha, you should probably also know that he’s not a god. (Although some followers of Pure Land Buddhism do consider the Buddha to be a savior.)

Put the pitchforks down, people. There is no war on Christmas. The letter X stands for the Greek letter chi, which is the first letter in “Christ.” X has long been used as an abbreviation for “Christ.”

In fact, the word “Xmas” goes back pretty far in history — it started well before the perceived “war on Christmas.” The earliest recorded use of “Xmas” to mean “Christmas” is from 1551.

Setting aside the many truly awful things that the guy did, Christopher Columbus didn’t even ever step foot on what would eventually become American soil — just in case you were looking for yet another reason we probably shouldn’t be celebrating him. Most of his landings were on Caribbean islands which are independent countries today. Nice try, Columbus.

No, they didn’t. The image of Vikings in horned helmets is actually based on an 1876 production of Der Ring des Nibelungen opera cycle by Richard Wagner.

Well, he didn’t have wooden teeth, but they were teeth you probably still wouldn’t want in your own mouth. Washington’s teeth were made of gold, hippo ivory, lead, and teeth from various animals. His dentures also included teeth from human slaves.

Putting metal in microwaves doesn’t have any effect on the oven’s electronics — that’s why certain pieces of metal (like Hot Pocket sleeves and pizza-cooking platforms) are totally fine to microwave. However, you might notice electrical arcing that could damage your skin or the actual interior of the oven. So you probably shouldn’t go sticking forks into microwaves all willy-nilly.

There’s no consistent data proving that MSG triggers migraines. There have been several reports about people who are MSG-sensitive, but it hasn’t been demonstrated in placebo-controlled experiments.

Ancient Romans did have architectural features called vomitoriums, but they were not separate rooms meant specifically for vomiting. Vomitoriums were actually an entranceway through which people entered into stadiums.