20 Myths A Lot of People Think Are True

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Now that the internet exists, you would think that people wouldn’t be fooled by fake information anymore, but let’s be real: that’s not the case.

Sometimes you hear a fact so many times you think, “Well it has to be true.” But actually, it isn’t.

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Many people still believe the myth that if you touch a baby bird, the parents won’t care for it anymore.

People cite a lot of reasons for this: the mother bird will smell the human scent, the mother bird will detect human oils, human oils will make it so the little bird will never be able to fly. They are all false. If you see a baby bird that can’t fly yet on the ground, there’s no harm in putting it back in its nest. The bird parents will likely happily accept it. But if it’s a fledgling or a bird that’s just learning how to fly, there’s no reason to pick it up; it’s parents are likely nearby.

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People think that if you ask an undercover cop is they are an undercover cop, they have to tell the truth.

But they definitely don’t. An undercover cop does not have to reveal that they are a cop, even if the person asks. Even if the person asks nicely! This is just a myth; there is no law requiring this. The reason a lot of people think this myth is true is because in some cases a defendant can get out of a charge by what’s called entrapment. Entrapment is when a police officer encourages someone to commit a crime they otherwise would not have committed. But it doesn’t apply to someone committing a crime simply because they didn’t know someone was a police officer.

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Have you ever heard that we only use 10% of our brains? That’s a lie.

You probably heard this one in elementary school. The movie Matilda was based on it! Oh, if only we could access the other 90% of our human brains think of all the things we could do! Fly! Levitate! Remember where we left our keys! Except we definitely use more than 10% of our brains. Our brains are divided up into different sections, and each section is responsible for something different. So while we may not use all of our brains at one time, we are using it all. Unless you’ve had a lobotomy.

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No, you don’t eat 8 spiders a year in your sleep.

This one is just made up. And it’s been passed down for years. Humans do not eat 8 spiders a year, or 10, or 5 or whatever number you heard. Humans eat roughly zero spiders a year in their sleep. Think about it from the spiders’ perspective, why would they crawl into an open mouth to their death?

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It’s perfectly fine to wake someone who is sleepwalking.

For some reason, there is a myth that it can kill someone to wake them up if they are sleepwalking. Why? The myth is never quite clear on that part. But the truth is, while it may be confusing for the sleepwalker to be woken up, it won’t hurt them in any way. It may actually help them, sleepwalkers frequently injure themselves and have even been known to walk through glass doors, leave their houses, and fall down stairs. So go ahead and wake up your creepy sleepwalking brother before he falls in the pool. On the next page find out the strange way some people think you can easily die from using a household appliance.

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Throwing rice at weddings won’t make birds explode.

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This myth is basically that if you throw dry rice and a bird eats it, the rice will expand in the bird’s stomach and the bird will explode. It would make for an interesting wedding reception for sure if it were true, but it’s not. Think about it logically; it takes boiling water to make rice expand, if a bird’s stomach were as hot as boiling water, the bird would probably have blown up long before it had any rice. Apparently, this rumor was started by Ann Landers in one of her advice columns and was corrected by outraged orinologists everywhere. Even so, this myth has basically made throwing rice at weddings a thing of the past, which probably nice for wedding venues who no longer have to clean up 1,000 grains of rice from their front steps. Maybe Ann was working for them all along.

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While we are on the subject, Alka-Seltzer won’t make seagulls explode, either.

I know, I know, but your cousin’s friend tried it, and it totally worked! The myth is that because seagulls can’t pass gas or burp, if you feed them Alka-seltzer, they won’t be able to contain the bubbles in their stomachs, and they will explode. But it’s not true, and when you think about it, it’s really dumb. Birds are actually known for regurgitating, that’s how they feed their babies. So a seagull definitely can burp. While it’s probably not great to feed a wild animal any medicine intended for humans, you can’t blow up seagulls with Alka-Seltzer no matter what your cousin’s friend says.

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Fans won’t kill you while you sleep.

This myth isn’t very prevalent in America, but in Korea, it’s widely believed that if you sleep in a room with all the windows closed and a fan on, you may suffocate or die of hypothermia. This myth is so popular, fan manufacturers sometimes even issue warnings not to sleep in a room with a running fan and closed windows and not to point the fan directly at a person. Some fans even come with timers so they will turn off before death occurs.

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The ancient Romans didn’t vomit up their food so they could eat more during large feasts.

You’ve definitely heard this one, maybe even from a history teacher. But sadly, the Romans were not as disgusting as we’d like to believe. While they did have rooms called “vomitoriums,” the rooms weren’t a place where people could throw up their food to make room for more. They were additional rooms added to large structures to make leaving the spaces easier, like how a stadium has tons of exits so everyone doesn’t cram in or out at once. The rooms were for “vomiting” people, not the contents of their stomachs.

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People didn’t have shorter lifespans in the past.

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You hear this all the time: people of the past only lived on average to be like 50. Sixty year old were elderly and dying of old age left and right. This makes it seems like humans used to age faster than we do now, but that’s not true. Humans age at the same rate we always did, it’s just that modern medicine has gotten better. In America, infants and mothers don’t die as often in childbirth, children don’t die of disease as much thanks to vaccines, people no longer die of things like broken bones and infected wounds, and adults get more medical care as they age. Have you fallen for any of these? You might have fallen for the next one; it’s pretty common!

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George Washington did not have wooden teeth.

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Wooden teeth sound completely impractical and frankly, painful (mouth splinters, anyone?). George Washington probably would have thought so, too. His teeth were actually made of gold, ivory, lead, and various types of animal (including hippo!) and human teeth. Is that better? Honestly, it’s hard to say; it’s still pretty shocking to find out our first president had a mouth full of hippo.

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Twinkies won’t last forever.

Some people claim that Twinkies are not really made of food, only a combination of chemicals, so they have an infinite shelf life. Sadly, Twinkies shouldn’t be the food you stock up your secret bunker with. They only have a shelf life of 45 days, not even two months, before they go bad. And sorry to disappoint you, but they are actually food. However, they don’t have any dairy in them, which accounts for their longer than average shelf life for a baked good.

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Dogs don’t see in black and white.

Many people think that dogs can’t see color, but that’s not true. Dogs can see color, just not as many colors as humans can. Dog vision is similar to a human with red-green color blindness; they don’t see reds and greens as vibrant as humans can. However, don’t feel too bad for them because guess what? Humans can’t see all the colors, either! We can’t see infrared light or ultraviolet light, but some animals like spiders and snakes, can.

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Napoleon wasn’t really short.

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People talk about a “Napoleon Complex” when short people are overly aggressive to compensate for their lack of stature. But Napoleon wasn’t actually short. He was 5’2, but 5’2 in French feet, which are different than regular feet. He was actually 5’7, which is about average for a man. But he was always surrounded by his guards, who were very tall, making him appear short in paintings.

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Drinking cold water won’t make you fat.

This myth is common among Chinese people, as it originates from Chinese medicine, but it has also been perpetuated by fitness and diet enthusiasts in the US. The idea is that cold water slows down your metabolism, making you gain weight. But the problem is that’s impossible. You gain weight by how many calories you take in and water has zero calories, meaning drinking water of any temperature cannot make you gain more fat. However, since you can drink a lot more cold water at one time than hot water, it may make you feel as though you’ve gained weight, but it won’t actually add any fat to your body. So go ahead and drink your water at any temperature you like. Next up is a common cooking myth! Turn the page to find out what it is.

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Alcohol in recipes goes away after baking or cooking.

Many recipes call for a little bit of alcohol, and people usually say something like “Don’t worry, it cooks off” before handing the food to a kid or someone who doesn’t drink. Actually, this isn’t completely true. Alcohol content is reduced during cooking or baking, but it doesn’t go away completely. When searing a dish, it is only reduced by about 25%. Baking will reduce alcohol more, but about 25% of it will remain after an hour of baking. However, most recipes call for such a small amount of booze; it is impossible to actually get drunk off them.

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You don’t lose most of your body heat through your head.

This is a common argument for moms who are trying to get their kids to wear a winter hat. But if it were true, we could all just walk around all winter with just a hat on and a light jacket. The truth is you lose heat at the same rate through your head as you do everywhere else, but covering up your head on a cold day will help you stay warmer. But so will wearing gloves, coats, scarves, and socks, too.

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If you swallow gum it won’t stay in your body for eight years.

Gum isn’t any different from any other food you swallow; it’s coming right out the other end in a few hours.

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You don’t have to wait 24 hours to report someone missing.

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You could and should report someone missing as soon as you realize they’ve gone missing. It’s possible that the police will tell you they are going to wait before they investigate the missing person, but it’s not up to you to wait.

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Sorry, but doing crunches won’t give you a flat stomach.

You see it on TV all the time: all you have to do is use this amazing ab machine for 10 minutes a day, and you’ll have flat abs in no time! Unfortunately, that’s not really how it works. You can’t target fat loss on your body; you can only build muscles. So just doing crunches alone won’t give you a flat stomach. If you don’t eat a healthy diet and do cardiovascular or full-body weight training exercises in addition to crunches, you’ll just keep building the muscles under your belly fat and never lose the layer that’s covering them. Did you believe any of these common myths? Share this with your friends and see if they did, too!

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