25 Popular Myths Debunked

Posted by on November 8, 2011

Many times the things we think of as common knowledge are little more than myths and urban legends. So, while there may be some experienced myth busters among you, we know that others of you will probably have to face some hard facts by the time you reach the bottom. At any rate, this list is by no means exhaustive so if you have any other popular myths or urban legends on your mind go ahead and leave a comment.


25

Vikings had horns on their helmets

There is some truth to this. Archaeological finds have discovered helmets with horns and wings, but these have always been designated for the priests to wear during ceremonies. Vikings warriors did not wear them into battle. In fact, it is debatable whether Viking warriors wore helmets at all. So where did this myth come from? It most likely started with the ancient Roman and Greek writers like Plutarch, who vividly described the northern tribes as wearing all manner of strange things on their heads.

24

Bananas grow on trees

Although we all call it a “banana tree” the stem doesn’t contain true woody tissue. In reality it is a herbaceous plant, or “herb”. Spread the word.

23

Irregardless is not a word

Oh but it is. You might not like it, and your English teacher might not like it, but just don’t make any bets that it’s not in the dictionary. Of course, it’s considered non-standard and most people would probably prefer “regardless” or “irrespective”, but that is a matter of preference.

22

Poinsettias are lethal

Poor Poinsettias, everyone steers clear of them. The myth was started sometime in the 20th century shortly after they were brought over from Mexico. The child of a military officer allegedly died upon consuming a poinsettia leaf. As a result of this rumor the toxic properties of this plant have been highly exaggerated. Of course, you may want to keep it away from your pets because consumption can result in an upset stomach, but trust us, they’ll live.

21

Humans have 5 senses

This is common knowledge right? Well, in the realm of academia a dispute rages and it has yet to be settled. There is no doubt that we have 5 primary senses. This has been known since the time of Aristotle. But go ahead and ask a Harvard Medical School researcher and you’ll get a wide variety of answers. Depending on their stance they may include any of the following: equilibrioception, nociception, proprioception, thermoception, interoception, the list goes on…

20

Hydrogen Peroxide helps wounds heal

Well this can be a painful myth, quite literally. Heck, even your pediatrician might recommend it if they’re not up to date on their research. The truth, however, is that it doesn’t help your wound at all. That bubbling you see? Its probably the hydrogen peroxide attacking you. Not only that, it causes cellular damage and extends the healing process. But hey, placebos work right?

19

Tomatoes are legally considered vegetables

No, they are still fruit. The Supreme Court never ruled that tomatoes are vegetables in any botanical sense. In Nix vs. Hedden they simply classified tomatoes as vegetables for the purposes of taxation, so that under the Tarrif Act of 1883 they would be taxable, in the agricultural sense.

18

Dogs sweat through their tongue

Yes, when dogs get worked up they start to pant, but panting is not the same as sweating. In actuality dogs have very few sweat glands, most of which are located in their footpads. They do keep cool by panting and breathing, however, using the moist lining of their lungs as an evaporative surface.



17

Bats are blind

Au contraire, they do pretty well for themselves. While they can’t see in color, at night they certainly see better than we do. Of course, many species also use echolocation, so long story short, they know where they’re going.

16

Chameleons blend into their surroundings

Its common knowledge that Chameleons change colors but the reason for it is slightly more elusive. While most believe it is so that they can blend in with their surroundings, the primary reasons are to regulate their temperature or communicate with other chameleons.

15

Sharks don’t get cancer

Contrary to what you may have heard at your local dietary supplement retail outlet, sharks do get cancer. There is nothing special about their cells and researchers have been studying cancerous tumors on sharks for years. So, next time you’re about to buy those cartilage pills, call the bluff.

14

Seasons are caused by the distance of Earth from the Sun

Seasons are actually caused by the 23.45 degree tilt of the earth’s axis. This means that different parts of the earth are oriented towards the sun at different times of the year. Its all about direct sunlight.

13

If you cut an earthworm in half it will regenerate into two earthworms

While earthworms do regenerate they will not divide into two entirely new earthworms. Every 5th grader knows that the front of the worm lives and the back dies. The regeneration happens when the front of the worm replaces the lost half of its body.

12

Goldfish have a 3 second memory

The idea that with every lap around the fish bowl your goldfish is experiencing the world as if it were completely new is completely wrong. Goldfish actually have a fairly decent memory. In fact, they can be taught to respond to different light, music, or other sensory cues.

11

You should drink 8 glasses of water every day

While this is probably good advice for some people, especially if you live in a really dry area, it should not be followed as a rule. Moreover, nobody is really even sure where this advice originated. Just remember, if you’re thirsty, drink.