When you’re a child, you pretty much take anything that anyone older than you says at face value. Even your friends play a big role on what you do and don’t believe. As we make out way through school and into adulthood, we’re able to determine what’s true and what’s not for the most part.
Some myths have staying power though. Here are 14 of them:
Myth #1: You only use 10% of your brain
It’s likely that this myth stems from the fact that we only use approximately 10% of our brains while we’re resting and not thinking about much of anything, but we definitely use more brain power than that daily (in fact, about 100% on any given day, just not all at once). Dr. Barry Gordon – a neurologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine – says that “though an alluring idea, the ’10 percent myth’ is so wrong that it is almost laughable.”
If you’d like to know more about how we use our brains on a day-to-day basis, click here.
Myth #2: You swallow at least 7 spiders every year while you sleep
I’ll admit that this one used to creep me out when I was younger because, well, look at that thing! Lucky for us, spiders tend to stay away from beds because they don’t offer them any sort of prey to munch on. The exception to this rule is if you happen to have bed bugs. If that’s the case, you have bigger things to worry about than a spider.
Sleeping humans are probably more terrifying to them than they are to us when we’re awake according to Scientific American. Sleep tight!
Myth #3: Napoleon was short
You may not have heard this one verbatim, but I’m willing to bet that you’ve heard of ‘the Napoleon complex’ at least once in your life. The stereotype is that men who are shorter tend to be more aggressive in order to make up for what they’re lacking in height. Theoretically, when smaller men act quickly and aggressively, they manage to scare off bigger guys before they’ve even had a chance to size up their competition.
Thing is, the French general wasn’t actually all that short; he measured in at nearly 5’7, which was a pretty average male height at that point in time.
Myth #4: Sugar makes kids hyper
if you’ve ever been to a birthday party with children in attendance, you’re likely calling my bluff right about now. According to Science News, sugar doesn’t change children’s behaviour at all; it’s more likely that the reason Timmy is screaming in the loudest pitch he can muster is because he’s excited to be around his friends, not because he had a little piece of birthday cake.
Does that mean that you should let your children have free reign over the snack cupboard? Of course not, excess sugar intake can of course cause all kinds of other issues; a sugar crazed demon child just doesn’t happen to be one of them.
Myth #5: Adding salt to water will make it boil faster
This one is an old wives’ tale that likely goes back as far as the invention of salt does. It’s not even that it’s so much of a myth – water will indeed come to a boil a little faster if there’s some salt added to the pot – but the difference in boiling times is negligible; a couple of seconds, if that.
Click here if you’d like to learn more about how it all works.
Myth #6: Albert Einstein was a terrible student
Albert Einstein gained a reputation for being a poor academic student somewhere along the line, but (unsurprisingly) the mathematician’s report cards were actually outstanding. He did, however, have a habit of talking back to his teachers when he felt that they were being “too authoritarian” which is probably where the myth stems from.
The guy went on to develop the theory of relativity – Of course he was able to complete his schoolwork!
Myth #7: Dogs sweat by panting
This one is partially true, but also partially a myth – It’s true that dogs pant to help cool themselves off, but it’s also true that they’re capable of actually sweating – The majority of their sweat glands are located on their paws. so the next time you notice that your dog is panting, think of it more as a heat ventilation system.
Want to know what to watch for to make sure that Rover doesn’t overheat this summer? Check out this article from the Pet Health Network.
Myth #8: Alcohol kills brain cells
Moderate drinking doesn’t generally damage brain cells at all, actually. It’s true that serious alcohol abuse can cause brain damage, but it’s a myth that the damage is because of brain cell death. In fact, according to this article the amount of alcohol required to cause brain cell death would also kill the person drinking it.
There are plenty of reasons it’s still not good for you, but that’s not what we’re focusing on right now.
Myth #9: Antibiotics kill viruses
Taking antibiotics are used to fight infections and other diseases caused by bacteria, but not viruses. That’s why you’re not able to get penicillin for the flu or a common cold. The also won’t stop you from passing your infection on to another person, so please stay home when you’re sick to prevent the spread of your illness (regardless of type).
Myth #10: Vitamin C will cure your cold
Taking the vitamin probably isn’t going to help prevent you from getting a cold in the first place, but it can help shorten the duration of the symptoms if you have the foresight to start taking it before they really hit you hard. It also might be a little more effective for people who are more regularly exposed to the virus, such as teachers and nurses.
Myth #11: Peeing on a jellyfish sting can help alleviate the intense burning
Sorry in advance to anyone that’s already gone through the embarrassment of doing just this, but peeing on the sting after being stung by a jellyfish mostly just makes you look silly. In fact, it turns out that urinating on the sting might actually make things more painful for the already unfortunate sufferer.
Myth #12: Vegans don’t eat enough protein
Depending on gender, the average person should be consuming between 46 and 56 grams of protein per day. The average American clocks in at about 80 grams per day and thinks that there’s no possible way vegetarians and vegans are getting enough of it; turns out they generally get around 70 grams per day, which is still way more than they need.
It’s fiber that we really need to be worrying about – Only about 3% of Americans (regardless of diet) are getting enough of that.
Myth #13: Almost all of your body heat is lost through your head
Parents have been urging their children to put a hat on their head to stay warm during the winter months for as long as hats have been around, but it turns out that only 7-10% of your body heat is lost through your head. What does that mean? Zipping up your jacket should probably be more of a priority.
Myth #14: Vaccines can cause autism
Hollywood (Jenny McCarthy, more specifically) played a big role in this misconception. Whether or not vaccines are harmful is something that’s been debated forever (and something that you’ll want to do your own research on) but what’s not up for debate is that each one needs to go through rigorous testing to even be approved, and then once it’s out it continues to go through regular monitoring.
One thing is certain – Vaccines do not cause autism, as evidenced by this abundance of studies.
How many of these have you fallen for over the years? Hopefully, you can use this knowledge to right someone else.