I'm going to be honest with y'all. I'm so gullible that I'm a liability. So when u/Sera0Sparrow called for widely believed myths that are not true, I read through all the comments...and gasped several times.
GIPHY / Via giphy.com
When someone tells me a "fact" or rumor they heard with enough confidence, I'm pretty quick to put my trust in them.
I was so shocked that I had to dig further for many of these myths to fully understand just how much I've been lied to for most of my life. So here are just some of the debunked "myths" that had me questioning my entire existence:
1."That you need to wait 24 hours to report a missing person. If you sincerely think someone is missing, then report it. The faster that a missing person report is filed, the better chance there is that the person will be found. This is especially crucial when it comes to missing children."
2."That coffee stunts your growth."
3."Anyone who says you can trim fat in 'X' area by doing 'Y' exercises is lying. That's totally impossible. You lose fat proportionally over all areas of your body. You can't just target one area to work on."
Jeca Martinez / Via giphy.com
It's easy to understand where the myth of targeted weight loss comes from. We want it to be true. But scientific research and basic human biology prove, once again, that what we want to do isn't necessarily what we're going to do. Womp.
When we exercise (ew), the fat contained in fat cells, triglycerides, breaks down into glycerol and free fatty acids before entering the bloodstream. So triglycerides used by our muscle cells as fuel can come from anywhere and not necessarily the area you're working out most. Cardio and weight training are what'll actually help you bring out definition in the certain body part you're trying to target.
4."MSG is harmful and East Asian cuisine is bad because of MSG."
5.“That rice will fix the phone you dropped into the pool. That doesn’t do anything other than get rice stuck in your charging port. Instead, turn your phone off right away, dry it off with a towel, and set it in front of a fan. It’ll do more, I promise.”
6."The belief that 'lightning never strikes twice in the same place.' Actually it does and sometimes with great frequency."
GIPHY / Via giphy.com
If you watch lightning during a thunderstorm, you'd see for yourself that the common saying isn't meant to be taken literally. Lightning usually does strike in the same place. It's actually the norm. The reason: Lightning hits the same location because the electrical discharge follows the path of least resistance.
Lightning can even strike the same person repeatedly, which unfortunately happened to Roy Sullivan...seven times.
7."That some people are more left-brained or right-brained. The brain has a lot of cells and they all work together. There are plenty of different types of brain cells (neurons) but they don’t operate in isolation."
Old Spice / Via giphy.com
You've probably been told you're in the left side of your brain if you're more logical and in the right side of your brain if you're more creative, but recent studies using brain imaging technology prove that being more dominant in one side of your brain isn't possible. It's true that certain functions are specific to either hemisphere of your brain, which is probably where the myth comes from. But in order to be alive, we use both parts of our brain.
8."That a polygraph test can actually be used to detect if someone is lying."
9."Popping your knuckles causes arthritis."
10."The alpha/beta social hierarchy that we 'observed' in wolves. The researcher who performed the experiment realized he had made many mistakes in his original take and has spent the rest of his life trying to undo the damage that report has created."
11."Adding another lane will make traffic go away."
GIPHY / Via giphy.com
Countless research has shown that making a highway wider with another lane usually makes traffic worse since it encourages drivers to move around or switch lanes. When one driver brakes, the cars behind them inevitably have to as well. If all cars moved at a constant speed, it's very likely that traffic would slim down. Of course, that will probably never happen with humans behind the wheel.
12."People think we swallow a bunch of spiders every year in our sleep."
Now This / Via giphy.com
We are way too big for spiders to consider us prey and intentionally crawl into bed with us. If they do end up on you, it's because you're part of the landscape — like a big, sexy rock. On top of that, spiders are very sensitive to vibrations. If your mouth is open, you're probably snoring and that alone is enough to ward off any eight-legged friends.
It's been said that this "fact" was started by a group trying to prove how easily lies spread, but that's actually a myth as well. It was actually an April Fool's joke, which some people figured out when they discovered that the name of the supposed columnist who came up with this myth — Lisa Birgit Holst — is an anagram for "this is a big troll." I just love the internet.
13."Thanksgiving is something that spurred peace and harmony among settlers and Native people."
14."The belief that touching a fawn or a baby bird will make the mother abandon it."
Pixar / Via giphy.com
First of all, birds can't really smell well so they wouldn't pick up on human scent if you touched their babies. Second, a deer doesn't just abandon its fawn after carrying it for seven months because it's got human stench on it.
When animals do abandon their young, it's not because of smell. It's usually because of disturbance, like messing with their nest and generally compromising the mother's sense of security. So if you're trying to save a baby animal, please carry on and then leave it alone if possible. The parent is probably nearby, waiting for you to leave...watching your every move.
15."People taking Emergen-C to get over a cold."
16."The Middle Ages were less barbaric and dark than we think."
17."It's illegal to have your interior light on in the car while you're driving."
Nickelodeon / Via giphy.com
It's totally legal to drive with the light on in your car at night. But if you are doing anything illegal, you're more likely to be seen. It's also unsafe in general to drive with the dome light on at night since it impedes what you can see outside the car when it's dark outside.
18."That nuclear power is extremely dangerous and worse than fossil fuels in both the short and long term."
FOX / Via giphy.com
Behind wind and solar energy, nuclear power is the safest and cleanest energy source available. It's drastically safer for us and our environment to invest in nuclear energy instead of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas. Nuclear plants do not emit any CO2 or air pollution as they operate and already supply almost 20% of the energy in the US within the last 20 years.
The case against nuclear power is mostly fear-based. A lot of that fear comes from government responses or freakouts to the accidents at Fukushima, Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl. The latter resulted in 50 deaths (as estimated by the United Nations), which is significant, but in comparison, fossil fuel pollution was responsible for 8 million people dying in 2018.
19."That eating sugar makes kids hyper. Parents perpetuate this myth by saying it around kids so kids just behave according to their parents' expectations."
MLB / Via giphy.com
A 1994 study in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology revealed that the concept of a sugar rush is all in our heads. In the experiment, all kid participants were given a placebo for sugar, though half were told that they were given sugar. The mothers of the children that received "sugar" closely monitored their kid's behavior and were significantly more scrutinizing — they were looking for hyperactivity.
It's also important to keep in mind where kids are having excess sugar. If they're at a birthday party with their friends and have eaten a lot of sweets, they're likely more hyper because they're having fun, not because of the sugar.
20."Daylight savings time was started for farmers."
21."Rainwater will make your windows dirty."
Buena Vista / Via giphy.com
Rain is literally just water. That's it. Rain is helpful in keeping exteriors clean but it will also move around dirt, pollen, dust, and grime that have been collecting on or around your window. When the rain dries, all that dirt is very noticeable. So if your windows appear dirty after it rains, you're either seeing dried-up backsplash from groundwater or they were dirty to begin with. Clean your car.
22."That urinating on a jellyfish sting will help or do anything at all."
23."'Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!' Bro...that was a commercial. You’ve spent your entire life repeating a commercial from before you were born."
24."If you get a raise that puts you into a new tax bracket, you will actually owe more money. My mom used to think getting a raise would result in her making less. Then, when I entered the workforce, I saw someone say something similar. I was shocked to learn that this was a common belief."
jjjjjohn / Via giphy.com
When additional income pushes you into a higher tax bracket, you'll only pay the higher tax rate on that portion of your income that falls into that higher taxable income range. That's because the US tax system is tiered into tax brackets, with income being taxed at the different levels of taxable income ranges rather than an individual being taxed according to their entire income.
For example, if you have a taxable income of $42,000 in 2021 as a single taxpayer, the first $9,950 is subject to 10% tax, the next $30,575 is subject to 12% tax, and the remaining $1,475 is subject to 22% tax. So getting paid more does not result in a lower net income.
Take that raise!
25."Touching a frog/toad will give you warts."
FOX / Via giphy.com
No amphibians will give you warts. The myth likely comes from the wart-looking bumps that spot a frog, though those are just glands. If you get warts sometime after touching a frog, what you may actually have is human papilloma virus, which is super common.
26."For Americans, the concept of trickle-down economics — that lowering taxes for rich people creates jobs. It’s been disproven by economists and is anecdotally untrue looking at our history since 1980, but it drives most of our politics today."
Nickelodeon / Via giphy.com
Tax cuts for the rich only helps rich people become even more rich. Many of us already knew this but a study from the London School of Economics that examined the economy of 18 different countries, including the United States, from 1965 to 2015 confirmed what, again, many of us already suspected. Wealth has never trickled down to the middle and lower class in countries that lower taxes on wealthy people's income.
Historically, periods with the highest economic growth and lowest unemployment rates are during postwar periods, when taxes on the rich were at their highest.
27."'If you pee in the public pool, the water around you will turn purple.' I'm not complaining about being bamboozled for years because public pools would be half piss if it didn't exist."
28.And finally, "circumcision having most of the health benefits that it is claimed to have."
What "truths" have you recently discovered are totally false? Let me know in the comments!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.