9 Super Common “Facts” We Should Really Stop Believing

Everyone has heard at least one of so-called ‘facts’ at some point in their existence. Parents the world over have spouted these at their children and we’ve all assumed they were correct- naturally, everything our parents say is true. Right?

Unfortunately not, and this list should help split the poser facts from the real thing. In no particular order, let’s get started:

1. Body heat dissipates through the head

98% of your body heat exhausts through your head right? That’s why you wear a beanie during winter, right? Apparently not, as your skin is created totally equal. You’ll lose the same amount of heat over your entire body, but it’s assumed that you feel like you lose so much heat out of your head as it’s typically not covered. And that makes sense when you think about it, so don’t throw that Spiderman beanie out just yet.

2. We only use 10% of our brains

I hate to say it, but the drug from ‘Limitless’ cannot exist in the same form as it’s portrayed. That drug relies on the belief that we only use 10% of our brains, and it unlocks the spare 90%. The brain is a greedy thing, requiring about 20% of the oxygen and glucose taken in, and for that to only feed 10% of the working mass is a tad inefficient. The 10% claim is also logically incorrect – think of brain tumors. When has a doctor ever said “Don’t worry, the tumor is in a part you don’t use!” That’s right, never. And we also have a heap of brain scans confirming 100% usage so there’s that.

3. Sugar makes kids hyperactive

A commonly held belief is overindulgence of sugar leads to hyperactivity in children. Multiple studies have been conducted over the years, and the conclusions drawn were that sugar has no effect on behaviour. The hyperactivity could then be attributed to just plain old excitement, which would make sense if it were a birthday party or similar. The bigger problem is confusion proximity with causality when it comes to food and behaviour. Parents tend to think back to the last treat rather than any other circumstances that may have caused the behaviour.

4. Drink urine when dehydrated

Gross. Thanks to Bear Grylls among others, this “fact” has gained traction in the last few years, but urine is called waste for a reason. It contains everything your body doesn’t need or want, and has a salinity (saltiness level) close to seawater, so not the best to drink when you’re dehydrated. Under dire circumstances it may be beneficial but generally try to avoid this.

5. Lightning never strikes the same place

This is a popular idiom, but isn’t really rooted in any scientific idea. Lightning is a enormous electrostatic discharge and it doesn’t really have a preference as to what it hits. Lightning strikes often hit the tallest things in an area due to the shorter distance needed to travel, so often the tallest tree in a forest gets hit a few times in the same storm. NASA actually released a study in 2003 documenting 386 separate lightning strikes and found that not only can lightning hit the same place twice, but it can also strike two places at the same time!

6. Cracking your knuckles gives you arthritis

There have been no documented instances of cracking knuckles having a connection with osteoarthritis. In 1998 Donald Unger released a paper saying that for the last 60 years he had cracked the knuckles on his left hand but not his right, and found there to be no difference between the two. Unger went on to win a Nobel Prize for his work, a worthy reward for debunking one of the more famous false facts.

7. It takes x years to digest swalled gum

This fact’s a doozy. I’ve heard timeframes ranging from five years right through till death. Well here’s some good news for those of you whose childhood nightmares I just rekindled: you don’t even really digest chewing gum. It’s made out of so many synthetic things that when the body extracts what little it can out of the gum it is passes as waste along with everything else. It’s still not the best idea to swallow it however, as in large amounts it can cause constipation and gastrointestinal blockage.

8. Deoxygenated blood is blue

Your veins are blue, and it stands to reason that the blood running through them must colour it, hence the notion that that blood in particular is blue. Instead it just changes shades of red depending on how oxygenated it is. Freshly oxygenated blood is bright red while deoxygenated blood is a darker shade of red, not blue. Then it returns to the heart and the cycle starts over.

9.  Humans have five senses

This one’s gonna get a bit meta. Everyone knows that humans have the senses of taste, smell, sight, hearing and touch. But on top of those well-established senses there is nociception, the ability to sense pain, and proprioception, the ability for two body parts to interact without visual aid. That last one is how we can pass the “close your eyes and touch your nose” test.

That’s it for now, so get out there, call your mother and brag about the Coke you’re gonna drink and not bounce off the walls, the chewing gum you’re totally gonna swallow and finish it off with a knuckle crack. Boom, facts.

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