Common myths and misconceptions are all around us. We might not even realize we're wrong until we're wrong. And… some facts aren't actually facts! [Dramatic gasp!] Reddit user Threedotsguy wanted to find out what widely known ‘facts' their fellow redditors know are wrong, and the educational thread went viral. Check out which myths got debunked, upvote the ones you didn't know were false, and share what other ‘facts' you know to be balderdash in the comments, dear Pandas.
Once you start going down the ‘how do I know anything for sure' rabbit hole, it's hard to stop. Before you know it, you might even end up as a philosopher with a PhD and a dozen published books about the theory of knowledge. But one thing that we really have to ask ourselves is why people tend to believe far-fetched facts, flimsy myths, and fake news.
Dr. Bobby Hoffman, psychologist and author of 'Hack Your Motivation' and 'Motivation for Learning and Performance,' explained to Bored Panda the effects that social pressure and peer influence have on our beliefs, what biases we as human beings tend to have, and what we can do to change our existing (potentially flawed) conceptions about the world. Read on for our full interview with Dr. Hoffman.
"People with mental illness are NOT, in fact, more likely to be violent than the rest of the population. They're actually slightly less so, but MUCH more likely to be the victims."The public tends to exaggerate the strength of the link between mental illness and violence. What's more, acts of violence by the mentally ill are sensationalized by the media. Research shows that the mentally ill are, in fact, more often victims than perpetrators of violence.
That the McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit was absurd and unjustified. That coffee wasn't just hot, it was HOT -- spilling it in her lap, which should've just ruined Stella Liebeck's pants and maybe given her first-degree burns, caused THIRD-degree burns and fused her genitals shut. She needed not only skin grafts but horrifyingly painful, expensive reconstructive surgery.
When Liebeck initially contacted McDonald's, all she asked was that they cover her $20,000 hospital bills. They counter-offered for $800, so she took them to court. Even then, she didn't ask for punitive damages. The jury heard about McD's insulting counter-offer, and the fact that their coffee had seriously burned seven hundred people already (they damn well knew about the danger, they just didn't care), and were so incensed that they added the extra millions on their own.
The only reason people think of that case as an example of sue-happy American culture gone wrong is that McDonald's poured millions into a smear campaign after the fact. If you ask me, it was actually our justice system working exactly as it should.
"That humans are the only animals that have self-awareness."The mirror test is often used as a way to see whether or not an animal possesses self-awareness. During the test, researchers place a dot or a mark on a subject and then put the animal in front of a mirror. They then wait and watch to see if the animal investigates the mark.Some animals who have successfully passed this test are dolphins, elephants, chimpanzees, magpies, and others. The newest research indicates that self-awareness and sense of sense are far more widespread in the animal kingdom than previously thought.
Dr. Hoffman said that peer influence and social pressure are instrumental in the beliefs that we hold onto.
"For the most part, social media is a perfect outlet to commiserate with your peer group and gain acceptance for your beliefs, justified or not. Research shows the proclivity for us to participate with higher frequency with those people and outlets that support our belief structures. This phenomenon applies to a range of beliefs including politics, epistemology, and those requiring social proof (e.g., product reviews)."
He stressed that objectively evaluating our belief structures is almost impossible because of confirmation and myside biases.
Frankenstein isn't the name of the monster. It's the name of the Doctor who created the monster. But I saw this great comment on a Youtube video - 'knowledge is knowing Frankenstein isn't the monster. wisdom is knowing that Frankenstein is the monster.'
Goldfish do not really have a memory span of five seconds. They actually remember things for months, recognize their owners, and are able to distinguish them from other people.
That you have to wait 24 hours to report someone missing in the USA. There is no law about waiting, you don’t have to. Push to make the police cooperate and list the person missing immediately when you suspect something isn’t right. Don’t lose precious time; it’s extremely important if the person truly is missing.
"Confirmation bias means we seek out confirming evidence while rejecting or discounting evidence that refutes our belief structures. Chinn and Brewer (1993) outlined seven ways we respond to anomalous data that include: (a) ignore the anomalous data, (b) reject the data, (c) exclude the data from the domain of theory A, (d) hold the data in abeyance, (e) reinterpret the data while retaining theory A, (f) reinterpret the data and make peripheral changes to theory A, and (g) accept the data and change theory A, possibly in favor of theory B."
In brief, human beings selectively filter information that supports our intentions. Meanwhile, myside bias is similar to confirmation bias and makes it difficult for us to accept alternatives to our own attitudes and opinions.
"Myside bias operates similarly as we believe that our knowledge, process, and worldviews are superior in quality and accuracy than those views we do not hold. This explains the phenomenon of driving that I often use to operationalize myside bias. The person traveling at a greater speed than you is a 'jerk.' The person driving slower than you is an 'idiot.' Only your speed is the correct speed according to your views. However, what are other people thinking about your driving patterns?"
I always see those 'pro tips' that say you should know your blood type in case of an emergency, so the hospital can get you the right type. This is 100% incorrect. We NEVER take the blood type a person says they are. A patient remembering incorrectly = a dead patient, and the hospital gets sued. We ALWAYS perform a blood test first. The only exception is in a true emergency, and then we only give O negative blood.
That medieval/ancient people only lived to be ~32 years old, and at that age, they were considered ancient. That estimate is an average, which means it accounts for high infant/child mortality. Lots of ancient people lived to their 80s and older. If you made it to 30, chances were good you would make it another 30+ years.
The belief that people from the past would be shocked to see somebody that's 60 or 70 years old is false. Average life expectancy isn't the same as maximum lifespan. While the average has greatly increased over the years because of advances in technology and better nutrition, the maximum has pretty much remained stable throughout.
That 'if you touch a baby bird, the parents will abandon/kill it.' In reality, most birds don't do that. If you help a baby bird back into its nest, as long as you try not to touch the nest a lot, then everything should be fine.
Papa and Mama birds don't recognize their young by their smell, explains All About Birds. So don't be afraid to put the tiny bird back in its nest. However, if the nest is destroyed, you can make a new one, put the chick inside, and wait to see if the parents come back. If they don't come back and you're absolutely sure that the chick would be alone, it's best to bring it to a wildlife rehabilitator.
Dr. Hoffman suggests that in order to change our current conceptions about the world, we have to have compelling reasons to change. "Without a reason, we continue to harbor beliefs that may not be justified. In other words, for most issues there is no need for belief revision, especially when the warped beliefs endure us to our peer group."
The American Psychological Association states that fake news spreads more quickly than real news and reaches more people than the truth.
“Fake news has important implications in politics, but also in areas such as health and nutrition, climate science, and financial information,” MIT professor David Rand pointed out the dangers of believing unreliable information.
That you should rinse with water as soon as you finish brushing your teeth ! My dentist told me that you actually should only spit out the raw excess once you are done brushing, but keep the rest inside to let time for the toothpaste to have its effect. Also, don't drink nor eat anything for 30 mins after you are done brushing ; Also, flossing should be done BEFORE brushing
‘NASA spent $$$$ inventing a pen that worked in space and the Russians used pencils.’
The Fisher Pen Company was independent and developed its ‘space pen’ with zero investment from NASA.
American astronauts began using mechanical pencils in space. Tiny fragments of graphite, and graphite dust floating around the spacecraft was not ideal because graphite is conductive. It’s also combustible, so everyone was keen to find an alternative.
Fisher patented its first ‘zero gravity’ pen in 1965, and in 1967 NASA began using it. By 1969 Russia were also buying them for their space missions.
Reportedly both NASA and The Soviet Space Company received the same discount for their bulk purchases.
Only old people die from COVID-19.
While most victims of the coronavirus tend to be older, everyone can fall prey to the disease, no matter their age. According to the CDC, 40 to 49-year-olds have a 10 times bigger death rate than the 18 to 29-year-old comparison group. The most vulnerable group is everyone over the age of 85: they are 630 times more likely to die from the virus and 13 times more likely to be hospitalized than the comparison group. Meanwhile, children up to 4 years of age are 4 times less likely to be hospitalized and 9 times less likely to die from Covid-19 than 18 to 29-year-olds.
Rand proposes that the reason people might believe false facts has less to do with our internal biases and more with the way we think. Or rather don't think. According to him, people who tend to believe false information are actually individuals who don't think carefully. Or, in other words, we get duped by falsehoods because we rely on ‘lazy' thinking and make assumptions we don't even know are assumptions.
There is such a vast amount of information flooding our day to day lives that it's a chore to separate fact from fiction. While the internet might be a blessing, it's also a curse because what's popular on Google or social media might not be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
However, there is a way around this issue. BBC Future writes that randomly exposing people to a whole range of views keeps challenging their beliefs and helps them create a much more detailed understanding of events. One that's much closer to the truth. And further away from myth.
That claim that we only use 10% of our brains.
Neurologist John Henley at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota explains that evidence has shown that over the course of a day, you use 100 percent of the brain. He says that areas like the frontal cortex (responsible for self-awareness) or the somatosensory areas (which help us sense our surroundings) are active even while we're asleep.
Schizophrenia has nothing to do with a split personality.
The misconception comes from the fact that the word "schizo" means "split." However, this is in reference to Eugen Bleuler describing the rupture in the person's thinking process and emotional response when he coined the term in the 1920s. Thus, schizophrenia is not the same as multiple personality disorder aka dissociative identity disorder (DID). While some schizophrenia patients do exhibit symptoms of DID, most do not.
Gladiators did not kill each other the sport was much more civil and it even had a referee.
Gladiators could become major stars of the Roman world and they were expensive to prepare and maintain. So having them constantly kill each other off would have been a horrible business (not to mention ethical) decision. Sometimes, sponsors would pay extra for a fight to the death, however, most often, gladiators fought until they ran out of stamina or were wounded. Dangerous? Yes! Deadly? Rarer than you'd think.
That you have to put something in the mouth of a seizing person so they don't swallow their own tongue. DO NOT DO THIS. EVER.
The CDC explains that you shouldn't put anything in the person's mouth because this can injure their teeth or jaw. You should also not hold the person down or try to stop their movements; don't give them mouth-to-mouth breaths, and don't give the person any food or water until they are fully alert.
What you can do is ease a person having a seizure on the floor, turn them onto one side to help them breathe, put something soft under their head, and remove their glasses if they're wearing any.
People didn’t think the Earth was flat 500 years ago. It was theorized to be round in the 5th century BC. The Americas were just not known yet (except to Indigenous Americans) and it was believed that there was a vast ocean between Europe and Asia. People believed Colombus’ voyage would fail because he would exhaust his food and supplies before crossing it.
The spainish flu wasn't actually from spain, it's just that at the time of it happening all around the globe spain was the first to report that the flu was passing around.
We're also not "descended" from chimps or gorillas or other living great apes. Instead, we share a common ancestor. Or, to put it another way, we are distant cousins to the other extant great apes, not great great great x5000 grandkids.
Humans are most closely related to lesser apes like gibbons and great apes like chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. These hominoids (aka gibbons, great apes, and humans) emerged and diversified during the Miocene epoch, around 23 to 5 million years ago. According to scientists, the last common ancestor that humans and chimps had lived around 6 to 7 million years ago.
Slaves built the pyramids.
The British have worse teeth than Americans. Brits have fewer missing teeth on average, and the DMFT index is 0.8 for Brits but higher at 1.2 for the United States. There are cultural differences, with natural teeth colour being considered natural in the UK, but unnatural in the USA where flourescent white is considered correct.
That you have to buy new razor blades every week or 2. Razors dont dull because use, they dull because they rust, if you thoroughly dry them or oil them they can last for almost a year and still work just fine. This is coming from a bald guy who shaves his head every other day.
That the Great Wall of China can be seen from space.
According to NASA, you can't see the Great Wall of China from space without any visual aids. "It certainly isn't visible from the Moon," NASA writes. The theory that you could see the wall from space was shaken when Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei admitted he couldn't see the structure.
That if you have a cold, you should get lots of Vitamin C. This is completely down to one scientist named Linus Pauling who had a theory that massive doses of Vitamin C would cure colds. Subsequent studies have shown he was wrong and any benefits are minimal at best. Yet I still get everyone telling me to drink orange juice whenever I get a sniffle.
However, Harvard Health Publishing states that taking at least 200 mg of vitamin C each day seemed to reduce the duration of cold symptoms by around 8 percent in adults and 14 percent in kids. Or, in other words, around one less day of being ill. While it doesn't seem like a lot, it could have a huge effect nationwide or worldwide.
The idea that chloroform quickly knocks you out. In the real world, it takes several minutes to knock you out, not the seconds you see in TV and movies.
How quickly you're knocked out depends on your bodyweight, air circulation, the strength of the solution, etc. You'll stay knocked out by the chloroform for as long as you're breathing it. Once it's removed, however, recovering from the effects can take roughly 20 to 30 minutes during which you will feel nauseous and might even vomit. Headaches can last hours.
That if you swallow gum, it stays in your stomach for seven years. Not true. Your body processes it, and you poop it out just like anything else.
It can take up to 7 days for the body to pass through your system. However, swallowing gum still isn't a good idea because it can cause constipation, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and even mouth ulcers.
That Einstein failed math/was otherwise a poor student.
Napoleon wasn't small. He was just the victim of good propaganda by the eventual winners.
Napoleon was most likely around average height: 1.69 meters or just over 5’5”. The myth that Napoleon was short comes from two sources. First of all, the French inch (pouce) at the time was 2.7 centimeters while the Imperial inch was just 2.54 centimeters. So using the French measurement system of the time, Napoleon was 5’2” (aka '5 pieds 2 pouces') tall which is equal to the 'normal' 5’5”. Secondly, British cartoonist James Gillray was very much responsible for depicting Napoleon as being tiny leader prone to rage and the image stuck in the public's mind.
That Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are somehow bad or dangerous
The blue part of the eraser can erase pen ink.
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