Magellan Times

Check Out These Commonly Repeated Facts That Are Actually Myths

by Shelley Thompson

In the past few years, misinformation has taken over the Internet. Social media platforms, in particular, have become the perfect environments for fake "facts" to proliferate. The people who use them tend to believe most of what they read without fact-checking any information. Because of this, it is wise to take whatever you see or read online with a grain of salt. Some users, like the Twitter account "Myth vs. Fact," have started to fight this trend by refuting commonly believed myths. In this list, you will find a selection of their posts detailing what is fake and what is the truth. Obviously, you are free to mistrust these explanations and to double-check any of the information you see here. 

Dogs do not only see in black and white

Every animal species on the planet has evolved to put their senses to use in the most effective way possible. We humans may have a less developed sense of smell when compared to dogs, for example, but we have better tactile functions. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

We also have better eyesight in many ways, although it is a myth that our furry companions only see in black and white. They can see color, but they struggle to distinguish between shades of red, yellow, and green.

Thomas Edison did not invent the lightbulb, he only perfected it

It is an undeniable fact that Thomas Edison was a brilliant man. However, many inventions that are frequently attributed to him were not actually of his making. The lightbulb is one of those: he was not the first to create one. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

In reality, he modified existing versions to make light bulbs more durable and efficient. His additions allowed them to stay turned on and be fed power from a centralized source. His aim was for every home to have electric lighting. 

Walt Disney was not the only one responsible for creating Mickey Mouse

It is pretty much impossible to credit only one person with their creation when it comes to animated characters. Take the most famous mouse in the world, for example. Walt Disney was not the sole individual responsible for bringing Mickey to life.

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

The concept for him was drawn by Ub Iwerks, Disney's chief animator at the time. However, his creation was an inherently collaborative affair. Walt lent his voice to the character, while his wife, Lillian, suggested to change the name from "Mortimer" to "Mickey."

Internet signal does not come from satellites but from a cable network under the sea

Nowadays, the Internet seems to be everywhere. It almost feels like we are all constantly connected to it, although there are still remote parts of the world where there is not even a phone signal. Satellite signal, however, reaches everywhere. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

This has led to people erroneously believing that their Wi-Fi signal comes from satellites. It is actually transported through cables that are buried deep at the bottom of the ocean. How they managed to install them there still remains a mystery. 

Napoleon was of average height for a French male of the time

There is this prevalent myth that short people tend to overcompensate with achievements to feel superior. We cannot comment on whether that is true or not, but we can say that one of the most representative figures of this stereotype, Napoleon, was not short. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Well, he was short but only for today's standards. Bonaparte was likely 5 feet 2 inches tall, which was considered normal in 18th century France. The British were the ones who spread the rumor that he was below average as part of a smear campaign. 

The cold is not directly responsible for making you sick

The germ theory of disease is the prevalent explanation for how illnesses spread. It argues that microorganisms are what get people sick, and there is no reason to question it. However, this means that low temperatures have nothing to do with it. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Nevertheless, there is evidence that being cold can increase your chances of catching something. One theory is that frigid air dries out the mucous membranes, which makes us more susceptible. Drastic climate changes can also contribute. 

The box jellyfish is the most venomous creature on the planet

Spiders and snakes are the poisonous creatures that people fear the most. That said, it is actually the ocean that carries deadlier creatures. The most venomous animal in the world is the box jellyfish, and their stings are often fatal to humans. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

These invertebrates can be found off the coast of Australia, Hawaii, and other countries along the Pacific Ocean. Their venom causes hyperkalemia or high potassium levels, affecting the heart's functioning and causing death within 2 to 5 minutes.

It is always best to get up slowly instead of jumping up as soon as an alarm rings

Some truths are readily apparent to almost everybody. For example, it is always better to wake up at your own pace instead of jumping up when an alarm goes off. The way our bodies react to it tells us that this is true. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Waking up suddenly leaves you groggy and tired for the entire day, while slowly coming to usually makes for a more relaxing experience. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of being able to get up at their own pace. 

Chameleons do not color shift to camouflage themselves exclusively

Chameleons are famous for how they change colors. Their unique ability does help camouflage them with their surroundings. Nevertheless, this is not the only function it has. It is mainly used to signal other individuals of the species. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Color-changing can also be triggered by changes in temperature or other climate conditions. Each species of chameleon has different shade ranges they can shift to. Some are very bright, while others are limited to browns.  

Your heart does not skip a beat when you sneeze

Everybody has had that terrifying feeling of having to sneeze while driving. Although it can make you feel like your heart skipped a beat, it does not cause it to stop. At most, it can cause the rhythm to temporary change. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

It goes without saying that you should always consult a licensed physician if you think that something is wrong with your heart. However, feeling it skip a beat when you sneeze is not typically anything to be concerned about. 

The apple that inspired Isaac Newton to describe the three laws of motion did not fall on his head

Isaac Newton is better known for being the mathematician and physicist responsible for formulating the laws of motion and universal gravitation. The popular story is that he figured out how gravity worked after an apple fell onto his head.  

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

There is much more to it since Newton had already been working on the subject for years alongside reknown astronomers such as Edmond Halley. Nevertheless, he was inspired to describe the laws of gravity by watching an apple fall from a tree.

Salieri was not actually jealous of Mozart

The movie Amadeus was very popular when it first came out in 1984. It told the story of the trials and tribulations of famed composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as seen through the eyes of one of his rivals, Antonio Salieri. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Salieri was a thriving Italian composer who spent most of his career working for the Habsburg court in Vienna. The film portrays him as Mozart's bitter rival, who burned with jealousy, but in reality, they were simply peers that respected each other. 

Reading in the dark does not deteriorate your eyesight

Everyone above a certain age knows the feeling of getting scolded for reading in the dark by an aunt or a grandmother. Nevertheless, like many of the things our grandparent's berated us for, there is no actual evidence suggesting that it can negatively affect you.

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Human eyes have several muscles that allow them to adjust to different light levels. Reading in the dark can strain your eyes, but there is no evidence of its long-term effects. Furthermore, other factors cause strain beyond how dim it is. 

The rumor that microwaves saps nutrients from food is false

The science behind microwave ovens is fascinating. They use electromagnetic radiation in the microwave frequency range to get molecules in the food to move and produce thermal energy, which heats it. However, some people have hated them ever since they first came out. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

The appliance rose in popularity during the 1970s when it became affordable. Claims that it sapped the nutrients from fresh food proliferated even back then, but there was never any evidence that supported this. Microwaves do not break down molecules, after all. 

Depression has become more of a problem in recent years

For a long time, society or the medical community did not take mental health issues seriously. Nonetheless, this has changed in recent years. New research has found that depression, stress, and anxiety can also negatively affect our physical well-being.

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Unfortunately, mental health issues are rising and quickly becoming a global crisis. According to the WHO, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds. It can also severely impact a person's quality of life.

Gun silencers dampen the noise but do not mute it completely

In films, spies and assassins are often depicted as using guns with silencers. These accessories almost seem like magic tools that allow them to take care of their targets without anyone noticing. As you might expect, this is not exactly realistic. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Although silencers do significantly dampen the noise of a gunshot, they do not make it silent completely. If someone were in the room next to the one the hitman was in, they would totally hear the weapon going off. 

It takes a few minutes for chloroform to take effect

Another common trope of spy movies, besides the silencer one, is that when someone is drugged with chloroform, they immediately fall unconscious. As always, the reality is not as simple as that. It takes a few minutes for an adult to begin feeling the effects. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Of course, this would complicate the lives of many fictional assassins and double agents, so the process is always sped up. It is important to remember that movies are fiction and should not be taken at face value. 

You should not apply oil on a burn

While it is true that putting oil on a burn will do nothing, this "fact" requires a thorough explanation. You will see in medical forums online that experts recommend not putting ice on it, which is technically accurate. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

The thing is that icing will only be beneficial if it is done within 15 seconds of having been burnt. Besides, extreme cold can cause tissue damage, and you would not want to make things worse by freezing the few remaining skin cells. 

Chocolate with a high cacao percentage could have some health benefits

Consuming excessive sugar has been proven to affect your health negatively. However, many foods that were once considered "bad" are not that harmful. Chocolate is one example. The cocoa itself can actually be beneficial for you. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Cocoa is rich in flavanols, a plant chemical that could help keep your heart healthy. However, the cacao percentage is critical because chocolate bars with high sugar and fat content will do more damage than good and will fail to provide any benefits. 

Apples are a good snack, but eating one a day will not necessarily keep you healthy

A common saying goes, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." By now, most people know that this is not strictly true. Although apples are a great snack alternative for when you want something sweet, there are more essential habits that one should adopt.

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

A healthy lifestyle is key to keeping the doctor away, regardless of whether you eat apples or not. In addition, regular exercise and a balanced diet will go a long way to improving your quality of life, although getting regular check-ups is still essential. 

Humans use most of their brain capacity even when asleep

Countless movies have explored the idea that humans only use a fraction of their brain power. The 2014 film Lucy and the 2011 Bradley Cooper flick Limitless both have main characters who acquire superhuman abilities as a consequence of accessing their full potential. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

There is no science to back this claim up. In truth, we use much more than 10 percent of our brain capacity. Moreover, our minds keep working at full force when we are asleep, so, unfortunately, there is no extra hidden brain function. 

It may not be a big deal to leave the phone charging overnight

When smartphones first became widespread, every tech expert advised people not to leave them charging overnight. However, newer iPhone models now have optimized charging to minimize battery wear. That said, some experts still maintain that you should avoid keeping it plugged for too long.

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

This is because the battery is continuously heated and can wear down. Then again, you will probably buy a new phone in a year or two, so it makes little difference. The cable short-circuiting and starting a fire is the most significant danger. 

Most of the oxygen on Earth does not come from trees but the oceans

The Amazon rainforest is often touted as the Earth's lungs because of all the oxygen that its vegetation produces. Nevertheless, the most significant oxygen sources on the planet are the oceans. That is because countless photosynthesizing organisms live in them. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

These include algae, bacteria, drifting plants, and the most efficient producers out of them all: plankton. Scientists estimate that 50-80% of the new oxygen on Earth comes from the ocean, and these microscopic plants make up the majority of it.  

The color red does not make bulls more aggressive

It is a widespread belief that seeing anything red makes bulls lose it. Spanish toreros are often depicted waving a red cape to get the animal to charge. Nevertheless, the movement is what riles them up, not the shade. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Bulls are colorblind, so they probably have no idea what red looks like. Their instinct is to attack anything that moves, so the cape's waving attracts them. In fact, the bright shade is traditionally used because it disguises blood stains. 

Hibernation is meant to conserve energy because food is scarce, not because it is cold

Many species of animals hibernate during winter. This allows them to conserve energy and survive the lack of food and resources. The process involves metabolic depression, and some species exhibit a lowering of their heart rate and body temperature.

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Bears are considered hibernators, although they only suppress their metabolic rate, not heart rate or temperature. They do not spend the entire season sleeping, as is often depicted in children's books, but they do tend to stay sheltered for a while. 

Cleopatra might have ruled over Egypt, but she was of Macedonian Greek origin

Did you know that a surprising number of monarchs were not actually from the nation they ruled over? Notable examples are Catherine the Great of Russia, who was a Prussian princess. And Cleopatra, the famous Queen of Egypt, was also not technically Egyptian. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

She was a member of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, which had ruled Egypt since the times of Alexander the Great. This means that she was Macedonian-Greek in both ancestry and culture. In fact, she was the first Ptolemaic ruler to learn the Egyptian language. 

You do not get dumber as you age

There is a common misconception regarding health which suggests that more is better. In the case of the number of neurons, it is easy to apply the same concept, but having more does not actually make you smarter. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

The connections between them are the most important part, and they can be made at any point in life. Moreover, although aging does affect the brain's neurons, there is no age limit to create new pathways. Getting smarter is not a matter of youth. 

Defibrillators do not miraculously bring people back to life, as shown in medical dramas

Medical dramas are chock-full of scenes where patients go into cardiac arrest and are shocked with paddles that miraculously bring them back to life. In reality, this process is not so simple. For starters, the series never show them doing any chest compressions. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

If someone is having a cardiac event, chest compressions are the first step. Then, paddles can be used, but they do not restart a stopped heart. Electric shocks only work to end life-threatening arrhythmias, which are heartbeat irregularities. 

Albert Einstein struggled with exams but did not fail math

It is often said that there are no bad students and that whether a child does well in school depends on how they are taught. Albert Einstein, one of the greatest physicists of modern times, is proof of this. He was not necessarily bad at studying, but he did fail a few subjects. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Einstein attributed this to the rigidity of some of the schools he attended. However, he never failed maths but rather language and history. He hated sitting for exams, and passing them was such a struggle that he lost interest in science for a while. 

Vincent Van Gogh did not cut off his entire ear

It is common knowledge that Vincent Van Gogh, the great impressionist painter, cut off a chunk of his ear during a depressive episode. He later painted a self-portrait of himself, showing the whole left side of his head wrapped in bandages. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

This gave rise to the common assumption that he had cut off his entire ear, but in reality, he only severed the lower part. Most of the appendage stayed intact and healed. Unfortunately, his mental health deteriorated, and he fatally shot himself in 1890. 

Alcohol only gives you the sensation of warmth

If you have ever been cold at a party, someone probably mentioned that having a drink would make you feel warmer. This is a commonly repeated misconception that science has proved entirely false. Moreover, the truth is quite the opposite. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Alcohol causes blood vessels to widen slightly, increasing blood flow to the hands and feet and making them feel hotter. However, having cold extremities is usually the result of your body prioritizing keeping your vital organs warm, so the drink's effect is counterproductive.

You only need to wash your teeth twice a day to have a healthy mouth

Many of the health advice considered accurate in the past may be obsolete now. This is why many of the rules that we were taught as kids may no longer apply. One example is the recommendation of brushing your teeth after every meal. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Nowadays, it is recommended that everyone wash their teeth twice a day. In theory, if you floss and use mouthwash, you should be able to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. There is no need to carry toothpaste and a brush everywhere. 

Some structures can be seen from outer space, but the Great Wall of China is not one of them

Astronauts have ways of identifying what area of the Earth they can see from a particular vantage point. There are a few iconic structures that can be identified from outer space. Unfortunately, the Great Wall of China is not one of them. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is one of them. The Pyramids of Giza are also easily identifiable. Other natural landmarks such as rivers and high peaks can also be picked up from afar. Check out the satellite pictures if you do not believe us. 

The wind is so loud that it is impossible to talk to someone while free falling

Skydiving scenes from movies are nothing like the real thing. In the first place, they usually last ages, while a jump only lasts a few minutes. In addition, the wind passes by so fast that you cannot hear anything.

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

This means that there can be no meaningful conversations like Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze's in the movie Point Break. Furthermore, the free-falling part only lasts about 50 seconds, so there is little opportunity to say anything.

Polar bears have transparent guard hairs that make them look white

There is a difference between animals that have light coats and albino ones. Albinos are characterized by a lack of pigmentation in eyes, skin, and hair, but species with white fur usually have pigment everywhere else. The polar bear is an example of that. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

They have light fur, but their eyes, noses, and paws are black, which shows that they have pigment. That said, their coats are not truly white. The outermost layer is called the guard hairs, and these are transparent. 

If you tried to remove a safety pin from a grenade with your teeth, you would crack a few

Most weapons are usually designed to incorporate as many safety measures as possible. Hand grenades, in particular, are built so that there is little chance of the pin falling out. That is why it is not realistic to take it out with your teeth like Rambo. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Anyone who tried it would probably end up with a couple of cracked teeth. To activate a grenade, soldiers first need to push down the safety lever, then pull the pin out and throw it towards their target.

Piranhas are not as dangerous as they are portrayed

Many animals with a bad reputation in the media are much less dangerous than they are portrayed to be. Piranhas are one example. Their sharp teeth might make them look scary, but they do not usually come close to humans. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

These fish only attack when they are under stress caused by a lack of food or low water levels. Furthermore, out of all the piranha attacks that have been recorded, the vast majority were minor bites to hands or feet. 

Sweat does not really clear out toxins from the body

Countless superfluous diets and beauty treatments are publicized nowadays as helping you "detox." However, our bodies are great at removing toxins by themselves. The liver, kidneys, and digestive system take care of most of the organism's waste removal. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

It is commonly thought that sweating also releases toxins, but its function is mainly limited to temperature control. The idea of going to a hot sauna to help clear out any nasty substances from your organism is actually a myth. 

Cellphones are safe to use during electrical storms

The probability of lightning striking your home is extremely low, but if it ever happens, you should not be afraid to use your cell phone. You should, however, refrain from touching anything plugged into a socket. The problem is the wires.

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

Since cells are wireless, it is impossible for the electricity to travel and hit you. If you were to use a landline, however, the energy from the lightning could travel through the wire and electrocute you. Still, the chances of that happening are minimal. 

The only way to eliminate split ends is to cut them off

When it comes to hair, skin, and nails, it is always essential to keep them moisturized. This does not mean that you will not get a split end once in a while. If this happens, there is not much you can do to fix it. 

source: Photo: Myth vs. Reality via Twitter

No amount of shampoo or repairing conditioner will get those split ends to join together again. The best way to get beautiful, healthy strands is to follow a routine that works with your hair type and keeps everything hydrated.