False Facts & Common Misconceptions

Confirmation Bias

False Fact


There is a small element of truth to this “fact” – but we will get to that soon. Firstly, elevators usually have a minimum of four operating cables, as well as an inbuilt braking system and a backup braking system in the shaft which forces a wedge into the shaft to prevent too rapid a drop. If the cables were all to snap (and believe me, elevator cables are strong), the cars braking system would detect the free fall and automatically apply. If that also fails, the shaft’s braking system takes over. Now, the small element of truth I mentioned earlier is that there has been one recorded account of a complete elevator free fall; it was caused by an airplane which crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945. The crash caused the cables in the elevator to be weakened – ultimately leading to them breaking. The person riding the lift (Betty Lou Oliver) survived the 75 floor free fall because of air pressure beneath the car.

False Fact

This is one we all hear regularly – and we believe it because it is true when we tried it. But, in 2002 a US high school student Britney Gallivan proved it wrong by folding a piece of thing gold leaf more than 7 times with the use of tweezers. To further prove that it could be done, she bought a giant roll of toilet paper on the internet and her and her family took it to the local mall where they attempted to fold it more than 7 times. Seven hours of folding later, they had it folded into 12 folds.

False Fact

First of all, just so you know, it is true that adult elephants can’t jump – if by jumping we mean the state of having no feet on the ground at the same time after propelling oneself from a stationary position. But contrary to the popular myth that it is is the only mammal that can’t, it is joined by a few others. Firstly, the sloth is unable to jump which suits its lazy lifestyle rather well. Also, rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses also cannot jump, though unlike elephants, when they run it is possible for them to have all four feet off the ground.

False Fact

This bogus fact is usually worked out so that a dog life is equal to a human life in total years, but the numbers just don’t add up. The average human life expectancy is 78, while the average dog life expectancy (in false dog years) would equal around 90 years. Furthermore, different dog breeds have dramatically different life expectancies, ranging from a short 6 years to 13 or more years (in general, the smaller the dog, the longer its life expectancy). Furthermore, dogs have a very short “childhood” and a very long middle-age, making the comparison completely invalid.

False Fact

This is a very popular misconception and I have even seen people arguing about it in a shop. But the reality is a little more bland. A shop price is an “invitation to bargain” not an “invitation to buy”. This is true in the United States, United Kingdom, Commonwealth nations, and probably the rest of the Western world. If a shop makes a mistake, they can simply continue to sell the goods at the normal price. Attempts to defraud by advertising lower prices are caught in other consumer laws. However, it should be noted that if an electronic transaction is completed you may be eligible to keep the goods if a mistake is made.

False Fact

First of all, how do you vacuum in a vacuum? You don’t, so why would NASA need a vacuum cleaner for its space missions? It didn’t, but what it did need was a small battery powered drill, so they teemed up with Black and Decker to come up with the perfect device. Once the device had been realized, Black and Decker were left with great technology from which they eventually developed the DustBuster and other useful home devices.

False Fact

Where this myth came from is now lost in the dark recesses of history. The widespread of this misnomer is quite extraordinary with more google results announcing it as gospel than not. But in reality, scientists who have spent their working lives studying polar bears have found that they are actually ambidextrous (they use both hands equally well). It is possible that the myth was started when people observed the bears working well with their left hands, but they neglected to notice that they also worked well with their right.

False Fact

This theory was proposed by Thomas Friedman and became massively popular all around the world. It was used to show that countries loving democracy (those most likely to have a McDonald’s franchise) have lived peacefully together due to the merits of that political system (this is also called the Democratic Peace Theory and the Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Resolution). Friedman proposed it in his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree. So, is it true? No. Georgia and Russia were recently at war with each other and both have McDonald’s. Furthermore, Israel and Lebanon also defy the theory for their conflict in 2006, and right after the book was published, NATO bombed Serbia – again disproving the idea.

False Fact

Well this is wrong on many levels. Firstly, while you are still close enough to earth to actually see the great wall, you can also see road networks, and other large objects created by man. There is, in fact, no distance from earth in which you can only see the great wall. By the time you get a few thousand miles away, you can see nothing manmade. Astronaut Alan Bean said: “The only thing you can see from the moon is a beautiful sphere, mostly white (clouds), some blue (ocean), patches of yellow (deserts), and every once in a while some green vegetation. No man-made object is visible on this scale. In fact, when first leaving earth’s orbit and only a few thousand miles away, no man-made object is visible at that point either.”

False Fact

“Put a hat on or you’ll catch your death of a cold,” screeches every micromanaging momma as her charges march off into the winter wonderland. But in numerous studies addressing the topic, people who are chilled are no more likely to get sick than those who were not. And a wet or dry head makes no difference. (But these tips can help you stop a cold before it starts.)

False Fact

Is there anything more “Viking warrior” than a helmet fitted with horns? Nary a portrayal shows the seafaring Norse pirates without the iconic headgear. Alas, horned hats were not worn by the warriors. Although the style did exist in the region, they were only used for early ceremonial purposes and had largely faded out by the time of the Vikings. Several major misidentifications got the myth rolling, and by the time costume designers for Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen” put horned helmets on the singers in the late 19th century, there was no going back.

False Fact

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a review of 23 studies on the subject of kids and sugar, the conclusion: Sugar doesn’t affect behavior. And it’s possible that it is the idea itself that is so ingrained as fact that it affects our perception. Case in point: In one study mothers were told that their sons had consumed a drink with a high sugar content. Although the boys had actually consumed sugar-free drinks, the mothers reported significantly higher levels of hyperactive behavior. That said, some scientists warn that sugar can make you dumb.

False Fact

Everyone knows that you lose somewhere around 98 percent of your body heat through your head, which is why you have to wear a hat in the cold. Except that you don’t. As reported in The New York Times and elsewhere, the amount of heat released by any part of the body depends mostly on the surface area — on a cold day you would lose more heat through an exposed leg or arm than a bare head.

False Fact

It seems reasonable, but it’s not true either. You will not get arthritis from cracking your knuckles. There is no evidence of such an association, and in limited studies performed there was no change in occurrence of arthritis between “habitual knuckle crackers” and “non crackers.” There have been several reports in medical literature that have linked knuckle cracking with injury of the ligaments surrounding the joint or dislocation of the tendons, but not arthritis.

False Fact

Napoleon’s height was once commonly given as 5 feet 2 inches, but many historians have now given him extra height. He was 5 feet 2 inches using French units, but when converted into Imperial units, the kind we are accustomed to, he measured almost 5 feet 7 inches inches tall — which was actually slightly taller than average for a man in France at the time.

False Fact

The perceived association between dietary cholesterol and risk for coronary heart disease stems from dietary recommendations proposed in the 1960s that had little scientific evidence, other than the known association between saturated fat and cholesterol and animal studies where cholesterol was fed in amounts far exceeding normal intakes. Since then, study after study has found that dietary cholesterol (the cholesterol found in food) does not negatively raise your body’s cholesterol. It is the consumption of saturated fat that is the demon here. So eat eggs, don’t eat steak.

False Fact

Your 3-year-old dog is 21 years old in human years, right? Not according to experts. The general consensus is that dogs mature faster than humans, reaching the equivalent of 21 years in only two, and then aging slows down to more like four human years per year. “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan’s site recommends this way to calculate your dog’s human-age equivalent: Subtract two from the age, multiply that by four and add 21.

False Fact

Our first president starting losing his teeth in his 20s, but contrary to popular belief, his dentures were not made of wood. Although built-in toothpicks would have been handy, Washington had four sets of dentures that were made from gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, and human and animal teeth (horse and donkey teeth were common components in the day). Also of note: The dentures had bolts to hold them together and springs to help them open, all the better to eat one of his favorite treats, Mary Washington’s seriously delicious gingerbread.

False Fact

Mount Everest is one whopping big mountain, but is it the tallest in the world? In fact it is not. A mountain is highest in regard to how far it soars above sea level. But technically it is tallest from base to summit. And Mauna Kea kills it at being the tallest. Here’s the deets: Above sea level, Mauna Kea (in Hawaii) is only 13,799 feet (4,206 meters). But when you count the crazy enormous portion of it that’s underwater, it’s 33,465 feet tall (10,200 meters). Everest, that snobby little upstart, is only 29,029 feet (8,848 meters) above sea level, with none of it below sea level.

False Fact

They’re wicked awesome for a number of reasons: their funny, little two-toed feet, their uber-mobile eye cups, their super curly tails and their other exciting physical embellishments. What’s probably best about them, though, is their polychromatic flare. But all those changing colors, unlike what many people believe, usually don’t have a thing to do with blending into their surroundings. It hinges on the particular species, of course, but they’re usually pretty well camouflaged to begin with. If they need to visually merge into the background, they can just stick with their normal coloration. Instead, chameleon color-changing is typically triggered by physical, physiological and emotional changes. If they’re feeling fussy, say angry or afraid or combative, they’ll change colors using their chromatophores. They’ll also change colors as a way of communicating in various manners (insert romantic music here) and to pick a fight with a competitor. Light and temperature play a big part, too, in how these little fancy pantses look.

False Fact

The popular image of Santa Claus was not created by The Coca-Cola Company as an advertising gimmick; by the time Coca-Cola began using Santa Claus’s image in the 1930s, Santa Claus had already taken his modern form in popular culture, having already seen extensive use in other companies’ advertisements and other mass media.

False Fact

Fortune cookies, despite being associated with Chinese cuisine in the United States, were in fact invented and brought to the U.S. by the Japanese. The cookies are extremely rare in China, where they are conversely seen as symbols of American cuisine.

False Fact

The word “crap” did not originate as a back-formation of British plumber Thomas Crapper’s surname, nor does his name originate from the word “crap”, although the surname may have helped popularize the word.[92] The surname “Crapper” is a variant of “Cropper”, which originally referred to someone who harvested crops. The word “crap” ultimately comes from Medieval Latin crappa, meaning “chaff”

False Fact

Bulls are not enraged by the color red, used in capes by professional matadors. Cattle are dichromats, so red does not stand out as a bright color. It is not the color of the cape, but the perceived threat by the matador that incites it to charge.

False Fact

Ostriches do not hide their heads in the sand to hide from enemies.[132] This misconception was probably promulgated by Pliny the Elder, who wrote that ostriches “imagine, when they have thrust their head and neck into a bush, that the whole of their body is concealed.”

False Fact

Alcoholic beverages do not make one warmer. The reason that alcoholic drinks create the sensation of warmth is that they cause blood vessels to dilate and stimulate nerve endings near the surface of the skin with an influx of warm blood. This can actually result in making the core body temperature lower, as it allows for easier heat exchange with a cold external environment.

False Fact

Frankenstein was not the name of the monster in the novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley; rather it was the surname of the monster’s creator, Victor Frankenstein. The monster is instead called Frankenstein’s monster. Additionally, Frankenstein was a medical student in the novel, not a doctor as frequently portrayed.

False Fact

There is a legend that Marco Polo imported pasta from China which originated with the Macaroni Journal, published by an association of food industries with the goal of promoting the use of pasta in the United States. Marco Polo describes a food similar to “lagana” in his Travels, but he uses a term with which he was already familiar. Durum wheat, and thus pasta as it is known today, was introduced by Arabs from Libya, during their conquest of Sicily in the late 7th century, according to the newsletter of theNational Macaroni Manufacturers Association, thus predating Marco Polo’s travels to China by about six centuries.

False Fact

Fat gets converted to energy. Extra protein gets converted to muscle

BONUS
False Fact



All facts are from Wikipedia, Mitchinson and Lloyd.

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