12 Old Wives Tales People Still Believe

Old wives’ tales that passed through generations were mostly proven false by modern science. Unfortunately, some are pervasive, garnering thousands of believers despite the potential harm they could cause. 

These 12 old wives’ tales remain despite all the evidence that they aren’t true. 

Harming the Baby

Shocked pregnant woman lying in bed.
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Myths abound about what pregnant people should/shouldn’t do. One that’s been proven false but remains persistent is that raising your arms while pregnant will harm the baby. Myths like this prevent women from participating in society while pregnant. 


Back of a police man. He's wearing a bullet proof vest and has the word "police" in yellow letters across his back.
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Entrapment laws protect people from being manipulated by law enforcement into committing crimes. It has nothing to do with asking an undercover cop if they’re a cop. 

Starve a Fever

A woman is sick in bed with the flu.
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The full rhyme goes, “starve a fever, feed a cold.” People believe not eating will reduce fevers, when sick people need all the energy they can get to fight off the cold. 

The Baby’s Gender

Sleeping infant wrapped in light blue bear blanket on a blue grey background.
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Before we had ultrasounds to determine a baby’s gender, old wives’ tales had numerous tricks for figuring out whether the bundle of joy was a boy or a girl. The most pervasive is how the mother carries – low means a boy, high means a girl. The truth is how a mother carries has no bearing on gender. 

Gum Stays in Your Stomach

woman making a grossed out face and holding a spoon
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Adults tell kids never to swallow gum, warning that the undigestable substance sits in your stomach for seven long years.

Knuckle Cracking Arthritis

A woman behind her desk after work stretching and cracking her knuckles.
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A medical myth that refuses to go away claims cracking your knuckles causes arthritis. Several studies show it does not. 

Hair Grows Thicker

Woman wearing a white bathrobe and white towel on her hair sitting on the side of a bathtub shaving.
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Despite all the evidence it’s wrong, the myth that shaved hair grows back thicker will not go away. Shaved hair appears thicker at first because the end is blunt, but it will even out as it grows. 

Opal’s Secret Powers

An opal ring on a person's finger.
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Opal jewelry destroys women’s lives unless it’s her birthstone. The old wives’ tale states that women born outside of October who wear opal will have bad luck with family and marriage. 

Carrots Improve Eyesight

Bowl of baby carrots. Regular carrots are on the table beside it.
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The idea that carrots improve eyesight was clever propaganda that morphed into an old wives tale. The government pushed the idea to hide their new radar technology. 

Wet Hair

Back view of a woman brushing her wet hair.
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Never leave the house with wet hair – you’ll get sick! Germs cause illness, not wet hair. 

Spiders in Sleep

A close up of a jumping spider on a leaf.
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 Did you know you swallow up to eight spiders a night when you sleep? We hope you didn’t because it’s not true. The best part about this rumor is that it was explicitly created to showcase how false information spreads

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

stressed mom with two young kids
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Far too many mothers got unexpected surprises when they found themselves expecting shortly after delivering. The myth that you can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding needs to retire. 

Comforting Lies We All Believe

A woman has her hand on her chin and her eyes looking off to the left with a look of confusion on her face.
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Even the smartest among us fall for these everyday lies

We’re So Tired of Explaining these Basic Concepts To Others

Close up of an annoyed, frustrated woman holding her hands up in rage.
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Sometimes, people just can’t understand basic ideas. We explain these concepts to others until our faces turn blue, yet they still can’t grasp them. 

Reasons Not To Have Kids

Woman crossing her arms in a refusal gesture.
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Despite all the pressure to procreate, it’s perfectly valid not to want kids. Millennials and younger generations are opting out of parenthood at record rates. 

Here are their top reasons for not wanting kids

Are Witches Real?

group of modern witches to represent celebrating the Night of Hecate (Hecate's Night)
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From medicine woman to legendary monster – discover the truth about witches and witchcraft throughout history. 

Celebrating the Divine Feminine

Silloutte of a woman dancing on water in a gorgeous light to represent the Divine feminine.
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Many cultures throughout history worshipped the divine feminine. Find out why she’s so powerful

Author: Melanie Allen

Title: Journalist

Expertise: Pursuing Your Passions, Travel, Wellness, Hobbies, Finance, Gaming, Happiness

Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation and is a certified happiness life coach. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.