We often do things because we learn from our parents and grandparents that it’s true. Our outdated facts get replaced by scientific reason, but often the general public gets left out of the loop.
So we continue on, believing things that aren’t true and that may even harm us if acted upon.
Reddit comes to the rescue to dispel some of the most commonly believed myths. While scrolling through the R/askreddit community, I found a thread asking users to share popular beliefs that have been proven false.
Here are some top responses.
Most of us haven’t had to experience the horror of nature’s fury through a tornado. That’s good news because some common knowledge about tornado safety is wrong and downright dangerous.
Redditors shared that two myths about tornado safety could hurt more than they help.
“Hiding under a highway overpass is actually not a good way to survive a tornado,” shared one user. “It has been scientifically proven that the wind gets concentrated and the speeds increase underneath the overpass.”
Another addressed the myth about opening windows to reduce pressure, which just lets the dangerous wreak havoc inside your home.
Everyone knows that goldfish can’t remember anything that happened more than three seconds ago, but are they right?
One user shared that this common belief about our favorite fishy friends is false. “Supposedly, you can even train them to do tricks,” they said.
Another added that goldfish could even remember human faces.
A common medical myth states that if you crack your knuckles repeatedly while young, you’ll develop arthritis in the future.
“There was a guy who only cracked the knuckles on his right hand his whole life to test this,” said one user. “He had no real difference between his hands arthritis-wise.”
Others pointed out that a few anecdotes don’t make a study, and there’s no real research into whether cracking knuckles contribute to arthritis or not.
A Frog in Boiling Water
We often use the analogy of a frog in boiling water to describe not knowing something is wrong until it’s too late. As the story goes, a frog thrown into scalding water will jump out immediately to save itself. However, if you place a frog in cool water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will stay put and eventually perish.
However, as Redditors pointed out, the study which birthed the analogy was deeply flawed. While it’s true the studied frog stayed in the pot, the part where the researcher removed half the frog’s brain is usually left out. A healthy frog with a whole brain will indeed jump out of the pot.
Many people don’t want to shave because they fear their hair will return with a vengeance.
Though it may seem like shaving results in thicker, darker hair, it’s not true. New hairs feel coarser when they first appear but aren’t thicker.
“Technically, it came from the fact that cut hairs are coarser and pricklier because, yk, they are now sharp. But you are right, it’s not actually any thicker,” shared one user.
Another added that first-time shavers might indeed experience this phenomenon, but it’s the result of aging, not shaving.
“I think it also is influenced by the fact that many people shave for the first time during puberty when your hair will most likely grow back thicker and darker,” they offered, adding, “That would happen without shaving, since they’re going through puberty and all.”
Rice is Bad for the Birds
Throwing rice at weddings was a fun tradition until naysayers claimed it hurt wildlife. Now, no one throws rice, believing innocent birds will eat it all and explode.
“Birds eat rice all the time!” exclaimed one user. “It’s actually good for them, especially brown rice.”
Some believe people made up the rumor to avoid cleaning thousands of rice grains off carpets.
10% of Our Brain
The myth that we only use 10% of our brains likely arose from a misunderstanding of neurological research from nearly a century ago.
While the study found that we may not use all of our neural abilities all the time, the 10% number is a false oversimplification.
Redditors shared research showing we use most of our brain most of the time, saying some of the disconnects may be due to a lack of understanding of how the brain functions.
Our veins appear blueish-green on our skin, leading some to believe blood is blue. The myth states that blood changes color from blue to red upon exposure to oxygen.
“Veins/arteries look blue due to the depth they are under your skin, light scattering,” shared one user, adding that the effect is similar to why the sky looks blue.
Redditors shared the truth: hemoglobin is red, and since it’s found in all red blood cells, oxygenated or not, all blood is red.
Researchers don’t always get things right. In fact, according to Redditors, the person who developed the alpha wolf theory later admitted it was wrong, but by then, it was too late.
The idea of the “alpha male” became entrenched in culture, and far too many people extrapolate the now-debunked theory into human behavior.
Sugar Leads to Hyperactive Kids
Many people still believe the outdated idea that sugar makes kids hyper. Kids are hyper because they’re kids.
One Redditor explained a study measuring the belief.
“The researchers set up a randomized controlled study of boys (n = 35; 5-7 yo) who had been reported as sugar sensitive by their mothers. In the experimental group, the researchers told mothers the boys received a high dose of sugar. In the control group, researchers told mothers they received a sugar-less placebo,” they began.
“Mothers in the experimental group reported higher levels of hyperactivity than mothers in the control group. Well, it turns out the researchers fed both groups the same sugar-less placebo. The only thing measured here was the mother’s belief that sugar causes hyperactivity.”
“It’s also a self-fulfilling belief,” shared another. “Parents who believe it rarely give their kids sugar. So when the kids do get a sugary treat, they get excited and hyperactive. Not because they had sugar, but because they got a rare treat.”
Sugar may not be good for kids, but it won’t make them any more hyper than they’d typically be.
Old Beliefs Slow To Fade
It’s hard to change our minds about things everyone knows to be true, even when research suggests we’re wrong. Some Redditors in this thread were even surprised by the information their fellow users shared, showing that we can all learn and grow when exposed to new information.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.