Common Misconceptions

The list of common misconceptions is one of my absolute favorite Wikipedia pages. It is good to remember that just because something is common knowledge or you learned it in school does not mean it is true. Sometimes it is good to fact check even things you think you understand. Some highlights:

  • ·          The Twinkie does not have an infinite shelf life
  • ·         420” did not originate as the Los Angeles policeor penal code for marijuanause.[87]

  • ·         It is true that life expectancy in the Middle Ages and earlier was low; however, one should not infer that people usually died around the age of 30.[106]In fact, earlier low life expectancies were very strongly influenced by high infant mortality

  • ·         There is no evidence that iron maidens were invented in the Middle Ages or even used for torture.

  • ·         Medieval Europeans did not believe Earth was flat; in fact, from the time of the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle, belief in a spherical Earth remained almost universal among European intellectuals. As a result, Christopher Columbus‘s efforts to obtain support for his voyages were hampered not by belief in a flat Earth but by valid worries that the East Indies were farther than he realized.[115].
  • ·         Columbus never reached any land that now forms part of the mainland United States of America; most of the landings Columbus made on his four voyages, including the initial October 12, 1492 landing (the anniversary of which forms the basis of Columbus Day), were on Caribbean islands which today are independent countries.
  • ·         Albert Einstein did not fail mathematics in school.

  • ·         When bartender Kitty Genovese was murdered outside her Queensapartment in 1964, 37 neighbors did not stand idly by and watch, not calling the police until after she was dead, as The New York Times initially reported[171]to widespread public outrage that persisted for years.
  • ·         Black holeshave the same gravitational effects as any other equal mass in their place. If, for example, the Sun were replaced by a black hole of equal mass, the orbits of the planets would be essentially unaffected.
  • ·         The notion that goldfish have a memory span of just a few seconds is false.[208][209]It is much longer, counted in months.
  • ·         A duck’s quack actually does echo [204]

  • ·         The flight mechanism and aerodynamics of the bumblebee(as well as other insects) are actually quite well understood
  • ·         Poinsettias are not highly toxic to humans or cats.

  • ·         Waking sleepwalkersdoes not harm them.
  • ·         All different tastes can be detected on all parts of the tongue by taste buds[279]

  • ·         Shaving does not cause terminal hair to grow back thicker or coarser or darker.
  • ·         Eight glasses or two to three liters of water a day are not needed to maintain health.[295]

  • ·         Sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children.[296][297]

  • ·         Mental abilities are not absolutely separated into the left and right cerebral hemispheres of the brain.[314]

  • ·         People do not use only ten percent of their brains.
  • ·         All humans learn in fundamentally similar ways.[332]In particular, there is no evidence that people have different learning styles,[332]nor that catering teaching styles to purported learning styles improves information retention.[333]


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