10 Widely-accepted truths that turned out to be false

Just because something is “common knowledge” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true.

Below is a list of 10 things that used to be widely accepted as truths, but turned out to be false:

  1. Lemmings are suicidal: Tragically, the origin of this “truth” is that a Disney filmmaker working on the “White Wilderness” documentary forced lemmings off a cliff to stage death scenes.
  2. The Great Wall of China can be seen from space: If this were true, astronauts would be able to see major highways all over the world too – many of then are both wider and longer than the Chinese wall.
  3. Different parts of your tongue can only sense specific tastes: The “taste bud map” you may have seen in school is a common misconception, in actual fact, different types of taste buds are distributed evenly across your tongue.
  4. The average person swallows 8 spiders in their sleep per year: This claim was actually invented as an example of easily people will believe absurd things they see on the Internet.
  5. Humans only use 10% of their brains: In actual fact, we use all of our brain most of the time. The reason this myth is so persistent is that physics and other quacks keep using it as a way of “explaining” their powers.
  6. The food pyramid: This old “cornerstone” of nutrition puts starches and other sugars at the bottom (indicating that you should eat a lot of them) and oils & fats at the top of the pyramid. In actual fact, much of this design was influenced by the sugar industry and cherry-picked research by a scientist named Ancel Keys.
  7. Carrots improve your eyesight: This was actually propaganda spread by the Allies during World War 2 to keep RADAR technology a secret from the Axis Powers. To keep the Germans from suspecting the new technology, the Allies spread rumours that carrots dramatically improve eyesight and that their pilots ate a bunch of them every day.
  8. Lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice: It can and does since electricity will always follow the easiest path. This is why tall buildings have lightning rods – they cause lightning to strike in a specific place so the power can be dissipated.
  9. A diamond engagement ring should cost two months’ salary: This idea isn’t based on any kind of tradition – rather, the De Beers diamond company actively marketed this idea to get people to spend more money on diamonds. At first their messages said one month, then they updated it to two months in the 1980’s.
  10. Albert Einstein failed math in school: Actually, he excelled at it. The confusion came from the school system back then grading results on a scale of 1-6, with 1 being the best. In later years the grading system switched around, and Einstein’s “1” looked like a failing mark to later audiences.
Editor's choice