35 False ‘Facts’ That You Wrongly Believe (And 1 That You Should)

Some of these morsels of data have been around for as long as anyone can recall, but stopping to question them is rarely high on anyone's agenda.

Matt Dunn

Contributor

Fox

Fox

People used to have it so easy. Life was so simple. A place for everything and everything in its place. People knew what they knew because they knew it and if they didn’t know it but needed to find out, there was always the Encyclopaedia Britannica. How things have changed…or have they?

These days it’s gotten so you don’t even know when you’re hearing or regurgitating something that isn’t actually true. We’re surrounded by an inflow of data – with vastly differing degrees of relevance, importance and factual accuracy – and bombarded with information all day, every day.  Some of it makes its way into popular culture, where it does the rounds so often that we just assume it to be true. But we almost never pause to ponder how or why we know this. But it’s not such a new phenomenon. Some of these morsels of data have been around for as long as anyone can recall, but stopping to question them is rarely high on anyone’s agenda. Few would even recognise them as unsubstantiated works of fiction, let alone take time to research the topic. But these days, disproving them is relatively easy – thank goodness for the information superhighway.

For instance, how many times have you heard (or actually made the claim) that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from space?

More to the point, how would most of us have even the remotest chance of saying, with hand on heart certainty, that the statement was absolutely, 100%, definitively true? Or what about that old chestnut about never going out in the cold without a hat – and certainly not with wet hair – because we lose most of our body heat through our heads? And, of course, letting our wet hair get cold will make us sick? Our mothers and grandmothers were doubtless on a quest for good rather than evil with that one, but if we’d pressed them at the time they would’ve struggled to find any conclusive evidence supporting either assertion.

Back in the Cold War days, the Moscow Rules said “once is accidental, twice is coincidence, three times is a pattern”. Today we can apply that same rationale to the countless urban myths we acknowledge as fact on a daily basis. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, by taking the Moscow Rules approach false facts are easily identified and even more easily discredited. You don’t need to be a scientist, or a genius, or even especially intelligent. All it takes is an enquiring mind, a bit of time to go hunting for proof, and Google.

So in no particular order, let’s take a look at 35 commonly held misconceptions and then, just for a laugh, one that sounds like it couldn’t possibly be true but actually is.