To put an end to the this phenomenon, we’ve gathered a few of the most popular tidbits of misinformation floating around and gave them a nice, thorough debunking. Check it out, and you might be surprised at what’s real… and what’s not!
Water does not swirl in a different direction depending on what hemisphere you’re in.
While the coriolis force does exist, it has no effect on the direction in which water swirls. The myth was popularized by two separate episodes of The Simpsons and The X-Files.
Swimming after you eat will not give you cramps.
Your body sends more oxygen and blood to your stomach to help the digestive process, but not nearly enough to impair your other limbs.
Your fingers don’t prune because they’re absorbing water.
Scientists don’t know exactly why this happens, but one theory is that it improves our grip in the water.
George Washington didn’t actually have wooden teeth.
George Washington did indeed suffer from dental problems, but no record of him employing wooden teeth exists. Nor were wooden teeth really used by doctors in that era.
Oranges are not actually named after the color orange. It’s the other way around.
The color orange comes from the old French word for the tasty fruit, “pomme d’orenge.”
Birds won’t abandon their babies just because a human touched them.
According to Frank B. Gill, former president of the American Ornithologists’ Union, birds care too much about their young to abandon them just because they were touched.
No, your blood is not blue when it doesn’t contain any oxygen.
While blood may be a darker shade of red when there is less oxygen, it never turns another color entirely.
Goldfish do not have a three-second memory. They have been shown to remember things for months.
Scientists that trained goldfish to respond to certain sounds discovered that they still did so even months later.
Albert Einstein did not fail mathematics in school.
Einstein actually excelled in mathematics and even considered making it his focus. The rumor that he failed actually got started while he was alive due to an error in an issue of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.
Poinsettias are not actually poisonous. That still doesn’t mean you should try to eat them, though.
No one is sure how this myth got started, but it’s believed to have originated in 1919, when a couple claimed that their daughter had died after eating the flower.
No, there aren’t different areas on your tongue for tasting different flavors.
While scientists have indeed identified five different forms of taste, your tongue tastes each of these about equally.
Napoleon was actually 5’7”, which isn’t that short.
While Napoleon was actually listed at 5’2″ at the time of his death, that was in French units, which translates to about 5’7” today.
The Great Wall of China isn’t actually visible from space.
One of China’s own astronauts, Yang Liwei, confirmed, sadly, that the wall wasn’t even visible from low orbit.
Bats aren’t actually blind.
They can see up to three times better than the average person. Take that, puny humans!
While horns do look really cool, vikings didn’t actually have them on their helmets.
The idea that vikings wore elaborate headgear into battle is entirely fictional. Despite years of searching, archaeologists have yet to unearth a viking helmet with horns.
Flies don’t die after 24 hours. They can actually live for up to 30 days.
The life cycle of the fly is complex and has many stages. Some fly specimens have even lived as long as two months!
Cracking your knuckles will not give you arthritis.
Most of the popping you hear when people crack their knuckles is caused by gas bubbles in the synovial fluid that lubricates your joints.
Bubble gum does not take seven years to digest.
Yes, most chewing gum—made of a mixture of resins, emulsifiers, fats, and waxes—is indigestible. But it will not stay in your body longer than anything else. It will be moved along and passed just the same.
Not all of Shakespeare’s plays are original.
Hamlet was actually based on the legend of Amleth, recorded by 13th-century chronicler Saxo Grammaticus.