Common Misconceptions

Posted by on May 19, 2011 in Common misconceptions |

• There is no evidence that Vikings wore horns on their helmets.

• Contrary to the popular image of the Pilgrim Fathers, the early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts did not dress in black, wear buckles, or wear black steeple hats. According to Plimoth Plantation historian James W. Baker, this image was formed in the 19th century when buckles were a kind of emblem of quaintness. This is also the reason illustrators gave Santa Claus buckles.

• George Washington did not have wooden teeth.

• The signing of the Declaration of Independence did not occur on July 4, 1776. The final language of the document was approved by the Second Continental Congress on that date, it was printed and distributed on July 4 and 5, but the actual signing occurred on August 2, 1776.

• The United States Constitution was written on parchment, not hemp paper.

• Searing meat does not “seal in” moisture, and in fact may actually cause meat to lose moisture. Generally, the value in searing meat is that it creates a brown crust with a rich flavor via the Maillard reaction.

-It is commonly claimed that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from the Moon. This is false. None of the Apollo astronauts reported seeing any specific man-made object from the Moon, and even earth-orbiting astronauts can barely see it, but city lights are easily visible on the night side of Earth from orbit.
The misconception is believed to have been popularized by Richard Halliburton decades before the first moon landing. Shuttle astronaut Jay Apt has been quoted as saying “…the Great Wall is almost invisible from only 180 miles up.”

• The notion that goldfish have a memory span of just a few seconds is false.

• Bats are not blind. While most bat species do use echolocation to augment their vision, all bat species have eyes and are capable of sight.

• The flight mechanism and aerodynamics of the bumblebee (as well as other insects) are actually quite well understood, in spite of the urban legend that calculations show that they should not be able to fly. In the 1930s a German scientist, using flawed techniques, indeed postulated that bumblebees theoretically should not be able to fly, although he later retracted the suggestion. However, the hypothesis became generalized to the false notion that “scientists think that bumblebees should not be able to fly.”

• It is not harmful to baby birds to pick them up and return them to their nests, despite the common belief that doing so will cause the mother to reject them.

• Bulls are not enraged by the color red, used in capes by professional matadors. Cattle are dichromats, so red does not stand out as a bright color. It is not the color of the cape that angers the bull, but rather the movement of the fabric that irritates the bull and incites it to charge.

• Humans have more than five senses. Although definitions vary, the actual number ranges from 9 to more than 20. In addition to sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, which were the senses identified by Aristotle, humans can sense balance and acceleration (equilibrioception), pain (nociception), body and limb position (proprioception or kinesthetic sense), and relative temperature (thermoception). Other senses sometimes identified are the sense of time, itching, pressure, hunger, thirst, fullness of the stomach, need to urinate, need to defecate, and blood carbon dioxide levels.

Skin and hair
• Hair and fingernails do not continue to grow after a person dies. Rather, the skin dries and shrinks away from the bases of hairs and nails, giving the appearance of growth.
• Hair care products cannot as such “repair” split ends and damaged hair. They can, however, prevent damage from occurring in the first place, smooth down the cuticle in a glue-like fashion so that it appears repaired, and generally make hair appear in better condition.

Nutrition, food, and drink
• Eight glasses of water a day are not necessary to maintain health. Consuming things that contain water such as juice, tea, milk, fruits and vegetables also keeps a person hydrated.
• Alcohol does not make one warmer.The reason that alcoholic drinks create the sensation of warmth is that they cause blood vessels to dilate and stimulate nerve endings near the surface of the skin with an influx of warm blood. This can actually result

Human sexuality
• A popular myth regarding human sexuality is that men think about sex every seven seconds. In reality, this has not been measured, and as far as researchers can tell, this statistic greatly exaggerates the frequency of sexual thoughts.

The Human Brain
• People do not use only ten percent of their brains. While it is true that a small minority of neurons in the brain are actively firing at any one time, the inactive neurons are important too. This myth has been commonplace in American culture at least as far back as the start of the 20th century, and was attributed to William James, who apparently used the expression metaphorically. Some findings of brain science (such as the high ratio of glial cells to neurons) have been mistakenly read as providing support for the myth.

Disease
• Warts on human skin are caused by viruses that are unique to humans (human papillomavirus). Humans cannot catch warts from toads or other animals; the bumps on a toad are not warts.

• Frequently cracking ones knuckles or exercise in the absence of injury does not cause osteoarthritis.

Miscellaneous
• Waking sleepwalkers does not harm them. While it is true that a person may be confused or disoriented for a short time after awakening, this does not cause them further harm. In contrast, sleepwalkers may injure themselves if they trip over objects or lose their balance while sleepwalking. Such injuries are common among sleepwalkers.

Psychology
• Photographic or eidetic memory refers to the ability to remember images with extremely high precision – so high as to mimic a camera. However, it is highly unlikely that photographic memory exists, as to date there is no hard scientific evidence that anyone has ever had it.[196] Many people have claimed to have a photographic memory, but those people have been shown to have good memories as a result of mnemonic devices rather than a natural capacity for detailed memory encoding.[197] There are rare cases of individuals with exceptional memory, but none of them has a memory that mimics a camera.

Technology
Inventions
• George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter, though he reputedly discovered three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds more for soybeans, pecans, and sweet potatoes.

• Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb. He did, however, develop the first practical light bulb in 1880 (employing a carbonized bamboo filament), shortly prior to Joseph Swan, who invented an even more efficient bulb in 1881 (which used a cellulose filament).

• Henry Ford did not invent either the automobile or the assembly line. He did help to develop the assembly line substantially, sometimes through his own engineering but more often through sponsoring the work of his employees.

• Al Gore never said that he “invented” the Internet; Gore actually said, “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Gore was the original drafter of the High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991, which provided significant funding for supercomputing centers, and this in turn led to upgrades of a major part of the already existing, early 1990s Internet backbone, the NSFNet, and development of NCSA Mosaic, the browser that popularized the World Wide Web; see Al Gore and information technology.

Transportation
• Toilet waste is never intentionally dumped overboard from an aircraft. All waste is collected in tanks which are emptied on the ground by special toilet waste vehicles. A vacuum is used to allow the toilet to be flushed with less water and because plumbing cannot rely on gravity alone in an aircraft in motion. The infamous blue ice is caused by accidental leakages from the waste tank. Passenger trains, on the other hand, have historically flushed onto the tracks; however, modern trains usually have retention tanks on board the train.

Finally
If you’ve made it this far there is one more myth you should know about: “Wikipedia is fact.”
If you’re doing research, you shouldn’t use Wikipedia as a source…even thought that’s where I got all these “misconceptions” from. So take these with a grain of salt. Here’s the link if you’re interested in more click here
and if you want to do more research on any of these, follow the foot notes.

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