12 Popular Science Lies that Must be Corrected

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Science is fantastic, but sometimes, myths and misconceptions creep in, leaving us all misinformed. 

In an age where information is at our fingertips, it’s easy for myths to spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, these myths often become accepted as facts. Debunking them is essential for fostering a better understanding of science. Let’s clear up some of the most persistent science myths once and for all!

Brain Myths

Courtesy of The Ohio State University

Myth: Humans only use 10% of their brains.

Reality: This myth has been perpetuated for decades but couldn’t be further from the truth. Brain imaging technologies such as fMRI scans show activity coursing through the entire brain—even at rest. No part of the brain is truly inactive. The absolute marvel is how efficiently our brain uses its resources.

Lightning Myths

Courtesy of Global News

Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.

Reality: Tell that to the Empire State Building, which gets struck about 20-25 times yearly! Lightning is more likely to strike tall structures repeatedly. It’s all about physics and probability, not just luck.

Shaving and Hair Growth

Courtesy of CNA Lifestyle

Myth: Shaving causes hair to grow back thicker.

Reality: This one is a classic. Shaving cuts hair at the surface, where it is thickest, giving the illusion of coarser regrowth. The reality? Your hair’s thickness, color, and growth rate remain unchanged.

Knuckle Cracking and Arthritis

Courtesy of Harvard Health

Myth: Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis.

Reality: While the sound might annoy your friends, studies have shown no connection between knuckle cracking and arthritis. Go ahead, crack away—you’re not damaging your joints.

Space Myths

Courtesy of Ancient Origins

Myth: The Great Wall of China is the only human-made structure visible from space.

Reality: Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Great Wall is barely visible from low Earth orbit and not from the moon. Under perfect conditions, many human-made structures, including cities and highways, can be seen from space.

Terminal Velocity of Falling Objects

Courtesy of Kids Activity

Myth: A penny dropped from a skyscraper could kill someone.

Reality: A penny reaches terminal velocity, the highest velocity attainable by an object as it falls through the air, which is far too slow to be lethal. You might feel a sting but won’t make ER trips.

Human Senses

Courtesy of Pinterest

Myth: Humans only have five senses.

Reality: We have more than five senses. Beyond sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, we have senses like balance (vestibular sense), temperature (thermoception), pain (nociception), and even time perception.

Vitamin C and Cold Prevention

Courtesy of Jogran Josh

Myth: Vitamin C cures the common cold.

Reality: Vitamin C can slightly shorten the duration of a cold, but it’s not a cure-all. Some studies suggest that taking 1–2 grams of vitamin C daily could shorten a cold by 8% in adults and 14% in children. However, other research indicates limited or no benefit. Notably, taking vitamin C after cold symptoms may not significantly impact anything. Maintaining a balanced diet overall is far better for your immune system than chugging orange juice when you feel a sniffle coming on.

Tryptophan in Turkey

Courtesy of Thrillist

Myth: Eating turkey makes you drowsy due to tryptophan.

Reality: While turkey does have tryptophan, an amino acid that supports serotonin production and vitamin B3 (niacin), a 3-ounce serving only contains 250–310 milligrams. This is just a bit less than chicken and insufficient to make you sleepy. Some suggest that you munch on around eight pounds of turkey to reach a tryptophan level that might induce sleepiness. The actual cause of that post-Thanksgiving nap is overeating and consuming high-carb dishes, which can make you sleepy.

Bats Myth

Courtesy of National Geographic Kids

Myth: Bats are blind.

Reality: Bats can see just fine. They use echolocation to hunt and navigate in the dark and have good vision.

North Pole Myth 

Courtesy of Explore

Myth: The North Pole is the coldest place on Earth.

Reality: Antarctica holds the record for the lowest temperature on Earth. The high ridge in Antarctica on the East Antarctic Plateau Cels can drop to -135.8° Fahrenheit on a clear winter night. The coldest spots develop downhill from the ridge along a 620-mile stretch between two summits. The North Pole is downright balmy in comparison!


Courtesy of Science Focus

Myth: Dinosaurs were scaly lizard-like creatures.

Reality: Many dinosaurs sported feathers or feather-like structures. Picture a velociraptor with feathers—Jurassic Park suddenly looks slightly different.

Debunking these popular myths isn’t just about setting the record straight; it’s about cultivating a culture of critical thinking and curiosity. Always question, always explore, and always seek out reliable sources.

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