post written by: Marc Chernoff
60 Popular Pieces of False Knowledge
Mark Twain once said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
Here are 60 pieces of false knowledge many people misquote as absolute facts.
- Shaving causes hair to grow back thicker. – Shaving does not cause hair to grow back thicker. This false knowledge carried by many people is due to the fact that hair wears down and appears thinner over time. Thus, new hair looks thinner than old hair and feels coarser due to unworn edges.
- We only use 10% of our brain. – We may only be using 10% of our total brain at any one given time, but this 10% is nearly 100% of the brain capacity designed to calculate the data sets we are currently working on. For example, the creative side of the brain isn’t going to help you remember a statistics formula. It wasn’t designed to do so and it will remain unused during this process.
- Rice is pure and healthy. – Actually, it’s often contaminated with small traces of arsenic.
- Milk is absolutely essential to your health. – It’s just one of numerous sources for calcium and Vitamin D.
- People should eat mostly carbohydrates. – After all, that’s what the food pyramid says, right? False! Look around at the average American’s midsection. An excessive intake of carbohydrates is fattening. Wholegrain foods containing fiber should be the primary source.
- Tar and nicotine in cigarettes cause cancer. – Nope, excessive smoke in your lungs causes cancer. In fact, the Radon and Polonium in the smoke is enough to account for most cases of cigarette related lung cancer.
- Being overworked can cause a nervous breakdown. – Actually, nervous breakdowns do not even appear as an official mental health disorder in DSM-IV.
- Depression is purely biochemical. – Depression is more closely related to a specific cognitive state of mind.
- Male masturbation is unhealthy. – I’m sure most teenage guys will love this. Research has shown that masturbating early and often may reduce Prostate Cancer later in life.
- Females are biologically inferior in math and spatial skills. – Statistically, males and females have very similar grade averages in math courses from grade school through doctorate level classes. Male enrollment, however, drastically out-numbers female enrollment.
- Based on global warming Earth will be hotter in 2000 years. – Nothing is certain. In this kind of complex nonlinear system, we could have an ice age.
- Corn based fuel (biodiesel) is better than gasoline. – It’s more expensive, increases the cost of food and still pollutes the environment.
- Religious faith alone heals. – This is only true on a physiological basis to a minuscule degree. Religious faith cannot replace medical intervention.
- Herbal medicine is healthier than modern medicine. – In numerous cases herbal medicine has been found to have either zero value or undesirable side effects.
- Chills don’t make you ill. – Wrong! Getting a chill in your body shocks your immune system, which prevents it from effectively keeping viruses at bay.
- Highly social people are psychologically healthier. – Not healthier, but usually a bit happier.
- Nutritional supplements make you live longer. – Quite often the opposite is true. Many people misuse supplements and end up doing more harm than good to their bodies.
- Hair and fingernails continue to grow after death. – Hair and fingernails do not grow at all after a person dies. This illusion is based on the fact that skin dries up and shrivels away from the foundation of hair roots and nails, making the hair and nails look longer than before death.
- String Theory – There has been zero proof that String Theory relates to the physical universe.
- The Big Bang was an explosion. – It was an expansion of space, not an explosion.
- Windows is easier to use than Linux. – Linux, harder? Only if you are completely against the notion of learning something new.
- A true free market exists. – Take a hard look at the price of oil and tell me that the recent 100% price spike is completely based around supply and demand and not partial price manipulation.
- Ozone is healthy. – Ozone is only healthy when used in controlled medical environments. Outside of that, it is harmful to the lungs if inhaled.
- Stretching before exercise is a sure thing. – Only if you stretch properly. Many people injure themselves due to improper stretching practices.
- Weight belts prevent injuries. – If used properly when lifting extreme amounts of weight, they do help. The problem is that most amateur weight lifters swing their bodies and hyper-extend their backs while lifting weight with their upper body. When they wear weight belts for upper body exercises they still swing their bodies and hyper-extend their backs, only this time they use more weight and the injuries are more severe.
- Soap kills germs. – Plain (non-antibacterial) hand soap does not kill germs. Instead, it lifts the germs off the surface of your skin, forcing them to be washed down the drain.
- Alcohol is a great antiseptic for open wounds. – Alcohol is a great disinfectant for intact skin and inanimate, non-living things. Alcohol is not effective or healthy when applied into open wounds. When used on open, exposed tissue, alcohol actually kills some of the human tissue along with the germs. This can drastically delay the healing of larger wounds.
- Coffee is unhealthy. – It’s all about moderation and timing. If you take excessive doses of coffee late in the day, you’ll be up all night, and that’s not healthy. However, coffee is also a great source of healthy antioxidants. Coffee consumption has been medically linked to the reduction of certain cancers and chronic diseases. There have even been controlled studies which have concluded that moderate doses of coffee can be a healthy energy booster for a person partaking is intense physical exercise.
- Fructose is healthier than Sucrose. – Sucrose (table sugar) is made from sugarcane. Fructose is usually made from corn (also found in fruits) and is a cheaper alternative to Sucrose. Once thought to be healthier, fructose actually has many negative downsides. Some of these downsides include cholesterol increases and digestion difficulty, in addition to the fact that it converts to fat more easily than other types of sugar.
- Exercise alone increases lifespan. – It increases the quality of your life and the ability of your body, but exercise alone has not been proven to increase lifespan. A regular habit of eating healthy food, however, will.
- Time heals all wounds. – Time does heal most psychological wounds, but if the wound is severe (e.g. someone killed your spouse) it may never fully heal.
- Eye exercises can improve vision. – Eye exercises for improving vision have never been scientifically proven to work. Results contain significant variance.
- Cheese is healthy. – Regular cheese contains an extremely high content of fat. As with anything, moderation is the key. In smaller doses it can be a decent source of calcium and protein.
- Tan people look good, so tanning in the sun is okay. – Extremely tan people have burnt skin. Check back with them at age 60 when they have skin cancer.
- Swimming in chlorine pools is healthy. – While the chlorine levels found in most swimming pools won’t noticeably hurt a swimmer, continuous exposure is unhealthy for the skin and the eyes. True saltwater pools are a much healthier alternative.
- Jogging along a traveled roadway is healthy. – Jogging along a traveled roadway forces the jogger to inhale large quantities of air polluted with car exhaust. Like secondhand smoke, this can be extremely bad for the health of a person’s lungs.
- Heading a soccer ball doesn’t hurt the player. – Soccer players don’t just head the ball; frequently their heads collide with another player’s head while trying to head the ball. In both cases there remains a potential for mild amounts of brain damage, especially when the heading is repeated over a long period of time.
- Free-diving doesn’t cause brain damage. – Do you really think it’s healthy for the human body to remain in deep water with no oxygen for extended periods of time? Based on the complications of pressure equalization and a lack of oxygen, free-diving will cause small amounts of neurological damage no matter how you breathe out while ascending.
- Brain scan imaging tells us lots about the mind. – Understanding the brain by looking at brain scan images is sort of like trying to evaluate a software-based computer problem by looking inside the computer case. You may locate the hard-drive, but you’ll never know exactly what’s on it. Brain scans are efficient at detecting gross physical abnormalities, which do save lives. However, much of the claims about reading a persons thoughts and future is complete nonsense. Brain scanning cannot even reliably detect early stage Alzheimer’s disease as of yet.
- Rorschach inkblot tests are reliable. – Various studies have depicted the conclusions found by inkblot test administrators as being akin to fortune teller cold readings. The controversy stems from several factors including the potential variance of interpretation, general verifiability and reliability, the inability to completely baseline testing norms and the limited number of psychological conditions the test is supposedly capable of determining.
- Positive thinking (and the placebo effect) helps heal cancer. – Medical treatment is the only way to eliminate cancer cells. Positive thinking does nothing more than help cancer patients mentally prepare for medical treatment.
- Eggs are unhealthy. – Eggs are a food you should eat regularly, but in moderation. They are a great source of essential nutrients and high in protein. Unfortunately, they also contain a high level of cholesterol, which means limiting intake to 1 or 2 eggs a day.
- Regular dentist visits create healthy teeth. – Dentists repair problems and make suggestions. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing will create healthy teeth.
- Poor people are lazy. – Money is not always the best measure of personal effort and drive. Remember, some millionaires are very poor and some people with small incomes are very rich… in happiness.
- Asians are smarter than Caucasians. – Asian grade schools are typically more disciplined and demanding than public school systems elsewhere (especially the USA). So while Asians do not dominate over Caucasians in intelligence, many of them come out of grade school with a much better education.
- You can drink as much water as you want. – It may sound weird, but people do die from fatal water overdoses. An overdose occurs when an overabundance of water in the body causes regular salt levels in the blood to become drastically diluted. This dilution can cause swelling in the brain and organs which may result in coma or death.
- Ivy League students get the best education. – Education is about self-discipline, curiosity and personal drive. Some of the most educated and successful people on this planet are self-educated. Strictly from a formal education standpoint, think about the fact that MIT (a top technical school) and Duke (a top medical school) are not Ivy League.
- Human growth hormone (HGH) increases life span. – In many cases the opposite is actually true. HGH does tend to improve the quality of life in a person’s elder years by reducing fat production in the body while increasing muscle mass. However, no critical factors for extending a person’s life span are affected, such as bone density improvements, cholesterol level reduction, lipid measurements, maximal oxygen consumption, or any other factor that would increase a body’s durability. Regular consumption of HGH has also been linked to various negative side effects such as joint swelling, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and an amplified risk of diabetes.
- Shouting into a phone helps the other person hear you. – In most cases it will rattle your phone’s microphone and distort the sound of your voice, thus making it harder for the other person to comprehend your words.
- Tabasco sauce causes stomach cancer. – This is an urban legend. In reality, researchers have discovered that spicy pepper sauces may actually help fight the growth of cancer cells. The University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine found that capsaicin (the hot ingredient in pepper sauce) induces apoptosis in the cancer cells.
- Karate works better than dirty street fighting. – Sad, but true… The dirty street fighter with a concealed weapon will probably win the fight outside of a formal fighting ring.
- Expensive CD players produce better sound quality. – If you want better sound quality spend your money on a decent amplifier, equalizer and a high quality set of speakers. An expensive input device like a CD player is worthless if the other components are not in place.
- Monster Cables (expensive audio/video cables) are worth it. – In most cases you will hear and see no difference in the quality between a Monster Cable and a standard cable. The only exceptions occur in extremely high end systems where slight cable attenuation creates a noticeable difference in clarity.
- Lie detector (polygraph) tests are accurate. – The American Civil Liberties Union released a report in 1996 stating that “…there is no machine that can detect lies. The ‘lie detector‘ does not measure truth-telling; it measures changes in blood pressure, breath rate and perspiration rate, but those physiological changes can be triggered by a wide range of emotions.”
- Raw veggies are always healthier for you. – Cooking certain kinds of vegetables such as onions and garlic can actually increase the variety and potency of nutrients that get released inside a person’s digestive track. In addition, cooking vegetables also eliminates the potential for bacterial contamination such as salmonella.
- SUV’s are safer than regular cars. – When it comes to vehicles, bigger does not mean safer. Many SUV models are top heavy and have poor handling. Several recent accident-related death statistics have shown that fatality rates in SUV’s are no lower than those in standard size vehicles.
- Soft water is healthier than hard water. – Reverse it. Hard water is healthier than soft water. Hard water contains natural minerals and is sodium free. Soft water has sodium and is stripped of all natural minerals. So why do people soften water? Soft water has cleaning benefits. When soft water is used, soap lathers better and cleans objects more efficiently, kitchenware and shower glass will sparkle and remain scum-free and hair and skin will also feel smoother.
- Astrology has value. – Astrology is one of the world’s oldest con games. It’s complete rubbish. People want to believe that the future can be predicted, which is exactly why the traditions of Astrology still exist in modern cultures.
- Chiropractic therapy can cure various diseases. – Chiropractic therapy has been medically proven to help with some joint and bone related injuries, comparable to various forms of physical therapy. However, there is no medical proof to backup the popular assertions from chiropractors claiming that chiropractic therapy is an effective remedy for other diseases or conditions (such as chronic stress headaches).
- IQ is a perfect measure of intelligence. – IQ tests are only one of many imperfect techniques for measuring human intelligence. IQ tests don’t measure creativity, social skills, general wisdom, learned aptitude or an entire gamut of other traits most people would consider as a measurement of intelligence. IQ tests can be used as a measure of basic intellectual potential, but do not reflect accurate measurements in all circumstances.
For more in depth info on False Knowledge, please read:
- How False Knowledge Sank the Titanic, Blew Up the Shuttle, and Led America into War
- Plagues of the Mind: The New Epidemic of False Knowledge
Note: This article is a guest post written by Penny and slightly copy-edited by Marc. Marc is the primary author of Marc and Angel Hack Life and Penny is a regular reader and contributor.
Photo by: banoootah_qtr