Facts that are fiction

These long acknowledged “facts” are anything but. We’d bet that you believed all of these lies – until today.

Sugar will make you hyperactive

Apparently, our parents were wrong: We totally could have had that cake for breakfast. Alright, maybe not really, but it’s not because the cake was going to make us hyper! This “well-known fact” has been proven time and time again to be an old wives’ tale. Studies found that children’s behaviour did not change whether they had been fed sugar or not. What did change: parent’s perception of their child’s behaviour. When parents were told their children had just been given a lot of sugar, they were more likely to say their child was hyperactive, even when the sugar fix was just a placebo.

Gum will stay in your stomach for 7 years

Nope. Not true. This probably comes from the fact that bodies don’t digest gum well. But this doesn’t mean that a pile of swallowed gum is just filling up your stomach; it just means your body hasn’t digested the gum before it passes straight through, along with the rest of the solid food you have eaten. Because of its low nutritional components, Yale Scientific confirmed that while it does take slightly longer than other food to digest, gum will be out of your body in seven days at most.

You can’t swim for an hour after eating

Lies. The story went that the body sent blood to the stomach (and away from your limbs) while it digested food and as such, your limbs would grow tired more quickly. At best you could get cramps, and at worst, as the story goes, you could drown. Luckily for all you avid swimmers, Mayo Clinic has confirmed that there is absolutely no scientific basis for this theory. Eat whatever you want and hop right back into the water!

You lose more body heat through your head

This rumour is why we had to wear awful hats in the winter, but it just isn’t true. The study that this common misperception was based on had a lot of additional factors that skewed the end result, and countless follow up studies have disproven this idea over and over again. The real reason you “lose more body heat through your head”? Because in cold weather, your head is the part of you that’s most likely not covered up. So do wear a hat. But also be sure to wear pants and a jacket, and all the other warm winter things.

Your tongue has different sections for different tastes

Nope. That map we’ve all seen different variations of? Total bogus. While some individual taste buds taste certain flavours more strongly, they aren’t located only in certain areas of your mouth. The science experts at Smithsonian confirmed that this one was a lie, saying, “Indeed, results from a number of experiments indicate that all areas of the mouth containing taste buds – including several parts of the tongue, the soft palate (on the roof of your mouth) and the throat – are sensitive to all taste qualities.”

Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis

It might gross out the people around you, but that’s about it. Experts at Harvard conducted several studies that compared arthritis rates among people who never cracked their knuckles and those who had done it habitually for years and found no raised risk of arthritis in the knuckle crackers. Of course, frequent knuckle cracking can reduce grip strength, so maybe keep the habit to a minimum anyway.

Cavemen lived in caves

To fully unpack this lie, we need to define “cavemen” a bit better. There actually isn’t such a thing as “cavemen” – it’s an old-fashioned term people use when referring to hunter-gatherers and early farmers of the Stone Age. Caves were certainly used during the Paleolithic era as burial spots. Cave walls were used for artwork and they were frequently cooked in. There is evidence that caves were used as shelters during storms, but wild animals at this time would have also been using those caves as shelter. So, sleeping and living in those caves when a hyena or bear might be hiding further inside would not have been a great plan. Stone Age families did live in camps of “bender huts,” which were huts of hazelwood bent into circles and covered in animal skins. By the end of the Stone Age, people were beginning to build larger wooden structures as halls to congregate in.

The North pole is on the North side of the planet

That’s right. You heard us. North isn’t really North. To explain this one, we’re turning to physics experts Raymond Serway and Chris Wuille. “A small bar magnet is said to have north and south poles, but it’s more accurate to say it has a ‘north-seeking’ pole and a ‘south-seeking’ pole. By these expressions we mean that if such a magnet is used as a compass, one end will ‘seek’ or point to, the geographic North Pole of earth and the other end will ‘seek’ or point to the geographic South Pole of Earth. We conclude that the geographic North Pole of earth corresponds to a magnetic south pole, and the geographic South Pole of Earth corresponds to a magnetic north pole.” Mind officially blown.

Watching TV too close to the screen will damage your eyes

Nope. You can sit as close as you’d like. In fact, according to vision experts at the Will Vision & Laser Centers, watching the TV doesn’t cause any permanent eye damage to your eye whatsoever. The blue light coming out of the screen could cause eye strain, a temporary condition, but the blue light is going to affect your eyes in the exact same amount regardless of where you sit. Do yourself a favour, and get yourself some blue light filtering glasses if you spend a lot of time looking at any screen. Just put this one down as another lie all parents tell their kids, debunked by science.

Humans have 5 senses

We all learned the sight, sound, smell, touch, taste model of senses in school. This theory dates back to Aristotle, around 300 B.C. But science has advanced a bit since then. Experts still debate the exact number but most agree that humans have at least ten senses and some claim the number is as high as 22. Harvard School of Medicine, for example, sites six additional senses to the original five, including the sense of balance, the sense of pain and the perception of time.

Eating carrots will help your vision

Only if you have a really, roundabout way of looking at things. Vitamin A does help your eyesight, and while carrots don’t have any Vitamin A in them, they do have beta-carotene which the body does convert into Vitamin A. Other foods with beta-carotene? Sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, squash, butternut pumpkin, apricots, rockmelon and even pumpkin pie. Eggs and milk are also great sources of Vitamin A.

Don’t ever wake up sleepwalkers

If a sleepwalker isn’t in any danger, it is still probably best to let them keep sleeping, but the danger of waking them has nothing to do with their safety, it has to do with yours. It is fairly common for sleepwalkers to attack the person waking them, so if possible, the National Sleep Foundation recommends either gently turning them back in the direction of their bed, or walking near them for a while to ensure they do not get into a car to drive off while still asleep or run into something that could seriously hurt them. If you are unable to return the sleepwalker back to bed, use loud sharp noises from a distance to wake them up.

Dogs only see black and white

Not true! Dogs are not quite capable of seeing the full-colour spectrum that humans can, but it isn’t just shades of grey for your favourite pups. Dogs see the colours of the world in yellows, blues, and greys. So you may be better off getting a bright yellow toy for your dog than the more common red and orange. Your dog will also have about 20 to 40 percent of human’s visual acuity, so anything you can see in the distance is going to look pretty blurry to them. But it’s not all downhill for them. Dogs see better in dimmer light and can detect any sort of movement or motion far better than we can.