32 Things You Always Believed That Simply Aren’t True

This changes everything! Well, some things.

1. There’s no such thing as a sugar rush. It’s just a just a placebo.

Flickr: criminalintent / Creative Commons

2. The Great Wall of China is not the only manmade object you can see from space.

You can see loads of manmade objects from space. In fact, the Great Wall of China is actually NOT easily visible from space.

3. It’s not actually harmful to pick up baby birds and return them to their nests, and it will not cause their mother to reject them.

Birds don’t really have a very powerful sense of smell, and they probably wouldn’t be able to tell if a human handled their babies.

4. Human blood is never blue in your body.

Deoxygenated blood has a dark red, and oxygenated blood has is light red. Blood only appears blue because skin and fat makes it look that way.

5. There are not different areas of the tongue dedicated to different tastes. Every taste can be detected on every part of the tongue.

Also, there aren’t just four primary tastes, there are five. In addition to bitter, sour, salty, and sweet, humans can taste umami, which is a savory or meaty taste.

6. Chameleons don’t actually change their color to blend in with their surroundings.

lezumbalaberenjena / Flickr: 14020964@N02

They change color to communicate. A chameleon’s color is used to signal mood, aggression, territory, and mating behavior.

7. The color orange is named after the fruit, not the other way around.

Before the late 15th century, the color orange was just lumped in with red.

8. People think penguins mate for life. They don’t.

Some penguins stay monogamous throughout a mating seasons, but not many stay monogamous for their entire lives.

9. The story about NASA developing a space pen while the Russians used a pencil isn’t true. NASA also used pencils.

The first space pen was developed privately by the Fisher Pen Company.

10. It’s never actually stated that the forbidden fruit mentioned in the Bible is an apple. Some claim that it was more likely a fig or pomegranate.

The apple was thought to be the forbidden fruit because of an early pun between the Latin words for “evil” and “apple.”

11. Humans have more than five senses. The actual number ranges from 9 to over 20.


There’s sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, but humans can also sense a ton of other stuff, like balance, acceleration, pain, and temperature (among other things).

12. Napoleon Bonaparte was not short.

At a towering 5’7”, he was actually taller than the average man of his time. His nickname, “le Petit Caporal,” (which translates to “The Little Corporal”) was probably a term of affection.

13. The Earth doesn’t revolve around the Sun. It’s actually revolving around the solar system’s center of mass.

The center of mass in the solar system is called the Barycenter. Usually it’s contained within the mass of the sun, but not always. When it’s outside the mass of the sun, the Earth is just orbiting around empty space.

14. Not everyone in Columbus’ time thought the world was flat.

Fraser Mummery / Flickr: 73014677@N05

Scholars and educated people knew the world was round. In fact, Columbus underestimated the size of the world. If he hadn’t come across the “West Indies,” he and his shipmates would have starved to death.

15. It’s not true that people only use 10% of their brains.

Only a small number of neurons are firing at a given moment, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing happening inside your brain.

16. Vikings didn’t actually have horns on their helmets.

The image of a Viking with a horned helmet is from a 1876 production of Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen.”

17. Swimming within an hour of eating doesn’t actually lead to cramps or drowning.

A correlation has been seen between alcohol consumption and drowning (for obvious reasons).

18. It doesn’t take seven years to digest gum. You actually can’t digest it at all.

It just passes right through your system.

19. “420” is not the LAPD code for marijuana use.

Los Angeles Police Code 420 is code for “juvenile disturbance.” Its also not the penal code. California Penal Code section 420 “prohibits the obstruction of access to public land.”

20. When John F. Kennedy’s said, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” nobody thought he was saying “I am a jelly doughnut.

In Berlin, a jelly donut is usually just called “ein Pfannkuchen.”

22. Mussolini didn’t actually make the trains run on time.

The trains in Italy were in really rough shape after WWI, and the government before Mussolini made a ton of improvements. After Mussolini rose to power, the trains went back to being a disaster.

23. George Washington didn’t have wooden teeth.

He had dentures made out of gold, ivory, lead, animal teeth and teeth from his own slaves.

24. Redheads are not going extinct. Neither are blondes.

If everyone who carries the redhead or blonde gene dies or fails to reproduce, then the hair colors will disappear. (But that will probably never happen.)

25. There wasn’t actually widespread panic after Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds.

In fact, not many people even heard it. Aside from some isolated incidents, there was no panic at all.

26. Bats are not blind.

All bat species have eyes and are can see. In fact, some species of bat have excellent night vision.

27. Life expectancy wasn’t actually in the thirties during the MiddIe Ages.

Life expectancy in the Middle Ages was lower, but that’s because the average age was pulled down by a high infant mortality rate. If you survived to adulthood in medieval England, you could expect to live into your sixties.

28. Houseflies live longer than 24 hours.

They live for about 20 to 30 days.

29. Glass doesn’t actually flow like a liquid.

Old glass looks like it’s slowly flowing because of an outdated manufacturing process.

30. Your fingers don’t wrinkle in water because the skin is absorbing water.

It happens because of the “autonomic nervous system,” and is thought to have evolved because it gave our ancestors better grip in wet environments.

31. Sunflowers don’t track the sun across the sky.

They always face east.

32. The Coriolis effect does not actually make water rotate in different directions while flushing toilets and draining bathtubs.

It is a thing, but it’s too weak to affect draining water. Despite popular belief, hemisphere you’re in doesn’t actually change the direction water drains in.


This post has been updated to meet our attribution standards.

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