ROY G BIV Is A Lie, And 21 Other Fake "Facts" Our Teachers Taught Us As Kids

    Turns out we have way more than five senses!

    We tend to trust the things we learn in school as fact.

    But as it turns out, sometimes info we learned (or our parents learned) in school is straight up wrong!

    Here are 22 common misconceptions a lot of people learned in school that are straight-up false!

    1. You were probably taught about gravity through a story about Isaac Newton being hit in the head by an apple.

    drawing of an apple hitting newton's head

    Except that didn't happen! He did say the idea came to him after observing apples falling from a tree, but there is nothing to suggest he was hit in the head.

    Isaac Newton

    2. We can also credit Newton with coming up with the color spectrum/the seven colors of the rainbow, which you probably learned about as ROY G BIV: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and purple.

    However, many modern rainbow drawings and flags only depict six colors. Many have argued that the only reason Newton included seven colors was because of a superstition or occult belief around the number seven. Modern physics generally uses a six-color spectrum/rainbow, since it is difficult to differentiate the wavelengths enough between indigo and blue/purple.

    rainbow painted on brick

    3. Many people learned about Christopher Columbus as the person to "discover" the Americas.

    Except Columbus was not the first European to reach the Americas. Leif Erikson had been to Canada hundreds of years prior. Columbus also never even set foot on North America.

    4. Also, his ships the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria, were probably not named that at all.

    5. It's also worth mentioning that he was an absolutely abhorrent person who committed atrocities.

    christopher columbus

    6. Whether or not you went to a religious school, you probably learned about Christianity and the story of Adam and Eve, and how they were expelled from paradise after eating an apple.

    painting of adam and eve with the apple

    But in the story, it's not an apple. It's just an unspecified fruit.

    woman holding an apple

    7. I definitely remember reading a book in school — probably a picture book — where George Washington had wooden teeth.

    While Washington did wear dentures, none of his fake teeth were wooden, and in fact wooden teeth were not used during that time.

    8. The cherry tree story — in which Washington admits to his father he cut down a cherry tree and his father lauds him for his honesty — is also a myth. It was invented by Mason Locke Weems for his biography of Washington.

    painting of george's father reprimanding him by a tree and hatchet

    9. You also likely learned that FDR had polio.

    FDR signing something

    While he was diagnosed with polio at the time, it's more likely that he had Guillain-Barré syndrome.

    Franklin Roosevelt in a wheelchair holds his Scotch terrier, Fala, on his lap as he talks to Ruthie Bie, the daughter of the Hyde Park caretaker

    10. If you're American, you probably celebrate Independence Day — the day Congress signed the Declaration of Independence — on July 4.

    Signing of the Declaration of Independence painting

    But the document wasn't signed on the 4th. The vote for independence occurred on July 2, and the document's final language was approved on July 4, but the signing occurred on Aug. 2.

    Declaration of Independence

    11. Maybe this is just because I'm from Massachusetts, but I remember learning a ton about the Salem witch trials and how accused witches were burned at the stake.

    Except this didn't happen. Many died in prison and the rest were killed by other means, such as hanging. Nobody was burned at the stake.

    depiction of a woman being hung

    12. You may have learned that protestors spat on Vietnam veterans when they returned from war.

    Except there's no real evidence that this ever happened!

    a vietnam and a korean war veteran pointing at their veteran hats

    13. A lot of the imagery around the Middle Ages deals with weapons and torture devices such as the Iron Maiden.

    an iron maiden

    But the Iron Maiden didn't exist — at least, not in the Middle Ages. Art collector Matthew Peacock created the first Iron Maiden in the 1800s using artifacts from the Middle Ages.

    an iron maiden

    14. Another fake invention that was not actually used in the Middle Ages? Chastity belts.

    a chastity belt

    15. You likely have also heard the Middle Ages referred to as the Dark Ages in school.

    a knight

    But there were plenty of advancements, trade, travel, and spread of ideas during this time. In fact, modern historians reject the term "Dark Ages."

    Cité de Carcassonne medieval fortress

    16. In psychology, I remember learning about bystander syndrome/the Genovese effect in regard to Kitty Genovese, who was murdered outside her New York apartment in 1964. The New York Times reported that 38 neighbors/bystanders heard and did nothing.

    Kitty Genovese

    While still a good example of bystanders doing nothing, it's not fair to say that 38 people did nothing. Most witnesses just heard random screams and didn't know what was happening or how serious it was. The attack happened in two different locations. And some bystanders actually did call the police.

    newspaper article about kitty genovese's killer

    17. If you're an American, it's possible your ancestors came to America through Ellis Island. Your last name may have changed around that time, and many schools have taught that this was done by officials on Ellis Island.

    immigrants coming off a boat at ellis island

    However, this did not happen. The only thing officials did with names was check people's names against the ship's passenger list — if a name was wrong or changed, that meant it was changed prior to arrival in America. Some immigrants changed their names after arriving in America, as it was pretty easy to do so.

    immigration officials

    18. When I was a film minor, I learned that Orson Welles' radio program War of the Worlds caused tons of people to genuinely think there was an alien invasion happening.

    newspaper discussing the broadcast causing terror

    In reality, not that many people actually listened to it, and rumors of mass evacuations and emergency calls were played up by newspapers, who wanted to suggest to advertisers and regulators that radio was an untrustworthy news source.

    Orson Welles speaking into a microphone

    19. You probably learned about Buddha as a happy, chubby figure.

    depiction of chubby smiling buddha

    That was actually 10th-century Chinese monk Budai, who was thought to be an incarnation of a deity. He often gets mistaken for Buddha — Siddhartha Gautama — in the West.

    Digital Rendering of Buddha

    20. We all learned about Pythagorean's theorem in math.

    right triangle showing the theorem (c^2=a^2 + b^2)

    But Pythagoras did not discover the theorem — it had been discovered centuries prior. In addition, many of Pythagoras's "discoveries" may have come from his students.


    21. Thomas Edison is likely best known for inventing the lightbulb.

    Thomas Edison presents Incandescent Lamp

    Except versions of lightbulbs had actually already been invented. Edison was just the first to create a cheap and effective light bulb that could be used by the average family in their home.

    light bulb

    22. And finally...humans have way more than five senses.

    woman looking at light

    Did you learn anything new? Any "facts" you were taught in school that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!