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What are some "facts" that are actually false?

detspek

Colorful

The mantis shrimp can't see a million zillion colors, earlier researchers made an assumption that their cones worked in the same way as our three do (color opponency). The Oatmeal and a few others didn't know how to differentiate assumption from fact and popularized this idea of a hyperaware shrimp. Extensive studies since then have disproved their color discrimination magic because, surprise, their retina is built differently.
I think their onepunchman strength is still valid though

Colorful
Happy

Those fat "Buddha" statues and depictions you see in some Asian restaurants are not the historical Buddha (who founded Buddhism and was not obese). They are Budai, a 10th-century Chinese folk hero, who eventually became a buddha himself.

Happy
Full Disclosure

If you're undercover and a cop you have to tell me.

Not true.

Full Disclosure
Bombshell

That Pearl Harbor was the only attack on US soil during WWII.
In fact, the Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor and invaded the Aleutian Islands. There were also U-boat attacks on the West Coast and German spies who landed via U-boat on the East Coast. None of these were particularly consequential in the grand scheme of things though.

The Japanese also "bombed" Omaha, NE during the war. They tied a bunch of bombs to balloon and let them float over the US. One of these bombs landed in the Dundee part of town and blew up in the middle of the street. No one was injured, and the whole thing was hushed up so the Japanese wouldn't know if the tactic worked. There's a plaque there now, next to a restaurant and an ice cream shop.

The balloon bombs did work once, in Oregon. Killed a pregnant woman and 5 teenagers.

Bombshell

US archives / Public Domain

King Carp

It's a common misconception that goldfish only grow as big as their bowl.
In reality, the reason they tend to only grow so big as pets is because of poor water quality and improper care. They aren't really meant to be kept cooped up in small tanks, so the reason they stay small is because they die a lot earlier than their life expectancy in the wild. Sounds a little blunt perhaps, but it's essentially the same as a malnourished child dying, but it happens so often that everyone would just tend to think that's what humans are like.
In the proper conditions, goldfish should survive well into their 20s and beyond and they don't actually stop growing until they die.

King Carp
#1

George Washington never cut down his parent's cherry tree, nor did he ever utter the words "I cannot tell a lie".

#1
That's ExCOMMUNICATED

Galileo was never executed by the Catholic Church for believing in heliocentrism. He was put under house arrest because 1. he suggested a heretical interpretation of scripture during the counter-reformation to support his claims. And 2. The Pope asked Galileo to actually write a book to explain his theory. When Galileo wrote this book, he included a character who name translates to "The Fool" who happened to have all the same beliefs that the Pope had.

That's ExCOMMUNICATED
Consider the Source

The often-cited claim that there are more black men in prison than college. Bill Cosby said it during his 2004 "pound cake" speech and it went viral among an uncannily diverse group ranging from white supremacists to mainstream civil rights activists (even ending up in a 2007 Barack Obama stump speech), but it has been provably false since at least 2002 and was almost certainly never true to begin with.

Consider the Source
Sounds of Silence

My favorite lie was the one my mom told when she was baking - any loud noise, stomping around the house, rough-housing, etc - would cause the bread/cake/dough/etc to collapse and ruin it.
Only years later did I realize she lied to get us to shut the fuck up for a couple hours. Genius.

Sounds of Silence
Cardio

CPR is used to restart hearts and is quite successful. (Wrong)

CPR is hugely unsuccessful and isn't used to restart hearts, it's used to keep circulation going until medication to restart the heart can be administered. A defibrillator is used to restart hearts. Nope again. It's used to stop hearts that are beating incorrectly in the hope that when they restart they'll be beating all nice and proper.

Cardio
Freedom Isn't Free

Tic Tacs are sugar free.
While listed as sugar free, this is a marketing trick taking advantage of a loop hole due to their small size.
To be listed as sugar free a product must contain no more then 0.5 grams of sugar per serving.
Tic Tacs are approximately 98% sugar but the serving size is one mint, with an average size only 0.49 grams.

Freedom Isn't Free
Luck of the Welsh?

St Patrick isn't Irish. He's Welsh.

Luck of the Welsh?
Code Red

You see this in the media a lot. That a heart attack is the same as cardiac arrest. It's not.
In order for a body to function normally, blood needs to flow to the cells to drop off oxygen and nutrients and take away waste products. If that process stops, the cells begin to starve, fill up with waste and die. The blood travels through arteries in the heart just like most other places in the body.
A heart attack is when one or more of those arteries are blocked and the heart tissue starts to die from starvation. If enough cells die, the entire organ dies.
A cardiac arrest is when the entire heart fails to pump normally. Resulting in that blood flow stopping throughout the entire body. Not just the heart. There are several causes of cardiac arrest. One of them being a major heart attack that kills enough of the heart muscle. But you can have a cardiac arrest from having a multitude of medical problems. From a burst blood vessel in your brain to a blocked blood vessel in your lungs and even losing enough blood or having a huge systemic infection. These are the people who need CPR.

Code Red
Facepalm

If your palm is bigger than your face, it means you have cancer. This is not true. In fact, it is actually a ruse to trick you into putting your hand up to your face, only to have Steve hit your hand into your own face in front of the whole class, including Jessica, who you've had a crush on since the 4th grade! The pain from hitting yourself in the face will fade, but the sting of shame and embarrassment will linger for life.

Facepalm
By Definition

(People think) That "factoid" means "little fact".

A factoid is actually something that is falsely believed to be a fact. Coincidentally, what every answer to this thread is talking about.

By Definition
Quite a View

It's a myth that the Great Wall Of China is the only man made object visible from Space. There are man made objects that can be seen from space such as some open cast mining pits and also the greenhouse in southern Spain can be seen but with viewing from space it depend on perfect conditions with clear skies and no clouds.

Also, you know... cities.

Quite a View
Firepower

Though the long rifles were useful in fighting the British during the revolutionary war, muskets made up the bulk of the American firearms.

Firepower
1492

Columbus wasn't trying to prove the Earth was round, he was trying to find a new route to Asia based on thinking that the Earth was smaller than what people like Aristotle had calculated. People knew that if you sailed around the world from England, then you'd eventually end up in Asia; the problem was that the distance (based on Aristotle's calculations) was too great to sail across.
Aristotle's calculations ended up being accurate, of course. It was just a lucky coincidence that there happened to be a whole continent between Europe and Asia for Columbus to land on.

Columbus basically tried to reach Asia and just underestimated the circumference of the earth. Instead of setting sail back to spain, he kept going and hoped that his crew wouldn't turn on him.

In fact, other people at the time tried telling him this, but he ignored them and if the Americas wouldn't be there the entire crew would have died of starvation.

Many of those "others" were priests and bishops, mostly advisers to Ferdinand and Isabella. For all the shit the Catholic Church gets, they were spot-on about this one: "See? We tried telling you that the Earth's circumference was 25,000 miles! But did you listen to us? Noooo!"

1492
Does a Bear Run Down Hill?

The best way to escape a bear is to run down hill. You may get faster running down hill, guess who else does too?

The actual best way to escape a bear is in a helicopter. This is because bears can't fly.

Does a Bear Run Down Hill?
Humpday

It's believed that camels store water in their humps.
The ability for camels to survive for seven days without water isn't due to the fact that they store water in their humps.
All their humps are fat, but the fat is what provides them with about three weeks of energy. Camels' kidneys and intestines are really the ones that retain water.

Humpday
Single, Black & White Male Seeks Black & White Female

It is a complete falsehood that if a penguin does not find love, it waddles off to die alone.
I was horrified when I first saw this, and since I couldn't find anything else on the internet about it, I reached out to Dr. Dees Boersma at the University of Washington and asked her about this claim.
She told me that she has 33 years of data and has observed pairings that have stayed together for as long as sixteen years. She also told me that penguins can get 'divorced' when not successful at mating, and that they will most likely will 'divorce' if not hatched. There is also a major gender skew of more males than females. If a male want a mate, he HAS to have a nest set up. Furthermore, females don't come ashore unless they are going to mate. So some females will skip breeding season if they are not in a mating mood.
For example, a female she studied had skipped pairing with her male for a year. The male looked for another mate didn't find one, and then the next year she was back with him. They do have emotions and they do vary in aggressiveness over a lifetime.
Furthermore, because there are many more males than females, a lot of males have never gotten mates. One of the penguins they've studied, "Turbo", a Magellan penguin, has not had a mate in 14 years and he keeps on trying.
So penguins do not, in fact, waddle off to die if they do not find a mate.

Single, Black & White Male Seeks Black & White Female

David Stanley / Flickr

When In Rome

While dining, the ancient Romans did not ritualistically eat so much that they had to interrupt eating to go vomit. An entranceway to a stadium of that time was called a vomitorium and had nothing to do with dining. I have seen this "fact" in at least two children's history books and I have no idea how or why some historian came up with this weird claim.

When In Rome
Passing By

Einstein didn't fail math.

Einstein Got a lot of 5's and 6's, but at the school he used to go, that was the way teachers rated the papers, from 1 to 6. So in reality, he was almost a straight A student.

The confusion stems from the fact that, while 6 is the best mark in Switzerland (where Einstein graduated), it's the exact opposite in Germany, his home country.

Passing By
Close Enough

The Pilgrims are very unlikely to have actually landed at Plymouth Rock.

Close Enough
Rabbit Food

Eating carrots doesn't actually improve your night vision. This was a disinformation campaign carried out by the British in WWII to keep the Germans from discovering that they invented Doppler radar. Pretty funny/obvious once you stop and think about it.

Rabbit Food
The British Are Coming

Israel Bissell not Paul Revere was the most important rider who let the revolutionaries know the English were coming.

The British Are Coming
Around the World

(It's false that) People in the Middle Ages thought the Earth was flat. The Greeks had already calculated the radius of the sphere with great precision centuries before.

Around the World
Carbs

The food pyramid.

It was lobbied into what we grew up on by the food industry, having plenty of grain. I mean, come on, grain is not more necessary than vegetables and fruit.

The food pyramid wasn't developed by a medical organization. It was developed by the US Department of Agriculture. They're more of an economic agency than a medical one; American diets are really outside the scope of what they do. Food pyramid recommendations come from the average American diet that works best for the American farmer.

Carbs
Supercuts

That cutting your hair makes it grow faster, or that shaving makes your hair grow back thicker and faster.

Supercuts
MIA

There is no "24 hour waiting period" on a missing persons report. If someone is missing, even if it's for just an hour, you can most certainly file a report.

I have myself been told by police about this waiting period. If you ever have to file a report and they tell you that, just insist. It can be intimidating, but as many people have said, time is absolutely crucial in cases like this.

MIA
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