There are many science myths floating around, and some have been so commonly spread for so long they’ve become universally accepted as truth. Spotting and correcting the many myths emanating from the internet, folk wisdom, and word of mouth.
Here are 10 searches that were especially common and focused exclusively on science-related stories that are debunked from the misconception.
- Jonas Salk discovered the cure for polio
It took eight years of work in a basement lab at the University of Pittsburgh to do what he did. And it wasn’t a cure—there’s never been a cure. Salk created a vaccine, which means, even now, that if you don’t get it and you contract the disease, there’s no help for you.
- Glass Isn’t a Liquid
It’s actually an amorphous solid that is a substance more rigid than a liquid, but less than a pure solid. As evidence for this myth, people usually point to the fact that old windows are thicker at the bottom than the top, but that’s less about the glass itself and more about how old-timey windows were made.
- People only use 10% of their brain
To explain the myth’s durability over the years, neurologist Barry Gordon says it stems from peoples conceptions about their own brains – using our own shortcomings as evidence for the brain’s untapped potential.
Although its functionality is not yet fully understood, we are pretty certain that we use all of our brains. Making up roughly three percent of our body weight, and consuming roughly 20% of our energy the brain is a remarkable biological machine, whose compact size doesn’t allow for idle parts.
- Red enrages bulls
In all truth, bulls are color-blind. It’s not the color of the cape that enrages the animal, but the flapping movement of the material. In tests conducted by science’s favorite tandem, the Myth Busters, a bull was presented with three dummies holding capes of varying colors. It was proven that the bull would charge at the cape that was moving, regardless of the color.
- Bananas grow on Trees
Bananas grow on something the size of trees, but the Banana “tree” is not actually a tree. The banana plant, which can grow up to 25 feet, is actually the world’s largest perennial herb. When you carefully inspect a banana plant, you’ll notice that it doesn’t have woody fibers. It has strong stalks and leaves, yet it lacks the trunk and branches that would qualify it as a tree.
- Chewing gum stays in your stomach for 7 years.
Although it is true that many of the ingredients in gum such as elastomers, resins, and waxes are indigestible, that does not mean they hang out in your guts for seven years. Plenty of what you eat, even things you are recommended to eat, such as fiber are indigestible. But the digestive system is a vigorous piece of organic machinery, and anything it can’t absorb, it moves along.
- Lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place
Lightning actually doesn’t care. Tall buildings get zapped a lot. Trees and tall buildings are often hit repeatedly by lightning that isn’t too fussy about what it targets. In fact, the US National Weather Service believes that the Empire State Building is hit by lightning around 25 times per year. During one storm, it took eight strikes in less than half an hour.
- Eating chocolate gives you acne
This fictitious claim probably comes from parents trying to get their children to eat less chocolate, which is a good thing for many reasons, of which acne is not one.
Although the link between chocolate and acne is still a matter of scientific debate it is sure chocolate doesn’t cause acne. Certain kinds of food can raise the odds of developing skin conditions, and lactose intolerance are fairly widespread among people often unaware they are affected by it.
- Primitive humans and dinosaurs crossed paths
There are people who continue to believe this myth. No, it’s not true. We were separated by a good 65 million years. Indeed, it’s the extinction of the dinosaurs that made room for little rodent-like mammals to venture out of the shadows and take over the world in the first place.
- A woman can’t get pregnant during her period
Although it’s unlikely that a woman will conceive during menstruation, it isn’t impossible, according to Carroll. Sperm can live inside a woman’s body for up to a week, and ovulation can occur soon after (or even during) the “bleeding” phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle. That makes it possible for a woman to become pregnant if she has sex either during her period or shortly after it ends.