Lies Your Mother Told You.

The Lie: Lemmings commit suicide en masse.

The Truth: Lemmings are stupid, not depressed. The myth of lemming suicide goes back a long way - at least to Freud, who in Civilization and Its Discontents (1929) examined the human death instinct in the context of the purported mass suicide of lemmings. But suicidal lemmings didn't fully enter the pop culture lexicon until Disney made the "documentary" White Wilderness in 1958. Disney shipped dozens of lemmings to Alberta, Canada (where they do not live), herded them off a cliff, filmed the poor creatures falling to their deaths, and passed it off as nonfiction. Ah, the magic of Disney. In fact, lemmings aren't suicidal. They're just dumb. When the tundra gets crowded, they seek out new land. Sometimes they fall off the cliffs.

The Lie: When elephants get ready to die, they go to elephant graveyards.

The Truth: When elephants are ready to die, they just fall down and do it, just like the rest of us.

The Lie: Throwing rice at weddings causes birds to explode.

The Truth: Throwing rice at weddings causes birds to have something new and delicious and totally undangerous to eat. In fact, there are many species of birds in Asia who survive primarily on uncooked rice, which they take from fields. The myth had its start in a 1988 Ann Landers [wiki] column in which she discouraged readers from the practice. The USA Rice Federation (motto: "Proving There Is a Federation for Everything") immediately debunked Landers's story, but, surprisingly, Ann Landers had a broader readership than the USA Rice Federation.

The Lie: Chewing gum stays in your digestive system for seven years.

The Truth: Chewing gum, like anything else, stays in your digestive system for an average of about 20 hours. Like a lot of indigestible things people eat (fingernails, lettuce, Froot Loops), chewing gum gets passed through the gastrointestinal tract as roughage.

The Lie: If you don't wait an hour after eating to get in the swimming pool, you will get a cramp and die.

The Truth: Exactly 0 deaths have ever been attributed to entering a pool too quickly after eating.

The Lie: Walt Disney is cryogenically frozen.

The Truth: Walt Disney [wiki] was the opposite of frozen. His body was cremated two days after his death in 1966.

The Lie: The original Harlem Globetrotters are from Harlem.

The Truth: Not a single one was from New York. Almost all of the original Globetrotters were from Chicago, where the team was founded in 1926. They took on "New York" to seem more cosmopolitan as they toured the Midwest and changed it to "Harlem" in 1930.

The Lie: Adam and Eve ruined everything for the rest of us by eating an apple.

The Truth: Adam and Even ruined everything for the rest of us by eating an unnamed fruit. The exact wording: " ... the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden" (Genesis 3:3).

The Lie: Mussolini made the trains run on time.

The Truth: When seeking to explain why masses of people will sometimes support evil regimes, you often hear folks say, "Well, Mussolini [wiki] made the trains run on time." Poor example. If you're taking an indefensible position, well, Hamas does provide schools and medical care to Palestinians. Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers, who conscript child soldiers and lead the world in suicide bombings, did give aid to Sri Lankans in the wake of the 2004 tsunami. But Mussolini never made the trains run on time. During World War I, the Italian rail system became woefully inconsistent, and it's true that by the time Mussolini took power in 1922, the trains were more punctual - but mostly because of construction work done in the years before he took power.

The Lie: The Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from space.

The Truth: Thousands of man-made objects are visible from space. Furthermore, the Great Wall of China is not among them. To quote austronaut Jay Apt, "Although we can see things as small as airport runways, the Great Wall seems to be made largely of materials that have the same color as the surrounding soil."

The Lie: Van Gogh cut off his left ear and mailed it to a prostitute.

The Truth: He only chopped off the bottom half of his left ear - somewhere between a Tyson-Holyfield fight and a full-fledged ear-ectomy. And he didn't mail it to a prostitute. Some claim he gave it away to a prostitute named Rachel (hey, we never said he was well adjusted), but he never mailed anything. Given his complete financial distress (in his lifetime, he only sold one painting), Vincent could hardly afford the postage.

The Lie: Hair grows back thicker and darker after you shave it.

The Truth: Sadly, it does not - although balding men surely wish it did. hair may seem to grow back thicker because short hairs tend to feel and look dark and coarse, but it's an illusion. Nor does your hair keep growing after you die. Nor does 100 strokes with the brush before bedtime improve the health of your hair. Nor can any fancy-pants shampoo repair your split ends (someone had to say it).

The Lie: You only use 10 percent of your brain.

The Truth: You, beloved and brilliant mental_floss reader, use all of your brain. And so does everyone else. PET and MRI scans of the brain show that while you don't use all of your brain all the time, you use all of it some of the time. Frankly, we're offended on your behalf that anyone would ever say that your well-flossed, knowledge trap of a brain was only functioning at 10 percent capacity! Maybe those idiots think Van Gogh mailed his ear to a hooker, but not you! Again, even those idiots use all their brains as well, but we're on a roll here. It's totally bull! Incidentally, if you've ever wondered why we say "bull" rather than "cow" or "hog" or "three-toed possum" ...

From mental_floss' book Scatterbrained (highly recommended!) published in Neatorama with permission.

Be sure to visit mental_floss' extremely entertaining website and blog!


Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

So he really wanted them to screw over the rest of us. Of course that is if you are a believer.I waited for the explosion. Nothing happened that day. I went back the next day — it was summer and I had nothing to do — not dead birds anywhere in the park
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
ir hair dosent cum bk thicker then how come places i shave on my body over time it gets thicker more than twice as thick blond hairs have turned to black yes this may sound minging but it jus proves your no better than the lies our mothers told. an i think thay didnt intentionally lie thay jus belived it there selves

sorry bout spellings
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Commenting is closed.


Email This Post to a Friend
"Lies Your Mother Told You."

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.

 

Success! Your email has been sent!

close window
X

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
 
Learn More