Let’s face it – we’ve all been told a few myths during our lives. No, not the ones told about the existence of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy, but the ones even held by adult. Some of these have to do with our health, while others are social or environmental myths. Myths like these have been perpetuated through the years by family members and friends who are convinced of their validity. People who spread these lies mean well, but are misinformed. These myths tend to be universal and not specific to any certain culture or people. We’re all equally gullible when it comes to believing these myths.
1. Opposites attract
Although we’ve been told for years that opposites attract, the opposite, ironically, is true. Psychologists do admit that we look for others who are like us, as we prefer similarity over difference in our mates. Although we aren’t looking for an identical twin, we aren’t searching for our polar opposite, either. Humans tend to seek out like personalities to complement their own.
2. Reading in dim light damages your eyesight
While reading in dim light might make you squint or make reading more difficult, ophthalmologists stress that it has no real bearing on your eyesight. Your eyesight won’t get worse if you tend to read in poor lighting often; however, it might damage your self-image, as you might find more crows’ feet in the skin around your eyes from squinting. So can we say that reading in dim light ages you prematurely? Perhaps.
3. You lose most of your body heat through your head
Remember when your mother or grandmother used to tell you, as a child, to cover your head before going outside in the cold? “You’ll lose all your body heat if you don’t wear a hat,” they would say. Well, Mom and Grandma didn’t know best on this one. When doctors measure heat lost during cold temperatures, the head isn’t any different from any other part of the body in the amount of heat it lets escape. Sure, if your head is uncovered outside on a cold day, you’ll lose heat through it, but no more than you would lose through your hands if you went outside in a snowstorm without gloves.
4. It takes seven years for chewing gum to pass through your digestive system
Mom might have told us this one, too, as a small child, simply to prevent us from swallowing our chewing gum. Maybe she even believed it herself. But it, too, is a myth. While gum is difficult to pass and will remain in a mass while in the body, doctors say that it will eventually pass through your intestines and leave the body “whole,” not in pieces – and it won’t take seven years. Gum passes through the system at the same rate other foods do. Chewing gum won’t stick your insides together, either, no matter what you might have been told as a child.
5. We only use 10% of our brains
While some of us may feel this way at times (and others might act this way all of the time), it is, in fact, a myth that we only use 10% of our brains at any given time. Scientists say there is absolutely no proof that we only use a small portion of our brains. Even while sleeping, we’re using more than one-tenth of our brains. This myth begs the question, if it were to be true, which part of your brain do you use (or which part don’t you use?)
6. You should drink at least 8 glasses of water per day
We’ve all been told this one. Yes, it’s true that our bodies are mostly made up of water. But, doctors say, there is no medical evidence to make them believe that we need to drink 64 ounces of water each day. Fluid is important, but doctors say we get fluid from other beverages we drink, plus fruits and vegetables. Drinking this much water won’t necessarily hurt you, but it won’t make you any healthier on its own.
7. Animals can predict natural disasters
This myth is perpetuated any time there’s a tornado, earthquake, hurricane, or tsunami. Afterward, witnesses recall animals running away or acting a bit strange just before the event. The sad truth is, natural disasters kill just as many animals as they do people. Chicken Little notwithstanding, while animals may have keener, more developed senses of smell, hearing, and sight, unfortunately, they don’t possess a “sixth sense” that warns them when the sky is about to fall.
8. If you drop a penny from the top of a tall building, it can kill a pedestrian on the ground.
Who knows how this myth got started? Scientists say that even if a penny was dropped from a height of 1250 feet (such as from the top of the Empire State Building), it would travel fast but would do no more than sting any pedestrian it hit on the ground. Contrary to popular belief, pennies don’t magically become aerodynamic weapons just because they’re dropped from exorbitant heights.
9. A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth
This is another myth that is a real head-scratcher. A dog’s mouth is filled with just as many bacteria as a human’s mouth. It is true that bacteria is specific to each species, so bacteria found in a dog’s mouth would be different than those found inside a human’s mouth. When you take into account that a dog licks itself in places that (most) humans don’t, it only stands to reason that a dog’s mouth would be fairly filthy at most times.
10. Lightning never strikes the same place twice
Lightning actually likes some places more than others – that is, higher locations – so this one is absolutely false. For example, the Empire State Building is struck by lightning an estimated 25 times each year. So if you’re standing under Aunt Edna’s tree in the back yard during a thunderstorm and happen to get struck by lightning, don’t make that same mistake again when the next storm rolls around.