20 Common Misconceptions We’re All Wrong About


There is no evidence that Vikings wore horns on their helmets. In fact, the image of Vikings wearing horned helmets stems from the scenography of an 1876 production of the Der Ring des Nibelungen opera cycle by Richard Wagner.

An early study that coined the term “alpha wolf” had only observed unrelated adult wolves living in captivity. In the wild, wolf packs operate more like human families: there is no defined sense of rank, parents are in charge until the young grow up and start their own families, younger wolves do not overthrow an “alpha” to become the new leader, and social dominance fights are situational.

They only appear white today because the original pigments have deteriorated. Some well-preserved statues still bear traces of their original coloration.

Only a very small share of the radio audience was even listening to it, and isolated reports of scattered incidents and increased call volume to emergency services were played up the next day by newspapers, eager to discredit radio as a competitor for advertising. Both Welles and CBS, which had initially reacted apologetically, later came to realize that the myth benefited them and actively embraced it in later years.

The “chubby Buddha” or “laughing Buddha” is a 10th-century Chinese folk hero by the name of Budai. In Chinese Buddhist culture, Budai came to be revered as an incarnation of Maitreya, the Bodhisattva who will become a Buddha to restore Buddhism after the teachings of the historical Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama, have been forgotten.

Leif Erikson, and possibly other Vikings before him, explored Vinland, which was either the island of Newfoundland, part of modern Canada, or a term for Newfoundland and parts of the North American mainland. Ruins at L’Anse aux Meadows prove that at least one Norse settlement was built in Newfoundland, confirming a narrative in the Saga of Erik the Red. Columbus also never reached any land that now forms part of the mainland United States of America; most of the landings Columbus made on his four voyages, including the initial October 12, 1492 landing (the anniversary of which forms the basis of Columbus Day), were on Caribbean islands that are now independent countries.

The Great Wall of China is not, as is claimed, the only human-made object visible from space or from the Moon. None of the Apollo astronauts reported seeing any specific human-made object from the Moon, and even Earth-orbiting astronauts can see it only with magnification. City lights, however, are easily visible on the night side of Earth from orbit.

Fortune cookies, despite being associated with Chinese cuisine in the United States, were invented in Japan and introduced to the US by the Japanese. The cookies are extremely rare in China, where they are seen as symbols of American cuisine.

The area that contains this illegal information is a small portion of the deep web known as the “dark web.” Much of the deep web consists of academic libraries, databases, and anything that isn’t indexed by normal search engines.

Instead they were pieced together in the 18th century from several artifacts found in museums in order to create spectacular objects intended for (commercial) exhibition.

He did, however, develop the first practical light bulb in 1880 (employing a carbonized bamboo filament), shortly prior to Joseph Swan, who invented an even more efficient bulb in 1881 (which used a cellulose filament).

They can prevent damage from occurring in the first place, and they can also smooth down the cuticle in a glue-like fashion so that it appears repaired, and generally make hair appear in better condition.

The widespread urban legend that one swallows a high number of spiders during sleep in one’s life has no basis in reality. A sleeping person causes all kinds of noise and vibrations by breathing, the beating heart, snoring etc. all of which warn spiders of danger.

The amount of water needed varies by person (weight), diet, activity level, clothing, and environment (heat and humidity). Water does not actually need to be drunk in pure form, but can be derived from liquids such as juices, tea, milk, soups, etc., and from foods including fruits and vegetables.

Albert Einstein did not fail mathematics classes (never “flunked a math exam”) in school. Upon seeing a column making this claim, Einstein said “I never failed in mathematics… Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus.” Einstein did, however, fail his first entrance exam into the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School (ETH) in 1895, when he was two years younger than his fellow students, but scored exceedingly well in the mathematics and science sections, then passed on his second attempt.

He was actually slightly taller than the average Frenchman of his time. After his death in 1821, the French emperor’s height was recorded as 5 feet 2 inches in French feet, which in English measurements is 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 m). He was actually nicknamed le Petit Caporal (The Little Corporal) as a term of endearment. Napoleon was often accompanied by his imperial guard, who were selected for their height—this could have contributed to a perception that he was comparatively short.

The forbidden fruit mentioned in the Book of Genesis is never identified as an apple, a misconception widely depicted in Western art. The original Hebrew texts mention only tree and fruit. Early Latin translations use the word mali, which can be taken to mean both “evil” and “apple”. In early Germanic languages the word “apple” and its cognates usually meant simply “fruit”. German and French artists commonly depict the fruit as an apple from the 12th century onwards, and John Milton’s Areopagitica from 1644 explicitly mentions the fruit as an apple. Jewish scholars have suggested that the fruit could have been a grape, a fig, wheat, an apricot, or an etrog.

The number of senses in various categorizations ranges from five to more than 20. In addition to sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, which were the senses identified by Aristotle, humans can sense balance and acceleration (equilibrioception), pain (nociception), body and limb position (proprioception or kinesthetic sense), and relative temperature (thermoception). Other senses sometimes identified are the sense of time, echolocation, itching, pressure, hunger, thirst, fullness of the stomach, need to urinate, need to defecate, and blood carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.

The notion that goldfish have a memory span of just a few seconds is false. It is much longer, counted in months.

In instances where there is evidence of violence or of an unusual absence, law enforcement agencies in the United States often stress the importance of beginning an investigation promptly. The UK government website says in large type, “You don’t have to wait 24 hours before contacting the police.”


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