The sigline from Land of Enchantment is a quote from Mark Twain: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so. " That started me thinking about facts that everyone knows are true but actually aren't. Most of these commonly held beliefs won't get anyone in trouble but some of them are infuriating to those of us who are reality-biased or know better (or think we know better).
Your mother told you that going out in the cold with a wet head will make you sick. In truth studies show that wet or dry makes no difference.
Sugar makes kids hyperactive. A huge number of studies refute this; sugar does not affect behavior.
Growing up in Wisconsin I heard this all the time: wear a hat because you lose most of your body heat through your head. Not true; the amount of heat released by any part of the body depends mostly on the surface area. A bare arm = a bare head.
As an exercise-averse person (except for splitting wood) this is good news. Stretching before exercising actually slows you down and is counterproductive. So I avoid both.
Many people think that the cholesterol in eggs is bad for the heart. No. It is only the consumption of saturated fat that does it. Eat eggs but avoid steak and (sob) bacon.
Crack your knuckles all you want, you won't get arthritis. Do it all you want to release tension and annoy people.
Glass is not actually a slow-flowing liquid. This "fact" started when it was found that ancient glass windows were thicker on the bottom than on the top. It turns out that ancient construction people weren't stupid; of course you'd put the thicker part on the bottom. I once surprised a professional architect who thanked me for correcting his lecture.
This next one I hear mostly from older people. "Weathermen get it wrong all the time. They just guess, mostly." Ah…no. Our weather site can predict the exact time it will rain and the amount, and will almost always be correct. Of course if Santorum had his way the NWS would be privatized and republican and be as wrong as republicans as well.
"Mayonnaise must be refrigerated; mayo in a potato salad will cause instant food poisoning at a picnic, keep it cold or you will die". I have to break it to those who make that claim: we've never put mayonnaise in the refrigerator and I'm still alive after 75 years.
This last one is different, the persistence of a perception beyond reality. I worked at the Post Office at the time "going postal" was coined. Admittedly it was a bad time but the Postal Service wasn't the worst offender. I (defensively) recall a number of employees of small software companies mowing down their fellow workers.
Researchers have found that the homicide rates at postal facilities were lower than at other workplaces. In major industries, the highest rate of 2.1 homicides per 100,000 workers was in retail. The next highest rate of 1.66 was in public administration, which includes police officers. The homicide rate for postal workers was 1.48 per 100,000.It has been much better for a very long time but the meme persists.
Do you have any of these "facts" about which you know better? Having wrong information doesn't mean a person is stupid but always keep in mind: by definition 50% of the population is below average.
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