Previously, I brought to the attention of readers several widespread urban legends that stubbornly refuse to disappear. These included origin stories for candy canes, picnics, Lifesavers candies, and fuck. Recently, I have noticed that the internet is reinforcing numerous falsehoods through blog posts wherein people copy & paste lists of amazing alleged facts. These fake facts may seem insignificant and harmless, but they still irritate me with their persistence.
Truth may not always be as fun as fiction, but I urge you to help spread this list far and wide in an effort to truthify the internet:
Paper can only be folded 7 times: Not True! Although it would be extremely difficult to fold standard writing paper more than 7 times, there is no physical attribute of paper that disallows more than 7 folds. Here is a Mythbusters video demonstrating this reality.
Ants don’t sleep: Not True! I just read this one on a page entitled, “Strange and Unusual Facts.” Most of the facts on the page, as with many of these lists, are true. But, don’t let that fact obscure the fact that some facts may be factually incorrect, no matter how many times someone uses the word “fact,” and that’s a fact. Ants sleep, and may even dream. I covered this in my post, Mysteries of Insects Revealed!
More redheads are born in Scotland than in any other part of the world: Not True! This one may be a simple mistake. Scotland boasts the highest percent of a country’s population born with red hair – 13%, compared to 1 to 2% worldwide. But Scotland is not a very large country. United States, for example, with an overall population of 312 million, has at least 9 times as many redheads than Scotland with it’s total population of about 5 million.
One car out of every 230 made was stolen last year: Not True! There are just over 11 million passenger vehicles made in the U.S. each year, and a whopping 794,000 or so are stolen per year. If all the stolen cars were new then the statistic would tell us that an even more incredible 1 out of every 14 new cars was stolen last year. But obviously, many of the cars stolen are not brand new. If we take the more realistic ratio of 794,000 stolen out of the total number of cars in the U.S., 254,212,610, that would be 1 in 320 (0.3%). Is that where the “fact” comes from – a juxtaposition of the numbers in 320 to make 230, or is the 230 number just out of date? After all, car thefts have declined by 40% since 2001.
Your heart stops for a millisecond when you sneeze: Not True! I’m going to go out on a limb here and assert that this is false. I have searched, and can’t find any reference to any scientific measuring of heart stoppage during sneezing, yet this “fact” makes just about every list of “fun facts” on the internet. The human heart beats between about once to twice per second, so a singular lapse of a millisecond would be insignificant. But, if anyone comes across a study measuring the effects of sneezing on heart rhythm, please let me know.
Hippos have pink milk: Not True! Hippos secret a pink antibacterial liquid that also protects them from sunburn. This is undoubtedly the origin of the pink milk myth.
A sneeze travels out your mouth at over 100 mph: False! This myth was busted by Mythbusters, yet it persists online and will probably never die.
The internet has made urban legends and amazing but false facts extremely hard to dislodge from our canon of modern folk wisdom. Maybe intentionally spreading corrections like this list can help. Unlike the false facts whose origins are quickly forgotten, I ask that you credit this site, http://www.daisybrain.com, with this list of corrected facts.
More Things Not True await you under this flower…