March 20th, 2009 is when I grabbed what appeared to be the longest version of the list, since its on Nobody's list of things that need to be transwikied, from the wikipedia. Some things may have been lost before, or things added or improvements made since then. ---
This list of common misconceptions details various ideas described as widely held by the general populace, but which are false, misleading or otherwise flawed.
- The belief that gunpowder, even though it was a Chinese invention, was first used for war by the Europeans is a misconception. The Chinese used flamethrowers and gunpowder arrows for military purposes from the 900s CE onward.
The Americas Edit
- Christopher Columbus's efforts to obtain support for his voyages were not hampered by a European belief in a flat Earth. In fact, sailors and navigators of the time knew that the Earth was spherical, but (correctly) disagreed with Columbus' estimates of the distance to India (see Flat Earth). If the Americas did not exist, and Columbus had continued to India (even putting aside the threat of mutiny he was under), he would have run out of supplies before reaching them at the rate he was traveling. The intellectual class had known that the earth was spherical since Ancient Greece.
- Christopher Columbus was not the first European to discover North America. The earliest physical evidence of European colonization comes from the Norse: Greenland was settled by Icelanders in 984 CE, and a Norse settlement was established at what is now L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland ca. 1000 CE. Scholars are divided on whether Norse explorer Leif Ericson established the L'Anse aux Meadows settlement.
- The Spaniards did not conquer the Aztecs with a "hundred men and a handful of cannons". Although Cortes only brought with him (approximately) 400 soldiers, 100 sailors, and about 10-20 horses, the conquest of the Aztec was a complicated affair which included thousands of natives who allied themselves to Hernán Cortés and a smallpox outbreak.
- The Pilgrims did not dress only in black, nor did they have buckles on their hats or shoes.
- Paul Revere was not the only American colonist who rode to warn the Minute Men of the British before the battle of Lexington and Concord of the American Revolutionary War. The story of Paul Revere is largely based on the poem "Paul Revere's Ride", written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1860 (see Paul Revere's Ride).
- George Washington did not have wooden teeth. According to a study of Washington's four known dentures performed by a forensic anthropologist from the University of Pittsburgh (in collaboration with the National Museum of Dentistry, itself associated with the Smithsonian Museum), the dentures were made of gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, human and animal teeth (including horse and donkey teeth).
- Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately free all American slaves, just those in the rebelling area (i.e. most of the South). Since that area did not recognize the power of the Federal government, few slaves were freed as a result of the Proclamation. Regions in the South that were under Union control when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued were not affected by it. These regions were: Tennessee, southern Louisiana, and parts of Virginia. The Thirteenth Amendment officially abolished slavery in all of the United States.
- The German crowd witnessing John F. Kennedy's speech in Berlin in 1963 did not mistake Ich bin ein Berliner to mean "I am a jelly doughnut." It is an incorrect American notion that he should have said "Ich bin Berliner" rather than "Ich bin ein Berliner". Different areas of Germany refer to a jelly doughnut as a Berliner.
- Cinco de Mayo (May 5) is not Mexico's Independence Day. It is a regional holiday primarily celebrated in the state of Puebla, and commemorates the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla. Mexico's Independence Day is on September 16.
- U.S. president William Henry Harrison did give a three-hour inauguration speech on March 4, 1841, with his jacket off during a wintry day, but he did not catch pneumonia or a cold that day. The pneumonia-like symptoms that eventually killed him April 4 began March 26, three weeks after his speech.
- Napoleon Bonaparte (pictured) was not especially short. After his death in 1821, the French emperor's height was recorded as 5 feet 2 inches in French feet. This corresponds to 5 feet 6.5 inches in modern international feet, or 1.686 metres, making him slightly taller than an average Frenchman of the 19th century. The metric system was introduced during his lifetime, so it was natural that he would be measured in feet and inches for much of his life. His nickname, "le petit caporal", adds to the confusion, as non-francophones mistakenly take petit literally as meaning "small"; in fact, it is an affectionate term reflecting on his camaraderie with ordinary soldiers.
- The trenches on the Western Front in World War I are often said to have stretched "from the frontier of Switzerland to the English Channel". The trenches reached the coast at the North Sea, not the English Channel. In fact much of the British war effort was a bloody but successful strategy to prevent the Germans reaching the Channel.
- During World War II, King Christian X of Denmark did not thwart Nazi attempts to identify Jews by wearing a yellow star himself. Jews in Denmark were never forced to wear the Star of David. The Danish government did help most Jews flee the country before the end of the war.
- Italian dictator Benito Mussolini did not make the trains run on time. Much of the repair work had been performed before Mussolini and the Fascists came to power in 1922. Accounts from the era also suggest that the Italian railways' legendary adherence to timetables was more myth than reality.
- It is a common misconception that the Scottish Tartan has always identified the clan of the wearer. Tartans were more commonly associated with a region, and it is only in modern times that the connection between a pattern and a clan came into being.
- Common misconceptions about vikings: Vikings wore helmets, but not the horned helmets often depicted in media (Viking Helmet from Gjermundbu); horned helmets were used in Celtic religious rituals, but are unsuited for combat, the horns easily catching on weapons – the imagery of horned vikings is believed to come from 19th century Scandinavism romantic nationalist movement. Neither did they drink from skull cups.
- Queen Marie Antoinette never said "Let them eat cake!" The phrase is first found in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions, of 1770, when Marie-Antoinette was fourteen (prior to marriage or revolution). Countess Madame de Boigne recalls in her memoirs that Madame Victoire was a woman of "very little wit and extreme kindness. It was she who said, her eyes full of tears, in a time of famine when one spoke of the suffering of the unfortunates who lacked bread: But, my God, if they would only resign themselves to eating paté crust!"
- Although many young people in the 1960s were actively opposed to the Vietnam war, evidence from opinion polling in the United States showed consistently that younger people were more likely to support sending US troops to Vietnam than were older people. A Gallup poll in March 1966 found that 21% of Americans in their 20s thought the US made a mistake sending troops, which rose to 30% of those over 50. Four years later the percentages had risen to 49% of those in their 20s (a statistical dead heat with supporters), but 61% of those over 50 (a clear majority regarding the war as a mistake).
- Al Gore never said he invented the Internet, though he did state that "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet"(emphasis added). Gore was the original drafter of the High Performance Computing Act of 1991, which provided significant funding for supercomputing centers, and this in turn led to upgrades of the Internet's precursor, the NSFNet, and development of NCSA Mosaic, the browser that popularized the World Wide Web.
- Former UK prime minister Tony Blair never said that he remembered sitting behind the goal at St James Park watching Jackie Milburn play for Newcastle United. As Milburn retired from football when Blair was four years old and seating was not introduced until the 1990s it was suggested that he lied about it, in an interview in December 1997 with BBC Radio 5 Live, to boost his working class credentials; however he was misquoted, saying his time as a supporter came just after Milburn.
- UK prime minister Gordon Brown never claimed to be a fan of the Arctic Monkeys nor that he wakes up to them. He did say that if they were playing on the radio it would certainly wake him up.
- Peter Mandelson never mistook mushy peas for guacamole. The mistake was made by a young American researcher working for the then Labour leader Neil Kinnock who mischievously attributed the mistake to his colleague Mandelson.
- Sarah Palin never claimed to be able to see Russia from her house in Alaska, an attribution to Tina Fey's parody of Governor Palin. She said, in a September 11, 2008 interview with Charlie Gibson: "They're our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska." In a September 25, 2008 interview with Katie Couric she added: "It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state." Two islands in the Bering Strait called Big Diomede, which sits in Russian territory, and Little Diomede, which is part of the United States are only separated by about two miles and can be seen from one another. The sea between them freezes in the winter.
- Searing meat does not "seal in" moisture, and in fact may actually cause meat to lose moisture. Rather, meat is seared to create a brown crust and to add a rich flavor via the Maillard reaction.
- Mussels that do not open when cooked can still be fully cooked and safe to eat.
- All true teas, including black, green, and white teas, come from the Camellia sinensis plant. Herbal "teas", such as those made from chamomile, peppermint, or rooibos, usually contain no tea.
- When cooking with alcoholic beverages, the alcohol does not completely evaporate (or 'burn off' in common terminology); the amount remaining depends upon the cooking method used.
- Adding salt to water does not make it boil faster, the salt is just an impurity that allows the water to come to a higher temperature. Furthermore, adding a "pinch" of salt to water will make little or no measurable difference.
- Entrapment law in the United States does not forbid police officers from going undercover, or from denying that they are police. It is a common misconception among persons engaged in low-level crime that if an undercover police officer is asked, "Are you a cop?" that they must reveal themselves to avoid entrapment.
- In the United States, Police are not required by law to immediately give the Miranda warning when arresting a suspect, and the Miranda warning is not given only to suspects under arrest. Rather, according to the 1966 United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona, a suspect in custody or in a custodial situation must be informed of these rights before being subject to interrogation. If the Miranda warning or similar warning is not read, incriminating statements made by the suspect while in custody are not admissible evidence in court.
- It is not illegal or unconstitutional, in the United States, to pray in a public school. Supreme Court cases going back to Engel v. Vitale (1962) have held it unconstitutional for a public school to lead students in an officially sponsored prayer. However, the Court has also consistently recognized a right of students to pray and to organize religious extracurricular activities, for instance in Widmar v. Vincent (1981) and Good News Club v. Milford (2001). Another misconception is that opponents of official school prayer are largely atheists. Rather, the plaintiffs in many Establishment Clause cases have been members of minority religions, such as Jews in Engel v. Vitale or Catholics in a largely Baptist school district in Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe (2000).
- While in a low orbit (an altitude of about 185 km or about 115 miles), a viewer of good eyesight can see portions of the Great Wall of China (pictured here in a satellite image) from space. It is not, however, unique in that regard. From such a height, a multitude of land features and man-made objects are visible, including: highways, ships at sea, dams, railroads, cities, fields of crops, airports, and even some individual buildings. As to the claim that it is the only man-made object visible from the Moon, this is completely false. None of the Apollo astronauts reported seeing any man-made object from the Moon, and certainly not the Great Wall. The Great Wall, while massive, is comparatively thin, no wider than 10 feet (3 meters) along most of its length. Moreover, the colour of the Great Wall is very similar to that of the soil around it, making it hardly distinctive. The misconception is believed to have been popularized by Richard Halliburton decades before the first moon landing. (See Great Wall's visibility from space.) These words from Herbert Giles' 1912 work, The Civilization of China, "...and which has been glorified as the last trace of man's handiwork on the globe to fade from the view of an imaginary person receding into space." may be intended merely to say it is big (and also seems to be a quote from an earlier time). From here it is one small step for man to say it is visible from the moon.
- Modern spacecraft returning from space do not suffer a communications blackout. While the heated atmosphere in front of the spacecraft prevents direct communication with Earth, and in the early days of the space programs of the world indeed meant that no communication was possible during reentry, systems like the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System have removed this problem.
- There is no dark side of the Moon; every part of the Moon's surface (except perhaps deep craters near the poles) is illuminated by the Sun roughly half of the time. The phrase uses the word "dark" in the less-frequent sense of "unknown" or "obscure" to refer to the far side of the Moon, which because of tidal locking is never visible from Earth.
- Black holes, unlike the common image, do not act as cosmic vacuum cleaners any more than do other stars. When a star evolves into a black hole, the gravitational attraction at a given distance from the body is no greater than it was for the star. That is to say, were the Sun to be replaced by a black hole of the same mass, the Earth would continue in the same orbit. Due to a black hole's formation being explosive in nature, the object would lose a certain amount of its energy in the process, which—according to the mass–energy equivalence—means that a black-hole would be of lower mass than the parent object, and actually have a weaker gravitational pull.
- Only when one is close to a black hole (within the radius of the body which formed it) will the gravitational attraction become greater than the parent body's. One can check this by a thought-experiment: if we are inside a star, some of the star's mass is located in the other direction from us than the centre-of-mass, and thus will attract us away from the centre-of-mass, reducing the gravitational effect. On the other hand, if we replace the star with a black hole, there will be no such reducing effect, as the total mass is in the centre-of-mass, thus always in one direction.
- When a meteor lands on Earth (after which it is termed a meteorite), it is not usually hot. In fact, many are found with frost on them. A meteor's great speed during reentry is enough to melt or vaporize its outermost layer, but any molten material will be quickly blown off (ablated), and the interior of the meteor does not have time to heat up because rocks are poor conductors of heat. Also, atmospheric drag can slow small meteors to terminal velocity by the time they hit the ground, giving the surface time to cool down.
- The North Star, Polaris, is not the brightest star in the northern hemisphere night sky. The brightest star is Sirius, with an apparent magnitude of −1.47; Polaris in comparison is 1.97, barely making the top-50 brightest stars list (a lower number indicates a brighter star). Its importance lies in its proximity to the north celestial pole, meaning its location in the sky currently marks North.
- Seasons are not caused by Earth being closer to the sun in summer than in winter. Rather, they are caused by Earth's tilted axis. In July, during Northern Hemisphere summer, Earth actually reaches its furthest distance from the sun, but the northern part of the planet is tilted towards the sun, giving longer days and more direct sunlight; in winter, it is tilted away. The seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, which is tilted towards the sun in January and away from the sun in July (note that if distance from the sun dictated the seasons, it would be impossible for them to differ by region in this way). The tropics do not have substantial seasonal variation in sunlight.
- Liquids will generally freeze when exposed to space, such as in the movie Mission to Mars. A hard vacuum greatly lowers the boiling temperature of most liquids. This causes heat energy to be boiled away until the liquid freezes.
- The lunar phases are not caused by the Earth's shadow (lunar eclipses, by contrast, are). Instead, as the Moon orbits Earth, we see its illuminated half from differing angles in relation to the Sun.
- The human body can briefly survive the hard vacuum of space unprotected, despite contrary depictions in much popular science fiction. Human flesh expands to about twice its size in such conditions, giving the visual effect of a body builder rather than an overfilled balloon. Consciousness is retained for up to 15 seconds as the effects of oxygen starvation set in. No snap freeze effect occurs because all heat must be lost through thermal radiation or the evaporation of liquids, and the blood does not boil because it remains pressurised within the body. The greatest danger is in attempting to hold one's breath before exposure, as the subsequent explosive decompression can damage the lungs. These effects have been confirmed through various accidents (including in very high altitude conditions, outer space and training vacuum chambers). Human skin does not need to be protected from vacuum and is gas-tight by itself. Instead it only needs to be mechanically compressed to retain its normal shape. This can be accomplished with a tight-fitting elastic body suit and a helmet for containing breathing gases, known as a Space activity suit.
- Different tastes can be detected on all parts of the tongue, with slightly increased sensitivities in different locations depending on the person, contrary to the popular belief that specific tastes only correspond to specific mapped sites on the tongue. The original "tongue map" was based on a mistranslation by a Harvard psychologist of a discredited German paper that was written in 1901.
- People do not use only ten percent of their brains. This myth is thought by some to have emerged after the discovery of glial cells in the brain, or it could have been the result of some other misunderstood or misinterpreted legitimate scientific findings, or even been the result of speculation by self-help gurus.
- There is no single theory that satisfactorily explains myopia—in particular, studies show that "eyestrain" from close reading and computer games does not explain myopia. There is also no evidence that reading in dim light or sitting in close proximity to a television causes vision to deteriorate.
- Shaving does not cause hair to grow back thicker or coarser or darker. This belief is due to the fact that hair that has never been cut has a tapered end, whereas, after cutting, there is no taper. Thus, it appears thicker, and feels coarser due to the sharper, unworn edges. Hair can also appear darker after it grows back because hair that has never been cut is often lighter due to sun exposure.
- Hair and fingernails do not continue to grow after a person dies. Rather, the skin dries and shrinks away from the bases of hairs and nails, giving the appearance of growth.
- There is no cure for split ends or damaged hair. Shampoos and conditioners that advertise themselves as being able to reverse damage or reduce split ends are incorrect. Scientifically, the only way to cure split ends is by a simple haircut. Once the cuticle of the hair shaft is split, it can often still grow split, but can never be mended. Haircare products can be used to soften the texture by using fillers that attach to the hair shaft, making the hair appear healthier.
- The number of human senses is often said to be five; however, this count is inexact, for the senses of balance, acceleration, temperature, proprioception and pain—all distinct senses—are often grouped together as the sense of "feeling".
- Snapping or cracking one's knuckles does not cause arthritis. The audible POP is simply caused by the synovial fluid shifting in its respective cavity, not by the articular cartilage rubbing together. Compare to the gel in an ice pack.
- Sugar does not cause hyperactivity in children. Double blind trials have shown no difference in behaviour between children given sugar full or sugar-free diets, even in studies specifically looking at children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or those considered "sensitive" to sugar. In fact, it was found that the difference in the children's behaviour was all in the parents' minds.
- A disproportionate amount of heat is not lost through the head. This myth originated from a poorly undertaken military study that went on to suggest that "40 to 45 percent of body heat" was lost through the head. Recent studies have shown that heat loss from the head is completely proportionate.
- Eating at night is not associated with weight gain. Some studies have shown this to be true, however it has since been shown that such conclusions were due to a confusion between correlation and causation.
- The indigenous people of North America can grow facial hair, contrary to the misconception that they cannot.
- Warts on human skin are caused by viruses that are unique to humans (Human papillomavirus). Humans cannot catch warts from toads or other animals; the bumps on a toad are not warts.
- Koalas are not bears. Koalas belong to the marsupials infraclass of mammals, a separate lineage from the placental mammals of which bears (along with most mammals found outside of Australia and South America, such as rodents, primates, canines, etc.) are members.
- The Platypus is often heralded as the only egg-laying mammal. However, there are four species of Echidna, also of the order Monotremata, which also lay eggs.
- Some bats use echolocation to navigate while flying in darkness. Bats are not blind, however. Their eyes are small and poorly developed, but they are still capable of sight, particularly long-range, and in fact can be severely disoriented by excessive light.
- The claim that a duck's quack does not echo is false, although the echo may be difficult to hear for humans under some circumstances.
- The notion that goldfish have a memory of only three seconds is completely false. They have been trained to navigate mazes and can recognize their owners after an exposure of a few months.
- Lemmings do not engage in suicidal dives off cliffs when migrating. They will, however, occasionally, and unintentionally fall off cliffs when venturing into unknown territory, with no knowledge of the boundaries of the environment. The misconception is due largely to the Disney film White Wilderness, which shot many of the migration scenes (also staged by using multiple shots of different groups of lemmings) on a large, snow-covered turntable in a studio. Photographers later pushed the lemmings off a cliff.
- Mammal blood is bright red or scarlet when oxygenated and a darker red when not oxygenated. It is never blue. Veins appear blue through the skin because of Rayleigh scattering, the same effect responsible for the blue sky. However some other animals, mostly sea creatures, like the horseshoe crabs, have copper-based blood, which appears blue.
- The claim that individuals with a different number of chromosomes can never produce viable offspring is false—Przewalski's Horse, for example, can produce viable offspring with the common horse, despite a different number of chromosomes. Such hybrids are also common in plants.
- An earthworm does not become two worms when cut in half. An earthworm can survive being bisected, but only the front half of the worm (where the mouth is located) can survive, while the other half dries out or starves to death. If one cuts the worm too close to the saddle (the fat pink section where all of the worm's vital organs are located) then the worm may die. On the other hand, species of the planaria family of flatworms actually do become two new planaria when bisected or split down the middle.
- According to urban myth, the Daddy Long-Legs Spider (Pholcus phalangioides) is the most venomous spider in the world, but it is harmless to humans because its fangs cannot penetrate human skin. This is false as Pholcus phalangioides can pierce human skin, however, the toxicity of this spider's venom has just a weak effect on insects, let alone humans. It is likely this myth arose because some pholcidae actually prey upon and eat other spiders, including the black widow spider. In addition, there is also confusion regarding the use of the name Daddy Long Legs, because Harvestmen (order Opiliones, which are not spiders) and crane flies (which are insects) are also commonly referred to as Daddy Long Legs.
- It is sometimes claimed that half, or more than half, of all humans who were ever born are alive today. The claim itself is poorly defined, as there is no definite starting point for the human species. However, even adopting conservative values regarding the origins of humanity, a significantly lower proportion of the human population is currently alive. See also World population: Number of humans who have ever lived.
- Plants do not metabolize carbon dioxide (CO2) directly into oxygen (O2). Light-dependent reactions capture the energy of light and consume water, producing high-energy molecules and releasing oxygen as a by-product. Light-independent reactions use the high-energy molecules to capture and chemically reduce carbon dioxide, producing carbohydrate precursors and water. See Photosynthesis.
- The common cold is not caused by being cold or wet. It is caused by a virus of the rhinovirus family. Being cold or wet may weaken your immune system, making it easier to succumb to the virus.
- Chameleons do not change color to match their surroundings. They are naturally camouflaged and, although they can change their skin color into a variety of different colors, these changes are caused by temperature or interaction with predators or other Chameleons. A common myth that Chameleons will "burst" if placed on orange is not true.
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- The Coriolis effect does not determine the direction that water rotates in a bathtub drain or a flushing toilet. The Coriolis force is relatively small; it appears over large scales (like weather systems) or in systems such as the Foucault pendulum in which the small influence is allowed to accumulate over time. In a bathtub or toilet, the flow of the water over the basin itself produces forces that dwarf the Coriolis force. In addition, most toilets inject water into the bowl at an angle, causing a spin too fast to be affected by the Coriolis effect.
- Gyroscopic forces are not required for a rider to balance a bicycle. The stability of a bicycle is influenced by gyroscopic forces as well as by its geometry and the rider's ability to counteract tilting by steering.
- It is not true that air takes the same time to travel above and below an aircraft's wing. This misconception, illustrated at right, is widespread among textbooks and non-technical reference books, and even appears in pilot training materials. .
- Airplanes flying long distances between two places usually take less time flying west-to-east than east-to-west, not because of the earth's rotation directly, but because airplanes at higher altitudes tend to benefit from natural air currents called jet streams.
- Some textbooks state that electricity within wires flows at nearly (or even exactly) the speed of light, which can give the impression that electrons themselves move almost instantly through a circuit. The electrons in a typical wire actually move on the order of centimeters per hour (much slower than a snail). The random thermal motions of the electrons are much faster than this, but still much slower than light, and with no tendency to occur in any particular direction. It is the electrical energy or electric field which travels almost at the speed of light. Imagine a hose which is full of water and connected to a closed faucet. When the faucet is turned on, water begins coming out of the other end of the hose almost immediately; the speed of the pressure wave which starts the water in the hose moving is analogous to the speed of the electrical signal. But it takes much longer for the water entering the hose at the faucet to transit the entire hose; the water itself, analogous to the electrons in a current-carrying wire, moves along the hose much more slowly than does the information that the faucet has been opened. In alternating current, as used in wall outlets, the direction of current alternates rapidly (50 or 60 times per second), and in this case, the electrons stay in about the same place the entire time (on the filament inside a light bulb for instance), while vibrating back and forth over a very small distance.
- The blue color of lakes and oceans is not only a reflection of the blue sky. Water looks blue because water is blue; the water molecules do absorb some light, and they absorb red frequencies more than blue. The effect is small, so the blue color only becomes obvious when observing layers of water many meters (or more) thick. (This effect is noticeable to a lesser amount in white-painted swimming pools.) In salt water or mineral-laden fresh water, the color of dissolved minerals can also be seen. Sky-reflection does play a role, but it is not the only factor.
- Some believe that the sky looks blue because it reflects the color of the ocean. The sky actually looks blue because the color of air varies with the viewing angle to the illumination source. Sunlight reflected (scattered) from the air is of shorter wavelengths toward the violet end of the visible spectrum, while the remaining transmitted sunlight has longer wavelengths of the red end of the spectrum. In fact, the sun appears reddish in the evening because the transmitted sunlight has lost much of its blue wavelengths because of scattering, leaving only the long wavelength red light to reach the observer. This phenomenon is referred to as Rayleigh Scattering.
- Astronauts in orbiting spacecraft are not in a location where there is zero gravity in an objective sense. They accelerate along with the spacecraft. The principle of equivalence shows that accelerating free-fall environment is exactly the same in every respect as zero-gravity. NASA refers to near free-fall conditions with low G-force acceleration as microgravity. Earth's gravitational effects are very strong at the low orbit altitudes used by the space shuttle, where the acceleration due to gravity is about 85% of what it is at Earth's surface. Gravity falls off rapidly as one leaves the Earth's surface, but one can never completely escape the gravitational pull even at vast distances, though the effect will become negligible. A free-fall situation is sometimes called "simulated zero-gravity", and can be experienced in any near-freefall situation, including extremely fast elevators and skydiving. Astronauts ride inside free-falling airplanes for training (see Vomit Comet).
- While the Earth's north magnetic pole is near the geographic north pole, it is in physics terms a south magnetic pole. By accepted convention, a compass needle is a magnet whose north-seeking end is termed the "north" end of the magnet. Therefore, because magnetic poles are attracted to their opposites, the compass needle points to the magnetic south pole of the Earth's magnetic field. The Arctic pole is a south-type pole, while the Antarctic pole is a north-type pole. The poles have undergone geomagnetic reversal in the past, the last being the Brunhes-Matuyama reversal of 780,000 years ago. Earth also has a more complicated magnetic field than one might get from a simple dipole. The earth has a strong overall dipole which is superposed on a weaker quadrupole, as well as higher-order magnetic moments. Not only have the magnetic poles moved to opposite geographic poles in the past, but they also drift around more or less randomly, presumably because of the movements of the molten nickel-iron alloy in the Earth's core.
- When floating ice melts, it does not raise the water level (Archimedes' principle). However ice such as glaciers rests on rock, and is held above water: releasing it, or melting raises the level of the water that it is dropped in. The predicted threat of rising sea levels due to global warming is mainly due to the detachment or melting of inland ice, such as that on Greenland and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet in Antarctica, the melting of glaciers, and the thermal expansion of seawater. Melting of sea ice in the Arctic makes a tiny contribution, by lowering the global average salinity (and therefore the density) of seawater.
- The melting of Antarctic ice is not predicted to be the largest cause of rising sea levels in the near future. Complete melting of the Antarctic ice sheet would be the largest of all potential contributions to sea level change. At worst, the partial melting of Antarctic ice is predicted to be only the fourth-largest potential contribution to sea level rise by the year 2100 (−170 to +20 mm), after thermal expansion of the world's oceans (+110 to +430 mm), melting glaciers (+10 to +230 mm), and melting Greenland ice (−20 to +90 mm).
- A Crookes radiometer or "light-mill" (pictured) does not turn by radiation pressure. In fact, it turns in the opposite direction from what one would expect due to radiation pressure. The correct explanation is essentially that molecules of gas in the partial vacuum inside rebound from the vanes of the radiometer, transmitting a different force depending on the temperature of the gas (rebounding more forcefully from the black, hotter side of the vanes).
- Introductory science courses often teach that the period of a pendulum is independent of its amplitude (this is called isochronism), and students often mistakenly believe that is precisely true. It is only approximately true (due in fact to the small angle approximation), and only for small amplitudes, for which a pendulum approximates simple harmonic motion
- There is no such thing as centrifugal force, or a force that pushes outward while an object is undergoing circular motion. What many people confuse for centrifugal force is actually just inertia, because the object in motion wants to maintain its velocity and move in as direction tangent to the path of its circular motion. The force people often confuse with centrifugal force is centripetal force, the force required for an object to remain in uniform circular motion. Centrifugal force is one of several so-called pseudo-forces (also known as inertial forces), so named because, unlike real forces, they do not originate in interactions with other bodies situated in the environment of the particle upon which they act.
- It is not true that a nozzle (or a person's thumb) on the end of a garden hose makes the water squirt farther because the same amount of water gets forced through a smaller opening. The rate of flow of water through the hose is not a set constant; in fact, putting one's thumb over the end of the hose reduces the rate of flow. What is constant is the water pressure at the source. When water is flowing, the pressure decreases the farther from the source one gets due to friction between the water and the pipes it's flowing through. The faster the water moves through the pipe, the greater is the friction that cuts down pressure at the output end. A thumb over the end of the hose decreases the flow rate, causing the friction from the source to decrease, causing the remaining water to have more speed.
- Putting a teaspoon in the neck of an opened bottle of champagne will not help it retain its fizz. The misconception may arise from the fact that few people have two bottles of champagne open and unfinished at the same time to perform an accurate comparison. and likely suffer from subjective validation bias.
- It is not true that paper can be folded in half a maximum of seven, eight, ten, or indeed any selected number of times. It is true, however, that there is a loss function associated with each fold, and thus there is such a practical limit for a normal sized (letter or A4) sheet of writing paper. (A football field-sized sheet of paper was folded in half eleven times on episode 72 of Mythbusters.)
- It is not true that a mirror reverses left and right. It actually inverts front and back. The left and right sides of a person's mirror image seem to be reversed because we are actually accustomed to everyone else's left and right being reversed when they turn around to face us. If, instead of rotating on the spot to face us, people instead flipped over into a handstand, we would see their left and right remain the same, but their top and bottom being reversed from our own. The mirror image faces us without its left and right or top and bottom being reversed in this sense, which is why it is the reverse of what everyone else sees when they look at us. Another way to understand this is the following. The misconception arises because one compares the image in the mirror to an object already 180° rotated around a vertical axis on the plane of the mirror, and then notices a left-right reverse. However, if one takes this (subconscious) rotation also into account, the rotation plus the left-right reverse together actually mean a front-back inversion. (Image a rubber mask being pushed inside-out, as opposed to being turned around.)
- It is not true that surface area plays a role in the friction between two surfaces. Friction depends on two factors, the coefficient of friction (different materials) and the normal force of the surface. A common misconception is the increasing thickness of a vehicle wheels will decrease the breaking distance assuming the weight of the car is held constant.
- Glass is not a high-viscosity liquid at room temperature: it is an amorphous solid, although it does have some chemical properties normally associated with liquids. Panes of stained glass windows often have thicker glass at the bottom than at the top, and this has been cited as an example of the slow flow of glass over centuries. However, this unevenness is due to the window manufacturing processes used in earlier eras, which produced glass panes that were unevenly thick at the time of their installation. It is not uncommon to find old windows that are thicker at the sides or the top.
- Biological evolution does not address the origin of life; for that, see abiogenesis. The two are commonly and mistakenly conflated. Evolution describes the changes in gene frequencies that occur in populations of living organisms over time, and thus, presupposes that life already exists. Evolution likewise says nothing about cosmology, the Big Bang, or the origins of the universe, galaxy, solar system, or Earth, although the term 'evolution' in the sense of a slow unfolding is used to describe such processes, e.g. Stellar Evolution, Cosmic Evolution.
- The word "theory" in "the theory of evolution" does not imply doubt in mainstream science regarding its validity; the words "theory" and "hypothesis" are not the same in a scientific context (see Evolution as theory and fact). While "theory" in conventional usage tends to denote a "hunch" or conjecture, a scientific theory is a set of principles which, via logical induction, explains the observations in nature. The same inductive inferences can be made to predict observations before they are made. Evolution is a theory in the same sense as the theory of gravity or the theory of relativity.
- It is misleading to claim that evolution is completely random. Normally, the random results of genetic mutation are filtered by ontogeny, natural selection, and other non-random mechanisms. On the other hand, some evolutionary changes result from genetic drift, which is random.
- Humans did not evolve from monkeys or from any current non-human apes. Rather, humans and other modern simians—chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, baboons, etc.—all share a common early ancestor. It is believed that humans are more closely related to modern fellow apes than to monkeys, and humans and other apes share a later common ancestor that lived around 7 million years ago in the late Miocene epoch. However, fossil discoveries of "recently" (as in, only millions of years ago) extinct species are, in the experience of paleontologists, rarely direct ancestors of living species (cf. missing link).
- The process of biological evolution is not necessarily slow. Millions of years are not necessarily required to see speciation (a change in characteristics of a kind of organism, typically rendering offspring infertile with the previous species). Indeed, it has been observed multiple times under both controlled laboratory conditions and in nature.
- Speciation does not happen within a single organism: a chimpanzee cannot be born a chimpanzee and turn into a different species within its lifetime. Evolution to a new species deals with changes to the gene pool of a population, which accumulate only over generations. Nor does speciation occur on an individual basis. It is not meaningful to speak of the first member of a new species. However, plants may undergo speciation within a single generation through the production of fertile hybrids and/or ploidy changes.
- Organisms cannot pass on acquired traits to their offspring; a bodybuilder's children are not born with bigger muscles. (See also epigenetics.)
- Evolution is not a progression from "lower" to "higher", and evolution does not require an increase in complexity (see Evolution of complexity). A population can evolve to become simpler with less genetic information, and have a smaller genome—often called "devolution", but that is a misnomer.
- The theory of evolution does posit "transitional forms", but not "endpoint forms". That is, every animal, plant, fossil that exists, is an example of a transitional form. Evolution is a continuous process that has no "goal" per se. (See also List of transitional fossils.)
- The claim that "almost all mutations are harmful" is strictly speaking false. In fact, most mutations have no noticeable effect, mainly because most mutations do not occur within coding or regulatory regions of the genome. One study gives the average number of mutations that arise in a human conception to be around 128, with an average number of harmful mutations per conception of 1.3. However, most mutations that have an effect on phenotype are indeed detrimental to the organism.
- The claim that evolution makes no meaningful predictions is not true—for example the discovery of the relationship between chromosome 2 and chimpanzee chromosomes at the end of the completion of the human and chimp genome projects was predicted, and makes meaningful sense as evidence of a common ancestor.
- The characterization of evolution as the "survival of the fittest" (in the sense of "only the best-adapted organisms will prevail", a view common in social Darwinism) is not consistent with the actual theory of evolution. Any organism which is capable of reproducing itself before dying is considered "fit". If the organism is able to do so on an ongoing basis, it will survive as a species. A more accurate characterization of evolution would be "survival of the fit enough".
- Mount Everest (pictured) is, indisputably, the highest point of land above sea level (8,850 meters / 29,035 feet) which, according to traditional measurements, means that it is the tallest mountain in the world. Given certain definitions, however, this can be challenged. One alternative method of measurement is the base-summit height. When this is applied, Mauna Kea (a dormant volcano in Hawaii) turns out to be much higher at 10,314 meters (33,480 feet). This takes into account Mauna Kea's base on the ocean floor, some 6000 meters below sea level. Its height above sea level is only 4,208 meters (13,796 feet). If the base-summit height is measured from land only, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, meaning it does not belong to a mountain range or chain, measured from its base (at ground level) to the summit at 5,896 meters (19,344 feet). Another alternative method is to work out the furthest point of land as measured from the centre of the earth. Chimborazo, a volcano in Ecuador, takes this honor, because the Earth bulges at the equator. This peak is 2,100 meters further away from the centre of the Earth than the top of Everest is.
- The Sahara is the world's largest hot desert, but it is not the world's largest desert (arid land). Antarctica has almost no liquid precipitation (rain) and is thus a desert. Almost no animal life exists in its interior at all (nesting snow petrels and scientists in research stations are about the only exceptions).
- Claims that the number and intensity of earthquakes are increasing are unfounded. The number and intensity of earthquakes vary from year to year but there is no increasing trend.
- The Inuit do not have a large number of words for snow. One Eskimo-Aleut language studied had four unrelated root words, but because it is a polysynthetic language, in which sentences are formed by compounding words, one can use these roots to create an infinite number of "words" about snow. By comparison, English has many unrelated root words for snow as well: snow, sleet, powder, flurry, drift, avalanche and blizzard.
- Albert Einstein did not believe in God in a "personal" sense and discounted the existence of a creator. Einstein was, in fact, a rationalistic pantheist and follower of Baruch Spinoza. Many people misinterpreted his words in public, to which Einstein himself responded by saying: "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
- The phrase "separation of church and state" does not occur in the U.S. Constitution. It was first used in a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut, reassuring them that religious minorities (such as Baptists) would be protected under the Bill of Rights. His expression "wall of separation between church and state" was a description of an intended effect of the First Amendment's Establishment and Free Exercise provisions, not a quotation therefrom.
- An agnostic is not merely a person who cannot decide whether to believe in God or to be an atheist. Agnosticism is the claim that it is impossible for anyone to know whether God exists or not: it has to do with the limits of possible knowledge, not with personal feelings of uncertainty. As such, agnosticism is not a middle ground between theism and atheism, but is compatible with either; a person can be an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist.
Judaism and ChristianityEdit
- Nowhere in the Bible is the fruit eaten by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden referred to as an apple. The fruit is called the "fruit of the tree" (that is, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil), and neither the fruit nor the tree is identified by species. In Middle English, as late as the 17th century "apple" was a generic term for all fruit other than berries but including nuts. However, in continental European art from that period representing the Fall of Man the fruit is often depicted as an apple.
- Although Christians and Jews agree that the Ten Commandments are ten in number, they are not explicitly separated from each other in the original text. Thus the interpretation of the precise text of each of the Ten Commandments differs between Jews and Christians, and between various Christian denominations (see this chart). The Bible mentions three sets of ordinances, in Template:Bibleverse-nb, Template:Bibleverse and Template:Bibleverse-nb, that are all called by the name "Ten Commandments". The verses in Exodus 34 are not the Ten Commandments commonly referred to, and are called by some scholars the "Ethical Decalogue". They include an obligation to sacrifice the first born male of cattle, another to eat unleavened bread for a week and a final tenth commandment phrased as "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk".
- Kosher food is not food that has been blessed by a rabbi. It is any food that is not prohibited in the Biblical laws, meets the requirements for slaughter enumerated in the Mishnah (in the case of meat), and is prepared and served in accordance with Jewish law. For kosher certification to be approved, a rabbi or other religious Jew who is well-versed in Jewish law (called a mashgiach) serves as a production supervisor. Jews make individual blessings over the food they eat; there is no blessing said by a rabbi or layman that would make a food kosher.
- The term Immaculate Conception does not refer to Jesus's conception by the Virgin Mary (see Virgin Birth of Jesus), but rather to the Roman Catholic teaching that Mary herself was conceived without the stain of Original Sin. (See also Blessed Virgin Mary.)
- Nowhere in the Bible is Mary Magdalene ever referred to as a prostitute. Before her seeing the risen Jesus, the only other mention besides the listing of her name is the mentioning in Luke 8:2 that she had been possessed by seven demons. In fact there are several sinful women mentioned in the gospels, one of whom is "caught in adultery". Pope Gregory conflated this woman with Mary Magdalene in one of his sermons and thus propagated this idea. However, Magdala, where Mary Magdalene hailed from, was infamous for prostitution.
- The canon of the New Testament was not selected by Constantine at the First Council of Nicaea. Constantine did not personally have a vote on the council, and the canon had been settled mainly by common consent among the clergy from the early second century. Furthermore, the council did not consider the matter of canon in its proceedings. (See Development of the New Testament canon.)
- Nowhere in the Bible does it say exactly three wise men came from afar on camels to visit "Baby Jesus" It was assumed that there were three Biblical Magi because three gifts are described.
- The Gospel accounts of Jesus' birth say nothing about an inn-keeper or even an inn. The Greek word for an inn is pandocheion, while the word used to describe where Jesus was supposedly born is kataluma, which is better translated as "guestroom".
- Hinduism is not one distinct religion, but was considered to be so since at least AD 1323, as attested by South Indian and Kashmiri texts, and increasingly so during the British rule. Since the end of the 18th century the word has been used as an umbrella term for most of the religious, spiritual, and philosophical traditions of the sub-continent, excluding the distinct religions of Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Despite this, many traditions considered "Hindu" today draw their validity from core texts called the Vedas, though in various degrees; some traditions assert that their own texts supersede the Vedas. The traditions that reject the Vedas are considered nastika (heterodox), as opposed to astika (orthodox). Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma are now seen as trinity; that is, highest in the order of Hindu Gods (See Astika and Nastika). Nastika is often translated as "atheist", though it does not exactly correspond to the English word.
- Throughout most traditions, the Bhagavad Gita is not equivalent to the Christian's Bible in level of scriptural authority. It is considered Smriti (that which is remembered) which is a class of scripture lower in rank than Shruti (what is heard), containing the Vedas. The Bhagavad Gita, though, is considered the most popular.
- Hinduism is considered a family of religions and as such has no concept of God universal to all astika sects. Hinduism is thus not strictly polytheistic across all sampradyas (traditions), but can be pantheistic or panentheistic, or be distinctly henotheistic or monotheistic.
- Hindus do not worship "300,000 gods". Someone arranged the various gods that were worshipped in his time in various parts of India, into 30 classes, using a Sanskrit word that means "a class" and also "ten thousand"
- The Qur'an does not actually promise that martyrs are awarded 72 virgins in heaven. The misconception most likely stems from a Hadith attributed to Muhammad via an unreliable chain of narrators, stating:
"It was mentioned by Daraj Ibn Abi Hatim, that Abu al-Haytham 'Adullah Ibn Wahb narrated from Abu Sa'id al-Khudhri, who heard the Prophet Muhammad saying, 'The smallest reward for the people of Heaven is an abode where there are eighty thousand servants and seventy-two houri, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine and ruby, as wide as the distance from al-Jabiyyah to San'a."
- The Niqāb veil (and by extension, Burqa) is not considered by most Islamic scholars to be obligatory, but rather a voluntary show of piety, and is never mentioned specifically in the Qur'an. The Qur'an instructs to women to "…not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to…"
- Allah does not refer to a Muslim, as opposed to a Christian, God. It is simply the Arabic word for "God". Arabic-speaking Christians also refer to God as "Allah".
- Jihad is not an "Islamic war on the western world" but rather a verb meaning to struggle or to strive. One can have an internal jihad, family jihad, or religious jihad, which may or may not include violence towards non-Muslims. A comparison may be made with the term "crusade", which is sometimes considered by Muslims to mean Western violence against Islam, when it is more often used as a metaphorical struggle; for example, "a crusade against drugs". However, Jihad can refer to a holy war, in the sense that it is ordained by God and is the only kind of warfare not considered a sin in Islam. The aim of such a religious jihad is not to convert non-Muslims to Islam but rather to defend the Islamic state.
- A fatwā is a religious opinion on Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar, not a death sentence. The popular misconception likely stems from the death sentence pronounced as a fatwā on the author Salman Rushdie in 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran.
- Paganism is an umbrella term like Christianity - Lutherans, Catholics, and Protestants are all Christians just like Wiccans, Druids, and Shamans are all Pagans.
- Not all witches practice magick (spelled with a 'k' to distinguish it from stage magic). There are forms of witchcraft that are completely philosophical or religious that exclude any magickal practices.
- Not all pagans are polytheists: some are pantheists and others are monotheists.
- The witch-cult hypothesis -- the notion that medieval witch-hunts were the suppression of an ancient pagan religion which had once been common throughout Europe -- is not considered well-supported by modern anthropologists and historians.
- Johannes Gutenberg was not the first to invent the printing press or movable type; these were in use in China centuries before. Gutenberg was the first European to use movable type, and he probably invented it independently; the printing press did have a larger influence on Western than on Eastern culture.
- Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet.
- Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb. He did, however, refine the internal gases and filaments, making a bulb last longer.
- Henry Ford did not invent the automobile or the internal combustion engine. He added conveyor belts to the assembly line for automobile production, and used it to bring the cost of automobiles into reach of many more people.
- Neither did Guglielmo Marconi invent the radio; a patent was filed before him by Nikola Tesla, a claim that was ratified by the US Supreme Court in 1943 in Tesla's favor.
- George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter, although he developed many other uses for peanuts. Other individuals of Carver's era had patents for peanut butter.
- ENIAC was not the first digital computer; rather, it was the first general-purpose all-electronic computer. The Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) was the first digital electronic binary computer (link to court paper to be added). The partly-electromechanical Z3 was also among the earliest digital and general-purpose computers. The Colossus computer was invented about the same time with ABC but was not general-purpose, being designed for only particular applications.
- The clock rate of a CPU is not a good measure of its performance. Computer performance is affected by many things, especially the design of the CPU's instruction pipelines, branch prediction, memory subsystem, and caches; the number of cores; and the ability of software to take advantage of a given CPU architecture's features. This is known as the megahertz myth, and was largely driven by marketing considerations.
- The .tv domain is not the domain code for television or broadcast. .tv is the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the island nation of Tuvalu. Tuvalu created a licensing agreement with a large tech company to on-sell the domain code to consumers.
- Pong was not the first video game. In fact, OXO, created in 1952, was one of the first electronic games to use a graphical display, utilizing a cathode ray tube on the EDSAC computer. There are also patent records for an earlier game using a CRT, but no existing physical records of it. The first commercially sold coin-operated video game, Computer Space, was created in 1971 by the future founders of Atari. Fearing that Computer Space had not been popular because of its complexity, Nolan Bushnell and Allan Alcorn created Pong in 1972 after Bushnell had seen a similar game at a trade show.
- The ship Mary Celeste was not called Marie Celeste. Arthur Conan Doyle used the Marie Celeste spelling in his fictional story J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement, based on the incident.
- The first heavier-than-air craft was not flown by the Wright brothers. Human-flown gliders and kites had been flown far earlier. The Wright brothers did fly the first heavier-than-air craft capable of controlled and sustained powered flight. There is even some evidence to show Clément Ader was the first to fly a heavier-than-air craft capable of controlled and sustained powered flight in 1890.
- Charles Lindbergh was not the first man to fly the Atlantic Ocean, although he was the first to have flown across it solo. The first flight had been done first in stages between May 8 and May 31, 1919, by the crew of the Navy-Curtiss NC-4 flying boat which took 24 days to complete its journey. The first truly non-stop transatlantic flight was made in 1919 by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown in a modified Vickers Vimy bomber.
- The United States Interstate Highway System was not designed with airplane landings in mind. A common urban legend states that one out of every five (or ten) miles of highway must be straight and flat to allow emergency (or military) airplane landings, but this is not the case. However, several parts of the German and later the Swiss Autobahn system were indeed designed to be auxiliary military airports, both during World War II and the Cold War.
- The German Autobahn was not designed by Adolf Hitler or the Third Reich cabinet. It came into design 20 years before Hitler's reign, and was first implemented a year before he came to power.
- Toilet waste is not dumped overboard in aircraft. All waste is collected in tanks which are emptied on the ground by special toilet waste vehicles. A vacuum is used to allow the toilet to be flushed with less water and because plumbing cannot rely on gravity alone in an aircraft in motion.
- The Black box, used for aviation accident investigation, is actually bright orange.
- There are several misconceptions related to the colored belt ranking system in martial arts. First, the system was invented in the early 20th century, contrary to the myth that it is based on the ancient practice of students starting with a white belt and gaining a black belt through accumulated dirt, sweat, and blood on an unwashed belt. Second, receiving a black belt usually does not mean mastery, as there are always several levels of black belt for each martial art, and standards for attaining a belt can vary greatly. Third, a prevalent American myth is that black belts must register their hands as a deadly weapon with law enforcement agencies.
- Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball (see The Abner Doubleday myth).
- The ice hockey term "Original Six", contrary to its implication, does not refer to the six original members of the National Hockey League. It actually refers to the six teams which formed the entire league from 1942 to 1967. Only two of them were actually charter NHL members, but all six were founded within the NHL's first decade.
- Another common ice hockey misconception, mainly among Americans, is that the game known as the "Miracle on Ice" in the 1980 Winter Olympics clinched the gold medal for the USA team. Even though Team USA stunned the heavily favored Soviet team in that game, it did not clinch the gold medal. Under Olympic hockey rules at that time, the medal round was contested in a round-robin format. Team USA went into its final game against Finland with the mathematical possibility of finishing in any position from first to fourth. The Americans defeated Finland to secure the gold medal.
- Michael Phelps has not won more Olympic medals than any other athlete: Larissa Latynina has this distinction, having earned 18 medals in comparison with Phelps's 2008 total of 16. Phelps, rather, has won the most total gold medals as well as the most total medals at a single Olympic Games, and is tied with two other athletes for the most individual golds at a single Games.
- There is no reliable scientific evidence that installing security lighting in outdoor areas actually deters crime; it may actually make crime easier to conceal. For instance, a burglar who is forced to use a flashlight is more easily spotted than one who can see by existing light.
- Passive night vision devices do not actually illuminate an environment, rather enhancing the visibility of light reflecting off surfaces. Image enhancement night vision does not assist visibility in an environment with absolutely no visible light; thermal imaging would be required in this situation.
- The number of megapixels in a digital camera is not a sufficient measure of image quality. The skill of a photographer, the quality of the lens, and the number, size and compression of individual pixels all impact image quality. Most viewers hold contrast, color saturation, and color accuracy to be more important than resolution.
- Card counting in the game of blackjack does not allow the card counter to know specifically what cards are going to be dealt, and it does not guarantee positive returns to the card counter in the short term. Counting cards only allows the player to know that the remaining cards in decks will give the players an edge on the house in the up-coming hands (usually only a few percent), and so allowing the players to maximize the projected (not guaranteed) profits from this edge by betting larger amounts.
- The Nigerian scam, or Advance Fee Fraud, is not new as is commonly believed and did not originate on the internet. It dates back to the early years of the 20th century when postal mail was used in place of email.
- R.I.P. does not stand for "Rest in peace". It actually stands for Requiescat in pace (Latin for "May he/she rest in peace") and is an inscription on many Roman graves.
See also Edit
- Conventional wisdom
- Drug urban legends
- List of cognitive biases
- List of fallacies
- List of memory biases
- List of misquotations
- List of topics related to public relations and propaganda
- Old wives' tale
- Pseudodoxia Epidemica
- Urban legend
- Straight and Crooked Thinking
- ↑ Gunpowder and Firearms
- ↑ The Myth of the Flat Earth
- ↑ Dicks, D.R. (1970). Early Greek Astronomy to Aristotle. p. 68. ISBN 9780801405617.
- ↑ "Leif Erikson (11th century)". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/erikson_leif.shtml. Retrieved April 2008.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Empires Past: Aztecs: Conquest
- ↑ Top 10 Myths about Thanksgiving
- ↑ The William Dawes who Rode
- ↑ MSNBC- Washington's False Teeth Not Wooden
- ↑ Text of the Emancipation Proclamation
- ↑ Chronology of the Civil War
- ↑ Ich bin ein Pfannkuchen. Oder ein Berliner?
- ↑ Viva Cinco de Mayo.org
- ↑ Mexican Independence Day . El Grito.16 de Septiembre
- ↑ www.napoleon.com
- ↑ Steckel, Richard H. (October 2001). "Health and Nutrition in the Preindustrial Era: Insights from a Millennium of Average Heights in Northern Europe" (in English). (U.S.) National Bureau of Economic Research (Working paper). pp. 35. http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/articles_of_the_month/pdf/w8542.pdf. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
- ↑ Snopes on Denmark
- ↑ Snopes on Mussolini
- ↑ 
- ↑ "Generations Divide Over Military Action in Iraq", Pew Research Center commentary, 17 October 2002.
- ↑ Snopes: Al Gore on the invention of the internet
- ↑ "Blair football 'myth' cleared up". BBC.co.uk. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7749778.stm. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 "Hague's baseball cap, Mandelson's mushy peas: True tales or just great political myths". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-465577/Hagues-baseball-cap-Mandelsons-mushy-peas-True-tales-just-great-political-myths.html. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- ↑ "http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/25/eveningnews/main4479062.shtml". 25 September 2008. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/25/eveningnews/main4479062.shtml.
- ↑ Nina Shen Rastogi (September 15, 2008, accessdate=18 February 2009). "Can You Really See Russia From Alaska?". Slate. Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC. http://www.slate.com/id/2200155/.
- ↑ Does searing meat really seal in moisture?
- ↑ McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking (Revised Edition). Scribner. ISBN 0-684-80001-2. Page 161, "The Searing Question".
- ↑ Mussel myth an open and shut case
- ↑ Does alcohol burn off in cooking?
- ↑ Volokh
- ↑ Snopes on Entrapment
- ↑ Great Walls of Liar, Snopes.com. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
- ↑ Shuttle Blackout Myth Persists, MRT Mag. Retrieved 18 March 2008.
- ↑ NASA on the dark side of the moon
- ↑ Misner, Charles W; Kip S. Thorne, John Archibald Wheeler (1973). Gravitation. ISBN 978-0716703440.
- ↑ Plait, Philip (2002). Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing "Hoax". John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-40976-6.
- ↑ Water State in Space
- ↑ "Ask an Astrophysicist, Human Body in a Vacuum". NASA's Imagine the Universe. http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/970603.html. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
- ↑ "Outer Space Exposure". Damn Interesting. http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=741. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
- ↑ Huang A. L., et al. ""The cells and logic for mammalian sour taste detection"". http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v442/n7105/abs/nature05084.html. , Nature, 442. 934 - 938 (2006).
- ↑ Beyond the Tongue Map
- ↑ Hänig, D.P., 1901. Zur Psychophysik des Geschmackssinnes. Philosophische Studien, 17: 576-623.
- ↑ Snopes on brains
- ↑ Vision myths
- ↑ snopes.com: Shaved Hair Grows Darker
- ↑ Graham-Brown, Robin; Tony Burns (2007). Lecture Notes on Dermatology. Blackwell. p. 6. ISBN 1-4051-3977-3.
- ↑ "Festive Medical Myths". http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/dec17_2/a2769. Vreeman RC, Carroll AE. British Medical Journal 2008;337:a2769.
- ↑ "Festive Medical Myths". http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/dec17_2/a2769. Vreeman RC, Carroll AE. British Medical Journal 2008;337:a2769.
- ↑ US Army Survival Manual: FM 21-76: US Department of the Army, 1970:148.
- ↑ "Festive Medical Myths". http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/dec17_2/a2769. Vreeman RC, Carroll AE. British Medical Journal 2008;337:a2769.
- ↑ "Amerindian Pictures Painted by Those Who Were There". Hutchison Research Center. Archived from the original on 2002-11-25. http://web.archive.org/20021125054801/www.fortunecity.com/victorian/memorial/68/aipics.html. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
- ↑ "Frequently Asked Questions - Page 2". WWW Virtual Library - American Indians, Index of Native American Resources on the Internet. http://www.hanksville.org/NAresources/faq2.html. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
- ↑ www.londondrugs.com: Putting an End to Warts
- ↑ University of Salford Acoustics
- ↑ www.livenews.com.au: SA Schoolboy Explodes Fish Memory Myth
- ↑ nootropic.com: Goldfish Pass Memory Test
- ↑ Snopes - Lemmings
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*Weinberg JR, Starczak VR, Jorg, D (1992). "Evidence for Rapid Speciation Following a Founder Event in the Laboratory". Evolution 46 (4): 1214–20. doi:10.2307/2409766.
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- ↑ Earthquakes on the increase
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- ↑ Exponential Increase in Earthquakes Continues to Escalate
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- ↑ Apple at the Online Etymology Dictionary
- ↑ Stephen Poly - The Ten Commandments are not what you think
- ↑ Luke 8
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- ↑ David Lorenzen, Who Invented Hinduism? New Delhi 2006, pp. 24-33; Rajatarangini of Yonaraja
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- ↑ How Many Wives Will The Believers Have In Paradise? - Questions answered by Islamic scholar Gibril Haddad
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- ↑ Card counting 101
- ↑ Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
- Ferris Johnsen, The Encyclopedia of Popular Misconceptions: The Ultimat Debinker's Guide to Widely Accepted Fallacies (Carol Pub. Group, 1994).
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- List of children's misconceptions about science
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- Science Misconceptions Podcast
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