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Common “Facts” Disproved

Historical Facts | August 8, 2018

We’ve grown up hearing people say “it’s a fact” about something or other, we’ve even been taught certain “facts” in school. However, a fact is a fact until disproved or until someone discovers the truth. Legends or myths start somewhere and most if not all, have a grain of truth to them. After all, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, right? Below is a list of a few so-called factual oddities that have since been disproved.

George Washington’s dentures were not made of wood. The first set of partial dentures can be traced back to the 7th century BC. The Etruscans who lived in the Northern part of Italy made them using human or animal teeth that were held together with gold bands. There are many theories as to why George Washington had many sets of dentures made for him, four of which were made by a dentist named John Greenwood. One theory suggests he cracked Brazil nuts open using his teeth and thereby breaking the tooth. Another and more plausible cause of him losing his teeth at an early age was his health. Certain medicines like mercury oxide were used to treat maladies from smallpox to malaria and more than likely caused people to lose their teeth to decay. By the time he became president of the United States, he only had one tooth left. 

The Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure that can be seen from space. This is true for satellites in space, however, this man-made wall cannot be seen from the moon. If the weather conditions are right and if you’re in the right place at the right time, some astronauts have claimed to be able to see major cities and pyramids as well.

Starting a sentence with a conjunction is wrong. But not all follow the English grammar we were taught in school. Different publishers have their own rules. For example, the Associated Press has its own style while publishing houses like Penguin Random House follows another grammar style. 

Bats aren’t blind. When we hear the saying, “blind as a bat”, we naturally assume that bats can’t see, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Bats actually have better eyesight than humans. The executive director for the Organization for Bat Conservation, Rob Mies, says that the larger bats can actually see “three times better than humans.”

The five-second rule. You know the one about food that hits the floor and if you pick it up within five seconds, it’s still safe to eat. The truth is that whenever food makes contact with an unclean surface such as the floor, it is instantly contaminated. So, whether you pick it up within five seconds or five minutes…the dirt is there. The best bet and the healthier choice is to just pick it up and throw it away.

Camels humps hold water. I don’t know about you but growing up I was always told that camels store water in their humps, so they could last long journeys in the desert. While it’s true they do have humps and they are used for storage, it’s just not water. What allows for them to sustain long journeys is the fat that is stored in those humps. This fat is kept as a reserve of energy which is equivalent to three weeks of food, according to Animal Planet. Also, contrary to popular belief, not all camels have two humps, some only have one. 

Stop a nose bleed by tilting your head back. Actually, doing that can cause the blood to go down your throat and into the stomach where other consequences can occur. Instead, we need to do the opposite, tilt your head forward and pinch right under the bridge of your nose. This stops the flow of blood through your nostrils.

Many believe that the brilliant Albert Einstein failed math in school. Actually, he learned to read early in life and was a genius in math. The theory that he was a bad student might have come from the fact that he failed an exam that would get him into the Zurich Polytechnic school. The exam was given in French, a language he didn’t know well. However, he did pass the math section but failed three others: zoology, botany and language.

Drinking eight glasses of water a day is a must. We often think of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as the Bible of all that is healthy for us. This might be where this myth started. The FDA published this idea in 1945 and therefore we probably heard it from family and coaches ever since. What we must bear in mind is that each person is different and the amount of fluids we consume and need on a daily basis varies. Keeping a healthy balance of non-sugary drinks is just common sense and healthier for our bodies.

It’s anybody’s guess as to how much longer these “facts” are going to be around.

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Marion Wijnberg

Writer

Marion lives in Ohio and has two grown children and one grandson. As well as loving the time she gets to spend with them, she also enjoys rescuing animals. Marion currently has 2 cats and a dog. She also loves to travel, read, play tennis and go horseback riding."