50+ Famous Facts You’ve Always Believed That Are Actually False
Napoleon wasn't short? Bananas don't grow on trees? Here, the world's most contagious myths and misconceptions—debunked.
Napoleon Was Short
A tall tale. At five six, he was slightly above average height for a Frenchman of the time.
Bagpipes Are Scottish
Sorry, Braveheart fans: They were prevalent in the Middle East centuries before Western Europe.
Don’t Eat and Swim
This doesn’t increase the risk of cramps; alcohol is the biggest risk increaser. But a full stomach will make you short of breath.
These royal family “rules” are complete myths.
Salty Water Boils Quicker
Adding a sprinkle of salt to water makes no difference. It can actually make boiling take longer.
You’ll wish you knew these brilliant cooking shortcuts sooner!
Oil Stops Stuck Pasta
Nope. It’ll only make it greasy. Stirring prevents sticking.
Here are more pasta cooking mistakes you should avoid.
Left and Right Brain
There’s no solid division between the talents of each hemisphere; the left brain can learn “right-brain skills” and vice versa.
Check out these simple ways to boost your brain power.
Dropped Pennies Kill
Terminal velocity of a penny is 18 to 30 kilometres per hour. Not fast enough to kill—but it sure would sting.
Don’t miss these outrageous news stories from around the globe.
Three Wise Men
Nowhere in the Bible does it specify that there were three.
Find out why bunnies are so popular for Easter.
MSG = Headaches
There’s no scientific proof—just anecdotal evidence implicating monosodium glutamate.
These are the surprising things that could be triggering your headaches.
Dogs Sweat by Salivating
No—they regulate temperature through panting. They actually sweat through their footpads.
We’ve rounded up the smartest dog breeds.
Great Wall of China
It’s not visible from space. No single human structure is visible from orbit, but you can see cities at night.
Find out what it’s really like to restore the Great Wall of China.
A flushed toilet does not rotate the other way in the Southern Hemisphere. The Coriolis effect doesn’t alter water in toilets.
These are the myths you need to stop believing about your car.
Einstein Failed Math
Nope. He failed an entrance exam for a school but still excelled in math.
Humans and Dinosaurs
Despite 41 per cent of U.S. adults thinking we coexisted, humans and dinosaurs actually missed each other by 64 million years. Yikes.
Check out the weirdest discoveries archaeologists have made.
Not really “holes,” but rather hugely dense objects with massive gravitational pull.
Don’t miss these baffling mysteries about the universe.
We Have Only Five Senses
Some scientists insist on 21, including balance, pain and temperature.
Learn the truth behind these phone battery and charger myths.
Vaccines Cause Autism
Groundless fears based on fraudulent research that’s been shown to have been manipulated.
Learn the difference between autism and Asperger’s.
Don’t Touch Baby Birds
Most birds have a limited sense of smell, so they won’t abandon babies who “smell” of humans.
Think twice before believing these other myths about animals!
Alcohol Kills Brain Cells
Even in heavy users and alcoholics, brain cells aren’t killed, only damaged.
Here are the myths about Alzheimer’s Disease you should stop believing.
Police don’t require a 24-hour waiting period before accepting a missing-persons report.
Read up on these tips for learning a new language.
Different Tongue Parts
There are not different sections of the tongue for each taste: bitter, sour, salt, sweet and umami (savoury/meaty).
Here are the body parts you never knew you had.
Only 10 Per Cent of the Brain is Used
The proportion of the brain “firing” at any one time is task dependent, but ultimately, every region is used almost every day.
Can you pass this brainteasing colour quiz?
These were never medieval torture devices, but 18th-century fakes were created for sensational circuses.
Get to know Queen Victoria with these fascinating facts.
Body Heat and the Head
Only in infants is most heat lost through the head (unless the head is the only uncovered part of the body).
Read on to find out North America’s most popular baby names.
They’ll be really confused, but it’s OK. They’re more likely to hurt themselves if they’re not awoken.
These are the best songs to help you sleep, according to science.
Bananas Grow on Trees
Actually, they grow on massive herbs that just resemble trees.
Here’s why our brains prefer music from our youth.
Milk Increases Mucus
Nope, it doesn’t. There’s no need to avoid dairy if you have a cold.
Check out these self-care ideas for finding your happy place.
Bats Are Blind
Not only can bats see, but they also use echolocation. That’s why they’re so awesome!
Check out the animals that are deadlier than sharks!
Caffeine Dehydrates You
Not really. The diuretic effect of caffeine is offset by the amount of water in a caffeinated drink.
Check out our ultimate guide to different types of coffee!
Goldfish’s Three-Second Memory
While not the smartest creatures, goldfish boast a memory span of three months.
Shaving Thickens Hair
Regrown hair isn’t thicker, coarser, or darker; it just appears so because it grows back with a blunt tip.
Avoid falling for these old wives’ tales you were told as a kid!
Seven Years to Digest Gum
The chewy base of gum is indigestible and passes straight through. The remainder is absorbed.
Here are the science-backed reasons you should have listened to mom!
The helmets were created by a costume designer for a 19th-century Wagner opera.
These behind-the-scenes Star Wars facts will blow your mind.
Alcohol Keeps You Warm
It merely dilates warm blood vessels near the skin, creating the impression of warmth. It can actually drop core body temperature.
These fascinating facts about the titanic may surprise you!
Not a room Romans used for Bacchanalian binges, but the name for the entrance to a stadium.
We bet you didn’t know these facts about Queen Elizabeth.
Sugar = Hyperactivity
Studies have disproved this. Poor or rowdy behaviours still occur in children with sugar-free diets.
Check out these incredible Tim Hortons facts.
Bulls Hate Red
Bulls are colour-blind. They actually perceive the motions of the bullfighter’s cloth as a threat.
Your Hair and Nails Keep Growing After Death
Wrong—but your skin tissue does recede, making them appear longer.
Watch out for these common geography mistakes!
Toads Cause Warts
Humans can catch warts only from other humans. Those bumps on toads are just their skin glands.
Read up on these facts and trivia about your favourite games.
SOS = “Save Our Ship”
It doesn’t stand for anything. SOS became a Morse code distress signal because it’s so easy to transmit: three dots, three dashes, three dots.
Take a look at what life was like aboard the Titanic.
Adam and Eve Ate an Apple
They ate the forbidden “fruit” of the tree of knowledge—nowhere in Genesis does it say it was an apple.
Learn these fun facts about Trivial Pursuit before your next round!
Celebrities Die in Threes
Of 449 celebs who have died since 1990, only in seven cases did three die in the same five-day period, according to data from the New York Times.
These mysterious celebrity deaths are still unexplained.
Sleepers Swallow Eight Spiders Per Year
Spiders usually don’t crawl into beds during nighttime wanderings because they offer no prey. You probably swallow zero spiders per year.
Discover these fascinating facts about mahjong.
Everest is the Tallest Mountain
Only above sea level. If you measure Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano from its underwater base, it stands more than 33,000 feet tall—4,000 above Everest.
Find out how climbers are ruining Mount Everest.
Van Gogh Cut Off His Ear for a Lover
It was just a small piece of lobe, and he did it during a violent spat with Pat Gauguin. Whether Van Gogh then gave it to a local girl remains unknown.
Read up on these strange unsolved mysteries of the art world.
The Pilgrims First Landed at Plymouth Rock
They landed in what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts, and signed the Mayflower Compact there. Plymouth came five weeks later.
We’ve rounded up creepy facts you didn’t know about Canada.
A Story Can “Break” the Internet
“The Internet is a very resilient system,” says Web pioneer Vint Cerf. “Shutting the whole thing down has not happened [since] it has been in operation.”
You might be surprised at these facts about apples.
Slaves Built the Pyramids
Egyptologists say this ancient construction job was a great honour granted only to respected labourers, who remains entombed near the site today.
Here are more monuments that have baffled researchers.
Ben Franklin Wanted the Turkey to Represent America
While designing a national seal, Franklin proposed an image of Moses, not a wild turkey, to represent America.
Test your knowledge with these history questions people always get wrong.
All Your Fingernails Grow at the Same Rate
Because blood flow stimulates nail growth, the nails on your dominant hand actually grow faster.
Brush up on these fascinating science facts you didn’t learn in school.
Ninjas Wore Black
This “uniform” comes from years of fiction and folklore. Real ninjas wore anything that would help them blend into daily life.
Next, check out these mind-blowing facts you’ll think are made up!