Top 10 Common Science Myths Debunked
VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio
WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
These science myths have persisted for too long! For this list, we'll be going over inaccurate but popular beliefs about science. Our countdown includes Blood Is Blue Inside the Body, Wait 30 Minutes Before Swimming After Eating, Humans Evolved From Apes, and more!
Top 10 Common Science Myths Debunked
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 common science myths debunked.
For this list, we’ll be going over inaccurate but popular beliefs about science.
Do you know another science myth? Give us your thesis in the comments.
#10: A Penny Dropped From the Empire State Building
This persistent myth claims that a penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building in New York City could kill a hapless pedestrian below. The idea is that because the building is so tall, the penny would pick up considerable speed. However, while it is potentially dangerous to drop even small objects on someone from high up, pennies are so light and tumble so much when they fall that they don’t reach terminal velocity. It would still hurt if you got hit with one, but it would need much more force and weight behind it to lead to your death.
#9: Blood Is Blue Inside the Body
Look at the veins on your arm. What color are they? Blue, right? If not, see a doctor. The sight of azure lines on our bodies has led to the erroneous belief that blood is blue inside the body. Some hold that it becomes red when exposed to oxygen, such as when it reaches our lungs. But this is incorrect – it’s always red. The blood in our veins appears blue from the outside because of how light hits our skin tissue. You could say that this myth is only – “skin deep.”
#8: Sugar Makes Children Hyper
Parents everywhere have lamented that giving their children sugar makes them bounce off the walls with nervous energy. While too much sugar can be bad for health reasons, it doesn’t hype kids up the way people think. The myth originated from a single study published in 1978. Multiple studies since have found that sugar doesn’t affect children's behavior. In double-blind studies, parents couldn’t tell which kids had been given sugar or placebos. Sometimes kids just like to run around and have fun – they’re kids! They’ve got a ton of energy, regardless of what they’ve eaten.
#7: Goldfish Memories Last 3 Seconds
According to popular culture, goldfish have memories that only span three seconds … or some other figure that’s incredibly low. However, while some fictional fish may have a hard time remembering what just happened, real goldfish have memories that can last significantly longer. Thousands of studies have been conducted for around half a century and they all conclude that, despite public perception, goldish can remember things for months, possibly even years! Those kept as pets may even recognize their owners. So, if we’ve known this for decades, maybe it’s not the fish with the memory problems!
#6: Wait 30 Minutes Before Swimming After Eating
“Don’t go swimming right after you’ve eaten!” our parents told us. The general idea is that the blood going to your digestive tract will prevent you from getting blood to your limbs - potentially leading to drowning. However, while your body does send extra blood to your digestive tract, you won’t lose so much blood from your limbs that they’ll just stop working. You might get a minor cramp, but that’s basically it. There’s no need to wait the extra half hour if you don’t want to. Take that mom and dad!
#5: Water Conducts Electricity
Wait! Before you go dropping your toaster into your bath for funsies, let’s clarify – this is technically true…most of the time. You see, water itself doesn’t conduct electricity. In its purest form, H2O won’t conduct anything. It’s the minerals inside water that do the conducting. Most water has some impurities and minerals within it, so it usually does carry a current through it. But, if you want to get technical, and we do, water itself isn’t the conductor in this equation. In fact, on its own, water acts as an insulator against electricity! Uno Reverse!
#4: The Five Human Senses
Generally, most people hold that human beings have only five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, with supernatural abilities often purported to be a “sixth sense.” But humans have far more than five senses…depending on how you define them. Along with the usual five, there are also the senses of pain, balance, temperature, and orientation, with some adding even more beyond those. The “big five” are probably easy to rattle off simply because they’re related to visible, external body parts. Meanwhile, our internal senses are left unexamined by most people because they’re not right in front of our faces – or on them.
#3: Humans Evolved From Apes
Let’s get a few things clear. Humans ARE apes; we belong to the family of great apes that also includes orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees and bonobos. However, while we share almost all of the same DNA, we didn’t evolve from chimps, for example. We’re on different branches of the evolutionary tree. What we do have are common ape ancestors. Our own branch first diverged from that of orangutans, then gorillas, then chimps and bonobos (which is why we have the most in common with the latter). But we aren’t evolved from any of the modern apes you see around us today.
#2: Lightning Never Strikes the Same Place Twice
We’ve all heard the saying. While people often use this phrase to refer to something unlikely happening multiple times, it’s also directly in reference to the weather. However, standing where lightning has already struck is an incredibly bad idea. In some cases, lightning is more likely to hit somewhere it has already struck. Skyscrapers, for example, are frequent targets of lightning strikes, and can be hit multiple times in the same storm! While cartoons and other parts of pop culture often use lightning striking twice as a comedic impossibility, it’s a very real danger.
#1: Humans Only Use 10% of Their Brains
For decades, folklore would have us believe that we only use 10 percent of our brains’ full potential. This is not only wrong, it’s ridiculous! While pop culture suggests that using more of our brains will somehow make us smarter, more perceptive, or give us psychic powers, the truth is that we use most of our brains all the time! The brain uses 20 percent of a body’s energy! It wouldn’t be very efficient if only a tenth of it worked at once! So if you want to think smarter, it’s not a matter of brain power you need.