17 Myths, Misinterpretations Around The World Debunked

Sorry folks, but a pinch of salt added to water won’t make it boil faster, you actually have more than five senses and as much as depictions of cavemen hanging out with dinosaurs suggest humans coexisted with T-Rex and Apatosaurus, we actually missed the hulking blokes by some 60 million years. These are just a few of the most common myths and misinterpretations from around the world that have been debunked, thanks to a brilliant and disruptive bunch of thinkers. Only 17 of the 80 will be covered here. Davide McCandless, an information designer (specialty in graphics visualization) and journalist out of London, is the mind behind a chart which is organized by colors and categories (history to science). And each myth and misconception debunked is sized proportional to the number of Google hits received.

On the Information is Beautiful site, McCandless and his group of members describe themselves as “independent collective of professional researchers, data journalists and designers dedicating to visualizing solid data, great information and mind-expanding knowledge.” It appears they put in countless hours of work to create the infographic myths chart, which appears in a larger body of work for the author called Knowledge is Beautiful.

For transparency, the group provides a detailed spreadsheet which supplies references, citations and updates wherever needed. Without further delay, here are 17 contagious myths and misinterpretations that have been debunked.

  1. Napoleon Bonaparte was a short man: Actually, he was 5-foot-7, which was above average height for Frenchmen back then.
  2. Black Holes are not “black” at all. Instead, they are dense bodies that have incredible gravitational pull.
  3. The Great Wall of China is not visible from the International Space Station (ISS).
  4. Electric fans at night will kill you: This common myth in South Korea has no basis for danger unless you put the fan in your bed and the blades come off. That’s something entirely different.
  5. Bulls hate the color red: Actually, bulls are color-blind and only react to motions of the matador.
  6. Bananas don’t grow on trees. Instead, they grow on massive herbs that actually look like trees.
  7. Oil prevents pasta from sticking: This common misconception is false, but that bottle of EVOO will prevent water from boiling over.
  8. We have five senses: Sadly, this myth missed by a mile. The chart’s authors say humans have more than 20 (hunger, pain, thirst, etc.)
  9. Albert Einstein failed math: No, this is a classic misinterpretation. Instead, he failed a school entrance exam, but was a math whiz.
  10. George Washington smoked marijuana: While he grew hemp, the president used it to make clothes and rope. There is no evidence to support the myth he also used it to fire one up.
  11. Only 10 percent of human brain cells are used: Although it may seem that way in some individuals, all the cells are utilized at all times unless you’re dead.
  12. Sugar causes hyperactivity in kids: Supposedly, there is no evidence to support this common myth. Sourced information suggests poor behavior is still seen in children who have sugar-free diets.
  13. Sharks don’t get cancer: This is false. Sharks do get cancer, especially skin cancer types.
  14. There are no “regions of the tongue” for different taste sensations. The tongue is capable of sensing taste no matter what where it comes into contact with a food item.
  15. Dogs sweat by salivating and dropping drool: Nope, dogs actually cool down by panting and use sweat pads on their feet to sweat.
  16. No, a dropped penny from a great height won’t kill you — enough said. But it will hurt.
  17. It takes seven years to digest swallowed gum: This myth is false. Gum passes right through the bowels. The rest is absorbed by the intestines.

This is a small sampling of dozens more myths and misinterpretations that have been busted, well — debunked. That’s another show altogether. Do you have any that didn’t make the list?

[Image via: io9/Kinja]