18 Common Misconceptions That Are Widely Accepted as True

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By Jonathan Trent

In attempts to embellish stories or even warn people from doing certain things, myths are often created. Sometimes, they are spread so far and wide that they end up being accepted as the truth. Here are 18 common misconceptions that are widely regarded as true.

Fortune Cookies Are Chinese

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Fortune cookies have become a staple of Chinese restaurants in the Western world, but actually have nothing to do with Chinese cuisine. They were originally brought over to the USA by the Japanese, with the first-ever fortune cookie being traced back to Kyoto. We bet you didn’t know that!

Vikings Wore Horned Helmets

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Ask anyone to draw a picture of a Viking, and they will likely depict them with their infamous horned helmet and holding some sort of battle axe. In truth, there is no evidence that Vikings wore such helmets, with the horned helmets originating from an 1857 opera by Richard Wagner.

You Can See the Great Wall of China From Space

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One of the most common misconceptions widely taught to children is that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure visible from space. NASA has confirmed that the wall isn’t visible from the moon or the International Space Station.

Chameleons Change Color to Match Their Surroundings  

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One of the most mind-blowing facts that you get told as a child is that chameleons can change their coloring and patterns to match their surroundings. Unfortunately, that bubble must be burst. In reality, chameleons change their color depending on their temperature, mood, and exposure to light.

The Forbidden Fruit May Not Have Been an Apple

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When people think of the forbidden fruit eaten by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in the early parts of the Bible, they often picture an apple. However, nothing in the Bible suggests that the forbidden fruit was an apple. We wonder where this misconception came from!

There’s a Dark Side of the Moon

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The myth that there is a ‘dark side of the moon’ was pushed even further to the masses following the release of Pink Floyd’s seminal album of the same name. As the moon is constantly rotating, there is, in fact, no side of the moon that experiences permanent darkness.

Bulls Are Angered by the Color Red

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An experiment that took place in 2007 found that a bull will charge at a matador, whichever color they may be holding up. There is nothing to suggest that the color red angers a bull any more than white, blue, or green, contrary to popular belief.

Defibrillators Revive a Flatlining Heart

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The shock of the defibrillator paddles on a human’s chest will not restart a heart that has stopped beating. Instead, it simply shocks an arrhythmic heartbeat back into a rhythm so it can beat at a normal pace. Unlike most misconceptions on this list, this fact could be a matter of life or death!

Milk Makes Bones Strong

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While the body benefits from calcium, the idea that milk is the driving force behind strong bones is a myth. According to Business Insider, the phrase ‘milk makes the bones strong’ is no more than a very successful piece of advertising. We feel cheated!

Coca-Cola Dressed Santa in Red

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Many people believe that Santa Claus wears his bright red uniform because of the Coca-Cola marketing campaigns, but this isn’t true. His image was actually determined in the 1800s, long before the drinks company first used him as their festive mascot in the 1930s.

Twinkies Remain Edible for Decades

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People often claim that Twinkies will still be edible decades after being produced, but we’re afraid that’s false. Despite looking and tasting like they are 100% artificial, twinkies only have a shelf life of 45 days, as reported by NPR.

Jesus Was Born on the 25th of December 

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Perhaps the most confusing and widely told myth is that Jesus was born on December 25th, the day celebrated in many nations as Christmas Day. In fact, it is more likely that he was born in the spring or summer months instead!

Ancient Greek Statues Were Always White

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It has long been believed that statues originating from Ancient Greece have always been the white color that they are today. It’s actually quite the opposite, with most of them being decorated with bright colors. Unfortunately, the color pigmentation has worn away, hence their appearance.

Life Expectancy was 30-40 in the Middle Ages

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The statistics that point to the average life expectancy of people in the middle ages have been severely skewed by the high infant mortality rates of the time. If someone were to survive adolescence, there was still a very high chance they would live until their 60s!

Buddha Was Fat

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Buddha has been chronically fat-shamed due to a terrible mix-up of names. The laughing man with the huge belly is actually a 10th-century Chinese character called Budai; the real Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, was known for eating very little in his search for enlightenment.

Violent Video Games Cause People to Become Violent

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The video nasties myth has rumbled on for generations, most likely employed as a scare tactic to stop parents from buying their underage children adult-rated games. Various studies have found that there is no correlation between violent video games and aggression, as suggested by The Guardian. Don’t tell your kids this, though!

An Apple Fell on Isaac Newton’s Head

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Isaac Newton’s earliest theories on gravity are often reported to have come about after an apple fell onto his head as he was sitting underneath a tree. Sadly, this amusing story never happened; Newton was just contemplating the falling of apples and why they fell to the ground rather than upwards or sideways.

Napoleon Was Short

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Finally, poor Napoleon would be mortified if he knew he would be remembered for being incredibly short over 200 years after his death. Reports suggest that he was five feet two inches, but this measurement was taken in French feet. In English feet, he measures up at five feet seven inches, which is a pretty average height.