17 Lies Your Teacher Told You That You Still Believe

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By Jonathan Trent

When you’re an impressionable young student, you tend to see your teachers as omniscient, taking their every word as gospel. However, they’re only human and are often vulnerable to repeating factual inaccuracies to their pupils. Here are 17 lies your teacher told you that you still believe.

We Only Use 10% of Our Brains

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The idea that humans only use 10% of their brains would have got a lot of school children excited, as it inspires the notion that we could become hyper-intelligent if we could access the remaining 90%. According to the BBC, even the simplest tasks such as clenching and unclenching your hand use far more than 10% of the brain.

Christopher Columbus Discovered America

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While Christopher Columbus may have helped pave the way for the European colonization of the Americas, he didn’t discover a large mass of uninhabited land. Indigenous Americans had occupied the land for many centuries before Columbus’ arrival, which spelled the beginning of a brutal colonization regime.

Marie Antoinette Exclaimed, “Let Them Eat Cake”

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While Marie Antoinette is correctly vilified for some of her actions while serving as the last queen of France, she never said “Let them eat cake” when told of the mass starvation of the French people. The phrase has been first attributed to a book that was published when Antoinette was just nine years old. 

Swallowed Gum Stays in Your System for Seven Years

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In a likely attempt to stop their students from chewing gum in class, teachers will not be afraid to drop the line suggesting that swallowed gum stays in your stomach for seven years. As CNN reports, swallowed gum will pass through your system within a matter of hours.

Goldfish Only Have a Three-Second Memory

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Goldfish are far more intelligent than they are given credit for, as they are able to distinguish certain colors, swim through hoops, and push obstacles around. The American Museum of Natural History states that instead of having a three-second memory, goldfish can recall memories for a month.

Albert Einstein Failed His Math Class

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The rumor about the legendary physicist Albert Einstein failing his math class at school was started in 1935 but was quickly refuted. Britannica suggests that Einstein had already mastered differential and integral calculus by the age of 15. 

Our Blood is Blue Beneath the Skin

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The color of veins and bruises has led many to believe that human blood runs blue beneath the surface, turning red when exposed to oxygen. In truth, the blood flows red below and above the surface. When deoxygenated, it turns a darker shade of red, but never blue.

An Apple Fell on Isaac Newton’s Head

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Teachers are often eager to announce that Isaac Newton developed his initial theories of gravity after being bonked on the head by a falling apple as he sat underneath a tree. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen, with Newton simply using the analogy of an apple falling downward from a tree to base his theories around.

Napoleon Was Short

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Napoleon is often mocked by teachers for being short, as reports suggest that he measured five feet two inches in height. However, these measurements were taken in French feet, rather than English feet, where he measures five feet seven inches. He was no giant, but he was taller than the average Frenchman of the time.

Salem Witches Were Burned at the Stake

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The misconception that the women who were found to be ‘witches’ in the Salem witch trials between 1692-1693 were burned at the stake has come about due to confusion with European witch trials. The 19 executed victims of the Salem trials were actually hanged.

Thomas Edison Invented the Lightbulb

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Thomas Edison is held in high regard by many Americans, as he was part of a string of revolutionary moments in the country’s history. His greatest accolade taught in schools was his supposed invention of the lightbulb. In actual fact, he didn’t invent the lightbulb, he just made it more accessible for everyday people.

Chameleons Change Color to Blend Into Their Surroundings

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While chameleons do, very impressively, change the color of their skin, they don’t have enough control over it to blend into their surroundings. Instead, their coloring will change depending on their mood, their body temperature, and their exposure to light.

You Can See the Great Wall of China From Space

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The myth that you can see the Great Wall of China from space was started before space exploration even began and remains one of the most famous misconceptions taught by teachers. The wall may be long, but it is too thin to be visible from space.

Vikings Wore Horned Helmets

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The idea that Vikings wore helmets adorned with horns is purely fictional, with the idea first being conceived in the Richard Wagner opera, Der Ring des Nibelungen, which was first performed in 1857. There is no archaeological evidence that Viking helmets ever had horns attached to them.

Lightning Never Strikes the Same Place Twice

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Contrary to popular belief, lightning has a habit of targeting the same locations multiple times, especially if they are tall and conduct electricity. Lone skyscrapers are particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes and will often be hit a handful of times a year.

Shaving Causes Hair to Grow Back Thicker

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The supposed fact that shaving causes hair to grow back thicker would have been the reasoning behind many a young boy prematurely giving it a go in their quest to grow a beard. If this were true, we would be growing new hair follicles after every shave, leaving our bodies resembling our pre-evolutionary ancestors.

The USA Declared Independence on the 4th of July

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The original approval of the US independence motion was unanimously agreed on July the 2nd, 1776. As news took longer to travel in the 18th century, King George III didn’t make a public statement on the motion until October of that year.