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17 Facts You Learned in School That Are Wrong

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By    |   Thursday, 02 May 2019 08:35 AM

Teachers know best, or so we were told. But over the years experts have disproved a number of "facts" that we were taught in school.

We grew up believing these tidbits about history, health, and more were true and it turns out they are just myths, misinformation, or plain lies. 

Cheapism dug up dozens of things we believed were facts that aren’t. Here we look at 17 of them:

1. Napoleon was short. How many school kids have snickered at Napoleon's supposed lack of height? History books say he measured 5-foot-2, but what they don't say is that this was in the French system, where an inch is larger than the English system. This means that Napoleon, actually stood at 5 feet, 7 inches and was taller than the average European man.

2. Henry Ford invented the automobile. Despite popular belief it was actually a German engineer, Karl Benz, who came up with the first working car in 1885. Benz for the win!

3. Sugar makes kids hyperactive. Too much sugar is bad for kids for a number of reasons, but hyperactivityisn't one. Experts debunked the link between the consumption of sugar and hyperactivity in children over two decades ago but to this day parents continue to believe it, even though studies published in the journal of the American Medical Association disproved this more than 20 years ago.

4. You'll get tetanus from stepping on a rusty nail.  Despite what we were led to believe, it is not the rust on a nail that can cause tetanus. Any puncture wound can lead to a tetanus infection if the Clostridium tetani bacteria enters the wound.

5. A penny dropped from the Empire State Building will kill you.  Things got interesting in the classroom when teachers told their students that a penny dropped off the Empire State Building could actually kill a person on the ground. It turns out that this is not true at all. Because of its design, a penny will merely flutter to the ground, not going faster than 25 mph, which would definitely hurt if it hit you, but you would survive.

6. Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis. Parents and teachers probably told children this to get them to stop making the annoying sound of cracking knuckles, but it doesn’t causes arthritis. The cracking sound you hear is actually bubbles bursting in the synovial fluid surrounding the knuckles joint. 

7. Columbus' ships were the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria. How many of us repeated these names over and over again in hopes that it will stick in case we were quizzed on it in school?  Well, the mental energy appears to have been a waste because those were just nicknames. The Nina was likely called Santa Clara while the Santa Maria was called La Gallega, or the Galician.

8. Touching frogs or toads gives you warts. Princesses were not afraid to kiss frogs in hope of finding their prince charming but in the real-world children are petrified of touching frogs in fear that they will get warts. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, it is best to avoid touching frogs and toads that could be poisonous, but the only way you can contract a wart is through a human virus.

9. George Washington wore wooden dentures. George Washington did wear dentures but he had several pair and they were made from ivory, gold, and even lead. He never wore ones made from wood.

10. Washington admitted he chopped down a cherry tree.  Teachers often told the story of how the first president was unable to lie and even admitted to chopping down a cherry tree, but this has been debunked.

11. An apple fell on Newton's head. We were convinced this was fact. We all know the story of how Isaac Newton had his lightbulb moment about gravity when that famous apple fell on his head but there is no evidence that this ever happened. His eureka moment probably came in a less exciting manner.

12. Humans use only 10 percent of their brains. How many times have people wondered what they could be capable of if only they could access the other 90% of their unused brain? It turns out that humans do use all of their brains and this myth stems from a misquote attributed to Albert Einstein.

13. Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb. The story about one of history's most important inventions is inaccurate. What actually happened was that an exceptionally clever marketer, Edison, took credit for the invention of the lightbulb, which was actually the product of a group of scientists.

14. There were 13 original American colonies under British rule. There were actually only 12 colonies  because Delaware was part of Pennsylvania until June 1776.

15. Ben Franklin discovered electricity with a kite and a key. What an exciting story to tell children in the classroom! Ben Franklin harnessed electricity by flying a kite with a metal key attached to it in a thunderstorm but this is nothing more than a legend. Franklin did write about it as a hypothetical scenario but it never took place.

16. 'I' before 'e' except after 'c.' Forget that spelling rule even when it’s modified by “with a few exceptions.” The truth is this rule is not true at least 25% of the time.

17. Albert Einstein flunked math. The number of times a parent or teacher tried to console a failing student with this story is countless but it turns out that Albert Einstein did not flunk math. The opposite is true. He taught himself algebra and geometry before he was even 12 and mastered differential and integral calculus by 15.

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Teachers know best, or so we were told. But over the years experts have disproved a number of "facts" that we were taught in school. We grew up believing these tidbits about history, health, and more were true and it turns out they are just myths, misinformation, or plain...
facts, school, wrong
Thursday, 02 May 2019 08:35 AM
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