Tags: wives tale | urban legend | myths

8 Old Wives' Tales You Should Stop Believing

A bumblebee lands on a flower
A bumblebee lands on a flower (Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 09 July 2019 11:35 AM

Growing up, we believed everything our parents told us (well, most of us did!). We may even believe a lot of it today. But it turns out much of what we were told was simply wrong.

Have you ever heard a pregnant woman being told that if she is carrying high it's a girl? Not true, as Reader's Digest proved when it recently looked at some of the most common old wives' tales that we should probably stop believing. Here are eight of those myths:

  1. Cross your eyes for too long and they will stay that way. Who hasn't been chided by their mothers to stop crossing their eyes because they will get stuck that way? It is hard to shake off that fear that perhaps there is an element of truth to this, but doctors insist nothing could be further from the truth. (Another version of this was make a funny face and it will freeze!)
  2. Bees are attracted to yellow. For years we believed that bees are only attracted to the color yellow, but it turns out these buzzing creatures may be able to recognize various lighter colors like yellow and green as well as darker colors like black. They do have limited eyesight, but that does not mean they just see yellow.
  3. Bulls hate red. Another old wives' tale worth discarding. In bullfighting, the matador dangles a red flag, known as a "muleta" in front of the raging bull, but the animal is not taunted by the color but by the motion that the cloth is being waved around. Bulls are color blind and cannot tell the difference between green, blue, or red.
  4. The five-second rule. If you can salvage food that has fallen on the floor within five seconds you can save it from being contaminated by bacteria — right? Wrong. WebMD medical editor Arefa Cassobhoy, MD, MPH, told Reader's Digest eating any food that has fallen onto the floor, even for just a second, comes with the risk of taking in bacteria known to cause food poisoning.
  5. Coffee stunts your growth. Children should probably not be drinking coffee but not because it stunts their growth, as we have been told, but because they will probably be bouncing off the walls. Caffeine has no bearing on a child's growth patterns. In fact, drinking coffee has been linked to numerous health benefits.
  6. You will catch a cold if you go outside with wet hair. It is a common belief that getting cold can cause a cold. The general thought is that going outside with wet hair or not bundling up could mean the sniffles. However, studies have shown this is not true. A cold is caused by a virus.
  7. Foods with mayonnaise spoil faster. It turns out that the opposite is true for this old wives' tale. It is believed that the acidity of commercial mayonnaise can actually help prevent spoilage of certain foods.
  8. Chocolate gives you acne. Time for some good news. Chocolate does not cause acne. A diet that is high in fat and sugar may exacerbate the condition, but acne is generally related to hormonal fluctuations — which means the occasional chocolate bar will not cause a breakout.

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Much of what we were told as kids was simply wrong, at least according to a new report that debunks popular myths.
wives tale, urban legend, myths
Tuesday, 09 July 2019 11:35 AM
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