Up until the late 16th century, everyone "knew" that the sun and the planets revolved around the Earth. up until the late 19th century, epidemic illnesses such as cholera and the plague were "known" to be caused by a poisonous mist filled with particles from rotting things. Up until the early 20th century, the most common procedure performed by surgeons for thousands of years was bloodletting, because we "knew" that blood drained from the body balanced out all of the wacky "humours" which were responsible for poor health. but as misinformed as all of that may sound now, our predecessors believed these "facts" with the same certainty and conviction that we have when we believe that the Earth is round and that hot fudge sundaes will make you fat.
Living in a time of such dazzling science and technology, we stand firmly behind our beliefs.....even if so much of what we think we know to be correct is actually wrong. Here are some of the more common misconceptions, ideas which may have started as an old wives tale, or that came from a faulty study that was later proven to be wrong or discredited. Whatever the case may be, these "facts" are false!
1. Going Out In The Cold With Wet Hair Will Make You Sick.
"Put a hat on or you will catch your death of the cold!" screeches every micromanaging momma as her baby marches off into the winter wonderland. But in numerous studies addressing this topic, people who are chilled are no more likely to get sick than those who were not, and a wet or a dry head makes absolutely no difference whatsoever.
2. Vikings Wore Horned Helms.
Now seriously, is there anything that screams out "Viking Warrior" better than a helmet fitted out with a pair of horns? Nary a portrayal shows these seafaring Norse pirates without the iconic headgear. Alas, horned hats were not worn by warriors! Although the style did in fact exist in the region, they were used only for early ceremonial purposes and had largely faded out by the time the Vikings" appeared on the scene. Several major misidentifications are responsible for getting this myth rolling, and by the time the costume designers for Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen" (Please tell me I got that right, because it is from memory!) put horned helms upon the singers in the late 19th century, there was no turning back!
3. Sugar Makes Kids Go Bonkers.
The Journal of the American Medical Association published a review of 23 studies on the subject of children and sugar. The conclusion? Sugar does not affect behavior. And it is possible that it is the idea itself that is so ingrained as fact that it affects our perceptions. Case in point: in one study, mothers were told that their children had consumed a drink with a high sugar content. Although the children had actually consumed a sugar-free drink, the mothers reported significantly higher levels of hyperactive behavior. That being said, some scientists warn that sugar can actually make you dumb!
4. You Lose Most of Your Body Heat Through Your Head.
Everyone knows that you lose somewhere around 98 percent of your body heat through your head, which is why you have to wear a hat when it is cold outside (see #1). Well, except that you don't. As reported in the New York Times and elsewhere, the amount of heat released by any part of the body depends mostly on surface area-on a cold day you would lose more heat through an exposed leg or arm than you would from a bare head.
5. You Will Get Arthritis From Cracking Your Knuckles.
It seems reasonable, but it is not true, either. You will not get arthritis from cracking your knuckles, no matter how many horror stories you have been told by your mother or grandmother. There is no evidence of such an association, and in limited studies performed, there was no change in occurrence of arthritis between habitual knuckle-crackers and non-crackers. there have been several reports in medical literature which have shown a causal link between knuckle cracking and injury of the ligaments surrounding the joint or dislocation of the tendons, but NOT arthritis.
6. Napoleon Was Short.
Napoleon's height was once commonly given as 5 feet and 2 inches, but many historians have now given him an extra "boost". While it is true that he was 5 feet and 2 inches, those were measured in French units. When this was converted to Imperial units, which is what we here are accustomed to, he actually measured almost 5 feet and 7 inches tall-which was actually slightly taller than was normal for a grown man in France at that time!
7. You Have To Stretch Before You Exercise.
Stretching before exercise is the main way to improve performance and to avoid injury, everyone stretches! Right? Well, researchers have been finding that it actually slows you down. Experts revealed that stretching before a run can result in a 5 percent reducti0n in efficiency; meanwhile, Italian researchers who have been studying the sport of cycling have confirmed that stretching is counterproductive4. Fuethermore, there has never been sufficient scientific evidence that pre-exercise stretching reduces injury risk.
8. Cholesterol In Eggs Is Bad For The Heart.
The perceived association between dietary cholesterol and the risk for coronary heart disease stems from dietary recommendations proposed in the 1960's that had little scientific evidence, other than the known association between saturated fat and cholesterol, and animal studies where cholesterol was fed in amounts far exceeding normal intake. Since then, study after study has shown that dietary cholesterol (the cholesterol found in food) does not negatively raise your bodies' cholesterol. Rather, it is the comsumption of saturated fat that is the demon here! So, eat eggs, and stay away from steak.
9. Dogs Age At Seven Years For Every Human Year.
Your three year old dog is 21 in human years, right? Not so fast! According to experts, the general consensus is that dogs mature faster than humans, reaching the equivalent of 21 years in only two, and then aging slows down to more like 4 human years to each dog year. The way that is recommended by "The Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan to calculate your dog's human-age equivalent is this: Subtract two from the age, multiply that by four, and then add 21. However, as if this is not enough, the breed and the weight are also significant factors in the calculation, so that can be factored in as well!
10. George Washington Had Wooden Teeth.
Our first president started losing his teeth in his 20's but, contrary to popular belief, his dentures were not made of wood. Although built-in toothpicks would have been handy, Washington had four sets of dentures that were made from gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, and both human and animal teeth (horse and donkey teeth were the most common of the day). Also of note-the dentures had bolts to hold then together and springs to help them open, all the better to eat one of his favorite treats, Mary Washington's seriously delicious gingerbread cookies!