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Top 10 Common Misconceptions

Posted on: 04-10-2013

1. People Should Drink At Least Eight Glasses of Water a Day- Studies by nutritionists have shown this is not true. Water doesn't provide any better hydration than other drinks such as coffee, milk, soda, juice, or foods that have high water content like fruits and vegetables. It is believed this myth originated from a recommendation by the US Government's Food and Nutrition Board in 1945, but most people at the time neglected to notice that the recommendation also said the daily need for water could also be met by the water content in food and other drinks. The "8 Glasses A Day" guideline soon became advice given by moms and doctors worldwide, and until recently nobody ever bothered to check if it was true. Sources include: Scientific American

2. Cities Need Stop Lights and Street Signs - In a bold municipal safety experiment, several European cities such as Portishead in England and Drachten in Holland have removed most of their traffic lights and road signs. Despite much initial skepticism from residents, since the change there have fewer accidents and less traffic congestion. The introduction of extra risk into the system has caused drivers to pay more attention to their surroundings and drive more slowly. For example at a stop light, they are not lulled into a false sense of security by the confidence that they have right of way, so they are better able to avoid a potential accident. Sources include:

3. Sugar Makes Kids Hyperactive - Despite many studies that conclusively prove this is not true, millions of parents still perpetuate this myth. Science shows that eating candy or cake will not make kids run around and go wild. None of the studies detected any differences in behavior between children who had eaten sugar and those who hadn't. In one of the studies, boys ages 5 to 7 and their mothers were divided into 2 groups. Researchers told the mothers in one group their sons were given a drink high in sugar, the other group of mothers was told their sons were given a sugar-free drink. In reality, all the kids in both groups were given the sugar-free drink, but when asked to grade their child's behavior, the mothers in the "sugar" group reported their children had significantly higher levels of hyperactive behavior. It is a self-perpetuating myth in that because parents think it is true, they see what they want to see. Sources include: The San Francisco Chronicle

4. Jesus Was Born on December 25th - There is no evidence that Jesus was born on December 25 and the Bible gives no indication at all when he was born. It is believed the date for Christmas was chosen in the 4th century (when Christianity was declared to be the official religion of the Roman Empire) by the Church due to the popularity of various ancient winter festivals around that time, in the hopes of replacing those pagan festivals and encouraging the spread of Christianity through celebration. December 25 in particular was also well-known festival day celebrating that the sunlight was returning and the days were getting longer. Some religious scholars speculate that Jesus may have been conceived by Mary on December 25th, so that is why it was picked. The first Christmas celebrations were just a simple mass, but over time Christmas grew in popularity overtaking many of the other cultural holidays throughout the world.
Sources include: Examiner.com

5. Subliminal Advertising - Market researcher James Vicary started a frenzy in 1957 with his famous experiment in a movie theater where he claimed that moviegoers who were shown 0.03 second ads (too short for the user to consciously notice) every 5 seconds for Coca-Cola and popcorn bought more of those products in that movie theater (Coke sales went up 18.1%, popcorn 57.8%). This led to the FCC banning subliminal TV and radio ads in 1974 because they decided these ads were contrary to the public interest. It turns out though that the Vicary study was a lie. Vicary later confessed he falsified the data as a gimmick to get new customers for his failing marketing business. Modern day studies have shown though that it is possible to influence people in smaller ways using subliminal ads. In one 2005 study, scientists had volunteers watch a computer screen where the brand name "Lipton Ice" was flashed subliminally, and afterwards they were given a choice of 3 drinks. 85% of the subjects chose Lipton as compared to only 20% of those did not see the subliminal message. But, the interesting thing is that the subliminal message had no effect on the people who were not thirsty.
Sources include: Snopes.com

6. Organic Food Is Better For You - Eating organic food is a popular lifestyle choice, but it is not necessarily healthier for you like most people think it is. Organic foods provide no more nutrition than regular foods. They do contain less pesticides, but there has not been proof that the low levels of pesticides in non-organic food have any negative health consequences, so that benefit is debatable. And, a lack of pesticides can also be looked at as a bad thing, since organic foods tend to have higher levels of potential pathogens such as E. coli. One reason for this is that organic farms tend to use manure instead of artificial fertilizers, and without the help of irradiation and non-organic anti-microbial agents like a traditional farm uses, contamination is more likely. Organic does not even mean the food is pesticide free, as evidenced when Consumer Reports purchased a thousand pounds of apples, peaches, tomatoes, and green bell peppers in five cities and found traces of pesticides in 25% of the food labeled as organic. Some organic farmers use organic pesticides, which most people assume are safe, but research has shown they might actually be worse for you than pesticides used by the conventional agriculture industry. Sources include: The Huffington Post and Scientific American Blog. A related misconception is that it is best to buy locally grown food because it is better for the environment. In some cases it is actually worse for the environment. There are a large number of factors involved in this, so the decision is not nearly as simple as you might think. For more info, see this Forbes article.

7. We Only Use 10% Of Our Brains - It is said that if you could activate the unused 90% of your brain it would make you super intelligent. This myth may have come from the beliefs that "people only meet a fraction of their full mental potential" and "humans use 10% of their brains at any given time", but using modern technology (brain scans, brain mapping, etc.) neurologists have proven that almost all areas of the brain are used at one point or another. Adam and Jamie on the MythBusters TV show even proved that the 10% brain usage theory is a myth, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Further proof of this is that almost no area of the brain that can be damaged without loss of abilities. Also, brain cells that are not used tend to degenerate, yet autopsies of adult brains do not show any large-scale degeneration. Sources include: Wikipedia

8. Hands-Free Cell Phones Are Safe For Drivers - Contrary to popular belief, studies show that using a hands-free cell phone is just as dangerous as using a regular mobile phone. The increased cognitive workload involved in holding a conversation, not the use of hands, is what causes the driver to be distracted. Some studies show that talking with passengers reduces driving performance just as much as talking on a mobile phone. Another statistic people might find surprising is that studies show that texting while driving is up to twice as dangerous as drunk driving. Overall, distracted driving accounts for about 16 percent of all traffic deaths.
Sources include: The Washington Post and

9. The Red Juice In Raw Meat Is Blood - Almost all of the blood is removed from meat during the slaughter process. What looks like blood in rare meat is mainly water mixed with myoglobin, which is a protein used to store oxygen in muscle cells, similar to how hemoglobin stores oxygen in red blood cells. One of the main differences between red meat (steak, hamburgers, etc.) and white meat (chicken, fish, etc.) is the myoglobin level. The redder the meat, the more myoglobin it has. When you cook red meat, the iron atom within each myoglobin molecule oxidizes and turns the meat a darker color.
Sources include: Todayifoundout.com

10. Don't Go Outside with a Wet Head or You'll Catch a Cold - Scientific studies have shown that people who are cold are no more likely to catch the cold virus than people at normal temperatures. To do these studies, scientists put the cold virus on noses of two groups of people. One group was exposed to cold wet/cold conditions and the other wasn't, yet the both groups got sick at the same rate. What is true though is that more colds occur in the winter, so that may have been where this old wives tale came from. During the winter, people tend to stay inside and are in close contact with each other, and this is conducive to the transfer of contagious viruses such as the cold. Basically, people cough and sneeze on each other more in the winter.
Sources include: Howstuffworks.com

Article Author: Eric Borgos on Google+

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