Home Lifestyle Beyond The Illusion: Myths That Foolish People Believe Are Facts

Beyond The Illusion: Myths That Foolish People Believe Are Facts

Darren March 6, 2024

The harsh truth is that there are many myths out there that people believe despite them being false. Somehow, these false stories embed themselves in our brains when reality is the opposite. Many of these myths have been debunked but people still adamantly defend them as facts.

Today we’ll look at the most outlandish falsehoods that some out there still believe. It’s wild that some folks continue to believe these are true despite science showing them otherwise. Check out these debunked myths right here and prepare to be entertained; perhaps even shocked.

Piranhas Eat People

This may come as a surprise to some but the reality is that piranhas don’t eat people. We’ve all seen movies where a school of piranhas demolishes a human in seconds. However, the reality is that these sharp-toothed fish prefer eating fruit and don’t thirst for human flesh (via OC Pier).

Piranha Teeth

They may bite people who bother them but there are many cases of swimmers passing piranhas without problems. This debunked myth is cut and dry because there are no documented cases of piranhas eating a person. We still don’t recommend swimming in the Amazon but it’s safer than most of us think.

Charging Kills Phones

Many people believe that charging their phones overnight will destroy the battery. However, they’re focusing on the wrong problem because this isn’t true. There’s a misconception that this will overload the battery because this doesn’t happen. Charging stops when the battery fills to maximum capacity.

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It may affect the battery life over time because the phone uses energy by recharging when it drops from 100 percent during the night. This will take a long time to impact the phone but it can have an effect. Nonetheless, the overloaded battery is a debunked myth (via PC Mag).

Van Gogh’s Ear

There’s a widespread mistaken belief that Vincent Van Gogh chopped off his entire ear. He didn’t actually do this. He did cut off his earlobe but it’s wrong to say that he lopped off the full thing. He allegedly packaged the piece of flesh and gifted it to a prostitute in Arles.

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Van Gogh used a razor blade before bandaging the wound. He was suffering from severe mental health problems at the time and these plagued him throughout his life. The Dutch painter fainted from blood loss and received medical treatment but it was too late to reattach the lobe (via Big Think).

10% Brainpower

Some of these debunked myths are so crazy when we think about him. Why do so many people believe that we only use 10 percent of our brains? The reality is that we use our entire brains at all times. However, some parts take precedence depending on the situation.


But 65 percent of Americans still believe this is real. The theory stretches back to 1907 when William James said that humans only use a fraction of their brainpower. Scientists debunked this over the following decades and discovered we even use our brains while sleeping (via Medical News Today).

Always Brush Teeth

Nobody will deny that hygiene is important. But it’s crucial to know how to clean ourselves properly and not to go overboard. One debunked myth is that we should brush our teeth after every meal. However, this isn’t always a good idea because excessive brushing can damage our teeth.

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It can strip the enamel away and this causes long-term problems. Use mouthwash instead after eating and floss to remove those annoying bits stuck between teeth. Experts agree that brushing in the morning and before bed is the best course of action except after eating sugary foods (via Mayo Clinic).

The Great Wall

Another debunked myth is that The Great Wall of China is visible from space with the naked eye. This isn’t true and it’s impossible to see it without using visual aids. The Great Wall is a staggering architectural achievement but it’s thin and not very high (via The Guardian).

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Travel And Leisure

Meanwhile, it shares the same color as its surroundings and is in disrepair in many places. Nobody knows where this story came from but it’s one of those things that everyone has heard. Even Chinese astronauts admit that they can’t see their landmarks from space without using telescopes.

Cleopatra Was Egyptian

This myth caused an international incident between Egypt and Netflix. There’s a widespread belief that Cleopatra was Egyptian but she was a Ptolemaic Greek. She was a descendant of the Macedonian Greek General Alexander the Great and spoke Greek as her first language.

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Live Science

However, she did have a closer attachment to Egypt than her forbears as she became the first Ptolemaic ruler to learn the nation’s language. Cleopatra became one of history’s most romanticized figures but most people have a misconception about what she was like (via Al Jazeera).

Bulls See Red

Some debunked myths are common cultural beliefs. Most people think that bulls enter a frenzy when they see the color red. We associate it with bullfighters waving their scarlet cloaks in Spain. The reality is that bulls are colorblind so it doesn’t matter if it’s pink, white, or turquoise (via Wisconsin State Farmer).

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It’s movement that antagonizes the bulls, not color. That’s why experts advise against running from bulls because this drives them crazy. Hold your ground until it moves away or try to deliver a hard blow to the muzzle. However, usually, bulls won’t attack unless someone antagonizes them first.

Killer Penny

Here’s one of the wildest debunked myths on this list. Many people mistakenly believe that dropping a penny from the top of the Empire State Building could kill someone on the ground below. However, physics proves that this isn’t the case and that pedestrians will be safe – from pennies at least.

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Empire State Building

Pennies are very light so they actually fall at a slow speed. Terminal velocity prevents them from gaining unlimited speed as they move toward the ground. Experiments show that they will reach a maximum of 25 mph and won’t break or bruise the skin if they make contact (via USA Today).

Cold Weather Causes Colds

One of the most common things people say in winter is to wrap up warm so that they don’t catch a cold. The shocking reality is that they’re more likely to avoid colds and flu outside than indoors. That’s because cold weather doesn’t spread them; people do.

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Everyday Health

Lower humidity during cold weather does make people more vulnerable to flu viruses. But the cold itself doesn’t spread them. Instead, people catch them from being around each other indoors. It’s a debunked myth that many won’t believe but these are the cold facts (via Hopkins Medicine).

Lightning Strikes Twice

Everybody has heard the saying that lightning doesn’t strike twice. It’s one of the most common proverbs in the U.S. but it’s also a debunked myth. However, the reality is that it can strike multiple times within the space of a couple of seconds (via Fox Weather).

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Future Tree Health

Tall and isolated buildings and objects often receive many strikes per year. Think of the Empire State Building because it endures an average of 25 strikes each year. That’s why it’s important never to shelter beneath lone trees during a lightning storm because it’s very dangerous.

Gum Digestion

Another common belief is that gum takes a long time to digest. Seven years is the most common figure that people throw around but this is a mistaken idea. They fear that if they swallow gum it will stay in their bodies because the acids in their system can’t dissolve it (via NBC News).

NBC News

There’s some truth to the last part of this debunked myth. The body can’t digest gum but it doesn’t try to. If we swallow it it will pass through our bodies in our stools the next time we go to the toilet. It’s not a glamorous image but it’s better than accumulating unlimited gum inside us.

Rejected Baby Birds

Another debunked myth is that birds will reject their babies if humans touch them. The reality is that they have a stronger attachment toward their offspring than we give them credit. It takes much more to scare parents away from their children because they have an instinct to protect them.

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The birds may not return immediately but they will be nearby observing until the humans leave. They may abandon them if humans disrupt the nest and cause damage. This isn’t a free pass for people to go and interfere with baby birds. Just don’t be afraid to put them back inside if they fall out (via Scientific American).

The Five Senses

For decades the common belief was that humans have five senses. We can easily list them: taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell. However, it will shock people to learn that scientists agree that we have more. There are at least two more major senses: proprioception and equilibrioception.


Meanwhile, experts remain divided about the overall number but a popular number is 21. Some include our ability to sense pain as well as feeling heat. It’s a fascinating subject and one that reveals plenty about the human body. The five senses are another debunked myth (via Sensory Trust).

Urine Heals Jellyfish Stings

Where did this crazy myth come from? It’s one of the most ridiculous theories ever but people believe that peeing on jellyfish stings helps to ease the pain. This is so common that it was even the storyline of a Friends episode. Experts are adamant that this isn’t beneficial at all.

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They even claim that urine can worsen jellyfish sting pain by causing the stingers to release more venom. It’s advisable to wash a jellyfish wound in salt water, not fresh water. Try to remove the stingers carefully with tweezers and avoid rubbing with a towel (via Healthline).

Microwaving Destroys Nutrients

There’s a common belief that microwaving food removes nutrients. The reality is very different because it’s one of the healthiest ways to heat food. Every form of cooking will indeed destroy vitamins. Many nutritionists advocate steaming instead of boiling because it doesn’t leach vitamins into the water.

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Microwaving is about as healthy as steaming so it’s perfectly fine. Some people wrongly associate it with radiation and think that it’s very damaging. Some instant microwave meals are unhealthy because of their ingredients but not because of the cooking process (via BBC Science Focus).

Bananas Grow On Trees

Some debunked myths make people question their entire realities. They won’t be able to comprehend that bananas don’t grow on trees. Maybe they’ll argue and say that they’ve seen them but their eyes are deceiving them. They may look like trees but technically they’re the world’s biggest herbs.

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Planet Natural

This might not mean much to most people but experts need to understand them. Meanwhile, fruit bats pollinate banana plants so that they produce their berries. Yes, that’s right: bananas are berries because they have seeds inside them. It’s a strange world that we’re living in (via MSU).

Einstein Failed Math

Somehow this debunked myth gained traction during Einstein’s lifetime. He was at pains to tell people that he passed all of his classes with flying colors before going on to become one of the greatest scientific minds ever. However, many folks continue to believe that he failed math in school.

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Maybe teachers wanted to make underachieving children feel better by comparing them to Einstein. The reality was that he mastered differential and integral calculus before he was 15. We don’t know what either of those are so let’s just say he was smarter than the average child (via History).

Disney Drew Mickey Mouse

Everybody knows that Walt Disney drew Mickey Mouse right? The cartoon character is Disney’s mascot and one of the most famous pop culture icons ever. But the mad fact is that everybody is wrong. Ub Iwerks was the real creator of Mickey Mouse because he designed him.

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Disney deserves credit because he saw the character’s potential and even voiced him for many years. But he didn’t create him alone and Werks never got the respect that he deserved. It’s a wild story and one of the most shocking debunked myths out there (via NPR).

Liquor Heat

There’s a widespread belief that drinking alcohol helps people to feel warmer in cold conditions. This is potentially dangerous because it lowers body temperature. Alcohol affects the way we feel temperatures by messing up the thermoregulation system. This makes us feel warm when it’s cold outside.

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But it doesn’t mean that we’re not vulnerable to hypothermia and other cold conditions. It’s extra risky if they fall asleep because the cold could kill them or cause frostbite. This is scary but it’s one of the most important debunked myths to be aware of because it could save a life (via Asana Lodge).

Napoleon Was Short

Everybody knows about Napoleon Syndrome when a smaller person demands attention. The nickname comes from the French military genius Napoleon Bonaparte because of his supposed short stature. Despite this, it’s one of history’s greatest debunked myths because there’s no proof that he was small.


Most historians estimate that he stood between 5″4 and 5″8. Yes, this is short by modern standards but it was average height during the period. Furthermore, his British enemies never mocked him for his alleged short stature. This gained traction after his death and then people accepted it as fact (via History).

Forbidden Fruit

Apples have an unfortunate reputation because of the story of Adam and Eve. In this iconic Bible tale, a serpent deceives Eve into eating an apple and seals humanity’s fate. That’s the story that everybody knows but it’s not entirely true. The fact is that the Hebrew Bible doesn’t specify the forbidden fruit that she eats.


Later translations called the fruit an apple but realistically it was probably a mango or a papaya. Apples only grow in moderate climates with cold winters. The poor apple carries a stigma that it doesn’t deserve. It could have been any fruit so let’s not discriminate against them (via Spectrum News).

Defibrillators Restart Hearts

Everybody has seen a TV show where medics used a defibrillator to magically revive someone. This gave rise to the common belief that they restart hearts. However, the facts are slightly different because that’s not how they function. They can’t reactivate a heart after it has stopped.

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Carda Health

This is impossible and it’s too late to do anything. Instead, these life-saving devices reboot the heart by allowing it to fall back into rhythm. It doesn’t restart the heart from zero beats but it does bring them back into sync. Nonetheless, they’re one of the most important medical inventions ever (via Emcare).

White Polar Bears

Another one of the craziest debunked myths is that polar bears aren’t white. Everybody associates them with snow and takes it for granted that this is their color. It’s something that we’ve accepted for centuries. However, the fact is that they have translucent fur that may appear white or yellow under different light.

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Live Science

They also have black skin under their heavy fur. Their fur reflects visible light and is an important defense system. It’s an amazing natural adaptation that makes them the ultimate predators. They face many obstacles in the world because of climate change but they’re incredible animals (via WWF).

Swimming Cramps

For decades people recommended waiting half an hour after eating before swimming. They said that it would cause cramps but now medical experts say this isn’t true. Vigorous exercise can cause nausea and digestive issues but this isn’t a swimming-specific issue.

The Benefits Of Swimming

If somebody is on vacation and wants to take a gentle tip to cool down after their meal it’s fine. Maybe don’t do multiple lengths of the pool because that’s a different level of activity. However, being in the water is safe and won’t cause cramps by itself so don’t worry (via BBC).