Science Has Already Debunked the Top 20 Myths We Commonly Believe to Be True – Ready to be Surprised?

Researchers have already debunked the top 20 myths that we all commonly believe to be true—such as, the most heat escapes through your head, we only use 10 percent of our brains, and goldfish only have three-second memory.

A new survey of 2,000 adults found nearly four in 10 aren’t even sure how they came to believe these fraudulent bits of trivia—but 49 percent have shared them with others, in the belief they were accurate.

Nearly half believe that most human heat escapes through your head, but experts claim only around 10 percent of body heat is lost this way, due to its relatively small surface.

And far from the notion that goldfish only remember things for a few seconds, they are thought to have memories that last as long as three months.

And, regarding our brain power, even something as simple as clenching and unclenching our fist uses far more than 10 percent of the human brain, according to scientific studies.

Other misconceptions we often pass on include the color red sends bulls into a rage, yet the animals can’t even see the color. Similarly, you might have said that it takes seven years to digest swallowed chewing gum, which isn’t true because we can’t digest it at all.

More than one in five (22 percent) believe that if a penny were dropped from the top of New York’s Empire State Building it would generate enough force to kill anyone it landed on—however, it’s simply too lightweight to do such a thing.

A spokesman from Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Care, which commissioned the poll to help expose misperceptions about contact lenses, said, “If enough people tell us the same thing we’re inclined to believe it, and for many of us we will have believed these tidbits of incorrect information to be true since childhood”

The myths around contact lenses getting lost behind your eye, as well as freezing to your eye in cold weather made the top 30 list: 10 percent of respondents believe it’s possible for contact lenses to get lodged behind the eyeball, but that is a scientific impossibility. Discover more about contact lens myths, here.

Other falsehoods we frequently believe include the old wives’ tale about adding salt to a pot of water to make it boil more quickly—but salt is actually said to raise water’s boiling point.

Conducted by OnePoll, the survey does have a bright spot. We are learning to be wary of things we read on social media: just 25% of respondents believe what they see online is actually based in fact.

But, plausible-sounding ‘facts’ seem to take on a life of their own. For example, why would anyone believe that we swallow eight spiders each year, per person? If you think about it, how would that even be tested?


  1. Chameleons change colors to blend in with their surroundings. (Though they make small color adjustments, the primary function of the color shift is to alert neighbors of danger.)
  2. Sugar causes hyperactivity in children. (Over a dozen large studies have not shown that sugar causes hyperactivity.)
  3. You should urinate on it if someone gets stung by a jellyfish. (This myth might even worsen the sting.)
  4. Bats are blind. (Bats have small eyes with very sensitive vision, which helps them see in conditions we might consider pitch black.)
  5. You’ll get cramps if you go swimming right after you eat. (The Mayo Clinic says there is really no scientific basis for this.)
  6. Dogs only see in black and white. (They are not as bright, but they do see colors.)
  7. If you touch a baby bird with your bare hands, its mother will reject it. (False. This prevalent belief is ‘for the birds’)
  8. Shaving your hair makes it grow back thicker. (This will not change its thickness, color or rate of growth, though it gives it a blunt tip, which might feel coarse or “stubbly” for a time as it grows out—and it may appear darker or thicker, but it’s not.)
  9. Cracking your knuckles too much will cause arthritis. (Cracking your knuckles does no harm at all to our joints and does not lead to arthritis.)
  10. Going out in the cold will give you a cold. (False. The viruses that cause colds may spread more easily in lower temperatures, and exposure to cold and dry air may adversely impact the body’s immune system to fight off viruses.)