It has happened to all of us. We share an amazing fact on social media, only to feel embarrassed later on, when you find out that it was indeed wrong. This happens because some websites and people consider urban legends to be real and pass them on as common knowledge. While most of us are experienced myth busters, the internet is filled with alluring science myths, misconceptions, and inaccuracies passed down through the ages. Here, we have rounded up some popular myths and urban legends that are completely wrong, and debunked them.
Myth #1: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
The myth about apples keeping doctors away is something we have been hearing since childhood. While apples are in fact packed with vitamin C and fiber, they are not the only necessary ingredients to promote good health. In fact, researchers conducted a study to determine whether there’s any evidence that apples do reduce visits to the doctor. According to the study, “Evidence does not support that an apple a day keeps the doctor away; however, the small fraction of US adults who eat an apple a day do appear to use fewer prescription medications”. Apples also do not have the ability to protect you from viruses or bacteria that get into your system. They are, however, still a healthy choice. (source)
Myth #2: Hydrogen Peroxide helps wounds heal.
The first thing we do when we have a cut or wound is pour some Hydrogen Peroxide on it to clean it. While the thought is positive, studies show that using Hydrogen Peroxide actually causes more damage that helping you heal. According to the NCBI, H2O2 impairs tissue through its high oxidative property, so it should be used in moderate to eliminate microbial contamination. The best way to clean a wound is to rinse it with cool running water for at least five minutes. (source)
Myth #3: Seasons are caused by the distance of Earth from the Sun.
We have four seasons on Earth, not because of the distance between the Sun, but rather the way Earth is tilted as it makes its journey around the Sun. The tilt in the axis of the Earth is called its obliquity by scientists, and over the course of a year, the angle of tilt does not vary. The Earth’s axis is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees. This means that the Earth is always “pointing” to one side as it goes around the Sun. So, sometimes the Sun is in the direction that the Earth is pointing, but not at other times. The varying amounts of sunlight around the Earth during the year, creates the seasons.
To put it simply, when the north pole tilts towards the sun, it is Summer time in countries in the Northern Hemisphere and it is Winter time in countries in the Southern Hemisphere. When the north pole tilts away from the sun, it is Winter time in countries in the Northern Hemisphere and it is Summer time in countries in the Southern Hemisphere. (source)
Myth #4: Organic food is pesticide-free and more nutritious.
We often perceive or associate the word “organic” to be pesticide-free, nutritious and healthy. However, just because a food product is organic does not mean that it is free of pesticide or that it is better for you. Under the laws of most states, organic farmers are allowed to use a wide variety of chemical sprays and powders on their crops, just like non-organic food manufacturers. Studies show that this can sometimes be worse for the environment than the synthetically manufactured ones. According to the USDA, pesticide levels on both organic and non-organic foods are so low that they aren’t of concern for consumption. Another study also shows that organic foods don’t come with any additional nutritional benefits over non-organic food. (sources 1, 2)
Myth #5: Eating ice cream will make your cold worse.
The myth that ice cream can make your cold worse is something you hear growing up. If you’re home with a cold, go ahead and treat yourself to some ice cream because idea that dairy increases mucus production is very fortunately not true. According to doctors, ice cream actually soothes a sore throat and also provides calories when you otherwise may not eat. (source)
Myth #6: It’s fine to eat something if it’s been on the floor for less than 5 seconds.
It’s a common misconception that food that falls on the floor can be consumed if it is less than five seconds. While the five second rule sounds pretty convincing, especially when something you really wanted to eat falls on the floor, the rule isn’t a real thing. Studies show that within just milliseconds, a food that touches the floor or any other surface can become contaminated with bacteria. According to Mythbusters, moist foods attract more bacteria than dry foods, but there’s no “safe duration”. The safety in fact depends on how clean the surface is and the choice you make on whether to eat it or not. (source)
Myth #7: Airline tickets are always cheaper to buy on Tuesdays (or some other day of the week).
The price of an airplane ticket depends of various factors such as availability of seats and the influx in passengers. However, they are not cheap for one particular day, like the myth suggests. An investigation by The New York Times found, “There are too many variables at play for there to be a universally ideal day to buy an airline ticket.” These factors included competition, holidays and special events. Instead, you should keep an eye out for special sales, regardless of which day of the week they fall on. So, basically, there’s no evidence to suggest that you have to wait until a certain day of the week to get the best price. (source)
Myth #8: Goldfish can’t remember anything for longer than 3 seconds.
There is a popular belief that gold fish can only remember things for less than 3 seconds, making every lap of their fishbowl seem like a new world every time. Despite the myth, gold fish actually have a decent memory, capable of learning new things and remembering them for months. In order to debunk the myth, a gold fish owner actually trained his gold fish to play underwater soccer. Studies also show that they can be taught to respond to different light, music, or other sensory cues. (source)
Myth #9: Bananas grow on trees.
Despite the popular belief, bananas don’t actually grow on trees. Although the plants grow on something the size of a tree, the banana “tree” is not actually a tree. The banana plant, which can grow up to 25 feet, is actually the world’s largest perennial herb. Unlike trees, banana plants don’t have the woody fibers but have large stalks and leaves. However, they lack the trunk and branches that would qualify them as a tree. Another interesting fact is that bananas don’t produce mature seeds, which also classifies them as berries. So, is a banana split, a “herb berry” Sundae? Something to ponder upon. (source)
Myth #10: Everyone should drink eight glasses of water a day.
It is very important to stay hydrated and without water, we cannot survive. However, the idea suggesting that a human being has to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day is a strange one. Studies show that there’s no connection between keeping oneself hydrated and sodium levels or skin quality. Our body gets water from food and other beverages, but there’s also a good reason to drink water. It’s a calorie free alternative to other beverages, especially soda or sports drinks that are loaded with sugar. But in general, you only have to drink water when you are thirsty and there’s no need to count the number of glasses. (source)