March 11, 2013

26 Things We Believe Are True, But Aren’t

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bokicbo / Shutterstock.com
bokicbo / Shutterstock.com

1. The word “fuck” was never an English term meaning “Fornication Under Consent of King.” It likely comes from the Dutch fokken, the German ficken or the Norwegian fukka.

2. “420” is not the Los Angeles police code for marijuana use. Some guys claim they invented “420” at San Rafael High School in 1971, when a group of stoners would go smoke under a statue every day at 4:20 PM, but who knows?

3. Napoleon Bonaparte was not short. Or well, tiny. He was 5’7’’, which was more or less standard height in 1821. His nickname le Petit Corporal was a term of endearment, and not meant to be taken literally.

4. There is no “real” you. If you treat people poorly, or start fights in bars, or steal, or hit dogs, or pick on the weak kid in school, you are not, nor can you be, “actually a good person on the inside.” You are an asshole.

5. Waking sleepwalkers does not harm them. They may get disoriented for a bit, but it can’t hurt them. Letting them walk around a house asleep, on the other hand, could harm them pretty good.

6. Bulls can’t see the color red as any different from any other bright colors. It does not enrage them. Rather, the aggressive posturing of the matador is what causes them to charge.

7. Humans have more than five senses. Most humanistic social scientists (the guys who study such things) believe they have at least nine, and some argue up to twenty senses. In addition to touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell, humans can sense pain, hunger, thirst, pressure, balance, acceleration, and time, among others.

8. Hair and fingernails do not continue growing after people die. Rather, the skin cells surrounding the nails and hair follicles die and shrink away, giving the perception of growth.

9. Outside of your family and perhaps a very few close friends, no one on earth cares that much about you. Unless you’re a celebrity.

10. Albert Einstein never failed math in school. He once failed an entrance exam to a gifted students’ school, but he was two years younger than everyone else taking the test, and he aced the math and science sections of the exam.

11. Life expectancy in the Middle Ages was low (around 30), but that was caused by a huge infant mortality rate. Most people who lived past infancy didn’t die at 30. If you made it to 21 in medieval England, your average life expectancy at that point became 64.

12. Men don’t think about sex every seven seconds.

13. Vaccines don’t cause autism. The only study that ever linked the two was shown to have faulty data and the lead scientist fudged the results.

14. George Washington never had wooden teeth. His dentures were made of gold, hippo ivory, lead, and human teeth.

15. Also, George Washington never smoked pot. He did grow cannabis on his property, but that was for hemp to make clothing for his slaves.

16. Chewing gum doesn’t take seven years to digest. In fact, you don’t digest it at all. Shoots right through you.

17. Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute. There is another, unnamed woman in the Bible who was a prostitute, and she is mentioned right before Mary Magdalene, causing the confusion. Mary Magdalene is never identified as a prostitute in the Bible.

18. While we’re on a Christianity kick, nowhere in the Bible does it identify Christ’s birthday at December 25. Bible scholars put his birthday sometime in September, but there’s no specific date. Pope Julius the First most likely set the December date. He may have been tying it in to a winter solstice festival, or celebrating the date of the conception of Christ (nine months before the September date of his birth).

19. The forbidden fruit is never explicitly stated to be an apple. It’s just a fruit.

20. Jihad does not mean “holy war.” It translates literally as “struggle.”

21. Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb. His was the first practical light bulb that could be used at home and wouldn’t burn out, but others had invented similar devices beforehand.

22. Dogs don’t sweat by salivating. Panting helps cool them down, but dogs have sweat glands other places besides their tongues, including the pads of their feet.

23. Frankenstein wasn’t the name of the monster in Mary Shelley’s novel. The medical student who created him was named Frankenstein. The monster was nameless. (Also, Frankenstein was a medical student, not a doctor, as he is commonly referred.)

24. Drug “flashbacks” are a psychological response, and not the result of leftover drugs being stored in your fat cells.

25. Marilyn Monroe never said, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” Harvard professor Laurel Thatcher said it.

26. Marie Antoinette did not say, “Let them eat cake.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau first wrote the phrase when Marie was only ten years old. Rousseau probably made it up himself, the cad. TC mark

Nathan Savin Scott

Nathan Savin Scott is a writer based in Washington, DC. He enjoys writing about music, sports, and was briefly a High …

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