8 of the Most Believed Scientific Myths That Have Actually Been Debunked

February 26, 2016 | Elizabeth Knowles

Lightning over New York City

How many of these do you still believe?

1. You Shouldn’t Eat Ice Cream If You Have a Cold

Some people think that eating ice cream will increase your body’s production of mucus — not something you want more of when you have a cold. Luckily, that’s not true so go ahead and sooth your sore throat with a nice frozen treat.

2. Water Conducts Electricity

We all know that you should get out of a swimming pool or lake if there’s a thunderstorm so it’s a common assumption that water conducts electricity. However, it isn’t actually the water that’s the problem. Pure or distilled water barely conducts electricity at all — it’s the contaminants like minerals and dirt in the water that you have to worry about conducting a shock.

3. Bats Are Blind

Given that we use the expression “blind as a bat,” you might think that bats have terrible vision. In fact, all bats can see, though they tend to use echolocation to navigate.

SEE ALSO: Double-Jointed? Nope, There’s No Such Thing

4. Your Blood Turns Blue When It Isn’t Oxygenated

Your blood is always red, just darker red when it isn’t carrying oxygen. The blue color you are perceiving is simply because you are seeing it through multiple layers of tissue that filter out the color.

5. Goldfish Have Terrible Memory

Another misleading fact that we hear all the time is that goldfish can’t remember anything for longer than three seconds. A 15-year-old Australian boy conducted an experiment to prove that this isn’t true. In his experience, they could associate a location — a piece of Lego — with food even after it was removed and replaced a month later.

6. You Would Die If You Were Hit By a Penny Falling From the Top of the Empire State Building

Height isn’t the only factor to consider in this case. Due to a number of other factors like air resistance, the shape of a penny, and its terminal velocity, a coin dropped from the Empire State Building would not seriously injure someone. It would sting, but that’s about it. n fact, according to Today I Found Out, “even if you dropped it from an airplane flying at 35,000 feet, it still wouldn’t do any real damage to the person it hit.”

7. Lightning Never Strikes the Same Place Twice

This is very far from true. The same places tend to be hit over and over, like the Empire State Building which gets struck over 100 times a year. If an area is likely to be hit once, it is likely to be hit again.

8. The Sahara is the largest desert on Earth

That’s correct if you’re thinking about a warm and sandy desert, but an area only has to be dry and inhospitable to qualify. Since Antarctica only gets two inches of precipitation a year and has a limited number of land animals, it is actually the world’s biggest desert.


Did you know we have a whole page on debunking science myths? Check it out!

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