20 ‘Facts’ You Learned in School That Weren’t Actually True

Ephraim Obare
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Welcome to the land of debunked myths and shattered illusions! Remember those ‘facts’ you used to gobble up in school as the absolute truth? Hold on to your hats because we’re about to embark on a rollercoaster of witty revelations that might take you by surprise.

If you thought you knew it all, brace yourself because you will reshape your understanding of the world. So, prepare for an educational journey like no other!

“The Great Wall of China Is Visible From Space.”

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Sorry to burst your bubble, folks, but this one’s as false as a 3-dollar bill. Without technological assistance, it’s impossible to see the Wall from space!

According to Jagran Josh, from the Moon’s distant vantage point, 384,400 km away from Earth, no man-made structure, not even the majestic Great Wall of China, comes into view. Instead, the enchanting realm of the Moon reveals only the continents, clouds, and vast oceans stretching beneath its luminous gaze.

“Different Parts of Your Tongue Taste Different Flavors.”

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Remember those tongue maps from elementary school? Well, ditch ’em. All taste sensations can originate from any region of the tongue.

BrainFacts mentions that every tongue region has the incredible ability to detect all five taste qualities. Although there are slight variations in sensitivity for different tastes, these differences are so minuscule that they hardly impact our perception of flavors.

“Columbus Discovered America.”

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Columbus was late to the party by more than 10,000 years. Indigenous people, the Norse, maybe even St. Brendan beat him to it.

According to The Royal Museums Greenwich,  Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) is renowned for his monumental voyage in 1492, where he set foot on the ‘new world’ of the Americas aboard his mighty ship, the Santa Maria. However, it’s important to note that Columbus did not actually stumble upon North America.

“Chameleons Change Color To Blend With Their Surroundings.”

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Chameleons certainly change color, but it’s more about their mood, temperature, and communication than camouflage.

According to New Scientist, contrary to popular belief, the mystical chameleon doesn’t transform to blend seamlessly with its environment. Instead, a chameleon’s color-changing capers are dictated by its mood or temperature. However, their remarkable knack for blending into the background can largely be attributed to the forces of natural selection. Quite fascinating, isn’t it?

“Napoleon Was Short.”

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At 5’7″, Napoleon was actually taller than the average Frenchman of his time. According to Margaret Rodenberg, the famous French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte stood at a modest height, between 168 and 170 centimeters, or approximately 5’6″ to 5’7.”

While not particularly towering—only five US presidents have been shorter—Napoleon’s stature still exceeded the average height of 5’5″ for a French male during his era.

“Diamonds Are Formed From Coal.”

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Although both are forms of carbon, most diamonds are much older than the first plants that later became coal.

Contrary to popular belief, coal rarely has a hand in creating diamonds. These mesmerizing gems are crafted at astonishing depths, far beyond where we unearth coal. Picture this: high temperatures, immense pressure, and a journey of 140 to 190 kilometers within the Earth’s mantle. That’s where diamonds genuinely come to life! 💎

“Bats Are Blind.”

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Bats can see; they just prefer to use echolocation to navigate. According to ADEC ESG Solutions, bats are not blind. They have exceptional eyesight.

However, what truly sets them apart is their extraordinary hearing ability, finely tuned to process vast amounts of data. It is this remarkable skill that makes them prefer navigating with their ears. Fascinating, isn’t it?

“Humans Have Five Senses.”

Indian Man Thinking
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This one falls short. We also sense balance, temperature, pain, and the passage of time, et al. “I’m consistently taken aback when I come across biology textbooks that state humans have five senses. But guess what? Humans possess far more than just those five senses! I discovered that humans have an impressive array of at least nine senses, and some researchers even suggest there might be as many as twenty-one or more. It’s mind-boggling!” said a Quora user.

“The Sahara Is the World’s Largest Desert.”

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image credit: Dr. Ondřej Havelka via Wikimedia Commons

If we’re counting ice deserts, Antarctica’s got the Sahara beat. According to Global Adventure Challenges, the Sahara Desert, the largest hot desert on Earth, stands as the third largest overall, after Antarctica and the Arctic.

Spanning a mind-boggling 9.2 million km², it nearly rivals the vastness of China and covers a staggering 8% of our planet’s land area.

“You’ll Get Arthritis From Cracking Your Knuckles.”

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Fear not, chronic knuckle-crackers. This is just a myth!

“Goldfish Have a Three-Second Memory.”

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Goldfish can remember things for months, not seconds. It’s a common misconception that goldfish have a mere three-second memory. But here’s the truth: their memory is far better than you think!

Interestingly, this myth has been wrongly attached to fish in general, leading to the widespread belief that most fish have poor memories. 💡🐠

“Thomas Edison Invented the Light Bulb.”

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Edison improved and commercialized existing designs but didn’t invent the light bulb from scratch.

According to Interesting Engineering, modern lightbulbs, a result of numerous incremental advancements, were not solely the creation of Thomas Edison. Before him, around 20 inventors had developed different designs for incandescent lightbulbs. However, Edison’s commercially viable innovation quickly gained dominance in the market, surpassing all other versions. Before Edison, British scientist Sir Humphrey Davy made a significant contribution by producing the world’s first true artificial electric light in 1802.

“All Dinosaurs Are Extinct.”

“All Dinosaurs Are Extinct.”
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Birds are technically dinosaurs, so the next time you see a pigeon, think T-Rex. According to Khan Academy, believe it or not, those seemingly harmless city pigeons roaming around town hold an unexpected secret.

These feathered fellows are actually the living descendants of ancient dinosaurs that ruled the earth millions of years ago. Get ready to have your mind blown! 🦖🐦

“Einstein Flunked Math.”

Albert Einstein
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Nope, Einstein excelled at math. He was mastering calculus by age 15. According to West Texas A&M University, Albert Einstein excelled in math and achieved academic success, earning his PhD from the University of Zurich.

His image as a lowly patent clerk, equivalent to a mailman, where he developed his groundbreaking theories, adds another fascinating layer to his remarkable journey.

“We Only Use 10% Of Our Brain.”

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MRI scans show we use much more than that, even when sleeping. According to Scientific American, it’s not about us just using 10 percent of our brains. It’s more about the fact that we only grasp about 10 percent of the incredible complexity that lies within its functioning. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?

“Vikings Wore Horned Helmets.”

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There’s no historical evidence to support this; it’s largely a creation of popular culture. According to HistoryExtra, archaeological digs have turned up no evidence of such headpieces. Instead, the Norse warriors donned simple skullcaps, crafted to safeguard their heads from bone-jarring blows.

“Bulls Hate the Color Red.”

“Bulls Hate the Color Red.”
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Bulls are colorblind to red and green. It’s not the color of the matador’s cape, but the movement that gets them riled up.

CGTN confirms that bulls are actually colorblind to red. It’s true! The real reason they get all fired up in a bullfight is because of the enchanting movements of the elusive muleta.

“There’s No Gravity in Space.”

astronaut holding the american flag
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Gravity is everywhere, even in space. It’s what keeps the planets in orbit around the sun. According to Wonderopolis, the gravitational pull created by celestial bodies like the Sun, Earth, the Moon, and other planets extends its reach across the vastness of outer space.

Yet, as distance grows, the power of this force diminishes. Beware, at extreme distances, gravity’s hold on an object may dwindle close to nothing, but it shall never vanish entirely.

“Banana Trees.”

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Bananas actually grow on plants that are officially classified as a herb! According to PBS, believe it or not, the banana plant, often referred to as a banana tree, is actually a herb with a surprisingly distant relation to ginger. The plant’s succulent tree stem adds to its allure, distinctly setting it apart from traditional woody trees. 🌱🌿

“Ostriches Bury Their Heads in the Sand.”

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Ostriches dig holes for their nests, so it might look like they hide their heads in the sand when turning their eggs.

National Geographic Kids states that ostriches are known for their infamous head-burying myth, but the reality is far more fascinating. While they don’t bury their heads in the sand (they need to breathe, after all!), they engage in extraordinary behaviors. Females meticulously dig nests in the dirt to safeguard their precious eggs. These clever birds lovingly turn and attend to their little ones multiple times daily. It’s a delightful sight that deceives, making us believe these magnificent creatures are burying their heads in the sand!

And there you have it! Now go forth, armed with your new knowledge, and dispel these myths far and wide.

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  • Ephraim Obare

    Ephraim Obare is a versatile member of the Frenz Hub writing team, bringing a rich background in economics to his work. An avid swimmer, reader, and cyclist, Ephraim blends analytical insights with his diverse interests.

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