People Share The Most Widely Accepted Facts They Know To Be Wrong

Common knowledge isn't that common - and isn't even really knowledge.

One Reddit user asked:

What widely accepted fact do you know is wrong?

Raise your hand if you believed that you couldn't touch a baby bird that fell out of the nest or its mom would reject it. Not true.

Oh and that "frivolous" McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit? Not frivolous at all and the details are cringe-worthy. We're going to go into detail about that one shortly.

So kick back, relax, and let Reddit ruin everything you thought you knew about everything.

Mr. Fishy

goldfish GIFGiphy

Goldfishes really do not have a memory span of 5 seconds. They actually remember things for months, recognize their owners, and are able to distinguish them from other people.

- type3civilization

I had two goldfish when I was younger. Their names were Paula and Mr Fishy. When Mr. Fishy died, Paula spent the next couple of days frantically swimming around the tank trying to find him. It was heartbreaking to watch

- bl0bbyfish

Space Pens

'NASA spent $$ inventing a pen that worked in space and the Russians used pencils.'

Total bollocks.

The Fisher Pen Company was independent and developed its 'space pen' with zero investment from NASA.

American astronauts began using mechanical pencils in space. Tiny fragments of graphite, and graphite dust floating around the spacecraft was not ideal because graphite is conductive. It's also combustible, so everyone was keen to find an alternative.

Fisher patented its first 'zero gravity' pen in 1965, and in 1967 NASA began using it. By 1969 Russia were also buying them for their space missions.

Reportedly both NASA and The Soviet Space Company received the same discount for their bulk purchases.

- JessieOwl

Cracking Your Knuckles

That cracking your knuckles too often will cause arthritis.

- quietmouthloudmind54

Healthy joints actually are more prone to cracking/popping than arthritic joints, this is because the smooth surfaces in healthy joints combined with the synovial fluid can sometimes make a sort of vacuum that makes the popping noise when it's released (basically like releasing a suction cup). (I'm a PT student, please correct me if I'm wrong).

- parkinsonspenis

24 hours

That you have to wait 24 hours to report someone missing in the USA. There is no law about waiting, you don't have to. Push to make the police cooperate and list the person missing immediately when you suspect something isn't right. Don't lose precious time; it's extremely important if the person truly is missing.

- taako-tuesday

Ye Olde Old People

That medieval/ancient people only lived to be ~32 years old, and at that age, they were considered ancient.

That estimate is an average, which means it accounts for high infant/child mortality. Lots of ancient people lived to their 80s and older. If you made it to 30, chances are good you're making it another 30+ years.

- Hadrian_x_Antinous


wondering homer simpson GIFGiphy

That chloroform quickly knocks you out. It takes minutes to knock you out, not the seconds you see in TV and movies.

- socksinsandalsinsnow

The bigger myth is that any idiot can safely render someone unconscious with minimal effort.

No, there's actually a fine art to that process and we pay people a ton of money to do it, they're called "anesthesiologists".

The problem is that the difference between "enough to reliably knock this specific person out for an hour" and "so much it kills them" is vanishingly small. It's terrifyingly easy to kill someone with the kind of meds that knock people out.

Hell, even the old blackjack-to-the-base-of-the-skull approach is fraught. If the person is out for more than 30 seconds, there's a good chance you've given them brain damage.

Movies use human unconsciousness capriciously, whenever they need to advance the plot and stick a character in a tough spot. Reality is different ball game, and playing it like it's the movies is a great way to catch a manslaughter charge.

- Daddict

McDonald's Coffee

That the McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit was absurd and unjustified. That coffee wasn't just hot, it was HOT -- spilling it in her lap, which should've just ruined Stella Liebeck's pants and maybe given her first-degree burns, caused THIRD-degree burns and fused her genitals shut. She needed not only skin grafts but horrifyingly painful, expensive reconstructive surgery.

When Liebeck initially contacted McDonald's, all she asked was that they cover her $20,000 hospital bills. They counter-offered for $800, so she took them to court. Even then, she didn't ask for punitive damages. The jury heard about McD's insulting counter-offer, and the fact that their coffee had seriously burned seven hundred people already (they damn well knew about the danger, they just didn't care), and were so incensed that they added the extra millions on their own.

The only reason people think of that case as an example of sue-happy American culture gone wrong is that McDonald's poured millions into a smear campaign after the fact. If you ask me, it was actually our justice system working exactly as it should.

For those of you who still think that Liebeck's injuries were entirely her own fault, regardless of the coffee temperature, imagine yourself handling a cup of your favorite hot drink. You take reasonable precautions to keep from spilling it on yourself -- things like resting your mug on a solid flat surface, trying to keep from elbowing it, etc. These aren't foolproof: you either have spilled hot liquid on yourself or you almost certainly will someday. You're okay with taking only these limited precautions because the consequences of that spill are a minor household ouchie and damage to your clothes.

Now imagine yourself handling a cup of, say, lava. If you spill that on yourself, it'll burn straight through your body and quite possibly kill you. Are you willing to handle it with the same precautions as you do for a cup of tea? Of course not! But on the other hand, are you willing to go through life treating every cup of tea as though it were potentially lava? Of course not! Nobody handles coffee with asbestos gloves and hazmat protocol -- that'd be absurd.

Liebeck was handed a cup of lava disguised as coffee. Do you see how the ones performing that particular switcheroo might, just might, be partly responsible for the consequences?

- Photosynthetic

Not to mention McDonalds had many prior, written, warnings that their coffee was too hot. In the end, they literally only had to pay 1 or 2 days worth of their coffee sales in damages.

- deliverz

Ironic that they spent millions more to smear her rather than give her the original $20,000. The corporate thought process will never cease to astound me.

- allformygain

The coffee was so hot that her freakin' labia fused together. She was hospitalized for 8 days because of it.

It being labeled as a frivolous lawsuit over something "that isn't a big deal" was just propaganda fueled by political and corporate interests. If the news had actually reported the truth, instead of reporting what McDonald's and politicians wanted, the lawsuit wouldn't have such a stigma around it.

The lady got third degree burns and had to get various medical treatments over the course of TWO YEARS to help her recovery from it.

- MyCatGreg

Vitamin C

"If you have a cold, you should get lots of Vitamin C."

This is completely down to one scientist called Linus Pauling who had a theory that massive doses of Vitamin C would cure colds, subsequent studies have shown he was wrong and any benefits are minimal at best. Yet I still get everyone telling me to drink orange juice whenever I get a sniffle.

- robsonbobson

My dad has smoked for 45 years and still thinks he's fine because he drinks a glass of orange juice every day.

- kingofchilladelphia

Pauling won two Nobel Prizes. He's the only person in history who's ever won two un-shared Prizes. But neither of those Prizes had anything to do with medicine.

He had a severe case of "Engineer's Disease", where you're very competent in one field of study, so you think you're competent in other fields that you actually know nothing about.

Pauling was convinced that huge doses of vitamin C were useful, perhaps miraculously so, in the treatment of cancer.

He died of cancer.

The only thing huge doses of vitamin C actually cause is diarrhea.

- dansdata

It's The Same Brain

"Left and right brained" people who are either more artistic or more numbers base. Just as inaccurate as the "parts of your tongue that taste different things" yet people still say it.

- neighboractually

I really wish people wouldn't limit their own potential like that. "Sorry, I just don't do math. I'm more of a creative type." or "Oh, I think too logically for art." Like, what??

Look at Leonardo da Vinci! The dude invented a flying machine and painted the Mona Lisa at the same time! Creativity and logic are NOT mutually exclusive

- ebuthead

Baby Bird

"If you touch a baby bird the parents will abondon/kill it"

Most birds don't do that. If you help a baby bird back into its nest as long as you try not to touch the nest a lot then everything should be fine. If its an adult bird you rescued then not touching it for a day does help with it getting your scent off but not 100% needed. I know this because my mom and I rescue wild animals when they are hurt or still babies and release them when we are able to.

- anythingbuttstuff

Not Dinosaurs


Crude oil comes from dinosaur remains is totally false, but commonly believed. Oil comes from the remains of dead animals, but not dinosaurs. It primarily comes from algae and zooplankton from marine environments millions of years ago, long before dinosaurs existed.

- Plmerideth

Heightened Senses

I've been teaching blind children for 15 years- people think when you're blind that your other senses are "heightened" and this is totally untrue. Some people who are blind or visually impaired develop compensatory skills like echolocation but that's pretty rare! They do have to pay closer attention to auditory information and use different compensatory skills to develop spatial awareness, mental mapping, etc. Being blind doesn't give you better hearing or improve your other senses, in fact, the majority of my students are blind due to significantly premature birth. Because of this, they also have hearing impairments or central auditory processing disorder, or some other kind of neurological dysfunction that impairs their hearing, spatial awareness and motor responses.

People who are blind in the absence of other disabilities CAN develop very impressive compensatory skills with practice, and there is some evidence which is pretty new thanks to new neuroimaging techniques, that shows the occipital lobe in the brain is the "seat" of compensatory behavior. In people who have ocular blindness, this area of the brain can get "recruited" to work on non-visual tasks, such as echolocation. Now that we have functional MRI machines we're finally able to see what's happening in there!

The occipital lobe was thought to be the "visual cortex" of the brain and it does play a very important role in vision but we now know that vision happens in 40-90% of your brain. There's something called Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment, in which your vision is affected not by your eyes but in your brain's ability to interpret what you're seeing. It's now the most common form of visual impairment in developed countries. It affects everyone differently and to different degrees but it definitely does not improve their other senses! Especially when it happened as a result of brain injury or stroke or a hypoxic event, it actually makes it extremely difficult to integrate use of multiple senses at the same time.

- princesscrowbar


Growing up in Texas, there were two big ones:

  1. It's illegal to pick bluebonnets because it's the state flower (it's not illegal at all).
  2. Texas is the only state allowed to fly its flag at the same height as the American flag because it once was its own country. (According to the US flag code, any state can do this as long as the flags are on separate poles. Texas is just one of the few that actually does.)

Sweet Silence

Silencers don't work as well as movies would have you believe. Silenced gun shots can still impair your hearing if you shoot without ear protection. You will still hear the silenced gun shot over a very long distance. You can not murder someone sneakily with a silenced gun, no matter what action movies would have you believe. Also, pillows don't work as a silencer. Not even a little bit.

- birb_and_rebbit


That cows will attack you if you get close to them, like bears.

I grew up on a cattle farm, and that couldn't be any further from the truth. You could go out into a field full of cattle and just walk around and do whatever, and usually they'll do the exact opposite, they'll move away and keep their distance from you. They are far more scared of you than they are you.

Sometimes the braver and more curious cows will come up closer to you and investigate (usually they think that you have food or something), but all they'll do is stand there. If you try to touch one or like lunge at it or something, it'll only run away. Cows are some of the chilliest and most peaceful creatures out there.

So yeah, they're not like bears at all.

- 419_gaze_it

Alpha Wolves

You have to be the "alpha" of your "pack" or your dog won't respect you and will misbehave.

Dogs aren't wolves. Wolves don't even behave like that. The scientist who did that study has explained over and over that the "alpha" theory was totally wrong.

Stop being mean to your dog for no reason.

- boomicecream

Recycling Plastic

Plastic recycling is the answer to our waste situation. But it's actually more complicated.

Plastic can't have residue when you recycle, it needs to be at least rinsed (though probably washed with soap). Any food residue (like ketchup or chocolate pudding you couldn't get out) could ruin a whole batch of recycled plastic, but it'll probably just be sorted into trash when they first receive the waste.

Recycling plastic also degrades the quality over time, you're lucky to get more than 2 uses out of recycled plastic before it's not up to standard and is downcycled into something of lesser value. Then that goes straight into the dump since it can't be recycled further.

- iceyskiez

NASA Photoshopping

That NASA photoshops all images taken in space. No, they COMPOSITE images from multiple cameras to give us an intelligible perspective. A lot of these pictures are taken from extreme wide-angle lenses, telescopic lenses, or fisheye lenses and don't make a ton of optical sense without putting them together or correcting the perspective.

There are going to be image artifacts on almost any digital photograph at some resolution because of compression, not modification. EVERY digital image format is largely defined by the compression algorithm and color channels.

- VulpusNyx

Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.

Being horny can lead to some questionable decision-making.

Something happens to the brain when blood is flowing to other regions of the body.

They should discuss this in health class.

It's perfectly normal, but we have to learn how to deal.

Keep reading...Show less
People Who Accidentally Sent A Family Member A Nude Picture Describe The Aftermath

Why in this day and age are people still taking nudie pics without triple-checking the recipient?

Why take the gamble?

And half of the time we hit send, mistakes get made.

One minute you're feeling sexy, the next minute grandpa is having a stroke.

Be careful.

Keep reading...Show less
Woman holding up an Oxford English Dictionary
Photo by Houcine Ncib on Unsplash

There is so much to learn in the world, it's impossible for one person to know absolutely everything there is to know.

But there are certain things, like common phrases and idioms, that everyone seems to use that might be a little embarrassing to not understand until later in life.

Keep reading...Show less
Newborn baby crying
Photo by Katie Smith on Unsplash

While starting a family and having children is a goal that many people have, some do not realize that it's not easy, fun, and loving one-hundred percent of the time. Rather, it's expensive, exhausting, and hard, though it might be worth it in the end.

With this in mind, people shared what they felt were the hardest hurdles of their parenting.

Keep reading...Show less