Established journalists have to go through the rigorous verification process before they publish anything. The verification process can sometimes fail (nothing is perfect) but for the most part, journalists do incredible, important work, often on tight deadlines.
Considering how much fact-checking they and their cohorts do on a regular basis, you'd think certain "stories" or "facts" wouldn't resurface after being debunked, but they do. You bet they do: Like zombies rising out of a crusty grave, some "facts" seem to be here to stay. We have social media in large part to thank for a lot of that.
After Redditor Zizzou asked the online community, "What often repeated 'fact' has been debunked?" people shared their thoughts.
"Everyone with any education..."
That Columbus proved the world was round.
Everyone with any education knew the world was round. Columbus was if anything wrong because he thought the earth was smaller than Greeks had shown to be thousands of years ago.
The idea was completely invented by Washington Irving for a mostly made up biography.
"If you are a donor..."
That you won't be 'saved' if you're an organ donor.
The hospital doesn't give a crap about your donor status until after you've been declared legally dead but are still hooked to life support (at that point you're basically an organ refrigerator) and have to contact your next of kin.
If you aren't a donor and next of kin doesn't sign off, you're taken off life support and you die.
If you are a donor but next of kin doesn't sign off, same process.
In order to donate your organs you must be an organ donor or have next of kin that will sign off on it. Only way to guarantee it will happen after you're dead is to have a living will drafted stating that you want your organs donated.
Only then is Gift of Hope contacted and will come to procure the organs/tissues and determine if they're viable for transplant.
"It is based on a one-time study..."
The Mozart Effect: Listening to Mozart makes you smarter. It is based on a one-time study, the effects of which have never been reliably replicated. Mozart was a prolific genius and his music remains splendid, but it ain't gonna help you pass that test!
"I tell people..."
"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day" is a marketing slogan for Kellogg's Cereal. I tell people that I skip breakfast and they legit think that's unhealthy. It's all about calories-in versus calories-out. I prefer skipping breakfast and having a larger dinner.
Marie Antoinette never declared "let them eat cake."
"They are also bad..."
The myth that snakes size up their meal before eating it. Snakes have small brains, they can't do math. They are also bad at guessing prey lengths because of this. Finally they are ambush predators/opportunists. If something comes, they will strike quick. If it's too big, they will not eat it or try to eat it and regurgitate it. Snakes can die from trying to eat something too big.
"The myth that baby venemous snakes..."
Biologist here. The myth that baby venomous snakes are more potent than adults because "they can't control their venom glands yet". Very untrue. Baby venomous snakes are actually way less potent than adults.
"The idea that sugar..."
The idea that sugar in the gas tank will destroy a car has long been debunked. Anything you put in the tank will clog it, but the idea that sugar would dissolve, gunk it up and burn when you turn on the ignition has been proven wrong.
Still, it would piss people off royally to find a funnel in their gas tank and an empty sack of sugar on the ground next to their car.
"That the pyramds..."
That the pyramids were used as tombs for mummies. No mummy has ever been found in a pyramid.
That vaccines cause autism. The study that claimed this has been debunked so many times and the doctor that ran that study is actually not allowed to practice medicine anymore.
That urine is sterile. A healthy bladder contains beneficial bacteria and can pick up more bacteria from your skin on its way out. So don't pee on your wounds.
"The real reason..."
Carrots improve your eyesight.
This was a myth created by the US Army when another country asked why they were having such an easy time spotting enemy aircraft. The real reason was because they had just invented the radar, which they used to spot said enemy aircraft. They didn't want to give away the secret, so they said that their lookouts ate a shit-ton of carrots, which made their eyesight really good.
While it is true that carrots can be good for keeping your eyes healthy, they don't make your eyesight better.
"Not sure how widespread this one is..."
Not sure how widespread this one is, but my high school history teacher said the origin of the word "fuck" was that adulterers would be strung up in public with a sign on them reading "For unlawful carnal knowledge."
Yeah, that was a lie.
The Bystander Effect is junk.
The primary evidence is from the murder of Kitty Genovese. The fake story goes that she was murdered and more than 30 witnesses saw or heard the attack and did nothing. Except that multiple people called the police (this was pre-911) who just didn't show up. Somebody also yelled and scared the murderer away (he returned later though).
Similarly the Stanford Prison Experiment only proves that people will do what they think an authority figure wants, not that people are inherently cruel.
"That toxic sludge..."
That toxic sludge builds up in your body over time and must be flushed out with a cleanse.
If toxic anything is building up in your body, then either your kidneys or liver are not functioning properly, and you need to get to a doctor ASAP.
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