1. We only use 10% of our brain


Thanks to another Knowable writer, Robyn, for writing the segment on brains!

You've probably heard it mentioned in T.V. shows or movies; "Humans only use X percent of the brain." The percentage fluctuates from 10-50%, but still it seems Hollywood and beyond are convinced there is a bunch of grey matter in our noggin that goes unused.

Well, surprise, surprise, movies like 'Limitless' starring Bradley Cooper have got it really wrong.

As humans, one of our biggest downfalls is being able to accept our own limitations. It has been suggested that the reason this myth has been perpetuated so widely is that people like to believe the reason for their own shortcomings is out of their control.

"If only I could use the full potential of my brain", they would say, "then I could finally write that Oscar winning screenplay that's probably just trapped in my untapped brain matter!"

So, how much of the brain do we use then?

Turns out, all of it.

Yes, every single bit of it. Not only that, but we use most of it pretty much at all times. Imaging shows that even though all parts of the brain are not continuously firing at the same time, they are still continuously active.

This requires a ton of energy. The brain makes up about 3% of your body weight, but uses a whopping 20% of all energy produced by your body. But you need it. Your brain regulates and maintains the function of your body.

So, don't get angry with your brain if you feel your not working to your full potential. Your brain is doing the best it can!


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2. Turkey makes you tired


Turkey fatigue is a thing! It's the tryptophan! I'm going into a tryptophan coma!

How many of you have heard these things at their last Thanksgiving?

It's true many people DO have a difficult time staying awake after consuming turkey. But most people wrongly blame the amino acid "tryptophan" for their weary eyes.

First of all, what the heck is tryptophan?

"Tryptophan is an amino acid that the body uses in the processes of making vitamin B3 and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep. It can't be produced by our bodies, so we need to get it through our diet. From which foods, exactly? Turkey, of course, but also other meats, chocolate, bananas, mangoes, dairy products, eggs, chickpeas, peanuts, and a slew of other foods. Some of these foods, like cheddar cheese, have more tryptophan per gram than turkey. Tryptophan doesn't have much of an impact unless it's taken on an empty stomach and in an amount larger than what we're getting from our drumsticks."

But think about it... usually when you eat turkey, you're eating it at a large family gathering, alongside a bunch of other food and booze. Big meals (especially ones with a lot of fats) take a lot of effort for your stomach to digest, and usually leave you feeling lethargic.

There you have it! You can stop blaming tryptophan for all your problems.


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3. Einstein failed elementary school math


Legend has it that Einstein failed grade three math. This has been a thread of hope handed off to countless slow learners over time. If Einstein could do it, you can too! Well, you may want to think about choosing some other words of comfort. Words that aren't a TOTAL LIE!

Young Albert Einstein was gifted in mathematics, algebra and physics, and his academic records, recently acquired from Swiss archives, show this. The papers also confirmed that he was a child prodigy, conversant in college physics before he turned 11, and a "brilliant" violin player.

BUT (yes, we have a but)...

his inability to master French may have been the source of his failing college entrance exams. So, yeah, Einstein wasn't totally amazing at everything, but he was certainly good at the thing he went on to make history in.

There is another factor that may have played a role in creating the "bad student" myth about Einstein. When Einstein's records were released to the world, those who saw them may have been mislead by the grading school system in Aargau, Switzerland, which is the reverse of many other countries (including all of North America).


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4. We only have 5 senses


We all learned the five senses in school: taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing. But many scientists insist that there are far more than that. Based on the definition of what a "sense" is Any system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that respond to a specific physical phenomenon and that corresponds to a particular group of regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted scientists have come up with dozens more senses (some believe we have up to 22!). Here are some of the most commonly agreed upon senses:

Muscle tension
Proprioception (the ability to tell where your body parts are, relative to other body parts)
Equilibrioception (the ability to keep your balance and sense body movement in terms of acceleration and directional changes)
Stretch Receptors (These are found in such places as the lungs, bladder, stomach, blood vessels, and the gastrointestinal tract.)
Chemoreceptors (These trigger an area of the medulla in the brain that is involved in detecting blood born hormones and drugs. It also is involved in the vomiting reflex.)

Can you think of any more?


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5. Don't touch baby birds


The old belief is that if you touch a baby bird that has fallen out of the nest, the mama bird will smell "human" on their baby and will abandon their baby bird. Effectively, you've just made a bad situation a whole lot worse, as an abandoned baby bird will definitely die.

Well... that's not exactly the truth. Most birds have a pretty bad sense of small, so if you handle their babies, they probably won't even know.

Even in the case that they could smell a human, and had the cognitive capability to associate that smell with danger, they wouldn't just up and leave their babies at the threat of danger. If anything, they would stick around longer to ensure their safety.

There are two types of baby birds you're likely to encounter on the ground: nestlings and fledglings.

If you find a fledgling a baby bird with a bit of feathers leave it be. These little tykes are actually on a 'trail period' outside the nest, while their parents keep guard over them. Like dipping your toes in the water before they dive in.

If you find a nestling a featherless or fuzzy baby bird it could probably use a helping hand. Feel free to very gently place them back into the nest.


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6. You can't wake up a sleepwalker


Many people say that waking up a sleepwalker will send them into shock or cause a heart attack. The truth? It's pretty much harmless.

However, while you can wake them up, it's best to refrain, and here's why:

Though there has never been a reported case of waking a sleepover causing the sleeper harm, the waker can get hurt very easily. Sleepwalking usually occurs during a very deep stage of sleep called Stage 3 non-rapid eye movement sleep.

While waking during this stage is difficult (kind of like coming up from the bottom of the ocean when the undertow is strong), it can be donebut doing so can leave someone feeling extremely foggy (called sleep inertia) for up to 30 minutes.

What are people's reactions when they come out of this state? Usually confusion mixed with agitation, which is the perfect cocktail for someone to lash out at you physically, because they may not recognize you.

Instead of trying to wake a sleepwalker, the Sleep Disorders Center at NYU recommends gently leading them by the arm to guide them back to bed.


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