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30 Unbelievable Scientific Hoaxes People Actually Fell For

The Earth is the Center of the Universe

People believed the Earth was the center of the universe until around 1543 when Copernicus released the theory claiming that the sun was the center. The theory wasn’t immediately accepted, but it began the shift away from the idea that everything revolved around the Earth rather than the sun.

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Lightning Never Strikes in the Same Place Twice

It’s a huge misconception that lightning never strikes the same place twice. In reality, lightning can hit in the same area multiple times during the same storm. There’s plenty of video of this happening online. Not to mention, skyscrapers, like the Empire State Building, are guaranteed to be struck each time a thunderstorm passes through. 

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Blood is Blue

Our veins may appear blue through the skin, but our blood isn’t blue. Human blood contains hemoglobin, which carries iron. The iron reacts with the oxygen in our cells, and that’s what causes our blood to appear red. Regardless of how oxygen-rich our blood cells are, our blood will always be red—although the shade may vary. 

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Piltdown Man was the Missing Link

The Piltdown Man was supposedly a missing link between humans and our ancestors. In 1912, Charles Dawson and Smith Woodward discovered a set of teeth, a jawbone, and skull fragments that were suggested to be 500,000 years old. However, in 1949, new dating technology revealed that the artifacts were 50,00 years old. This eliminates the possibility of Piltdown Man being a missing link.

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The Flu Vaccine Protects You 100% Against the Flu

Vaccines can help protect you against a virus, but they’re not 100% effective. Depending on the year, the flu shot can be up to 60% effective. Additionally, if you do contract the flu, the symptoms won't be as bad. After the shot, your body creates antibodies to fight the virus about two weeks after the injection. If you get the flu, your body will deploy the antibodies to help you get well faster. 

Vaccines can help protect you against a virus, but they’re not 100% effective. Depending on the year, the flu shot can be up to 60% effective. Additionally, if you do contract the flu, the symptoms will be far worse. After the shot, your body creates antibodies to fight the virus about two weeks after the injection. If you get the flu, your body will deploy the antibodies to help you get well faster. 

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Different Parts of the Tongue Taste Different Things

This scientific misconception comes from a 1901 German scientist who got a little too artistic with his paper. Instead of explaining that our tongue has different sensitivity points (which is true), he made it seem as though our tongue had varying sensitivity for different tastes. The fact of the matter is that our tongue is just as sensitive to sour flavors at the tip as it is sweet or bitter.

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Humans Use 10% of Their Brain

The 10% myth is one that still hangs around today despite plenty proof of the contrary. Scientists have explained that our brain is active almost all of the time. Despite being 3% of our body weight, your brain uses 20% of the body’s energy. Where does it go if we don’t actually use it?

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Waking Up Sleepwalkers Hurts Them

There’s a myth that waking up sleepwalkers can hurt them. On the contrary, waking up a sleepwalker can help them because it’s possible for them to injure themselves while wandering around. If you don’t want to wake them up, gently guide them back to their bed.

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Archaeoraptor was the Missing Link Between Birds and Dinosaurs

The Archaeoraptor was supposed to be the missing link between birds and dinosaurs. Well, the discovered fossil was actually a combination of three to five different species. It boiled down to scientists trying to hide their doubts when obvious red flags popped up. Now, everyone involved expresses regret over their choices.

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Shaving Makes Your Hair Thicker and Coarser

This misconception is extremely popular. No science backs the idea that your hair grows thicker or coarser after you’ve shaved it, and there have been tons of studies. Cutting doesn’t stimulate growth. If it did, shaving your head would be the next treatment for thinning hair.

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Salt Makes Water Boil Faster

Salt doesn’t make your water boil faster. Actually, it takes longer for your water to boil once you’ve added salt because it increases the boiling point. It doesn’t raise the boiling point very far, either. Unfortunately for the impatient, there aren’t many shortcuts to getting water to boil. 

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Ailments are Caused by Humor Imbalance

A long time ago, doctors (and the general population) thought the body was made up of four humors. Those humors, when balanced, kept us healthy and happy. However, when one got out of whack, our bodies would respond by making us ill.

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Babies Don’t Feel Pain

Now, it may seem obvious that babies feel pain, but up until 1987, doctors believed that a baby’s brain hadn’t developed enough to process pain. That meant any medical procedure performed on a baby was done so without anesthetic.

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The Blonde Gene is Disappearing

Every few years, someone will run an article that claims the gene for blonde hair is disappearing. To make the hoax more credible, the story claimed that the World Health Organization declared that the last blonde person would be born in 2202. This study never existed. Thankfully, blondes aren’t going anywhere. 

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Vaccines Cause Autism

There is no scientific proof that vaccines cause autism. Much of this stems from a paper published in 1995 that showed a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism. In 2004, it was discovered that the findings were false. Furthermore, investigations revealed that the author had been paid by attorneys that were suing the makers of the MMR vaccine. Exhaustive studies have since affirmed that there's no link between autism and vaccines.

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Toilets Spin a Different Direction in the Southern Hemisphere

We’re not sure where this hoax came from, but toilets don’t spin a different direction based on where you are in the world—or at least they do, but it isn’t because of your location. The unfamiliar flow of water is due to jets pointing in the opposite direction.

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Humans Have Five Senses

It’s a misconception that humans only have five senses. While we do possess sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch, we also have a host of other senses that are rarely brought up. Some of these include balance, acceleration, proprioception, temperature, pain perception, and the sense of passing time. 

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Humans Evolved from Apes

Humans didn’t evolve from apes. Instead, humans evolved from a common ancestor, which is often referred to as the “missing link.” What is true is that humans evolved from a being that was much more ape-like than the humans we know today.

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Bats are Blind

Kids learn that bats are blind from a young age, but this is false. Bats have pretty decent vision. They see in black and white, which is a bit of a detriment during the day. However, at night, their receptors are far better than ours will ever be. 

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Viruses can be Killed

This one gets into a technicality, but it’s still a scientific hoax nevertheless. Viruses can be deactivated or destroyed, but they cannot be killed because they were never alive to begin with. The virus only survives because it hijacks another cell, and it cannot reproduce like living beings. 

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The Cardiff Giant Existed

The Cardiff Giant was a petrified 10-foot man that was discovered in the 1860s by a tobacco farmer. He was exhausted with debates from Biblical literalists who believed giants walked the earth, so he had the giant carved out of stone and buried where Mormonism was founded. Once it was “discovered,” it made a huge splash in the news as a real giant.

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There’s a Dark Side of the Moon

Could this one result from Pink Floyd? Well, either way, there is no dark side of the moon, but it does have a far side. When you see a full moon, the far side is completely dark. When you see a new moon, the far side is bathed in light.

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Scientific Theories are Merely Hunches

While it’s true "theories" are sometimes hunches, that doesn’t mean all scientific theories are hunches. The word refers to a scientific idea that hasn’t been witnessed. The theory of evolution is a fact, but it’s still a theory because no one alive saw it. 

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The Tasaday Tribe had Zero Contact with the Outside World

In 1971, a tribe called the Tasaday Tribe was found in the Philippines. It was claimed that they hadn’t had any contact with the outside world. The reality of the situation is that they had become culturally distinct due to limited contact, but visiting anthropologists discovered some of the members wearing Western clothes. It was promptly dismissed as a hoax.

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The Sun’s Distance from Earth Causes Seasons

This one seems to make sense at first, but it’s a complete hoax. The Earth causes seasons as it tilts toward and farther away from the sun. When it does this, it creates an angle that makes a huge difference in temperature. When the Earth tilts toward the sun, it’s getting direct light, so it gets pretty hot and causes summer.

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The Great Wall of China can be Seen from Space

No matter how hard you squint, you can’t see the Great Wall of China from space. This was proven by the Apollo astronauts who confirmed that you cannot see this man-marvel. In fact, you can’t see any buildings on the surface of the Earth while floating around space. 

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Sunscreen Causes Cancer

This idea comes from Elizabeth Plourde, who is not a scientist. She came up with the idea that if sunscreen worked, the incidence of skin cancer would have decreased. Plourde claims to have seen “a tremendous and consistent rise” in skin cancer. Even if this were true, it doesn’t prove that sunscreen causes cancer. 

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The North Star is the Brightest Star

It’s a total hoax that the North Star is the brightest star. Even in the Northern hemisphere, the north star isn’t exceptionally bright. If you want to know the brightest star in the sky, the sun is your best bet. Our suggestion? Don’t look directly at it. 

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Your Lose Body Heat Fastest Through Your Head

Most of our moms probably told us to wear a hat to stay warm, so this myth sticks around to this day. Our body heat escapes at the same rate all over the body. So, you’ll be just as cold wearing a hat as you would if you forgot your jacket. 

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Vitamin C Prevents Colds

Vitamin C is good for you, and no one can dispute that. What we can dispute is the hoax that vitamin C can prevent colds. Plenty of studies have shown that vitamin C in large doses won’t stop you from getting sick. Some studies have shown that large doses can help reduce severity and duration, but further research is necessary to prove this idea.

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