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Common Myths and Misconceptions That Still Fool People

MSG isn’t as bad as everyone thinks.

MSG was invented in the early 1900s as a substance similar to salt. However, since a report in the '60s, it’s been associated with negative symptoms ranging from headaches to numbness in the limbs. And these misconceptions have persisted long after they were proven false. 

Numerous studies have failed to find the link between MSG and these mystery symptoms, and the FDA even recognizes it as generally safe. Despite all this, many Americans are still wary of MSG. 

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You don’t have to wait 24 hours to file a missing person’s report.

This is one misconception that can actually prove to be deadly. Despite what crime TV shows and movies might insist, there’s typically no restriction to wait 24 hours before filing a missing person report. 

In fact, most police agencies encourage citizens to report missing people as soon as they notice an unusual absence. In the UK, their governmental website even addresses this misconception head on. 

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No one argued that Twinkies caused Dan White to kill.

When Dan White was charged with the killings of Harvey Milk and San Francisco mayor George Moscone, his lawyers argued that his mental capacity was diminished at the time. According to legend, they specifically argued that White eating Twinkies led to the murders. 

However, this was not their argument at all--the “Twinkie defense” never existed in the form people state today. While his lawyers did argue that his consumption of Twinkies and other junk food could have contributed to his depression, they never argued that Twinkies made him kill. 

(Image via Twitter)
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Private businesses have no legal obligation to accept cash payments.

If you’re at the gas station and they won’t accept your hundred dollar bill, don’t go crying to the government. Despite what some people say, most private businesses are not legally required to accept all denominations of cash, or even cash at all. 

However, there is one notable exception to this rule. If you are a creditor, you’re legally required to accept cash for the payment of debts. 

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The forbidden fruit in Genesis isn’t an apple.

Adam and Eve might have screwed things up in the Garden of Eden, but don’t go blaming any bad apples. Despite the forbidden fruit commonly being depicted as an apple, the Bible doesn’t say that explicitly. 

In fact, it doesn’t mention the type of fruit at all. In the Book of Genesis, it merely says that Eve picked fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil but doesn’t get any more specific than that. 

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A black belt doesn’t always mean someone is a martial arts master.

We might associate the term “black belt” with karate masters, but that’s not always the case. In some martial arts traditions, such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, those who master the art are awarded red belts. 

And even in traditions that do use black belts, it doesn’t always mean you’re the best. For example, the black belt was introduced in Judo to represent someone who was competent at the basics but not necessarily a master. 

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Eskimos don’t actually have a ton of different words for snow.

While Eskimos may not have hundreds of words for snow like we’ve been told, this is one misconception with a grain of truth. It’s just gotten distorted over the years. 

This myth can be traced back to anthropologist Frans Boas. At one point he remarked that Eskimos have a lot of snow-related words, but he never spoke about a surplus of words referring to snow specifically. 

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“Ye Olde” is not actually an old English phrase.

We might use the phrase “ye olde” to give connotations of the olden days, but no one in the actual olden days ever said this. It’s merely a linguistic deformation held over from old English.

In the old English alphabet, there is a symbol that represents the “th” sound, which we don’t have in modern English. This symbol (called thorn) looks similar to the letter y, and eventually the miscommunication grew until it was no longer “the olde” but “ye olde.” 

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Statues in ancient Greece and Rome were brightly painted.

Despite their blank, alabaster appearance now, many ancient Roman and Greek statues were originally painted bright colors. Unfortunately, stone lasts much longer than paint. 

Thankfully, some of these old statues still bear light traces of their paint, which allowed us to make this realization. Some discovered statues have even been repainted in an attempt to restore them to their complete, former glory. 

(Image via Imgur)
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"Caesarean" doesn’t have anything to do with Julius Caesar's birth.

Despite the fact that they look similar, the word caesarean doesn’t have anything to do with Julius Caesar and his birth. And he should thank his lucky stars that that’s the case! 

Instead, the word caesarean descends from the Latin word “caedere” which means “to cut.” If Caesar’s mother had undergone the procedure in ancient Rome, she would have almost certainly died, and possibly Julius too. 

(Image via Facebook)
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The Dark Ages weren’t actually that dark.

People frequently represent the Dark or Middle ages as a time of intellectual stagnation and repression by the Catholic church. While things might not have been all sunshine and roses, this medieval period was not as bleak as everyone makes it out to be. 

Many of the great achievements of the Renaissance and Enlightenment would not have been possible without the scientific developments made in the Dark Ages. Additionally, historians have argued that thinkers of the Middle Ages would not have perceived the Church to be as coercive as it seems to modern readers. 

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Iron maidens weren’t a torture device and probably didn’t exist.

Did iron maidens exist and were they used to torture? It’s hard to say definitively, but many historians argue, “Probably not.” 

Iron maidens were not discussed until the 19th century--long after they would have been used, if they existed at all. On top of this, some argue that the reconstructions of iron maidens seen today were meant to be sensational and draw big crowds to exhibits and not express historical accuracy. 

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The Great Wall of China is not actually visible from space.

It turns out that The Great Wall of China is not really visible from space. But the makers shouldn’t feel that bummed out--there’s not really much that is visible from space. 

According to testimonies from astronauts, nothing man-made is visible from the moon. On top of that, even astronauts that are closer to the earth can only see man-made objects using magnification. 

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Seasons are caused by the tilt of the earth, not its distance from the sun.

The change in seasons has nothing to do with the distance of the earth from the sun. But it does have everything to do with what direction the earth is tilting. 

This explains why the northern and southern hemispheres have opposite seasons. If seasons had to do with distance from the sun, this shouldn’t be possible. But because of the earth’s tilt, the northern hemisphere experiences summer while the southern experiences winter (and vice versa). 

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Elephant graveyards don’t exist.

Elephants are some seriously intelligent creatures, but people who argue that elephant graveyards exist are giving them too much credit in the intelligence department. Their death rituals are not as complex as we’ve thought--and they may not exist at all. 

According to the myth, once elephants reach a certain age, they distance themselves from the herd to die in a designated area. However, these designated areas have never actually been found. On the other hand, plenty of single elephant skeletons have been found littered across elephant habitats without any special designation. 

(Image via Wikipedia)
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