At some point in our lives, we've all believed in something that doesn't actually exist. For me, it was the house hippo. Even though the commercial explicitly said not to believe everything you see or hear on TV. Sigh.
Here, 30 embarrassed people share something that they thought existed but actually doesn't.
When I was young my father said to me: “Knowledge is power – Francis Bacon.”
I understood it as “Knowledge is power, France is bacon.”
For more than a decade I wondered over the meaning of the second part and what was the surreal linkage between the two? If I said the quote to someone, “Knowledge is power, France is bacon,” they nodded knowingly.
Or someone might say, “Knowledge is power” and I’d finish the quote, “France is bacon” and they wouldn’t look at me like I’d said something very odd but thoughtfully agree.
I did ask a teacher what “Knowledge is power, France is bacon” meant and got a full 10-minute explanation of the “knowledge is power” bit but nothing on “France is bacon.” When I prompted further explanation by saying “France is bacon?” in a questioning tone I just got a “yes.” At twelve I didn’t have the confidence to press it further. I just accepted it as something I’d never understand.
It wasn’t until years later I saw it written down that the penny dropped.
Boys and girls.
I thought that dogs were male and cats were female of the same animal.
So… Whatever that animal is.
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I used to think that everyone who had a bank account literally had like a pigeon hole with their money in it they deposited. And when someone wanted to take money out the teller would take it from the pile of cash they had lodged over the years.
It was a sad day finding out this wasn’t the way it is.
Where is this “Black Market”?
The “Black Market.” I literally thought there was a physical market you could go to to buy illegal items. I pictured it as a sort of middle eastern bazaar with barrels full of contraband and sketchy guys in turbans haggling over their wares.
Exterminate the pepperoni.
This didn’t happen to me but a guy I work with once told me his friend thought a pepperoni was its own animal up until he was 20. A four-legged creature called a pepperoni.
I thought yams were animals, more specifically a crossbreed between a Yak and a Ram. That sounded correct in my mind until my 10th grade honors English class told me otherwise.
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I thought that those anti-gravity chambers that astronauts use in certain movies were real. It wasn’t until one day in a science class we were talking about Gravity and the teacher said something along the lines of “there are actually people that think you can just turn off gravity using a machine like in the movies.” Everyone else was just like, “Wow there are some dumb people out there.” On the outside I was saying, “Pssh I know right, who would ever think that?” But on the inside I was questioning everything I ever thought I knew.
When I was little my grandmother had a little houseplant that she put marshmallows on the ends of the branches that we would pick and eat when we visited. When she left she would put mini marshmallows where we had picked the big ones and told us we had to wait for those ones to grow back. So until I was a lot older I thought that there were marshmallow trees!
Peeing in pools.
The magic chemical they put in pools that turns the water purple when you pee in it.
Ever heard of a fuggout? No? Let me tell you guys about my dad’s fuggout.
I grew up in a town called Dubbo, in outback Australia. Have you tried the cinnamon challenge? That’s what breathing air is like on a hot summer’s day in Dubbo. Like sucking down dust.
Growing up, there was nothing to do. My family lived in a pretty poor neighborhood and us kids spent most of the time poking sticks at snakes and splashing about in the dam.
Anyway, I came home one scorcher of a Sunday afternoon, probably after trapping some kind of small marsupial, and heard my parents yelling upstairs. Belting their bloody guts out.
Some kind of dangerous snake, I assumed, or perhaps a drop bear has climbed through the window. Bloody low-hanging branches.
So being the little kipper I am, I run upstairs, burst through the door and whip out my boomerang.
My mum seemed to be in heaps of pain, practically doubled over, panting, and red-faced. That’s when Dad needed to use the Fuggout. He yelled at me to go and get it, but I was pretty young, and I’d never even heard of a fuggout.
“Righto, then,” I quipped, and racked off to the garage to find it. I searched for ages, but couldn’t find anything labeled fuggout. I asked my brother Trev if he knew where it was, but he didn’t know what I was talking about. I had to tell Dad we were out of Fuggout. I didgeri-diddle my way back upstairs. He opens the door naked, redder than ever.
“I told you boy, get the FUGGOUT!”
The unicorn of the sea.
Turning this around… I actually thought narwhals were a mythical creature until last year, like a marine unicorn or something.
For all my life as a child, I believed in a place called Fred’s Pickle Warehouse. Every time my parents went on what I now know was a date, my dad would say they went to Fred’s Pickle Warehouse and the open barrels of pickles were too dangerous for children. He kept up the ruse for years and even brought back a pickle whistle one time. He told me when I was 15 that it wasn’t real.
The bad kind of Legos.
Cheap Lego. As an adult, it blows my mind how much Lego costs, and how much must have been spent on me on Christmas as a kid. Like it’s a ridiculous amount of money.
A civil engineer.
When I was learning American history in grade school, I thought there was an entire railroad system under the earth’s surface that Harriet Tubman built to smuggle slaves across the country. I was honestly impressed by her construction skills.
A historical battle… in space?
Until I was in my twenties it never occurred to me consciously that Star Wars was fictional. It’s not that I actively believed it was all real, it just had never occurred to me that it wasn’t. Makes sense?
It’s permanent you know?
The teachers often mentioned a “permanent record” that teachers would threaten me with. “You don’t want this on your permanent record, so just tell us who was in on this with you.”
The Brontosaurus. After watching The Land Before Time when I was a little kid I thought Little Foot and his kin were the best and coolest dinos around – the brontosaurus! Then I read an article a couple of years ago saying the brontosaurus never existed…
Cow tipping. Any farm kid who has ever been in a cow pasture late at night can tell you that as cows are VERY observant and will react to your presence quickly and alertly if they don’t know you – they ARE prey animals that herd for protection. Even if they were your cows, hand-fed by you since birth, they would not just stand there while you run into them at full speed. And heaven hopefull helps you if there is a bull in the pasture.
Call the real life Power Rangers.
Real life Power Rangers. I actually wondered what the hell they were doing when 9/11 happened.
Alf eats them too.
When I was a kid, I thought it would be an extremely common thing that dogs would eat cats. I used to think if a dog saw a cat, they immediately saw food and ate them.
The land of the Dutch.
I thought there was a country called Dutchland. Had a very embarrassing moment in year 8 geography. Netherlands, please.
When I was little I thought there were real clowns. As in, I knew there were people who dressed up as clowns, like my grandparents for instance, but then I thought there were also actual clown beings. I wasn’t afraid of the regular people who just dressed up as clowns, but I was afraid of the “real clowns” which I guess I thought were just a different species. Does this even make sense?
Walking with the dinosaurs.
I thought dinosaurs were still alive. I live near a mountain range, so I always thought that dinosaurs lived on the other side of the mountains.
Only yesterday I found out the Trojan War and Troy itself likely wasn’t real. I seriously thought it was historical and not mythological.
It’s the ‘pencil’ of pens.
Pens with white-out on the back.
When somebody has an obvious but good idea, people say, “It’s like putting erasers on pencils!” But, as far as I can tell, nobody has ever done that with pens, even though more people use pens, and the lack of an eraser on them is the biggest complaint people have about using them.
Seriously, just put a brush on the back and attach a cap that has a white-out dispensing pad on it.
How does this not exist. It’s literally exactly like putting erasers on pencils
A brisk transition from childhood to adulthood. All I got was a slow realization that things usually suck more than I thought.
Mandela Effect: Star Wars edition.
I saw The Return of the Jedi when it opened in 1983. I could have sworn there was a scene where, after defeating Jabba the Hutt, Luke goes back to the remains of his Aunt and Uncle’s farm to reflect. It only lasted a minute or so and I know this scene never existed but I have a vivid memory of it.
That Viking helmets had horns.
Now all my childhood drawings are wildly inaccurate.
Good ol’ Aunt Carol.
My Aunt Carol.
For years when I was a child my parents took phone calls from my Aunt Carol, received packages from her, and would go to the office to write her letters. I heard about her so much I formed an imaginary picture of this woman in my mind – the way she looked, talked, walked, etc.
Turns out “Aunt Carol” was parent-code for weed. I have no Aunt Carol.
The TV people.
When I was really little, I thought people lived in the TV.
So I guess, TV people.
Amazon moo cow eggs.
I live in Nova Scotia so if you drive anywhere you’re going to see bales of hay wrapped in plastic. For the longest time my mother convinced me that these were called ‘Amazon moo cow eggs’ and the government had to ship them to Nova Scotia so they wouldn’t hatch because they were extremely dangerous.
When I was about seven or so I was convinced that if I planted sesame seeds, I would grow hamburgers. The next morning, I went out and there was a big stick with branches in the ground and about four or five (still wrapped) Burger King hamburgers tied to it. The wrapping kind of gave it away, but I was glad to have my own hamburgers that my sister didn’t get to share because (to quote my Mom), “She didn’t do all the gardening work.”
In other news, my parents were awesome.
Channeling your energies.
I believed that people had positive or negative energies and that it influenced how well I did a task, like how well I did in a game for example. So, if something bad happened, like I tripped, I would blame it on bad karma, or some satanic being that was watching over and was out to ‘get me.’
I also believed that pooping meant i lost some of my positive energy.
Introducing a child to these concepts – conditioning behaviour via fear, ugh… dad (not his fault though, he never had any education or life outside restaurant work, and he’s deaf).
I guess this experience has made me more understanding towards others.
Bone in the leg.
As a child I would try to get my father to carry me or give me a piggyback. He would say he couldn’t, adding the excuse that he had “a bone in his leg,” which I accepted as being a legitimate medical condition and did for many years after. I believed this even to the point of using it as an honest excuse for not doing sports. I have later tried to use the “bone in my leg” ruse on my own daughter, but she immediately saw it as bogus, bah!
See you on the moon.
Until I was, like, 11-12 I thought there was a fast and efficient way to fly to the moon on a regular basis. I thought someone could just go to a space ship like an airplane, fly to the moon, and back in the matter of a night. This was all perpetuated by my parents, who when leaving the house at night, would tell me they were going to the moon. Looking back that was pretty messed up, they were telling me they were going to do drugs every night.
Believing in the good.
When I was a little kid I believed that there was a place that accepted all people for who they were. A place where any peoples dreams could become real. A place where the people were kind and helped each other and understood one another. A land where compassion was common place, equality was everywhere, and those that ruled us cared about our well-being. I had believed as I was taught (in school as well as home) that I was lucky to be born in such a land that I should count my blessings.
Now as an adult I realize that no such a place exists or has ever existed anywhere in the world at any time. Where people hate you based on the color of your skin, or the neighborhood you grew up in, or the car you drive, or the divine presence you prey to. Where the government assumes your guilty, pharmaceutical companies sell you addicting poison, and the person in the car next to you or standing across from you on the bus/subway system couldn’t care less about you. It was a good belief from childhood I wish I could get back. Those were the good ol’ days of naivety.
I thought WWF/WWE was real. I believed it until i was in first year college. I didn’t even watch UFC, etc. because i thought it was lame since they were grappling like children. It broke my heart when I found out it was fake. I haven’t watched it since.
I swear. They lay eggs.
I once convinced my friend for a full 30 minutes that pigs lay eggs. You could see in her face that she was completely reassessing everything she knew about the universe.
“Where are the unicorns?”
For some weird reason, up until I was 13, I thought unicorns were real and existed. Throughout my childhood, I only saw drawings and illustrations of them in books but never questioned why I didn’t see a real-life photo of a unicorn. I didn’t think anything of it.
At 13, I went on a school trip to the zoo and we had a tour guide showing us around and asked if we had any questions, I raised my hand and loudly asked (in front of parents and teachers as well) “Where are the unicorns? I haven’t seen one yet.” Everyone was confused, teachers thought I was joking. The tour guy replied, “We don’t have unicorns because they don’t exist.” I argued with him that they did but everyone said they didn’t.
That whole week, I did my research and asked family. My life was turned upside down when it was confirmed that they actually didn’t exist, which explains why I only saw drawing and illustrations of unicorns and not a real-life photo. Biggest brain spin ever.