People on Reddit were asked: “What were the ‘facts’ you learned in school, that are no longer true?” These are some of the best answers.
1. But it’s in the food guide!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Nope. Just a slogan paid for by Kellogg’s.
2. This is an oddly specific one
I always heard that the komodo dragon, the largest living lizard on Earth, was such a successful predator because its mouth was so filthy and septic that the microbes in the saliva would cause fatal infections on its prey. The dragon would track the wounded animal until it eventually collapsed and would eat it. This, as it turns out, is not true or at the very least not the whole story.
It takes days for microbial infections to begin to show symptoms in an animal as large as, say, a water buffalo, but animals were collapsing hours after being bitten, not days. Microbial infections from their saliva couldn’t explain how rapidly these large mammals were being killed.
This lie was repeated throughout my childhood, and I even heard it repeated at the San Diego zoo as recently as last year. As it turns out, komodo dragons are able to hunt so successfully because they their saliva contains venom that they produce from their venom glands.
3. That’s not how I learned it!
In psychology class we learned about the bystander effect in the Kitty Genovese story where apparently she was raped and killed. She cried for help but her neighbors in the building apparently assumed someone else was going to help her. Turns out the story was embellished by a reporter so that it sounded like no one did help her but her neighbors actually helped and she died on the way to the hospital.
4. Still waiting…
I was taught in grade school that we had to know the metric system because the United States was going to adopt it like, any day now. For sure.
That was about 30 years ago.
5. An oldie but a goodie
That there are only 3 states of matter.
6. Such a 90s reference
You’re only allowed to use ONE source from the internet in your paper. The rest needs to come from books. And god forbid someone else beat you to that book you needed, you might not see it for TWO weeks.
Christopher Columbus was the first dude to discover America, and tried to bargain with the [Indigenous peoples] but couldn’t work it out because of “cultural differences”.
8. This one sounds way too high tech to be true
Polar bears stayed warm because their fur was fiber optic and absorbed heat from the sun.
9. This killed my hand in grade 8
You HAVE to learn in cursive writing. Higher schooling will not accept anything that isn’t cursive.
10. Has this teacher ever read a science textbook?
I don’t know how much common is it but: “If the earth were 1cm closer to the sun, we would be burned; 1cm further from the Sun we would be frozen” thing.
No, we wouldn’t. The distance is changing all the time, during a year.
11. How wrong they were
You’re not gonna have a calculator every where you go.
12. This is actually a really good point about how education systems fail us
Negative numbers. For 4 years of elementary school I’m told that you can’t subtract 8 from 7 and so the problem is unsolvable. In 5th grade the answer is suddenly -1. Why wait 5 years to reveal that? Can students under 5th grade not handle the concept of negative numbers? I hated math after that and wondered what else would just suddenly be changed on me.
13. Most female-identified people reading this is HOWLING
You only lose two teaspoons of blood during a period.
14. This is a dark one
That lemmings don’t actually follow each other robotically, even to the point they’ll walk off cliffs to their deaths. This “fact” was actually staged for a Walt Disney documentary back in the 60s or so.
15. Huh, hadn’t thought about that
When I was a kid we were taught that penguins feet didn’t freeze because of their circulation. Turns out they have antifreeze proteins in their blood that bind to ice crystals and stop them from growing so their blood stays liquid well below 0 degrees.
16. I had no idea!
A brontosaurus is no longer a thing (now called apatosaurus)
17. I can’t even imagine how this went down at home…
That two blue-eyed parents can’t have a brown-eyed child. Apparently not only is this pure [crap] – the genetics of eye colour is more complex than that – it led to a lot of kids being rejected by their real fathers before DNA testing became available.
18. I’m pretty sure that she should have known that without Googling it
My 8th grade biology teacher told us that only identical twins were possible and that there was no scientific possibility for identical triplets, quints, etc.
Imagine my surprise many years later when I discovered this was a blatant lie. I’m still confused as to how she could have possibly believed that but then I remember that was before the internet.
19. This one never made sense to me
The tongue has different “taste zones”.
Most tyrannosaurs were completely feathered and their posture was really long and sprinty. At least that is what we can believe now after more study. At the time I was to believe that they were like upright iguanas with big teeth.
21. Don’t trust everything you read!
That fat is the biggest cause of heart disease. Sugar companies paid off scientist to focus the blame off sugar and push it onto fat.
I’m not saying go out and eat bacon, sausage, and steak for every meal. I’m not saying you can never eat sugar. I’m just saying we used to demonize all fats saying they lead to heart disease when we know now there are good heart healthy fats. We also went through a period where “reduced fat” foods where considered healthier even though they had extra sugar to compensate for the lack of taste. I’m not your dietician nor your cardiologist. I’m just noting there seems to be a shift in the tide on our views of sugars and fats.
22. A structure built on lies
The food pyramid.
23. Slow down there, you’ll become a fish
Drink 8 glasses of water a day.
24. Only one way to find out
I remember being told that deoxygenated blood is blue. Liars.
25. Rest in peace, little buddy
Pluto was a planet when I was at school.
26. In case you didn’t know, this happened just in the past year
There is a country called Czechoslovakia.
27. Where’s Snopes when you need it?
My dumb biology teacher in grade 8 told us “AIDS happened because a man had sex with a monkey.”
I did not go to the best school.
28. News flash: you are always growing
You’re born with a set number of brain cells and that number can only diminish throughout your life.
29. *quickly runs to Google Maps*
The rain forest, at current rate of consumption, will be gone by 1996.
30. Now we can see it all!
The Great Wall Of China is the only man-made structure visible from space.