We are constantly learning new information and believing almost anything we are told, but as it turns out many of the most commonly believed ‘facts’ are actually misconceptions.

The problem with our constant need to make sense of the world around us is that it allows myths to become widely believed myths, rather than digging deeper and questioning the information.

So prepare to be shocked, here is a list of 21 common misconceptions that are simply not true…

1. Goldfish do not have a 3 second memory


We have always been told that a goldfish’s memory is shallow at best (pun intended), yet new research has proven that goldfish can actually recall information for 3-5 months. A study tested a goldfish’s reaction to certain sounds whilst in captivity and found that the goldfish still responded to the sound up to 5 months later.

2. The Great Wall of China cannot be seen from space


The Great Wall of China has been noted in history since 1938 as the only man-made object that is visible from space, but NASA has confirmed that this is actually a space-myth. The visible wall theory was corrupted after a Chinese astronaut, Yang Liwei, claimed that he could not in fact see the wall from space and it was only partially visible using a 180mm lens with a digital camera.

3. We do not have 5 senses


Although we are taught that humans have 5 senses, researchers have announced that we can have up to 20 senses. A ‘sense’ is defined as “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”. In addition to the well-known 5 senses, our other senses include tension, balance (equilibrioception), pain (nociception), thirst and hunger.

4. A black hole is not a hole, and perhaps not even black


It is in fact a massive and dense object with a great amount of gravitational pull. It’s gravitational pull is so strong that it merely feels like a hole because of the fact that it can suck matter into it. However, the researchers’ at the University of South Carolina explanation redefines black holes not as “holes” in space where matter and light inexplicably disappear into another dimension, but rather as spherical voids surrounded by an extremely durable form of matter. Stephen Hawking also adds that black holes “are not the eternal prisons they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly come out in another universe.”

5. Einstein did not fail at maths


Sorry for ruining any hopes and dreams that you may have had of one day becoming a mathematical genius like Einstein, but contrary to popular belief Einstein did not fail at maths in school. As expected, Einstein excelled in mathematics in school and by the age of 12 Einstein took it upon himself to see if he could learn geometry and algebra on his own.. The rumor start from Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and was laughed off by Einstein when he added “I never failed in mathematics… Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus.”

6. Waking a sleepwalker is not a big deal


Of course a sleepwalker will be dazed and confused when first woken but it is not as dangerous as we have been told. It could be perceived that a sleepwalker is in more danger of hurting themselves whilst sleepwalking than being awoken, but the kindest solution is to gently lead the sleepwalker back to bed.

7. Our tongue is not divided into sections


If you place salt on the tip of your tongue, you will taste salt. So why have we always believed that the tongue is divided into specific sections? We actually taste and and perceive taste at the same time using the entirety of our tongue. In fact, there is much more to taste than just sweet, salt, sour and bitter. Most scientists agree there is another distinct taste known as ‘umami’ to identify the taste of glutamate and many others believe there is a sixth taste receptor to identify fat.

8. Napoleon Bonaparte was not a shorty


Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the greatest conqueror’s in the world but he was always considered to be short in stature. At his time of death he was recorded as 5 feet 2 inches, which is actually just shy of 5 feet 7 inches in today’s modern international units. Although this still doesn’t scream tall, dark and handsome, the average height for a French male at the time was 5 feet 5 inches, so actually he was rather tall for his time.

9. You can file a missing persons report in under 24 hours


You do not have to wait 24 hours to file a missing persons report. In fact, you can file a report immediately as soon as you have serious concerns for a persons safety and welfare. This misconception was born in Hollywood as movies included this blatant lie to enhance the plot.

10. Bulls do not hate the colour red


Spanish matadors began using a small red cape, or muleta, in bullfighting around the 1700s. Ever since, it seems, people have perpetuated the color-charged myth that red makes bulls go wild. Yet research shows that bulls reacted halfheartedly to red, blue and white capes when they were motionless and only changed became aggressive when the flat was waved. It turns out bulls are colourblind and only react to the gestures of the bull fighter.. And maybe their costumes too.

11. Dogs do not sweat by panting


A dog actually sweats through their paw pads and uses panting as an effective way of regulating their body temperature.

12. Our brain does not run at 10%


A 2013 survey by the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research found almost two-thirds of Americans believe we only use 10 per cent of our brains, but where this misconception started is a mystery. Our brain is operating and utilizing most of its cells at all times, even when we are asleep. If we took away 90% of our brain or its cells, we wouldn’t be able to function at all.

13. Cops do not have to admit that they are undercover


Another myth started on the big screen – if you ask a police officer if they are a cop they do not legally have to come clean. Also known as ‘entrapment’, it is commonly misconceived that it’s illegal for a police officer to entrap a citizen into committing a crime. When you think about it, what would be the point of going undercover?

14. Bats are not blind


The phrase”blind as a bat” is wrong in so many ways. Not only can bats see really well (bigger bats can see up to 3 times better than humans), they also use echolocation by sending out streams of high-pitched sounds through their mouth or nose which bounces off nearby objects and send back echoes, allowing them to see through sound.

15. Dinosaurs and humans did not coexist


Although ‘The Flintstones’ and films like ‘10,000 BC’ would have you believe that dinosaurs and humans were quite chummy, the reality is that the two species missed each other by nearly 63 million years. It would have been a lot of fun to end your day at work by sliding off the tail of a dinosaur, but it simply never happened.

16. Shaving does not make your beard hair thicker


There is no scientific evidence to prove that shaving or cutting your hair will make it appear thicker or grow faster, thus this rumor is down to allusion. The hair may appear thicker and darker for a short period of time after cutting as the natural tapered tip of the hair is sliced away by the razor, but research proves that shaving more regularly does not affect hair growth or thickness.

17. You can touch a baby bird

Baby Bird Care

We were all told whilst growing up that if you so much as lay a finger near a baby bird that their mother will reject them. Birds actually possess a limited sense of smell and they will certainly not leave their young in response to touch. However, birds respond strongly to disturbance and so if the nest is disturbed in any way the bird may feel under attack and then choose whether or not to relocate the offspring or leave them depending on the risk. For the future – if you see a baby bird away from it’s nest then be sure to place it back in, but be gentle and avoid ruining the nest.

18. Satan does not rule hell


Satan or Lucifer is merely a fallen angel. Nowhere in the Bible does it specify that he is the ruler or overlord of hell. This is a misconception designed by us puny mortals to help balance the powers of good and evil in the world.

19. You do not swallow 8 spiders a year whilst you sleep


Phew! As it turns out spiders are usually in their webs or hunting in nonhuman-infested areas and not in your bed (unless you have bed bugs, which means you have way bigger issues). It is predicted that spiders are more than likely afraid of humans, especially when we are sleeping as a slumbering person breathes, has a beating heart and perhaps snores—all of which create vibrations that warn spiders of danger. If you are sleeping with your mouth open then you are probably snoring, in which case a spider will be afraid to crawl anywhere near your mouth.

20. Urine does not help a jellyfish sting


Despite Monica’s unfortunate incident in Friends, it turns out urine will more than likely cause more pain than relief for a jellyfish sting. Any change to the balance of solutes, such as the concentration of salts inside and outside of the cnidocyte, sets off stinging. Adding freshwater or urine to the sting site dilutes the salts outside the cell, unbalancing the solutes. In reaction to this change, the nematocysts in the cells release more venom–and cause more pain. The best solution is actually more saltwater or vinegar. Should we be relieved?

21. Chewing gum does not take 7 years to digest


We’ve almost all faced the daunting moment as soon as you swallow a piece of gum and it beckons on you that that it will sit in your stomach for the next 7 years. Luckily, that is mostly not true. Some of the components, such as sweeteners, are broken down, but the gum’s base is largely indigestible and so it will pass through your digestive tract at a slightly slower pace than other food to eventually come out barely even affected.