12 Dumb Things People Actually Believed

List Rules

Vote up all the stuff you can't believe people thought was true.

In a world where anyone can research just about anything by clicking a mouse button or tapping an app, it's not uncommon for unsuspecting knowledge-seekers to be bombarded with misinformation. And while it may seem as though the internet is the largest culprit for the spread of false truths, the reality is that people were susceptible to believing dumb things long before the computer's debut. 

It's often hard to trace how these common misconceptions originated. Sometimes, it's a widespread mistruth about the human body that even doctors believe. Other times, radio and TV stations play pranks on their audiences that don't translate as merely jokes. Then, there's always the hard truth that some misconceptions just stem from widespread ignorance without a reasonable explanation. Read on to discover some of the dumbest things people have actually believed. 


  • 1
    86 VOTES

    Until The 1980s, Doctors Thought Babies Didn't Feel Pain

    Until 1987, operating on babies younger than 15 months without anesthesia was considered ethical. Previously, doctors struggled to understand the differences in pain reactions between fetuses and adults, and the inconclusive information was extrapolated to infants. 

    Because babies react differently to pain than adults do, doctors believed they had underdeveloped nervous systems and could not feel pain. Fearful that giving an infant too much anesthesia before surgery could possibly kill them, surgeons instead administered muscle relaxants to keep babies from squirming during procedures.

    In 2015, Rebeccah Slater, an associate professor of pediatric neuroimaging at Oxford University, demonstrated through a trial that newborns aged 1 to 6 days old had already developed 18 of the 20 pain receptors seen in adults, and that their brains register the experiences the same way fully grown humans do. 

  • 2
    87 VOTES

    People Thought A Smaller Burger Was Bigger

    In the 1980s, A&W tried to one-up the competition by producing a third-pound burger and charging the same amount that McDonald's did for its famous Quarter Pounder. The new hamburger concept was favored in blind taste tests, but the marketing strategy ultimately failed. 

    Regrettably for A&W, the corporation overestimated how many Americans could apply general mathematical knowledge to the ordering process. Many consumers believed that one-quarter of a pound was larger than a third, causing them to forgo A&W's better burger for the option they believed was more cost-efficient and hunger-satisfying. 

    At least A&W root beer rocks!

  • 3
    81 VOTES

    Some Folks Think Humans Only Use 10% Of Their Brains

    Originally made famous by self-help writers and Hollywood films that claim their audiences and characters develop abilities by accessing more of their brain capacity, many people believe that humans use only 10% of their brains

    However, PET scans and fMRI technology prove that humans use most of their brains for most of their lives. Whether relaxing with a snack or solving a complicated mathematical equation, significant portions of the brain are always active simultaneously.

    If humans only used a fraction of their brain functions, most traumatic brain injuries wouldn't affect sufferers in the slightest. The idea is also counterintuitive to natural selection, which among other things states that as animals evolve, they lose unnecessary physical features.

  • 4
    67 VOTES

    Spaghetti Doesn't Grow On Trees

    On April 1, 1957, the BBC ran a spoof documentary special demonstrating how a family in Switzerland harvested their spaghetti bushes each season. Because most families in the UK at the time considered the food a rare delicacy, many fell for the prank. Narrated by well-known broadcaster Richard Dimbleby, the piece showed how the family picked individual noodles from branches before laying them out to dry. 

    Some viewers wanted to know where they could purchase spaghetti bushes, while others were genuinely offended that a serious news network would create such a detailed, informative parody.