Things We Grew Up Thinking Were True That Are Actually Myths

Over 1.6K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of Things We Grew Up Thinking Were True That Are Actually Myths
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Vote up all the myths that are thoroughly busted.

Many old wives' tales and myths have become "facts" over the years. For instance, you've likely heard you can sweat out toxins (no, the liver and kidneys do that). The world, and especially the human body, still contain a lot of mystery, so perhaps people like to make things up to help make sense of it all. 

But from misguided health advice to parental scare tactics, you might be surprised to learn about myths you thought were fact. 

  • 1
    1,142 VOTES

    You Have To Wait 24 Hours Before Reporting Someone Missing

    There is a common misconception that a person isn't considered missing until they've been gone for at least 24 hours. This belief is not only wrong, but also dangerous and harmful if someone is actually missing.

    For the best odds of finding someone, authorities should be notified as soon as you realize they are missing. There is no 24-hour waiting period, or any mandatory waiting period at all. Whether it's a child or an adult, you can notify police that someone is missing at any time.

    1,142 votes
  • The Average Person Swallows Eight Spiders Per Year
    Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    1,349 VOTES

    The Average Person Swallows Eight Spiders Per Year

    Maybe you've heard (and been grossed out by) the "fact" that adults swallow an average of eight spiders per year in their sleep. It's not hard to believe; spiders can be small, and many people sleep with their mouths slightly agape. 

    But if a spider encounters a sleeping human, it generally turns the other way in a hurry. Even small humans are much larger than spiders, and we smell and make weird noises, especially in our sleep. A spider simply wouldn't have the desire to mount a beast hundreds of times its own size, then wander into a deep, dark hole from which emanates noise, saliva, and stench.

    You might be amused to know that this "fact" about spiders was circulated as a test to show that people would believe just about anything they read on the internet. 

    1,349 votes
  • 3
    900 VOTES

    Lightning Can't Strike The Same Place Twice

    Lightning can be both terrifying and beautiful. We're often comforted by the fact that it's extremely rare to be struck by lightning, and even more rare for lightning to strike the same place twice. Well, that latter part turns out not to be true.

    Lightning is attracted to tall, isolated objects, such as trees, buildings, or lightning rods, and has no properties that render it incapable of striking the same spot twice, or even multiple times. In fact, according to estimates, the Empire State Building is struck by lightning about 25 times each year. 

    900 votes
  • A Mother Bird Will Abandon Her Baby If You Touch It
    Photo: Sasipriya Subramani / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
    757 VOTES

    A Mother Bird Will Abandon Her Baby If You Touch It

    You see a poor struggling baby bird on the ground. You have the urge to pick it up and place it back in the nest before a nefarious cat makes lunch of the little bird. But you don't because you fear its mama will then abandon her baby once she smells your scent on it. 

    This is a myth, however, that likely started with the good intention of discouraging humans from interfering with wildlife. The rumor about human scent causing a mother to abandon her young is false for birds, as well as most mammals.

    However, there is a grain of truth to this myth: If humans disturb a nest or other place for birds (and many other animals), the mother might leave the area and abandon her eggs or young. 

    757 votes
  • 5
    908 VOTES

    Wolf Packs Have Alpha Males

    The belief that wolf packs operate with an alpha male, or an alpha male and female pair, is not true. The research that started this myth focused on wolves held in captivity, which are very different from wolves in the wild.

    In captivity, the wolves are often not related and forced together by circumstances outside their control, so there tends to be competition for dominance. In the wild, wolf packs generally consist of family members: mom, dad, and offspring. The concept of an alpha male or an alpha female simply doesn't exist in the wild. It's just the parents - natural authority figures - and their young or adolescent wolves. 

    908 votes
  • 6
    888 VOTES

    Doing Crunches Will Give You A Six-Pack

    Perhaps you've religiously done sit-ups or crunches in preparation for beach-body season, but were sorely disappointed when you didn't get results.

    Doing crunches - no matter how many - will not lead to a flat stomach. To reap the rewards of any abdominal workout, you've got to combine it with cardio and a healthy diet. Crunches will strengthen your core muscles, but won't target and burn belly fat.

    888 votes