We have learned much about our bodies through old wives’ tales handed down from our moms and grandmothers and even in school, but not all of it is correct. Here we look at 10 misconceptions that might surprise you.
10. Sleepwalkers should never be woken
Sleepwalkers are often confused and/or disoriented when awakened but this is far better than the danger of injuries that are common from tripping over things, walking into dangerous areas and more. Thus, wake them gently and help them get back to bed.
9. You will catch a cold if you go out in wet, freezing weather
Winter swimming championship in Latvia
There is no evidence to support this misconception at all. Viruses are more common in the low humidity time of winter and of course, people are gathered indoors more, so they spread easily but the only thing that going out in the cold does is perhaps lower your resistance to an infection you already have, starting some temporary sneezing and coughing.
Image: Heinrich Hoffman
8. Fingernails and hair continue to grow after death
Neither continue to to grow. What does happen is that the cuticles and skin shrink after death, making it appear as if the nails and hair were lengthening.
Image: pedro simoes
7. Your hair grows back thicker and darker after shaving
Another falsity: Uncut hair is tapered, so doesn’t appear as thick as cut hair. Also, uncut hair has more exposure to the sun, which lightens it a little, making cut hair appear darker at first.
6. Conditioners and shampoos can cure split ends
Not so, there are no cures for split ends beyond cutting them. Good conditioners and shampoos might help prevent them in the first place but anything purporting to heal them should be looked at with the same eye as you would look at snake oil.
Image: Chris Willis
5. Men think of sex every seven seconds
It would make it hard to concentrate on needed things such as work if this were true, so good thing it isn’t. Even though there is no way of measuring this properly, studies scientists have done show this is a huge exaggeration.
Image: Arnold Rheinhold
4. Different areas of the tongue taste different things
The idea that taste buds in different areas of the tongue correspond to sweet, sour, savory and salty has been floating around for decades but is false. Every area of the tongue can taste every type; the idea that there was a tongue map came from a mistranslation by a Harvard professor, of a badly written and discredited German paper.
Image: Gaetan Lee
3. We use only 10% of our human brain
William James, a psychologist in the 1800s, once metaphorically used the idea of 10% of the brain being all that was used at one time. This grew into the rumor that it was all the brain was overall and most of the rest was not understood or used as far as we know. Actually, the inactive neurons are just as important at any given moment as the ones actively firing at a point in time, and the 10% comes from varying areas at different times.
Image: David Eccles
2. Sugar makes children hyperactive
False! Twelve controlled, double blind trials have shown that there is absolutely no connection between children’s behavior and their sugar intake. One thing was found, namely that parents rate their child’s behavior as more hyper when they thought they had been given a sugary drink. “The studies included sugar from sweets, chocolate and natural sources. Even in studies of those who were considered “sensitive” to sugar, children did not behave differently after eating sugar-full or sugar-free diets,” said Vreeman and Carrol who undertook the retrospective study.
1. Warts can be caught from other animals like toads
Human warts are caused by a virus that affects only humans, the human pappiloma virus. They cannot be caught by animals with warts and certainly not by toads whose bumps are not warts but glands.
Image: Paul Henjum
As we see here, what we think we know is not always accurate! So don’t worry about your child having that extra cookie, at least from a hyperactive point of view, and don’t spend a lot of money on products that supposedly cure split ends!