- Education and Science
You're Wrong! 10 Common Facts People Usually Get Wrong
You think I discovered--what?
Where do I come from?
A real viking helmet
What you know may be wrong!
We all know many bits of general knowledge. Everyone knows that the Earth revolves around the sun, for instance. We have a lot of these "everyone knows that" bits of common knowledge stuck in our heads.
However, you may be surprised to know that some of the common knowledge we cling to are common misconceptions. (I'm not talking about the sun. That one's true.) Let's look at 10 seemingly true things that most people believe but which are totally wrong.
Did Columbus Discover America? If you said 'Yes', then its time to rethink your knowledge of history. Aside from the tribes of Native Americans who lived there long before old Christopher Columbus arrived ("Hey, thanks for discovering us, Chris! We didn't know we were here!") a Scandinavian named Leif Ericson arrived on the continent centuries before Columbus was even a zygot.
Vikings Wore Horned Helmets: While we're talking about Scandinavians, let's dispense with this oft-depicted image from film. No, Vikings did not wear cattle horns on their helmets. That image was invented for a production of the play "Der Rings Des Nibelungen" by Wagner.
Pirates used to make people walk the plank: Lets go from Vikings to Pirates. Let's straighten this one out. No, they did not make people walk the plank. That's a book and movie thing. Pirates simply threw people overboard.Quick and simple. Why waste time setting up a plank for victims to walk off? Pirates have plundering to do!
Ship Captains can perform marriage ceremonies: While we're on the topic of seafaring people, lets tackle this one. No, ship captains can't do this, unless they also happened to be ordained as ministers. Also, a boat must be docked at a port, and not out at sea, when the wedding march music cues the bride to come down the aisle.
"Music has charms to sooth the savage beast." And speaking of music, we've all heard this quote. Well, guess what. It's a misquote. Almost everyone gets it wrong. The word isn't 'beast', it's "Breast". Its from the poem The Mourning Bride by William Congreve. To" sooth the savage breast" means to calm someone down. The expression means that music calms people, even when they're upset or angry. Its got nothing to do with savage beasts.
Tigers Come from Africa: Since we're discussing savage beasts, lets jump right into this one. I've often heard people say that Tigers come from Africa. Well, if you agree with that, you just failed "Wild Kingdom 101". Tigers come from Asia. (Remember the tiger lunging at Chef in Apocalypse Now, in Vietnam?) They can also be seen in Russia--hence the Siberian Tiger--and India--the Bengal Tiger--but NOT Africa.
The Great Wall of China is the only man-made object that can be seen from space: Staying in Asia for a minute, let's cross this one off the list, too. The answer is that NO man-made objects can be seen from space. Not without special telescopic equipment. Astronauts have been unable to spot the Great Wall with the naked eye.
We only use 10% of our Total Brain Capacity: Let's move from the eye to the brain. This is an oft-repeated theory which is far off the mark. The truth is, we usually only use 10% of our brains *At Any Given Moment* because the brain is so compartmentalized that it diversifies its efforts into many different little sections. Right now, as you're reading this, you're probably using 10% of your brain, but later today you'll be using the other 90% at different times. We do use ALL of our brains, just not all at once.
You can catch a cold by getting caught in the rain: From brains to head-colds, let's dispense with another fallacy. You do not get a cold from being caught in the rain. You catch a cold from being exposed to a virus germ. True, being outside wet on a cold day can lead to other problems, such as weakening resistance, but its not the cause of a sickness, just a contributing factor. And on a warm day, a little water is harmless. So enjoy being caught in the rain in the summertime.
Did Marie Antoinette say "Let them eat cake"? Nope, this was a quote from Jean Jacques Rousseau, made when Marie was only about six years old. Perhaps someone from the royal palace repeated this quote but no historical records connect it to Marie.
So just remember--don't take common knowledge for granted.