When it comes to growing up, few things are as important as getting a proper education. There’s just so much that we need to learn, and school is (usually) the place to learn it!
Only, every now and then, you find out that some of the facts you were taught in class perhaps weren’t as factual as they may have seemed. Now, before you go off renouncing all of your teachers’ lectures, it’s safe to say that most things they taught you were accurate and worth storing in the back of your mind. Still, there may have been a few myths that slipped through the cracks.
Here are a few things that you probably learned in school that you didn’t realize weren’t true at all!
1. MYTH: Humans evolved from apes. TRUTH: In reality, humans did not evolve directly from apes, but rather from a shared ancestor with apes. Despite what every evolutionary illustration depicts, it wasn’t quite a straight path—but one full of stops, starts, and changes in direction.
2. MYTH: Sir Isaac Newton discovered the laws of gravity after an apple fell on his head. TRUTH: There is actually no recorded proof that this moment ever happened. What is known is that Newton spent years developing his theories on gravity, so his theory was pretty well-established by the time he had to fend off any apples!
3. MYTH: The pilgrims left England and headed straight to America in search of religious freedom. TRUTH: While religious freedom (or the lack thereof) is largely why the pilgrims came to America, they first made a pit stop in Holland where they could also practice freely. They only took off for America after they started to worry that their children were losing their English heritage.
4. MYTH: Columbus discovered that the Earth was round when he sailed for India and ended up in America. TRUTH: Believe it or not, it was generally accepted that the Earth was a sphere by the time Columbus embarked on his famous voyage. In fact, it had even been known to the ancient Greeks almost 2,000 years prior!
5. MYTH: Albert Einstein wasn’t very good in school, and he even once failed a math class. TRUTH: Einstein was actually a perfectly fine student. He was so good, in fact, that he was reading college-level physics books by age of 11.
6. MYTH: The pyramids were built using slave labor. TRUTH: It’s unlikely that the Egyptians made wide use of slaves to construct the pyramids. Hieroglyphs and archeological sites suggest that it was actually a potentially society-wide network of skilled ancient workers who were probably paid relatively well.
7. MYTH: The Great Wall of China is visible from space. TRUTH: Without the help of a telescope, it’s actually nearly impossible to see the wall from space. There are, however, some roads and bridges that can be seen with the naked eye!
8. MYTH: Christopher Columbus was the one who discovered America. TRUTH: Even if you ignore the indigenous populations on the continent (you shouldn’t), the first European to land in America was technically Leif Erikson some 400 years earlier.
9. MYTH: Your blood is actually not red, but blue; it only turns red after it leaves your body. TRUTH: Your blood is, indeed, red inside and outside of your body. The reason your veins look blue has to do with the way light penetrates your skin.
10. MYTH: Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb. TRUTH: Fully 70 years before Thomas Edison’s lightbulb, Humphrey Davey invented its predecessor, the arc light. Ultimately, Edison’s lightbulb—which had its fair share of competitors—just proved to be the best one when it was popularized.
11. MYTH: We all have five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. TRUTH: The real number of senses that humans possess is debated, but most agree that it’s many more than five. Others include spacial reasoning, vibration, time, direction, and temperature.
12. MYTH: Toilets in the southern hemisphere flush the opposite way. TRUTH: The only thing that would affect the way a toilet flushes is the design of the toilet itself. They flush the same direction Down Under!
13. MYTH: The Greeks used a Trojan horse to sack the city of Troy. TRUTH: The only places that the Trojan horse is mentioned in antiquity is in the Aeneid, an epic poem written by Virgil hundreds of years after the supposed events; and The Odyssey, an epic poem written by Homer. Likely, this infamous subterfuge never actually happened.
14. MYTH: There is no gravity in space. TRUTH: While gravity in space is far less intense than on Earth, it does exist to varying degrees. The closer you are to Earth, the stronger it is. The moon also has low gravity.
15. MYTH: We only use about 10 percent of our brains. TRUTH: This idea gained attention recently when the movie Lucy was released, but it’s a load of nonsense. Your entire brain is, of course, fully active throughout the day.