9 Lies You Were (probably) Taught In School

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The educational system should be a citadel of education and enlightenment, an abode of learning where anyone can safely discover the truth about everyday facts. This system given us the opportunity to become mature and responsible adults, securing our knowledge in science, mathematics and history.

Except, of course, for all the ridiculously irresponsible lies we’re being fed. Here are nine of the biggest lies taught to us in school.

1. There are three states of matter

You might remember being taught that there are three states of matter namely; solid, liquid and gas. Well that is not entirely true. Your teacher might have lied to you because you were probably too young to comprehend the other states of matter. Although it wouldn’t hurt your science teacher to say something like “there are three popular states of matter” or “we are going to learn three state of matter at this stage”, your science teacher had to ram a lie to your throat not minding how difficult it would be for you to unlearn such a prevarication.

Four states of matter are observable in everyday life: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Many other states are known such as Bose–Einstein condensates and neutron-degenerate matter but these only occur in extreme situations such as ultra cold or ultra dense matter. Other states, such as quark–gluon plasmas, are believed to be possible but remain theoretical for now. For a complete list of all exotic states of matter click here.

2. Bats are blind

Despite the old adage “blind as a bat” it would surprise you to know that absolutely every bat has eyes and can see better at night than humans.

Yes! You can close your mouth now. True they use echolocation, but it is simply to augment their vision, not to replace it.

Interestingly, bats will even rely on their eyes over their echolocation results. In some studies, they have flown directly into a window through which light is shining, ignoring the echolocation telling it that the path was not all clear.

3. You have five senses

Humans do not have just five senses, there are at least nine senses and most researchers think there are more like twenty one or so.

Humans have more than the commonly cited five senses. The number of senses in various categorizations ranges from 5 to more than 20. In addition to sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, which were the senses identified by Aristotle, humans can sense balance and acceleration (equilibrioception), pain (nociception), body and limb position (proprioception or kinesthetic sense), and relative temperature (thermoception).Other senses sometimes identified are the sense of time, itching, pressure, hunger, thirst, fullness of the stomach, need to urinate, need to defecate, and blood carbon dioxide levels.

Each time a teacher says there are five senses, the teacher is referring to Aristotle’s classification of the senses, which if you ask us is a very old text to teach a student in the 21st century.

4. People thought the earth was flat

If you learned in school that Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain in 1492 and crossed the Atlantic Ocean, disproving a common belief in those days that the Earth was flat, then the lesson was wrong.

Several books published in Europe between 1200 and 1500 discussed the Earth’s shape, including “The Sphere,” written in the early 1200s, which was required reading in European universities in the 1300s and beyond. It was still in use 500 years after it was penned.

It is not true that people thought the earth was flat and that was the reason why they refused to travel thinking that they would get to the end of the earth and fall off. And this was the reason why Christopher Columbus was not allowed to sail round the world in 1942

It’s well documented that we’ve known the world is round since the days of the mathematical geniuses of ancient Greece. People like Pythagoras (6th century B.C), Euclid, and Aristotle (4th century B.C) all wrote works indicating that clearly, the Earth was round.

5. Humans evolved from apes

It is true that humans do belong to the same taxonomic family as the great apes, like gorillas. It is also true that the closest known living relative to Homo sapiens is the chimpanzee. However, this does not mean humans “evolved from monkeys”. We share a common, humans and the great apes—chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans—started with a common ancestor, and then evolved in separate directions over the years.

So next time someone claims you evolved from a monkey, correct his mistake. Better yet, if this person is a political or cultural leader, inquire why he is spreading misinformation. The truth may be surprising.

6. Diamonds are formed from coal

You might have been made to believe that diamonds come from pressurized coal. This misconception stems from the fact that diamonds and coals
are made of carbon.

If you believe that diamonds are made from highly compressed coal, don’t worry—so does everyone else. But it’s completely false: diamonds are found in vertical shafts filled with rocks formed by volcanoes, while coal is mainly found among other types of rocks—like limestone and shale.

Coal is almost never found in the same type of environment as diamonds. Coal is formed near the surface from plant matter, while diamonds are formed in the Earth’s mantle—over ninety miles (145 km) closer to the core—and then carried up to the crust during volcanic eruptions.

It’s true that diamonds are formed from carbon by intense heat—2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 degrees Celcius)—and high pressure, but it’s unlikely that the carbon comes from coal. So while the idea of a lump of coal becoming a beautiful diamond makes a pretty picture, it’s still one big spoonful of lies.

On the other hand, modern science can pretty much turn anything into a diamond in the lab: even the corpse of your recently deceased loved one. Aww.

7. There are different taste areas for taste on your tongue

All different tastes can be detected on all parts of the tongue by taste buds, with slightly increased sensitivities in different locations depending on the person, contrary to the popular belief that specific tastes only correspond to specific mapped sites on the tongue. The original tongue map was based on a mistranslation of a 1901 German thesis by Edwin Boring.

In addition, the current common categorical conception is there are not 4 but 5 primary tastes. In addition to bitter, sour, salty, and sweet, humans have taste receptors for umami, which is a savory or meaty taste.

8. Mother birds will abandon their chicks if they are touched by human

Popular belief claims that if mothers smell the scent of human on their chicks, they will leave them to die. But it turns out that the touch of a human isn’t enough to drive a mother away from her maternal duties.

“Birds don’t have a very strong sense of smell, so you won’t leave a scent that will alarm the parent,” Cornell biologist Miyoko Chu tells Livescience.com.

In reality, mother birds can be just as devoted as human parents.
“Usually, birds are quite devoted to their young and not easily deterred from taking care of them,” Chu said.

But experts still advise not to poke through bird nests.

“The fact is, birds don’t abandon their young in response to touch, [but] they will abandon [their offspring and their nest] in response to disturbance,” University of Montana biologist Thomas Martin tells Scientific American.

9. Lightning never strikes the same place twice

This myth is actually an old idiom meant to explain that unfortunate occurrences will not happen twice in the same way to the same person. While the old saying is comforting, lightning can actually strike anywhere twice – the main question is the probability of this occurring. For a random object in your backyard, this might be fairly low.

But the 1,454-foot-tall Empire State Building is actually struck about 25 times per year. Humans are no exception: US park ranger Roy Sullivan was struck by lightning seven times between 1942 and 1977, and lived to tell the tale (or rather all seven of them).

Lightning is more likely to strike taller objects because they carry the upward channel better than shorter ones. But the probability of a lightning strike also depends on other factors, such as the presence of salt water, metal, or moisture in or near the ground.

What other lie do you remember being told in school? Post them in the comment section below


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One Response

  1. Learning never stops!

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