“Education should prepare our minds to use its own powers of reason and conception rather than filling it with the accumulated misconceptions of the past.”—Bryant H. McGill.
“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little; it’s that they know so many things that just aren’t so.”—Mark Twain.
We get a lot of things wrong. And a lot of things that we get wrong are based on incorrect and faulty thinking we have accumulated about certain subjects. Many of these misconceptions are passed down and learned through years of repetition, however, thanks to the internet, we are learning more and more about the world while correcting many of our misconceptions. Beyond popular historical misconceptions, there are also many cultural and personal misconceptions that people hold. Good for us, then, that Reddit exists to discuss these misconceptions and educate people on what they’ve been misinformed about through the years!
39. Africa Is A Massive, Diverse Continent
That Africa is a country and everybody there is the same. It’s about 3 times the size of the US and is so culturally diverse. Can’t stand it when people say they’re going to Africa.
Person: Oh, I’m going to Africa for the summer!
Person: East Africa
Person: Kenya, that’s close to Nigeria, right? And you speak Swahili, right?
Me: Nope and nope.
38. Wrong Way To Think About Eyeballs
“The human eye can’t see more than 30fps” That’s not even how your eye works!
Eyes don’t really see in frames per second – they just perceive motion. If you want to get technical though, myelinated nerves (retina nerves) can fire at roughly 1,000 times per second.
A study was done a few years ago with fighter pilots. They flashed a fighter on the screen for 1/220th of a second (220 fps equivalent) and the pilots were not only able to identify there was an image but name the specific fighter in the image.
So to summarize, it seems that the technical limitations are probably 1,000 fps and the practical limitations are probably in the range of 300.
37. Don’t Mistake The Twins
Eughhhhh I’m a guy and I have a twin sister. SO many people ask, “ARE YOU IDENTICAL?” which is a silly question, but I’ve also had people who are dead set in their beliefs that there are such things as ‘identical boy-girl twins.’ NO THERE ISN’T.
36. Don’t Mistake The Scottish For English
That England and the UK are the same thing… It’s just ignorance.
35. To The Left, To The Left
That liberalism and socialism are the same thing.
34. Vanity Versus Vintage Sizing
That Marilyn Monroe was a size 12.
I’m not sure why it bothers me so much, except that I used to be really into vintage clothing. People don’t understand that a size 12 in 1955 was the equivalent of a size 2 now. At her heaviest, she probably wore a modern size 6.
I mean, you can tell just by looking at her that she’s not a modern size 12! What is wrong with you people?!
And I’m done ranting.
33. The Doctor Is Frankenstein, But The Doctor Is Also The Monster
When people refer to the monster as “Frankenstein”. That’s not right at all! It’s Dr. Frankenstein. The monster didn’t have a name, at all, ever. Drives me crazy.
But the Monster is Frankenstein. Frankenstein’s creation is just a tortured and lonely soul, despised by everyone he meets because of his hideous appearance. Only a monster such as Dr. Frankenstein could create such a being and then abandon it.
32. Making A Bad Name For Feminism
Heck, I’ll bite. This comment is Reddit specific. Feminism hasn’t been taken over by radicals/extremists. Going on Tumblr, searching up feminism, finding a stupid post, and claiming “This is what modern feminism is” is pretty stupid. It’s a pretty diverse field.
Before someone says “The extreme people may be a minority, but they’re very vocal,” that’s because groups on the internet like to amplify them and give them a spotlight. I don’t recall ever seeing a post on Reddit discussing the ideas of Judith Butler, Lauren Berlant, or Simone de Beauvoir.
I’ll also propose another misconception about feminism. People who complain about feminism think that feminism is about how women are better than men. Yes, you read a person say that all men should die on Tumblr, now you think the whole movement is like this? Feminism is about reducing inequality between men and women. How can you be against that?
31. Born In The Middle East
That Jesus was a blue-eyed white guy.
30. Immaculate Misconception Of Christ
The “Immaculate Conception” is not the “Virgin Birth”.
The “Immaculate Conception” refers to the conception of Mary, Jesus’s mom.
Catholic dogma declares Mary to have been conceived without “the stain of original sin,” making her the perfect conduit for Christ.
29. Blood Is Not Blue
That blood inside your body is blue until it reacts with oxygen, complete bollocks.
28. Don’t Blame Shaving For Your Hairiness
Shaving thickens your hair.
27. You’re Allowed to Change Your Position on Things
The idea that you are a flip-flopper if you change a long-held idea, concept, or assumption when newer or more accurate information is presented to you.
That being said, if you are a rational person who doesn’t let your ego consume you with ideas, then changing a view isn’t personal but logical. Your ideas, religion, and political associations are not you. They are only your ego grasping onto something to create an “I” or “my” in your life. Let it go.
26. There is Good Bacteria, There is Bad Bacteria
That all bacteria are bad for you, and therefore, that antibacterial hand wash, detergent, floor wipes, hand rub, clothes wash, etc. is effective and/or good for you.
25. There Is No Magic Pill
That there is some sort of magical pill for losing weight and getting healthy. Proper diet and exercise can’t ever be replaced by some sort of “pill.”
24. Not All Germans Were Nazis, And Not All Nazis Were German
That during WW2, all the Germans fighting in the war were Nazis.
23. Runners Knee Isn’t Really A Thing
Running is not bad for your knees! I am sick of hearing how I’ll be crippled when I’m older.
EDIT: I get it, your cousin’s husband’s sister’s dentist is a huge runner and now has bad knees. Anecdotal evidence doesn’t prove too much.
22. Cat In A Box Is Actually Absurd
That Schrodinger’s Cat was a serious thought experiment about superposition. The scenario was actually postulated to present issues with the Copenhagen interpretation, and superposition on a macro scale. It is an example of reductio ad absurdum.
21. Oh Baby I Like It Raw, But It Doesn’t Have To Be
Not all sushi is raw fish.
20. Wherefore You Have A Misconception
Wherefore does not mean “where”.
19. Anything You Can Do…Well, You Get The Point
That gender somehow dictates what you can and can’t do.
Only boys can play with trucks and only girls can play with dolls? Bull. Let a kid be a kid and play with whatever they want. It’s crap like this that leads to adults feeling like gender can dictate job opportunities. Women can do just as well in science-based fields as a man. And in some cases, even better.
18. Eating Organic Doesn’t Mean You Won’t Get Fat
Organic foods are better for you.
Genetically modified foods are bad for you.
I hate how people think that just because something is natural, somehow, that makes it good for you. “Oh, but it’s ok, it’s natural (insert horse crap)”.
17. Mistaking What Makes A Steak A Steak
The red liquid that seeps out of a steak is blood and that’s disgusting so please cook my ribeye until all the blood is gone so I can enjoy it with some ketchup.
FFFFFFFFFFFFF! No. Just… no. It’s not blood, please stop thinking that. It is a protein that literally defines that piece of meat as red meat. I don’t know how many times I have to tell you, MOM, that the little bit of pink found in your already ruined steak is not going to hurt you.
16. Mind The Heat
When you open the door in the winter and someone says “Hey, you’re letting the cold in!”
You’re technically letting the warm out.
Good concept, bad example. As you open a door on a cold day, yes, the hot air escapes, but in its escaping, it is replaced by cold air, so one is letting out the warm (air) and letting in the cold (air).
Now, when you grab onto a steel pole with bare hands on a cold day, you are letting out the heat in your hands only, it’s not giving you cold.
15. Experience Does Not Dictate Scientific Fact
I hate when people think that it’s fine to pass off and ignore real scientific evidence just because of one personal experience.
“I hate it when my kid eats sugar, it makes him so hyper!”
“Scientists have actually proven that sugar doesn’t make children hyper, it’s a myth.”
“Well, those scientists have never seen my kid after a bowl of ice cream.”
14. Touchy About The Pickle
Late to the party: That your flaccid penis size is related to your erect penis size. It’s not. It’s common to see people commenting on a nude guy’s flaccid penis size (normally negative comments about being small), but it seems no one realizes that there is no little relationship between the flaccid and erect lengths. Someone could have a 5-inch flaccid penis that doesn’t lengthen during erection, and someone else could have a 2-inch flaccid penis and have a 7-inch erection.
It really bothers me when people make small penis jokes based on an image of a flaccid penis.
EDIT: Because apparently, I sound like a bitter man with a small penis, I’m actually a woman. I just like penises.
13. Underestimating The Power Of Anxiety
That an anxiety/panic attack is just when someone feels stressed and overreacts.
You know what an anxiety attack is like? You know that feeling when you’re going down the stairs with your arms full and you miss a step. Or when you lean back in your chair just a bit too far, then it almost tips you over?
It’s that feeling NON-STOP FROM ANYWHERE TO A MINUTE TO HOURS LONG! Annnddd then you can’t breathe…like a fat guy is sitting on your chest.
12. Success Is In The Eye Of The Beholder
That being poor means you didn’t try hard enough to be successful. Success can be measured in ways other than wealth.
11. Enjoying Silence Isn’t Weird
No, I’m not a social outcast. No, I don’t hate people. No, I’m not a “lazy loner”, and I don’t hate being social.
I just like to enjoy silence, and have a good time being alone. Is that so bad? Why does your definition of “enjoyable” have to be the only one?
10. So Fresh And So Clean, Clean
I dry my entire body with a single towel. Why is it gross for people to use the same towel you’ve used to dry your butt to dry your face? You’ve just taken a shower, you are clean!
9. Exercise Is Important
That lifting weights will make girls bulky.
EDIT: Females lack the amount of the muscle building hormone testosterone, so it is physically impossible for females to put on bulky man muscle.
If a female bodybuilder were to supplement with such steroids then, yes she will put on bulky muscle.
For every other female who lifts weights, the worst thing that will happen is that you will get stronger, leaner, healthier and achieve a more ‘toned’ looked. Not to mention girls who lift are immediately more attractive to the opposite sex.
So ladies please ditch the treadmill and pick up a barbell!
8. Everybody Has Ups And Downs
That all people with mental disorders are “scary, unstable, and dangerous.” There are high-functioning people and then there are low-functioning people with disorders. Some of the greatest people I know have mental disorders whom are high-functioning and are able to live normal day-to-day lives. But heaven forbid they breathe a word of their depression, bipolar mood swings, borderline fits of rage, etc. without judgment being passed or people fearing them. Educate yourselves.
7. Don’t Hate On Einstein
Sometimes people think that Albert Einstein was bad in school or received bad grades in school. The truth is, he was very good in school and exceptionally good in mathematics and science classes. However, there are far more common misconceptions which annoy me a bit.
EDIT: To clear it up a bit, the root of this misconception lays in several early biographies of Einstein where the author(s) mixed up the school grading system of Germany and Switzerland. He received mostly good and very good grades, his only really bad grade was in French. He had mostly good to very good grades throughout his life as student and was often the best or among best of his class.
6. Learning To Live With Yourself Is Important
Many people assume that being alone is a negative thing. I’m an artist and I will occasionally spend an entire day working by myself on my artwork, without any human interaction. I was doing this one day a few weeks ago and a friend came over late that evening. It had been a very productive day and I was proud of what I had accomplished. We were chatting and he asked what I had been up to all day. When I told him, he acted like I was on the verge of suicide.
“What the hell man? You need to get out of the house.”
“Your life is just ticking by. One day you’ll wake up and realize you’re 50 and haven’t done anything with your life.”
“Stop being so depressed. Why don’t you come hang out with your friends and try to have some fun for a change?”
“You’re such a hermit.”
Sorry, but I don’t need other people to validate how I choose to spend my time. I don’t rely on others for happiness.
5. Don’t Normalize Suffering
Casual use of psychological terms like OCD, schizophrenia, antisocial, etc. People have made them these really dilute, inaccurate adjectives that really should just be replaced with things like “organized,” “moody,” or “introverted.” The misconception is that these mental illnesses are nothing more than personality quirks and it sort of makes light of the severity in people who genuinely suffer from them.
4. Medieval Times Life Wasn’t That Ignorant
Two historical ones:
- No one in medieval times really thought the world was flat.
- Just because you hear that the life expectancy in medieval times was around 30, doesn’t mean you were very likely to die at 30. It was the child mortality rate that skewed the life expectancy average downwards. If you made it past childhood, you had a good chance of going past 60, as long as you didn’t fight much with bits of metal.
3. Money Does Not Equal Quality
Best-selling = best.
I accidentally read The Da Vinci Code because of that misconception.
2. Don’t Learn Law From The Movies
The laws about entrapment. Some people really need to do some googling before they start asking drug dealers if they’re cops.
1. No One Knows Who Coined It, But Chicago Ain’t That Windy
Chicago is no windier than other cities. It’s called “the windy city” because of the politicians—but no one knows exactly who coined that, possibly Mark Twain. Everyone asks how windy it is here, and I always have to explain it.