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Interactive video lesson plan for: 5 (False) Science Facts | What the Stuff?!

Activity overview:

Lots of the science ‘facts’ we hear every day just aren’t true – but which ones?

10 False Science Facts Everyone Knows

What the Stuff?! episodes are available every Monday and Friday at Noon ET.

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Special thanks to Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce for their assistance with the remote video shoot.

Look. You’re smart. You know that lemmings aren’t out there trying to commit mass suicide (thanks, Disney). Dropping a penny from the Empire State building won’t kill anyone, and cracking your knuckles won’t give you arthritis. These are factoids – little tidbits of seemingly true information that are repeated everywhere, but wrong. In the age of the internet, factoids are everywhere.

For example: If you want to piss off a doctor, tell her that you won’t get a flu shot because you don’t want to get the flu. They hear it all the time, and it’s wrong. The vaccine might cause some mild symptoms like soreness or fever. You might catch the flu within two weeks of the vaccination, or just get another infection. But it won’t be from that flu shot.

Then there’s the old idea about lightning – you know, how it never strikes the same place twice. Hey, tell that to those poor cell towers. Along with large skyscrapers, they get struck by lightning all. The. Time. People may still insist on this, but it’s conclusively, categorically untrue. Next!
Summer isn’t hotter because you’re closer to the sun. Sure, it’s hot as hell – I mean, it’s a star – but we’re 93 million miles away. It’s not the proximity that matters, but the angle of the sun’s rays. It all goes back to the tilt of Earth’s axis. We get hit with a steep angle in summer, and a shallow angle in winter. In summer this means that the light isn’t spreading out as much, increasing the energy hitting any given spot.

And speaking of energy, sugar doesn’t make kids hyperactive. I know, right? Most people accept the idea of a “Sugar Rush” as the absolute truth, but multiple studies indicate there’s no real link between sugar and hyperactivity in kids. One study in 1994 indicated that this may be the placebo effect at work.

Last – and maybe this is the biggest one – the common cold. There are so many fake facts about the cold, from the idea that vitamin C will prevent it to various misconceptions about how you can catch one. Despite multiple studies, no one has proven a definitive link between vitamin C consumption and warding off colds. Great for scurvy, not so great for colds. And despite the name, you won’t catch a cold from being out, you know, in the cold.

If you want to learn more fake facts, check out our article on HowStuffWorks.com. You’ll learn the truth about the Coriolis effect, the Big Bang and more. What else? Oh, yeah. Like our video. Subscribe to see more cool stuff. But enough about us. What about you? Which fake facts do you hear all the time? Let us know in the comments.

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