Misinformation is a major part of the human condition.
Things you thought you knew, that are wrong.
24 karat gold is not pure gold. There’s a small amount of copper included.
A bald eagle is not bald. Head and neck feathers turn white when mature, dark feathers indicate a young eagle.
A centipede does not have 100 legs. Millipedes do not have 1000 legs. The number of legs varies. The greatest number recorded on a centipede is 177 pairs of legs; on a millipede, 375.
A cornflower is not the flower of a corn plant. It is an annual herb, commonly known as a bachelor’s button, bluebonnet, or bluebottle.
A flying fox is not a fox. It’s the common name for a type of fruit bat.
A horned toad is not a toad. Horned toads are lizards.
A ladybug’s spots are not an indicator of its age or gender. Ladybugs are both male and female, and the number of spots each has is just a variety in the species.
A papal bull is not an animal. It is an official edict or decree from a pope. The term comes from the Latin bulla (a knob or seal), and originally referred to the seal that was placed on the pope’s official documents.
A peanut is not a nut. Peanuts are legumes, which grow underground.
A polecat is not a cat. It is a nocturnal European weasel.
A sea wasp is not a wasp. A sea wasp is a type of jellyfish which can give a potentially fatal sting.
A silverfish is not a fish. It is a small wingless insect that feeds on paper.
A sweetbread is not sweet, nor is it a bread. Sweetbreads are from a calf’s or lamb’s pancreas or thymus.
A titmouse is not a mouse. It is a small gray-and-brown bird found in the Northern Hemisphere.
A woolly bear is not a bear. It’s a reddish brown, fuzzy, North American caterpillar.
An electric fan does not cool a room. It actually increases the air temperature because of the heat released by the motor. What makes the room seem cooler is increased air circulation over the skin, which speeds evaporation of moisture.
Arabic numerals are not Arabic. Arabic numerals were first used in India, not Arabia.
Bananas did not originate in South America. Bananas first grew in tropical Asia and were eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
Bats are not blind. They do rely more on their sonar than their eyesight.
Big Ben is not the name of the clock in the Tower of Westminster. The clock is called Tower Clock. Big Ben is the name of the 13.5-ton chime that accompanies the clock.
Black-eyed peas are not peas. They are the seeds of a tropical vine related to beans.
Buddhism was not founded by a man named Buddha. Buddha is a Sanskrit word meaning “enlightened.” The religion’s founder was named Siddhartha Gautama. He meditated under a tree (called ‘Bodhi’ which gave him the name ‘Buddha’). He was enlightened by the meditation.
Camel hair brushes are not made with camel hair. A camel-hair brush is a type of paintbrush with soft bristles made from natural hairs, usually squirrel. Camel hair is not a suitable material, although historically camel was used for ancient Chinese ink brushes.
Camels do not store water in their humps. Camels store fat in their humps.
Chicago is not the windiest city in the US. Great Falls, Montana, is the
windiest US city with average wind speeds of 13.1 mph. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is second, with 13 mph.
If you had always assumed that Chicago earned its nickname as the Windy City from the chilly gusts coming off Lake Michigan, you would be wrong. The city is windy, according to most local legends, because of the hot air bellowing from politicians.
Elephants do not drink water through their trunk. An elephant’s trunk is its nose. They draw water up with their trunks, then squirt the water into their mouths.
Fireflies are not flies. They are a species of nocturnal beetle that flash their luminous abdomens. Only mature male fireflies are able to both glow and fly.
Frankenstein was not the monster. In Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, “Frankenstein, or he Modern Prometheus,” Frankenstein was the man who built the monster. He was a student of physiology, not a doctor.
French poodles did not originate in France. Poodles were originally used as hunting dogs in Europe. The dogs’ thick coats were a hindrance in water and thick brush, so hunters sheared the hindquarters, with cuffs left around the ankles and hips to protect against rheumatism. Each hunter marked his dogs’ heads with a ribbon of his own color, allowing groups of hunters to tell their dogs apart.
German chocolate cake did not originate in Germany. In 1852, Sam German developed a sweet baking bar for Baker’s Chocolate Co. The product was named in honor of him — “Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate.
Guinea pigs are not pigs. They are rodents, native to South America.
Gypsies did not originate in Hungary. They can be traced to India, about AD 1000. Their language, Romany, is related to Sanskrit, an ancient language of India.
Head cheese is not a type of cheese. Head cheese is a combination of chopped and boiled pigs heads, feet, hearts and tongues, held together in a loaf shape by gelatin.
Heartburn is not an ailment of the heart. It’s a regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the esophagus.
Hitler did not invent the swastika as a symbol of the Nazis. The symbol has been used since prehistoric times, including the ancient Greeks and Native Americans.
Horseshoe crabs are not crabs. They are related to arachnids (spiders and scorpions). True crabs are crustaceans.
Identical twins do not have the same fingerprints. Each is unique.
Jackrabbits are not rabbits. They are hares – born with fur and with their eyes open. Rabbits are born without fur, with their eyelids sealed.
James MacNeill Whistler did not name his famous painting “Whistler’s Mother.” He had named the painting “Arrangement in Grey and Black #1.”
Mohair is not the hair of an animal called a mo. Mohair is the hair of an Angora goat. The word comes from the Arabic word muhayyar.
Mount Rushmore is not the largest sculpture in the world. The largest is a sculpture of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and “Stonewall” Jackson that covers 1.33 acres on the face of Stone Mountain near Atlanta, Georgia. It was begun in 1963 and finished in 1972.
Nero did not fiddle while Rome burned. The fiddle wasn’t invented until the 1500’s. Rome burned in AD 64.
Panama hats are not from Panama. Panama hats come from Ecuador not Panama.
Poinsettias are not poisonous. The US Consumer Products Safety Commission determined in 1975 that the flower, if eaten, could cause some discomfort, but not death.
Prairie dogs are not dogs. A prairie dog is a kind of rodent.
Reading in the dark will not ruin your eyes. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, reading in dim light will not damage the eye.
Rice paper is not made from the rice plant. It is made from the pith of a small Asian tree of the ginseng family.
Saint Patrick was not actually Irish. He was born around 373 A.D. in either Scotland, near the town of Dumbarton, or in Roman Britain (the Romans left Britain in 410 AD.) His real name is believed to have been Maewyn Succat, he took on Patrick, or Patricus, after he became a priest.
Salmonella bacteria are not named after salmon. They are named for Daniel E. Salmon, an American veterinarian.
Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” does not take place in the summer time.It takes place in the Spring, from April 29 to May 1.
Shortbread is not a bread. It’s a thick cookie.
Silkworms are not worms. They are the caterpillars of various types of moths which feed on mulberry leaves.
Sugarplums are not plums. A sugarplum is a small round piece of sugary candy.
The American buffalo is not a buffalo. It is a bison. True buffalo are found in Africa and Asia.
The Baby Ruth candy bar was not named for Babe Ruth. It was named for President Cleveland’s daughter, Ruth. At least that is what the company claimed in a law suit at the time.
The bagpipe did not originate in Scotland. It originated in the Middle East, spread through Europe, and was brought to Scotland by the Romans.
The black box on an airplane is not black. It is orange.
The Canary Islands were not named for a bird called a canary. They were named after a breed of large dogs. The Latin name was Canariae insulae – “Island of Dogs.”
The catgut formerly used as strings in tennis rackets and musical instruments does not come from cats. Catgut actually comes from sheep, hogs, and horses.
The color red does not make bulls mad. Bulls are color-blind. They charge at movement, not color.
The English horn is neither English or a horn. It is a double-reed woodwind resembling a large oboe, and was created in France.
The first American skyscraper was not built in New York City. It was the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, built in 1883.
The Great Wall of China is not the only man made object that can be seen from the Moon. No man-made object can be seen from the Moon.
The Hundred Years’ War did not last 100 years. It lasted 116 years, from 1337 to 1453.
The koala bear is not a bear. It is a member of the Marsupial family, is not carnivorous, and lives in a tree. The name comes from the aboriginal language of southeast Australia.
The pilgrims did not eat turkey at the first Thanksgiving celebration at Plymouth Rock. Many foods were served at the three-day feast celebrating survival through the winter, but turkey wasn’t one of them. The menu included: venison, duck, goose, seafood, dried fruits, and wine.
The Shroud of Turin is not the burial shroud of Jesus. Scientific carbon-14 dating has shown that the flax in the cloth was grown sometime between 1260 and 1390.
There is absolutely no documented proof that Betsy Ross designed the American Flag. This seems to be an Early American “Urban Legend.” The first American flag was designed by Francis Hopkins, a naval flag designer.
There is no such fish as a “sardine.” Canned sardines are generally young herring.
Umbrellas were not invented to keep the rain off people. The Latin word umbrella means “little shaded area.” Umbrellas were invented to keep the sun off.
Wild rice is not a true rice. It’s a type of grass.
Windmills did not originate in the Netherlands. They were invented by the Arabs.