10 'facts' everyone believes that aren't actually true

ShutterstockThere are things that we know as ‘fact’ but actually aren’t true.
  • Some common “facts” that everybody knows aren’t actually true.
  • Although it has been proved that The Great Wall of China is not visible from space, many textbooks haven’t caught up to the new information.
  • Other facts, like that cracking your knuckles causes arthritis aren’t true but became known to stop people from certain activities.

There are some facts that everybody just knows. Maybe none of us can remember where we first heard it, but it definitely wasn’t from a textbook. These facts become such a part of pop culture because they’re just weird enough to be true, but with a little research, turns out they’re totally false.

Here are the facts you’ve accepted as true all your life that are actually false.

A penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building will kill you.

Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesThe empire state building.

On Mythbusters, the scientists determined that a penny “travelling at terminal velocity cannot penetrate concrete or asphalt.” It won’t cause serious damage to a person, and even at the speed of sound, will still not damage flesh. At most, it could sting a little.

You can see The Great Wall of China from space.

Kevin Frayer/Getty ImagesThe Great Wall of China.

NASA confirms that The Great Wall of China “frequently billed as the only man-made object visible from space” can’t actually be seen from the final frontier. Although the fact was debunked by Chinese astronaut, Yang Liwei, the textbooks were never changed, and will often still claim this as true.

Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis.

flickr user: orijinalCracking knuckles.

This was probably told to you by people who can’t stand the sound of bones popping, cracking your knuckles or other body parts will not give your arthritis.Dr. Robert Klapper, an orthopaedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and co-director of their Joint Replacement Program, explained on the hospital’s site that there is no harm to cracking your knuckles. “The noise of cracking or popping in our joints is actually nitrogen bubbles bursting in our synovial fluid,” he wrote. “It does not lead to arthritis.”

Van Gogh cut off his ear in a fit of madness for a woman.

Getty Images/Self-Portrait by Vincent Van GoghVan Gogh.

Vincent van Gogh, famous Dutch painter, did indeed get part of his ear sliced off, but it may have happened during a fight, rather than as a romantic gesture for a sex worker or in a moment of madness.

The van Gogh museum noted that the artist may have cut off his own ear during an argument with French artist Paul Gauguin, but he later could not recall anything about the event.

But Hans Kaufmann, one of the authors of the book “Pakt des Schweigens” told ABC that he and some experts believe that to save Gauguin from prosecution, van Gogh and Gauguin lied to authorities after Gauguin attacked van Gogh with a fencing sword and swore to never talk about it again. This would account for the difference in stories.

It takes seven years for your body to digest a piece of gum.

Paramount PicturesBubblegum.

Actually, gum will pass right through you and leave your body within a matter of hours or days. According to Healthline, the ingredients in gum can’t be digested at all, so your body will move it along and pass it as a bowel movement.

Walt Disney’s body is cryogenically frozen.

Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesWalt Disney.

His biography states that after he died from lung cancer complications in 1966, his body was cremated in Glendale, California.Mental Floss reported that the rumour likely got started because the president of the Cryonics Society of California told the Los Angeles Times that Walt Disney Studios had inquired about the process.

Although Walt was not cryogenically frozen, people remembered the association of Walt Disney with cryonics, and the rumour persisted.

Paul Revere held up the lanterns in the Old North Church.

Wikimedia CommonsIllustration of Paul Revere.

“One if by land, two if by sea” is the famous quote by Longfellow that was given to the lantern code to be used in the Old North Church to determine how the British were approaching Boston. Paul Revere is best associated with this historic event, but he was not the one to hold up the lanterns. The church said that the church sexton Robert Newman, and Vestryman Capt. John Pulling, Jr. were likely the ones inside the church to pull off the signal.

On average, you swallow eight spiders a year in your sleep.

Thankfully, this one’s far from true. Scientific American claimed that spiders don’t intentionally crawl into a bed because there’s no prey and they don’t care about humans. “Spiders regard us much like they’d regard a big rock,” Bill Shear, former president of the American Arachnological Society told the site. If a sleeping person has their mouth open, they’re likely snoring, creating vibrations that warn spiders of danger and scare them off.

When briefed on those suffering in her kingdom, Marie Antoinette replied ‘”Let them eat cake.”

Sony picturesKirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette in ‘Marie Antoinette.’

There is no record of Queen Marie Antoinette of France ever having said these words. The myth goes that when told French peasants did not have enough bread to feed themselves, she replied callously, “Let them eat cake.”History.com claimed that Lady Antonia Fraser, author of a bestselling biography of the French queen, believed that “the quote would have been highly uncharacteristic of Marie-Antoinette, an intelligent woman who donated generously to charitable causes and, despite her own undeniably lavish lifestyle, displayed sensitivity towards the poor population of France.”

Hair and fingernails continue to grow after death.


This morbid fact is not true, but the truth is much more horrifying. BBC reported that “nerve cells die within three to seven minutes” after death, proving that they stop growing. However, the skin around the hair and fingernails retracts after death, due to dehydration, making them appear longer. Funeral directors will apparently heavily moisturize the fingernails to prevent this sight.

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