We all love fun science facts. But, in these days of “fake news,” when amazing science facts are treated as fiction and myth is repeated as scientific fact, how certain are any of us that the “facts” we know to be true actually are true?
When spouting off hazy facts, there’s no better retort to a skeptical audience than calmly explaining that it’s not just true — it’s one of those cool science facts that you learned in science class.
Cool scientific facts and scientific discoveries, after all, can forgive a host of sins when it comes to interesting facts. Sometimes it even works. Your taste buds really do only last a week or two before being shoved aside for new ones and you taste food with new buds [source: Chudler]. Rice has more genes than a human being [source: Graham]. Lemmings are pathologically suicidal. It’s science, folks.
But hold your rodents. Because some of the fun science facts we have heard, internalized and spread are straight up bogus myths. To start with, our little lemmings friends got a rap for clinical depression based on a “documentary” by Disney that completely fabricated the mass suicide of lemmings by cliff-plunge idea [source: Woodford].
In fact, lemmings, like polar bears and all sorts of other wild animals, go through population explosions, followed by migration and dispersal. The footage Disney provided of lemmings jumping to their deaths? Totally staged.
Of course, not all our false science facts were created on a film set. Read on for some extremely common misconceptions that those who study biology, medicine, physics and meteorology just can’t seem to shake.