10 Things That are “Common Knowledge” That are Simply Untrue
Author Idries Shah once quoted, “The more you look at ‘common knowledge,’ the more you realize that it is more likely to be ‘common’ than it is to be ‘knowledge.’ No real knowledge is common.” This quote perfectly describes the dilemma between common knowledge and myths in today’s world. Nowadays we tend to believe anything that’s written on the internet without verifying the facts. We have brought forward some such facts which people believe to be true but the reality says otherwise. Here are 10 things that are “common knowledge” that are simply untrue.
1 Rabbits love to eat carrots.
Eating carrots can actually make rabbits sick because of their high sugar content. Rabbits mainly should only eat hay and/or grass.
The notion that rabbits love to eat carrots originated from the cartoon character, Bugs Bunny, who is shown as a carrot lover. This instigated many pet owners to feed their pet rabbits a meal of carrots and other salad foodstuffs. Feeding carrots regularly can give rabbits tooth decay and digestive problem because carrots are high in sugar. Also, root vegetables, iceberg lettuce, fruits, and cereals are not the main diet of rabbits. In fact, if these are fed regularly, they can prove to be dangerous for their life.
Actual, y hay is the main food of rabbits. Rabbits should also be given a handful of dark greens such as kale or broccoli regularly. Carrots and apples can be given as an occasional treat, but not as their regular meal.(1,2)
2 George Washington died of a cold.
George Washington was diagnosed with a cold, but actually he was suffering from a severe infection called “epiglottitis.”
On December 14, 1799, George Washington died after being sick for two days. The reason of his death is usually attributed to a cold which he caught while supervising farm activities. But modern analysis of his symptoms shows that he was suffering from acute epiglottitis (supraglottis). Epiglottitis is a rapidly progressing infection of the epiglottis and surrounding tissues which can be potentially life-threatening.
Another reason that is believed to have caused the quick demise of George Washington was bloodletting. Bloodletting was a popular cure at that time in which a patient was bled to cure or prevent illness. When doctors and physicians were called in to cure George Washington, he himself insisted on bloodletting. He was bled four times, and according to the estimation of doctors almost half of his blood was drained.(1,2,3)
3 Dogs only see in black, white and gray.
Dogs are dichromial animals, so while they recognize fewer color differences than humans, who are trichromial, they still see a variety of actual colors.
It is a common belief that dogs can’t see any color except black, white and gray. If you are a believer of this fact, then it may come as a surprise to you that it’s not true. In fact, dogs can see almost the same amount of color that a human with color blindness can.
In the human eye, cone photo receptor cells are responsible for colored vision. Dogs, too, have cone cells in their eyes, but only 20% of the cone cells that humans have. The human eye has 6,000,000 cone cells which help us to differentiate between red, blue, green, and yellow. But dogs can only identify yellow and blue as they have only 1,200,000 cone cells.(1,2)
4 The red liquid coming from a steak is blood.
The liquid dripping out of a steak is mostly myoglobin, which is a binding protein found in muscle tissue.
When you cut into a medium-rare steak, a blood-like liquid oozes out of the meat. This grim sight might play havoc to your appetite if you believe it to be blood. But, the good news is the red liquid is not blood. It’s actually myoglobin, a protein. Myoglobin is found in muscles and contains a red pigment. It imparts the red color to muscle tissues. Myoglobin darkens when heated, and that’s why the liquid coming out of a well-done steak looks gray instead of red.(1,2)
5 Searing meat seals the moisture in the meat.
Searing meat may cause it to lose more moisture in comparison to an equivalent amount of cooking without searing. Generally, the value in searing meat is that it creates a brown crust with a rich flavor.
Searing is a popular technique of cooking meat, poultry, and fish. It imparts a caramelized crust over the meat surface making it appealing to both sight and taste. A common myth associated with searing is that it seals in the juices keeping the inside of the meat moist and tender. What actually happens during searing is that the moisture on the surface of meat evaporates after the meat comes in contact with the hot pan. Due to the moisture loss on the surface, the meat browns. In fact, the juiciness of meat is decided by its fat content and not by searing or any other method.(1,2)
6 “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart when he was five years old.
“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” was not composed by Mozart. He only composed variations on the tune, and then at the age of 25 or 26.
Our favorite nursery rhyme “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” was originally written as a poem by English author Jane Taylor. It was sung to the tune of French melody “Ah! vous dirai-je, maman.” Later, a set of variations on the tune was composed by several other composers including Mozart. The variations in melody was composed by Mozart in early 1780s when he was a young man.(1,2)
7 Jesus was born on December 25.
The Bible never claims December 25 as the birth date of Jesus but may imply a date closer to September. The fixed date is attributed to Pope Julius the First because in the year 350 CE he declared the 25th of December the official date of celebration.
The date 25 December is celebrated worldwide as Christmas, the birth day of Jesus Christ. Nativity scenes are set up and carols are sung to celebrate this auspicious day. Surprisingly, the date of the birth of Jesus Christ is not mentioned in the Bible, nor is there any reference to December 25.
In fact, a careful analysis of the scriptures reveals that December 25 could not possibly be the date of Christ’s birth. Firstly, it is mentioned that at the time of Jesus’s birth the shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks (Luke 2:7-8). But December in Judea is cold and rainy, and in such conditions, the shepherds would have kept their flocks in shelters instead of keeping them in the field. Secondly, Jesus Christ’s parents went to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census, and such censuses were not taken in winter. This proves that 25 December is not the real birth date of Jesus Christ.(1,2,3,4)
8 The black belt in martial arts indicates expert level or mastery.
The black belt in martial arts indicates high competence, but it does not necessarily indicate expert level or mastery.
In martial arts, the color of belts denotes the rank of a person in a particular martial art. This system of ranking was first used in Japan by Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo. Martial art has now become popular all over the world and the system of ranking through belt color is widely accepted.
But there is rather a popular misconception regarding the black belt and its rank. It is normally believed that a person who had received black belt has achieved mastery in the martial art. But according to East Asian martial arts, a black belt denotes a high competence. It indicates that the wearer has a good understanding of fundamental concepts and ability. It also means that the individual has achieved competence in the basic technique and principle of a style. But it is not considered as the highest grade or the “expert.”
The rank beyond black belt is different for different martial arts. In Japanese martial arts, higher ranks are indicated by stripes on the black belt. In judo and some other forms of karate, a person with higher rank wears a red and white belt.(1,2)
9 The oxygen we breathe comes from trees.
The oceans are responsible for 70% of the oxygen that we breathe, and it mostly comes from phytoplankton.
While studying in school, we are taught that trees and plants take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. This oxygen is taken in by human, animals, birds, and other living organisms during respiration. So, it is assumed that trees and plants are the primary sources of oxygen on Earth. But according to science, this information is false. About 70% of oxygen found on Earth is provided by phytoplanktons in the ocean.
Phytoplankton, or micro algae, are microscopic plants living in the ocean that contain chlorophyll and perform photosynthesis just like trees. Through photosynthesis, plankton gives out oxygen and takes in carbon dioxide. Phytoplankton also help in transferring carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the ocean. Each year, phytoplankton transfer about 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the ocean.(1,2,3,4)
10 The pyramids in Egypt were built by slaves.
Egyptian pyramids were built by workers, most likely paid workers.
The concept that pyramids in Egypt were built by slaves came into existence when the ancient Greek historian Herodotus described the people who built the pyramids as slaves. This idea was further propagated by some Hollywood films such as The Ten Commandments. But according to Egyptologist Mark Lehner, an associate of Harvard’s Semitic Museum, the builders of the pyramids were not slaves.
Lehner’s notion was proved by the amount of cattle, sheep, and goat bone found at the Egyptian settlement. The number of bones left was enough to feed several thousands of people indicating that the meat was consumed by builders of the pyramids. Most of the cattle bones were of young male cattle, under the age of two. The high quality of food indicated that the people feasting like royalty on prime beef were not slaves or common laborers, but rather skilled workers.
According to Egypt’s chief archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, the builders were respected for their work. Any builder who died during construction was honored by being buried in tombs near the pyramids of their pharaohs. It also proves that the builders were not slaves as such honor would never have been bestowed on the slaves.(1,2)
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