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20 Common Misconceptions

The world is full of established and accepted beliefs that are in fact false. These misconceptions have been generally accepted and have been taken as norms, however constant research have gradually debunked them, revealing the actual truths and changing the world as we already know it.

See some of these misconceptions below.


1. Jihad

The word “jihad” does not always mean “holy war”; literally, the word in Arabic means “struggle”. While there is such a thing as “jihad bil saif”, or jihad “by the sword”,¬†many modern Islamic scholars usually say that it implies an effort or struggle of a spiritual kind.¬†

2. Sign language

Sign languages are not the same worldwide. Aside from the pidgin International Sign, each country generally has its own native sign language, and some have more than one (although there are also substantial similarities among all sign languages)

3. Black belt

The black belt in martial arts does not necessarily indicate expert level or mastery. It was actually introduced for judo in the 1880s to indicate competency at all of the basic techniques of the sport. Promotion beyond black belt varies among different martial arts. In judo and some other Asian martial arts, holders of higher ranks are awarded belts with alternating red and white panels, and the highest ranks with solid red belts

4. Apostle Paul…or Saul

Paul the Apostle¬†did not change his name from Saul. He was born a Jew, with Roman citizenship inherited from his father, and therefore carried both a Hebrew and a Latin name from birth. Saint Luke¬†indicates the coexistence of the names in¬†Acts 13:9: “…Saul, who also is called Paul…”.

5. English words

Nonstandard,¬†slang¬†or¬†colloquial¬†terms used by English speakers are often supposed not to be real words, despite appearing in numerous dictionaries. It is important to note that words in English became accepted by being commonly used for a certain period of time; thus, accepting that certain commonly used vernacular are not English words is a clear misconception.¬†Examples of words that are sometimes alleged not to be words include “irregardless”,¬†“conversate”, “funnest”,¬†“mentee”, “impactful”, and “thusly”,¬†all of which appear in numerous dictionaries as English words

6. Immaculate Conception

The term “Immaculate Conception” was not coined to refer to the¬†virgin birth of Jesus, nor does it reference a supposed belief in the virgin birth of¬†Mary, his mother. Instead, it denotes a Roman Catholic belief that Mary was not in a state of¬†original sin¬†from the moment of her own conception

7. Christopher Columbus and the New World

Christopher Columbus was not the first European to visit the Americas: Leif Erikson, and possibly other Vikings before him, explored Vinland, which was either the island of Newfoundland, part of modern Canada, or a term for Newfoundland and parts of the North American mainland.

8. Swallowing chewing gum

Swallowed chewing gum does not take seven years to digest. Chewing gum is mostly indigestible, and passes through the digestive system at the same rate as other matter.

9. What’s with Bulls and the colour RED

Bulls are not actually enraged by the color red, used in capes by professional matadors. Cattle are dichromats, so red does not stand out as a bright color. It is not the color of the cape, but the perceived threat by the matador that incites it to charge.

10. The three wise men

The Bible does not say that exactly three magi came to visit the baby Jesus, nor that they were kings, or rode on camels, or that their names were Casper, Melchior, and Balthazar. The three magi have been widely accepeted because three gifts are described, and artistic depictions of the nativity have almost always depicted three magi since the 3rd century.

11. Alpha Wolf

There is no such thing as an “alpha” in a¬†wolf¬†pack. An early study that coined the term “alpha wolf” had only observed unrelated adult wolves living in captivity. In the wild, wolf packs operate more like human families: there is no defined sense of rank, parents are in charge until the young grow up and start their own families, younger wolves do not overthrow an “alpha” to become the new leader, and social dominance fights are situational.

12. As blind as a Bat?

The belief that Bats are blind have been proven false. While about 70 percent of bat species, mainly in the microbat family, use echolocation to navigate, all bat species have eyes and are capable of sight.

13. Incognito browsing

Private browsing, such as incognito mode, does not protect users from being tracked by websites or their internet service provider (ISP). Such entities can still use information such as IP addresses and user accounts to uniquely identify users.

14. Sleep walking

Waking sleepwalkers does not harm them. While it is true that a person may be confused or disoriented for a short time after awakening, this does not cause them further harm. In contrast, not waking them up might more harm because they may trip over objects or lose their balance while sleepwalking.

15. Taste

Contrary to popular belief that specific tastes only correspond to specific mapped sites on the tongue, different tastes can be detected on all parts of the tongue by taste buds, with slightly increased sensitivities in different locations depending on the person.

16. Five senses

Humans have more than five senses as is commonly cited. The number of senses in various categorizations ranges from five to more than 20. In addition to sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, which were the senses identified by Aristotle, humans can sense balance and acceleration (equilibrioception), pain (nociception), body and limb position (proprioception or kinesthetic sense), and relative temperature (thermoception). Other senses sometimes identified are the sense of time, echolocation, itching, pressure, hunger, thirst, fullness of the stomach, need to urinate, need to defecate, and blood carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.

17. Shaving

Shaving does not cause terminal hair to grow back thicker or darker. This belief is due to hair that has never been cut having a tapered end, whereas after cutting the edge is blunt and therefore thicker than the tapered ends; the cut hair appears to be thicker and feels coarser due to the sharper, unworn edges. The shorter hairs being less flexible than longer hairs also contributes to this effect

18. The forbidden fruit

The¬†forbidden fruit¬†mentioned in the¬†Book of Genesis¬†is never identified as an¬†apple,¬†a misconception widely depicted in Western art. The original Hebrew texts mention only¬†tree¬†and¬†fruit. Early Latin translations use the word¬†mali, which can be taken to mean both “evil” and “apple”. ¬†Jewish scholars have however suggested that the fruit could have been a grape, a fig, wheat, an apricot, or an¬†etrog.

19. How many cups of water per day do you really need?

No specific amount of water a day is needed to maintain good health. The amount of water needed varies by person (weight), diet, activity level, clothing, and environment (heat and humidity). More so, water does not necessarily need to be drunk in pure form, but can be derived from liquids such as juices, tea, milk, soups, etc., and from foods including fruits and vegetables.

20. Big hands, big penis?

Hand size does not predict human penis size! However, finger length ratio may.

Written by Emeka Nweze

Content writer and contributor.

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