10 favourite facts you’ve always believed that are actually false

10 favourite facts you’ve always believed that are actually false

Here, the world’s most contagious myths and misconceptions – debunked.

1. Napoleon was short

A tall tale. At five six, he was actually slightly above average height for a Frenchman of the time.

Just as his military genius has been studied throughout the years, we've also been fascinated with the life – and quirks – of the first emperor of France.

2. Don’t eat and swim

This doesn’t increase the risk of cramps; alcohol is the biggest risk increaser. But a full stomach will make you short of breath.

3. Salty water boils quicker

Adding a sprinkle of salt to water makes no difference. 

It can actually make boiling take longer.

It is important for dishes that need to cook for a long time, that your pot or pan has a good-quality heavy base to distribute the heat evenly.

4. Oil stops stuck pasta

Nope. It’ll only make it greasy. Stirring prevents sticking.

5. Left and right brain

There’s no solid division between the talents of each hemisphere; the left brain can learn “right-brain skills” and vice versa.

6. Dropped coins kill

Terminal velocity of a standard penny is 18 to 30 kilometres per hour. Not fast enough to kill – but it sure would sting.

Back in the day, putting a coin or other hard, flat object on a baby’s belly to help to heal an umbilical hernia was a common practice.

7. Three wise men

Nowhere in the Bible does it specify that there were three.

Want to know something freaky? In the Bible, it is significant that Noah led seven pairs of all clean animals, one pair of every unclean animal and seven pairs of birds into the ark.

When the flood subsided, God, who had created the world in seven days, sent a redeeming rainbow with seven colours.

8. MSG = Headaches

There’s no scientific proof—just anecdotal evidence implicating monosodium glutamate.

9. Dogs sweat by salivating

No—they regulate temperature through panting. They actually sweat through their footpads.

10 Great Wall of China

It’s not visible from space. No single human structure is visible from orbit, but you can see cities at night.

Written by David McCandless and Brandon Specktor. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.