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15 Things You Were Taught In School That Are Total Lies

SEPTEMBER 16, 2015  —  By Jason Lopez

15 THINGS YOU WERE TAUGHT IN SCHOOL THAT ARE TOTAL LIES

BRAINJET

Don't believe everything you learn in school! Here are 15 commonly taught stories that actually have no basis in fact — you've been fooled this entire time!

Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear.

Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear.

BRAINJET

Many of us were likely taught that the famous artist sliced off his own ear while struggling with mental illness. New findings suggest that fellow artist Paul Gauguin cut it off with a sword during a fight with Van Gogh. The pair had sworn a vow of silence to each other, which is why news of what really happened didn't surface until after Van Gogh had died.

Chameleons change colors to camouflage themselves.

Chameleons change colors to camouflage themselves.

BRAINJET

Chameleons actually change colors for a different reason. Colors on the lizards change both as a characteristic of mating behavior and as a method to regulate their body temperatures. For example, they change from a light to dark color to absorb more heat. Still cool, though!

Christopher Columbus discovered America and the fact that the Earth is round.

Christopher Columbus discovered America and the fact that the Earth is round.

BRAINJET

Neither, actually. Ancient Greek mathematicians had formulated theories about the roundness of Earth some 2,000 years before Columbus lived. Also, while many credit Columbus with the discovery of America, viking Leif Erikson actually discovered it first in 1,000 A.D.

Different tastes are detected on different parts of the tongue.

Different tastes are detected on different parts of the tongue.

BRAINJET

The entire surface of the tongue equally detects different tastes, whether it's sweet, salt, bitter or sour. It's actually a protein on the tongue that detects the taste of something sour.

Abraham Lincoln was strongly against slavery.

Abraham Lincoln was strongly against slavery.

BRAINJET

While Lincoln is known as the Great Emancipator, his belief that all slaves should be free actually only applied to slaves living in the Confederate states. In fact, he actually wrote in 1862 that if he "could save the Union without freeing any slaves, I would do it."

An apple fell on Sir Isaac Newton's head, thus helping him discovery gravity.

An apple fell on Sir Isaac Newton's head, thus helping him discovery gravity.

BRAINJET

Newton did devise his theory of gravity after watching an apple fall from a tree. However, the idea that it actually fell on his head is nothing but a myth.

Humans evolved from chimpanzees.

Humans evolved from chimpanzees.

BRAINJET

While its true that humans share a common ancestor with chimpanzees, the two species actually formed two separate lineages. The two different species formed separately over 6 million years ago. We're in the same taxonomic family and share a common ancestor, but anyone who says humans "evolved from monkeys" is very much in the wrong.

There is no gravity in space.

There is no gravity in space.

BRAINJET

There actually is, it's just significantly weaker compared to here on Earth. Gravity in space is actually responsible for keeping the moon in orbit. Objects in space that appear to be defying gravity are in reality just in a state of free fall.

Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.

Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.

BRAINJET

Edison actually bought the patent for an incandescent bulb from the widow of a fellow inventor named Heinrich Goebel. Before Edison had his lucky breakthrough, around 22 other inventors had toyed around with incandescent bulbs.

There were 13 original colonies.

There were 13 original colonies.

BRAINJET

The American flag has 13 stripes that represents 13 of the original colonies. Unfortunately for us, there were actually only 12 starting colonies, since Delaware was never a separate colony. Delaware remained a part of Pennsylvania until the Revolutionary War. Before that, the "phantom colony" was switched between Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Ben Franklin flew a kite and discovered electricity.

Ben Franklin flew a kite and discovered electricity.

BRAINJET

The story goes that Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity by flying a kite with a metal key attached to it during a lightning storm. When the kite was struck by lightning, the charged passed down the string and into the key. There is no real evidence to suggest that this story ever actually took place. In fact, many today argue that had it really happened, Franklin would have likely died from the electrical shock. It makes for a fun story, though.

Pretty much everything about Thanksgiving.

Pretty much everything about Thanksgiving.

BRAINJET

While we romanticize the first Thanksgiving as being a peaceful and joyous meal between Pilgrims and Native Americans, the true story is something far less celebratory. In fact, the only thing the Europeans shared with the Native Americans was plague and disease. The image of Pilgrims and Native Americans breaking bread together was a fabricated PR tale of the time that is incredibly still taught in schools.

Deoxygenated blood is blue.

Deoxygenated blood is blue.

BRAINJET

The myth that blood only turns red when it is exposed to oxygen stems from the fact that blood looks blue in our veins. This is just a trick of the eyes, though. Light is refracted through the layers of our skin, which then reflects back to our eyes and gives blood a bluish look. However, blood is definitely red.

Diamonds are made from coal.

Diamonds are made from coal.

BRAINJET

It's cool to think that something as beautiful as a diamond would come from coal, but diamonds are actually formed in vertical shafts full of rocks formed by volcanoes. The correlation doesn't make sense, anyway: Coal is found on the surface of the Earth while diamonds are found in the Earth's mantle and eventually carried up by volcanic eruptions.

Witches were burned at the stake during the Salem Witch Trials.

Witches were burned at the stake during the Salem Witch Trials.

BRAINJET

The Salem Witch Trials in 1692 and 1693 were certainly an infamously morbid time, but none of the accused "witches" were ever burned at the stake, as commonly believed. The majority of the convicted people were either imprisoned or hanged at the gallows.