Top 10: Widely Believed Myths

No.10 - Pigeons blow up if you feed them uncooked rice

Wedding guests are often told to refrain from throwing uncooked rice because of the explosive consequences that it can have on birds, especially pigeons. Ann Landers and The Simpsons both warned us about it, so it must be true.

If rice hurts their insides, then birds are pretty dumb. Did you know that birds eat rice grains during the cold months to maintain a healthy body mass? No bird explosions due to rice have ever been documented. The fact is that birds don't drink enough water to cause any significant stomach swelling due to rice. The no-rice wedding rule really exists to keep guests from taking a tumble.

No.9 - Napoleon was short

Napoleon’s nickname may have been "Le Petit Caporal," drawings may depict him standing among much taller soldiers and he may have had an inferiority condition named after him (the Napoleon complex), but the truth is Napoleon Bonaparte wasn't short. Napoleon's height was measured in French feet, which listed him as being 5 foot 2 inches. That's short, but using the Imperial system, Napoleon stood at 5 foot 6 inches, an average height for men in his country. What about the nickname? Napoleon was given the "Petit" tag because of his friendly and respectful nature toward his soldiers; and since most of them were above 6-feet tall, that's why he seemed small by comparison.

No.8 - If you shave your hair, it returns thicker and faster

Despite studies from the 1920s showing the opposite, many men believe that shaving, waxing and cutting hair can accelerate its growth and that the hair will return thicker and darker. In reality, it's one big special effect.

For one thing, the hair that we touch, see and style isn't alive. Living hair lies under the skin and scalp, so cutting it won't change the texture or speed that it grows. The fact is you're merely seeing your hair at a different stage. Cutting your hair doesn't change the color either: Since the sun naturally lightens hair, new growth looks darker, but it all evens out in the end.

No.7 - The Salem witches were burned

In February of 1692, an investigation was launched into alleged witchcraft among citizens in colonial Massachusetts. Over the next year, some 150 people were arrested and 20 of those convicted were executed. Contrary to popular belief, however, the accused “witches” were not burned.

While some European laws encouraged burning after death as a way to "cleanse" witchcraft, it was forbidden in Massachusetts -- this ruling was because the judicial system was operating under English law. As a result, the "witches" all died through hanging, except for one: Giles Corey, who was crushed to death for refusing to enter a plea.

No.6 - Space has no gravity

Since astronauts appear to be "weightless" in space, there is an assumption that space is a place with zero gravity. While there is less gravity in space, the idea that there is none is factually incorrect.

There isn't just gravity on Earth, on the moon or even on the sun -- it's all around us. Gravity is responsible for keeping our feet planted on the ground and it's also the way that planets and satellites maintain an orbit. The reason why space allows humans to be weightless is because they are gravitating toward the Earth at the same rate as their ships.

Read the rest of the top 10 here.

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