Historical Events  Science
Historical Events  Science

Do lemmings deliberately kill themselves?


Current: No

Picture the idea of lemmings "killing themselves" and there's always one thing that's present but never thought about. That is, they are always jumping off a cliff into water.

The popular misconception of them deliberately killing themselves ignores this fact, and focuses on the cliff. This is the key to their behaviour, where it turns out they are not committing suicide at all. In fact, they are migrating, which also explains why you always hear of large groups doing this at once, rather than individual ones at different times.

The herd is aware it has outgrown it's current location, in terms of resources and habitat, so instinct kicks in and collectively they know it's time to move on. They have been living near rivers and streams, so are used to crossing by swimming and always, until now, got to the other side safely, if a little tired. Unfortunately, all this combines to them thinking they just need to keep swimming to migrate, but don't realise how different the ocean is, but do know it's the one place they haven't been before.

Historical Events  Science

Number of humans officially killed by piranhas?

MMDE: Thousands

Current: One

Everyone is familiar with the idea that when some unfortunate victim falls into piranha-infested waters, they don't have long to live.

The image of them being turned into a skeleton in a bubbling, screaming frenzy has appeared in countless movies from exploring the Amazon to the lairs of James Bond's most fearsome villains

Despite appearing many times in this form, the truth nowadays is that this has only officially happened once.

This MMDE is similar to the one regarding great white sharks, where again the actual number killed is far lower than popularly believed.

Historical Events  Science

The color of blood

MMDE: Blood in the veins is colored blue

Current: Blood in the veins is colored red

Many people remember being taught at school that the blood inside the human veins is colored blue, and only turns red when it comes into contact with air. The fact that it looks that way when checking is out on your arms, legs etc appears to only reinforce this idea.

In fact it's not true, and this is coming as a big surprise to many people, who in turn have been telling their children this is the case and so perpetuating the myth. It's red because the way it carries oxygen around the body is in the form of hemoglobin, which is rich in iron and gives it the red shade.

There is a clue this is the case without having to conduct some elaborate experiment. When blood is drawn into a tube via a syringe, it usually goes into a vacuum in the tube, not air. This prevents contamination, yet it's still always red.

Historical Events  Science
Tongue taste map


MMDE: The tongue has separate areas for taste

Current: All the tongue can taste all tastes

Remember being taught at school that different areas of the tongue is responsible for different tastes? That is, there's a region for sweet which can't taste bitter, and so on. There were "maps" made showing these regions.

Well, it turns out to be baloney. All taste buds can taste all tastes. An easy proof comes from people with damages tongues. Say one lost the area which was supposed to taste salt. When tests were done, they still could but with a different area.

Its not beyond the realms of possibility to test this yourself with a healthy tongue and a pippet.

So where did this idea come from - and how way the map created?

Historical Events  Science
Scott's Porage

Rabbits know the score

MMDE: The idea carrots improve eyesight is from science

Current: The idea carrots improve eyesight is a cover story from World War 2

Every parent tells their kids to eat their carrots so they will see better, and point out how well rabbits can see in the dark as evidence. Where did this idea come from? Was it from science, or is there a wild story behind it which was entirely manufactured for a very important reason?

It turns out it is the latter, although science says the vitamins will help, as would the same amount from any vegetable.

So what's this crazy backstory then? It turns out during the early years of World War 2, the British were the first to deploy radar, which suddenly made their ground artillery and air force a heck of a lot more accurate when detecting enemy planes. The needed to keep the reason quiet, or the enemy would figure out where the radar stations were, and attack them. So, knowing they couldn't hide this sudden increase in accuracy, they put the story out that the pilots were all eating lots of carrots to improve their eyesight - and it worked! Even the German pilots began eating more...

Historical Events  Science
10,000 steps

Where did the 10,000 steps per day number come from?

MMDE: Science

Current: A marketing gimmick

Everyone wants to keep fit, and when the idea that walking 10,000 steps per day is all you need came out, it seemed within most people's grasp. The proliferation of step counting gadgets, such as the Fit Bit etc, suggest an automatic, simpler way to keep in shape is available to everyone.

The figure has a nice, rounded, confident ring to it which most people think came from a set of scientific tests.

So it comes as a big surprise when they hear the truth, which in fact reveals it's just one huge marketing gimmick. It's even been reported that the figure is built on bad science and served no other purpose than to build an "entire industry" of personal fitness devices.

Historical Events  Science
Plague Pandemic

The last Plague Pandemic?

MMDE: The Black Death in the 1300's

Current: China 1855

Many people are familiar with the "Black Death".

This is the term for the plague outbreak in the 1300's which hit Europe and Asia, and is said to have killed around a third of the population.

However, many people are also surprised to hear this was the second of three major world plague outbreaks and it is being pointed to as one of those Mandela Effects where something expected to be much wider known "suddenly" appears in history.

The first was the Byzantine Empire in 541. The second was the worst by far, but the third was deadly too since it killed 12 million people in India and China.

The other shock is that the third outbreak was only considered contained in 1960.