Tuesday, April 19, 2011

American Myths

It has always been astonishing to me that there are so many incorrect things that are commonly believed that are actually false. Writers should check and double check their sources of information and try to be accurate, because many people are going to read what you write and some of them will believe it. In the sixteenth century Thomas Cardinal Woolsey gave some very good advice. He said: “Be very, very careful what you put in your head, because you will never, ever get it out” There are a lot of myths that are believed by almost everyone, simply because our parents, friends, or teachers told us. Here are a few of them.

Some myths are actually harmless. One example is the idea that fingernails and hair continues to grow after death. Actually, the skin shrinks away from the hair root and also from the fingernails making it appear that they have become longer.

Rice will explode the stomachs of birds and kill them, thus the switch to throwing birdseed at weddings. There are municipal rules in some areas that forbid the practice of throwing rice at weddings, but it has nothing to do with birds. Rice can be slippery if thrown on a concrete surface and cause humans to fall. Many birds include rice as a part of their daily diet. If you drop rice into water it will not expand as the myth claims. It must be placed in boiling water. If the birds that attend your wedding are full of boiling water, then beware of the practice.

A picture known as ‘The Surgeon’s Photograph’ proves the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. The creator of the photograph later admitted that he had faked the picture to create a hoax, yet almost no one believed his confession

The curse of Tutankhamen was unleashed by Howard Carter who opened the tomb of King Tut after ignoring the inscription at the door of the tomb. Actually there were such curses at many Egyptian tombs, but none at the tomb of King Tut. Carter did die a short time later, but all of his fellow workers lived for many years after.

The British army performed the outrageous act of burning the American Capitol Building for no good reason during the war of 1812. Actually, the American troops burned the Canadian capitol the previous year and the British were only trying to get even.

Everyone learned in their high school science classes that the cariolis effect causes water being discharged from a bathtub or a commode to swirl counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere, and clockwise in the southern. Actually, it can twirl in either direction because the cariolis effect is too weak to have any effect on running water.

These were a few of my favorite myths. What are yours?

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