We all love to throw around interesting facts that we think make us sound clever and interesting. Amazingly what the majority of us don’t realise is that most of the well known facts that we repeat over and over are not even true. Here are 10 well known-known facts that are not even true.
1 – Half of All Marriages End in Divorce
Whenever the subject of marriage comes up you can bet your last dollar that someone somewhere will spit out this little fact but what they fail to realise is that there is little truth in this statistic. What this fact does is compare the number of marriages each year to the number of divorces each year to give the 50% figure. Comparing the two is numbers is actually comparing two completely different groups of people which doesn’t say much about the chances of your best friend’s wedding last week eventually going sour.
Comparing the number of marriages each year to the number of divorces each year in no way gives a true or accurate fact. It is possible, maybe unlikely, that in any given year there would be more divorces than marriages which would mean that more than 100% of marriages end in divorce. This makes no sense whatsoever. To get the real number of marriages that end in divorce researchers would need to take the total number of marriages over a very long period of time that ended up in divorce. This would give a much more meaningful and accurate figure which would be very much lower than 50%.
2 – Men Think About Sex Every 7 Seconds
It is a long standing joke that the average man will think about sex once every 7 seconds. Sure, men think about sex a lot but so do women.
In 2011 a study carried out by researchers at the Ohio State University found that the average college-aged man thought about sex only 19 times a day or once every 4,547 seconds. This study proved that the widely believed myth of men thinking about sex every 7 seconds was totally inaccurate.
In the same study it was found that men were indeed more obsessed with sex than women. Women were found to think about sex half as many times as men, they were also found to think about basic biological needs such as eating and sleeping a lot less than men.
In the big scheme of things a person’s gender was found to be a very poor indicator of how often a person would think about sex. Emotional attitude and comfort level was a much more accurate indicator as to how often a person had sexual thoughts.
3 – People Only Use 10% of Their Brains
Most of us like to believe that we are special and unique in some way which is probably the reason why so many people are happy to go with the idea they only use 10% of their brains. If only we could tap into that remaining 90% then we would be able to release all of that pent up potential. Unfortunately neurologists at the Mayo Clinic, Princeton neuroscientists and the good people at Mythbusters have all managed to prove that this fact is actually a complete myth.
The human brain is a ridiculously complex organ and in every single experiment to see how the brain functions we see nearly every part of it in use.
4 – Gun Ownership is Increasing
Over the past few years there has been plenty of debate surrounding the subject of gun ownership especially in the United States. A commonly used fact on the subject states that gun ownership is constantly increasing each and every year but this is actually totally false. Yes, it is true that the number of gun sold each year is on the increase but the portion of the population that owns guns is actually decreasing. What this means is that fewer and fewer people own guns but those people who do own guns are more and more. Those people who once owned only one gun now own at least two or three.
5 – Being in the Military Makes People Commit Suicide
It is indeed true that there are more suicides among military personnel than the general population but this does not mean that being in the military will make a person commit or be more likely to commit suicide.
The military tends to be made up of a male heavy demographic who are more susceptible to suicide. If you take in to account various other controlling factors such as age, sex, and race you will find that the military actually has a much lower rate of suicide than the general population of the country.
6 – Alcohol is Much More Harmful Than Other Drugs
This little gem is often branded around by people who enjoy smoking pot or are in favour of pot being legalized. It was given even more momentum when, in 2010, a Lancet study was released and sparked headlines about how “alcohol is shown to be more harmful than heroin or cocaine.”
Anyone out there justifying the use of hard drugs by claiming that alcohol is more dangerous than other drugs are kidding themselves. What is happening here is because the use of alcohol is so widespread it is claimed to be more damaging to society as a whole. No study has ever shown than that a beer is more harmful than shooting up you veins with junk. Yes, alcohol has a greater effect on society as a whole but in no way is it more harmful than the likes of cocaine, heroin and other hard core drugs.
7 – Prehistoric Humans Had Shorter Life Spans Than Modern Humans
If we go back in time a few hundred to a few thousand years ago the average human life expectancy was in many cases somewhere between mid-twenties to mid-thirties. This is obviously much lower than today’s standards but this does not mean that once upon a time people started to drop dead at 29 years of age. What people do not realise is that high infant mortality rates brought down the average life expectancy of the population. Even back in the days of cavemen there were people who would have lived to the age of 70years old.
8 – Only 1 in 10 Americans Have Passports
The idea that only 1 in 10 Americans hold a valid passport is often used to try and give the false impression that the United States is somewhat insularity. The truth here is that around 37% of Americans hold a valid passport.
9 – Marijuana Is a Gateway Drug
There is not a parent in the world who has not told their offspring that marijuana is a gateway to harder drugs. This is probably widely believed because most people who abuse harder drugs have used marijuana at some point coupled with the fact that anyone using harder drugs would probably have no problem in trying a drug such as marijuana.
The claim that marijuana use will cause later hard drug use is very weak. In 1999 a study by the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences stated, “There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are casually linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”
There have been plenty of studies which have shown there is little in the way of a casual link between the use of marijuana and harder drugs. In places that have very relaxed drug laws such as Holland there is actually a much lower rate of hard drug use in the population.
10 – All Data Can Be Plotted on a Bell Curve
It’s a common error to believe a bell curve (or normal distribution) applies to pretty much any set of data. Natural phenomena, like height, do often fall into a bell curve distribution, and that’s why it’s a tool frequently used in hard sciences like physics or chemistry. But using these same tools in more unpredictable realms, like economics or other social sciences, can get us into trouble: Models used to predict stock market behaviour often give 1 in 1 billion odds to the type of crashes that now occur virtually once a decade.
Writer Nassim Taleb gives this example in his book The Black Swan: A thousand people are gathered in a room, and the world’s tallest person walks in. The average height in the room wouldn’t change much — maybe skew up by a decimal point or two. But if Bill Gates walks in, another unlikely, if plausible event, the average wealth in the room would change immensely — so much so that the combined wealth of the other 999 people would probably be an afterthought. A bell curve would describe the height distribution of people in the room pretty well — the wealth distribution, not so much.