Debunking false ideas that have nonetheless become part of modern society

Because we do not know everything about everything in the world, people will tend to make up things in order to fill in the gap.

Think back to your mom explaining things to you after asking “Why?” for the hundredth time over the thousandth thing. She probably did not know the real answer, but made something up to shut you up.

Because of this curious human desire to appear all knowing, we sometimes end up with information or perceptions that are totally incorrect.

A perfect example of this is something I witnessed last weekend while in Denver. A man was holding a sign outside of a mall that said something along the lines of “Remember what Christmas is about: Christ’s birthday — not the presents.”

While the morality of turning the holidays into a capital venture is debatable, I was more fascinated by the fact that this man truly believed that Dec. 25th marked the birthday of the Christian Lord.

I wonder how many other people out there believe the same thing, or have fallen victim to other common misconceptions?

First, the whole Christmas thing was really an invention of the church to try and integrate previous traditions of other cultures into fledging Christianity.

The act of gift giving had been practiced by the Romans during a time called Saturnalia for hundreds of years before Christianity rose. And it was celebrated on — you guessed it — December 25. There are numerous similar examples of other pagan traditions being fused into Christianity, either for Christmas or other holidays as well.

Furthermore, the idea that Christ was born on December 25 has no true historical basis, the early years of Christianity there were many different days celebrated, and each separate Christian group picked a day they liked most.

I understand that it’s more about the idea and spirit of celebrating it than the actual facts, but one should not confuse the two, nor should they ignore the truth.

Moving on, there are lots of other common misconceptions that need to be dispelled post haste. And you can check the facts by a quick Google search.

First, do not despair about going swimming right after you’ve just had a meal. There is no evidence to suggest that it will increase the chances that you will get muscle cramps. This is essentially an oldwives tale.

Another one that may tickle you is that we humans have more than five senses. Everyone knows the five basic ones identified by Aristotle, but there are others that for whatever reason are not as widely taught.

The true number is still debated by scientists as is exactly what a sense is; but senses such as being able to sense relative temperature, body and limb position, and time are all other senses that people are capable of.

Next is one of my absolutely favorite mistaken comments that people will make; which is that we only use about 10 percent of our brains.

To be fair it is true that only a relatively small percentage of our brains is actively firing at any given time, the non-active neurons in our brain are still important as well, for things like memory storage. Sadly, this misconception seems to be so rooted in our culture it is unlikely that it will be defeated anytime soon.

Finally, in case anyone that reads this ever has kids, bear in mind that giving kids sugar does not mean that they are all of a sudden going to be bouncing off the walls, at least no scientific reason for them to be.

Also, if your kids are ever just simply refusing to drink milk, maybe it is because they are lactose intolerant — like the majority of people on the planet. That’s right; not being able to digest milk properly in adulthood is a normal trait of human beings.

If a person wants to be taken seriously, they need to know the truth about things before they just spurt out incorrect albeit common information. You’ll be taken more seriously if you know the truth.

And, if you want to just show off to someone, remember Henry Ford did not invent the assembly line or the car, and Mac computers can definitely get viruses and malware.