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Scientific myths you might still believe

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By Skyler Ash

I pretend to know a lot of things that I don’t, because let’s be honest, we all do. Sometimes it’s embarrassing how little we know, or how much we think we know. We decided to take a few common scientific myths that seem true, but really aren’t. Feel free to tell people about them at your next cocktail party as you sip on a pretentious glass of Stella Artois and stroke your handlebar moustache.

1. If I am sick, I need antibiotics, or I will surely die.

Doctors have been overprescribing antibiotics for years. According to a 2016 study in the Journal of American Medical Association, 30 per cent of antibiotics prescribed are unnecessary. Most unnecessary medications are prescribed for colds and coughs. The more antibiotics you take that you don’t need, the less effective they become. And when you really need them, you might die. OK, you won’t die, but you certainly won’t get better because you’ll have built up an antibiotic resistance. So just die in a tragic boating accident in the Cape like everyone else, OK?

2. I eat organic food because I am superior, and my body is a temple.

If you thought eating organic food made you a better person, the joke’s on you. A 2017 study from the University of British Columbia shows the biggest difference between organic and non-organic foods is actually the price. Although fewer pesticides are used compared to traditional farming, a 2012 study from the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests there isn’t a large-scale nutritional benefit that comes from buying organic products. So just grab your regular peasant vegetables and be quiet.

3. My hair and nails will grow even after I die. I will be Rapunzel with long nails.

This is definitely not true. When you die, your body stops producing hormones needed for growth, and therefore, you can’t keep growing—no matter how cool that would be. Also, when you die, the body dehydrates, and the skin can shrink. This may cause the nail beds to recede, making it look like your nails are longer than they actually are. So if you want a corpse with flowing locks and long nails, make sure to head to the salon before your inevitable death.

4. Space is cold, like my heart. This is only partly true. According to NASA, the coldest spots in the universe can drop to -270 degrees Celsius. However, in that nice, sun-facing sweet spot around the Earth, temperatures can go up to 121 degrees Celsius. So space can be cold and warm in the extreme. And maybe your heart will be a little warmer after hearing that.

5. Lightning can’t strike the same place twice.

No, not really. NASA researchers found lightning has about 1.45 different strike points, meaning it isn’t just a single bolt. It can in fact strike more than once. We aren’t living in a cartoon. Let’s also take a small moment to think about how old the Earth is and how many strikes of lightning have occurred over time. It’s not as if lightning is fast-approaching the ground and thinking, “Oh, you know what, I actually hit this spot way back in 1895, so I better find a different spot.” It can strike the same place more than once.

6. When I die with my eyes open, someone can just magically pass my hand over my eyes and they’ll be closed.

This isn’t a movie. If someone dies with their eyes open, you can’t just gently close their eyelids while a soft, sad song plays in the background. According to the Education on Palliative and End-of-Life Care, that shit takes time. Eyelids must be held closed for several minutes to remain closed, and sometimes that doesn’t work. Often, eyelids are just taped closed. But as rigor mortis sets in, it becomes very difficult to move a body.

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