It's Time For These 101 Ridiculous Science "Facts" To Die

Skye Gould/Tech Insider

MYTH: Brown sugar is healthier than white sugar.

MYTH: Brown sugar is healthier than white sugar.


Sugar that's the color of dirt doesn't make it more "natural" or healthier than its white counterpart. The color comes from a common residual sticky syrup, called molasses.

Brown sugar retains some of that molasses. In fact, brown sugar is mostly white sugar with some molasses — so refining it further would give you white table sugar.

While molasses contains some vitamins and minerals like potassium and magnesium, there is not enough in your standard brown sugar packet that should make you reach for it if you're trying to eat healthier.

As far as your body is concerned, white and brown sugar are one-in-the-same.

Sources: Business Insider,"The dispensatory of the United States of America," Self Nutrition Data

MYTH: Sitting too close to the TV is bad for your eyes.

The most this will do is give you a headache from eye fatigue.

This rumor probably started with old TVs, which produced some X-rays, but newer ones don't.

Source:New York Times

MYTH: Vaccines cause autism.

If you decide to wade into this one at the dinner table, we'd recommend calmly explaining that this idea started with a now thoroughly-debunked — and retracted — study of only 12 children that appeared in 1998 in The Lancet, which claimed there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

That study was not only flawed, but it also sneaked in false information to try and make its point.

Since then, numerous studies that have analyzed data from more than a million children have shown that there's no connection between vaccines and autism.

Fears about that connection persist because of public figures making (unknowingly or otherwise) false claims about vaccines. This has led to scary diseases like measles coming back and to vaccination rates in some wealthy Los Angeles neighborhoods that are similar to those in Chad or the South Sudan.

Sources: Business Insider (1, 2, 3), PBS, The Lancet

MYTH: Sugar causes diabetes.

Eating sugar in moderation won't give you diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association, while it recommends that people avoid soda and sports drinks, is quick to point out that diabetes is a complex disease, and there's not enough evidence to say that eating sugar is the direct cause.

However, both weight gain and consuming sugary drinks are associated with a heightened risk, and (large) portion size seems to be most crucial when it comes to sugar and diabetes.

Sources: Business Insider, Tech Insider, American Diabetes Association, PLoS ONE

MYTH: Chinese food with MSG will make you sick.

MYTH: Chinese food with MSG will make you sick.


The myth that MSG (monosodium glutamate) is bad for you comes from a letter a doctor wrote to the New England Journal of Medicine in 1968, where he coined the phrase "Chinese restaurant syndrome" and blamed a variety of symptoms including numbness and general weakness on MSG.

Further research has not backed him up.

The scientific consensus according the American Chemical Society is that "MSG can temporarily affect a select few when consumed in huge quantities on an empty stomach, but it's perfectly safe for the vast majority of people."

MSG is nothing more than a common amino acid with a sodium atom added. Eating a ton of food or tablespoons full of the salt could cause the general malaise attributed to the flavor enhancer, and the placebo effect is more than strong enough to account for the negative effects sometimes associated with MSG.

Sources: Business Insider (1, 2), Tech Insider

MYTH: Children who drink soda are at a greater risk of becoming obese.

MYTH: Children who drink soda are at a greater risk of becoming obese.

frankieleon/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

In "Fed Up," a documentary film that probes the supposed causes of America's obesity epidemic, you hear the alarming statistic that "One soda a day increases a child's chance of obesity by 60%."

Authors of the study this statistic comes from note their findings "cannot prove causality" — but that's not what sugar-shaming movie producers would have you think.

Drinking too much calorie-loaded soda is likely unhealthy, but it's not the sole factor driving a rise in childhood obesity.

The CDC advises parents to do what they can to protect against obesity by encouraging healthy lifestyle habits that include healthy eating and exercise, both of which will likely do more for a child's waistline than trying to completely cut sugar.

Sources: Business Insider. "Fed Up," The Lancet, CDC

MYTH: Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis.

MYTH: Cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis.

flickr user: orijinal

Fortunately, this isn't true either.

Cracking your knuckles may annoy the people around you, but even people who have done it frequently for many years are not more likely to develop arthritis than those who don't.

Sources: Business Insider, Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine

MYTH: Starve a fever, feed a cold.

MYTH: Starve a fever, feed a cold.

Flickr/Laura Taylor

A tiny and largely misinterpreted study in 2002 recently fanned the flames of this myth, but limiting your caloric consumption may actually hurt your immune system more than helping it — it would certainly be a bad idea to not eat during the six- to eight-day duration of a cold.

Instead, doctors say to go ahead and eat if you can. The more accurate expression would be "feed a cold, feed a fever." And make sure to drink plenty of fluids.

Sources: Business Insider, BBC, Scientific American

MYTH: Green snot means a bacterial infection and yellow snot a viral one.


The color of your snot can't indicate a bacterial versus a viral infection. It varies from clear to yellow to green with a variety of illnesses and lengths of infection.

Whatever your snot's color might be, if you're not feeling well and haven't been for days, it's time to see a doctor.

Sources: Tech Insider, Medline Plus, Cleveland Clinic, Medline Plus

MYTH: A juice cleanse will detoxify you after an eating binge.


Your body naturally removes harmful chemicals through the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract — there's nothing about juice that will hurry that process along.

Juicing mainly just removes digestion-aiding fiber from fruits and vegetables. Also consider that many sugary fruit juices are as bad for you as sodas.

And while some juices are just fine, they don't provide anything that you wouldn't get by eating the whole components instead.

Sources: Business Insider (1, 2, 3)

MYTH: All people with Tourette's syndrome yell swear words.

MYTH: All people with Tourette's syndrome yell swear words.


Only a small percentage of people with Tourette syndrome randomly yell out swear words.

It actually encompasses a lot more than that, including involuntary movements and different sound tics.

The swearing tic is called coprolalia.

Source: Child Mind Institute

MYTH: Being cold can give you a cold.


There's no evidence that going outside with wet hair when it's freezing will make you sick — provided you avoid hypothermia.

But there is a scientifically sound explanation for why people catch more colds in winter: We spend more time in close quarters indoors, it is more likely that we'll cross paths with a cold-causing virus spread from another person during the winter.

Sources: Business Insider, LiveScience, CNN

MYTH: Being stressed will give you high blood pressure.

Stress doesn't play a large role in chronic high blood pressure.

Acute stress can temporarily increase blood pressure, but overall it's not a main cause of hypertension. Things like genetics, smoking, and a bad diet are much bigger factors.

Source: British Medical Journal

Kevin Loria, Lauren Friedman, and Kelly Dickerson contributed to this post. Robert Ferris contributed to a previous version.

Read the original article on Business Insider. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Copyright 2017.

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