What False ‘Facts’ Do You Fall For?

Bet you could explain something as basic as how a zipper works? Or correctly draw something as simple as a bicycle? If you said yes, you likely bet wrong… but don’t worry it’s not just you! When you stop and think about it, you’re probably not that aware of all of the things you don’t understand.

On this week’s episode of Brain Games, Jason Silva explores the illusion of confidence as knowledge. In fact, the “illusion of knowledge” plagues the human brain and we fall victim, again and again, to the notion that we understand more than we actually do. Not guilty of leaning on your confidence in the facts? Maybe you are a keen skeptic, but no doubt there are many common misconceptions that your friends and family hold up as truth. Here are a few examples of some of the most common and repeated “facts of life” that simply are not true. How many of these have you heard and believed?

George Washington had wooden teeth.

Turns out our first president did not have a mouth full of timber. His dentures are held at the National Museum of Dentistry and a forensic anthropologist supervised laser scans on one of the four known sets of Washington’s dentures. The scans revealed that there was no wood at all in his false teeth.  The dentures were actually made from gold, ivory, lead, human and animal teeth. Which quite frankly, is quite a bit creepier than the misconception.

Twinkies have a shelf life that lasts decades.

If you find yourself in the middle of an apocalypse you better plan on foraging for food other than Twinkies over the next century. According to Theresa Cogswell, vice president for research and development at Interstate Bakeries Corp, in reality, Twinkies’ shelf life is more like 25 days. This is still a long time for packaged food to remain edible, but you are better off looking for canned goods or freeze dried rations for a snack.

Baby rattlesnakes are more poisonous than adults.

It is often said that baby rattlesnakes are far more dangerous than adult rattlesnakes because of the belief that they do not have the same control over the release of venom as an adult. However, according to Loma Linda University Medical Center in Southern California, which has tremendous experience in treating rattlesnake bites, large rattlesnakes cause more serious injuries than baby rattlesnakes. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t rush to the hospital if you are bitten by a diminutive rattler. However, you aren’t in more danger.

Birds will abandon their chicks if you touch them.

Have you ever found a baby bird in your yard and wondered what to do to help it? Chances are you’ve heard that if you touch it, you’re going to have to take care of it because the parents will smell that you’ve touched it and abandon them. Actually, this isn’t true at all. Most birds have a very poor sense of smell and are not all that bothered if you touch their chick. In fact, they are likely hiding out somewhere waiting for you to disappear so they can come back and feed their youngster. Despite common reasoning, the best thing you can do is find the nest and put the little guy safely back in it.

Did any of these untruths get you? Wondering how many things you think you know may turn out to not actually be true? Tune in to Brain Games: What You Don’t Know tonight 9PM et/pt. and find out whether you’re truly knowledgeable or merely confident.


  1. Ken B.
    Columbus, OH
    May 19, 2013, 10:55 pm

    I know what I know, I don’t know what I don’t know, and I know what I don’t know. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

    Is it fair to assume that we accept “truths” that are of no consequence, and remain skeptical and truly test “truths” may have an affect of how we live?

    Is it that we do not admit to our lack of knowledge to protect our image among our peers?