Busting 21 age old myths...

Are cereal boxes more nutritious than cornflakes?

This myth started with Paul A Stitt’s book Beating the Food Giants in 1982. He claimed that, in a study, rats subsisting on cereal boxes outlasted those eating cornflakes.

Discovery Channel’s MythBusters laid this to rest in 2006 when they found the cereal had 20% more calories than the box. It also had more protein, starch, fat and sugar. Still think the carton is better than the flake? In 2011, producers stopped using recycled cardboard in packaging after a study showed it posed a cancer risk….

Stout is good for you when you’re pregnant

You’ve heard it a million times: “Guinness is a great source of iron.” No it’s not. Neither is Murphy’s or Beamish. You would need to neck three pints to yield the same amount of iron as an egg yolk (1.1mg). A pint of stout contains 0.3mg of iron — under 3% of daily adult needs. That’s 15 pints to get the same amount as two Weetabix.

Stick to a boiled egg and cereal instead. Just don’t eat the box…

Eating chocolates gives you zits

The Australasian College of Dermatologists and the American Acne and Rosacea Society have found no links between choc and spots. The former says that eating too many high-glycemic foods (white bread, pasta) may trigger acne. “Chocolate itself hasn’t been implicated.”

A study in the Netherlands in April claimed there may be a connection through the immune system, but the jury’s still out. Chomp away, lard-arse, you may be getting fatter but your skin looks great.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Only if you threaten to throw it at him. Apples are full of antioxidants, but you’d need to eat a lot of them to maintain perfect health. Try taking your apples in cider form. It’s much more fun.

Cranberry juice can cure a urinary tract infection

There’s no evidence that cranberry juice will treat an infection. However, according to the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand, regular cranberry juice may reduce the risk of developing one. If anyone recommends it as a cure, they’re taking the p***.

Smoking banana skins will get you high

Only if you load them with weed. This was a myth propagated by singer Donovan to confuse drug-obsessed UK police in the late 1960s. His little joke is recorded in the song ‘Mellow Yellow’. Tea won’t get you high either.

Feed a cold, starve a fever

People with a fever need to eat. When you’re sick, your metabolic rate goes up. Some fever-stricken people have been known to lose up to 17 pounds in four days, through muscle wastage. If you have a fever, eat. Chocolate is always good. And it doesn’t give you zits, apparently.

Vitamin C will stop you getting ‘flu

Vitamin C supplements at 200mg+ a day reduce cold symptoms by just eight hours and are rubbish at stopping us catching colds. Good for a hangover, though.

Making loads of noise when surrounded by lions will make them go away

In 1876, the Scunthorpe Weavers and Shunters Brass Band walked into a pride of lions while on tour in Pretoria. Despite the best efforts of the trombone players, no-one survived.

Actually, that’s not true. I just made it up. Lions really do hate loud noise though, and will look for an escape route when confronted by humans (personal experience).

The Duke of Wellington said: “If a gentleman happens to be born in a stable, it does not follow that he should be called a horse.”

No he didn’t. It was Daniel O’Connell. “The poor old Duke! What shall I say of him? To be sure he was born in Ireland, but being born in a stable does not make a man a horse.” (Oct 16, 1843). Dan was the man.

Daniel O’Donnell records, when played backwards, say: “I love you, mammy.”

Myth. Possibly.

Vikings had horns on their helmets.

Archaeologists have discovered Viking helmets with horns, but these were worn by priests. Norse warriors didn’t wear them into battle. The myth may have come from Plutarch, who described the northern tribes getting slaughtered while wearing all manner of mad hats. Just like Ladies Day at the Curragh.

Humans have five senses

Incorrect. Since Aristotle’s time, it’s been accepted that we have five primary senses: sight, touch, taste, smell, hearing. According to researchers at Harvard Medical School we also have the following senses: equilibrioception, nociception, proprioception, thermoception and interoception.

Imagine putting “Darling, it was love at first equilibrioception” on a Valentine’s card. You have? Loser.

Dogs sweat through their tongues

Dogs have very few sweat glands and most of those are in their footpads. When Rover’s tongue is lolling stupidly out of his gob, it’s because he’s using the moist lining of his lungs as an evaporative surface. Yuck.

Bats are blind

Wrong again. They can’t see in colour, but at night they have better vision than humans. They also use echolocation, but then you knew that. So you’re not ‘as blind as a bat’. You’re as ‘colour blind as a bat’.

You’re never more than six feet from a rat

BBC show More or Less has estimated that there are 3.1m rats in Britain’s urban areas. If they were spread out evenly all over the UK they would have a roaming area of 5,000sq metres per rat.

That means UK residents are around 164ft from a rat. Until someone does a similar study here, it’s safe to assume you’re more than six feet from a rodent. Unless you’re standing in Leinster House.

If you cut an earthworm in half it will regenerate into two earthworms

You’d believe anything, wouldn’t you? The front of the worm lives and the back dies. The ‘magic’ regeneration occurs when the front replaces its missing butt.

Goldfish have a three-second memory

Goldfish actually have a reasonably good memory and can be trained to respond to sensory cues such as flashing lights and music. They’re big disco fans, apparently.

You should drink eight glasses of water every day

Rubbish. For a start: what size glasses? Slim Jims or pints? Just drink when you’re feeling thirsty.

Chewing gum stays in your tum for seven years

It may be indigestible, but gum will find its way out like everything else. Here’s a joke:

“I passed some gum today.”

“Really? What did it feel like?’

“It was a bit Wrigley.”

Thomas Crapper invented the toilet

No he didn’t. And ‘crap’ is an old French word. The modern flush loo was partly invented in 1206 by the Arab, ‘Al-Jazari’. His handwashing machine used the flush mechanism which is now used in modern bogs.

A penny falling from the Empire State Building could kill someone

US pennies weigh about a gram and, thrown from the Empire State, would hit you with one foot-pound of energy. It would hurt, but not as much as if that penny was in the pocket of a very fat person falling off the Empire State Building.

The Great Wall of China is the only thing designed by man visible from space

Not if you’re sitting in the International Space Station. It’s 173 miles above sea level which is ‘low Earth orbit’. The wall is not visible from that height. The pyramids are though. Alan Shatter’s ego is too.

Hair continues growing after death

This unpleasant myth is due to the fact that when the skin starts to recede from a corpse, it makes the hair and nails appear longer. Death: the ultimate bad hair day.

A toilet’s flush is different in each hemisphere

The rotation of the Earth affects air masses or other large structures. This is known as the Coriolis Effect. It’s not strong enough to have an effect on the direction of your bog water. Your mates in Oz are lying to you.

Women are better multitaskers than men

No you’re not. According to the latest research, “Men are better at multitasking than women”. (Professor Timo Maentylae of Stockholm University said that, not me.)

It’s all down to periods, says Timo. In his study, men outperformed women at doing several tasks at once. His research reconfirmed that a women’s spatial ability is linked to her menstrual phase.

Female multitasking skills fluctuate according to the time of the month. Timo no longer has a wide circle of female friends. The good news [phew] is that other research proves we’re ALL crap at multitasking. Humans can perform two routine tasks at once, like driving and listening to the radio. Ask us a hard question while walking, however, and we have to stop moving to think about the answer.

That said, while you’ve been reading this article I’ve fended off a pride of lions with a trombone, eaten several cereal boxes, smoked a banana, wrote a novel, made dinner…


Lifestyle

Ask Audrey: How to sort out Norries in your back yard

More From The Irish Examiner