Old wives tales

Swimming after eating.

Swimming after eating.

This is one of my pet peeves of old wives tales, as it’s one of the most common and prevents kids from having fun and getting exercise.

The myth stems from the idea that the digestion process takes blood away from other body functions, meaning your muscles have less blood and you will cramp. The cramp then leads to be unable to swim and inevitably drowning.

Here is the very simple truth; there has never been a recorded case of someone drowning because they went swimming after eating. This one is completely bogus.

Being cold gives you a cold.

Being cold gives you a cold

This one most likely stems from people getting sick around winter time. In fact it has nothing to do with the temperature and everything to do with bad weather driving people indoors. More people spend more time together in cramped confinements, generally with fires or heaters turned on to full (its likely the added heat may cause bacteria to thrive), giving viruses the chance to spread.

Being cold or being wet has no impact on whether you will get sick or not. The only way to get sick is to come into contact with the virus itself.

TV and eyesight.TV and square eyes

This is another one that bothers me, because if you stop and think about it, it has to be completely baseless.

TVs were released to the public roughly around the 1950s. However, this myth started spreading during the Baby Boomers generation (which should be around the 1960s-1970s). This is not nearly enough time for authentic scientific tests to have been conducted over the long-term, so there’s no way anyone could have been making any legitimate claims as to this tales authenticity.

As it turns out it’s false. Watching a lot of TV or computer screens can cause eye strain in the short-term, however it won’t damage your eyesight in the long-term.

This one probably originated from an older generation afraid of change and not understanding these strange boxes suddenly populating their lounge rooms. That and mum and dad wanting to get the kids out of the house (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

Crusts and curly hair.

No crusts

It’s thought this myth may have originated back when curly hair was connected to wealth (maybe only the rich could afford perms?) and wealth was connected to health and good eating. This meant the wealthy had access to better food and more of it, including bread.

Unfortunately the only thing that affects your hair curl in the long-term is your genes. Sorry, but you curlers and hair products are only temporary.

Indigestible gum.

Undigestable chewing gum

This one either states that chewing gum is indigestible, or takes 7 years to break down in the stomach. This one probably originated with certain people not liking chewing gum (possibly because people tend to stick chewed gum under seats) and simply making rubbish up in an attempt to stop people doing it.

Needless to say, stomach acid is pretty potent stuff and chewing gum doesn’t stand a chance.

Reading in dim light.

Reading by torch light

This one kind of surprised me, as I’ve had sore eyes from reading in bad lighting. It turns out to be similar to the TV scenario;it can cause temporary strain but won’t damage your eyes in the long-term.

Carrots and eyesight.

Carrots leading to better eyesight is a 50/50 myth. Eating carrots won’t actually improve your eyesight, however they can help in preventing loss of eyesight in later life.

 Condoms have holes that allow sperm through.

Holy condom

Another one that pisses me off because it’s a lie, prevents people from managing their reproductive family life and is only propagated for selfish religious reasons.

The general consensus is that proper use of condoms (for example, not using the ones that are out of code) brings the chance of pregnancy down to around 2%. And they’re most definitely not designed to allow sperm through, that’s just religious propaganda.

The same is true for condom use and HIV and other STDs.

We only use 10% of our brain.

This one really pisses me off, not because of the lie itself, but because it allows for stupid ideas to seep through. For example, many psychics will tell you that their abilities are possible because they’ve learned to use more than the usual 10% of their brains.

Complete crap. On an average day a person will use 100% of their brain.

The only truth I can guess there might be in this myth is that we don’t use 100% of our brain at the one time. If we did it would likely lead to seizures.

That’s just a small handful of old wives tales that are rubbish. Into this list it’s pretty easy to lump just about every superstition that revolves around luck (breaking mirrors, open umbrellas, walking under ladders, black cats, etc. etc. etc.) as well as the vast majority of tales around pregnancies and effecting the gender of your child.

The fact is most old wives tales tend to be untrue, and those that are can usually be contributed to coincidence rather than educated study. Take all of them with a grain of salt and when hearing them, ask yourself if the party giving the advice has anything to gain from it being true.

-Ignorance is not bliss. Stay inquisitive.

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About Jamie D
I'm an entrepreneur and small business owner working in 3D animation and multimedia. I also have a keen interest in technology and education.

5 Responses to Old wives tales

  1. year says:

    wow thats mom upside down. i agree with blowing bubble gum for kids that are 7 years old. TTYL!! :O

  2. Smeagan says:

    I always had a theory that the eating crusts = curly hair thing came from a time when curly hair was the height of fashion and was used to encourage girls to eat all their bread. But yours is a similar thing. Also, I think bread has been a staple of the working classes since it was invented because wheat is easy to grow and easy to make into bread.

    I’m pretty sure.

    Also, in the carrots one, you should have included that the whole eating carrots = seeing in the dark because in WWII the British invented radar technology before the Germans and in order to throw them off the scent and put them off discovering it for themselves the British put out all this propaganda, in Britain, saying how carrots are amazing and give you super dark-seeing powers and so on. It’s pretty funny. They managed to fool pretty much the entire British population and it endures to this day, so good work British military propagandists.

    • archdragon87 says:

      Yes, I’m not entirely sold on the bread theory, because I’m pretty sure you’re right, bread is cheap. Maybe it was just crusty bread?

      Is the WWII one really right? I read similar stories when I did the research, it just seems so incredibly naieve. I mean, really:

      Super Carrot

      • Smeagan says:

        Well, I’ve heard about it from a number of different sources, and even seen old British WW2 propaganda posters proclaiming the magnificent night-vision properties of carrots so it seems pretty fair. I think it might be true because people are fairly gullible and a number of us will swallow almost anything someone puts forward to us. Especially if it’s from a “reputable source” like the government.

        So, possibly? I don’t have the time to really look into it further.

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