Science Versus Myth

Are vampires real? What is an out-of-body experience? Are crop circles proof that aliens exist? HowStuffWorks explores what is real and what is urban legend with this collection of Science Versus Myth articles.


Climate change and industrial activity are wiping out large sections of the Amazon. You might not realize how much this deforestation could affect you.

If you've found yourself screeching while a bug scuttled through your kitchen, you're not alone. But we need bugs more than they need us.

Even with today's weather-forecasting technologies, some old sailing adages stick around. Does "Red sky in morning, sailor take warning" hold water?

For decades, moms have been threatening that if you don't eat your crust, your hair will fall out, fall limp or somehow fall incorrectly. What's the deal with bread crusts and hairstyles?

The full moon gives us the ocean tides. And werewolves. Does it also give us sleep issues? Some say yes. Here's the science.

For some, the holidays are time of good cheer. For others, they're a season of anxiety and loneliness. Does that translate to a higher suicide rate?

A world without cows would be a world without burgers, right? Yes, and to beef eaters that's bad news, but it would also be a world with less methane. So would losing all cows be worth it?

Your dog just swallowed a plate full of chicken bones. Is he really in serious danger? The short answer: yes. Find out why you need to get him to a vet immediately.

Figuring out how to deal with rising sea levels isn't some kind of purely academic exercise. It's happening. So how do we deal with it, especially if the sea rises a foot in our lifetime?

Earth's magnetic field has flipped many times before, and scientists say it will flip again (though probably not in our lifetime). While it wouldn't be catastrophic, a major change in the magnetic field would present a special set of problems.

You would probably be pretty freaked out if you ate uranium, right? Well, if you've ever eaten a potato or turnip, you may already have. How does your body deal with this radioactive substance?

Feel like drinking a nice, big glass of embalming fluid? We didn't think so. But what would happen if a living person poured into his or her body something meant for the insides of the dead? Nothing good.

Drinking a small amount of household bleach, while it sounds gross, probably won't harm you. But read on to find out what happens if you drink more than that.

Yes, you can eat marijuana, but turns out it can provide a much different -- and possibly more potent -- high than when you smoke it. Read on to find out ingested marijuana's effects on the body.

Let's say you like chicken nuggets. You really like chicken nuggets. You like chicken nuggets so much that it's the only food you'll eat. What does that do to your health? Nothing good, it turns out.

Ready to paint your room, but want to do something a little different? How about painting the walls with your favorite nail polish? Read on to find out why this may not be the most practical (or healthy) idea.

The undead are frightening, brain-hungry monsters, lumbering toward their victims with great purpose. But wait. Can they even digest brains?

Sure, Saturn's luminous rings are a cosmic marvel, but did you know that Earth once had rings? If we still had them today, what would they look like?

The reasons behind our lengthening lives may surprise you. (Hint: Babies are key.) But how would society have to adjust if we all lived for a century?

China's government imposed mandatory IUDs and mass sterilizations, among other measures. That's some serious micromanagement. Was it necessary to avert a population disaster?

We wouldn't stop requiring power. So how would a turn to alternative energy sources work out for transportation, international trade and our daily diets?

Remove that pesky drowning risk, and the world formerly under the sea opens with possibility — despite our inefficient limbs and tendency toward hypothermia.

If minerals make up so much of the Earth, why would we ever face shortages? The availability of the resources we use to create products often depends more on our priorities than the planet's supply.

Assuming we got to keep the sun, how bad would be for travelers to not have these little guiding lights? And what else might have changed in history without stars?

People would look underground for water and maybe just stay there to escape the fiery hell on Earth's surface. But could humanity really last without the seas?