10 False Science Facts Everyone Knows


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Just about everything you know about colds.
Downing vitamin C won't stop you from getting a cold. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

When it comes to the common cold, fake "facts" are in overdrive -- thanks, in part, to how common it is. Since a cold is so easy to catch -- and so difficult to relieve -- everyone and their cousin seems to have a theory about how to get (or avoid) the sniffles. So let's jump in and debunk all the "facts" we know about colds.

First off, stop taking large doses of vitamin C. While it's super for you if you're a sea captain in the 18th century at risk of scurvy, there has been no conclusive test proving it's helping you prevent a cold [source: UAMS]. At best, it might help dry up some nasal secretions, after the fact, but certainly isn't worth the exorbitant price of products like Airborne [source: Fresh Air].

Next, being out in the cold isn't going to give you a cold (or influenza, for that matter). In fact, being indoors is the problem. In the winter, we're more likely to shutter ourselves inside and transmit our colds and flus much easier to those around us [source: UAMS]. And while my mother might've tried to convince me that stepping outside with sopping wet hair would lead to the usual sore-throat-runny-nose business, that was probably no more than a bluff to get me to look presentable in public. Having a wet head will not give anyone a cold.

Author's Note: 10 False Science Facts Everyone Knows

I know it's not scientific, but the poor lemmings. Why would Disney want to create a narrative where innocent rodents were painted as pathologically morbid? Read more about the controversy here.

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Sources

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  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Seasonal Flu Shot." United States Government. Sept. 26, 2013. (June 12, 2014) http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/flushot.htm#catch-flu-from-shot
  • Chudler, Eric. "Neuroscience for Kids: That's Tasty." University of Washington. (June 12, 2014) https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/tasty.html
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  • Glenn Research Center. "What is microgravity?" NASA. (June 12, 2014) http://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/shuttlestation/station/microgex.html
  • Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS). "Does earth-sun distance cause seasons?" Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley. 2008. (June 12, 2014) http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org/pass/passv14/Seasons_EarthSunDist.pdf
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  • Khan, Amina. "Evidence of young universe's growth spurt is discovered." Los Angeles Times. March 17, 2014. (June 12, 2014) http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-cosmic-inflation-20140318-story.html#axzz2wWHpKEcS
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  • Wolraich, Mark et al. "The effect of sugar on behavior or cognition in children." The Journal of the American Medical Association. November 1995. (June 12, 2014) http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=391812
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