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.

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Whether you chew to freshen your breath or blow a big bubble, you probably shouldn't swallow gum. But does it really stay in your body for seven years if you do?

By Josh Clark

To some people, a crystal skull is simply a crystal in the shape of a human skull. But to those who believe in the supernatural, it can represent doom or hope.

By Shanna Freeman

We've all seen it in the movies: A guy stumles across quicksand, and before we know it, he's waist deep and can't get out. Does Hollywood have it all wrong?

By Kevin Bonsor & Katherine Neer

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Surfer and physicist A. Garrett Lisi may have solved one of physics' greatest mysteries -- the theory of everything. It's a mathematical link to how the universe works.

By Josh Clark

According to recent studies, it appears gingers need extra anesthesia to put them under during surgery. The same gene that gives redheads their hair color is apparently responsible for the way the body handles pain.

By Josh Clark

Classic film buffs know the old warning: Stay off the moors. But werewolves got their start long before Hollywood ever put sudden fur and ripped-out shirts onscreen.

By Tracy V. Wilson

Swiss citizens recently cast their parliamentary election votes, which were transmitted using quantum cryptology, a method of encoding and decoding voting data using photons.

By Josh Clark

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Can you watch your body after you die? Near-death out-of-body experiences have left researchers wondering if life after death exists. How do scientists explain it?

By Josh Clark

Remember that traffic accident you avoided the other day? In another universe, you died. Or at least you did according to the Many-Worlds theory.

By Josh Clark

Out-of-body experiences (OBEs) are most often associated with sick or injured people, but scientists recently produced these experiences in healthy people. Learn how virtual reality can scramble your point of view.

By Jacob Silverman

According to numerologists, everything in the world is dependent upon the mystical properties of numbers. But critics charge that numerology is based on an invented system of counting. Learn about the history of numerology and what modern-day numerologists believe.

By Tracy V. Wilson

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A report declassified in late February 2007 under the UK's Freedom of Information Act reveals that Britain's Ministry of Defence has been testing psychics. Find out why.

By Julia Layton

When you're alone in a strange room at night, it's easy to believe that noises, shadows and chills are proof that spirits of the dead are there with you. Learn some possible explanations for the phenomena most often attributed to ghosts.

By Tracy V. Wilson

According to most pet psychics, you communicate with your pets telepathically all the time, without even knowing it. Learn about the controversies associated with animal communication.

By Tracy V. Wilson

There are more than 40 theories as to what déjà vu is and what causes it, and they range from reincarnation to memory glitches. Do these theories shed any light on this perplexing phenomenon?

By Lee Ann Obringer

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Near-death experiences (NDEs) are seemingly supernatural events that some people have when they're at the brink of death. Find out who typically has them and how people have tried to explain them.

By Ed Grabianowski

Even if you've never seen a zombie movie, you probably know something about the walking dead. But did you know that zombies have their roots in folklore and -- according to some researchers -- in real events in Haiti?

By Tracy V. Wilson

If you've seen the movie "The Exorcist," you have some idea of what exorcism is. But is it real, or are there other explanations for what some people call "possession"? Learn why a priest might perform an exorcism and more.

By Julia Layton

It isn't actually about telling your fortune, and it's not even about telling you what you should do. So, why would people seek out a Tarot reading?

By Lee Ann Obringer

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Could a person catch fire — with no apparent spark or flame — and then burn so completely nothing else ignites around them?

By Stephanie Watson & Mark Mancini

The movie "Ghostbusters" introduced a generation to proton beams, ectoplasm and a terrorizing Stay Puft Marshmallow. Real-life ghost busting is a bit less glamorous and whole lot cleaner.

By Ed Grabianowski

The eerie occurrence of "otherworldly" voices showing up on tape -- voices that weren't audible during recording -- is poised for the kind of exposure typically saved for UFOs and ESP.

By Stephanie Watson

Are crop circles the work of alien visitors? Are they a natural phenomenon? Are they elaborate hoaxes perpetrated by some very dedicated humans? Learn how researchers try to separate the supernatural from the scientific.

By Stephanie Watson

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Have you ever had a dream that came true? Or called a friend at the exact moment he was calling you? Most of us have had some sort of paranormal experience. Is this evidence of the existence of ESP?

By Tom Harris

The word "nirvana" gets thrown around in conversation all the time, often to describe a state of joy or supreme happiness. Actually, it's more than that -- a whole lot more. Find out what nirvana is.

By Tom Harris