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.


This is for those of you who want to think "outside the box," even when you're dead.

Straitjacket sales may be low, but people still make them, and they definitely still use them.

A new vitamin that'll prevent cancer? Chocolate as a weight-loss tool? Hang on a second. Before you buy into some extraordinary claims, use some common sense to figure out whether that "study" is the real deal.

Of all the cosmetic problems to worry about waking up to — dark under-eye circles, a blemish on your nose, new stubble on your chin — a headful of white hair ranks pretty low on your list. Should you be more concerned?

Chicago, widely known as "The Windy City," certainly seems to have earned its rep. Plus, it's a pretty cool nickname. But is it actually the windiest city? Hey, Chicagoans, let's prove it once and for all.

Rainy, dreary, Seattle, right? Everyone says it's the rainiest city in the United States. However, Seattleites are keeping a secret from you. Find out if their rainy reputation is real — or if the rumor's all wet.

Summertime fashion — light in weight and light in color. Are these pastel colors a designer's choice? Or do light colors actually keep you cooler, as some say? Read to find out if you should ditch the goth wardrobe this summer.

Walking down a city sidewalk, you protect your valuables and weave through crowds. Should you also beware of falling pennies?

If you've ever been to a slumber party, you know the drill. Place your fingers under someone's body, chant "Light as a feather ... stiff as a board ..."and they'll magically rise up into the air. Is this old trick a true ghostly phenomenon?

In the classic film "Cool Hand Luke," the title character gulps down 50 hard-boiled eggs in less than an hour. Is this a trick you can (or should) try at home?

Urban legends about Disney World are a dime a dozen. Some are totally outlandish but others are true — like the one about the secret city under the Magic Kingdom.

The core of our planet is about as hot as the sun. Here's why we should all hope that it stays that way.

A helium shortage threatens more than just the balloon industry. Way more. Here's what at stake should we run out of this gas — which is a real possibility.

What could happen if we poked one of these sleeping giants? There are two scenarios. One is good. One is very, very bad.

Welcome to Yellowstone, a natural wonderland that's home to stunning vistas, vibrant plant and animal life ... and a massive and potentially devastating supervolcano.

Your vacation would be ruined, and that's not all.

Sans gravity, would we all just bounce up and down like astronauts on the moon? No. It would look a little more like a Michael Bay movie.

Our planet's path around the sun defines life on Earth. What would happen if it changed?

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?