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.

Humankind have explored just about every part of the world, but mysteries still abound -- especially ones involving ancient cultures and unexplained monuments. This is where Laos' Plain of Jars fits in.

Was Anna Anderson really Anastasia Romanov? Does the Bermuda Triangle really exist? Wonder no more: We have the answers to these and other formerly unsolved mysteries.

The mysteries of Stonehenge have captivated us for centuries: Who built it and why? How did they move those giant stones? Though archaeologists and other researchers have replaced old theories with new ideas, many questions remain.

In 1977, SETI volunteer Jerry Ehman found a transmission printout so exciting he circled the paper with the word "Wow!" It seemed to indicate a message from outer space. But was it really?

It's a massive book that no one can read, and it has fascinated scientists, historians and cryptographers for decades. Is it a textbook, an encyclopedia ... or an elaborate hoax?

"Stop, what's that sound?" Doesn't it creep you out when you don't know? There are lots of sounds out there that baffle even scientists.

Hummmmmm. Annoyed yet? Imagine if you heard that sound every night no matter what you did. Likened to a diesel engine idling in the distance, the Hum is a sound some people can never get away from. It's even caused suicide. But is it real?

Crop circles. Alien autopsies. Time travelers. These are just some of the paranormal phenomena that people have believed in but were later found to be hoaxes. Often, even when someone admitted to making it up, that didn't stop the true believers.

Whether we live in fear of a kraken or the Leviathan, humans all around the globe have made sea monsters a part of their cultures. Is there a drop of truth to any of these widespread tall tales?

Very tall, hairy, glowing eyes – that seems to be the go-to description for a lot of mythical monsters out there, especially in America. Here are 10 to keep an eye out for.

When reeling off dubious facts (like lemmings plunging off cliffs en masse), there's no better retort to a skeptical audience than calmly explaining that it's not just true -- it's science. Except sometimes it's neither.

Has this ever happened to you? You're blissfully showering away when suddenly something slimy grabs your leg. It's the curtain, and it's not letting go.

Some say the real reason "no tear" shampoo works is that it has Novocain in it, desensitizing babies to its sting. Fact or urban legend?

Gargoyles have a long and fascinating architectural history. But whatever ... they're freakin' creepy.

It's a 15-foot man-beast with glowing eyes, doglike teeth, a long tongue and no lips. Gray skin sags off its skeletal frame. We're talking about the wendigo. And it's coming to get you.

Move over, mediums. Lots of people say they talk to the dead, including the bereaved. Ready to meet a few others?

We all eat things we probably shouldn't, and that's OK from time to time. But there are some foods that are such nutrition bombs that even occasional indulgence isn't exactly wise.

A key ingredient of horror films, junior-high slumber parties and occult practices, the Ouija board has been fascinating and scaring people for more than a century. But does it really contact the spirit world, or is there a more logical explanation?

Of course you wash your hands after you use the restroom or work the room at a networking event. But what about after you play beer pong? Or cuddle a duckling?

It may shock you, but there's never been a widespread study conducted on the sanitation or the necessity of the courtesy flush. Can this practice inflict grievous bodily harm on your hindquarters -- and the environment? HowStuffWorks weighs in.

If you're like us, you hit the grocery store with good intentions: reasonably healthy foods (that you'll still want to eat). But thanks to everything from marketing to plain old misconceptions, what we think is healthy often isn't.

We're running out of oil. And diamonds. And while we're at it, chicken wings, too! Relax, these are actually examples of shortages that really aren't. What else is a fake scarcity?

Einstein showed us a mind-blowing way the universe works, while Max Planck and his gang showed us how particles on the atomic and subatomic levels work. But one doesn't explain the other. So there must be a larger theory encompassing them ... or not?

We've all seen the ceaseless reposting of false information on social media and been to sites that offer claims that seem too good to be true. How can you separate the valid information from the hogwash?

You know you can't believe everything you see or hear. But between the misinformation on the Internet and our natural propensity to believe what we're told, it can be hard to tell fact from fiction. Here are 10 ways to avoid being conned.