Surprising as it may be, some of the things our teachers taught us as kids simply aren’t true! Stories are embellished, facts get twisted, and even outright fabrications make it into school lessons. And although our parents were much better suited to the job than the lazy bureaucrats at the public school, even they were prone to spreading misconceptions. So without further ado, here are a few of the biggest whoppers we learned as kids:
George Washington Chopped Down a Cherry Tree
We all know this one: As a boy George Washington chopped down a cherry tree, and then admitted it to his father because “I cannot tell a lie.” Unfortunately, this story can lie! Biographer Parson Weems told this story to highlight Washington’s integrity, but historians find no evidence it ever happened. Also, it seems Washington wasn’t a pastor, and he didn’t found America because the English wanted to ban prayer in school.
Blood Is Red with Oxygen, Blue Without
This myth came about because your veins look blue, but that’s just a trick of how you see color through your skin—blood is, in fact, always red. Think about it this way: When Mom put her special water into that yellow plastic cup in the mornings, it looked yellow. But in the afternoon when she drank it straight from the bottle, it was clear. Well it was always clear, it just looked yellow in the morning because you were seeing it through the cup!
Vincent van Gogh Cut Off His Ear
The story that van Gogh cut his ear off and mailed it to his girlfriend always seemed a bit dubious, since artists are known homosexuals. As it turns out, van Gogh actually lost his ear in a fight with fellow painter (and possible lover?) Paul Gauguin, who then made up the other story so he wouldn’t get in trouble. So remember how on the day you had that lesson, Mom turned to Dad and said “At least van Gogh got his woman a gift every once in a while”? It turns out all van Gogh really got was a sound beating! Just like Mom did later that night.
Daddy’s Working Late Again
Elementary education often involves a lot of repetition, and one lesson we heard quite often is how Daddy wouldn’t be home tonight because he has to work late. This lesson was given to teach us the responsibility of hard work, and how men are specially called to provide for the family and lead it in all ways. (And those were fun days too, because Mom would have even more special water and get sleepy early, so we got to have frozen pizza for dinner and watch VeggieTales.) But, while Dad did work hard, historians today indicate that most of those nights Dad was actually somewhere with Sheila, Jack and Sarah’s mom.
Bats Are Blind
While it’s true that bats use a radar-like skill called echolocation to hunt in the dark, they are not blind. In fact, they see quite well. So when Mom would yell at Dad “I’d have to be blind not to see what’s going on around here!”, that wouldn’t make her like a bat. Her ability to stumble back to their bedroom in the dark after waking up on the couch at 2 AM though, without crashing into too many things, was quite bat-like.
Columbus Proved the World Is Round—and Discovered America
One of the greatest stories in history, it turns out, is a complete lie. Columbus didn’t discover that the world is round, most educated people at the time already knew that. And the Vikings had discovered America long before Columbus did. Which makes you wonder: How can such a huge lie persist, if everyone knows the truth? How does everyone just go to dinner parties, or to church, and see Columbus and his family there, and be like “Oh, congrats on all those great discoveries, your family must be so proud”, all the while knowing that someday the whole thing might come apart, and the lies would be exposed, and Columbus’s kids would have to go live with Aunt Judith until their mom gets home from the rest hospital? I guess it’s no fun to nitpick at a good story—after all, stories are supposed to be fun!
Everything’s Going to Be Ok
Ah, another great lesson that’s hard to let go of! But no, everything was not going to be ok.
So remember, as great as our teachers were, you can’t trust everything you learn from a fellow flawed sinner. In the end, there’s only one textbook that gets it all right—and that’s a “revelation” that won’t cause you tears!