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The 6 Most Frequently Quoted Bullsh*t Statistics

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Every once in a while, you'll hear a statistic so striking you can hardly believe it's true. Our first impulse is to repeat it, because knowing interesting things tends to make people like us better.

Unfortunately, some people are so desperate for interesting facts to quote, that they'll just pull them right out of their ass. Then those facts get repeated, by--you guessed it--people like us.

The six most quoted "too awesome to be true" stats that, in fact, are ...

#6.
You Accidentally Swallow About 8 Spiders a Year

This extremely commonly believed statistic has been fed to us by countless internet chain mails, and probably by some know-it-all kid who sat next to you in some class or other. When you sleep, you open your mouth to breath (and drool on your pillow), and supposedly this is the ideal window of oppurtunity for all the spiders who hang out near your bed hoping to be eaten alive.

Why Is It a Load of Crap?

Well, first of all, this a real kick in the crotch of the intellect of spiders everywhere. Although spiders are occasionally seen doing stupid things, it's safe to assume they have enough wit to realize when they're about to crawl through the mouth of a damned giant. If the giant white teeth aren't enough to deter them from going spelunking down your dark, wet throat (apparently no other animals have these) you'd think the heavy draft and deafening snoring sounds would be some sort of indication of how terrible a home your mouth would be.

Who Started It?

Back in 1993, people were already getting fooled by online urban legends at an amusing rate. So, a columnist for PC Professional named Lisa Holst decided to prove that you could make up anything on the internet and people would believe it.

She did this by making up a set of facts that were utterly ridiculous, the spider myth among them (which itself was taken from a collection of insect folklore that dates back to the 1950s), and unleashing it on the world in the form of emails.

In a twist of oh-so-predictable irony, people who forwarded chain mail about this just "happened" to forget to include the fact that these were completely fake.

Who Was Fooled?

Ask a group of internet strangers and you'll find at least a handful of people who wholeheartedly believe this myth. Presumably because they read it somewhere. You've even got this supposed entomologist from Experts.com quoting it.

In 2006 The UK's Daily Mirror warned that "the average person will swallow anything from eight to 20 spiders before they die."

Not satisfied to go along with the normal fudged data, The Mirror upped the ante of retardation by adding "A spider is also likely to drink from your eye at least THREE times in your life. Some experts have suggested they are attracted by the vibrations of snoring and the smell of undigested food - a good reason to floss your teeth before bedtime."

Really, is that what it takes to get the UK to worry about dental hygiene?

#5.
You Only Use 10% of Your Brain

You've heard it since you were a child, and it might have even crept into one of your textbooks: "We only use 10% of our brain! Just think what we'd be capable of if we could tap into the rest!"

The idea that the brain has UNLIMITED POTENTIAL is probably pretty appealing to 2nd grade teachers whose students complain that they can't do ONE MORE math problem. We still remember our teachers happily informing us that we're only using 10% of our brains, so we could do ten more if we wanted. The implication was of course that if we worked hard enough, we'd be able to set fire to the school with the power of our minds.

Why Is It a Load of Crap?

How fast are you reading this article? Well, let's suppose you are only using 10% of your brain. Now, read it 10x faster. Go, do it now! Are you having trouble? Yeah, that's because you can't devote that other 90% to just whatever you want. The parts of the brain are specialized, so trying to use all of it at once isn't going to make you any smarter. That would be like trying to become a better writer by striving to use all the keys on your keyboard in every sentence.

So the part of your brain you're using to read this article is not the same part you'll be using tonight when you get drunk and fight a hobo. There's even a special part of the brain that apparently keeps you from turning into a dick (No, really).

Who Started It?

There is a bit of debate on who exactly brought this bullshit statistic into the world. A series of neurologists over the past few hundred years figured out that a human can survive when parts of the brain are removed. Over time, this was misinterpreted to mean that the brain uses little of its potential, and thus the 10% statistic was born.

Facts tend to survive based on how interesting they are, rather than whether or not they're true.

Who Was Fooled?

Surely nobody takes this seriously any more, not when a ten-second Google search can tell you otherwise, right? Well don't tell that to Psychology Today, who ran that helpful 2006 article on how to access the lazy 90% of your grey matter.

One of their tips is to replenish the brain with nutrients, but we're assuming we get plenty with all the spiders we've eaten.

#4.
Men Think About Sex Every Seven Seconds

As we all know, men do nothing all day but think about having sex with their girlfriend/ex-girlfriend/friend that happens to be a girl/friend's sister. It should come naturally, then, that, on average, men think about sex every seven seconds or so, right? I mean, what else are men going to think about? Their jobs?

"Puhleaze, sister. We all know what's going on in there."

Why Is It a Load of Crap?

Let's suppose for a moment that you are a man. Have you thought about sex since you began reading this article? Well, probably, yes, because you just read the word "sex" several times. How about when you were reading the spider-eating segment moments ago? Were you imaging a massive spider-orgy? If so, you are unlike most men in the world. As a matter of fact, many experts estimate that 30% of men don't think about sex during the day at all. There are variants of this myth, usually ranging from 3 seconds to 20 seconds, but none of them are based on any actual research, and none of them are really true.

After all, how would they even arrive at such a number? Hook electrodes up to a dude's head and have him walk around for a week, counting how many times the sex lobe lights up?

Who Started It?

The origins of this statistic stretch long and far (no "that's what she said" intended), so again we can't pin it on a single person. We all know who it really was, though. A group of wives sitting at a table drinking tea or coffee, start talking about their horrible husbands. They just hate how it is always about sex sex sex sex sex. So, one of them pulls a number out of her head for a joke. "Did you know that men think about sex every seven seconds?"

The others have a good, womanly laugh about their husbands, and then they all run off to do womanly things, like quilting, or going to the bathroom at the same time. That's what women do, right? We don't really know.

Who Was Fooled?

Well, about half of us, according to this online poll. Countless sites are still including it among their "interesting facts" about sex, like this one and this one over here.

It seems like common sense would have squashed this one even before it got started. Obviously there are long stretches where a guy isn't thinking about sex (say, while spending 45 infuriating minutes on the phone with Microsoft tech support). To make up that average later he would have to think about sex every, what 2 seconds? So for the rest of the day his brain just turns into a spinning kaleidoscope of titty?

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