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6 Lies About the Human Body You Learned in Kindergarten

#3.
Your Personality Is Determined by Your Left or Right Brained-ness

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If you have functioning ears, you've definitely been told at some point in your life that lefties can access some cerebral cheat code that makes them artistically talented or emotional, and that righties are better at logical or intellectual thought. And it's all because the right side of your brain (which controls the left side of your body) is totally in charge of your creativity, while the left side controls your logic.

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Leading to the immortal question: "If I switch hands, will I do better on the math test?"

The Truth:

It turns out that the whole thing about creative genius stemming from the right side of your brain is a big fat myth. Yet this myth is so pervasive that teachers are often told to balance the amount of right-brain and left-brain activities, lest their fragile little brains develop into the cognitive equivalent of those arm wrestlers with one giant arm.

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This is your brain on an unbalanced education, according to 18th-century educators who are still somehow teaching.

The brain does indeed have some specialized structures that handle certain functions, but the idea that they cluster to opposite sides of the brain, like neurolinguistic cliques of nerds and jocks in a high school lunchroom is ridiculous. For example, while things like grammar and word production are both located on the left side of the brain, intonation and emphasis happen on the right. So you're not going to be much good with language if you're not pretty handy with both hemispheres.

Most brain functions work this way. Along with language, emotions (supposedly controlled by the right brain), and arithmetic (supposedly dominated by the cold, calculating left hemisphere) both get the bi-lateral treatment. Scientists will tell you that in order to be truly creative or logical, you need resources from both sides of your brain.

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"Sir, since you aren't using the left side, I don't see your objection to having it cut out."

Complicating our vision of the brain as an East Coast/West Coast battle is the fact that sometimes one part of your brain will take over the functions of areas that have been damaged. Which is why people who have had to remove an entire brain hemisphere don't suddenly lose all their "creativity" or "logic" functions. They go on to do things like graduate college, and they usually regain a good chunk of the supposedly lost localized functions.

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You can even drink with half a brain. But all the lamest doctors say you shouldn't.

Sorry to shatter your hopes of becoming misunderstood abstract painters, lefties. Hey, at least you still have an advantage in sports! And apparently, murder.

#2.
You Lose Most of Your Body Heat Through Your Head

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One of mom's most important pearls of wisdom probably still echoes through your head: "Don't go out without a hat, Junior. You lose most of your body heat through your head." Popular opinion tends to side with her on the issue. After all, heat rises.

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Which is why samba classes should never be held in high-rise buildings.

The Truth:

Your head is not some broken radiator that needs fixing. The percentage quoted in this myth will vary from person to person, some telling you that a hatless head will cost you up to 80 freaking percent of your body heat.

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Both of the men in this photo froze to death immediately after it was taken.

In reality, covering one part of the body has as much effect as covering any other. The origin of this myth can be traced back to the 1950s. In one of the least-thought-out studies of all time, the U.S. Army decided to put several test subjects through bitter cold conditions and then measure the amount of body heat they lost. Teeny tiny little detail: the army decked out the subjects in the latest Arctic survival gear but neglected to give them hats.

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"It's been 40 minutes and subject retains consciousness. Jim, release the bears."

So while the subjects did in fact lose a comparatively large portion of their body heat through their heads, of course the subjects lost most of their body heat through their heads! What the hell else was the military expecting?! The U.S. Army scientists then proudly printed out their survival manual with the advice that you better cover up your head, because you lose 40 to 45 percent of your body heat through it, thus giving every mother in the world her three favorite things: 1) A bullshit statistic to recite; 2) a reason to worry about her children and 3) an excuse to put them in adorable hats.

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As if they needed one.

Scientists who weren't retarded later found out that, all things being equal, you lose no more than 10 percent of your body heat through your head. The chest, head and face are also more sensitive to changes in temperature, making it feel as if you're losing more heat through them in the cold, but the truth is that the head itself loses no more heat than any other part of your body.

Having said that, you should still cover your head during bitterly cold weather. The same goes for your forearms, your left foot and your taint.

#1.
Your Metabolism Makes You Fat or Skinny

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Statistically speaking, you're more likely to die from being fat than from anything else, but avoiding this awful fate can be complicated. We learn from an early age that even if you watch what you eat and exercise regularly, you can still end up overweight due to something called your metabolism. Your metabolism describes how much energy your body uses just by breathing, having a heart that beats and other basic stuff like that. You might also be familiar with metabolism as it relates to breakfast. Many of us are told that eating breakfast in the morning will actually jump-start our metabolism. By the time you turned 10, most of you were under the impression that you were skinny or fat due to a mysterious internal metronome that speeds up and slows down, depending on when in the day you eat.

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"Does 'constantly' count as a time of day?"

See? It's complicated.

The Truth:

Everything you ever learned about metabolism is secretly confusing you into being fatter, making nutrition and obesity seem much more complicated than they actually are. If you want to know why you're fat or skinny, take the number of calories you put into your body and subtract the number of calories your body is using. The further you are from zero, the fatter you will become. The slow metabolism theory of ass fattery assumes that the "using" number is a wildcard that's mostly out of your hands.

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Your greasy, sticky hands.

In reality, it's exactly as simple as you'd think it would be. There's no special time of day when eating magically makes your body skinnier. In fact, scientists who aren't in the business of inventing cookie-based cereals think breakfast is the most important meal of the day to skip if you're trying to lose weight.

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We can't imagine why.

Some scientists say that there's no significant difference between the metabolisms of obese and thin people. When you take weight into consideration, the folks at the Mayo Clinic found that that the metabolisms of over- and underweight people are the exact opposite of what we always heard: Thin people actually tend to have slower metabolisms than their heavier counterparts.

It's the same reason European cars use less gas than Hummers. When you put on the pounds, either with muscle or fat, your body has to compensate by expending more energy just to do things like moving your blood around and taking in air. Thus, those things burn more calories.

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"This is my standin' up ice cream."

What about people who swear they eat like anorexic birds yet somehow still gain weight? Research shows they're no less honest than anyone else, they're just falling victim to a flaw in perception that we all share. Imagine you're running two contests in which people are asked to guess how many jelly beans are in a jar. In one contest, the actual number is 2,500 jelly beans, while in the other contest the jar has 200. The people guessing in the 200-jelly-bean contest are going to be closer to the target because our brains are better at estimating smaller numbers, while the guesses made by people in the 2,500-bean contest are going to be all over the map.

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And the fat people will just end up eating the jelly beans.

The same goes for estimating how much you ate at Thanksgiving dinner vs. how much you ate at your mid-afternoon snack. Our mind is just worse at estimating how much we ate at a large meal. Since overweight people eat larger meals, they underestimate how much they're eating and believe they're suffering some unfair advantage.

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"This is a normal meal, right?"

Our beliefs about metabolism are exactly as stupid as the beliefs in the early '50s that certain cigarette brands could be used to treat asthma. But even back then, we're pretty sure a kindergarten teacher wouldn't excuse a 5-year-old from class to smoke because he needed to ease his healthy nerves.

You can visit Eddie's website here.

For more ridiculous lies that were the building blocks of your view of the world, check out The 5 Most Ridiculous Lies You Were Taught in History Class and 6 Books Everyone (Including Your English Teacher) Got Wrong.

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We have some bad news: the REAL velociraptors were over-sized chickens, animals can hold grudges and your favorite book sellers are now taking pre-orders for a text book written and illustrated entirely by the Cracked team! Hitting shelves in October, Cracked's De-Textbook is a fully-illustrated, systematic deconstruction of all of the bullshit you learned in school.

It's loaded with facts about history, your body, and the world around you that your teachers didn't want you to know. And as a bonus? We'll explain why Ostriches are modern-day dinosaurs.

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