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5 Ridiculous Natural Disaster Myths You Probably Believe

#2. Pets Can Predict When a Big Earthquake Will Strike

Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

The Myth:

We may be the most intelligent species on Earth, but everybody knows that animals have superpowers to level the playing field. Cats and dogs can sense when a person is evil, can see ghosts, and always know when a natural disaster is on the horizon. That's why there are hundreds of stories of animals freaking out before earthquakes, from snakes fleeing a city in China, to dogs howling moments before a big shock.

Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
"OH GOD! THIS IS THE BIG ONE! WE'RE ALL DOOM- oh, he just has to pee."

Animals, thanks to their finely tuned senses, are simply plugged into the world in a way that we humans lost thousands of years ago when we started wearing shoes and pooping in toilets.

The Reality:

While animals may notice an earthquake before humans, they don't have a built-in sixth sense that allows them to hack into cloud patterns and plate activity. Instead, they're likely using a strange and mystical technique known as "They feel the ground shaking under them and realize something is wrong."

Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images
"Goddammit. First the station wagon, now the living room? Is there anywhere I can stand up?"

Granted, it's tough for scientists to study just how good animals are at predicting disasters because we ourselves can't predict them, so the tests wouldn't be much more than watching a cat lay around until the Earth feels like moving again. But from the huge amount of anecdotal evidence, we can gather that, yes, there are some animals that can sense the tremors before humans ... but that's all they're doing. They're not predicting an earthquake before it happens, they're feeling it while it happens. The ground actually starts moving several minutes before the earthquake gets strong enough for us humans to realize that it's not just our phone vibrating in our pocket. The animals, who tend to be lying on the floor, just feel it first.

So that doesn't mean their strange behavior is the animal trying to say, "Hey, something huge is coming, everybody get out of the apartment complex!" In fact, it's probably closer to "I feel the ground moving and it doesn't usually do that."

Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images
"This could be another trick. I haven't forgotten the 'tennis ball factory.'"

People who claim that their pet was acting strange hours or days earlier because it supposedly smelled an earthquake coming are examples of humans ascribing normal pet behavior to a significant event. Dogs, cats, fish, and pretty much all pets do weird things, constantly. It's only after a natural disaster that owners look back and say, "He pooped in the kitchen because he has superpowers!"

#1. A Sudden Polar Shift Will Destroy the World

Peter Reid

The Myth:

One of the more popular end-of-the-world theories is that it's going to take the form of a massive, sudden, and violent geopolar shift in which the North and South Poles suddenly switch places. You may remember this from the movie 2012 or from the actual theories around the 2012 Mayan apocalypse. A lot of people remain adamant that the shift is imminent, and they believe it will be so cataclysmic, the sun will start searing the planet in solar rays, entire continents will shift or just disintegrate into the sea, and volcanoes will erupt all over the world like acne on a teen's neck. It's going to be pretty miserable for everyone.

Andrea Chu/Photodisc/Getty Images
Unless you shorted stock in compass manufacturers.

And to be fair to all those doomsday theorists, polar shifts can totally happen ...

The Reality:

Not only can they happen, they're happening right now. Experts estimate that the Earth's poles shift at a blistering rate of 1 degree every million years, so "shift" is actually a huge overstatement. That's why scientists usually refer to it as "polar wandering," which sounds a lot less like the Earth violently turning itself inside out and more like a lost tourist with an upside-down road map.

Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
It doesn't help that the moon always claims it knows a better way to go.

The magnetic field that determines the poles is created by the liquid core inside the Earth, which is why the poles aren't completely fixed. And while it's possible that the shifts can have minor effects on weather, the sun is more likely to burn out before the Earth's polarity shifts so dramatically that it destroys the world. It's the kind of thing you're probably safe to put on the back burner for now.



Now check out the people who perpetuate these myths in The 6 Most Statistically Full of Shit Professions. Or learn about the The 5 Ballsiest Ways Man Has Replaced Nature.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The 3 Most Insane Overreactions by School Security.

And stop by LinkSTORM to learn why you shouldn't poop in the ocean during a storm.

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