The average person knows shockingly little about the human body, considering that they've spent their entire life living inside one. It's not their fault, though; bullshit "facts" about health, diet, sex, and everything else continue to swirl around pop culture, and even make it into the classroom. So let's set the record straight on a few big ones ...
#6. Myth: Sitting Too Close to the TV Will Damage your Eyes
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You probably remember one of the most exciting things about childhood: coming home from school, grabbing a snack, then sitting cross-legged on the floor a few inches from the TV as the cartoons came on. That is, until your parents would tell you to pick your ass up and move back, because sitting that close to the TV would ruin your vision.
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That's not even factoring in if you had Cinemax.
If there's any correlation between sitting so close to the TV as a child that it looked like you were about to make out with it and needing glasses as an adult, then it's probably the other way around -- that is to say, you were sitting that close because you had shitty eyesight to begin with, and that was the only way you could see the TV.
In fact, of all the studies that have been done to test whether there was a minimum distance below which the TV would start to fry your eyes into smoking craters, no evidence has ever come out to suggest that there even is one. The rumors probably surfaced back when old-timey televisions spewed radiation, and people were worried about damaged eyes and/or Hulk powers during Amos 'n' Andy.
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"Get back from the TV before you get eye cancer! And drink your Radithor!"
Staring at television or computer screens for long periods can make your eyes hurt and feel dry and strained, but this isn't because the screen is harming your eyes; it's because focusing hard on something means you blink less often, and your eyes get tired. Just take a break now and then, and you can press your nose right up against that porno without worrying about cataracts.
#5. Myth: Healthy Teeth Should be Gleaming White
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Every toothpaste you pick up promises at least two things: fresh breath and white teeth. Because when someone smiles and puts a mouth full of piss-yellow teeth on display, all you're thinking is "put down the coffee and pick up a toothbrush, you medieval pit beast." Yellow teeth are a sign of terrible hygiene, and repel sex more effectively than a beard confined entirely to the lower neck.
It's the Ed Hardy t-shirt of facial hair.
You might think white teeth are attractive, but as far as being natural, they're the dental equivalent of fake breasts. That's right, the natural color of human teeth is yellow. Sure, staining them with coffee or cigarettes makes them darker, as does not brushing often enough, or doing meth. But the pinnacle of oral health doesn't make your mouth look like George Clooney's, either.
In fact, your desperate, futile attempts to scrub your teeth white can actually damage them. Stiff toothbrushes are abrasive and weaken teeth by stripping off the outer layers. On top of that, "whitening" toothpaste brands are mostly bullshit. If you cough up the dough to get your teeth professionally whitened, they'll bleach the enamel, which also damages them.
"Come on, her baby teeth going to fall out soon anyway. I've got boat payments."
So despite TV commercials insisting that healthy teeth should be as white and polished as a stormtrooper's crotch plate, the whole "gleaming white teeth" thing is one of those cultural beauty standards, like insisting dudes need to wax their chest hair.
#4. Myth: Tongue Rolling Is a Genetic Trait
This is another one you probably first heard in elementary school. When science teachers are exasperatedly trying to explain the concept of genetics to idiot children, they usually bring out examples of hereditary traits. They pick simple, easy-to-spot things like hair and eye color, and of course, tongue rolling. If you can roll your tongue into a gross tube shape, it means one of your parents also has the most pointless superpower ever. If neither of them have this ability, but the mailman does, it means your mother is a filthy whore.
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Home-wrecking son of a bitch.
Your science teacher was wrong. Not about genetics as a concept -- that's pretty solid -- but about tongue rolling being an example of it. As early as the 1950s, studies had already been done that showed rolling your tongue isn't a trait passed down from your parents. It's something you learn.
The studies showed that the percentage of kids who can tongue roll goes from 54 percent in the 6-7 age range to 76 percent for the age of 12. This means that a bunch of kids just dick around in their spare time (they have a lot of it), practicing tongue tricks until they learn how to do it. It's not genetics any more than twirling a pencil is -- it's just bored kids learning a dumb trick.
The original assertion that it was a genetic thing came from a paper published in 1940, which excitedly claimed to have discovered "A New Inherited Character in Man" in the form of children who could pull a stupid face in a certain way. So at least your teacher didn't get it off Wikipedia or something, but it still pays to check the publication date of your sources.