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4 Exaggerated Dangers Everyone Loves to Hype

Not to shatter your youthful idealism or anything, but the world is kind of a scary place. We at Cracked have done our best to make sure you know just how movies, the legal system, and even hospitals are trying to gut you and wear your skin as a crudely made Batman costume (or "Ferret Man," depending on your skin tone).

So let's change it up a bit, because as terrifying as the daily grind can be, some of the hot-button, fashionable bogeymen are a lot less scary than you've been told. For example ...

#4. Genetically Modified Foods Aren't Going to Kill You

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What You've Been Told:

Look out, everyone -- it's frankenfood! Someone made the damn-fool decision to give the world's scientists unfettered access to our refrigerators, and those eggheads immediately started squirting scorpion venom into our cabbage and conspiring to make us allergic to everything. The only solution is to go COMPLETELY ORGANIC on all fronts.

Barbara Helgason/iStock/Getty Images
The broccoli would later get an asterisk next to all its recipes after failing a urine test.

The Reality:

Let's get one thing straight here: Science has been messing with your food since the dawn of agriculture, because just by putting it on a farm, we change the way it grows. The only difference now is that we're testing that stuff out in a lab instead of just sticking food in someone's mouth and making a note if they immediately puke out a lung or start pooping upward or something.

But what about the "scorpion cabbage"? That sounds terrifying, right? Sure, but only because we gave it a stupid name that implies it's some kind of insect/plant hybrid. I don't want to brag, but if a scorpion ever fucked a cabbage, I'd be the guy who knew about it first, so when I tell you it never happened, that means it never goddamn happened. Even if it did, you wouldn't be eating their babies, because reproduction doesn't work that way. What scientists actually did is take one tiny piece of the chemical ingredients that make up scorpion venom, one they had carefully determined to be deadly to insects but not humans, and then inserted it into cabbage. According to Bryan Andrews, an actual GMO scientist I interviewed because I thought a nucleotide was something Godzilla fought, this is a .00001 percent change to that crop's cabbagehood.


Not this. Sadly. Because this is rad.

I don't have room to debunk every little rumor (it's not causing allergies either! OK, I'm done), so let's skip to the cool stuff: hepatitis B vaccines. Normally, they need to be refrigerated, and some parts of the world plagued by hep. B are almost impossible to get to with a mini-fridge. Luckily, scientists (like Bryan Andrews, cool dude that he is) are developing a way to hide the hepatitis B vaccine inside corn wafers, making them immune to the heat and available to way, way more people. And this isn't the first time GMOs have revolutionized medicine: They are why we now have safer, better insulin, which absolutely no one can say is a bad thing.

Obviously, we should keep an eye on what goes into making our food, because we put it in our bodies and it's best to be safe about that stuff. And we absolutely shouldn't just default to trusting major corporations, because they're gigantic currency monsters that feed on our weakness. But GMOs are the way we're going to feed the future, so let's maybe get our facts straight before we write them off just because our hearts tell us to.

#3. People Aren't Mindless Drones, Helplessly Obeying Their Superiors

Rasmus Rasmussen/iStock/Getty Images

What You've Been Told:

All of our favorite movie heroes are the ones who went against the herd and took a stand. Batman sought justice in a broken system when no one else would; Oskar Schindler bravely went against the oppressors alone to save lives; Atticus Finch also sought justice in a broken system when no one else would, just with much less fanfare. We look up to heroes like this German dude who stands up to Loki in The Avengers because we know that's our biggest weakness: orders. We're pack animals, and although we have our adorable little convictions, at the end of the day we do what we're told. For proof, look no further than the famous Milgram experiment: Subjects were asked to electrocute people on the other side of a one-way mirror, and 65 percent got their zap on and continued a-zappin' even after the person they were shocking appeared to die. Basically, human nature is fucked: We might not go around giving random nut shots to strangers, but that's just because no one has politely asked us to yet.

Photos.com
But seriously, if one person asks me to, I'm on it, yes sir, 100 percent.

The Reality:

When we ran that article about Milgram that I just linked to, that was the truth as everyone in the world knew it -- but in the meantime an entire book was written about how every detail of Milgram's results are a lie. It turns out the 65 percent statistic only applies to one 40-person subgroup in an experiment involving 700 subjects. When you look at all his findings, you'll see that only half the people involved thought the experiment was real. Of the people fooled, two-thirds refused to continue with the zap-attack. If you're keeping track, that's the exact opposite of the statistic Milgram published.

And it's not just the results that are wrong: The whole experiment was more rigged than your student loan repayment plan. Milgram said that anyone who refused to go all Jamie-Foxx-in-Amazing-Spider-Man-2 on those fools would be classified as "disobedient," but he started ignoring that rule as soon as his subjects stopped electrocuting dudes. In one presumably awkward instance, he had the actor playing the doctor give the "kill" order to one woman 26 times before giving up.

targovcom/iStock/Getty Images
"We'll give you caaaaake."
"If I murder someone? Yeah, still no."

So why did Milgram lie? Hey, look, the answer is money: The results were released shortly after Nazi Adolf Eichmann's trial for crimes against humanity, and the general public was desperate for some kind of explanation as to how someone could end up being such a dick. Meanwhile, Milgram was desperate for everyone in the world to pay attention to him and give him money. The end result was a major win for everyone except the scientific method.

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J. F. Sargent

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