Everything Millennials Were Taught Wrong About in Third Grade

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Everything Millennials Were Taught Wrong About in Third Grade

Making fun of people who are dumber than you is a surefire intellectual self-esteem booster, and nobody’s dumber than dead people. Not just because they’re dead, though that’s admittedly a plus. It’s mostly that people from the past believed hilariously wrong things, like that the earth was flat or illness is caused by an imbalance of humors or the plague could be cured by farting. What a bunch of idiots.

But eventually, everyone becomes a person from the past. Maybe one day, Gen Letter We Don’t Have Yet will be laughing at us for thinking mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell or smallpox was eradicated. We definitely know something we currently believe will be proven wrong because it already has in our lifetimes. There are tons of things the 30-plus set was taught in school that have since turned out to be untrue. Such as…

Christopher Columbus Was the First European in America

Many of us were taught that Columbus “discovered” America, which is obviously wrong in the sense that you can’t discover land that people are already living on, but it turns out he wasn’t even the first white dude. A Viking settlement in Newfoundland, first identified in the 1960s, was officially dated about 500 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 2021, and there are plenty of theories about other groups who might have pre-dated him. Irish monks are involved. It’s a whole thing.

Rosa Parks Was Just a Random Tired Lady

The Rosa Parks story most of us learned was that she was an unlikely figure to kick off a civil rights movement, just a tired old woman who spontaneously decided she didn’t feel like giving up her seat on the bus to a white man. The reality of the situation — that she had a long history of activism, carefully planned her act of protest with other activists after other such refusals garnered little media attention or sympathy, and wasn’t even that old — wasn’t revealed until the 1992 publication of her autobiography, in which she explained, “The only tired I was was tired of giving in.”

Drinking Milk Will Give You Strong Bones

Milk was literally forced down our throats in the 1990s and aughts — if the disappointed glares of parents and teachers count as force, and we’d argue it does — with the promise that we’d grow adamantium skeletons, but it was apparently all for nothing. Several studies have shown that, while drinking milk might increase bone density somewhat, it doesn’t do much to prevent fractures and may even be harmful in excess. Mountain Dew for everyone!

The Food Pyramid Is the Best Guide for Healthy Eating

Upon its debut in 1992, the food pyramid taught us, insanely, not to eat more than five servings of vegetables or four servings of fruit in a day but go ahead and stuff 11 servings of bread down your desiccated gullet. Incidentally, it also encouraged potentially unhealthy consumption of dairy, which the current visual representations of nutrition guidelines don’t include at all.

There Are Nine Planets in Our Solar System

You’re probably aware that Pluto has been demoted to dwarf planet status since you had to build a model of the solar system out of glitter glue and Play-Doh, but it turns out we only have a vague idea of how many planets are in our solar system to begin with. By the International Astronomical Union’s own standards (the ones that kicked Pluto out), several other dwarf planets should qualify as big boys, and astronomers have theorized that an entirely different planet is out there that they can’t directly observe yet.

The Dinosaurs Were Killed by a Volcano

Depending on where you got your dinosaur information in the 1980s and 1990s, you were probably told that they went extinct due to a massive volcanic eruption or some kind of possibly mouse-related drought. When it was first suggested in 1980 that a giant asteroid wiped out most life on Earth, it was treated with all the gravity as if they’d said aliens did it. And even after the crater it caused was found in 1991, it was still debated for the next 20 years. Fossil guys are pretty stuck in their ways.

Matter Exists as a Liquid, Solid or Gas

It was never true that there are only three states of matter — it can also take the form of plasma — but since 1995, it’s been even less true. That was the year scientists created the first Bose-Einstein condensate, which is what happens when atoms get so cold that they can no longer be distinguished as separate atoms. Even more human-made states of matter have been demonstrated since then, but they involve words like “bosonic correlated insulator” and “superionic ice” that we can barely pronounce, let alone understand.

There Are Four Oceans on Earth

Geography can be tricky for many of us — there are just too many damn states — but this is an easy one. It’s not like they can just add more oceans, right? Wrong. In 1999, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared the body of water surrounding Antarctica “the Southern Ocean.” It took about 20 more years to get everybody on board, but in 2021, the National Geographic Society gave it their official endorsement. What’s next? New continents? New planets? Oh. Ohhhh.

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