Our brains are filled with pre-conceived notions about almost everything we come in contact with on a daily basis. While most of these ideas are accurate enough not to cause any real problems, there are some misconceptions that could fundamentally alter the way we see ourselves and the world around us. There’s something about a simple misunderstanding that can cause us to question everything. Finding out the truth behind an everyday assumption is like having the rug pulled out from under our feet. If we could be so wrong about one basic element of life, how wrong are we about others…?
And this goes well beyond simple déjà vu. While seeing the same black cat twice signaled a glitch in the Matrix on screen, this article features nothing supernatural or paranormal. These are all completely real and just as mind blowing. From revelations about animals and nature, the human body and how we communicate, to foods we eat, products we buy and pop culture in general, the reality behind all of the things discussed here will totally surprise you. Before we dig too deep, let’s start with one of the most fundamental aspects of society and civilization...
Words are an integral part of human communication. With thousands of living languages across the world, interacting can be quite difficult. While less than a dozen are commonly used by over tens of millions of people, there is surely plenty that gets lost in translation. As language and communication evolves, especially considering the incredible rate with which slang develops, the possibility that you’re using a word with multiple meanings increases exponentially. Check out all of these common terms, with minor spelling and pronunciation variations, that can represent completely different things...
Bae, a word used to identify a significant other, also means “poop" in Danish, and “bye" in Icelandic. Moron in Welsh means “carrots" (which are featured later in this article). Slut means "end/finished" in Swedish. Air translates to "water" in Malay, which is super confusing. None of these are nearly as bad as the word gift, which means “poison" in German, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian. And for this last one we recommend you read quietly and refrain from saying it out loud. Phak in Thai means “vegetable," but something else entirely in English. Since we’re on the subject, “I before E except after C” has plenty of exceptions and actually makes spelling harder.
While human beings can’t do anything supernatural like see ghosts or predict the future, we actually do have a sixth sense. As a matter of fact, we have up to 33. Beyond Aristotle’s originally suggested "seeing, touching, hearing, tasting and feeling," humans have multiple sensors all over the body that technically qualify. While a full understanding of human sensory perception is still subject to ongoing scientific research, we definitely know more now than ever. We won’t be able to get into all of the science here, but read on for a basic breakdown...
Inner ear receptors sense balance and orientation, while skin sensors detect heat, cold, pressure and itches. Equilibrioception focuses on balance and prioprioception allows us to use body parts without looking at them, like walking while staring straight ahead or typing without taking your eyes off the screen. Speaking of, kinaesthesia is a sense of movement, thermoception senses temperature, nociception senses pain and chronoception senses time. And while we’re at it, the funny bone isn't a bone, it's the spot where the ulnar nerve touches the humerus. Boom. Read ahead for another interesting body-related reveal...
Flickr / Mathew Wilson
Staying in the water too long while swimming or showering can result in pruned fingers, something many assume is just a side effect of all the moisture. But it’s more than simple swelling, it’s actually an evolutionary feature that makes it easier to pick up and grip objects when wet. While your hands might look older, this is quite an amazing survival mechanism that was probably much more useful before modern technology. But the next revelation still applies today...
Flickr / U.S. Department of Agriculture
While pruned fingers certainly help, nothing hand-related ensures the survival of our species quite like washing. Every civilized public restroom features signs instructing people to wash their hands, but have you ever actually read the fine print? Most of these instructions insist that everyone spend around 20 seconds on just the lathering and scrubbing. Have you ever seen anyone wash their hands for that long? Try not to think about this the next time you shake hands or eat...
While shopping online has becoming more convenient in recent years, people still love to go out and browse the shelves. One of the most important things stores can do to ensure success is present their products in the best way possible. There’s something about a wall of perfectly folded clothes or, in this case, towels that seems to attract the attention of customers. But instead of doing all that folding, some stores use foam blocks to create the illusion.
If you think towel trickery is bad, it’s nothing next to this. You can't watch anything anywhere without seeing a car commercial, but you’re not always actually seeing the car that’s being advertised. Most production companies use The Blackbird, seen above, an adjustable rig over which the image of the vehicle is added after the ad is filmed. Look closer the next time you’re watching a car commercial to see if you can spot the CGI.
Instagram - @subway
Of all the food related misconceptions featured in this article, arguably none were more of a betrayal that that of the Subway Footlong. A few years ago, a photo went viral that proved the sandwich wasn’t the length advertised. Controversy followed and resulted in Subway pledging not to let this happen again. Stick around to the end of this article to see even more shocking examples of this type of trickery in food product advertising...
Special effects in movies are becoming more and more common as technology advances. But sometimes it takes good old fashioned elbow grease to enhance the special effects. While the use of a green screen is the easiest way to create a cinematic illusion, you’ll be shocked to learn that fans aren’t behind the fake wind. It’s actually people in full body green screen suits pulling at strings to have absolute control over the effect.
There aren’t many desserts that can compete with ice cream, and advertisers take this into consideration when crafting their marketing campaigns. Most of these ads revolve around an image of the ice cream, perfectly photographed to highlight how delicious this cold, sweet treat is. But your mouth might not water as much the next time you see a picture of what you thought was ice cream. Read ahead to find out what it actually is...
Ice cream is perfect for hot days, but hot days aren’t perfect for ice cream. Heat causes the dessert to melt, which is difficult for photographers when trying to capture the right image, especially considering the bright lights needed for successful photoshoots. So instead, they use food coloring to make mashed potatoes look like ice cream. Gross. And there’s an even crazier advertising trick featured later in this article…
One of nature's most common misconceptions based on a name is the Horned Toad, which actually isn’t a toad at all. Also known as the horned lizard, its tricky title comes from how much it looks like a toad, with its flattened, rounded body and blunt snout. Fun fact, they can shoot blood out of their eyes for protection. And there is another crazy toad-related reveal later in this article...
Names can often be misleading, especially when it comes to species that look like whatever their name suggests. The reality behind some of nature’s more romantic creatures can really redefine how they’re perceived. Another common, name-based misconception is the firefly, which is actually a beetle. It’s true classification somehow takes some of the magic away from something that uses bioluminescent light to glow in the dark. And there’s more disappointment ahead...
Flickr / Mike Mozart
Animals, insects and reptiles aren’t the only things with inaccurate names. Even made up characters have misleading titles. There aren’t many cereal mascots more iconic than Cap’n Crunch, but calling him a Captain might be a bit off. A closer look reveals three stripes on his arm, which signifies a Commander, instead of the four he would need to live up to his name. And that’s not even close to the most shocking cereal reveal...
Brands love to use images of the products in their marketing, especially foods and beverages. Companies spend as much if not more time creating the packaging as they do on whatever is inside of it. Nothing sells a box of cereal better than a beautiful picture of the breakfast food in a big bowl of milk. Unfortunately, that’s not milk in the photo. Read on to find out what it actually is...
Whenever you’re standing in the cereal aisle salivating at the giant wall of delicious choices, here’s something to think about. The white stuff in those pictures is actually glue. Using real milk would cause the cereal to sink to the bottom of the bowl and get soggy, while glue allows the photographer to take their time and capture the best shot possible.
Twitter - @wavedrom
Using glue in cereal ads, while crazy, isn’t even close to being the most controversial reality behind this everyday product. Many consumers have found foreign glue hidden inside what is being sold as a more recognizable brand. Vendors have clarified that some companies will simply purchase the cheaper version and sell it with their label. And there is a similar, and even more common, household product with an even bigger misconception...
Lead poisoning is something we find out about at a young age, making all those years using pencils in school kind of scary. It would’ve been nice to learn that lead pencils don’t actually have any lead in them. They instead are filled with a nontoxic mixture of graphite and clay. And for the record, the 1 to 4 numbering system used on pencils is there to designate the strength of the “lead.”
This is maybe the most simultaneously disappointing and interesting reveal in the whole article. At some point in all our lives, we’ve wished upon a shooting star. Unfortunately, most wishes don’t come true. Well maybe that’s because we’ve actually been wishing on meteoroids this whole time, which is still cool, but definitely changes the game.
The peanut is one of the most misunderstood foods out there. First of all, they actually develop underground, as opposed to most nuts that grow on trees. Oh and also, they’re not nuts. Peanuts are actually in the same plant family as beans and peas. While they look and taste like walnuts, almonds and cashews, these legumes are technically edible seeds. Read on to check out some other misleading food names...
Within the wide world of fruit, many are surprisingly classified as berries. Watermelons, eggplants, pumpkins, chili peppers, avocados and bananas are technically berries, where strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are not, but are actually aggregate fruit. Some other misconceptions involve fruits that people think are vegetables, like cucumbers, squash and bell peppers. But none of these are as misunderstood as the pineapple...
Flickr / Victoria Rachitzky Hoch
Pineapples are a very popular fruit, but where do they come from? Most people assume they’re grown on trees and imported from Hawaii. Well, neither is true. There’s no such thing as a pineapple tree and they’re actually from South America and Asia. Most surprisingly, they grow on bushes from the tops of other pineapples, seeing as they don’t really have usable seeds.
The use of pineapple on pizza is pretty controversial. Some feel the sweet fruit enhances a slice, while others find the combination inedible. Beyond the arguments about the taste, at least everyone can agree that it was created in Hawaii. Or so you thought. The Hawaiian pizza actually comes from Canada, and most Hawaiians don’t even like it.
Debates over the validity and taste of Hawaiin Pizza will continue to divide pizza lovers, but no one is trying to say that pizza in general isn’t delicious. And with the convenience of delivery services making it easier and easier for customers to enjoy, it’s one of the most popular food items available. But if you’re picturing a master chef carefully crafting your pie in the kitchen before it comes straight to your house, think again...
There aren’t many culinary acts more romantic than making a pizza. From rolling and tossing the dough to spreading the sauce and sprinkling the cheese, constructing a pie by hand ensures the quality of the final product. Surely it suffers when the human element is removed from the equation. That’s something many delivery chains are hoping customer don’t notice with their use of a lifeless sauce machine in this crucial part of the process.
The presentation of a home can vary based on whatever material was used in its construction. But there is a grey area in between the original version of a house and how it might look today. People actually use products like molds and covers to give the appearance of more detail and variety. Above is a picture of Hale House, which features many different cosmetic additions to whatever it might look like underneath. And that’s just scratching the surface...
Droughts have been so common lately that residents have turned to creative techniques to make up for the water loss. One of the most obvious uses of H20 is on the lawn, and if that’s not possible, how will people keep their yards nice and green? They’ve actually been using paint to maintain the image of a healthy lawn, something that’s also done with golf courses and athletic fields. The grass isn’t always greener after all.
While some houses and their yards use trickery to present themselves as something they aren’t, 58 Joralemon Street in Brooklyn, New York takes this to the next level. Pictured above, it blends in nicely with the other buildings in the neighborhood, but is actually not a residence at all. It’s an empty subway ventilator, complete with a secret entrance/exit to and from the stations below in the underground tunnel.
Houses, buildings and yards aren’t the only aspects of public property that aren’t always what they seem. Brick roads and sidewalks have a classic look suggesting someone laid each brick by hand, but not only is that untrue, sometimes the surface isn’t even brick at all. If it is, it was more than likely laid by a machine, and if it’s not brick, it’s probably just concrete made to look like bricks with the use of a giant stencil.
Beyond the trickery around what a surface in made of, is what is on top if it. Almost every road has paint markings that help people get to where they’re going. But while most would assume they're marked by hand, as seen above, or with a machine, this is not always the case. And on top of that, the markings aren’t even necessarily paint. Instead, thermo plastic tape is heated up to 200 degrees on top of the road.
Inaccurate and misleading names have and will continue to populate this article. Apparently, not all palm trees are actually trees, in fact, they’re closer to being classified as grass. Trees typically have bark and woody, circular tissue, where palms don’t. Some palms qualify, seeing as they technically are a large, woody plant with a single main stem, but many varieties of palms don’t count as trees.
Flickr / m01229
Of all the food-related reveals in this article, this one might be the strangest. While we’re not exactly sure how we thought regular carrots made baby carrots, we assumed the smaller option was just a miniature version of its full grown counterpart. But they're really one in the same. “Baby” carrots are actually deformed carrots shaved down into smaller pieces. As bad as this is, at least they’re still carrots, where the next entry is much more misleading...
Another orange food product is the Tic Tac, which also comes in a variety of flavors. Before we pull back the curtain, here’s a fun fact. If you look inside the pop-up lid you’ll find a tiny indented spoon the size of a single candy. But while the packaging claims they’re sugar free, this is not the case. They’re actually 98% sugar. The company uses a loophole in the serving size to make the claim. And that’s nothing...
Instagram - @oreo
The only thing better than an Oreo, is a Double Stuf Oreo. This brilliant idea increased sales and even expanded to the creation of a Mega Stuf version. But students in a high school class discovered that the Double Stuf Oreos are actually only 1.86 times the amount as the regular cookie, and the Mega Stuf are only 2.68 times bigger. How could Oreo do this to us?
Every sport and athletic discipline has something that everyone involved aspires to achieve. In Karate, this is definitely the black belt, or so it seems. While most would consider this the highest honor, it actually might mean less than we thought. This all comes down to the difference between being called an expert of, or just competent in, the basic techniques.
Bowling balls are often filled with different plastic-like substances to give them weight, but not always. Some companies have tried using actual weights inside to enhance performance. But that’s nothing compared to when one bowler found a smaller bowling ball hidden inside the one they were using. What? With the next entry we venture into some shocking pop culture misconceptions that will forever change how you look at certain characters...
Flickr / JD Hancock
Super Mario World and all of its spin-offs are some of the most iconic game properties of all time. And one of the fan favorite characters is Toad, a long time protector of the Mushroom Kingdom and a classic choice in Mario Kart. But his head isn’t actually a giant mushroom, as most would assume, it’s actually a tiny three-haired dome hidden underneath a giant hat.
The truth about and under Toad’s hat is a surprise, but at least he’s actually a toad. This isn’t always the case, and is shocking considering the worldwide popularity of Hello Kitty and its incredible variety of products. As crazy as it sounds, the company that created the character clarified that Hello Kitty is not a cat at all, but actually a girl that looks like a cat.
Flickr / Rob Young
One of the most popular properties of all time is the Harry Potter series of books and movies. Some of the iconic images associated with the stories are Harry’s scar, Dumbledore’s beard and the Weasley siblings' hair. Ron, his sister and brothers all the sport the same ginger locks, but that’s only on screen. Check out the next picture to see the truth behind the scenes...
James and Oliver Phelps, the actors who portrayed Fred and George Weasley, are actually brunettes. The twins had to undergo serious hair dying and makeup, even bleaching their eyebrows, to maintain the look over the course of filming all the movies.