Tuesday, November 3, 2009


One of the tough things about growing up is finding out that life lies to you... A LOT. How many times did you learn something in school just to have another teacher a few years later tell you that you were lied to? And it is not just school; everyday we live our lives assuming things are true when they aren't.

On October 5th, I posted some of my favorite quotes. The next day I may or may not have had the following gchat conversation and it may or may not have been with an astronaut on the space station.

Astronaut: um i have a concern
the "deepest fear" quote was said by nelson mandela.
not marianne williamson
i love the last Hinckley quote.

me: ah, thank you... and I am pretty sure that it is falsely attributed to nelson mandela

Astronaut: really?
are you sure
who's marianne williamson anyway?

me: she is an author... I was under the impression for the longest time that it was mandela also, but they always say in it was in his '94 inauguration speech and it is not
Look: Our deepest fear note
if you go to the bottom of this page you will see a note about it

Astronaut: huh.

me: I know

Astronaut: well, why should i believe that website any more than all the other ones that say nelson mandela said it?

me: hey, I know... it is a total trap... that is the thing about the internet.
I am just saying, people attribute it to his inauguration speech and it isn't there.

Astronaut: hm.
that's so weird.
why does everyone think that?

me: I don't know... why does everyone think that swallowed gum stays in your intestines for 7 years or that a penny falling from the empire state building will kill a person?


me: hahaha.... ok
I wish it did come to from mandela... I don't know who this lady is... but as near as I can tell, it didn't come from him...
oh snap, check this nugget out from nelsonmandela.org

Astronaut: I just told everyone in the space station the truth.
our worlds are shattered.

me: I am sorry
I hate to do that to people

Astronaut: haha.
that's all right.
i also told them that gum doesn't stay in our intestines for 7 years.
they were a little more hesitant to accept that fact.

me: I asked a dr... but he could have been lying
check out the blog for an addendum
off to lunch... ttyl

Astronaut: bye

Let us examine other myths we take as fact:

We swallow X number of spiders a year - Here is the thing - think about it - even if this were true, how could anyone know? Did someone monitor people sleeping for a year? Wouldn't this vary by region and house? Wouldn't we all wake up with spider bites on our faces several times a year? Need more evidence? Go here

Penny thrown off the Empire State Build will kill a person - Mythbusters tested this and it is false. Wind resistance keeps the penny from falling fast enough.

Gum stays in digestive system for 7 years - Warhammer and I had serious disagreements on this. So much so, I asked my ENT while I was at Stanford with sinus problems what he thought - since he is a doctor - and he agreed with me. If this myth were true, think of the number of people who would be hospitalized each year due to blocked intestines! The funny thing about this one is that my 6th grade science teacher believed this. Need more evidence? Go here


  1. Here's another one:
    Most people in Columbus's day thought the earth was flat, and Columbus was the sole visionary who thought you could get East by sailing West.

    Most people by 1492 recognized the earth was round. The dispute was over how big it was. Columbus thought it was smaller, and thus his route to China would work. But many thought that the Earth was much bigger, making such a voyage unfeasible. I don't know why the 'they thought the Earth is flat myth' still gets perpetuated...but it does.

  2. i'd like to meet this astronaut character...

  3. how am i supposed to know what the heck to believe anymore?

  4. Well, if the astronaut character is really, I am sure you would like him/her...

    I read somewhere once:

    "Funny how people question the Bible, but trust the internet."

    Seems applicable here.