List of common misconceptions

This list of common misconceptions corrects erroneous beliefs that are currently widely held about notable topics. Each misconception and the corresponding facts have been discussed in published literature. Note that each entry is formatted as a correction; the misconceptions themselves are implied rather than stated.

Arts and culture

Food and cooking

Legislation and crime





Christianity and Judaism

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. 2For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. 3And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Three magi are supposed because three gifts are described, and artistic depictions of the nativity have almost always depicted three magi since the 3rd century.[46] The Bible specifies no interval between the birth and the visit, and artistic depictions and the closeness of the traditional dates of December 25 and January 6 encourage the popular assumption that the visit took place the same season as the birth, but later traditions varied, with the visit taken as occurring up to two years later. This maximum interval explained Herod's command at Matthew 2:16–18 that the Massacre of the Innocents included boys up to two years old. More recent commentators, not tied to the traditional feast days, may suggest a variety of intervals.[47] (Matthew 2:11).[48]
No part of the Bible describes Mary Magdalene as a prostitute.



Marcos Torregrosa wearing a black belt with a red bar. In some martial arts, such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo, red belts indicate a higher rank than black. In some cases, a solid red belt is reserved for the founder of the art, and in others, higher degrees of black belts are shown by red stripes.

Words and phrases


Ancient to early modern history

Vomitorium to a Roman amphitheatre in Toulouse
Medieval depiction of a spherical Earth.

Modern history

Napoleon on the Bellerophon, a painting of Napoleon I by Charles Lock Eastlake. Napoleon was taller than his nickname, The Little Corporal, suggests.
Albert Einstein, photographed at 14, did not fail mathematics at school.

Science and technology


A satellite image of a section of the Great Wall of China, running diagonally from lower left to upper right (not to be confused with the much more prominent river running from upper left to lower right). The region pictured is 12 by 12 kilometres (7.5 mi × 7.5 mi).



The color of a red cape does not enrage a bull


Bombus pratorum over an Echinacea purpurea inflorescence; a widespread misconception holds that bumblebees should be incapable of flight.


Sunflowers with the sun clearly visible behind them.

Evolution and palaeontology


Human body and health

Electric fans in South Korea commonly feature a timer, due to a widely held misconception that leaving them on while asleep can be fatal


An incorrect map of the tongue showing zones which taste bitter (1), sour (2), salty (3) and sweet (4). In reality, all zones can sense all tastes.

Skin and hair

Nutrition, food, and drink

Human sexuality


Golgi-stained neurons in human hippocampal tissue. It is commonly believed that humans will not grow new brain cells, but research has shown that some neurons can reform in humans.


The bumps on a toad are not warts, and therefore cannot cause warts on humans


Thomas Crapper did not invent the flushing toilet, nor does the word crap derive from his name.

Materials science



An illustration of the (incorrect) equal-transit-time explanation of airfoil lift



See also


  1. The concept of the virgin birth is the belief that Mary miraculously conceived Jesus while remaining a virgin.


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  74. ""
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