Did you know that bulls cannot see the color red, and matadors attract them simply by motion? Or, that Napoleon was in fact taller than average for his time? How about that the Great Wall of China cannot be seen from space, filing a missing person's report with the police does not require a 24hr absence or that historical Vikings never wore horned helmets? How that shaving thickens hair?
Each of these misconceptions are assumed widely, and have spread through popular culture and the media. Yet the team at Information is Beautiful debunked these prevalent myths, with the sources and origins scrupulously researched (below). Whether spreading in virality as a result of folklore (I'm guessing gum and mucous myths), popular perpetuation as a narrative trope or device (think undercover cops or killer pennies) or reinforcing the mythology surrounding a figurehead or celebrity (in the case of Einstein or Napoleon), people and cultures actively accept and spread information that is simply and empirically not true.
Why do we choose to believe these falsehoods then? Perhaps an oral tradition is difficult to eradicate, or the simplest solution, albeit untrue, is easier to perpetuate than complexity. Or is media and literature inherently deceptive, relying on misleading tropes to create a believable framework? We are certainly willing to craft mythologies around our heros, perhaps moreso post-mortem. All of this makes me wonder how deluded we actually choose to be.