I always go to reddit to help me debunk myths, and I’m never disappointed.
The question was asked: Which propaganda effort was so successful, people still believe it today?
Over 22,000 comments later, we’ve got 13 gems to share.
13. That dandelions are weeds.
I recently discovered that these pretty yellow flowers were re-classified as weeds because of lawn culture and some successful marketing by herbicide companies.
Dandelions have been used in food and medicine for centuries.
12. Hot coffee
That the old woman who sued McDonald’s over burning herself with her coffee was just money hungry
For clarity: an elderly woman was a passenger in a car, pulled over in the lot to add sugar after getting a coffee and it spilled all over her lap. It burned her really bad and she just set out to get McDonald’s to pay her hospital bills bc they served the coffee way too hot.
They ended up launching this whole PR campaign where they smeared this poor lady, even taking out spots in local papers over how silly and money hungry she was.
Comedians, musicians, and radio hosts made fun of her and made her out to be money hungry instead of a victim.
11. Lie detector tests are accurate.
They’re junk science at best.
People, when the inventor of the device and procedures used is on record saying it’s cr*p, we should probably listen.
Looking at you, Florida, for allowing LD test results as evidence in court.
10. Jewish myths
I am from Germany and some of my grandparents still believe the stuff they were told about Jews by the Nazis.
Like when a jewish person dies on a christian holiday they get hung behind the door and everyone who comes in has to spit on him.
It’s some vile stuff. I can’t believe how they were spoon fed with this in their early years.
Another one I remember is that they were told that at a jewish funeral, the dead person gets a stone put in their pocket, so if they cross Jesus in the afterlife they can throw it at him.
Cleoptra was a sl*t who became powerful only by s^x appeal.
Contemporary and unbiased sources actually suggest she was rather plain, but it was her intellect and charming conversation that got her power. Also, as far as sexual relations go, her affairs with Julius Caesar and Antony, as well as her traditional marriages to her brothers, aren’t bad compared to the well-known affairs of some other figures, especially Antony.
Defaming Cleopatra made her easier to demonize and portray as a seductress ruling over Antony, making war easier for Octavian.
8. Drinking fountains are unhealthy.
The bottled beverage industry commissioned and publicized a series of studies in the early 1990s when they decided to get into the bottled water business. The problem was that their largest competitor was free and available in schools, parks, and public buildings everywhere.
Anyone who took even a semester of biology knows that if you walk around and swab and culture anything, you’ll find that it’s covered in bacteria. That’s ecology on planet Earth.
7. Not a fan of fans
Many Korean people believe that fans can cause death.
Even my mother, who moved to America in her mid teens, still prohibits me from leaving a fan on overnight for fear of death. There is a conspiracy theory that the South Korean government spread this myth as propaganda to prevent energy overusage, but it’s origins are unknown.
It’s strange that many Koreans believe this myth considering it is one of the most technologically advanced countries.
6. The whitest teeth
People should know that a healthy set of teeth doesn’t mean they’re perfectly white. Super white teeth are not even normal.
Our enamel will slowly become more translucent as we age, revealing the colour of the dentin (which is yellow) underneath it.
Thats why as we get older, our teeth will become yellower.
Doesn’t mean they’re not healthy or unclean.
5. Carrots make your vision better
This rumour was started in WW2 to hide the invention of RADAR.
The public was told that allied pilots found the German bombers during the blitz because they had good eyesight because they ate their carrots.
But in reality it was that the British had an early RADAR system in place that they did not want the Germans to find out about and bomb.
4. The MSG myth
MSG will kill you and is horrible to ingest, “I’m allergic to MSG”
Really, it is delicious and your body produces it naturally while breaking down regular salt.
Some people do have sodium issues, and it may not be good for them. But that’s a tiny micro-percentage of people.
3. Don’t cop it it…
That if you ask if someone is a cop, if they are a cop they legally are required to say yes they are.
Of course they aren’t required to, that defeats the entire purpose of working undercover!
That Napoleon Bonaparte was short.
He was 5 feet and 7 inches tall which might be a little bit on the shorter side by modern standards, but it was around the average height for people back then.
The idea that he was short actually came from a British propaganda campaign to mock him.
2. Autism and vaccines
Andrew Wakefield, a former gastroenterologist and the man responsible for this anti-vax sh^t show, originally wanted to prove that vaccines were responsible for bowel disease as well as linking it to autism.
He was put through a tribunal by the GMC, it was found that not only had he lied about his research, but was found to have committed 12 acts of abuse against developmentally disabled children after he put them through unnecessary and invasive procedures.
To try and prove that vaccines were responsible for autism and bowel disease, he put young children through unnecessary colonoscopies and lumbar punctures (spinal taps).
He was struck off from the Medical Register and is no longer allowed to practice medicine. He continues to make a living promoting and speaking at anti-vaccine propaganda events. People should remember that. Anti-vaxers are looking to an abuser found to have put developmentally disabled children through unnecessary medical procedures for advice.
Let’s not understate how much of a piece of sh^t the man is.
1. The lie that nuclear power is terrible.
It is worse than renewables, however instead of chucking huge quantities of dangerous waste into the air like a coal power plant, it can all be contained, and 95% can be reprocessed into new fuel. In the 60s and 70s, a lot of oil giants used advertising to link it’s reputation to the very real danger of nuclear weapons, and if this hadn’t have happened, global warming would have been much less of an issue. Very few people realise that coal power actually causes more deaths per MW than nuclear power due to nitrous oxide emissions, even when Chenoble is included in the statistics.
Edit: A lot of people are saying that nuclear is as good, or possibly better than renewables. I agree that at the moment, for baseline power, it is better, and we should be using it a lot more. In the long term though, I think that renewable are a better solution due to not needing refueling, and needing less oversight (once production of the power plants themselves becomes cleaner and better storage solutions are devised).
What are some myths you’ve believed in the past?
Have you ever tried to question your own beliefs?