25 “Facts” That Were Debunked in the 2010s
New discoveries are always being made. A lot of “facts” we once thought were true were proven to be false just in the past ten years.
Things we thought we knew
Scientists are generally very careful about stating facts, preferring to summarize their findings in terms of probabilities. This is because the scientific method, which they use to test their hypotheses and theories, trains them to think in these terms. It’s only when we’ve heard things decade after decade that they become ingrained in our minds as “facts,” and then new research comes along that changes everything. From the heath risks of butter to the benefits of sunblock—the last decade brought us some mind-blowing revelations. Scroll on for the “new truths” the 2010s taught us. Then check out these 100 fun and interesting facts about basically everything.
The Night Parrot is not extinct
The Night Parrot of Australia hadn’t been sighted in 100 years, so it was thought to be extinct. Ornithologists rejoiced when one was sighted in Queensland in 2013—and there have been several subsequent documented findings. Unfortunately, these other 14 animals have gone extinct in the past 100 years.
There were no spaceships in Area 51
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In the history of conspiracy theories, there have been perhaps none more pervasive than the rumor that the government was hiding an alien spacecraft in Area 51. The stories were so pervasive that many people regarded them as fact. In 2010, Area 51 was de-classified and the public finally got a peek. Turns out there were secrets about Area 51 the government didn’t want us to know, alright, but they had to do with spy planes and new technology, not aliens.
No, girls aren’t inherently bad at math
It’s an increasingly outdated fallacy that girls just aren’t naturally as good at math as boys. In 2011, however, a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison used data collected from around the world to disprove this assumption. It seems the male/female gap in mathematical achievement is due to social and cultural circumstances, not biology. This would come as no surprise to these female inventors you never learned about in history class.
IQ tests aren’t the best test of intelligence
There was a time when IQ tests were meant to be the definitive word on a person’s intelligence, but a 2012 study by the University of Ontario debunked that theory. Researchers found that many factors impact the results of such tests and concluded that measuring a person’s intelligence via a single, standardized test yielded misleading and imperfect results. This means even if you don’t perform well in IQ tests, you might be smarter than you realize.
The marshmallow test was misleading
A famous study referred to as “the marshmallow test” left young children in a room with a jar of marshmallows. They were told if they could wait 15 seconds before eating the treat, they could have another one. Then, the children were studied as they grew up. It turns out, the students who delayed gratification frequently went on to do better at school and work than their study peers. Scientists theorized this was because they had superior willpower. A new study, however, demonstrated that something else might be at play: economics. Children from less affluent backgrounds were less likely to delay gratification because they weren’t as accustomed to receiving treats or as convinced such an opportunity would present itself again. This proved that the results of the original test were misinterpreted and economic security was the real predictor of the children’s future success. Discover the scientific truth behind ten lies parents often tell their kids.
Amelia Earhart’s disappearance is still a mystery
Amelia Earhart captured the imagination of the public even before she disappeared in 1937. Consequently, the world rejoiced in 2017 when a photograph appeared to prove that she’d survived her plane crash and was taken prisoner by the Japanese. Sadly, the mystery still remains, however. A short time later it was proven that the photo was actually taken two years before the female flier’s disappearance. Learn more about the popular conspiracy theories behind Earhart’s disappearance.
Even Stephen Hawking made mistakes
Stephen Hawking was a brilliant man and renowned scientist but even he was capable of making mistakes. In 2019, researchers debunked his theory that black matter was comprised of minuscule black holes created at the dawn of the universe. Discover what’s really inside a black hole.
No proof of a 9th planet in our solar system
Some time after the original ninth planet Pluto was declassified (it’s now thought to be a dwarf planet), scientists told us that a mystery planet, sometimes referred to as Planet X or Planet 9, existed and that it explained why they were observing a strange gravitational pull in a nearby solar system. However, in 2019 other scientists proved that a large amount of debris could just as easily explain that pull. So, is there a 9th planet in our solar system? It’s just one of the many facts you learned in school that are no longer true.
Dinosaurs didn’t shed their skin all at once
If your teacher told you that dinosaurs shed their skin all at once, like a snake or lizard, you were taught wrong. Scientists have discovered proof that dinosaurs shed their skin a little at a time, comparable to human dandruff. This is just another of the many dinosaur myths scientists wish you’d stop believing.