Skip

The microwave gave me superhuman powers
February 7, 2007 8:28 AM   Subscribe

What are some words of wisdom your parents have told you that you've never really checked the validity of (and probably aren't true)? IE: "Going out with wet hair will give you a cold," "cell phones release dangerous amounts of radiation" "eating right before you sleep makes you fat," etc.

This is for a class assignment. Basically, I need some examples of myths commonly given by parents that we take for granted as true but never really bother to check.

I'd prefer myths that are believable, not things like "the easter bunny is real".

But throw everything you can at me.
posted by carpyful to Human Relations (89 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Cracking knuckles will give you arthritis.
posted by meerkatty at 8:33 AM on February 7, 2007


Being hit in the head when your eyes are crossed will make your eyes stay crossed.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:37 AM on February 7, 2007


Your face will freeze like that (I was never brave enough to try it!)
posted by muddgirl at 8:38 AM on February 7, 2007


A lot of people's mothers seem to have said that shaving legs for the first time makes the hair grow in thicker and darker.
posted by lalex at 8:38 AM on February 7, 2007


Don't stand in front of the microwave when it's on or you'll get cancer.

(For the record, this was my childhood friend's mom, not mine.)
posted by amro at 8:38 AM on February 7, 2007


I was told that if I stayed in the pool too long, I'd grow webbed feet.
posted by yeti at 8:39 AM on February 7, 2007


In first grade I got in the habit of licking the tip of my pencil to make it write darker. (why? I dont' know I was six, give me a break!) The teacher and my classmates told me that it was certain I would get lead poisoning. Even at six I knew pencil lead wasn't really lead.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:40 AM on February 7, 2007


I just had a conversation with my mother about this. I think she thought I was questioning her parenting, but really I was just commenting on how some of our 'instincts' are out of whack for the modern world. Anyway...

-Shaving armpits then using (non-natural) deoderant = breast cancer.
-The cold thing, of course.
-Watching TV turns your brain to mush.
-Vaccines are bad for your health. (Not quite as simple a question as was portrayed to me.)
-No need for novocaine at the dentist. (I checked this one out on my own eventually.)

That's all I can think of right now.
posted by Amizu at 8:40 AM on February 7, 2007


If you swallow your gum, your stomach will turn to rubber.
posted by Robot Johnny at 8:41 AM on February 7, 2007


Don't swallow your gum; it sticks to your guts.
Don't sleep with a cat, they steal your breath (to be fair, there is a shred of truth to this - I will sometimes wake up gasping because my cat has decided to sleep on my face).
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:41 AM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wait an hour after eating before you go in the water or you'll get a cramp and drown.

(Also not my mom. She really didn't worry much, actually.)

My grandmother says not to swallow pills with soda or they won't work.
posted by amro at 8:44 AM on February 7, 2007


Don't use hot water in the garbage disposal, or you'll lock it up.
posted by nomisxid at 8:46 AM on February 7, 2007


Ladies never order a drink with a funny name.

Order a beer in a bottle at a bar and make sure you see the bartender open it in front of you. Otherwise they'll slip something in it and you'll wake up on a boat to the Orient, where you will be sold into the white slave trade and end up in a harem.

Act crazy if you think someone is about to mug you or you feel scared, and criminals will leave you alone. Also, throw up if you're really scared - that will totally skeeve the rapists out and you'll be safe.

Children have to have at least 3 glasses of milk every day or their bones won't develop properly.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:49 AM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, and aspirin & coca cola will get you high or might possibly kill you. Danger! Danger, aspirin and coke! So scary!
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:50 AM on February 7, 2007


Taking hot showers will make you impotent.

In reality, this was her therapist-inducing way of getting me to conserve some hot water for my step-father.

She also had me convinced that failing to inform her where I was (such as at a friend's house after school) could result in my arrest. I think the reasoning was: I disappear, she panics, calls cops, cops look for me, find me safe, I'm arrested for false police reports. Or something.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 8:51 AM on February 7, 2007


Oh, and aspirin & coca cola will get you high or might possibly kill you. Danger! Danger, aspirin and coke! So scary!

You know what, that's what my grandmother says - that swallowing (any) pills with soda is dangerous (not ineffective). I remembered wrong... Thanks, mgl.
posted by amro at 8:53 AM on February 7, 2007


When you swallow gum it takes 7 years to digest.

Touch a toad=get warts.

Sitting too close to the tv will make you blind.

Break a mirror=7 years bad luck.
posted by illek at 9:05 AM on February 7, 2007


Classic Mythbusters Myth:

Eating pop rocks and drinking cola will make your stomach explode.
posted by lickmygiggle at 9:09 AM on February 7, 2007


My mom still swears it's possible to drown in a teaspoon of water.
posted by gfrobe at 9:11 AM on February 7, 2007


If you run with a spoon in your mouth, you'll fall down and scramble your brains.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:14 AM on February 7, 2007


My neighbor once told his son that my cat had died because he wouldn't stop poking it in the eye.
posted by jon_kill at 9:15 AM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Eating the crusts on your sandwich will give you curly hair (ew)
posted by rey at 9:16 AM on February 7, 2007


My mom told me a story that her mom told her when she was very young... Grandma made whipped cream, but she brought it out to the kids to eat it, because a thunderstorm was coming, and the thunder would ruin it otherwise.

(With this topic, you need to take into account that the people receiving the information (young children) may not have completely understood it, and in retrospect, it seems all effed up.)
posted by Dave Faris at 9:17 AM on February 7, 2007


In addition to the ones I've seen above, my mom used to say:
- Orange juice is gold in the morning, silver in the afternoon, and lead at night. (i.e. don't drink OJ at night, it will give you cramps)
- Using too much salt will give you high blood pressure.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:21 AM on February 7, 2007


Eat a seed and a tree will grow in your stomach.
posted by racingjs at 9:22 AM on February 7, 2007


Wet leaves are as slick as ice.

Cool doesn't last you past 25.
posted by trbrts at 9:41 AM on February 7, 2007


Don't talk on the phone during a thunderstorm. (True, but I didn't know for sure at the time.)
posted by clavicle at 9:50 AM on February 7, 2007


- My dad caught me trying to jimmy the microwave door so I could run it while the door was open, he told me a microwave would have gotten in my body and over the next few days would have slowly cooked myself from the inside out. (I can see being cooked, but slowly over a period of days?)

- Warm milk helps you sleep.

- 7up or Sprite and dry toast will make you feel better if you have a stomach flu.

- Spinach puts hair on your chest.

- My wife swears still that goose bumps makes arm/leg hairs grow. So if I give her them by running my fingers on her leg, she gets mad at me.
posted by skrike at 9:54 AM on February 7, 2007


All kinds of things are bad for your eyesight:
* Reading while laying down
* Reading with the book too close to your face
* Sitting too close to the tv
* Watching TV in the dark\with the lights off
posted by !Jim at 9:57 AM on February 7, 2007


You have to take off your coat when you get indoors, or you won't feel the advantage of it when you go outdoors again.
Also, everyone I've ever known knows someone who had their arm broken by a swan, but no-one I know has ever had their arm broken by a swan...
posted by sann1657 at 10:04 AM on February 7, 2007


These are the best years of your life.

The more I think about that, the more fatalistic is becomes.
posted by kc0dxh at 10:04 AM on February 7, 2007


Alvy Singer: "Sun is bad for you. Everything our parents said was good is bad. Sun, milk, red meat... college."
posted by Phred182 at 10:06 AM on February 7, 2007


The TV being bad for your eyes was actually true, for quite awhile televisions gave off x-rays. (partial source) So sitting close to the tube was pretty bad.
posted by edgeways at 10:07 AM on February 7, 2007


Smoking weed will make you crazy and lead to heroin addiction.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:08 AM on February 7, 2007


My grandmother always used to say "cheese makes you stupid." Dont ask me where she got this from, or why poor cheese got a bum rap!

Also, not parents again, but when I was little my older cousin told me that the black dots in vanilla bean ice cream were bug eggs. I didnt eat vanilla ice cream for YEARS.
posted by silverstatue at 10:12 AM on February 7, 2007


The tongue map. Total bullshit.

Also, there's no second r in sherbet. Doesn't rhyme with Herbert neither.
posted by electroboy at 10:13 AM on February 7, 2007


mosquito hawks eat mosquitos. (they don't)
posted by small_ruminant at 10:14 AM on February 7, 2007


If you eat enough carrots, you can see in the dark.
posted by almostmanda at 10:27 AM on February 7, 2007


My parents told me I was nearsighted because I read books in insufficient light.
posted by JanetLand at 10:30 AM on February 7, 2007


Magnets take the edge off of a sharp knife.
posted by JujuB at 10:32 AM on February 7, 2007


it's vitally important to go to college or your life will suck. also church, although i've tested that one and found it not to be true.

you will never be able to date successfully unless your table manners improve.
posted by lgyre at 10:37 AM on February 7, 2007


We had one with a microwave. After cooking something, if you open the door before the ending beep is done (but after the time has expired, the microwave will explode.
posted by ontic at 10:50 AM on February 7, 2007


My neighbor once told his son that my cat had died because he wouldn't stop poking it in the eye.

Well, were they Deadwood pokes?
posted by Bookhouse at 10:51 AM on February 7, 2007


No one will ever want to live with you as a roommate and definitely not in any kind of romantic relationship situation because you leave your clothes on the floor of your bedroom and don't immediately return your tea cups to the kitchen. People just don't LIVE like that. It's disgusting. If you have children, and social services were to find out about all those teacups on the nightstand and clothes on the floor, your children would be sent to foster care.
-my mother
posted by cilantro at 10:52 AM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]




ack, should have previewed
posted by Manjusri at 10:54 AM on February 7, 2007


Don't run cold hands under a hot tap, run them under a cold tap first or you'll get arthritis.

My wife was told that peas would make her sing like an angel. Also that she had some inherited weakness in her nose her that would make it collapse if she ever took cocaine.
posted by Mocata at 10:56 AM on February 7, 2007


George Wallace would have won the 68 presidential election (or was it the 72? I'm not sure), but "they" secretly changed the vote totals.

When driving, black people wait until there's a white driver behind them, then they slow down to a crawl.

I'm sure there are plenty of others, but I can't think of them right now.
posted by Clay201 at 11:01 AM on February 7, 2007


"Don't stand in front of the microwave when it's on or you'll get cancer."
This one is still somewhat controversial.

"Warm milk helps you sleep."
This one is true for a variety of reasons. Tryptophan, warmth, carbohydrate and protein.

One from my childhood:
"Don't drink too much water when you are running, it will give you cramps."
posted by Manjusri at 11:16 AM on February 7, 2007


If you forgot what you were going to say, it must have been a lie.
posted by clh at 11:21 AM on February 7, 2007


My grandmother insisted that wearing tighty-whities while sleeping led to blood loss to my legs. She was also adamant in her belief that whistling inside the house would result in bad luck.
posted by Skot at 11:31 AM on February 7, 2007


To make icecubes freeze faster, fill the ice - cube - tray with HOT WATER

Sadly I believed this well into my teen years.
posted by bkiddo at 11:38 AM on February 7, 2007


Don't use hot water in the garbage disposal, or you'll lock it up.

This is good advice. Cold water is best because it causes oil and fat to congeal and wash down the pipes. Hot water will liquefy fats and oils but they will adhere to the sides of the pipes/disposal as they cool, slowly clogging your disposal.

I'll second "you'll ruin your eyes reading in low light" and "wait 30 minutes before swimming after eating or you'll get cramps and drown"
posted by rosebengal at 11:42 AM on February 7, 2007


The icecubes hot water thing isn't as straight forward as you think.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 11:46 AM on February 7, 2007


Similar to the ice-cube story, I was told that cold tap water will boil faster than hot tap water.
posted by muddgirl at 11:54 AM on February 7, 2007


My wife was told that peas would make her sing like an angel. Also that she had some inherited weakness in her nose her that would make it collapse if she ever took cocaine.

That's odd. "Eat your peas! And don't do cocaine!"
posted by Alt F4 at 12:03 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was thinking about just this same question the other day and was thinking if this topic might make a good Mythbusters episode (paging asavage...)
posted by ShawnString at 12:08 PM on February 7, 2007


If I didn't go to college, I would end up pumping gas for a living.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:13 PM on February 7, 2007


I had a fifth grade teacher, Mr. Hyde, tell me that...

"It takes more energy to "power up" a fluorescent light bulb than it takes to leave the bulb burning all day and night- so never turn them off."
posted by bkeene12 at 12:18 PM on February 7, 2007


Mythbusters disproved that one. (The fluorescent light) Also, logic. It always drives me nuts when teachers spoon out that crap without checking it first. I was told the same thing back in those grades.
posted by defcom1 at 12:39 PM on February 7, 2007


You have to take off your coat when you get indoors, or you won't feel the advantage of it when you go outdoors again.

Yep. Alternated with wearing your coat indoors for too long will get you overheated, which will make you sick.
posted by desuetude at 12:42 PM on February 7, 2007


If your steak isn't black and charred, you will get food poisoning.
posted by Kloryne at 12:47 PM on February 7, 2007


Also, you have to let food cool down before you put it in the fridge. Putting hot food in the fridge causes it to lose its structural integrity or something.
posted by Kloryne at 12:57 PM on February 7, 2007


If you swallow watermelon seeds, a watermelon will grow in your stomach. That one was perpetuated my my paternal grandfather and all his sons.

Tangentiality, my father told my mother that there was no need to have their children's eyes tested because he has 20/20 vision and "good eye sight is genetically dominant". When my 4th grade principal noticed me squinting and suggested that I might need glasses, my mother repeated my father's admonition. She recalls feeling pretty clueless when my principal had to gently correct her.
posted by Famous at 12:59 PM on February 7, 2007


If you swim while chewing gum you will automatically drown.

The crusts of bread contain more nutrients than any other part of the loaf.

And yes, I believed both of these until well into my teens.
posted by arha at 1:01 PM on February 7, 2007


Also, you have to let food cool down before you put it in the fridge. Putting hot food in the fridge causes it to lose its structural integrity or something.

My notion of this one is that if you put hot food in the fridge you raise the temperature of the fridge, which wastes electricity and possibly invites the bacteria to breed that you were avoiding in the first place by using a fridge.

My grandma always said I would go bald if I wore a hat indoors.
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:13 PM on February 7, 2007


from my wife's mom: if you sing at the dinner table, you'll marry a crazy man.

That one might be true in this case.
posted by plinth at 1:32 PM on February 7, 2007


If you don't believe in Jesus you'll burn in Hell.
posted by null terminated at 1:40 PM on February 7, 2007


I know this might just be part of your question, but "eating right before you go to bed" really does make you fat. In any case, food doesn't get metabolized as well when you're sleeping.

Apologies if you already knew that.
posted by koeselitz at 1:50 PM on February 7, 2007


Koeselitz - it appears that's just one of the myths that's still going strong. But lots of sources are debunking this as a myth. They say studies show it's total calories consumed that causes weight gain, not time of day calories are consumed. These studies say the metabolism thing is bs.
posted by Amizu at 2:43 PM on February 7, 2007


"If you swallow gum, you could suffocate."
"If you try to dig out earwax, you'll have a seizure."
"This will hurt me more than you."

posted by rob511 at 2:45 PM on February 7, 2007


Eating carrots helps you see in the dark, is one I heard from all quarters in the UK when young.

I was recently 'reliably' informed that you get either Alzheimer's or arthritis, but never both. Never heard that one before, but it has a strong seductiveness about it.

Also now remembering people saying that cancer is what happens two years after a major life trauma of some kind (brilliant, this one, in its you-can-always-make-that-work-mentally way).
posted by genghis at 2:45 PM on February 7, 2007


Amizu: "These studies say the metabolism thing is bs."

Metabolism is BS? Interesting theory.

Linked in the Google Answers page that you linked:

The American Journal of Epidemiology on "Association between Eating Patterns and Obesity in a Free-living US Adult Population": "Finally, subjects who eat late in the evening may increase the amount of glucose stored in muscle as glycogen (7). In humans, muscle glycogen fluctuates in accordance with periods of muscle activity and subsequent carbohydrate consumption. Data suggest that the consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods in the late evening leads to increased glycogen levels in the muscles (7). Unless this stored glycogen is burned as fuel, it will ultimately be stored as fat. Therefore, consumption of late-evening meals with carbohydrate-rich foods may also be related to obesity through its effect on hormonal regulation of energy and lipid metabolism."

Sounds like this so-called "myth" is still being debated. And it also sounds like, while "eating after 8 pm makes you fat" might be somewhat mythical, "food eaten just before bedtime is stored as energy that cannot be properly burned and therefore might contribute to weight gain" is still right on the money.

Lots of so-called "myths" are actually somewhat sensible intuitions about the body that have to be refined.
posted by koeselitz at 3:12 PM on February 7, 2007


Oh! The butter myths!

1 - If you burn yourself, put butter on the burn.
2 - If you have an earache, put butter in your ear.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:56 PM on February 7, 2007


Sitting against the radiator will give you piles!
posted by jamesonandwater at 4:59 PM on February 7, 2007


Fish is brain food.
Turns out the old man might be right about that one, but I don't think there was any research on it at the time.
posted by ch1x0r at 5:10 PM on February 7, 2007


Sounds like this so-called "myth" is still being debated. And it also sounds like, while "eating after 8 pm makes you fat" might be somewhat mythical, "food eaten just before bedtime is stored as energy that cannot be properly burned and therefore might contribute to weight gain" is still right on the money.

No. Try "Excess caloric consumption before bed might tend to be stored in the form of fat." The key point being excess consumption. Glycogen is easily burned through exercise, you need to be running a caloric surplus to turn it into fat.
posted by ch1x0r at 5:31 PM on February 7, 2007


I was told with great confidence by a fellow college freshman that "you always inherit the hair color of your mother."
posted by JanetLand at 5:32 PM on February 7, 2007


- Going to sleep with your hair wet will make you sick.
- Showering after eating isn't good for your stomach.
- Lying down after eating isn't good for your stomach, either.
- Ditto for eating while lying down.
- Carrots will help with your eyesight.
- Coke can dissolve a nail and clean toilets.
- If you sing while cooking, you'll marry an old man.
- Reading too much will ruin your eyesight.
- Don't drink at least 30 mins before eating, it's not good for your digestion.
- Schoolkids should eat sticky, heavy foods (oatmeal, etc.) in the morning in order to stay full longer.
- You'll get cancer from burnt toast/steak/etc.
- Your food has to cool down before putting it in the fridge. (I thought this was ridiculous - what's a fridge for if not for cooling, anyway? I later found out that this was to avoid condensation in sealed containers?)
posted by Xere at 5:36 PM on February 7, 2007


"Drink your milk. It's good for you."
posted by Dave Faris at 5:45 PM on February 7, 2007


reading in the dark = ruin your eyesight

aiming cold water hose at the back of your neck = death

faking a strobe effect by quickly cycle-flipping the light switch = wasting electricity. Wrong, duty cycle < 100%br>
if you even so much as touch the Good Scissors, they'll be irreparably damaged

you can do anything you want if you really try
posted by kurumi at 5:49 PM on February 7, 2007


And who can forget the ever-popular warning: "Don't drink out of the park's water fountain. You'll get TRENCH MOUTH."
posted by Kloryne at 6:11 PM on February 7, 2007


--If you write on your skin with a pen, you can get ink poisoning.
--If you get a cut or a scrape, make sure it bleeds; blood somehow cleans or disinfects a wound.
--Don't wear underwear to bed because your body needs to "breathe" down there. (From a friend's grandmother.)
posted by wryly at 6:28 PM on February 7, 2007


I have a feeling that most of the uses for Hydrogen peroxide are all myths.

here
posted by magikker at 6:49 PM on February 7, 2007


The television won't work until coffee is made and the paper is brought in.
posted by tip120 at 7:20 PM on February 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thank you all for your input! Man, our parents are crazy :x
posted by carpyful at 7:33 PM on February 7, 2007


Don't touch the water in the humidifier, lest you get electrocuted.
posted by notswedish at 8:02 PM on February 7, 2007


Oh man, I could write a book. Here's my favorite:

Bees don't sting you in the shade. Imagine my surprise when at 7 years old I was stung by multiple bees because I thought I was safe hiding in the shade.
posted by saraswati at 8:16 PM on February 7, 2007


Don't touch shop windows -- dogs piss on them.
posted by claudius at 3:42 AM on February 8, 2007


« Older Bath bubbles change in the pre...   |  Ask Methairfilter + Arrested D... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.


Post