Discoveries are what drive the human race. It’s what makes scientists study the grit of how and why the universe works the way it does. Discoveries are the reason why mathematicians study angles and the complex concepts such as Pi and Geometry. Discoveries are the things that make humans truly unique. We take these discoveries and spread the news as fact to drive us forward.
But, not all discoveries are 100% fact. Most of the time, it’s not the scientists’ fault. It’s not the mathematicians fault. Sometimes, it’s as simple as not having the right technology to truly understand what we’re looking at. It may be that certain events haven’t happened to help unearth the truths behind the discoveries.
For instance, is it the scientist’s fault that they thought the Earth was the center of the universe? No. It was because of the tools of the time and the limited knowledge of a select few that perpetuated this theory. It takes an individual to think outside the box to make the true discoveries.
This list compiles 15 of the most bullsh*t discoveries people believed. Most of these are discoveries that were believed for hundreds or thousands of years. And for most of them, people still mistake the false discovery for truth. There are also some discoveries that are downright bizarre and makes you question how anybody believed them.
15. People Come From Ice
When the creation of the universe comes up in conversation, a lot of theories start floating around. Was it a God? Was it evolution? Inevitably, the topic of our genetic makeup will creep into the conversation. While most people understand the fact that we’re about 75% water, a lot of people believe that we come from ice.
Yes, the ice theory is one that has held some belief in some social circles. After all, since ice and water are the building blocks of life, why wouldn’t it make sense? The Austrian engineer (Hans Horbiger) who came up with the theory actually has some proof. But, you may want to take this proof with a grain of salt. The man worked for the Third Reich. Maybe he’s not the most trustworthy person to listen to.
14. Orgone Controls the Universe
In the early 1900s, people were desperate to believe anything. Two world wars had come and gone, and they needed some hope. Enter William Reich, a famous psychoanalyst who claimed he “discovered” the energy source that surrounds life. His discovery? A matter called orgone.
Orgone is sexual energy. It’s emanated by everything on the planet, from humans to animals and even insects. Now, this energy is natural blue and hovers around people and animals. As crazy as this discovery sounds, it caught the attention of Albert Einstein. Granted, Einstein immediately dismissed the allegations. However, Reich did have a minor following. Some people truly wanted to believe in his work.
13. Dinosaurs Went Extinct Due to a Volcano
Scientists really tried their hardest on this one. Sometimes, scientists just don’t have the technology or means to fully explain certain events. This is exactly the case when scientists hypothesized about the extinction of the dinosaurs. Apparently, minor proof was found that pointed to a volcano erupting and wiping out all of the dinosaurs, But, this tentative discovery would end in 1991 (oddly enough, right around the time Jurassic Park came out).
The real discovery in 1991 was that the dinosaurs weren’t flooded by hot lava. On the contrary, they were smashed into the ground by an asteroid. The crater, which is the one lasting memory of this instance, was discovered in 1991. However, this theory is also in flux.
12. Humans are Vastly Different in Their Genetics
As society has grown and numerous scientific pursuits have been chased, the idea of evolution is still a topic that is hotly debated today. Though scientists claim that humans have evolved over millions of years, there are those out there that believe in creationism. Whatever theory you believe in, there’s a common link between the two. That link? Genetics.
Either way you cut it, genetics exists in both theories. And, for a long time, people believed that the genetics of humans was vastly different from everything else on the planet. After all, we’re much more complex than a monkey. Right?
Well, the truth of the matter is that we share well over 90% of our genetics with monkeys. Humans are not that genetically different from almost everything on the planet. Everything is closely linked.
11. Dinosaurs Looked Like Lizards
You remember what dinosaurs look like, right? Those towering creatures that are covered in scales? They have the sharp teeth and some, like the velociraptors, can run fast and dart around. It doesn’t help that films like Jurassic Park support this notion of what dinosaurs look like. However, this isn’t the case.
In reality, dinosaurs closely resemble birds more than lizards. It seems like, as each decade passes, more and more research comes out to show that our idea of dinosaurs is nowhere near what they actually looked like. Yes, maybe we got the teeth and speed right. But, a T-Rex has a lot more in common with Big Bird than an iguana. Although, Jurassic Park may not have looked nearly as cool with a large bird terrorizing people.
10. Humans Evolved Around the World
With the discovery of ancient remains by archeologists, humans have been trying to distinguish where we’ve come from for hundreds of years. Were we always like this? Did we all come together one day and create society? Were we nomads?
One of the earliest discoveries in archaeology was that humans left Africa two million years ago. Then, these people migrated and settled in places like Europe and Asia. Eventually, we evolved into who we are today. This is called the Multiregional theory. And it’s wrong.
In actuality, humans evolved in Africa 200,000 years ago. Now, that’s a major jump from two million to 200,000. But, the evidence points to this reality. Maybe the early scientists and archaeologists tried their best with the tools they had. But, this discovery is proven to be false.
9. Neanderthals are the Same as Humans
For the layman, the evolution of the human race is pretty simple. We were cavemen, we grew and evolved over millions of years, and we grew into the people and forms we have today. While this basic idea is correct, there is a portion of this history that needs to be clarified. For an extremely long time, scientists claimed that they had discovered malformed humans. These humans were taller and stronger than humans today. But, these were not malformed humans. They were Neanderthals.
Neanderthals are separate from humans. They are a separate classification and they are not us. In fact, Neanderthals and humans coexisted for thousands and thousands of years. They both shared the same space and resources.
8. The Cardiff Giant
It’s New York. The year is 1869. Workers are outside and digging on a farm. While whittling away at the ground, these workers make a shocking and life-changing discovery. They unearthed a ten-foot-tall man. That’s right. A skeleton that stood ten feet tall. But, it would soon be proven that things weren’t exactly as they seemed.
Supposedly, it was a dream come true. The owner of the farm, George Hull, had gotten into an argument about a biblical passage that claims giants once walked the Earth. A year later, a giant was found. However, it would all turn out to be a hoax. The discovery was staged and Hull has planted the giant in the earth simply to prove himself right.
7. Taste Buds Have Specific Taste Zones
As scientists have studied basically everything in some form or another, the human tongue has been one of the scarcer things studied. It’s wet, slimy, and just a generally weird appendage that people have. One of the more popular discoveries was that the tongue had taste buds. These are the little bumps on your tongue that helps you taste things. While this discovery is true, the discovery that the tongue has specific zones for certain tastes is wrong.
People have believed for quite a long time that, depending on the area of your tongue, it’s receptors were prone to something salty, sweet, etc. This is simply not the case. As a whole, the entire tongue receives all the tastes that come into your mouth. The tongue is strange, but not as strange as some people want to believe.
6. Neanderthals Weren’t Smart
Science has come a long way. In 1900, scientists were just starting to deal with concepts such as electricity and were still decades away from figuring out the basics of genetics. While scientists are the brightest people of their time, sometimes their viewpoints are skewed due to the nature of the times they live in. This is why, for the longest time, that scientists thought that Neanderthals weren’t smart.
The first assumption about Neanderthals was that they went extinct because humans outsmarted them. While this may be partially true, the notion that the discovery of their bones led people to believe they were dumb is incorrect. In fact, Neanderthals were pretty smart.
5. The Universe is Slowing Down
For the longest time, people have believed that the universe was slowing down. There can’t be that many planets outside our solar system, right? There isn’t any life outside of the Milky Way, right? Wrong. In fact, the contrary is true.
When scientists made the discovery that the universe was slowing down, they were working with primitive methods and primitive ideas. While the thought processes were normal for their time, it would take hundreds of years for scientists and technology to develop to learn that the universe isn’t slowing down. It’s speeding up.
Specifically, the 1990s were the time when this whole notion of the universe slowing down really changed. Scientists like Neil Degrasse Tyson have talked about this idea and the reality that the universe is moving quicker and quicker.
4. The Camel Spider Photo
While this discovery isn’t in the realm of scientific endeavors or life-changing information, it did hit the Internet with a force unseen in quite some time. In 2009, a photo of a camel spider began circulating around the Internet. Now, if you don’t know much about camel spiders, the essential information you need to know about them is that they’re pretty large. They’re the kind of spiders (besides tarantulas) that freak people out by their sheer bulk.
The photo looked as if the spider was about three feet long. Yeah, it’s the stuff nightmares are made of. However, what people didn’t realize was that the photo was taken at an odd angle. The spider that looked as if it came from a horror movie was no bigger than the normal camel spider you’d find anywhere on the planet.
3. Ulcers are Caused by Stress
This discovery was to give grandmothers and grandfathers fuel for their conversations when dealing with anxious children and grandchildren. For a long time, people believed that ulcers could be caused by stress. Again, this false discovery wasn’t malicious in intent. It was just another scientific discovery that was disproved decades after the idea was originally conceived. But, if the old folktales about ulcers aren’t true, then what does cause that discomfort in your stomach?
Bacteria. It’s actually bacteria that causes ulcers to form in your stomach. How did they prove this? In the mid-1980s, scientists who were driven to disprove this discovery went to great lengths to affirm their ideas. One scientist actually swallowed bacteria. And ulcers eventually formed. The work of the scientists earned them a Nobel Prize.
2. The Perpetual Motion Machine
The discovery of a new energy source is a great thing for people to dream about. With all of the environmental problems, climate change, and dwindling number of resources on the planet, a machine that runs on resources such as water or oxygen is a miracle. This exact idea is what a man claimed his machine addressed in 1831.
Charles Redheffer claimed he had built a “perpetual motion machine”. The concept of the machine is that it runs on its own. It doesn’t need a continual catalyst for it to function. You simply have to start the machine up by moving it and it continues to churn away. Redheffer almost got away with this fraud. Until the paying customers of New York wanted to truly test the machine.
1. The Piltdown Man
1912 should have been an amazing year. The cinema was beginning to find its footing in society, people weren’t involved in World War I, and scientists discovered a new link in the evolutionary chain. It would have been a great year. The only problem is that the new link in the evolutionary chain wasn’t real. It was a hoax.
Dubbed the “Piltdown Man”, this skeleton was set to change science and our understanding of how humans evolved. The main draw to the skeleton was the abnormal skull and jaw. It was just so weird and scientists were absolutely baffled by the shape and structure of it. We know it’s a hoax now, but people wouldn’t discover this hoax for four decades.
40 years passed, and finally scientists who were still studying this skeleton realized that the jawbone didn’t belong to that of a malformed human. Instead, it belonged to an orangutan.