Getting older is tough: you struggle to keep up with fads and fashion as life seems to get faster by the minute. But one of the strangest things about growing up is finding out how many things you believed when you were younger are completely false. Here are 16 "facts" you might still believe:
1. 1 human year is 7 dog years
We've tackled this popular pet myth before, but it has incredible sticking power. If you dog is four years old, that means it's really 28 in dog years, right? Probably not. For one thing, the hundreds of different breeds of dogs don't age at the same speed, and have very different life expectancies.
As a rule, bigger dogs age much faster than smaller ones, but there are little dogs (like Beagles) that tend to lead short lives. It's best to do a little research on your dog's breed to work out how old they "really" are.
2. Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis
Everyone has heard that popping your knuckles (or your other joints) will give you arthritis, and this is the kind of old wive's tale that sounds like it could be true. But studies have shown that popping or cracking your knuckles does not cause osteoarthritis.
Doctor Donald Unger took the research a step further, since some people still weren't convinced. For more than 60 years, he cracked the knuckles on his left hand but not his right. Neither of his hands developed arthritis or any other chronic conditions. The "pop" you hear is a type of cushioning liquid called synovial fluid moving in your joints.
3. Bulls hate the color red
Of course we all believe this: we grew up watching cartoons where bulls would chase anything painted red. And it is true that matadors wave a red flag at the animals during a bullfight. So why wouldn't this be true?
Well for one thing, bulls are color-blind to the color red. It's not the color of the cape - or muleta - that the matador waves at the bull that makes him charge. The animal has been riled up, stabbed with pointy sticks and pushed into an arena. If someone waved a cape at you after all that, wouldn't you be a little ticked off?
4. Twinkies last forever
The old joke says that the only two things that will survive a nuclear war are Twinkies and cockroaches. For some reason, people got the idea in their heads that the chemicals in these addictive snacks will keep them fresh for hundreds of years.
But as a Hostess executive told The New York Times in 2000, Twinkies are "on the shelf no more than 7 to 10 days." With modern preservatives, the snack cakes are safe to eat for about 45 days, but after that you're pushing it.
5. Jesus was born on Christmas Day
All of our favorite Christmas movies and TV specials mention that Jesus was born on Christmas Day, but that never actually comes up in the Bible. Scholars say clues in the holy text actually point to September as his likely birth date.
So why do we celebrate his birth in December? In the year 350 Pope Julius I chose the date, making it the official day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Experts say December 25th was probably picked to line up with older Pagan holidays marking the Solstice.
6. People used to think the Earth was flat
It can be nice to look back at the past and think about how much smarter we all are today. It's a shame that's not true in this case. Since ancient Greece, people have known that the earth is round (roughly). Ancient scientists even made a pretty accurate calendar by measuring shadows in different cities.
All of the supposed confusion about the Earth being flat is a modern invention. It has even wormed its way into other historical stories, like Christopher Columbus's famous voyage. The explorer was trying to sail to India, not the end of the Earth.
7. Families had their names changed at Ellis Island
Many people claim that their families had their name changed to sound "more American" by officials at the Ellis Island immigration inspection station. For example, a name like Tamio might become Tommy, or Finkelstein to Finkel. Maybe your family has their own story about a historical name change.
But nobody's name was actually "changed" at Ellis Island. Workers there just logged the names on the shipping manifests from their home countries. The fact is that immigrants have lots of reasons to change their names, like to make them simpler, easier to pronounce, or so they're easier to write in English.
Until recently, changing your name was as easy as picking a new name and using it, which is what many families did.
This next one is pretty surprising...