20 Things You Need to Know Before You Believe What You’re Taught in School

We all remember those days of sitting in class, absorbing all those “facts” that we thought were the gospel truth. But guess what? Reality came knocking, and it turns out that life isn’t always what textbooks make it out to be because there are some school facts that life straight-up laughed at and proved wrong!

One Redditor asked, “What was a fact taught to you in school that ended up being disproven during your lifetime?”  This thread has received thousands of comments, and we have listed the most interesting ones for you!

1. Saturn’s Rings 

3D Saturn planet and rings close-up rendering with the clipping path included in the illustration, for space exploration backgrounds. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.
Image Credit: 3000ad/Shutterstock.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “From an educational filmstrip: “Saturn has four beautiful rings…” The Voyager photos of the thousands of rings had come in like a week before we watched this.”

Another person agreed to it and said, “And Saturn was the only planet with rings, until we discovered that all of the gas giants had them to some degree or another.”

Scientists got their hands on better telescopes or maybe just remembered to put on their glasses, and boom- they spotted more rings than they could count.

2. Pluto

Pluto planet from space..
Image Credit: SergeyNivens
via DepositPhotos.com.

See, the IAU decided that for a celestial body to be a planet, it needs to meet three criteria: orbit the sun, be spherical in shape, and clear out its neighborhood of other debris. Pluto was slacking in that last department. 

One said, “More recently, Pluto used to be a planet. Pluto Horizons basically wrote the entire book on Pluto.”

Another replied, “That wasn’t really a fact about the natural world that was found to be wrong, more just a choice by scientists to refine the definition of “planet” in a way that excluded Pluto (motivated mainly by the fact that they were discovering other bodies in the Kuiper Belt similar to Pluto and didn’t want to have to drastically increase the number of planets). New Horizons did lead to a lot of new discoveries about Pluto, but it had become an ex-planet before the flyby.”

3. German Reunification

Man doubting
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A Reddit user wrote, “Germany would never reunite. The French would never allow it.”

Someone else added, “I remember visiting my brother and his wife in 1987, and unification still being very controversial. To be fair, France and the UK really hated the idea of German reunification. It pretty much only happened because the US allowed it.”

And just like that, history books needed a serious update, and we all learned that even the seemingly impossible can happen when people decide to come together.

4. Pompeii

Napoli (Naples) and Mount Vesuvius in the background at sunset in a summer day, Italy, Campania/
Image Credit: bloodua/DepositPhotos.com.

Someone commented, “Pompeii was buried slowly by falling ash. They pointed out that remnants of people were found right in the middle of doing things but didn’t realize this contradicted the burying being slow. It’s now thought that it was buried very quickly by pyroclastic flows – superheated gas traveling over 200mph.”

Another replied, “More than a third of the people in Pompeii were buried by slowly falling ash (small pebbles, really). It was Herculaneum where most everyone was buried rapidly in a pyroclastic flow.”

Sure, there was ash involved, but it wasn’t this slow, peaceful burial like we were told. The whole town got hit with a fast and furious eruption that left Pompeii frozen in time, like a snapshot of chaos.

5. Giant Squids

Atlantic ocean squid macro photo.
Image Credit: Rui Palma/Shutterstock.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “When I was a kid, the Giant Squid had never been captured or photographed, and some people talked about it like it was el chupacabra. My little brother always said he’d be the first person to get footage of one. Sadly, it has since become an ordinary animal that we know exists. RIP the Kraken.”

Another responded, “I’ve seen the preserved corpses at the Smithsonian. It’s pretty fascinating to think no evidence existed until our lifetime.”

Have you ever seen a giant squid before?

6. Knuckle Cracking

Anxious girl fidgeting with hands cracking knuckles.
Image Credit: Bricolage/Shiutterstock.

One said, “Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis.”

Another person agreed and said, “How do we know that knuckle cracking is harmless? One of the most convincing bits of evidence suggesting that knuckle cracking is harmless comes from a California physician who reported on an experiment he conducted on himself. 

Over his lifetime, he regularly cracked the knuckles of only one hand. He checked X-rays on himself after decades of this behavior and found no difference in arthritis between his hands. A larger study came to a similar conclusion.”

Researchers went all Sherlock Holmes on this myth, collecting evidence from everywhere. And guess what they found? No connection between knuckle-cracking and arthritis.

7. Food Pyramid

Excited young brunette woman girl in casual white clothes, eyeglasses posing isolated on pastel blue background.
Image Credit: ViDI Studio/Shutterstock.

Well, grab your forks because turns out the whole “one-size-fits-all” food pyramid was just a waste of time! 

A Reddit user wrote, “Of all the facts that have since been disproven, this might be the worst. We have a generation of adults who are getting diabetes and fatty liver disease because of what these people said.”

Another replied, “The food pyramid (and whatever it is today) is published by the USDA, which is then used by said USDA as governance for the school lunch program, thereby enabling them to supply lower cost bread/carb-heavy meals that meet specification.”

8. Parts of Tongue

Close-up portrait of her she nice attractive lovely winsome stunning glamorous funny wondered girl biting lip looking aside isolated over bright vivid shine yellow background.
Image Credit: deagreez1/DepositPhotos.com.

Someone commented, “Your tongue has different areas for tasting different tastes: sweet on the tip, sour on the sides, bitter on the back, etc. I feel like this was some elaborate prank played on my generation. But I remember seeing this in my elementary school biology textbook. I don’t even think it was disproven like; they just stopped telling this lie.”

Another responded, “Yep, the tastebuds are basically mixed around all over your tongue. No distinct place where they gather for sweet orso.”

So, that sweet spot at the front? It’s got its hands in the salty and sour pies, too. And the sides? They’re not picky either- they’re just as down for sweet as they are for any other taste. Even the so-called “bitter zone” at the back isn’t just a one-taste wonderland.

9. Free Drugs

man wearing red tshirt looking upset
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One wrote, “That I was going to be offered free drugs all the time.”

Someone else added, “We had a guidance counselor that taught us that marijuana gives men b**bs and puts hair on women’s chests. This was late 90’s and was not in a rural or particularly conservative area. I immediately knew it was crazy even as a kid.”

Were you ever told by your teachers about some made-up drug side effects, and when did you debunk them?

10. Left-Handed Students

portrait of shocked upset woman isolated on pastel blue colored background.
Image Credit: deagreez1 via DepositPhotos.com.

One said, “I had a teacher in 4th grade that would force left-handed kids to write with their right hand. She said that it was the normal way to write and would benefit them later in life. (circa, 1974)”

Another replied, “When I (left-handed) was learning to write, my teacher at the time tried to force me to be right-handed because she “won’t have the devil in the classroom.” I was moved to a different class after my mom got involved.”

The whole “right-handed is the best” story? Just a bunch of hogwash. The world is a big, colorful playground, and both righties and lefties are rocking it in their own special way.

11. Brain Usage

young pretty blonde woman scheming and conspiring, thinking devious tricks and cheats, cunning and betraying.
Image Credit: Kues/Shutterstock.

A discerning Reddit user commented, “You use 10% of your brain (was in a textbook).”

Another person agreed to it and said, “You only use 10% at a time; it’s kinda like how a stoplight only uses 33% of the light at a time; it still uses 100% of itself, just not all at the same time. the 10% of your brain is always taken out of context sadly.”

The bottom line? Your brain isn’t a lazy slacker- it’s pulling off a crazy juggling act. So next time someone tells you that you’re only using 10% of your brain, hit them with the knowledge bomb!

12. Atom Models

Close-up portrait of nice wondered cute attractive smart clever intelligent wavy-haired lady wearing putting off round glasses opened mouth isolated over turquoise teal pastel background.
Image Credit: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.

Back in the day, when we were all trying to make sense of science class, they hit us with this bombshell- the model of the atom. 

A Reddit user wrote, “Model of the atom.”

One said, “The atom model was a fun one; the physics class I had in high school had three of them, and the last one had a disclaimer that basically said “This one probably isn’t right either.””

13. Getting Ulcers

Clueless Young doctor surgeon woman over isolated white background shrugs shoulders with hesitation.
Image Credit: Roquillo Tebar/Shutterstock.

Remember back in the day when you’d hear people saying, “Ulcers? Oh, those are caused by stress and too much spicy food!” Someone commented, “Causes of ulcers. Downright disastrous. Should be basic knowledge.”

Another replied, “Vast majority of ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection, h. Pylori, meaning you can cure them with a course of antibiotics.”

14. Healthy Diet

Woman eating salad
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One said, “What composes a healthy diet.”

Another responded, “To this day, FDA classifications have it that avocados are wildly unhealthy while cereal is wildly healthy. Their requirements almost exclusively looked at fat content, and since avocado is basically all fat and cereal is no fat, cereal gets the “healthy” tag.”

Another person agreed to it and said, “Reduced fats in food does almost nothing, and was basically propaganda to get everyone to look away from the effects of the super addictive sugar in basically all our food.”

Turns out, the idea that everyone should be munching on the same thing in the same exact proportions? Well, it might work for some, but it’s a disaster for others.

15. Access to Calculators 

woman smiling at phone in her hand
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A Reddit user wrote, “”You won’t always have a calculator in your pocket!””

Someone else added, “Little did they know that you have a supercomputer in your pocket 24/7 that you just can’t look away from.”

Fast forward to today, and what do we have? Smartphones are basically pocket-sized geniuses. We’ve got calculators, notepads, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and oh-so-much more right at our fingertips.

16. Blue Blood

young red head doctor raising palm to forehead thinking oops, after making a stupid mistake or remembering, feeling dumb against blue wall.
Image Credit: Kues/Shutterstock.

Well, blame it on those fancy diagrams in textbooks. You know the ones- they show arteries as red and veins as blue. But here’s the reality check: veins are not blue either. They’re more like shades of red, from dark to light, depending on how much oxygen they’re carrying. Someone commented, “Blood is blue until exposed to oxygen.”

Another replied, “This one triggers me. I had an old lady teaching my 6th-grade science class that sent me to detention for arguing with her when she said the blood in your veins was blue but red in your arteries. 

To be fair, I argued with her on a lot of things she was wrong about, but this was the only one that resulted in detention. That’s the only time I can remember my dad, a chemist, actually going to the school to confront a teacher for being wrong.”

17. Getting a College Degree

Young university graduate woman isolated on pink background smiling
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Here’s the thing: college is awesome, no doubt about it. It opens doors, expands horizons, and can lead to some pretty cool opportunities. 

But guess what? It’s not the ONLY path to success, and definitely not a magical ticket to the land of high-paying jobs. The job market’s a diverse beast, and it takes all sorts of skills, not just a degree, to conquer it. One said, “That you’re gonna end up working a minimum wage job if you don’t go to college.”

Someone shared, “The narrative has flipped now. Now, if you go to college, you’re considered as wasting money to be indoctrinated by liberal institutions and should have gone to a vocational school.”

18. Computer Time

woman working home on her couch on a laptop
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A Reddit user wrote, “Playing with computers is a waste of time and won’t lead to a career. Said to me by a very old and bitter teacher. 25 years in IT and counting.”

Another responded, “Yeah, I still remember my sister’s boyfriend being like, “Why do you spend all your time on the computer, that’ll never go anywhere.” “I can get a job from this. Why do you waste all your time on skateboards?” “I can get a job skateboarding.” Narrator: He couldn’t.”

Fast forward to now, and what do we have? A world that runs on computers. From ordering pizza to sending rockets to space, computers are the unsung heroes behind the scenes, making life smoother than a freshly paved road. And guess what? Those kids who were “wasting time” playing with computers? Yeah, they’re the ones steering this digital ship.

19. Glass Is Liquid

Woman with magnifying glass
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A discerning Reddit user commented, “Glass is actually a liquid, which is why old windows look droopy. I was definitely in my 20’s before I learned that wasn’t true.”

Someone else added, “After a few courses in materials science, I’m not convinced there’s a concrete difference between an amorphous solid and a liquid. The viscosity difference is just… well, big.”

But here’s the thing- that’s not the whole story. In fact, it’s not even close. Glass isn’t a liquid, slow or fast. It’s a bona fide solid. Those old windows? They’re thicker at the bottom due to how they were made, not because the glass decided to do the limbo over centuries.

20. Christopher Columbus

Portrait of a young angry man gesticulating with his hands, looking at the camera.
Image Credit: dabyki.nadya/Shutterstock.

Columbus was all about gold, glory, and greed. He wasn’t here for a cultural exchange or a friendly meet-and-greet. He was here for the riches and didn’t care who got trampled in the process.

One said, “That Christopher Columbus was a great guy, and all the natives rose up in celebration when he came. Yeah, I don’t teach history that way.”

Another replied, “Also, people at the time of Columbus thought the world was flat. In fact, it was well known that the world was round, and the dispute was how large the Earth was. Columbus was wrong in his small earth theory, but luckily, the Americas existed; otherwise, he would have never made the trip to Asia.”

Another person agreed to it and said, “The genocide of hundreds of thousands of Island natives in the search for gold aside…. You should look up the map of his charters. I don’t understand how he “discovered America” and why he is celebrated at the federal level in America. Dude never set foot in what is now America. Not even Florida.

Nordic explorers made it to North America way before he did. Makes me question everything about my one-sided American public school history education.”

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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.