Rumor Flies

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Rumor Flies comically addresses the origins, evolution, and veracity of your favorite rumors, myths, and misconceptions. Tune in for more research, stories, and unsolicited commentary! Participation encouraged.

Filtering by Tag: dark myths

Snap Judgment #15: Columbus is a Citrus-Planting Piece of $%*&

#402: Christopher Columbus brought the first lemon seeds to America.

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Verdict: True

Greg here, and as is the case with anything Columbus related, that particular context is important. Anyone who has listened to even a few episodes of this show will quickly recognize that my complete and utter distaste at anything Christopher Columbus-related is hard to truly capture. That's partially why I chose this subject: it forces me to just do some research and sit back without too much editorializing. But this topic also gives me a fun launchpad to discuss some side stuff, which we will get in to momentarily. So now: Citrus stuff!

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A cursory google search will quickly reveal to anyone that this is widely accepted and parroted. While all the specifics are a little debated, it seems to be consensus that Columbus brought lemon seeds - along with several other citrus seeds - to the "New World." Ironically, his crew also suffered a horrible bout of scurvy on their long expedition.

I made it a point to find a more "academic" or accredited source to back it up, and indeed there doesn't seem to be any major contradictions to the claim. I found a few books that point to sources saying he planted them in Haiti for sure, then in the Americas, where they flourished. He also brought death and ruination in the form of poor governorship and horrible diseases (I had to get at least one dig in). 

It's important to note that this trend of bringing and unleashing animals, plants, and even diseases, is something we see over and over again in colonization discussions (and even beyond). The Spanish introduced horses in the 16th century, which fundamentally altered the lives of Native American communities in the plains regions of North America, who famously learned to integrate horses into their communities. Over the next centuries, horses became as culturally ingrained in the mythos of the "American West" as tumbleweeds and six-shooters. A quick digression, but something worth mentioning (in my opinion). 

Ok. Two digs.    Source:  XKCD  under Creative Commons. 

Ok. Two digs. 

Source: XKCD under Creative Commons. 

So now for something completely different and probably a solid 30% of the motivation for my post/topic choice. Did you know there's an indie record called Columbus? Did you know it was a musical? Did you know it was produced by Andrew Dost (Anthallo, Fun.) and features such indie darlings as Nate Ruess (Steel Train, Fun.), Michael Nau (Page France), Joel Thiele (Anathallo), and more? It is an absurd and plucky record that takes ridiculous liberties (knowingly). It is so silly and funny and even catchy (and yes, at times a bit cringe-y, but that's always a risk with something like this). They even pressed a bright magenta vinyl record. I don't know if Columbus will ever rock broadway...but hey, stranger things have happened. 

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Snap Judgment #14: Will Headbang for Food

#437: The woodpecker can hammer wood up to 16 times per second

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Verdict: True

So this one isn't as crazy insofar as checking true vs. false, because it's pretty easily verifiable; however, that isn't why I gravitated towards it. Reason 1: I really wanted to make a Woody Woodpecker reference, as seen above. Reason 2: Woodpeckers are really cool and I was kind of curious how they don't damage their brain (and general face area). Turns out, it was really interesting! 

According to Gizmodo, woodpeckers basically have giant sponge heads. The beat, their muscles, their bones, even a third inner eyelid - all these contribute to shock absorption (combined with the angle, or lack thereof, of their strikes). Because they can absorb it without damage, "a male woodpecker will peck between 500-600 times a day, 18-22 times per second — twice that during courtship season — with deceleration forces of about 1200 g." The deceleration is another key component here as it makes it so the energy from the impact is released over a longer period of time. There are all sorts of industry and safety applications from this research, from potential redesigns of football helmets to shielding spacecraft from orbital debris or other possible impacts.

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According to Mental Floss, 99.7% of the impact is absorbed by the woodpecker's body, with the remaining .03% impacting the brain in the form of heat energy. The prevailing theory is that they deal with it via short breaks - hence why you don't hear them go consistently for long durations. They take a break, let the brain cool down, then get back to smashing their face in to find food, to build a nest, to attract a mate, or even to simply mark their territory. They also slightly shift the impact point between brain and skull as they work while maintaining the linear striking motion, so the angle is maintained but they don't keep striking the same spots over and over again. 

Basically, woodpeckers are the best metal heads (you knew this was coming). They can thrash around for hours a day and keep on truckin'. They're basically concussion-proofed birds, so as we mentioned earlier, the scientific research opportunities are pretty substantial. 


Snap Judgment #10: Mango Burns

#1416: “Mangoes can get sunburned.”

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Verdict: Probably

So Snapple is on a winning streak right now going into Snap Judgment #10! The score is currently 7-3, so Snapple is batting a .700. Not bad, but we are sure we'll find some more mistakes down the line. So I decided to give them a "yes" on the scoreboard here, despite the "probably." I had trouble pinning down mangoes getting sunburned, but it is well documented that fruit trees can receive sun damage, so they get this one for now. This one I decided to stick out if for no other reason than I found some other crazy info down the rabbit hole. Snapple also did a commercial for this topic

So get this: the enzymes in mangoes can actually cause a severe skin reaction when combined with sun exposure. Don't worry, this does not happen to everyone just because a little fruit juice may spill on you. It is the result of "phytophotodermatitis," which the article describes as "a skin condition that happens as a result of sensitivity to chemicals in certain plants and fruits." This condition, coupled with sun exposure/juice on the skin, leads to a chemical burn. 

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This also occurs with several other fruits and vegetables. According to this CBS article, a bartender (Justin Fehntrich) working on the beach received what's called "the margarita burn." This burn was also the result of "phytophotodermatitis" combined with lime juice and extended exposure to the sun. The juice from the limes Fehntrich was squeezing made his skin hyper-sensitive to UV-rays, thus resulting in 2nd degree burns. Don't worry though - as long as you wipe the juice off within a reasonable amount of time (it needs 10-30 min to absorb) you'll be fine. 




Snap Judgment #5: Freaky-Deaky Jelly-Fishy

 #18: A Jellyfish is 95% water


Verdict: True

Jellyfish are really fucking weird, man. Have you ever actually seen a jellyfish in the water? And I don’t mean on tv or in pictures. I mean in actual person. They just drift and blend in seamlessly.

I’ve heard this rumor before but didn’t give it much credence. The simple truth is that this is true. Jellyfish are indeed about 95% water. For reference, humans are about 60% water. So what’s the other 5%? Glad you asked Ryan.

Jellyfish are composed of three layers: the epidermis on the outside, the middle layer which is filled with jelly (huehuehue) called mesoglea, and the inner layer called the gastrodermis. They do also have a very basic nervous system which allows them to smell, detect light and some other basic functions.


Oh and they have an ass. And a mouth. It’s the same hole. Jellyfish always go ass to mouth because they don’t have a choice essentially. These assmouth eats zooplankton, small crustaceans, and sometimes even other jellyfish. Bottom line here: jellyfish are carnivorous assmouths. Have I mentioned their ass and mouth are the same hole yet?

Lastly, jellyfish do have separate sexes as well. They release the sperm or the eggs into the water at the same time which is how babies are made. So while there isn’t much to these little critters, they manage to stay alive and function like most animals on a very basic level. It’s crazy to think of something that consists 95% of one substance is able to function in such a big and scary environment like the ocean.


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Snap Judgment #3: Eye-Popping Orgasms?

#58: "A sneeze travels out of your nose at 100mph."

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Verdict: False

This is an oldie but a goodie, one I'm sure most (if not all) are familiar with. There are many variations of this myth, such as you close your eyes to keep them from popping out from the sheer force of the sneeze (called "subluxing").

A funny bit we also found in that same article:

Dr. Rachel Vreeman, co-author of Don’t Swallow Your Gum! Myths, Half-Truths, and Outright Lies About Your Body and Health says she discovered an 1882 story in the New York Times about a woman whose eyeball popped out...after sneezing. 

This myth is literally over a century old, it turns out, making its way from The New York Times to the myths and tales we still tell each other to this day. Our inspirations over at Mytbusters actually explored this subject as well, for those who are interested. 


Some fun extra reading: 

Snopes has an interesting theories on the origin of “Bless you." These include such gems like, "'Bless you!' was a protective oath uttered to safeguard the temporarily expelled and vulnerable soul from being snatched up by Satan," and, "the sneeze itself [is] the expulsion of a demon or evil spirit which has taken up residence in a person."

A related (and hilarious) myth was also found on Snopes as well: sneezing 7+ times can induce/feel like an orgasm. Before you go grab some pepper for a "totally scientific experiment," no, it's not true. Sorry, fam. 

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