Let's Debunk Some "Facts": People Are Sharing The Lies They Were Taught In School, And Some Of These Are Actually Shocking

School is, like, the one place we go to and expect that the things we're learning are definitely true. But, come to find out, we may have been slightly misinformed on a few things.

Ava from Abbott Elementary saying, "it was just a misunderstanding"

So, I asked the people of the BuzzFeed Community, "What are some 'facts' you learned in school that you later realized were totally wrong?" And people definitely didn't hesitate to let me know:

1."Rosa Parks was just 'tired' after a hard day's work and didn't want to give up her seat on the bus."

Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks

2."We only use 10% of our brain."

Diagram of brain waves

3."Encyclopedias will always be the best starting point in research, and you won’t ever be able to find much online, especially not using Ask Jeeves and Google."

A woman in a library


Olena Ruban / Getty Images

4."The Nile is the only river that flows north, and it was some magical thing."

A view of the Red River in Canada

5."That the Boston Tea Party happened in response to an increase in taxes."

Rendering of the Boston Tea Party

6."The Food Pyramid."

The original USDA's 1992 food pyramid

7."All insects can fly. I remember a primary school teacher being very certain of that 'fact.' I even remember one kid challenging him by asking, 'What about ants?' And he paused and replied, 'Flying ants.'"

A graphic of a large flying insect with a big red slash through it

8."That everyone has a learning style."

An illustration of children being represented with different "learning styles"

9."Harold II was killed when an arrow pierced his eye during the Battle of Hastings in 1066."

An illustration of Harold the second with an arrow through his eye and war going on around him

10."That we only have five senses!"

An illustration of the five senses

11."That cannabis is a gateway drug."

A woman scientist examining a cannabis plant

12."When I was in fourth grade, I remember a teacher saying that they didn't get tornadoes in the mountains because the mountains kept the cold and warm air from mixing and forming tornadoes."

A very large tornado that has touched down on the very top of a mountain

13."In 1984, my band teacher warned us not to play each others' instruments because someone in a previous year contracted AIDS that way."

A red ribbon that symbolizes the fight against AIDS

14."I am from Pennsylvania, and I absolutely learned that the Civil War was not about slavery but about states' rights. I actually recently polled my friends, all from northern states, and they, without exception, learned the Civil War was solely about slavery."

7 former enslaved men standing in line during the American Civil War

15."The Earth has seasons as a result of how close it is to the sun."

The sun and the earth

16."In school, I learned the desert gets hot during the day and cold at night."

The desert

17."There’s no evidence that Betsy Ross ever made the first American flag."

—michelangelofangirlHistorians and researchers have had a very hard time finding evidence that Betsy Ross actually sewed the first US flag. While it's noted that she was an upholsterer and did sew flags for political agendas, there is no evidence, past or present, that supports the claim that she created the first American flag. Ross died in 1836, and it wasn't until the 1870s that Betsy's grandson would tell the Historical Society of Pennsylvania that his grandmother made the first flag after being personally approached by George Washington, and she deserved her flowers for it. Additional members of Betsy's family even signed sworn affidavits stating Betsy had told them this herself. The story hit newspapers and was then posted in Harper's Weekly (one of the most influential periodicals of the time), and it was never once mentioned that this could be untrue, and her family was the only evidence to the claims. So we've believed this (potential) fairytale for 150+ years with not much evidence to support it.

18."Witches were burned in Salem during the trials. Nope. Nary a one."

Martha Corey with her accusers in a jail during the Salem Witch Trials

19."I'm Canadian, and I have a very clear memory of being in seventh grade and learning about residential schools. We were taught that they were a good thing."

A memorial in Canada for one of the many residential schools where Native American children's remains were found

20."Abraham Lincoln singlehandedly ended slavery. Not true at all."

Rendering of Abe Lincoln with other officials

And finally, this person debunked the lie they were taught in school, and it's incredibly beautiful how they explained it:

21."AP Biology and general science taught that there are only XX and XY chromosomes."


Do you recall any of those falsehoods you were taught in school and want to share them? Make sure you let me know in the comments!

Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.