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The human body is an incredible machine. We can lift thousands of pounds, run faster than any animal on Earth, and survive in some of the most inhospitable environments around the world. But even with all of this power at our disposal, we still need myths to form around us as human beings to understand each other and our place in the world. These five myths debunked about the human body will tell you just how far we’ve come in understanding ourselves as humans over the centuries, while also showing you how much there still remains to learn about what makes us tick as living organisms. Let’s get started!
What Are Myths?
Myth Meaning – Etymology. Myths are not lies or misconceptions. “Myth” comes from Greek words that literally mean word or story. It’s important to note, however, that myths are not always true. In fact, they often fall into a category of a story with a moral; myths tell us something meaningful about how people in certain situations act or react to certain events. The myth we know today means something that is inaccurate and erroneous but is presented as being real and true by someone who does not understand its real meaning.
A common myth is that we only use 10% of our brain. Scientifically, it’s impossible to measure how much of our brain is in use because of its complexity. The myth evolved from a misinterpretation of an Albert Einstein quote in which he said humans only use 10% of their potential (mentally). It wasn’t meant to imply that 10% was a magic number for brain capacity, but was more likely trying to suggest his belief that we should expand our intellectual horizons. For example, if you’re struggling with calculus, maybe it would be helpful if you used your brain a little bit more and learned some algebra first.
Humans have a variety of senses, though many people only recognize 5: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. While these are all important to have, humans also have a variety of other senses that are just as important. For example proprioception (sense of one’s body), equilibrioception (sense of equilibrium), nociception (pain receptors), and thermoception (body temperature). So our number is closer to 10 or even 11. This can be attributed to our large number of muscles and joints.
If you’re wondering if your belly button is an innie or an outie, don’t sweat it! The terms innie and outie are colloquialisms for having a navel that projects inward or outward. While most people’s umbilical holes eventually close up into a scar, some never do – especially in cases of excess skin from obesity. By examining your belly button after washing off any residue from being in water, you can learn whether yours is projected outwards or nestled snugly against your stomach. As a rule of thumb, if you can easily push it back into your abdomen by pushing on it, chances are it’s an innie; otherwise you have an outie.
FALSE – While it’s true that we do swallow bugs while we sleep, they are not necessarily spiders. In fact, only one species of spider, called a dream spider, is small enough to fit into people’s mouths. On average, humans don’t ingest any arachnids while sleeping. And even if they did consume a dream spider—which you’re not likely to do anyway—it wouldn’t make much of a difference in your weight because spiders have no bones and very little mass.
The myth of muscular atrophy is rampant. In fact, though muscles in certain areas can atrophy (e.g., a frozen shoulder), there’s very little documented evidence that muscles lose mass and strength if they aren’t exercised. What you do need to worry about, however, is a joint range of motion: If you don’t move a joint through its full range of motion on a regular basis, it will stiffen over time—no matter how much weight you’re lifting in your workout. So make sure you stretch between sets at least once or twice a week to keep things loose and limber for maximum benefit.