For our purposes: Myths are commonly held beliefs or ideas that are false. For a claim to be considered a myth one or more parts of it must be proved false. Other definitions of myth, such as those pertaining to the not false-but-allegorical stories we tell to explain things, are discussed on our “what is a myth?” page.

Below is a collection of all factoids rated “myth” (as in “not true or not fully true”) by our authors.  If you disagree or have more evidence to support a claim consider commenting. See our list of facts here.

René Descartes Slept in an Oven Myth

René Descartes didn’t sleep in an oven, but he did invent analytical geometry while sleeping in a room with an oven (likely a masonry heater).

Mount Everest is the Tallest Mountain Myth

Mount Everest has the highest elevation above sea level, the tallest mountain is Mauna Kea from the ocean floor, and Chimborazo is highest from earth’s center (due to Earth’s shape).

George Washington Had Wooden Teeth Myth

George Washington didn’t have wooden teeth, but he did have dentures (made of materials such as ivory) that may have appeared “wooden” from staining.

Malaria Killed Half the People Who Have Ever Lived Myth

Malaria would have needed to kill an average of about 5 ½ million a year to kill half of everyone ever, we don’t have data to prove this. However, we know almost half the world’s population is at risk of Malaria and it kills up to a million a year today.