Here are many common or famous false beliefs. If you prefer to believe the world is filled with magical mysticism beyond our scientific understanding, you will hate this page. These could be fun topics to debunk in class. Suggestions welcome!




Paranormal not based on any science, unsupported by evidence:

ESP, Telepathy, Psychics — People cannot read minds, transmit thoughts, or view remote locations any better than guessing.
Psychokinesis, Telekinesis — People cannot move objects with their mind.
Fortune Telling — No person or object can see the future
(beyond normal speculation).
Tarot Cards — Tarot card readings are inconsistent and inaccurate.
Palm Reading — The creases in your palms do not predict your future.
Tea Leaf Reading — The pattern of tea leaves or coffee grounds does not predict your future.
Auras — Bodies do not radiate an “energy field” that reveals your health.
Feng Shui — Buildings and environments do not have an “energy force” that affects people.
Séances, Channeling, Ouija — Communicating with spirits has been shown to be frauds or self-delusion.
Witchcraft — People and objects do not have magic abilities.
Numerology — Patterns of numbers or numeric values of letters do not correlate with events beyond random coincidence.
Superstition, Luck, Curses — Rituals, charms, curses, omens, good & bad luck have no effect or scientific evidence.

Paranormal tricks:

Psychic Cold Readings — Mentalists use guessing techniques and keen observations to appear to have psychic abilities.
See also Barnum effect
Psychic Surgery — Practitioners pretend to pull diseased tissue out of your body with their bare hands by using sleight of hand with animal organs and fake blood.
Levitation — Practitioners pretend to levitate using wires, metal rigs, trick photography, and other illusions.

Paranormal loosely based on scientific ideas, unsupported by evidence:

Astrology — Stars and planets do not influence our personality or future.
Full Moon, Lunar Effect — The full moon and lunar cycle have no effect on humans.
Ghost Hunting — There is no physical evidence of ghosts.
Intelligent Design, Creation Science — Evidence does not support that life was created as–is 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.
Dream Interpretation — Dreams do not foretell the future or other ESP, and dream symbolism/meaning has no mental health benefits.
Emotions & Plants — Plants are not affected by people’s emotions, speech, or thoughts.
Emotions & Water — Water is not affected by people’s emotions, speech, or thoughts.
Biorhythm — People do not have physical/emotional/intellectual cycles.
Alchemy — Lead cannot be turned to gold, and there is no “elixir of life”.
Crop Circles — Crop circles are hoaxes created by people, not aliens or supernatural forces.
Bermuda Triangle — The number of boats and planes lost in the Bermuda Triangle is no higher than any other part of the ocean.
Dowsing — Divining rods and other techniques cannot locate underground water, gold, metals, oil, gems, graves, etc.

Unsupported pseudoscience, usually without the paranormal:

UFOs, Abductions — While some sightings are unexplained, evidence does not support that UFOs are extraterrestrial.
Ancient Aliens — Aliens did not visit ancient civilizations or build the Pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge, etc.
Big Foot, Loch Ness Monster, Cryptozoology — Evidence of mythical creatures are known to be hoaxes or from ordinary causes.
Flat Earth — Modern arguments that the Earth is flat are based on scientific misunderstanding and denial.
Climate Change Denial — The evidence against anthropogenic global warming does not hold up to scientific scrutiny.
Perpetual Motion — Machines cannot run forever without an energy source.

Unsupported psychology:

Graphology, Handwriting Analysis — Handwriting does not correlate with personality traits.
Conversion Therapy — Counseling and physical treatments cannot change sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
Attachment Therapy — The technique of laying on and cradling adopted children does not improve behavioral difficulties (unlike the supported science by a similar name: Attachment-based Therapy).

Unsupported physiology:

Phrenology — Bumps on the skull and its shape do not correlate with personality traits.
Iridology — Patterns and colors in the iris do not reveal aspects of health.
Blood Type Personality — Blood type does not correlate with traits.
Cryonics — Dead bodies cannot be frozen and later brought back to life.


Alternative Medicine

Based on pseudoscience, unsupported by evidence
(but some are partially supported where noted)

Acupressure, Reflexology — Bodies do not have “energy flow” or meridians, and pressing special areas has no benefit.
Acupuncture — Inserting thin needles in the body does not relieve pain or benefit health.
Alexander Technique — These specific posture and vocal techniques have no proven benefits to health.
Aromatherapy, Essential Oils — Essential oils may smell nice and be relaxing, but they have no health benefit.
Bee Pollen — No human studies have been done to show any health benefits of eating bee pollen.
Chiropractic — “Spinal adjustments” and other treatments have no effect, except for some cases of lower back pain. Doctors of Chiropractic (DC) are not Medical Doctors (MD).
Chromotherapy — Shining colored light on someone has no health benefits.
Colloidal Silver — Eating or applying silver particles does not give the advertised health benefits, and it may harm you.
Colon Cleansing — Rinsing “toxins” out of the anus has no health benefits.
Crystal Healing — Placing crystals on/near your body does not fix your “energy flow”.
Cupping Therapy — Applying vacuum cups to the skin does not suck out “toxins”, clear “stagnant blood”, or improve health.
Detox, Fasting, Juice Cleanse — Dieting, fasting, and drinking only juice do not remove “toxins” or improve health.
Energy Healing, Reiki — Directing “healing energy” into someone does not improve their health.
Faith Healing — Praying and laying on of hands does not improve healing or recovery rates better than doing nothing.
Feldenkrais Method — This exercise technique does not improve motor movement or other health benefits.
Herbal Medicine — Most medicinal plants and animal products have no effect, with only a few exceptions supported by evidence.
Himalayan Salt — Salt lamps do not release healing ions, and salt-inhalation spas have no measurable health benefits.
Homeopathy — Water does not “remember” substances it previously contained, and the dilution has no healing properties.
Leaky Gut Syndrome — The gut does not leak “toxins” that cause chronic inflammation (other than the medical condition of increased intestinal permeability).
Magnet Therapy — Magnetic jewelry, blankets, etc. are too weak to affect blood or the body and have no health benefits.
Megavitamin Therapy — Taking way more vitamins than recommended has no health benefits and can be toxic.
Rolfing — Massage techniques to align your “energy field” with the gravity field have no health benefits.
Traditional Chinese Medicine — The many treatments of TCM have no scientific evidence of health benefits.
Urine Therapy — Drinking or applying your own urine (or animal urine) has no proven health benefits.
Vaginal Steaming — Steamed water with herbs has no benefits for women’s reproductive organs or health, and can be dangerous.

Quack cures: frauds exploiting scientific misunderstanding:

Resveratrol — This chemical can increase lifespan of fruit flies, but it has no proven benefit for humans.
Weight Loss Pills, Creams, Patches — These are all false advertising to get your money.


Health & Medical Myths

Realistic sounding science unsupported by evidence

Drink 8 Glasses of Water Daily — Thirst is a better way to know how much to drink. Requirements vary.
Organic Foods — Organic foods are not healthier to eat
(but organic farming may be better for the environment).
Gluten — Gluten does not cause fat, fatigue, or other problems (except in patients with rare medical conditions).
GMO — Genetically modified foods are just as healthy as unmodified foods.
MSG — Monosodium glutamate is just as safe as all other seasoning; it does not cause headaches or health problems.
Low-Carb Diets — Low-carb diets like Atkins, etc., are no better than any other diet for weight loss.
Coffee — In normal amounts, coffee does not stunt growth, dehydrate, help weight loss, or harm you.
Turkey Makes You Sleepy — Turkey has no more tryptophan than other meats, not enough to affect you. Large meals cause sleepiness.
Gum Stays in Stomach 7 Years — Gum passes through your system as fast as any other food.
Being Cold Causes Colds — While the common cold is more common in winter, it is not because of being cold.
Cracking Knuckles Causes Arthritis — Cracking your joints does not cause arthritis.
Power Lines Cause Cancer — Living or working near power lines does not cause cancer or other health problems.
Wind Turbine Syndrome — Proximity to windmills doesn’t cause cancer, birth defects, or any harm.
Shaving Makes Hair Thicker — Shaving gives the hair a blunt tip which you feel more, but it does not grow back thicker.
Pee on Jellyfish Sting — This does not help, and it may actually increase the pain.
Periods Synchronize When Women Live Together — Studies show no evidence of this. People just notice coincidences.
Pregnancy Signs Predict Sex — These are correct 50% of the time, and incorrect 50%.
Rice is Deadly for Birds — Rice does not expand in birds’ stomachs or harm them.
5G / Cellphones Cause Cancer — Extensive testing shows cellular radio waves (including 5G) cause no harm, even if close to the head.
Violent Video Games — People who play violent video games are no more prone to violence than non-gamers.


Exaggerated Science

Claims far beyond the actual scientific evidence

Polygraph Lie Detectors — Polygraphs measure signs of anxiety, which does not correlate well to lying, so they’re not legal evidence.
Subliminal Messaging — Subliminal messages have a weak effect and do not force you to do something you wouldn’t want to.
Earthquakes Predicted by Animals — Animals don’t act differently hours/days before earthquakes, but some sense physical waves less than a minute before.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator — The 4 traits can be descriptive, but people aren’t consistent, and the 16 types aren’t that accurate.
Vitamin A for Eyesight — Normal daily amount is healthy for the eyeball, but it doesn’t sharpen eyesight or reduce the need for glasses.
Vitamin C for Colds — Normal daily amount helps you recover faster, but it does not prevent colds or cure them after you get infected.