January 29, 2020 | Jess Silverberg

People Share What They Thought Was Common Knowledge But Actually Is Not

During our childhoods, we pick up certain tidbits of information from our parents, teachers, and peers that stay with us until we become adults. We grow up thinking that these little facts of life are common sense since, as kids, we just never thought to question their validity. It's only until they're brought up in conversation that we discover they're not so common sense after all:


#1 Take Your Wins

Gambling at a casino will most likely result in losing money. If you find you're winning, quit when you've won. Remember the scene in Oceans 13 where everyone wins, then they leave the casino because there's an earthquake? Yeah, do that. Also, the only way to win other than dumb luck is as follows: blackjack is 50/50, craps is 50/50, and roulette is 50/50 if you stick to red and black. Slot machines are 90% in favor of the house.


#2 On-Ramp Rules

The on-ramp is for accelerating to highway speeds before you reach the highway. This is my biggest pet peeve. I'll argue this all day long. If you can't understand why it is dangerous as heck to try to merge with traffic going 20-40 mph faster than you, you are probably going to be in an accident or cause one sooner rather than later.


#3 Facts Are Facts

There are no tigers in Africa. I was on safari in Tanzania and two others in the truck were discussing how excited they would be to see tigers. I told them there weren't any and they looked all disbelieving and crestfallen like I was spoiling their fun. They had to check with the guide. I didn't mean to be a total killjoy, but facts are facts.


#4 Know Your Infections

Antibiotics kill bacteria, but won't do anything against viruses. Everyone has the idea that if you get a cold, you see your doctor and get antibiotics. Take some acetaminophen or paracetamol and ibuprofen, and stay away from other humans for a while! In the same line, the practice of stopping taking your antibiotics just because you feel better is not good either. It’s like all these people don’t care that antibiotic-resistant bacteria is terrifying!


#5 Unicorn Whales

Narwhals exist. They are totally real. People have thought that I was trolling them by talking about a mythical unicorn-whale.  I used to get annoyed at this animal alphabet train we had for our kid because it had a narwhal for N. One day, I finally commented to my wife: “There have to be other real animals that they could have chosen." So, I was in my early 30s when I learned narwhals were actually real. Needless to say, she still hits me with that line occasionally.


#6 Looking Into Space

That other planets are visible from Earth. And the sun is also a star. I was sitting outside one evening having a drink with my sister. There was a really clear sky out, lots of stars, and she said: “Someone was telling me that stars are like the sun, but further away.” I paused to check if she was kidding, but she genuinely thought she was sharing obscure knowledge. We were in our mid-twenties. I don’t know how this information had passed her by up to that point.


#7 Know Your Geography

Basic geography. Not being able to point out Turkmenistan on a map is one thing. Not being able to point out the Pacific Ocean on a map is another. Even if you can’t point to Turkmenistan exactly, I feel you should at least know about where in the world it is. If somebody pointed to South America, I would find that equally as concerning.


#8 Tax Brackets

Tax brackets. You won't end up paying more in taxes than the extra income if you go up a bracket. Only the income ABOVE the cutoff is taxed at a higher rate, not your total income. I had to explain this to a guy in his sixties, literal years away from retirement. It's something you should really learn early on so that you're prepared.


#9 Anno Domini

A.D. means Anno Domini. not After Death. I had an argument with my friend's mom a few years ago about this. She said "BC" was "Before Christ" and "AD" was after death. I tried to explain to her that that didn't make any sense because then the 33 years of Jesus's life would just be not accounted for. I told her "AD" meant "Anno Domini" and she said, "I think that's the atheist version" or something like that. She then stopped listening when I tried to tell her it wasn't because it meant "Year of our Lord"


#10 Free TV

Television still exists for free in HD (much to Comcast's chagrin) and if you live near a major city you can usually get it with an antenna just fine. I worked for a subpar cable provider and would have people buy the least expensive option just get basic channels. I wanted to tell them to go buy a cheap antenna and try that first but I couldn't. The digital conversion that happened was just converting the TV over the air from analog to digital. I wish more people understood that free TV is still a thing.


#11 Just A Bunch Of Yields

How to use a dang roundabout, apparently. They tried to put one in my town but a member of our city council was publicly quoted saying that people around here are too stupid to use a roundabout. It's really not that hard, people... It's just a bunch of yields. Also, when properly used, it makes traffic so much more efficient.


#12 Not My Price

You shouldn’t be rude to customer service or the cashier because it’s not their fault that the item is expensive. "This price is outrageous! I'm not paying this!" Thank you for ranting and yelling at me, the lowest-level employee who has no say in how anything in this company is priced and who probably couldn't afford to buy this item if she wanted to.


#13 Lost About The World

I've seen some Jimmy Kimmel skits where people are asked where certain well-known places in the world are, like: "Where is Australia? Where is Africa?" They literally can't point to them on a map, or they think Africa is a country. I just don't understand how people don't know this stuff. This is stuff they should have learned in elementary school.


#14 The Flu Is Not A Cold

The flu is not just another cold, and you can’t use the words interchangeably. Many people have never had the flu or felt that unwell. The flu will knock you on your butt. I get the flu all the time and it always knocks me on my butt. For whatever reason, I always assumed THAT was the cold. I always felt like a pansy or that I just had a terrible immune system. A cold shouldn't have caused me that much pain.


#15 Not Just A Cartoon

I'm originally from New Mexico, The number of people who think that Roadrunners aren't real and are just made from a cartoon is astounding. My sister-in-law thought my brother was lying to her for six months before she came and visited New Mexico. Roadrunners really do exist... They're literally everywhere where I'm from.


#16 Basic Financial Literacy

Basic principles of finance (budgeting, interest, debt, saving, etc.) I still think this should be a mandatory curriculum in high school. Four years of it. Throw in taxes as well. It blows my mind to look back and think about the amount of studying I did on topics I'll literally never encounter again but basic financial literacy is ignored entirely.

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#17 Respect The Service Dogs

Don't pet service dogs. I used to think everyone knew this until I got one. Don't pet them, talk to them, make kissy noises, bark at them (grown adults barking at service dogs is shockingly common), whistle, clap, none of that stuff. Do not do anything to deliberately draw the dog's attention.

If they are distracted, the handler could get hurt or even die. Not exaggerating. If a medical alert dog misses an impending medical emergency, the person doesn't have time to get into a safe position or take rescue medications. If they have a seizure or slip into a diabetic coma or something because you distracted their service dog, it is your fault.


#18 Don't Flush It Down

A surprising number of people don't realize they SHOULD NOT flush hygienic products down the toilet. If it doesn't eventually back up your own pipes, it will create massive blockages in the public sewer. I had to explain this to a friend in her mid-20s. I was like, "Why do you think there are little trash cans on the walls of every women's stall?"


#19 Get Scanned

If you're entering a venue that requires a ticket to be scanned for entry, someone without a scanner can't let you enter. To add to this, if you need a ticket to enter, you will actually need the ticket to enter. The number of people I see that seem shocked when asked for their ticket and then have to dig in a bag for five minutes searching for it is infuriating. Just have it out while you're waiting!


#20 King Of The Jungle

A lot of people think that lions predominantly live in the jungle. Not sure why the phrase "king of the jungle" got so popular for lions... Even my Spanish textbook had a question asking where lions live when we were learning about animals and stuff. We'd been taught the word for "jungle," but not for savanna. The book wanted us to say lions live in the jungle.


#21 Always Yield

The yield signs on highways are there so that you LOOK before you just keep going, before possibly hitting someone. This happened to a friend's mom—she accidentally struck a pedestrian because she didn't yield and instead just kept going. If people would be cautious and look where they're going at yield signs, we could probably replace half the stop signs with them.


#22 A Conjunction For Emphasis

You're allowed to start a sentence, even a paragraph, with a conjunction for the sake of emphasis. I've had multiple people try to correct that, and then I'll show it to a professor and be like: "This is grammatically correct, right?" and they'll say "Of course." Starting a sentence with conjunctions adds weight to the following clause as well as to the logic that ties together the clause with the preceding one. It stands out more than using a comma.


#23 On Jellyfish Stings

Don't go #1 on a jellyfish sting. If you don't know where I got this from, people actually trusted that episode of Friends as knowledge. Also, you're supposed to do it for a Portuguese Man o' War as a second option if you don't have vinegar or something else. Also, a Man o' War is not a type of jellyfish. That should help explain what I mean.


#24 Cows And Bulls

That all cows are female. Male animals don't have milk-producing udders, Sean. The male version of a cow is called a bull. Incidentally, I recently learned there's no common genderless word for a member of that species. There's "cattle" for a group of them, but nothing for an individual. I thought everyone knew this, but apparently, it's not common knowledge.


#25 Black Bears Vs. Grizzlies

A black bear that is used to humans, it typically harmless if you keep that distance. The problem is, you don't know if that black bear is used to humans, he could have migrated from an area he is not used to seeing us. But generally, black bears are timider. So you are still probably safe, especially in a group.

Grizzlies are harmful from any visual distance. They may disregard you if they still feel safe, but they are more aggressive in general. Stay in crowds as that still deters them. They will avoid areas of the human population generally unless people leave food which will make them want to come near.

Black bears generally want to keep the peace. but when we as humans leave food around for them, they will consider it their hunting ground (eating our trash). With that said, black bears will be timider and leave if we don't surprise them, grizzlies will be more aggressive to defend it because they think we are trying to take their food (instead of us being the ones who leave trash and food like idiots).


#26 Gravity Is Everywhere

There is gravity everywhere. On the ISS, gravity is only a bit less than it is on the surface of the earth. The reason the astronauts float around isn’t that there’s no gravity; it’s because they’re in a state of free fall. As Douglass Adams once said: "Flying is the art of throwing yourself at the ground and missing."


#27 Braille Comics?

Oral storytelling. The oldest kind of storytelling. Podcasts and audiobooks are popular in modern forms. I made a post in a writing group about the importance of diversity in stories, and someone replied (among other things they said) that blind people couldn't appreciate characters like Daredevil because they couldn't see, so it was pointless to pander to them. Another writer (who was trying to help) suggested the story be written in braille. The previous "writer" clarified that Daredevil was a comic book, which is visual, so braille wouldn't change anything.


#28 For Vaccines Only

When I went to get vaccinated a few months ago, inside the nurse room was the fridge where the vaccines were stored (it was a normal fridge). It had a sign that said, "Fridge for vaccine storage only—Do not store any food." I said to the nurse that I thought that was common sense, to which she replied, "It seems not at all—we've had people (hospital workers) come in and leave their food here, next to the vaccines, and not only once, nor twice."


#29 "Too Young" Is A Thing

Three-year-olds cannot yet be aware of their lifelong gender choices and should not be made one thing or another just because the parents have a cause. And 11-year-old drag queen boys should not be doing shows at clubs for men. I just thought this was a kind of commonly accepted truth. Turns out, I'm wrong. What a time to be alive.


#30 Undersea Communication

That the vast majority of telecommunications traffic between countries is carried via undersea fiber optic cables. My mom worked for AT&T submarine systems in the '90s, I got to tour one of the ships that laid cable. The cable rooms were unbelievably gigantic. In the 1800s, there were a few telegraph lines that reached across the entire Atlantic Ocean to Europe, but mostly Britain.


#31 Time Zone Convenience

Time zones. I’m surprised at how many professionals don’t realize that 9 a.m. in Boston is not 9 a.m. in San Francisco. Attorneys, doctors, and CFOs may be dimly aware of time zones, but expect everyone to be available when it's convenient for them, regardless. I’ve gotten so many emails saying “are you joining the call” hours before or after the scheduled time.


#32 Don't Mess With Trains

Do not, under any circumstance, stop your vehicle on a train track. A train does not operate like your car. It cannot stop on a dime. It will not merely dent your car, it will end you and possibly derail, ending passengers as well. Do not play on tracks either. Everybody wonders how people can get hit by trains because they're so big and loud. Trains are only loud when they're close to you, and by that point, you're lifeless. They are quiet, fast and heavy. Again, even if the engineer or conductor sees you, he cannot stop on a dime. If you hear three quick bursts of his horn, it means to get the heck out of there.


#33 Never Remove The Barb

Steve Irwin would have survived if the cameraman did not remove the stingray barb from his heart. It was actually blocking off the major artery and preventing it from bleeding out. Yes, of course, there was bleeding but that was from several other smaller veins. Once the cameraman removed it, Irwin, unfortunately, bled to death since the "stopper" was removed.


#34 MSG Is Totally Safe

I remember watching a TV show (many, many years ago, I think it was British) where they tested people who said they were sensitive to MSG on their reactions to it. They didn't tell them what it was about, just that they would be trying different food. They gave them food with MSG that they wouldn't normally associate with it (Italian or something like that) and they showed no signs of the symptoms they purported to get with MSG. Then they gave them Chinese food without MSG and they all suddenly started to complain of the symptoms.


#35 Get With The Times

I work in IT and I’m constantly helping people who 1) don’t know what the Windows key is, 2) don’t know Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox are web browsers, and 3) don't know that making your password your name is a really poor choice. I get that some people didn't grow up with computers, but computers are literally the norm now. Get with the times!


#36 Aim For The Handle

Kick a door in by the door’s handle, either next to it, slightly above it, or slightly below it. The amount of force you need depends on the type of material the door is made up of Firefighters did a lot of presentations at my school as a young child, so I thought everyone had them go into their schools too and tell this useful piece of information.


#37 Roundabout Etiquette

The way a roundabout works. If you're already in the roundabout, you have the right of way. Continue to your exit. If you are not already in the roundabout, you do not have the right of way. Stop and wait for a safe opening in which to enter the roundabout. Also, yield does not mean stop. It means go ahead if it's safe, stop if it isn't. The number of people who will come to a full stop at an empty roundabout makes me wonder how they got their license in the first place.


#38 The Origins Of Food

Where food comes from. No, pepperoni doesn't grow on trees. Yes, hens lay eggs without a rooster being around. Yes, real maple syrup comes from trees, no not all trees, just maple trees. Yes, honey is bee vomit. Yes, natural casings for sausage are pig intestines. Yes, ham is a pork product. Yes, bacon is a pork product. No, you can't turn an entire pig into bacon. Yes, goat milk comes from actual goats. Yes, pickles are made from cucumbers. Yes, sunflower seeds actually come from sunflowers. No, you can't plant the seed from your apple and get the same kind of apple.


#39 Easily Startled

Don't run up and pet a stranger's dog. Period. Just because it is cute doesn't mean it will accept being pet. ALWAYS ASK THE OWNER! Even if they say yes, don't just run to the dog. Walk towards it and put your hand out so they can smell you. If the dog doesn't sniff, don't pet it. It will be scared and may bite in self-defense.


#40 Don't Mess With Nature

Everyone seems to get close to wild animals for pictures and think it’s okay. We are not all one with nature. Animals like their space and don’t trust you. I was at Yellowstone yesterday and a bear came into a parking lot. Everyone crowded around it, taking pictures. Some people ran off and said the mother would be coming back soon because they thought it was a baby bear. The park ranger came in and scared it away. Turned out, it was a full-grown black bear.

animal, bear, black bearPexels

#41 Studying A Globe

I grew up with a globe next to my bed for 18 years, and I have always been interested in geographic history, so I am way above average than most people. As I've gotten older, I realize that for 95% of people, it really doesn't matter what countries are where or whatever, and there's no reason to look down on it. They probably know a lot of things that I don't because I don't care about them.


#42 The Wrong Program

I went back to college to sign up for an administration program. It very clearly advertised the course involved typing and data management. For me, not a problem. More than half the class that signed up was completely computer illiterate. Literally no experience using a PC with an operating system. Jesus people, what the heck did you think you would be doing? All your office work on a phone app?

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#43 Orbit Confusion

The Sun is a star. There are eight planets going around it, including Earth, the third one. The moon is not a planet but a satellite, going around Earth. The Solar System is in the Milky Way and lightyears (which is a unit of distance, not of time) away from the nearest star. That's little school knowledge here, and everyone I know is still unsure of if the Earth is going around the Sun or the other way around.

Image result for sunFlickr

#44 Understanding Calories

Calories and the very basics of nutrition. A couple of years ago I told a man in his mid-forties some very elementary things like what calories and caloric deficit are and a little bit about protein, carbs, and fat—and which foods were high in each of these. He wasn't extremely fat or anything, just the typical dad's body, maybe weighing around 220-240 pounds.

I also told him how to lose some weight (he kind of asked without really asking, if you know what I mean) so I basically just advised him to switch out his dinner (typical single man menu) to chicken and a bag of whichever frozen vegetables he liked the best, and maybe have some salad with chicken, turkey, pork or fish for lunch from time to time. Turned out, he actually listened and implemented this. When I saw him again a few months later he had dropped 40 pounds.


#45 Gravity In Space

There's gravity in space. Over the time I've met so many people that thought that there is no gravity in space because "everything there is weightless and stuff". Gravity has an unlimited range so there isn't even a single spot in our universe without gravity. Weightlessness is basically just falling. While orbiting you're basically just falling around the object.


#46 "Esperanto" Is A Language

I'm not sure why Esperanto would be common knowledge. It's a constructed language that isn't tied to a geographic or national location and, while popular, isn't on the radar for a wast majority of people. You can easily go your entire life without ever hearing about Esperanto. Here in Spain, I don't think many people know what it is, but for sure they know about its existence, because in the language list in every app or webpage "Español" is right before "Esperanto."


#47 Circadian Rhythms

That teenagers have a sleep phase delay that makes it physiologically impractical and unhealthy to force early sleep and wake schedules. Essentially, for whatever reason (none of my research has shed light on why), the circadian rhythm gets set back during adolescence. The circadian rhythm is the pattern that the brain follows in terms of when to release the sleeping and waking hormone.


#48 Ignorance Of The Law

Knowing the basic laws of where you are at. I'm always shocked by the people I run across who don't care about knowing the law for where they are simply because "they aren't from there." If you are visiting another state or another country, knowing what's acceptable and what isn't can save you. And people wonder why when they go somewhere else why they got a ticket or arrested. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

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#49 Snail Speed

Apparently, people don‘t know to walk at a decent pace in the halls. I‘ll be rushing to class, and I‘ll come up behind this person who‘s walking really slow, and I usually can‘t pass them up, so I have to slow down and hope that I’m not late to class. C‘mon man, use your legs! We all have got places to be and your slow pace is wasting my precious time.


#50 Arithmetics By Heart

Just arithmetics by heart... I thought it was pretty normal but there are a lot of people who just can't. I work at an ice cream saloon and our cash register doesn't show the amount of change you have to give, so you have to do it by heart. I am always the person who shows everyone around and just one boy was able to do it fluently, the others needed (a lot of) help...




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