Here, Let Me Ruin That For You

Finding out I believed something false is a lot like smelling something foul. My first reaction is to make somebody else do it. So recently when I came across this soul-crushing list of “Common Misconceptions” on Wikipedia, I just had to share. Allow me to ruin these five fun “facts” you used to know.

Chevy Yes-Va

The Chevy Nova sold very well in Latin American markets. Yeah, no va does mean “it doesn’t go” in Spanish, but it didn’t stop sales. Most people in Mexico and Venezuala understood nova to mean “new.”

Just Use a Pencil

“NASA spent $1 million on the space pen but the Soviets just used a pencil.” Cute story but nope. Originally NASA used pencils, but they’re bad in space: tips break off and damage equipment plus they’re flammable. The agency eventually bought space pens, but Fischer paid for their own R&D.

Much Younger

People in the middle ages had a much lower life expectancy, but it wasn’t actually 30 years. The averages are badly skewed by the high infant mortality rate. A 21-year-old man in medieval England would have been expected to live to about 64.

Red Phone

The “red phone” from Moscow to Washington was never a phone. The first implementation of the hotline used teletype equipment, which was replaced by fax machines in 1988. Definitely less cool. Since 2008, the hotline has been a secure computer link over which the two countries exchange emails. “It’s an emergency, grab the red Outlook Express!”