Warts From Toads And Other Old Wives' Tales

Passing down knowledge through oral tradition is nothing new. After all, that is the primary way many religious beliefs were passed down through the centuries before being written down. Even if they are not as 'profound' as religious beliefs can be, oral tradition is responsible for the transmission of hundreds of "old wives' tales", some true and some not. Here are some of the more common ones; you may have heard some of them and believed them, but some are just so silly that it's a wonder they've lasted as long as they have.

Caffeine will stunt your growth.  If this were true, I'd only be about two feet tall. :) Seriously, while excessive caffeine isn't good for kids (or anyone, really), the effects won't necessarily be seen in their growth. Excess caffeine can prevent the absorption of nutrients such as calcium, so that could be where the rumor comes from. Either way, you should try to steer them away from over-caffeinating themselves, even during exam week. After all, no matter how old they get, you're still their mom!

Toads can give you warts.  Given the large number of wart-like growths on your typical toad, it's not hard to see how this rumor has lasted. However old it is, it's false. Warts are most commonly caused by the human papilloma virus, one that is not transferrable between animals and humans.  Sorry, you'll have to find another reason your  kids shouldn't imitate the picture above. :) I'm sure that won't be very difficult.

Chewing gum takes seven years to pass through your digestive system.  I'm not really sure of the basis of this rumor. It probably has something to do with the fact that it's practically impossible to scrape chewing gum off of the bottom of your shoes or out from under the table! However much you don't want your kids to swallow gum, it won't take any longer to 'come out' than another food. Humans can't digest chewing gum because of its chemical makeup, but there are other things (like cellulose) that we can't digest either, so it just passes right through. Swallowing chewing gum feels gross anyway, so I'm not sure why someone would do it to begin with!

Coke is so acidic that it can take the corrosion off of a car battery.  Pouring soda on a car battery *can* cut through corrosion, but it's not the acidity of the drink itself that does this. It's the carbonation; if you poured some Perrier on the corrosion, it would have the same effect. I've done this a few times, just to loosen it enough to knock off so I can use my jumper cables. It does not, however, remove a large amount of corrosion, so don't count on it cutting through a big chunk or anything. Don't use it often, especially when you consider that Coke leaves behind a sugary residue! It's only for a small amount of corrosion, and only an emergency measure.

As you can see, this is only a small sampling of the 'wisdom' commonly known as "old wives' tales". If you want to see even more (and get a good laugh), check out these sites:


Happy reading!

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