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A weekly show where we debunk common misconceptions. This week, Elliott discusses some misconceptions from the internet!

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Hi, I'm Elliott and this is Mental Floss on YouTube. Today, I'm going to talk about some misconceptions you may have learned from the Internet. Should have known better. 

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Misconception #1: Putting your personal identification number in reverse is a universal distress signal. There's a persistent Internet rumour that if you're being robbed at an ATM you can just punch in your PIN in reverse. Then, the police will be alerted and will show up to save you. It's not true. Illinois passed a law to this effect but the language was so watered down that nobody bothered to implement it. Plus, the Federal Trade Commission has announced that this will put the person being robbed in even further danger. And, they doubt that the police would even show up in time. And some people have pins that are the same forwards and backwards, like mine, which is 1111.

Misconception #2: The government of New Zealand tried to introduce a "fart tax" to fine people for farting publicly. The government of New Zealand did try to introduce a fart tax but it was not to fine people who farted. In 2003, the Agricultural Emissions Research Levy was proposed, that's the less fun name for 'fart tax'.  It would have taxed livestock farmers for the emissions from their farm animals.  The government was mostly concerned with methane's contribution to greenhouse gases, and methane comes from, you know, animal burps.  The New Zealand government would have brought in over $8,000,000 to fund research on greenhouse gases, but the tax, alas, did not pass.

Misconception #3: Australia has two times more kangaroos than people.  Uh, in fact, we don't know how many kangaroos there are in Australia.  The Australian government's Department of Environment reports that there are over 34,000,000 kangaroos there, but that the number could be much higher, as they don't survey the entire continent.  The current population of Australia in people is about 23,000,000 though, so people are catching up to kangaroos.  We're gonna getchya. 

Misconception #4:  Men take twice as many selfies as women.  This might be true for me, but the statistic seems to be a loose interpretation of a 2013 survey conducted by Samsung, which found that 17% of men admitted to taking selfies, as opposed to 10% of women.  I would be among them.   That's not twice as many.  Plus, it has nothing to do with the number of selfies taken and everything to do with how many people admitted to taking them.  See?

Misconception #5: Smoking makes your nipples fall off.  In 2011, a plastic surgeon made headlines for saying, "Smokers who undergo breast lifts are at great risk of losing their nipples."  Somehow, over time, the internet simplified and simplified that sentence until it meant that all smokers need to look out for their nipples.  That's not true, you guys.  The American Society of Plastic Surgeons does recommend that people quit smoking well before plastic surgery.  But your nipples are okay.

Bonus misconception: cigarettes do not contain whale vomit like people on the internet claim.  That substance being referred to, ambergris, has been illegal in the US since the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Misconception #6: There are more people alive now than have ever lived before.  A demographer did some calculations in 2007 and estimated that over 106,000,000,000 people have been born since the beginning of humanity, which she called like 50,000 BCE.  Our world population is around 7,000,000,000, so we're a mere 6% of all the humans that have ever lived.  But don't worry.  We'll get there.

Misconception #7: Women speak 7,000 words a day to men's 2,000 words.  There are many different variations of this one on the internet, we also read that apparently, women speak 20,000 words per day, and men speak 7,000.  So, in 2007, these claims were put to the test in a study done by Arizona State.  The study found that both men and women speak approximately 16,000 words a day.  There was no statistically significant difference between the amount both genders spoke. 

Misconception #8: Internet Explorer users have lower IQs.  I didn't even know there were still Internet Explorer users, but in 2011, there was a study about this supposed phenomenon that was reported on by reliable sources like CNN, the BBC, and NPR.  The company AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting Company announced that they had surveyed 100,000 internet users and had come to this conclusion.  It turned out that the whole thing was a hoax orchestrated by a web developer.  #Internet

Misconception #9: Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were both assassinated as part of the same conspiracy.  This theory is very prevalent on the internet, and involves pointing out similarities between the two former presidents.  These similarities include Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy and Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln, they were both shot by Southerners and their assassins were born in years ending in '39, just a hundred years apart.  Couple of problems here.  Lincoln did not have a secretary named Kennedy.  John Wilkes Booth, who shot Lincoln, was born in Maryland, and Lee Harvey Oswald was born in 1939, but Booth was born in 1838.

And let's finish with one very good reason to ignore spam e-mail.  Misconception #10: Nigeria has a prince.  There are at least dozens of families still claiming to be royals in small parts of Nigeria, but all their royal power was stripped in 1963, when Nigeria became a republic with a president.  It's very sad.

Thank you for watching Misconceptions on mental_floss on YouTube, which is made with the help of all of these wonderful, wonderful people.  If you have a topic for an upcoming misconceptions episode that you would like to see, leave it in the comments.  I'm gonna track down that Nigerian prince now I sent all my money to, I'll see you guys next week.

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