Think you can tell real facts from fake ones? Some of the most widely recognized statistics that people spout off as fact actually have no basis in reality, while others are so extreme that they'll leave you exclaiming, "Wait, that can't be right!" Take our mind-blowing facts quiz to see if you can tell truth from fiction.
Only 4 percent of Americans surveyed consider themselves less intelligent than average.
If you're looking at an average level of intelligence, you have to accept the fact that half the people are smarter than average, and half the people are, well, less smart. Take a look at cold, hard numbers and you'll find that only 4 percent cop to being less intelligent than the average person.
You are more likely to be legally executed than killed by lightning.
According to the National Safety Council, your lifetime odds of dying from legal execution -- think lethal injection or the electric chair -- are 1 in 119,000. When it comes to being struck by lightning, the odds jump to 1 in 161,000.
You only use 10 percent of your brain.
This fact has been thrown around for so long that many people are stunned to learn it's just not true. Modern PET and MRI scans of brain activity show that humans use way more than 10 percent of their gray matter on a regular basis -- though it might seem like some people use way less.
More than half of all pilots admit to sleeping on the job.
In a 2013 study of European airline pilots, a whopping 56 percent admitted to sleeping in the cockpit. Want to hear something even scarier than that? Almost a third of those pilots who copped to getting some shut-eye revealed that they had once woken up to find that their co-pilot was also asleep, leaving no one conscious at the controls.
The average person spends five years waiting in line in their lifetime.
This one gets thrown around a lot, but there just isn't any evidence to support it. MIT Professor Dick Larson, known as Dr. Queue for his work on lines and queuing, estimates that people with extensive commutes may spend one to two years waiting in line in their lives, if you count all that time stuck in traffic.
Domestic violence increases by 40 percent on Super Bowl Sunday.
There is no evidence to suggest that domestic violence calls increase by such a huge margin on game day. In fact, domestic violence indicators remain roughly the same year round, but may experience small peaks around Christmas or school vacations.
By age 3, rich kids have heard 30 million more words than very poor kids.
Kids from families on welfare hear an average of 616 words per hour, compared to 2,153 words per hour for kids in the most well-off families. By age three, this translates to a 30-million word gap, which can have serious implications for achievement and learning that lasts well beyond the early years.
Only 5 percent of people wash their hands properly after using a public restroom.
Ewww! A 2013 study published in the Journal of Environmental Health revealed that only 5 percent of people wash their hands for a full 20 seconds -- that's what the CDC recommends to kill germs -- after using a public restroom. Even worse, a third of people wash hands without any soap, and one in ten skip hand-washing entirely.
One in every 200 men on Earth is descended from Genghis Khan.
The 13th century Mongolian warrior not only conquered many villages, but also took plenty of lovers. Today, 1 in 200 men -- that's 0.5 percent of the male population or 16 million people -- share Khan's DNA.
Fifty percent of wealth on planet Earth is controlled by one percent of the population.
Talk about income inequality! The top wealthiest one percent control half of all assets worldwide, while the bottom 71 percent control just 3 percent of wealth.
Eighty percent of Soviet males born in 1923 were killed in WWII.
Despite how much this stat is tossed around, this one is just not true. Around two-thirds of males born in the Soviet Union in 1923 were dead by the time WWII ended, but most of them died before the war ever started, thanks to childhood illness, normal infant mortality or starvation.
Humans share 95 percent of their DNA with bananas.
Humans share more than 95 percent of their DNA with some primates, but only 60 percent of their genetics with bananas -- still pretty high, but not 95 percent.
The greater Tokyo area has a bigger population than Canada.
With 37.8 million people living in the Tokyo metro area, as of 2016, it's got more people than the entire country of Canada, which has a population of around 35 million.
Most kidnapped kids are taken by strangers.
Despite the fear-mongering associated with stranger danger, less than 1 percent of all missing kids are taken by a stranger. The vast majority are taken by someone they know or a family member.
There are more trees on Earth than stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
With more than three trillion -- yup, trillion, trees on Earth, they outnumber the 100 to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way by quite a big margin.
One in five college students is the victim of rape.
This sensational statistic makes for eye-catching headlines, but it's simply not based in fact. One study found that one in five college students may be subject to sexual assault of some kind -- but this includes an unwanted kiss attempt in addition to more severe acts. While all unwanted sexual advances are bad news and deserve attention, cases of rape on college campuses have actually decreased significantly since the '90s.
Fifteen percent of all daily Google searches have never been searched before.
With billions of pages on the net, it's hard to believe that there's anything out there that Google hasn't seen before -- yet a full 15 percent of all daily Google searches have never been performed before.
There are more libraries in the U.S. than McDonald's.
Let's call this one a win for bookworms! As of 2017, there are more libraries in the U.S. than McDonald's restaurants. That means it's easier to pick up a new book than a Big Mac.
Only 3 out of 5 college students graduate within 6 years.
Nationwide, just 58 percent of students graduate from college within 6 years at public institutions. At private for-profit colleges, the six-year graduation rate plummets to just 27 percent. Ouch.
All red wine gets better with age.
Virtually all red wine you buy off the shelf is ready to drink immediately, and won't get better with time. Just 1 to 2 percent of the really expensive stuff will improve if you let it hang out in your wine cellar for a few years.
Three out of four Canadians live within 100 miles of the U.S. border.
Canada is the second largest country is the world by land area, but a full 75 percent of all residents live within 100 miles of the country's southern border.
High school graduation rates hit an all-time low in 2016.
In 2016, U.S. high school graduation rates in the U.S. reached 83.2 percent -- an all-time high. While this is good news, there's still a 14 percent gap in graduation rates between rich and poor students.
Violent crime hit an all-time high in 2016.
Thanks to 24-hour news stations, the world looks more dangerous than ever, but violent crime in the U.S. has fallen steadily since the late 20th century. Since 1991, violent crime has dropped 51 percent, while property crime has dropped 43 percent.
Humans and dinosaurs walked the Earth at the same time.
The last dinosaurs missed the earliest human ancestors by around 60 million years. Sadly, that means the Flintstones' lifestyle is pure fiction.
One in three people in the world has no access to a toilet.
It's easy to take something as utilitarian as a toilet for granted -- until you realize that 1 in 3 people, or 2.4 billion people -- have no access to this precious necessity. A full 1 in 10 also lack access to safe water for drinking, cooking and bathing.
One in four U.S. schools is defined as high-poverty.
As of 2016, one in four U.S. schools is high-poverty -- that means 75 percent of kids qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch -- and the percent of high-poverty American schools has doubled since the '90s. Half of all black and Hispanic students in the U.S. attend high-poverty schools.
Cleopatra lived during the construction of the Giza pyramids.
Cleopatra died around 30 BC. The pyramids were built around 2,500 BC. That means Cleopatra lived closer to your birthday than she did to the days when the pyramids were built.
The global adult literacy rate is 84 percent.
As of 2010, around 84 percent of adults around the world could read -- though of course, that rate varies by location. Literacy in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole is around 59 percent, and more than 47 percent of adults in the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.
Bangladesh has more people than Russia.
With more than 156 million residents, Bangladesh has a higher population that Russia -- the largest country on Earth by land area -- which has 143 million citizens.
Thirty percent of traffic in downtown areas comes from people trying to park.
Hate traffic congestion? Blame it on a lack of parking. Around 30 percent of congestion in downtown business districts is attributed to people looking for curbside parking.
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