My brother-in-law was over for dinner the other night, and we for some reason got talking about the differences between men and women. He told us he had read that when women get together they talk about relationships and emotions. When men get together they talk about facts.

     I’m not here to argue the difference between men and women. I just had to laugh when he said that men talk about facts. Because a lot of the “facts” we talk about are not really facts — they’re rumors, misremembered information, statements made by biased sources, or downright myths or old-wives’ tales.

     Facts that aren’t facts?

     The price of gasoline is way higher than it’s ever been. Regular recently crested $5 a gallon in my town. Prices have come back a little, to about $4.59. Still, that’s ridiculous! Well, actually, not. According to the New York Times, adjusted for inflation, the price of gasoline is just a few cents higher than it was for most of 2011 through 2014. And gas in the U. S. is considerably cheaper than it is in Canada (about $8 per gallon) or Europe ($6 – 7 per gallon). Arguably, if we’re really going to transition to cleaner fuels, the price of petroleum products should be higher, even higher than they are now.

     The political left and political right live in different worlds. They will never agree on anything! Not really true, either. Remember, both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were against the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership). Presumably Joe Biden is, too, since he’s done nothing to resurrect the TPP.  More recently, look who voted against Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Far-right Republicans Ralph Norman (SC), Matt Gaetz (FL) and Vicky Hartzler (M0). And so did far-left Democrats Jamaal Bowman and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and other members of “The Squad.”

     Vaccines cause autism. The only research indicating that vaccines cause autism has been shown to be fraudulent, relying on data that was manipulated. In short, the results were fudged.

     Alcohol kills brain cells. According to Smithsonian, that only happens among severe alcoholics, and even then the damage is likely caused not by alcohol but lack of nutrition from a poor diet. (This is not a recommendation to drink more alcohol. There are plenty of reasons to drink less alcohol even if it doesn’t kill brain cells.)

     Black holes. They’re not holes. They’re actually hugely dense objects with massive gravitational pull.

     Penguins mate for life. Some penguins stay monogamous throughout a mating season, but not many stay monogamous for their entire lives.

   The earth revolves around the sun. Not quite. The earth revolves around the solar system’s center of mass, which oscillates somewhere in or around the sun. When it’s outside the mass of the sun, as it sometimes is, the Earth is just orbiting around a point in empty space.

     Columbus discovered America in 1492. No, it was the Vikings around the year 1000. No, it was the East Asians who crossed the land bridge to North America during the Ice Age about 12,000 years ago.

     America has turned anti-immigrant. Today, there are 45 million foreign-born people in the United States, or 15% of the population. By comparison, in 1970, there were 10 million foreign-born people, or slightly less than 5% of the population. During the height of the immigration era in the late 1800s, there were 7 million foreign-born people in the U. S. — but out of a much small population. So those 7 million comprised 15% of the population … or about the same as today.

     Most current immigrants are illegal aliens, or undocumented workers. No, according to Pew Research, over three quarters of current immigrants are either lawful permanent residents or naturalized citizens. About 11 million, or 23%, are unauthorized immigrants (representing roughly 3% of the total American population.).

     We only use 10% of our brains. We use every part of our brain, and much of the brain is active most of the time, even when we’re asleep. The brain represents about 3% of our body weight, but uses 20% of our energy. So … we’re smarter than we think!

     If you’re disputing any of these facts … well, that just proves my point. Don’t trust facts that are casually thrown around — especially by the men in your life — until you check them out with a reputable source. Or in other words, let’s make sure to use more than 10% of our brain power! 

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