Blatant lies you were told in school

While every Doper is today a paragon of critical thinking, we were all children once, and no seven-year-old can be expected to evaluate his teacher’s lore with skepticism. This led a good friend of mine to believe for several years that Santa Claus was Martin Luther; why the teacher would choose to impart this pearl of wisdom is unclear.

As for me, I was told that Caesarean sections (“kejsarsnitt” in Swedish, direct translation is “Emperor’s cut”) were called that because the wives of emperors had them so they wouldn’t have to go through the pain of childbirth. My tiny little self of course accepted this uncritically, and it wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that major surgery in a pre-germ theory, pre-anaesthetic era isn’t exactly preferable a natural childbirth. I just wish I could ask my teacher, who must have realized this herself, why she fed us that stuff.

So, what complete lies were you told in school?

This one is from my sister: her teacher came back from a vacation in Ireland and gave a slide show with vacation pictures. In one of the pics the teacher said that if you look carefully, you can see a leprechaun. All the other kids said, I see it I see it, but my sister didn’t see it and she almost started crying from frustration.

I must have been about ten. I found an attractive piece of whitish crystalline mineral while I was on holiday - it was probably only calcite or something - I took it in to school to show my class and my teacher told me it was fossilised ice - frozen so hard and for so long it would never thaw.

Well, there was the (public school) teacher who told us that Native Americans believe in many different gods, but that of course “we” are more educated and know that really there is only one. :rolleyes:

I don’t recall how the subject came up, but one teacher told a bunch us us kids in apparent seriousness that Evel Knievel was called that because he was evil. Even as a kid that was a what-are-you-smoking moment.

Bearing in mind that I went to Catholic school during the 60s, it shouldn’t be surprising that the nuns told us that only Catholics can go to heaven. This, of course, upset me because I had non-Catholic friends and it didn’t seem fair that they would go to hell just because their parents didn’t know that they *had * to be Catholic.

Small wonder I’m lapsed now…

Let’s keep this light-hearted and MPSIMS. This isn’t the kind of stuff I was thinking of. Besides, I imagine these people believed what they were saying, so it could be argued that they weren’t lying.

Well, if religious lies count, I recall being told in Sunday School that liars have white hearts, sinners have black hearts and that true Christians have gold hearts. Which was somewhat confusing for a science minded, somehat literal minded boy. I didn’t say anything, but my thinking went like this : “But hearts are supposed to be red ! White hearts sound infected . . . and gold is all stiff and heavy and metal . . . and black’s sort of close to red. Does that mean a sinner’s heart is best ?”

Science classes in my parochial school, as I’ve related before on this Board, were pretty grim. One teacher told us a robin had a red breast because you could see the blood through its skin. Another told us you got malaria when the mosquito laid its eggs in your bloodstream.* A third told us airplanes flew by “floating on a cushion of air”. I learned pretty quickly to ignore anything I was taught in grade school, science class, and rely on my reading.

The thing is, some of those nuns were pretty savvy when it came to science. I have independent evidence of this. But, unfortunately, they weren’t the ones teaching science, for some reason.

*This is not a misremembering on my part of the lifecycle of malaria. I was shocked at the time to be told that it was mosquito eggs being laid in the bloodstream. My Golden Book Nature Guide of Zoology told me otherwise, and i believed Herbert S. Zim.

One wonders what happens if you’re both a liar and a sinner, which, I imagine, must occur now and then. A gray heart?

“Colored people/Negros got the right to vote in 1860.” Followed by “Women got the right to vote in 1920.” I asked my teacher if Colored Women (sic) could vote in 1860, why did white women have to wait till 1920?

Grade five or six math: the teacher unequivocally declared that you cannot subreact a bigger number from a smaller.

I piped up and said, “But what about temperature?” Even in those pre-celsius days, we still got below-zero temperatures now and then.

At school we were working on some book for english, which related a story about some Japanese kid who went outside his seafront house and saw that the tide had disappeared.

All the local populace had run out to gather stranded fish but he had read some book that told him that a Tsunami was on the way.

He gave out some sort of warning, everyone evacuated and sure enough, in came the wave, thus he had saved them all.

While this was being read out, I was looking out the window but I was still listening.

The Teacher must have noticed this, and singled me out for a question in front of the class.

She asked if I knew what a tidal wave was, even if I hadn’t been listening, its not all that hard to work out that it had to be a huge wave.

She must have realised this and dropped in another question, this time it was how many tidal waves happened in one event.

I said it was three or four, depending.

She insisted that tidal waves only occur singly, thus she was right and I was not, obviously I was supposed to feel humiliated.

I didnt have the sense to be embarrassed at this huge lapse on my part, turned out I was right anyway.

The “religion” thing is rife with opportunities though as someone else noted, it may be due to genuine error rather than an out-and-out deliberate lie. My biggest WTF? was, naturally, in Catholic school. The teacher asked us to name as many different religions as we could think of. The list included all the usuals - Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim…

Then we went through the list and said whether each one was Christian. The teacher concurred/disagreed with what the class suggested.
Catholic: check
Lutheran: check
Buddhist: not.
Jewish: check

… er, wha???

Muslim: check
… double-wha???

I tried arguing. The teacher stubbornly insisted that Jews and Muslims were Christian. :smack: :smack:

I gave up.

Somewhere, Baby Mohammed was crying.

I was told that brontosaurus was the largest dinosaur ever. For some reason that really annoyed me.

My 6th grade teacher was adamant tha the US was the only country in the world where you had the freedom to choose the line of work you used to earn your living. All other countries had a bureaucracy that decreed “Thou shalt be a doctor” or “Thou shalt flip burgers”.


My fifth grade teacher told the class that salt made slugs “melt” because chlorine was an acid. I knew that was wrong even at the time, but was too shy to say anything.

When we learned about the metric system, it was stressed that we would use nothing else in a few years. Well, many years have passed. I use the metric system everyday in my line of work, but most Americans do not.

Kinda off-topic, sorry, but this reminds me of when my class was supposed to learn the metric system. I’m paraphrasing here, but basically what our teacher said was, “I’m supposed to teach you the metric system because it’s believed that America will go metric in the next few years, but I doubt that will ever happen so let’s just skip it.” :eek:

Excuse my ignorance of what ‘grade five or six’ means for a Canadian. How old were you? 'Cause if you were six or seven years old, I’d give him/her a pass on that. Eleven or twelve… not so much.