March 23, 2017

What incorrect belief did you carry around for the longest time and how did you find out you were wrong?

A question that occurred to me in this context.

I'm not looking for philosophical, religious, or political beliefs of the sort that people disagree about, where you shifted sides — such as realizing that God does/doesn't exist, that free markets are good/bad, or the world is real/unreal.

I'm looking for facts that turned out not to be facts, such as believing that Jacques Cousteau and Jean Cocteau were the same person.

239 comments:

1 – 200 of 239   Newer›   Newest»
Wilbur said...

I thought for a long time that "bemused" was a synonym for "amused", and that "banal" rhymed with "anal".

Fortunately I learned early in life that to "beg the question" does not mean what 99% of the USA thinks it does. Although if 99% think it, I guess it at some point we have to bend with the prevailing wind.

Virgil Hilts said...

For all intensive purposes I cannot think of a single example.

rehajm said...

We all have song lyrics skeletons.

Unknown said...

William Shaksper of Stratford-upon-Avon did not write Shakespeare.

This one is still being debated, sort of.

Well let's just say there's a £1 billion annual tourist industry at Potemkin-upon-Avon that doesn't want it debated.

Ficta said...

For decades, I thought "habeus corpus" meant you had to show evidence that a crime had been committed (i.e. you had to "have a body") to imprison someone.

Laslo Spatula said...

Laslo Spatula was once Betamax3000.

I am Laslo.

Sebastian said...

I do recall that I once thought, for five minutes or so, that the New Deal solved the Great Depression. Then I started studying the issue and the thought went away. Other than that, I got nuttin.

My name goes here. said...

If you want to stop poverty, then if you do the following you will not be poor:
Be literate
Finish High School
Do not have children until you are married
Once you get married, stay married.
Parent your children in an intact house.

The fact that *I* know this means it is not a secret. If we lived in a sane world we would have governments that makes policies to support those things. I am not talking about eliminating divorce, but applying status to marriage and enforcing it, making welfare payments help young poor married people instead of incentivizing them being apart, the list goes on and on.

We could eliminate poverty in a single generation if we could make these things happen.

The fact that we have two political parties that know this. One of those parties will not support such policies because it will cost them their voters and thus power, and the other party will not support such policies because they do not want to be called names.

The day that I learned we could destroy poverty but for lack of will by either party, that I was wrong about both of them.

That day my heart broke.

rehajm said...

B-52s: You're what?

(Also qualifies for the absurd argument thread.)

Carol said...

I thought Chuck Barris was the son of Harry Barris, one of Bing Crosby's old partners from the Rhythm Boys. So I figured Chuck was a privileged Hollywood kid..which was interesting in itself. But untrue.

Evan said...

I believed that present-day Baptists were theologically descended from Anabaptists for a long time, when actually the theological roots are about as far apart as you can get in Protestantism. Not until I got to know a Baptist historian did I get corrected.

TerriW said...

I used to assume that other people were like me, basically. Growing up had been a process of realizing in what ways they were not. (Not that I'm particularly special or interesting, just that was my handy template of what it meant to be a human being.)

And what made that such a hard belief to dislodge is that I did not realize that it was one I had, or a belief that even could be had. It was just this ... baked-in worldview sort of thing.

Luke Lea said...

I used to assume that of course people everywhere would like to be free and live in a free democratic society with human rights and the rule of law. But then I read "Whatever Happened to European Tribes" and realized that may not necessarily be true: https://goo.gl/q18ekk

Henry said...

For most of my 7th year I was convinced my baby sister was adopted.

richlb said...

Up until a year ago I always called it an "alterior" motive. I don't think I had ever written the word, certainly not on a computer where it would have corrected me. I just always said it with an "ALT" as the first syllable, thinking the word was derived from "alternative motivation." Then someone corrected me. And I felt dumb. I'm 44.

Drago said...

It mostly involved song lyrics.

Laslo Spatula said...

Statutory Rape is not 'rape-rape'.

I am Laslo.

The Cracker Emcee said...

I used to believe the overwhelming majority of people were mentally healthy. Adulthood has revealed that there's a shocking number of high-functioning nutters around me.

LarsPorsena said...

Jaye P. Morgan and J.P. Morgan are not the same person.

Limited blogger said...

I was told that pleasuring yourself would make you go blind. I do need a lot stronger glasses these days.

Brando said...

I thought Bob Seger was the son of Pete Seeger, until I'd seen their last names written and noticed they spelled them differently.

LarsPorsena said...

Lewis Sinclair and Sinclair Lewis are not the same person.

Darrell said...

I used to believe Lefties were harmless and we both wanted the same thing.

Meade said...

My mother was the Sun-Maid raisin lady. I was disabused of this fact when I was 5.

Jimmy Carter was a nuclear physicist.

AJ Lynch said...

I guess after watching the Roadrunner cartoons for years, I assumed that the word "Acme" like they used on Acme Dynamite etc just meant "standard".

I was shocked years later to learn it meant top or zenith or apex or summit etc.

Yellow Kitty said...

I grew up knowing the difference between homemade and store boughten clothes, at least in Indiana. A supervisor gently informed me that "boughten" is not a word even though her father, who was from Pennsylvania, also used the word. It was kind of important to know... as a proof reader.

Rosa Yoder

Unknown said...

"condo made of stone oh" in the song King Tut was an abbreviation of "condom made of stone oh" to make the lyrics fit

Original Mike said...

"Jimmy Carter was a nuclear physicist."

His pronunciation of "nuclear" disabused me of that notion.

The Cracker Emcee said...

The theme today seems to be foolishness.

rehajm said...

Jaye P. Morgan/JP Morgan-heh!

Armand Hammer. Enlightening and mentally troubling when he bought into Arm & Hammer.

Drago said...

The Cracker Emcee: "The theme today seems to be foolishness"

The cynic might say everyday is "foolishness" as it always involves human beings.

Fernandinande said...

Until I was 40-something I thought a 'pedophile' was someone with a foot fetish.

wendybar said...

I used to think Liberals were for the little guys, until I see them taking "the little guy" to court, because they don't believe like they do.

The Cracker Emcee said...

My Dad was a nuclear physicist and Jimmy Carter was no nuclear physicist.

dreams said...

I always assumed that Arthur Laffer the economist who is known for the Laffer curve was Jewish but I recently read in Wikipedia that he was raised a Presbyterian.

"Laffer is best known for the Laffer curve, an illustration of the theory that there exists some tax rate between 0% and 100% that will result in maximum tax revenue for governments."

Drago said...

Human biological alchemy was not possible.

I've been disabused of this notion by screaming 18 year olds.

RB Glennie said...

I had thought for decades that the word `ajar' meant to `leave wide open', based entirely on the lyrics of the Who's `Slip Kid', which go, `I left my doctor's prescription/Bungalow behind me/I left the door ajar/I left my vacuum flask full of hot tea and sugar/Left the keys right in my car...' thinking that if you're reckless enough to leave the keys in your car, you'll also be leaving your door wide open... but in fact `ajar' means to `leave slightly open.'

Meade said...

His pronunciation of "peanut farmer" abused my ears.

RNB said...

The nun who taught me tenth-grade English was puzzled as to why Sargent Shriver had never been granted a commission.

roadgeek said...

I'm embarrassed to admit that I was in high school before I learned that marshmallows don't grow on bushes, where marshmallow pickers conducted routine harvests.

Original Mike said...

Actually, Jimmie was a nuc-u-lar engineer.

Drago said...

The Cracker Emcee: "My Dad was a nuclear physicist and Jimmy Carter was no nuclear physicist"

Jimmy Carter completed the US Navy Nuclear Power Training course and became a qualified Nuclear Power Officer.

To do that he of course had to sit through one of Admiral Hyman Rickovers infamous "interviews" where "pressure" was applied in interesting ways while the interviewee attempted to solve "problems".

You can google it.

So no, Carter was no Nuclear Physicist. More a sea-going engineer as all Nuclear Power Officers happen to be.

Original Mike said...

"I'm embarrassed to admit that I was in high school before I learned that marshmallows don't grow on bushes"

Made my day!

Lance said...

Cocteau and Cousteau? I mix them up all the time.

Meade said...

"I've been disabused of this notion by screaming 18 year olds."

Don't worry, if things go well, they'll disabuse you for only 18 more years.

ganderson said...

That the World Series is so-named because it was first sponsored by the New York World newspaper back in ought three

Rosa Marie Yoder said...

Mexico is in North America. Honestly, I believed it was in South America well into adulthood.

MisterBuddwing said...

Thanks to social studies textbooks, juvenile history books and movies, I believed that Patrick Henry actually said, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" (maybe he did, maybe he didn't), that there really was a Molly Pitcher, that Robert Fulton's steamboat was called the Clermont, that Mozart was buried during a blizzard (the movie "Amadeus" was a lot closer to the truth), that Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and the incandescent lightbulb, that D.W. Griffith produced the first film feature, that Walt Disney produced the first sound-synchronized cartoon, that the Coca-Cola Co. needed an outsider to tell them to bottle their product, that Grigory Rasputin was effectively immune to cyanide, that Benjamin Franklin flew a kite during a thunderstorm, that Horace Greeley originated the saying, "Go West, young man," that President Millard Fillmore ordered the first bathtub installed in the White House and that Howard Hughes called his wooden flying boat "the Spruce Goose."

To name a few.

LYNNDH said...

For a long time I really thought that Democrats where human and had the best interests of the US for their guiding thoughts. How wrong I was.

BudBrown said...

I was pretty young, listening to the old people and I asked what's hard tack. My dad stares at me for a while and says hard tack is what they eat in the army. For a long time I thought my granddad died from eating army food.

madAsHell said...

That the Hammer Museum might not be full of hammers.

Drago said...

Meade: "Don't worry, if things go well, they'll disabuse you for only 18 more years."

I'm' afraid their ranks are replenished annually.

dustbunny said...

Just realized I posted a philosophical argument, exactly what Althouse did not want. Apologies for not paying attention!

AllenS said...

I could have swore that ketchup would last forever without going bad.

Static Ping said...

For a long time I thought Mark Hamill, the actor from Star Wars, was the same person as Scott Hamilton, the gold medal winning figure skater. I even managed to convince someone else that this was true.

No, I don't get it either.

Friendo said...

Until my mid-20's I had the meaning of "the former and the latter" completely backward. Oh, and said backwards, instead of backward...

Eddie said...

It wasn't until I was in my 30s that I realized that American conservatism is very different from conservatism in the rest of the world. American conservatism, aside from the paleocons and such, is very much a species of liberalism. Solzhenitsyn is an example of an old school conservative.

Larvell said...

When I was in college, the drinking age in my state was raised from 18 to 21 in one-year increments each October 1 (i.e., from 18 to 19, then to 20, then to 21), which is two days after my birthday. For years, I told people that I barely squeaked in, and that if I was born a few days later I'd have been underage for one day each year. Then recently I looked back at the history of the law and learned that I was a whole year off. I have no idea how that "memory" got burned into my mind.

Meade said...

For years I believed there was actually an Indianapolis School of Proper English Language Pronunciation. Later, I learned there actually sort is.

exiledonmainstreet said...

I really did think the actor who played Eddie Haskell had been killed in Vietnam.

bagoh20 said...

Until recently I thought "belie" meant to reveal the truth inadvertently - almost the opposite of it's actual usage. I thought to "belie the fact" meant that something showed the real truth under the facade. I still use it that way in my head all the the time, and have to catch myself before writing it out.

Snark said...

That our practice of changing the clocks was driven by farming practices. In fact, farmers hate it, and it was introduced long ago as a war measure to conserve resources like coal. It's justification remains purported energy conservation.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam L. said...

Never heard of marshmallows growing on bushes, but I DID see the film of the Spaghetti Harvest from the trees they grew on.

JOB said...

OK, I’ll fess up: For the longest time, I thought that Samuel Eliot Morison was Jim Morrison’s father. I should have known, of course, given the difference in spelling of the last name.

In fact, the Doors’ frontman did have a father who was an admiral in the Navy, but he is not the same person as the naval historian. Both men were rear admirals in the U.S. Navy although practically a generation apart, the historian serving during WWII and the rock singer’s father just prior to the Vietnam War (in fact, he was apparently in charge of a region which included the Gulf of Tonkin during the time that certain sorts of kinds of fictional facts (I think we call it Fake News these days) were being reported in that area...

Not Jim’s dad: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Eliot_Morison

Jim’s dad: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Stephen_Morrison

JOB

EDH said...

Meade said...
My mother was the Sun-Maid raisin lady. I was disabused of this fact when I was 5.

Funny, for me it was the Vermont Maid syrup lady. I used to kiss the bottle.

I guess it was either that or it was Aunt Jamamia, which is a whole new level of confusion.

Snark said...

Also, as a kid I thought the word 'intrigued' was pronounced 'introojed' and I read it that way in my head for ages. Only that one time out loud though...

Snark said...

My grandfather also informed me of several important things as a child which I eventually disabused myself of:

1. Pete Rose and Peter Marshall were brothers
2. They build the towers to put the lights on them so the planes won't hit them
3. The national holiday that my birthday falls on was a national holiday for my birthday
4. They put a big 'H' on all the hospitals to commemorate my birth at a similar edifice

exiledonmainstreet said...

Snark said...
That our practice of changing the clocks was driven by farming practices. In fact, farmers hate it, and it was introduced long ago as a war measure to conserve resources like coal. It's justification remains purported energy conservation.

3/23/17, 9:30 AM

I didn't know that!

Darrell said...

Robert lacks the humor gene. Everyone knew what Virgil Hilts was doing.

Paul Sand said...

I thought it was spelled (and pronounced) "opague".

Jeff Gee said...

For years I thought Garson Kanin and Keenan Wynn were the same guy. I guess 'Kanin' & 'Keenan' threw me. And when I say 'for years,' I mean up until about 6 months ago. It somehow made total sense to me that Colonel Bat Guano was married to Ruth Gordon, I guess.

Michael K said...

For a long time I thought that the CO2 "Greenhouse effect" really caused global warming.

Then the e-mails and comments in the EAU programming were leaked. It was all a scam.

Also, Jimmy Carter did NOT complete the nuclear engineering course at Annapolis.

Jimmy Carter completed the US Navy Nuclear Power Training course and became a qualified Nuclear Power Officer.

Not true.

In November 1952, he began a three month temporary duty assignment at the Naval Reactor branch. He started nuclear power school (a six month course of study that leads to operator training) in March, 1953. In July 1953, his father passed away and he resigned his commission to run the family peanut farm. He was discharged from active duty on 9 October, 1953. According to an old friend of mine who served as Rickover’s personnel officer at Naval Reactors, LT Carter did not complete nuclear power school because of the need to take care of business at home.

The prototype for the USS Nautilus was completed in Idaho in May 1953, so LT Carter might have had some opportunity to see it in action before leaving the Navy. However, the USS Nautilus did not go to sea until January 17, 1955, so there is no possibility that he ever qualified to stand watch on a nuclear powered submarine.

Amadeus 48 said...

I was confused for a long time about the identity of Jules Stein, the founder of MCA (and grandfather of Katrina vanden Heuvel), and Jule Styne, the composer.

robother said...

At the risk of crossing the streams of two of Ann's posts, I recall an endless stoned debate with a friend about whether Jimi Hendrix in "Purple Haze" sang "excuse me while I kiss this guy" or "excuse me while I kiss the sky". No amount of mind expanding drugs could change his view.

Craig Howard said...

I was about six, I suppose, when, one day while lying on my back in the front yard, it dawned on me that trees wave their branches to create wind. I was content with this revelation till several years later when one of those trees in the front yard was blown down in a high gust.

I decided there must be more to it.

Fernandinande said...

rehajm said...
We all have song lyrics skeletons.


Creedence:
"Don't go around tonight
Well it's bound to take your life
There's a bathroom on the right."

Meade said...

EDH, if you also believed Betty Crocker was your grandmother, then you and I are long lost cousins!

etbass said...

I thought I was finally wrong once in my lifetime, but I turned out to have been right.

Fernandinande said...

My dad told me he was bald because he'd had a job carrying mattresses on his head and I believed him and thought other people were bald from carrying stuff on their heads.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

For some reason, I believed Barbie Benson and Robbie Benton were siblings. I don't know why, other than they resembled each other and the similarity of the names. I picked up this belief when I was still a kid and was only disabused of it a couple of years ago when I mentioned this "fact" to some friends and they disabused me of it. A quick trip to imdb.com confirmed that they were correct and I felt like an idiot.

AllenS said...

I was just thinking about my 9:22 post. Has anyone ever seen a bottle of ketchup, even if it is opened and kept in the frig, go bad?

Meade said...

"1. Pete Rose and Peter Marshall were brothers"

Close though. Peter Marshall, U.S. Marshall Matt Dillon, and Bob Dylan were all part of the 1975 World Champion Cincinnati Reds.
Along with Pete Rose. Sparky Anderson, and Joe Morgan.

etbass said...

And so far, Craig Howard wins this thread, I think...

exiledonmainstreet said...

A friend's flakey mother was an astrologer. She did my chart when I was 15. I thought there must be something to it, since it was so complicated and sort of sciencey looking and all.

Birches said...

Wait, banal doesn't rhyme with anal? Dang it! I guess that's mine.

On that same point, my spouse pronounced schadenfreude, "scootinfruity." He didn't believe me on its correct pronunciation until we watched a couple of YouTube videos. There is a reading word that I can't remember right now that he had to do the same for me on. Since I can't remember what it is, I'm sure I'm still saying it wrong.

I didn't know you could make your own whipped cream until I was an adult. Magic!

Unknown said...

That the rainbow film you get from oil on water was: Oil painting.

That everybody runs over somebody in their car eventually. (My father was shocked when I informed him he had told me this. I'm sure he just probably said something like "everybody gets into a fender bender eventuall" and I amped it up from there).

That "hyberbole" was pronounced "hyper-bole" like the "hyperspace" I was always reading about in SF books. (Wonder if anyone did the inverse, and pronounced "hyperspace" as hy-per-spa-ce..)

Not me, but a lot of people seem to think businesses run on a "physical year" basis.

Also, things that are true, but not as surprising as I thought. When I was in first grade, I was sitting under a tree at recess and suddenly realized that every other tree I could see was in a straight line from the one I was sitting under: Every Tree! In a straight line from mine!

etbass said...

And this blog is the funniest one Althouse has ever written, until the one following...

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

I got caught by a copy editor on "fulsome": I thought it meant something like "even more full," or "impressively full," or God knows what. The copy editor said it means "something like the opposite of what you seem to think it means." I feel for Newt Gingrich getting caught on "grandiose."

Slightly different: for years I kept hearing from speakers at various events that there is one old Chinese curse: may you be cursed with interesting times. Not bad, good for a laugh. I found out recently there are three curses of roughly the same vintage or standing. The other two:
- may you come to the attention of the authorities. (This could be taxes or military service)
- may your wishes come true (I was aware of what might be a Western variant of that one)

Birches said...

I still say nuclear wrong. No amount of learning is going to fix that.

MisterBuddwing said...

I once bought into the belief that the Immaculate Conception referred to virgin birth. My excuse is that I'm not a Catholic. But a Catholic co-worker once insisted to me that's what it was.

mockturtle said...

I said 'lacksadaisical' instead of lackadaisical until my late 20's when my husband put an end to it.

David said...

It's probably something I still believe. The possibilities are vast.

AlbertAnonymous said...

Is it "I couldn't care less" or "I could care less"?

Lyrics? ZZTop "every girl's crazy 'bout a shot glass man"

madAsHell said...

Has anyone ever seen a bottle of ketchup, even if it is opened and kept in the frig, go bad?

No. It's a little known fact that the red ketchup squirt bottle at the stadium is left on the condiment table during the off-season.

J2 said...

I never knew how to pronounce Genghis Khan until

"in a manner reminiscent of __" - John Kerry

Carol said...

I used to think most people were straight and sober. I didn't realize how doped up everyone was, either on speed or tranqs or antidepressants, if not PEDs or lithium or opioids. It's just all over the place.

And if you reject an Rx then it's your fault if you're not 100% happy every day. Just being normal is not acceptable.

Jersey Fled said...

I used to believe that I could grow up to be President.

Carol said...

Actually, Kerry was right in his pronunciation, if you go by that TV series on the Mongols.

Amadeus 48 said...

Was Aunt Jemima really my aunt? How were we related to Uncle Ben? Was Cousin Brucie really my cousin? How about Brother Rice? And Father Hesburgh? No way. Not to mention Mother McCauley. Uh-uh, nope. We weren't even Catholic.

jerpod said...

I was married and in my thirties when I once ordered a Caesar salad with French dressing at a nice restaurant. Fortunately my wife jumped in and told the waiter I wanted a house salad with French.

In my defense, fancy meals where I was raised typically featured Jello salad.

clint said...

When I was a kid (maybe four years old) we left a turkey carcass, wrapped in tin foil, out on the counter for a day or two. When we realized it was there and opened it up, the carcass was covered in maggots or something like that.

It seemed obvious to me that the turkey meat had turned into worms, but it was a lovely day outside, and my parents were freaking out about the maggots and wanted me to go out and play, so I did. I never really thought about it again for about a decade.

When I was fourteen, we learned about "spontaneous generation" in biology class -- and I learned that I had been wrong for all those years.

Amadeus 48 said...

How could I forget Brother Dave Gardner? How did that work?

Jon Bornholdt said...

Until well into my thirties, I thought that 51 was a prime number.

Meade said...

"Manna from heaven" was "mama from heaven."

LakeLevel said...

When I was a kid, my parents told me that my dog Sport went to go live on a farm. I thought, "oh no, they had to put him down". Several years later, we went to visit some friends of my mother who lived on a farm. Imagine my surprise when Sport came running up to me.

Oso Negro said...

For the longest time, fully 30 plus years, I believed that alligators were to be found no farther west than the Sabine River that divides Texas from Louisiana. In retrospect, I think the misinformation was a legacy of my youth, when we were assured that alligators were threatened with extinction. It was startling to learn that no, these relic dinosaurs infest Texas waterways all the way down to Mexico. I spent decades on those waterways, unaware.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I thought appropriate was spelled and pronounced approcriate. I argued with my wife about it.

I read prodigiously and had read the word many times. You see what you think you are going to see, which is something that is stressed to motorcycle riders. The car drivers aren't actually out to kill you, they just don't expect to see a motorcycle, so they don't.

DanTheMan said...

I was in my 40's before I found out that "Damn Yankees!" was two words.


Anonymous said...

I thought literally meant "practically" or "figuratively" until I was about 16. I hear that mistaken meaning commonly used now. People say things like "that guy literally broke my heart." And yet, no heart attack or stroke. -- Jessica

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a Christian church (mainline Protestant) and until I was 12 or 13 I thought the resurrection referred to Jesus's spirit going up to heaven. I did not realize people meant actual, bodily, resurrection. I was surprised when I learned the baseness of the claim. I'm now a full believer in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a shocking thing to believe. -- Jessica

Meade said...

I used to believe "wire tap" was something done only by evil republicans like Nixon.

Now I know evil republicans like Obama also did it.

Ann Althouse said...

Banal does rhyme with anal.

Saying buh-NAHL is like saying gar-BAHJ.

sostander said...

I believed my Keds tennis shoes protected me from lightening.

Larvell said...

I thought I was finally wrong once in my lifetime, but I turned out to have been right.

No, you were just mistaken about which time.

tcrosse said...

I believed that the Andy's Gang TV show took place at our local small town movie house.
My parents told me otherwise, but it took a few years for me to believe them.

DanTheMan said...

I was about 30 before it dawned on me that "Arby's" was really "RB", as in "Roast Beef".
I was embarrassed by missing something so blindingly obvious.
Then along came the internet, and I found out that wasn't right, either.

Do I get extra credit for being wrong twice about the same thing?

AllenS said...

Man, there's a lot of screwed up people on this blog.

Jim said...

I always mix up Bill Evans and Gil Evans in jazz.

exiledonmainstreet said...

I thought and so, apparently did everyone in my neighborhood, that living close to Lake Michigan saved us from tornadoes touching down anywhere near us. You had to be inland by at least a few miles or so before they would land. I didn't know why we believed that but we did. So - while everyone in the western suburbs of Milwaukee was scurrying into their basements, we were setting up lawn chairs and admiring the twisters over Lake Michigan, at least until it started pouring. I remember staring in awe at 4 of them hovering over the lake at once, in that unearthly weird light that you sometimes get before a huge storm. Never once did I feel afraid of a tornado as a child - the Lake was my Protector!

I thought that right up until about 14 years ago, when a twister touched down a block away from my cousin's house (she still lives in the old neighborhood) tore up a gas station and dropped a huge tree in her front lawn, just missing her roof. She lives very close to the Lake. Now I'm all nervous any time there's a tornado warning.

The Lake Effect, my ass.

traditionalguy said...

As every young media listener knows, President Nixon was impeached for starting the Viet Nam War.



exiledonmainstreet said...

Anonymous said...
I thought literally meant "practically" or "figuratively" until I was about 16."

Joe Biden still thinks that.

Anthony said...

When I was a kid (probably 6 or so), my family was watching The Wizard of Oz and at the end when the Wizard gives the Tin Man the heart and it's ticking, I asked my dad what it was.

He told me it was a bomb.

For YEARS I kept watching that *#$&ing movie trying to find out what happened with the *#$&ing bomb. And EVERY YEAR I figured I must have gone to the bathroom or something at the exact wrong time and missed it AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN.

Literally, only a few years ago I had one of those I-Coulda-Had-A-V8 moments, slapped my forehead and said "Hey. . .it was just a metaphor".

*#$&ing movie. I refuse to ever watch it again.

Meade said...

I invented feminism in 1959, after watching my mother go through her 6th pregnancy and all the pain and suffering entailed, when, after being told that God planted the seed in Mary's womb that then grew to become baby Jesus, I impertinently asked, do we know for sure that Mary really wanted to be pregnant?

Anthony said...

I had something similar happen with Poe's The Raven.

eric said...

Not sure if anyone mentioned this yet.

For a long time I believed that winter was the time of year the earth was furthest from the sun. Summer was the time of year earth was closest to the sun. Then it occured to me, this can't be true if the seasons are reversed south of the equator.

Mind blown.

Coconuss Network said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DanTheMan said...

>>For a long time I believed that winter was the time of year the earth was furthest from the sun. Summer was the time of year earth was closest to the sun. Then it occurred to me, this can't be true if the seasons are reversed south of the equator.

There are a LOT of people who believe this!

It would make an interesting Venn diagram - the intersection of the se of people who believe this and the set who believe in man-made global warming...

eric said...

I grew up in southern California. There was a car dealership with commercials on local TV all the time. Cal Worthington and his dog spot! And spot was always some exotic animal.

Their was a jingle at the end of each commercial, "Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal!"

For many years I saw this commercial in the late 70s and early 80s. One day, I asked my mom, "What does it mean, Pussy Cal, Pussy Cal, Pussy Cal?"

I was so embarrassed.

Andrew Pardue said...

Penultimate, I thought meant, near the top or utmost as opposed to it's actual meaning being next to last as in, "1999 was the penultimate year in the 20th century."

Darrell said...

AllenS--

I've never seen ketchup go bad--in terms of getting moldy or smelling off. I've seen it turn dark from being exposed to the air/drying out.

eric said...

There are a LOT of people who believe this!

It would make an interesting Venn diagram - the intersection of the se of people who believe this and the set who believe in man-made global warming...


Seems like common sense, doesn't it?

I mean, ask someone, "What would happen if you flew 3 million miles closer to the sun?"

AprilApple said...

I cannot pronounce "amphitheater" properly. You can pronounce it correctly right in front of me, and I cannot do it.

Robert Cook said...

@Virgil Hilts:
"For all intensive purposes I cannot think of a single example."

Ha! Very clever!

Michael K said...

When I was a kid, my parents told me that my dog Sport went to go live on a farm.

When I was about ten we got chicks and ducklings for Easter, pretty common at the time. My father built a little hen house for them out of an old dog house. By summer the hens were laying pullet eggs and the roosters were crowing. This was in Chicago and I was sent to a friends cottage in Wisconsin for two weeks. When I got home, the chickens and ducks were gone and I was told them had been sent down to my grandparents' farm.

We had fried chicken several times that week.

Original Mike said...

"When I was a kid, my parents told me that my dog Sport went to go live on a farm."

He's with my dog Speagle.

daskol said...

For a long time I thought Mark Hamill, the actor from Star Wars, was the same person as Scott Hamilton, the gold medal winning figure skater. I even managed to convince someone else that this was true.

Holy crap, I had the same misapprehension. I remember thinking, wow, this guy can play Luke Skywalker and backflip on figure skates! Was it because they were both so short?

MadisonMan said...

A supervisor gently informed me that "boughten" is not a word even though her father, who was from Pennsylvania, also used the word.

I also use the word 'boughten' -- and I'm also from Pennsylvania. It's a very useful word.

For the longest time I thought the word 'idiot' was actually spelled and pronounced 'indoit'.

Original Mike said...

When I was a kid I was sure we were going to the "Poor House", because my Dad always lamented "We're headed for the Poor House" when going through the day's mail. I struggled mightly to understand how this Poor House was structured (do they feed us?, provide us clothes?, where does the money come from?) I never could figure it out, but I was sure we were going there.

Probably why I turned into a compulsive saver.

twgin said...

My kids often ask me to edit/proofread their resumes, correspondence, etc. I always put one space after a comma and two after a period as I was taught. My faith in this convention was unshakable. Last time my daughter laughingly told me to cut it out and in response to my protests my son instantly came up with two or three internet articles on the obsolescence of the practice in the digital age. My personal marker on the decline and fall of the West.

Coleman Nee said...

I honestly can't think of a single thing I was ever wrong about. Not because I have a closed mind, but because I am honest about the extent of my uncertainty. For example, I am often unsure about song lyrics before finding out for myself, but I am never convinced that it's X when it is really Y. When someone asks whether I believe in global warming I say "I honestly don't know, check back with me after I've caught up on the science." Even then I would probably be uncertain, since I find that studying any subject in depth only makes you aware of how little you actually know. I don't believe anything just because "experts" believe it, but I also don't trust my own intuition.

Robert Cook said...

"Is it 'I couldn't care less' or 'I could care less?'"

It's "I couldn't care less."

Static Ping said...

daskol, I'm trying to determine if you were the guy I convinced and therefore need to apologize, or if we are both the product of some secret breeding experiment. Obviously, we are both nuts but in very limited and benign ways.

Original Mike said...

Blogger exiledonmainstreet said..."I thought and so, apparently did everyone in my neighborhood, that living close to Lake Michigan saved us from tornadoes touching down anywhere near us."

In my neighborhood we thought the Madison lakes had the same protective effect, although they always seemed kind of small to me to be up to the task. Now, Lake Michigan I could have totally believed.

Robert Cook said...

@Andrew Pardue:

"Penultimate, I thought meant, near the top or utmost as opposed to it's actual meaning being next to last as in, '1999 was the penultimate year in the 20th century.'"

3/23/17, 10:46 AM


Many people would incorrectly think you're wrong that 1999 was the penultimate year of the 20th Century, and believe that 1998 was the penultimate year of the century.

Darrell said...

"Is it 'I couldn't care less' or 'I could care less?'"

It's both, as long as you are aware of the difference. I use the latter to be kind to the person I'm speaking to. I care a little, but don't push it.

erictrimmer said...

This is probably not my longest held misconception, but for years I thought spatula was actually spelled with an r at the end, and my Brooklyn-born grandmother was just pronouncing it with an accent. A grade school teacher corrected me.

Original Mike said...

Blogger LakeLevel said..."When I was a kid, my parents told me that my dog Sport went to go live on a farm. I thought, "oh no, they had to put him down". Several years later, we went to visit some friends of my mother who lived on a farm. Imagine my surprise when Sport came running up to me."

Speagle is alive!

Original Mike said...

Blogger Jon Bornholdt said..."Until well into my thirties, I thought that 51 was a prime number."

Common mistake.

Chuck said...

Ann Althouse said...
Banal does rhyme with anal.

Saying buh-NAHL is like saying gar-BAHJ.


Not sure if serious...

No, those two things are not the same. If we use Merriam-Webster as our American English authority, it says you are wrong.

"Garbage" has one and only one pronunciation, and it is the one we know. gar-BAHG is an unknown, faux-French pronunciation that makes me want to look up the etymology and find out if it really is an old French word. Some other time.

"Banal" has three acceptable pronunciations, and I'm fairly certain I have used all three at some time or another. There is buh-NAHL (which Atlhouse rejects); there is BAY-nal (Althouse likes); and there is buh-NAL (like "canal"). I have heard all three, I have used all three, the references say that there are the three.

I probably tend to say BAY-nal when it is an adjective, and buh-NAHL when it is an object. I like buh-NAL, like canal, as the best all-purpose pronunciation.

Daniel Jackson said...

When I was eighteen, I got my Merchant Marine Seaman's Document. Stamped across it was "VOID FOR EMERGENCY SERVICE." I spent the happiest summer of my life at sea. When asked if I wanted to sail for another trip, I explained that I was going to college. I thought if I continued to ship in the US Merchant Marines, I'd be snagged for Vietnam, a place I did not want to attend after the NYT's coverage of the Tet Offensive.

So, I went to college, on to gradual school, a dismal career as a sociologist, and moved to Israel where there was no work to be found. I relocated to France to be a photographer.

When I presented my documents to the Prefecture in Rodez, my Seaman's Document was among the many. As I handed it to Madame Functionary, I looked at the red lettering again, and to my complete shock, I read,

VALID FOR EMERGENCY SERVICE.

Merde putain!

Robert Cook said...

I like buh-NAL, (like "canal") as the pronunciation for banal. I know the various pronunciations are all accepted, though I don't if they're all considred "correct."

Original Mike said...

"I could have swore that ketchup would last forever without going bad."

And here, all these years, I thought the phrase was "I could have sworn.

Wilbur said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Banal does rhyme with anal."

Not according to my dictionary.

James Kahn said...

A couple of years ago I read that the 'ng' sound in "finger" differs from the 'ng' sound in 'singer.' Not only had I never been aware of it, I still don't get it, even though it seems to be commonly understood.

Balfegor said...

I know there's something that comes up semi-regularly, where my initial mental association is always wrong, and I know it's wrong, and consciously have to correct, but I can't for the life of me remember what it is. It's tip of the tongue right now. It comes up not-infrequently, though, and I laugh at myself quietly every time it does.

Wilbur said...

When I pronounce "finger" there's an almost-hard "g" in there, not present in "singer".

MadisonMan said...

I could have sworn

I could of sworn!

Robert Cook said...

"When I pronounce 'finger' there's an almost-hard 'g' in there, not present in 'singer.'"

That is correct.

daskol said...

daskol, I'm trying to determine if you were the guy I convinced and therefore need to apologize, or if we are both the product of some secret breeding experiment. Obviously, we are both nuts but in very limited and benign ways.

I don't think I was convinced by anything, just assumed it. But I remember when I was corrected: when Scott Hamilton appeared on a cornflakes box, and I tried to tell my dad this was the same guy who played Luke Skywalker. my dad set me straight.

yet, take a look at that picture, and you'll see the resemblance. we weren't that crazy.

Robert Cook said...

"I could have sworn

"I could of sworn!"



The increasingly common error of people writing "of" for "have" is a particular bugagoo of mine, as irritating to me as nails on a blackboard.

Mary Beth said...

That the "why did the chicken cross the road?" joke was about death. I learned the joke when I was too young to understand and then never gave it any thought. When I eventually did realize what it was about (decades later), I was just, "oh, wow, that's dark."

Skipper said...

It wasn't until adulthood that I discovered that Beach Boy lyrics, "ba ba ba, bababaran", was Barbara Ann, and not nonsense words. I'm still embarrassed.

Dopey said...

Pronouncing "Laoco├Ân" as la-au-coon. So much for my brief essay into art history

Wilbur said...

A lawyer joke I first read the other day (it's apparently 50 years old):

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To obtain diversity jurisdiction.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Original Mike said...
When I was a kid I was sure we were going to the "Poor House", because my Dad always lamented "We're headed for the Poor House" when going through the day's mail. I struggled mightly to understand how this Poor House was structured (do they feed us?, provide us clothes?, where does the money come from?) I never could figure it out, but I was sure we were going there."

I was sure we were too, but I didn't give any detailed thought to the Poor House. I assumed you just sat there all day thinking about how poor you were.

Original Mike said...

"The increasingly common error of people writing "of" for "have" is a particular bugagoo of mine, as irritating to me as nails on a blackboard."

I assume "could of" comes from "could've".

Wilbur said...

When I was in undergrad, I was dating a girl whose parents came to visit on e weekend. They took us out to dinner, and not wanting to order something too expensive, I picked the cheapest steak they had.
Waitress: And for you, sir?
Wilbur: I'll have the pepper steak, medium rare please.

Unknown said...

Another thing that ain't true: "Barbara Ann" is a "Beach Boys" song. In fact it was The Regents who did the first version. When the Beach Boys were in the studio drinking beer and trying to think of songs to sing on their live-in-the-studio "Party" album, Dean Torrence was in the same building for a Jan & Dean session which had gotten to the point of recording "You Really Know How To Hurt A Guy", a song Dean hated so much he refused to sing on it. He wandered down the hall and suggested "Barbara Ann" to the Beach Boys, as Jan & Dean had just recorded a cover of it. They didn't know the song (you can tell) so he sang on it, and you can hear an almost inaudible "Thanks Dean" on the album version. (And reminders to "sing on key"! in the outtakes).

Unknown said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Banal does rhyme with anal."

"Not according to my dictionary."

How to correctly pronounce banal.

I always thought law professors would know how to pronounce banal correctly.

Sofa King said...

Until not that long ago, I thought that the "smoking lamp" I heard about from Navy people was an actual indicator lamp that was fitted throughout ships, like the ones in airplanes, that would turn on and off to indicate when it was OK to smoke.

Mrs. Bear said...

I used to think that "Portnoy's Complaint" was a disease.

Unknown said...

How to correctly say anal.

Nope, banal and anal do not rhyme.

Bay Area Guy said...

This one is easy:

For a long time, I thought the search for "truth" (and expression thereof) was the most noble pursuit. Is it true? Are you being honest? Do you have a factual basis to support your opinion? Have you properly interpreted the significance of these facts?, etc, etc.

This was a mistake.

The truth, for many people, is simply too hard and too harsh. The famous line bellowed by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men -- "YOU CANT HANDLE THE TRUTH!" is totally correct. Most people can't handle the absolute truth. They are content with a reasonably close approximation, except for very hard truths, and for those, they want it buried deep, protected by walls, and sometimes by a protective fog of deception or distraction.

dustbunny said...

I thought the northern lights were a reflection of the North Pole ice on the atmosphere

quizbowla said...

I used to believe that it was literally true that "people who don't vote have no right to complain. That is, one's first amendment free speech rights were conditional on one's voting behavior. I was in high school before I was disabused of that notion.

AllenS said...

I hate to tell you this, Original Mike, but your dog went to the same farm as my dog Taffy.

Unknown said...

Scott Meyer on dealing with "The Truth":


http://www.basicinstructions.net/basic-instructions/2016/11/15/how-to-reveal-a-shocking-truth-to-a-person-whos-not-ready-for-the-truth

http://www.basicinstructions.net/basic-instructions/2013/4/21/how-to-deal-with-the-truth.html

http://www.basicinstructions.net/basic-instructions/2012/6/28/how-to-speak-an-unpopular-truth.html

http://www.basicinstructions.net/basic-instructions/2014/3/27/how-to-get-to-the-truth-of-the-matter.html

http://www.basicinstructions.net/basic-instructions/2010/10/17/how-to-handle-a-surprising-truth.html

http://www.basicinstructions.net/basic-instructions/2017/3/19/how-to-receive-a-shocking-truth

David said...

I remain astounded that so many believe that they have already discovered their longest held incorrect belief.

Sigivald said...

The real secret is that Cousteau and Cocteau are the same person!

David Blaska said...

For the longest time, I thought the beans in a can of pork and beans were actually flour pellets.

Original Mike said...

At least he's got company, Allen.

whswhs said...

There was an abstract expressionist artist named Joan Blumenthal; I've seen one of her paintings in the San Diego Museum of Art. There was, and maybe is, a woman named Joan Mitchell Blumenthal, who is an artist and for a time was married to Alan Greenspan, and who was part of the Ayn Rand circle in New York. I thought for a long time that they were the same person, and when I saw the abstract expressionist painting, I wondered how she could have been associated with Rand, who famously despised modernist art of all kinds (except architecture---she was a big admirer of Wright and Neutra). Then I tracked down some images of paintings by the other Joan Blumenthal, which were in an entirely different idiom. . . .

David Blaska said...

As a kid, I would look up at the cumulous clouds. I thought they were big puffs of cotton and that you could bounce on them if dropped on them from an airplane. The reason no one ever did was because it was too easy to fall off.

FullMoon said...

I thought bi-polar is manic depressive: extreme high energy, with bouts of depression. BP friend totally loses control, been committed three times. Everybody knows the signs now, seems to be controllable if he gets adequate sleep during euphoric stage.

Also thought autistic was new PC word for retarded, until I was around several different autistic kids.

Speaking of retarded. In middle school, boy in retard class would always say "I can do anything I want, if I put my mind to it". Guess he learned that from the teacher. One day, he decided to beat up Micheal Berger,the toughest kid in eighth grade. He learned teacher that his teacher lied.

Kyzernick said...

Well, Michael K just burst one of my bubbles. For the life of me I thought Jimmy Carter had served briefly as a watchstander on the Nautilus. My father told me that and even though I've skimmed thru Carter's Wikipedia bio, I must have skipped over his early years something fierce.

mockturtle said...

Ann, banal does not rhyme with anal so this could turn out to be your longest-held incorrect belief. ;-)

Kyzernick said...

When I was a child, one of my uncles (who is only about 8 years older than me, and was almost like a big brother) convinced me that the word "phosphorous" was a swear word. That belief persisted for about 2 years until I noticed it was written on food labels and called him on it. I kept yelling "oh phosphorous!" after stubbing my toes for a while after - hard habit to break.

Kyzernick said...

Birches @ 10:03 - Scootinfruity

I LOL'ed hard enough to startle my cat. Thanks.

David Baker said...

As a youngster I believed that "Ken-L Ration" was the generic term for cat food.

(My cat loved Ken-L Ration, a brand of dog food)

Steven said...

All sorts of works on the giant squid talk about its huge eye. All sorts of illustrations show only one eye. Accordingly, I was under the impression that squid only have one eye until I was well into my 20s.

Johanna Lapp said...

I'm now told that '30s Hollywood song-and-dance man George Murphy (later in life a senator from California) is NOT the same person as George Romney, chairman of American Motors (later in life the governor of Michigan).

When I first picked up my mistaken impression, I marveled at how ANYTHING was possible in America. Second act, third act, fourth act ...

Yancey Ward said...

Virgil Hilts wrote:

For all intensive purposes I cannot think of a single example.

Dude, you owe me a new keyboard! Bravo!

mockturtle said...

Kyzernick says: Birches @ 10:03 - Scootinfruity

I LOL'ed hard enough to startle my cat. Thanks


It's so good I intend to use it. And I admit that, in the past few months, I've experience more 'scootinfruity' than at any other time I can recall. Thanks again, Birches!

Yancey Ward said...

When I was in the 7th grade, The Village People had the hits YMCA, Macho Man, and In the Navy. I loved all those songs as it was the time I first started listening to radio stations, but I had never actually seen a picture of them or watched their appearances on television.

When I was a freshman in college (1984-85), I was flipping through a friend's record collection when I came across the album Macho Man, and I yelled out, "Those guys were gay?!" My friend just rolled on the floor laughing her ass off at me.

wendybar said...

Supposably, you are supposed to pronounce it supposedly...I found that out while at my first full time job. I was flabbergasted that nobody told me until then!

Birches said...

I'm glad I gave you guys a laugh. I'll throw myself under the bus by revealing that my spouse always cringes when I say sherbert instead of sherbet.

Also, I just learned a few months ago that Katherine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn weren't sisters. Weird.

Oh, I just thought of a good one. A kid I grew up with thought his mom was in the army when she was younger because she'd say, "This is a little trick I learned in the army." He was probably 10 or so when he mentioned it to someone who started talking "army talk" back to his bewildered mother. Hilarious.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Mine are all concerned with words. The one that stands out now is "copacetic," which I have innocently thought for ages meant exactly the opposite of what it actually does. I think that somehow my mind conflated it with Kaopectate, and I had a vague impression of a shitty mess.

"Bemused" meaning "amused" (mentioned above) is another one.

urbane legend said...

Evan said...
I believed that present-day Baptists were theologically descended from Anabaptists for a long time, when actually the theological roots are about as far apart as you can get in Protestantism. Not until I got to know a Baptist historian did I get corrected.


There are no Baptist historians in real Baptist churches. In fact, probably aren't any historians in Baptist churches. Maybe in Southern Baptist churches. According to Bishop Ussher, the earth is only a little over 6,000 years old, so there may be time yet for one to come along. :-)

Robert Cook said...

Many people would incorrectly think you're wrong that 1999 was the penultimate year of the 20th Century, and believe that 1998 was the penultimate year of the century.


Most people don't know the word penultimate, in my experience, even the reasonably educated ones. For the ones who believe a century ends in a 99 year, I smile and say, " don't bet more than a dollar in Final Jeopardy. "

Think said...

That the Mormon church was literally God's church and not a cult. I discovered I was wrong when I realized most religious people have the same feel good feelings about their church and the history the church teaches is verifiably false. I also learned theat it's verifiably provable that its founder, Joseph Smith, could not translate ancient records as he claimed. The website http://cesletter.com has much of the information for anyone that wants a fascinating read. I know my realization it's obvious to 99% of the world. But when you are raised in Mormonism, the truth is shocking. You are told from the time you can remember to never read non-church sources about the church because they are only written by enemies of the church who are influenced by Satan. Leaving is difficult. It destroys family and friend relationships.

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 239   Newer› Newest»