For the past few years, an email gets circulated prior to the beginning of a month that has 31 days and begins on a Friday. (August of 2014 fits that description.) It usually says something like, “August 2014 has five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays, this will not occur again for 823 years.”

Because I love math so much and know many people in the mathematical field, I get this email forwarded to me all the time with comments like “Isn’t this cool, Mike?” Even though the facts are totally false (it will happen again in 2025 and then again in 2031), this email continues to be passed around. It is human nature to believe everything you read without thinking if it is logical. The one thing I wanted to know is why the author used 823 years instead of any other number. If you look on a phone dial, the number 823 would spell out “U B E.” I am guessing he was trying to say that if you believe August won’t have five Fridays, five Saturdays, and five Sundays for 823 years, U BE crazy.

When you were a kid, you might have been told not to cross your eyes because they will stay crossed. Or not to go outside with your hair wet or you will catch pneumonia. Those were common misconceptions when I was growing up. I thought they were true until I heard otherwise. But sometimes, as a kid, you may try to explain something to yourself, start believing it is true, and find out many years later that it is totally false.

For example, when I was in my 20s, my friends and I decided to take a trip to Las Vegas. After landing, we were waiting at the baggage claim, wondering what was taking so long for the bags to arrive. I turned to one of my friends and said: “Maybe the plane that takes the luggage got delayed somehow.” My friend looked at me in disbelief, started cracking up and told everyone else that I did not know that the luggage flew on the same plane as the passengers. Even though nobody ever told me otherwise, I probably told myself that and always believed it until I learned that it was wrong.

My niece is an absolute genius. She graduated from a prestigious university and had a four-year complete academic scholarship. Recently, she was driving with her mother. On the highway, she saw a car hitched to a trailer riding next to her. She quickly shouted out, “Mom, nobody is driving the trailer!” As brilliant of a person she is, she always thought the trailer pushed the car, not the car pulled the trailer.

A college buddy of mine told me a similar story. His dad confessed that he and his brother were almost never conceived. This was because both he and his mother believed that a couple got pregnant by sleeping in the same bed together and holding each other. Not until they asked their doctor why their attempts at starting a family failed did they find out how to make a baby. My friend told me that both his parents were well educated but for whatever reason had this notion that they were doing things the correct way.

Kids are very curious; that is why they ask their parents countless questions. Sometimes, when a parent is not around, you may think of your own answer and never ask a question. Usually, you’ll believe your own answer for years until you find out it’s wrong.

Did you ever have a realization like this before? Share it with us by commenting below. Trust me; everyone has a couple of these misconceptions in their life. They are fun to talk about and share with others.

Want more tips and best practices to improve your memory and mental performance? Order your copy of my book, The Power of Forgetting, at your favorite retailer today or at  

About the Author

Mike Byster

Mike Byster is the author of The Power of Forgetting.

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