MOST urban legends, myths and beliefs come and go but some stick and hover around for decades.
Some continue for so long that they eventually become part of our lives.
How many will attest to having forwarded chain e-mails for fear of the unknown?
I personally had a dress that gave me so much hell every time I wore it that in the end I had to give it away.
As it turned out the maker of the dress was something of a jinxed mistress herself.
Human nature dictates that we believe, hope and fear, sometimes. And there are some beliefs that can be proven or dismissed by means of science.
Dr Lebo Maile-Maimela is a general practitioner with a keen interest in sociology and philosophy, who admits to having been asked to treat natural ailments with superstitious beliefs behind them.
"Every society has its behavioural parameters. Children are sometimes taught with a teaspoon of fright inflicted by means of folklore and myths continue for the purposes of entertainment," Maile-Maimela says.
So we delve into diehard folklore and ask the doctor if she can prove them right or wrong.
Myth: Thinking too much will make you crazy.
Fact:Studying too much will make you crazy: Ardent chess players from the UK were tested for nerve activity, hypertension and sleep quality.
And all three players flunked dismally and also tested positive on iron deficiency.
In the game of chess lies the highest level of literature and science, says Ray Calgary, one of the guinea pigs for the research.
"It has a distinct allure; all the flavour of science and absinthe at once. Chess and madness. Mystery and brilliance.
"Uncovering a suspicious intersection between the intricate dances of wood pieces and the limits of the human psyche!"
And he has been playing for only 10 years.
Myth: Having no sex will give you acne and drive you insane.
Fact: "This can apply only to men. Semen contains between 15 and 25 percent of the total body protein and acne can be drastically reduced by the reduction of protein intake. But acne is mainly caused by a hormonal upheaval and not just lack of sex," Maile-Maimela says.
Myth: Having sex in a car will make it fall apart.
Fact: "People who generally take the risk of having sex in a car are usually young people who don't really fret over the condition of their cars and surroundings in general. Their cars fall apart from negligence, not from the act of sex itself," Maile-Maimela says.
Myth: Having babies too close together will make the older one slower and stupid.
Fact: "It is a known fact that when a baby gets a sibling too soon (within the first 18 months of its life) the chances are high that the younger one will get more attention.
This trauma might cause the older baby to regress in its development and crave more attention and act it out by becoming a bigger baby than her baby sibling," says Dr Pauline van Rensburg, a child psychologist.
Myth: Sleeping with a pregnant woman will make a man more fertile.
Fact: "Just like women, men tend to get more fertile over a certain period in their lives. But pregnancy does not make the man more fertile."