10 Biggest Myths About Phoenix

There are a whole lot of myths and urban legends about Phoenix.

Strap on your helmet just in case your mind gets blown by our picks for the 10 biggest myths about Arizona's capital:

10.) It's Full of Old People

The median age in Phoenix is about 32. The median age in the United States is about 35. When people mark Phoenix as a place for retirees and snowbirds, they mostly mean the Phoenix area. Retirees have their own cities in the West Valley, for example.

The state's median age is 36, while the median age in Scottsdale is 41. It's not Phoenix that's full of old folks.

9.) Climate Change Will Cook Us All to Death

There have been claims that climate change will either cook us all to death or leave Phoenix a ghost town. Our New Times colleague Ray Stern outlined why such claims are bogus in a recent cover story. Phoenix is more sustainable than many other cities on multiple fronts, as Stern reported, even though Phoenix keeps getting hotter.

8.) Javelina Are Wild Pigs or Large Rodents

While the javelina (or peccary) is often called a pig or rodent, it's neither. They're not members of the pig family, nor are they rodents in any sense. Javelina are natives of the Americas, whereas feral pigs found in other areas of the United States are descendants of animals brought over by European settlers.

7.) Aliens Made a Big Show in 1997

Some people believe the "Phoenix Lights" seen over the Valley in 1997 are still a mystery. It's really not -- they weren't aliens. The Air Force explained that the lights hovering visible from Phoenix -- lights that just happened to be hovering over an Air Force range -- were some long-burning flares dropped by some National Guard planes during a training exercise. Multiple physicists who conducted independent research based on the evidence found this explanation perfectly acceptable.

6.) There's No Culture

False. (First of all, New Times has a culture blog, Jackalope Ranch, and we can confirm there's a lot of Phoenix culture going on over there.) Amy Silverman, New Times' managing editor, alleged in a recent cover story that Phoenix may actually be cool.

5.) It's the Hottest City in the United States

How do you even measure being the "hottest city" in the country? Is it the highest average temperature? That's in South Florida. The most days above 100 degrees? That's Death Valley, California. If you're talking about big cities "with the highest average daily maximum temperature," then Phoenix wins.

4.) Scorpions, Snakes, and Lizards Often Kill People

There's only one type of poisonous scorpion in the United States, and of course it lives in Arizona -- the Arizona bark scorpion. However, according to state health department stats, no one's died from a scorpion sting in the last 10 years. Deaths from venomous snakes or lizards have only been reported in four of the last 10 years. Meanwhile, Arizonans have been killed by lightning in eight of the last 10 years, and killed by dog attacks in 10 of the last 10 years. At least six people per year have died from some sort of train accident each of the last 10 years. Even when taking into account rare ways to die, being killed by a desert creature is more rare than that.

3.) It's the Kidnapping Capital of the United States

Although this one has been publicly debunked, people still repeat it as if it's true, and people are just getting plucked off the streets of Phoenix and held for ransom every day. That claim was based off of Phoenix PD statistics from 2008 that were found to be very inflated. The title of America's "kidnapping capital" certainly isn't true.

2.) Arizona Has the Most Boats per Capita in the Country

Although there are quite a few lakes in Arizona, we're not sure why anyone would believe that the state, as a whole, has more boats per capita than any other state. Turns out, when you get the facts involved, the state that calls itself the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," Minnesota, actually has the highest rate. Arizona's nowhere near the top.

1.) We'll Be Out of Water Soon

Alarmists have been saying that Phoenix's water supply is going to run out this decade, for about four decades now. Much like the climate-change warnings about Phoenix, our colleague Ray Stern reported why Phoenix is actually in much better shape than other southwestern cities when it comes to water. Reports that identify major cities with the biggest water-scarcity issues don't list Phoenix.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley