We can all recite dozens of them—those little superstitious “truths” we were taught as children. Breaking a mirror is seven years bad luck; It’s also bad luck to walk under a ladder; Step on a crack, break your mother’s back; Find a penny, pick it up, then all day you’ll have good luck. And so forth.

Mother also taught us that if your ears were burning, someone was talking about you. If your right palm itched, you were going to receive money. If your left palm itched, it was money going out. Itchy feet predicted travel, and a nose itch—well, that meant you were going to kiss a fool. Oftentimes when my nose itched, I’d just kiss the back of my own hand and get it over with.

But recently, I read an article stating that if someone rubs their nose while talking to you, they’re probably not telling you the whole truth. Seems the “stress” of deception increases blood flow to the nose, and the internal expansion triggers cells to release histamine, which makes it itch. They call this “The Pinocchio Effect.”

A little scientific knowledge like that can sure throw a monkey wrench into the superstitious belief system I was raised with. Pretty soon they’ll want me to believe that crossing my fingers, knocking on wood, and throwing a pinch of salt over my shoulder aren’t effective protections against bad ju-ju.

Do you think Mom was rubbing her nose when she taught me those things?