Falsehoods in Programming

Falsehoods in Programming


5 min read

Falsehoods in programming refer to commonly held beliefs or assumptions that are not true or only partially true. These falsehoods can lead to errors in coding, misinterpretation of data, and costly mistakes. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most common falsehoods in programming and how to avoid them.

Programming is a complex and ever-evolving field, and many assumptions and beliefs about programming can lead to errors and inaccuracies in code. Falsehoods about date and time, phone numbers, and web technologies are just a few examples of common misconceptions that can cause problems in programming. In this blog post, we will explore these and other falsehoods in programming and how to avoid them.

Falsehoods in programming are not limited to specific areas of development but can be found across various aspects of programming, from data types to security measures. These misconceptions can lead to costly mistakes and cause a detrimental impact on the functioning of programs. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of these falsehoods and take the necessary steps to avoid them while writing code. Let's get into it.

Names are unique

One of the most common falsehoods in programming is that names are unique. This is not always true. Consider the following scenario: you are building a system that allows users to register with their email addresses. You might assume that email addresses are unique, but this is not always the case. People can have multiple email addresses or use different variations of their name. To avoid this mistake, you should use a unique identifier, such as a user ID, to identify users.

Floating-point numbers are precise

Another common falsehood in programming is that floating-point numbers are precise. In reality, floating-point numbers have limited precision and can sometimes result in rounding errors. For example, when you add 0.1 and 0.2, the result should be 0.3, but in some programming languages, the result is actually 0.30000000000000004. To avoid this, you can use decimal or fixed-point numbers which are more precise.

There is one true way to do it

Another common falsehood in programming is that there is only one true way to do things. In reality, there are often multiple ways to solve a problem, and the best solution depends on the context. For example, there are different algorithms for sorting data, and the best algorithm depends on the size and type of data. To avoid this mistake, you should consider different solutions and evaluate them based on performance, readability, and maintainability.

Null is a value

Another common falsehood in programming is that null is a value. In reality, null represents the absence of a value. This can lead to errors when you assume that null is a valid value. For example, if you try to concatenate a null value with a string, you might get a null reference error. To avoid this mistake, you should always check for null values and handle them appropriately.

Time zones are constant

Many programmers assume that time zones are constant and do not change. However, time zones can change due to various reasons such as daylight saving time, political changes, or natural disasters. For example, Samoa skipped a day in 2011 when it moved from the east side of the International Date Line to the west side, causing confusion for programmers who assumed that time zones are constant.

Leap years occur every four years

Another common falsehood about date and time is that leap years occur every four years. In reality, leap years occur every four years except for years that are divisible by 100 but not by 400. This means that the year 2000 was a leap year, but the year 1900 was not. Failing to account for this can result in errors when calculating dates or durations.

Time is always linear

Time is not always linear, especially in cases where time synchronization is required. For example, when synchronizing multiple clocks over a network, there can be delays or inconsistencies that cause time to appear non-linear. This can lead to inconsistencies in the ordering of events or incorrect calculations of durations.

Phone numbers always have a fixed length

Many programmers assume that phone numbers always have a fixed length, but this is not true. Phone numbers can have different lengths, depending on the country or region. Additionally, some countries use different formats, such as including dashes or parentheses. Failing to account for this can result in errors when validating or formatting phone numbers.

Phone numbers are unique identifiers

Another common falsehood about phone numbers is that they are unique identifiers. While phone numbers are unique to a specific device or SIM card, they are not globally unique. For example, a person can have multiple phone numbers or use a different phone number when traveling. This can lead to errors when using phone numbers as identifiers or when verifying user identity.

Phone numbers are secure

Many programmers assume that phone numbers are secure, but they can be easily intercepted or spoofed. For example, someone can use a fake caller ID or send a text message from a different number. Additionally, phone numbers can be used for social engineering attacks or phishing attempts. To avoid this, programmers should use additional verification methods, such as two-factor authentication or biometric identification.


Falsehoods in programming can lead to errors, security vulnerabilities, and performance issues that can have a detrimental impact on software development. From date and time to form validation, there are many misconceptions that programmers should be aware of to avoid these problems. By questioning assumptions, testing thoroughly, and staying up-to-date with best practices, programmers can write better code that is more accurate, efficient, and secure. It is essential to continually learn and improve as a programmer to avoid these common falsehoods and ensure the success of software development projects.

This blog post was written entirely by ChatGPT v3.5 Turbo and it is a proof of concept that good okayish content is not hard to generate by machine learning.

Cover photo by Mo Eid on Pexels.