See: Ghosts of Mars, Total Recall, Red Planet

Get your ass back to earth.
Hollywood teaches: Mars is an inhospitable place with varying degrees of terraforming that might cause you to get eaten by bugs or killed by an army of gothic berserkers. There is a giant alien air conditioner that will restore the atmosphere of Mars at the push of a button. Mars is also haunted by ancient evil.

The reality: Mars is another incredibly boring planet in our solar system that mankind is determined to visit to swell our egos. If we succeed we can set up a base there so that 50 years later we can land a man on some other boring planet even farther away from earth. Not a single probe has found any indication of goths, although Mars may be haunted by ice and fossilized bacteria.

See: Signs, Children of the Corn, Pumpkinhead

He Who Glowers Behind the Rows.
Hollywood teaches: Cornfields are nightmarish Escher-mazes in which invisible aliens and demonic spirits take their revenge on unsuspecting humans. Favorite gathering place for cults and drunken revelers about to be murdered.

The reality: They grow corn. Meticulous rows make getting lost nearly impossible. Very few pumpkin-headed demons present.

See: Aliens Series, Firefly (TV), Space: Above and Beyond (TV)

Colonial life is the pits.
Hollywood teaches: Once humanity has started its spread into space no one ever bothers to set up a border defense force. Alien invasions and cannibal mutants blow right through customs without stopping and inevitably wipe out the first human speed bump they run across on their way to earth. This is based on the early history of American expansion, when pioneer villages were frequently wiped out by millions of Indians rampaging towards Europe.

The reality: We don't have any space colonies yet, but if they're anything like humanity's space station we can expect a lot of experiments involving globs of water or ants. In the unlikely event aliens arrived to wipe out our space station that would be the most useful experiment it has ever conducted.

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