Five Common Misconceptions
Today’s modern world is majorly known by the spread of fake news, and the popularity of social media promotes this increase of misinformation. The anonymity offered by the internet is also a major factor since it helps fake news travel and be diffused quickly by the public without repercussions. That is because, online, anyone is free to post whatever they like under a pseudonym or a phony address.
Our topic today greatly relates to the phenomenon of fake news. Misconceptions are easily spread throughout the internet, presented as facts with little to no proof. There are ones that have been around for so long, that none of us even bother checking their validity nowadays — we just accept the info as it is, and move on.
Which is why I will be listing five common misconceptions with proof of their inaccuracy.
We only use 10% of our brains.
This is a common misconception that states that people only use 10% of their brain capacity, and if we used more, we would be able to perform superhuman abilities. In fact, the 2014 movie Lucy is based on this theory. However, that is not true. Many neuroscientists have debunked this, including neurologist Barry Gordon who said: “It turns out though, that we use virtually every part of the brain, and that [most of] the brain is active almost all the time.” In fact, there are now tools that can monitor the activity of functioning brains, which have also confirmed the inaccuracy of this theory.
Alpha wolves exist.
During the 1930s and 1940s, animal behaviorist Rudolph Schenkel published a paper based on a study of captive wolf packs. It concluded that wolves fought each other to gain leadership and dominance over other members of the pack. In 1999, however, wildlife biologist L.David Mech published a paper after several, long observations of wolves in the wild that debunked Schenkel’s original statement. Mech said: “The concept of the alpha wolf as a “top dog” ruling a group of similar-aged compatriots, is particularly misleading.” What was considered a structure of alpha versus subordinates, was in fact a family unit. The ‘leaders’ noted by Schenkel were the parents, who naturally were in charge, followed by the older siblings over the younger ones.
Polygraph tests are reliable.
That is not entirely true. Polygraph tests, or more modernly referred to as lie detectors, are not conclusive — they do not determine whether a person is lying or not. “There’s no unique physiological sign of deception. And there’s no evidence whatsoever that the things the polygraph measures — heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, and breathing — are linked to whether you’re telling the truth or not,” That is what psychologist Leonard Saxe, who personally conducted a research on it, has said of the matter. Although law enforcement still use polygraph tests in interrogations, they are not admissible as evidence in courts.
Chameleons change colors for camouflage.
Chameleons are believed to be able to blend into any background to escape danger, but that is not true. While they do have abilities of adjusting their skin color as they wish, the reason is not for camouflage. Chameleons only color-change for communication, and to reflect their mood.
Albert Einstein failed Maths.
This one is exceptionally popular. It is mostly seen in inspirational posts to serve as reassurance: if the genius Einstein failed Maths, there is no shame if you do too. But, this is false information. Einstein, contrary to popular belief, did not fail his Maths exam. He failed the language, botany and zoology sections of the exam but did fine in the Maths section. In fact, Einstein was even shown this in 1935 and he laughed, saying: “I never failed in mathematics (…) Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus.”
Those were just five out of a long list of common misconceptions that are still common today, and heavily shared on the internet. A simple Google search, though, will have most of them debunked instantly.
Author: Nour Nachoua Nait Ali.