Science is, as a rule, the process of debunking myths. The earth is not flat. Earth is not the center of the universe. And yet it spins, Galileo persisted. Any scientific process involves the search for truth. Alas, but no matter how literate the population of a single country, scientific myths, like children’s sayings, stubbornly stay afloat. Moreover, these myths hang around so long that they are beginning to be considered a universally recognized truth. A study of 2015 showed that 82% of adults are mistaken in at least one of the following issues.
The next time you hear how someone calls Everest the highest mountain in the world or says that the Great Wall of China can be seen from space, do not hesitate to defend your own opposite point of view. So, let’s go.
Everest – the highest mountain in the world
Conquer 8848 meters of this incredible projection on the face of the Earth – one of the greatest achievements in the lives of some people, but calling this peak the highest mountain in the world would be wrong. This title belongs to Mauna Kea, a volcanic peak in Hawaii with a summit at an altitude of 4205 meters.
But wait, you will say, this is much less than the height of Mount Everest. In fact, this number indicates only the altitude above sea level – most of this peak goes to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Together with it, the mountain reaches a height of 10,000 meters, which makes it the tallest mountain on the planet. Technically, Everest is the highest mountain above sea level, but certainly not the highest mountain on Earth.
The Great Wall of China is visible from space
This man-made structure is impressively massive, no doubt, but is it large enough to be seen from space? This question is asked only on Earth: many astronauts have confirmed that it can not be seen from outer space with the naked eye, and, of course, not from the surface of the Moon.
This myth broke into popular culture in the 18th century – before people actually went into space – but the calculations showed that trying to see the wall from the moon is like trying to see human hair from three kilometers away. Being over 20,000 kilometers long, the Great Wall of China is only six meters wide, that is too thin. Astronauts who said they saw the wall from space, just confused this object with the river, in particular, with the Great Channel of China.
Red color enrages bulls
We all saw the bulls rushing to someone waving a red rag in front of their faces. Also, the phrase “as an ox at the sight of a red rag”, describing someone’s anger, became popular. In fairness, bulls do not distinguish colors. An animal angers not the color, but the sweeping movements of this material. “Destroyers of myths” put before the bull three stuffed with rags of different colors. And they proved that the bull rushes to a rag that moves, regardless of color.
Chameleons can accept any color
Approximately 69% of adults believe this, but despite what we know from childhood, a chameleon can not accept the color of a Scottish cell or simulate a picture on wallpaper. The chameleon has an extraordinary ability to change color, but this color mostly depends on the mood of the lizard, the change in body temperature or for the purpose of communication, and not from the environment.
For example, they can become dazzling white in direct sunlight to reflect heat, or become dark in the cool time to absorb light, and color patterns can decorate the male, signaling the readiness for mating. You should also know that the outer layer of the chameleon’s skin is transparent: they change color with the help of layers of chromatophores, which contain a different pigment, which forms an impressive palette.
Lightning never hits twice in one place
Oh, it hits, and how. Trees and high-rise buildings often get lightning strikes that do not really bother about where to beat. In fact, the US National Meteorological Service testifies that lightning strikes 25 times a year in the Empire State Building. Once during a thunderstorm she received eight lightning strikes in half an hour.
Of course, the main goal of this idiom is to encourage people to try to do something more than once – word of mouth says that a bad experience is unlikely to happen again. But this is absurd to some extent. Roy Sullivan entered the Guinness Book of Records by a man struck by lightning seven times in different places, and Tsutomu Yamaguchi generally fell under two of the two nuclear bombings aimed at killing people in human history – in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
The brains of people are divided into right-handed and left-handed people
You’ve probably heard that people are prone to art and do not know much about math, because they have a left or right hemisphere dominating, but how much does this answer the truth? Forgive, but you can not blame one of your brain hemispheres for your inability to calculate square roots in the mind.
A common opinion has developed as follows: creative people are dominated by the right hemisphere, and in the more calculating and pragmatic – the left hemisphere. This is a great way to classify personality traits, but studies have not revealed signs that individuals in the left or right hemisphere of the brain are responsible for these traits.
University of Utah conducted a two-year study involving more than 1,000 people, whose brains were observed as they performed various tasks. Although scientists have found that the left and right parts of the brain are responsible for various functions (language – left, attention – right), none of them exceeds the other. That is, the truth is that both halves of the brain are equally active.
We have only five senses
Sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. These feelings were arranged by categories by Aristotle himself and believed that this was all. But he was wrong. Although many consider this our ultimate set of feelings, the truth is that we have much more, at least twenty. The main five we use daily, but you do not even suspect how deep your sensitivity is.
For example, we have the ability to feel the temperature, the ability to balance during skiing – what does this include? A hunger, thirst, orientation during the movement or a sense of space?
Without these feelings, we would be rather primitive – therefore to say that we have only five senses, it would be unscientific. Each feeling can be divided into smaller categories. For example, there is nociception (a feeling of pain), proprioception (knowledge of the orientation of their limbs) and perception of time. We react to a variety of effects on our body, our brains have a wide range of receptors. Keep this in mind.
In the Middle Ages, people thought that the earth was flat
One of the most common myths is that in the Middle Ages people thought that the earth was flat. It is believed that Christopher Columbus sailed to the horror of his contemporaries, who believed that to swim beyond the horizon – it means to fall from the edge of the Earth, but this is not so. People realized that our planet was spherical in shape hundreds of years before Columbus traveled. The ancient Greeks accepted this as a fact, the Christian church too, this was said by Ptolemy’s Geography in the 2nd century.
Where did this myth come from? It is widely believed that in the 18th and 19th centuries this myth became widespread in the context of disputes between religion and science. Antireligious writers used this myth to attack religion, arguing that the church proclaimed the land flat when in fact the truth was behind science. Columbus’s biography, written by Washington Irving, gave a false view of how the outstanding members of the committee discussing Columbus’s proposal doubted his claims about a spherical Earth. Since then, popular culture has spread the comfortable view that medieval people ignorantly considered our rounded world flat.
We use our brain only 10%
We would like to think that the brain only works by 10%, and the rest of it is waiting for filling, like a hard disk. Unfortunately, this is not so, and this myth was dispelled by science. Hollywood movies like “Lucy” does not help to dispel this myth, portraying a world in which unlocking the remaining 90% of our brain helps to learn languages in seconds or become instant experts in anything from martial arts to mechanics. But this is a second-rate fiction (since it does not rely on scientific data). We use our brains all the time, constantly.
At any given time, we process so much information that neurons and synapses are ignited throughout the brain almost endlessly. Any function or task that we constantly perform stimulates various parts of the brain; An MRI scan performed by neurologists confirmed that this important organ functions fully even when performing the most trivial tasks.
Do not forget about brain injuries. Even a small blow to the head can lead to serious damage to the brain. If 90% of our brain were in hibernation, we could completely cut off our “non-working” part and live on. But the brain is more flexible and integral, so it does not work out that way, and you know it.
Finally, the last counterargument against the myth is evolution. Nature is such that an effective system that possesses a huge excess of gray matter, which occupies an extra place in our turtles, would have long ago drawn conclusions for itself. The brain consumes a lot of energy (about 20% of all our energy), so draining so much useful food for nothing would have no biological sense.
There is an opinion that this myth about 10% was born from the preface to Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Acquire Friends and Influence People”. The journalist Lowell Thomas wrote about the Harvard psychologists who, during the study of the child genius in 1890, concluded that the brain must have unused reserves: “Professor William James of Harvard said that the average person uses only ten percent of his mental abilities.” Nevertheless, it is obvious that James meant ten percent of “mental energy”.
The myth continued to evolve as a romantic idea of human potential and what we could achieve if it were revealed its possibilities. Also this idea fits perfectly into books and films.
Sharks do not get cancer
Perhaps you’ve heard this not-so-popular but steady myth that parents tell their children when they visit the aquarium. Unfortunately for our brothers fish, they do not have immunity to this disease – and they are sick with cancer. More sadly, many people fell for this hook and began to kill sharks for “medical” purposes for the sake of studying and extracting “therapeutic” extracts.
Misconception is rooted in the 1970s, when scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine discovered that cartilaginous tissue stops the growth of new blood vessels in tissues – a key characteristic of malignant tumors. Since the skeletons of sharks consist almost entirely of cartilage, it is not surprising that the attention of scientists has been riveted on sharks. Scientists also found that sharks have reduced chances of developing this disease and began to expose them to high levels of carcinogens, which, however, did not yield any results.
The catastrophe began when Dr. William Lane drew media attention with his book “Sharks do not get cancer.” After questionable clinical trials, he stated about the remarkable results of the study of shark cartilage. Especially not bothering, Lane opened his own business and began selling shark-based tablets as an alternative to cancer. The FDA conducted clinical trials of tablets and found out that they had no effect at all. Further research broke the theory to pieces and in 2004, scientists at the University of Hawaii discovered a variety of tumors in a variety of sharks, rays and their relatives, as well as tumors in the cartilage itself.
The year of the dog’s life is equal to seven years of a person’s life
Many of you still believed that one year of a person’s life is equal to seven years of a dog’s life. 50% of adults believe in this myth, which has nothing to do with science. The equivalent age of a dog depends on its size and breed, and also varies depending on its stage of life.
Let’s go back to 1268 to find the source of the myth that began with equating the age of the dog to the person in the ratio of 9 to 1. Like, people lived up to 80 years, whereas dogs lived up to 9 – although we will have to try to find 80-year-old people , Living and dead in those days. Centuries later, the scientists specified the average expectation of human and dog life to 70 and 10 years, respectively – hence the rule of seven was born.
This completes the logic. Since dogs can multiply at the age of one year, the 7: 1 rule would mean that people begin to multiply at the age of 7 and live up to 150. Myth clearly does not correspond to reality. Further studies have shown that dogs mature 15-20 times faster in the first year, and larger dogs age faster than small ones in subsequent years.
How to calculate the equivalent of the age of your dog in relation to a person? The chart below will help you.
Y-axis: the equivalent of human age
Axis x: dog age
Decoding: the normal weight for an adult dog (in pounds and kg)