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Reddit Asks the Question: 'What is a Common Scientific 'Fact' That Has Actually Been Disproven?'

By Petr Knava | reddit | June 23, 2017 |

By Petr Knava | reddit | June 23, 2017 |

A-yooooo, Reddit and Knava here, coming to shit all over some misconceptions and outdated ‘scientific’ dogma that people might still believe.


That a goldfish has a three-second memory.
It’s been proved that they have a memory span of at least three months. Or it might be longer. I always forget.


That birds will reject their young if they have human scent. Most birds have the shittiest sense of smell and probably reject their young because they hate them.


That if you put a frog in water and heat it slowly, the frog doesn’t notice it and boils to death. In fact, the frog will just jump out.


Yeah, in the original experiment the frog in question had had it’s brain removed. That’s going to tend to keep that frog a-boiling.


Alpha wolves/dogs.
Wolves are not constantly fighting for dominance among each other. Their packs are more like nuclear families with the “alphas” being the two parents and the rest of the wolves being their children. The dominance theory misconception came about when scientists took a bunch of random wolves and threw them together. As expected, the wolves fought with each other and formed a hierarchy to keep things civil. Of course, this is not how wolf packs would be formed in the wild. Here’s a good article that explains more about wolves.


Cutting your hair will have it grow back faster and thicker. Neither is true.
Think about it, why do we see so many balding folks?


I heard this myth comes from the fact that when you cut your hair you cut the finer ends of the strands and are left with the thicker roots, which makes it feel thicker.
Also the speed thing I’d guess is just that you notice growth more when it’s short?


Maybe not a common one but my dad insists, despite overwhelming evidence and proof…that driving above 30mph, in a convertible, in a rain shower….will keep you completely dry!


That the tongue has specific regions for taste of specific things.
That there are 5 senses.


The 5 senses thing is not so incorrect.
It’s a model for visualizing a lot of complicated neurological processes that have absolutely no reason to map neatly onto the man-made concept of discrete “senses.” A lot of science stuff that is taught to kids and turns out to be “wrong” in college, is actually not wrong per se, just a less detailed model. Pretty much all scientific theories are models that help us make useful predictions. They do not formally imply that the things they describe exist in the physical world. For instance, there is no such thing as a discrete physical object that corresponds with the definition of an electron. You fundamentally cannot have electron A and electron B.
Grouping processes that seem to be senses into more than five categories allows us to talk about these processes with more precision. But there is no correct enumeration of the senses. “Pressure” is more specific than “touch,” but it is no more fundamental.
The 5 senses are actually a really great heuristic because they encompass nearly every more specific “sense” that might be investigated, at least for physical ones. Your sense of self-awareness is not covered. Try to come up with a physical “sense” that is not a form of sight, touch, taste, smell, or hearing! Edit: You might come up with a one, senses are not a fundamental concept anyway, but you there aren’t many.


The existence of the “sugar rush.” Not only has it been disproved again and again, some college psychology departments require their students to repeat the double-blind studies, so they can see for themselves the wrongness of confirmation bias.
There is not and never has been anything like a sugar rush or a sugar crash. Little kids behave like little kids because they’re little kids.


That it is bad or harmful to wake up a sleepwalker.
They’re actually more at risk by sleep walking and doing something potentially dangerous.


Napoleon was NOT short
French inches where bigger than english inches 5” 2’ in french inches (his height) would be roughly 170cm, quite tall for that time!


Brontosaurus isn’t a real dinosaur.
During the late 1800’s two paleontologists (Othniel Charles Marsh and Othniel Charles Marsh) got into a feud and made a bet to see who could discover and name more dinosaur species than the other.
At one point during this race Marsh was in a rush to name a new species and after finding some bones, without checking to properly identify them, named the find “Brontosaurus excelsus”
After the events of the Bone wars, scientists looked back over the two feuding paleontologists finds and came to the conclusion that Brontosaurus was not a new species but rather just an Apatosaurus skeleton with the wrong head.
THEN in 2015 scientists looked back again and then came to the conclusion that the Brontosaurus specimens were different enough from Apatosaurus to be considered a valid genus again.


There are a lot of them in psychology:
Right brain/left brain
Mentally ill people are dangerous
OCD is a fun, quirky thing where you like to be organized
You only use 10% of your brain
You never regrow damaged brain cells
The list goes on.


That women’s menstrual cycles are linked to the moon or something.
Or that women “sync” their cycles if the live together.


In Korean culture, there’s a widely spread “fact” that leaving a fan on at night while you sleep could kill you by causing hypothermia. After conducting numerous experiments on myself, nothing has happened.


That glass is liquid.
You don’t hear this much anymore, but it was commonly taught to people 20, 30 years ago. The idea came from old window glass, because it was thicker at the bottom - people thought that glass still “flowed” slowly over time. Total bullshit - that was just how old glass was blown, and obviously you put the thicker part on the bottom. But I remember meeting physics majors who were convinced of this.


Swallowing eight spiders in your sleep every year


People don’t realize that this is an average not a median. Most people swallow 0 spiders in their sleep but there’s one guy that swallows 56 billion.


Petr Knava lives in London and plays music

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Petr is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.