Scientific falsehoods heard from adults during my childhood

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Argus Skyhawk, Nov 20, 2009.

  1. Argus Skyhawk

    Argus Skyhawk Commodore Commodore

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    "Gravity is caused by the fact that the earth spins."
    I heard that from a few people when I was really little. I remember imagining a story in which Superman (or some other superhero, I'm not sure) pushed the earth so that it spun too fast and made us all so heavy we couldn't stand up. Then he stopped the earth and we all started to float.

    "Gravity is caused by air pressure pushing us down against the earth."
    My sister heard that one from an elementary school teacher. Fortunately, my sister was smart enough to immediately recognize that it was nonsense.

    "Seasons are caused by the fact that the earth's orbit is elliptical. When the earth is closer to the sun we have summer, and when it is farther away we have winter."
    That one was in one of my elementary school textbooks. I kid you not.

    What are some that you heard?
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I once overheard a woman on the bus express the belief that the reason stormclouds were dark was because of pollution, rather than simply because they were thick enough to block the light. I guess she didn't read enough old books to know that stormclouds have always been dark.
     
  3. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A high school biology teacher tried to tell us that an object is a certain color because that's the part of the spectrum that the object absorbs. All the other frequencies are reflected away from your eyes.
     
  4. Plecostomus

    Plecostomus Commodore

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    My favorite: Nitrogen is flammable.

    Know why? Because the big cyrogenic tank outside has a DANGER tag showing an explosion, plus they use it to power race-cars and they make nitroglycerin out of it. Nitrogen is a mixture of Nitro and Oxygen that's why they keep it frozen.


    Heard from the owner of a company I worked at briefly. The man was so soul-shatteringly stupid I actually walked out during one of his safety lectures.
     
  5. John Picard

    John Picard Vice Admiral Admiral

    :confused: You lost me on that one.
     
  6. Canadave

    Canadave Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's still a common misconception. Eccentricities in the Earth's orbit have nothing to do with seasonality (though they can affect the severity of the weather), but are entirely caused by axial tilt.
     
  7. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's easy enough to disprove. If it were true, the northern and southern hemispheres would have the same seasons.
     
  8. Alpha_Geek

    Alpha_Geek Commodore Commodore

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    *cough axial tilt cough*
     
  9. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oh, just thought of another one. When I was in the Army, in land-nav training, someone taught that you can navigate using the North Star while in the southern hemisphere.
     
  10. Asbo Zaprudder

    Asbo Zaprudder Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    "There are no such things as atoms." This was at primary (grade) school in 1967, and not 1867. "What about Einstein's work on Brownian Motion, Miss?" I got told to shut up or get walloped with the slipper for contradicting the teacher. Maybe it was 1867 after all. The same teacher also spouted the same nonsense as above regarding how seasons occur.
     
  11. Alpha_Geek

    Alpha_Geek Commodore Commodore

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    You can, but it's a LOT of work with that entrenching tool to get a sighting! :guffaw:
     
  12. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^True!


    What did she believe in -- "air, earth, fire and water"? :confused:
     
  13. Alpha_Geek

    Alpha_Geek Commodore Commodore

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    In her health class, were illnesses caused by an inbalance of the bodily humours? :bolian:
     
  14. Asbo Zaprudder

    Asbo Zaprudder Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    She believed that children should be silent until spoken to. We weren't allowed to enquire about anything. We just had to sit there like sponges and absorb whatever she taught. She would have fitted in well in the dark ages.
     
  15. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    :cardie:




    Seriously, my heart goes out to you. Even the Army guys were willing to recognize the flaw in their logic when I pointed it out.

    With teachers like that, it's amazing you came out OK.

    Err... I hope... :shifty:
     
  16. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Evolution is like a ladder: Mice become rats, then become cats, then become dogs, then become monkeys, then become humans. Humans are at the top of the ladder, of course.

    The humans only use 10% of our brain myth.

    The seasons are caused by the Earth swaying from side to side every six months.

    My dad taught me that the moon was Venus whenever he saw it during the day, because he thought the moon was only visible at night, and since Venus is between Earth and the sun you can see it during the day. I was 17 when I broke the truth to him.
     
  17. Kolrad

    Kolrad Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That deoxygenated human blood is blue, just the way it's drawn in diagrams. That's why our veins look blue. If you get a cut, though, you'll only ever see red blood because of oxygen in the atmosphere.

    (This isn't true; veins look blue through the skin, but deoxygenated blood is just a darker shade of red than oxygenated blood.)
     
  18. Zachary Smith

    Zachary Smith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I was told repeatedly that there were no more dinosaurs because they were too big to fit on Noah's ark.
     
  19. John Picard

    John Picard Vice Admiral Admiral

    :alienblush: I wasn't thinking because I automatically assume the tilt. *NEVER MIND*
     
  20. Klaitu

    Klaitu Commodore Commodore

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    I was at a Trek convention, waiting for an autograph for Nana Visitor when a 70 year old woman dressed as Troi (the blue cleavage Troi costume) told me that her house kept creaking in the winter because the Earth shrinks during the winter which causes tiny earthquakes.

    I didnt bother going anywhere with that. I was like "that's nice".