- Stella Theocharidou
15 Science Myths and Misconceptions
Our focus on science for the opening of the year couldn’t have had a better timing than now with the strange world of the coronavirus, new studies that show that the brain and artificial neurons can link up over the web, and the discovery that primitive humans and dinosaurs crossed paths. Wait, one of those statements is a myth. Which takes us to the core of this article; myths and misconceptions that have to do with science. It’s basically an article dedicated to the Karens of the world.
Without further ado, let us delve into the fascinating world of myths and misconceptions of this lovely lovely world, and beyond.
1. Primitive humans and dinosaurs never crossed paths:
You guessed it right, that was the false one in the introduction. Our ancestors, the first rodent-like mammals, came into the picture a good 65 million years after the dinosaurs went extinct. Their extinction was the push our ancestors needed to take over the world.
2. The moon has no dark side:
That only exists in Pink Floyd’s minds, the moon simply has a far side that is basically the same as the near side. We just can’t see it.
3. The Great Wall of China is not, as people say, the only human-made object visible from space or from the Moon. None of the Apollo astronauts reported seeing any specific human-made object from the Moon, and even Earth-orbiting astronauts can see it only if they zoom in with their tools. City lights, on the other hand, are easily visible on the night side of Earth from orbit.
4. Global warming is not actually caused by the hole in the ozone layer. Ozone depletion is a separate problem caused by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which have been released into the atmosphere by devices such as refrigerators and aerosol spray cans. CFCs were phased out, starting with the 1987 Montreal Protocol. On the other hand, global warming is caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane. These gases are emitted by a wide variety of man-made sources, including respiration from an expanding human population, cars, coal-burning power plants, and meat production. That’s why a lot of people suggest we reduce our meat-eating habits. Unlike CFCs, this form of pollution has not been phased out, and the problem is ongoing. After all, we all need to breathe so it will never be phased out completely. Additionally, the ozone layer is found in the stratosphere, about 20 km above the earth's surface, while the buildup of greenhouse gases takes place in the troposphere, the lowest layer of the atmosphere.
5. Bulls are not enraged by the red capes of professional matadors. Cattle are dichromats, (Greek for two color seeing) so red does not stand out as a bright color. It’s not the color that enrages the bulls, but the matadors, and to be honest, same.
6. There is no such thing as an "Alpha" in a wolf pack. Only in movies, tv shows and our heads. An early study that coined the term "alpha wolf" had only observed unrelated adult wolves living in captivity. In the wild, wolf packs operate more like we do: there is no actual sense of rank, parents are in charge until the young grow up and start their own families. Younger wolves do not overthrow an "Alpha" to become the new leader, and social dominance fights are situational. Seems like wolves have fallen victims of human fragile masculinity.
7. Mice do not have a special appetite for cheese, and will only eat cheese if they have no better options. Mice actually favor sweet, sugary foods. It is unclear where the myth came from really.
8. The deep web is not full of disturbing porn, illegal drug trade websites and stolen bank details. The area that contains this illegal information is a small portion of the deep web known as the "dark web." Much of the deep web consists of academic libraries, databases, and anything that is not indexed by regular search engines.
9. Egg balancing is doable on every day of the year, not just the vernal equinox, and there is no relationship between astronomical phenomena and the ability to balance an egg. It all just depends on the egg’s shape.
10. Hair and fingernails do not continue to grow after a person dies. Instead, the skin dries and shrinks away from the bases of hairs and nails, which makes them look like they have grown.
11. Acne is mostly caused by genetics, rather than lack of hygiene, eating fatty food, or other personal habits that may be harmful to a certain extent. So, don’t fret too much about it, just keep a healthy diet and a clean body for your own good and the other people’s sense of smell.
12. There is no physiological test for virginity (TI we are looking at you, you creep), and the condition of the hymen says nothing about a person's sexual experience. Bleeding is not directly connected to the first vaginal sexual intercourse, and indicates absolutely nothing about sexual experience. Physical virginity tests have no scientific merit. So yes, virginity IS a social construct.
13. Hand size does not predict human penis size, but finger length ratio may do so. So all you people saying we should take a look at someone’s thumb, you may be onto something after all.
14. Vaccines do not freaking cause autism or autism spectrum disorders Karen. Although false research by British doctor Andrew Wakefield claimed a connection, repeated attempts to reproduce the results ended in failure, and the research was ultimately shown to have been manipulated. No surprise there really.
15. And to end on a more helpful note, the common cold is caused by germs, not cold temperature, although cold temperature might weaken the immune system somewhat. So, if you feel cold or like you have the flu, just make some tea, put some honey and lemon in there and open your damn windows to get some fresh air!