Mythconceptions November 21, 2014

IO9 shared an infographic about widespread misconceptions. Those relating to religion and to science intersect with the focuses of this blog, and so I thought I should share it in a post of its own (I mentioned it in a post previously).


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  • arcseconds

    It’s a pretty strange list. I’ve never heard of a ‘Vomitorium’ before, so I’m kind of doubting this is some kind of widespread, pernicious myth.

    I realise they haven’t got a lot of space, but the dots haven’t quite been connected on the ‘evolution is a theory’ thing. It is a theory by the usual scientific definition of the word, although it is very well supported and isn’t in serious doubt.

    The salt water thing is completely wrong, though, and they haven’t really corrected it. Adding salt increases the boiling point, so it’ll take longer to boil.

    The banana tree thing is an interesting one. I would like to resist this one: I don’t think ordinary language needs to walk in lock-step with botany. They’re trees as far as I’m concerned: big plants with a hard, single trunk. The fact that they’re not particularly closely related to other trees and the physiology of the trunk is different doesn’t bother me a bit.

    • PorlockJunior

      Glad to see some debunking of this debunking. To carry it on a bit:

      I take rather the opposite tack on evolution as theory: “Yeah, and the theory of relativity(*) is a theory, you ever hear of E equals m c-squared? atom bombs(**) and nuclear power? do they work? so what’s your point?”

      (*) If the other party has heard of Special and General, you are definitiely dealing with a troll.

      (**) Tailor this to your interlocutor by updating choice of words according to age. This used to be known as argumentum ad hominem before the term got wordjacked.

      Salt: Wow. Impressive to have got that backwards, isn’t it? BTW people camping at high altitudes have tried adding salt to cooking water to raise the boiling point and speed the cooking time. At least they haven’t got it backwards. But I don’t think they ever try it twice. Edible amounts of salt do not overcome modest amounts of altitude.

      Bananas: As Wikipedia correctly states, trees are not a taxonomic group. Those who insist on staying in lockstep with botany (rather narrowly conceived) must remember to purge “palm tree” from their vocabulary, lest they look unnecessarily like fools.

      And Einstein: The page is quite right. But I can’t resist adding the fact that one of his teachers said “You will never amount to anything, Einstein.”

      You know who also failed an entrance exam? In math? Right, a certain famous house painter (not) named Schicklgruber (not) who in fact was an aspiring artist and couldn’t get into art school because his math wasn’t good enough. (Offensive remark about German education omitted, because Einstein made enough of them.)

      • The fact that the diuretic effect of caffeine can be offset with water doesn’t change the fact that caffeine is a diuretic.

  • TomS

    Evolution is a process that occurs in the world of life. An informal definition is: Evolution is a change in the hereditable traits of a population over generations.

    A theory of evolution – that, of course, is a theory. Just as a theory of flight is a theory; while flight itself is something that happens.