I’m a massive fan of the scientific method, which I’ll be the first to admit is a strange and vague thing to say. Scientists propose theories, conduct tests and then have their peers (their very smart peers with brains chock full of knowledge) look at their experiments and ideas, and then disagree/ agree/ generally argue about it/ get bored and have sex with each other. It’s a process. Eventually though some things become so established they are difficult to disprove and become facts which are used to make the world a bit better. Or worse. More interesting anyway. For example, the ability to use a laptop to look at naked ladies or TheWordofWard over a wireless signal in a coffeeshop is the result of a lot of things being discovered and implemented by brainy scientists.
I’m not going to mention religion. Each to their own. Their way of arguing is different and I’m not a fan. This explains it better:
I heard a story on QI about a scientist who was told as a child that if you crack your knuckles you get arthritis when you are older. Having an eager scientific mind even at the age of 6, he started cracking the knuckles of just one hand, every day, until he was 60 and concluded it was rubbish when he got arthritis in both hands simultaneously. I like that kind of mind. Question things people!
Sometimes some bit of widely believed knowledge get proved wrong or was wrong to begin with but seems to get stuck in the collective human psyche as a fact. I’ve never understood how anyone can think the following are true having thought about it for a few seconds:
Everyone used to think the world was flat and that vessels going over the horizon were believed to be falling off the edge of the Earth. This is clearly bollocks as the boats used to come back. There wasn’t a constant stream of boats disappearing and never ever returning. Sailors aren’t that mental or suicidal.
A cup of tea has more caffeine than a cup of coffee. Balls. Have three cups of strong tea in an hour. You might feel a slight buzz but it would be minor. Now have three strong coffees in an hour. You’ll be twitching and raving like a madman. What’s true is that a pound of tea has more caffeine than a pound coffee. But a pound of tea makes a billion cups of tea, whereas a pound of coffee makes about ten cups (figures may vary).
The Great Wall of China is the only man-made object that can be seen from space/ the moon. No it isn’t. From space you can see tons of stuff. From the moon you can barely see continents. Why would you be able to see something just because it’s really long?
Anyway, some very cool fellows at “Mental Floss” have compiled 50 misconceptions people have about various bits of science. If you like science you will know most of these but they are still fun. Enjoy.