Here are some common myths that are widely believed, but simply don’t stand up when put to the test. You may not agree that these are myths, but that’s normal. We tend to believe what we want to believe and what we intuitively feel should be true. I’d rather go with the evidence and the following are some beliefs that I am convinced are myths.
Parents Have a Big Impact on How Their Children Turn Out
Actually parents get far too much credit and far too much blame. They have much less influence than almost anyone believes. The exception to this is extreme environments like abuse or severe neglect. However, in the very broad range of a “normal” environment, the evidence is clearly on the side of 1) genes and 2) the child’s social circle as having the most influence. Biological siblings raised apart turn out about as similar as biological siblings raised together. Non-biological siblings raised together turn out about as different as any two people randomly selected off the street.
Possibly, but group brainstorming is consistently shown to produce lower quality ideas than those produced by the same people working alone. Interesting!
There is Safety in Numbers
Actually if you need help you are better off if there is only one person around to help. Beyond that the fewer the better. It is estimated that 90% of the time people are more likely to help if alone than if they are among a group of people. It is speculated that in crowds people look to others for social proof of what to do. So everyone watches everyone else do nothing and does the same thing – nothing.
We Only Use 10% of Our Brain
If you believe this you shouldn’t worry about somebody cutting some of that excess 90% out of your head. We actually use all of our brain. That doesn’t mean we exploit our full intellectual potential or that we can’t make a lot more connections because we clearly can. But if you used only 10% of your brain you wouldn’t be reading this.
You Can Learn to Speed Read
The speed of reading is strictly limited by physiological limits on the speed which the eyes can move and the number of words that can be seen at once with enough clarity to be recognized. There is very little that can be done to change those factors. Speed readers are simply skipping many of the words, so they aren’t reading more words per minutes. Comprehension declines in speed reading that exceeds those physical limitations.
Familiarity Breeds Contempt
Actually familiarity breeds favor. Things that you are repeatedly exposed to are preferred and this has been shown in many studies. As one familiar example, generally the more times you hear a song, the better you like it.
They not only do not attract, they do not last. Opposites repel, believe it or not. Relationships between people last longer the more similar they are. Just in general people like other people who are similar to them.
Birth Order Personality Traits
I admit I was a big believer in this one. It seems so true. However I accept the evidence of major studies that show birth order is only very weakly linked to a few traits. It matters very little in personality and the studies that originally showed the effect have been shown to be flawed.
We Know Why We Do Things
The evidence is accumulating that much of the time when we think we know why we do something, it is just a story we tell ourselves that sounds plausible It doesn’t mean we really know why we did it. We might have just made up something that sounds good and we won’t don’t know the difference.
What do YOU think? Leave a comment and join the conversation.
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