- “Zombie facts that refuse to die, no matter how much hard evidence is used to bury them. There’s no shortage of them: water always gurgles down plug-holes anticlockwise north of the equator; the sky is blue because it’s a reflection of the sea; scientists can’t explain how bees fly. None of these are true…The myths persist. Part of the reason, I suspect, is that these ‘zombie facts’ often contain a grain of truth…Even the scientific community has been known to peddle zombie facts. That the current explanation of mental disorders like depression.” – Focus magazine, “Zombie Facts”
Maybe the Zombie apocalypse IS upon us. No, not Halloween or even the Republican primary. But the incessant assault of “zombie facts”. Just when some myth seems to be debunked, two more horrific memes seem to get posted to Facebook.
Some people blame technology. But I’ve always felt that technology was a level playing field between good and evil just intensifying the battle. Every innovation that can be used for bad pretty much always also has an application that counters that abuse. For every Photoshopper and hysteria rousing website, there are Snopes, Wikipedia, Politifact and the like to be the two-barrel shotguns to these zombie facts. Mind you the intensification means that there is no place for idleness. Like a good B-movie, the zombie facts keep coming.
You might think it is a battle between insight and ignorance. But Daniel W. Drezner’s piece “The Uses of Being Wrong” (thanks Chris) highlights the strength of the zombie throngs in the ivory towers of high educated academia…
- “The persistence of so-called "zombie ideas" is something of a problem in the social sciences…Why is it so hard for scholars to admit when they are wrong? It is not necessarily concern for one’s reputation. Even predictions that turn out to be wrong can be intellectually profitable—… Part of the reason is simple psychology; we all like being right much more than being wrong.”
So in many cases, we are not fighting intellects, but egos in the zombie fact crusade.
As a Halloween treat, I’ll fire off a few rounds from my debunking 12-gauge with my top ten favourite monstrous myths were featured in Buzzfeed’s post “You’ve Been Told Lies”…
- 1The concept of the sugar rush is a myth. The hyperactivity you feel after ingesting sugar is just a placebo.
- It’s not actually harmful to pick up baby birds and return them to their nests, and it will not cause their mother to reject them.
- The color orange is named after the fruit, not the other way around.
- People think penguins mate for life. They don’t.
- The story about NASA developing a space pen whilst the Russians used a pencil is untrue. NASA also used pencils.
- It’s not true that people only use 10% of their brains.
- Swimming within an hour of eating doesn’t actually lead to cramps or drowning.
- Humans didn’t evolve from apes. We share a common ancestor.
- Bats are not blind.
- The Coriolis effect does not actually make water rotate in different directions while flushing toilets and draining bathtubs.