As a biology major and science connoisseur, I have always been fascinated by the doors humanity has been able to unlock with deductive reasoning, computations, and applications to understand the natural world. It's amazing to imagine that by 2030 we may have the first man colony on Mars, designer DNA may be in circulation with CRISPR, and stem cells have the potential to develop transplantable organs. However, we have a lot of people who have a lot of misconceptions on science; from terminology to laws and principles, ignorance and stubbornness are the reason why none of these accomplishments are in practice NOW. Here are 10 scientific myths that people believe.
1. "You only use 10 percent of your brain."
As someone majoring in neuroscience, I personally take offense when someone tells me this "fact." You use ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of your brain! The brain is compartmentalized into different regions, each with their own functions. The frontal lobe is responsible for higher level cognition, thought and problem-solving. The parietal lobe is responsible for sensory input. The temporal lobe primarily focuses on hearing. The cerebellum is for fine movements. The thalamus organizes where sensory input goes in the brain. I can go on all day. The point is if you only used 10 percent of your brain, you wouldn't function the way you do now. What is true is we aren't sure how each of these individual processes works, or how to treat certain diseases that harm the brain's function.
2. "The seasons are caused by Earth's distance to the sun."
Although it makes sense for distance to be the primary cause of seasonal weather, in truth, the Earth's tilt on its axis alters the angle at which sunlight hits a region on earth. The intensity decreases as a result, in concordance with the formula. The angle of incidence when the sun directly hits a surface would be 90 degrees, but as the angle approaches 180 or 0 degrees, the intensity decreases.
3. "Milk is good for you."
Got milk? I hope not! In reference to the consumption of dairy products deriving from livestock, milk is not the superfood that is in tandem to its critical acclaim. From depleting calcium from your bones to increased fracture risks, the dairy industry creates this health charade for milk only to create a profit of 124.2 million euros a year in Britain. Milk decreases the body's pH, and the bloodstream has a means to combat the change: the bicarbonate buffering system. As a result, calcium from our bones is used to negate the pH change of milk, and as it ionizes into our blood and is filtered from our kidneys, is released in urine.
5. "You have a severe flu? Why don't you take antibiotics?"
BECAUSE THEY DON'T WORK ON VIRUSES. Antibiotics like penicillin are able to target bacterial infections because the flu is mediated by a virus. Antibiotics can target microorganisms that have a metabolism, which is what viruses lack.
6. "Vaccines cause autism."
The association between vaccines and autism was linked to a study published by The Lancet, which brought forth an association between the vaccine for colitis and autism. Since then, studies published by journals like Vaccine, PLOS ONE, and Pediatrics debunked the claim and reinforced the idea that the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) has no association with autism. In truth, the reason why the diagnosis of autism increased was because of a paradigm shift in pediatricians and diagnosis of the condition.
7. "Evolution suggests we came from monkeys."
Evolution does not suggest that we evolved from chimps, gorillas, monkeys, orangutans, etc. Evolution proves that we share a fairly close and common ancestor with the great apes, a classification of primates that include chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, bonobos, and yes, humans. The chimpanzee shares as much as 98.8 percent of DNA that we have.
8. "Oh, evolution is just a theory. It probably isn't true."
There is only one other thing that irritates me more than the first claim and that is the way people treat scientific theories as if they are arbitrary claims with no evidence. The vernacular use of the word "theory" is defined as a guess with little backing or support. In science, a theory is a thorough explanation supported literally by hundreds of experiments, scientific laws, and observational studies to compile a thorough reasoning and explanation as to why something exists.
Evolution was the thorough explanation of the grand biodiversity of planet Earth, which is believed to be the home of 8.7 million species (albeit 1.3 million are currently cataloged and named in the scientific community.) From the fossil record, pentadactyl limb and adaptive radiation, industrial melanism, and studies conducted on the finches on Daphne Major, there is plenty of evidence suggesting that natural selection is the vector of the biodiversity of our lovely planet.
Evolution has been proven, but it is perfectly fine for one to bolster their beliefs against it as it doesn't fall under their personal canon. However, to use the argument that evolution is "just a theory" would be like saying a religious text is "just a book" or "Black Mirror" is "just a Netflix series" because one would fail to acknowledge the depth that each of these facets holds.