1. Standard membervivify
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    24 Mar '11 19:20
    It's been said we use about 10 percent of our brains. How do scientists determine this?
  2. Germany
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    24 Mar '11 19:24
    Try verifying who said that we only use 10% first.
  3. Standard memberDeepThought
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    25 Mar '11 04:38
    This is one of those scientific urban myths like the Coriolis force being responsible for the vortex when water goes down a sink. Einstein is reputed to have said it, but my guess is it's most likely to have arisen due to a marketing campaign for a "make yourself smarter" course. The brain has a lot of redundancy, but not that much.
  4. Joined
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    25 Mar '11 15:02
    Originally posted by vivify
    It's been said we use about 10 percent of our brains. How do scientists determine this?
    It's been said by non-scientists, and perhaps speculated by Freudian shrinks back in the days when we knew little to nothing about how the brain works.

    Scientists have since determined that, surprise, we do use near enough to 100% of our brains, but not all of it for the direct purpose of creating thoughts. Much of it seems to be (necessary) support for the actual thinking bits. Those bits don't look like they do anything to a layman, but saying that we don't use them is like saying that your car doesn't need its bodywork and chassis.

    Richard
  5. Standard membervivify
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    25 Mar '11 15:29
    Thanks so much for your responses. I never suspected it was a myth. Man, the media's such a terrible source of science sometimes.
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    25 Mar '11 17:581 edit
    Originally posted by vivify
    Thanks so much for your responses. I never suspected it was a myth. Man, the media's such a terrible source of science sometimes.
    You got that right.
    Other myths propagated by the news media about science include:

    chaos theory is a theory about randomness
    ( it isn’t!!!! I am always very irritated when I hear the TV say this. And one of the things chaos theory implies is that outcomes can sometimes appear random even if there is absolutely NO random element anywhere)

    geneticists genetically engineered a mouse to have a human ear
    (actually, it wasn't a human ear but a piece of fabric shaped as a human ear that was stitched to the back of the mouse and then seeded with skin cells so that skin cells grow over it to give it the appearance of a human ear. The idea that geneticists can genetically engineered a mouse to have a human ear on its back with our current understanding of genetics is an absurd one. The scientists that made this experiment NEVER CLAIMED to have genetically engineered a mouse to have a human ear!!! of course, a lot of crazed extremist 'environmentalists' ceased on the photo of that mouse and dishonestly claimed it was genetically engineered to have a human ear and the news media just moronically lapped it all up)

    artificial nitrogen-based fertilisers are responsible for all the nitrate pollution in our drinking water.
    ( this is too simplistic. Nitrate pollution in our drinking water has existed for thousands of yours BEFORE the invention of artificial nitrogen-based fertilisers and, while artificial nitrogen-based fertilisers is responsible for much of it in our modern age, much of it still comes from nitrates released from manure and organic fertilizers as this is just the natural part of the nitrogen cycle)

    organic food is proven to be better for your health and the environment.
    (false! Research shows that is is too simplistic and often the opposite can be true! no evidence exists to show that organic food is generally significantly better for your health than non-organic food and, as for the environment, it just depends on exactly what is grown and where and how and with what fertilisers and how much fertiliser and chemicals and which chemicals and how those chemicals where produced etc etc. Also, organic farming usually produces more of a carbon footprint than chemical farming!!! )

    taking antioxidant vitamins mops up free radicals in your body thus protects against ageing and cancer.
    ( taking antioxidant vitamins does mops up some of the free radicals in your body but it has been a known scientific fact for many decades now that, because of the way the concentrated vitamins get digested in the gut, taking the vitamins in tablet form actually produces more free radicals in your body than it neutralises thus the claim that it “protects against ageing and cancer.” because of this doesn't make any sense)

    spinach is good for you because it is high in iron.
    (it IS high in iron BUT it also contains a chemical that prevents that iron being digested and entering the blood)

    can anyone who knows about science add to this above list?....................
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    25 Mar '11 18:18
    just to add that there are a few studies which have shown increased mortality amongst those taking antioxidants...
  8. Standard memberua41
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    25 Mar '11 18:59
    Evolution-
    doesn't necessarily ensure the production of more efficient/productive organisms. Simply the term we use for biological change over periods of time

    Black holes-
    are not the vacuum cleaners of space

    Gum-
    does not take years to digest

    Taste-
    is not limited to specific parts of the tongue

    Pennies from the high tower-
    won't hurt you more than a sting.

    Microwaves-
    don't cook from the inside out
  9. Cape Town
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    25 Mar '11 19:39
    Originally posted by Andrew Hamilton
    spinach is good for you because it is high in iron.
    (it IS high in iron BUT it also contains a chemical that prevents that iron being digested and entering the blood)
    I heard that that myth all started because of someone getting the decimal point in the wrong place (or some such error in measurement).
  10. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    25 Mar '11 20:09
    Originally posted by vivify
    It's been said we use about 10 percent of our brains. How do scientists determine this?
    They don't. That's an urban legend.
  11. Standard memberDeepThought
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    25 Mar '11 23:393 edits
    Originally posted by Andrew Hamilton
    You got that right.
    Other myths propagated by the news media about science include:

    chaos theory is a theory about randomness
    ( it isn’t!!!! I am always very irritated when I hear the TV say this. And one of the things chaos theory implies is that outcomes can sometimes appear random even if there is absolutely NO random element anywhere)

    ge the blood)

    can anyone who knows about science add to this above list?....................
    You are right about chaos theory not being a theory of non-deterministic systems, But the behaviour is effectively random as predictions depend on measuring initial conditions on scales smaller than any scale you can make measurements on (similar to the notion of pseudo-random numbers in computer science). In fact you can make a case for true randomness because at very short distance scales the physics is determined by quantum mechanics which is random.

    I don't agree with your statement about farming. Nutritionally there may well be no advantage to organically farmed food, compared with conventional farming. But the use of pesticides and overuse of antibiotics and hormones, especially in high intensity farming do present a health hazard. I'd like a reference on the carbon footprint of organic farming.

    You're right about vitamins, never mind the theory which is more marginal in medical science as reductionist methods don't work as well as in e.g. physics, Randomized Controlled Trials have never found any significant benefit, and have found harms (e.g. beta-carotene for smokers).
  12. Germany
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    26 Mar '11 00:55
    Originally posted by Andrew Hamilton
    You got that right.
    Other myths propagated by the news media about science include:

    chaos theory is a theory about randomness
    ( it isn’t!!!! I am always very irritated when I hear the TV say this. And one of the things chaos theory implies is that outcomes can sometimes appear random even if there is absolutely NO random element anywhere)

    ge ...[text shortened]... the blood)

    can anyone who knows about science add to this above list?....................
    A common one is that the Earth revolves around the Sun, as opposed to the Sun revolving around the Earth. But since there is no center of the universe, nor an ether, it's inaccurate to say the Earth revolves around the Sun. Instead, they revolve around each other.
  13. Cape Town
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    26 Mar '11 06:22
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    In fact you can make a case for true randomness because at very short distance scales the physics is determined by quantum mechanics which is random.
    Do you have any information that proves quantum mechanics is truly random and not just the chaotic results of some unseen activity? I had a whole thread on this earlier where I argued that it was truly random, but I couldn't prove it or back it up with references and others argued that it may not be the case.

    I don't agree with your statement about farming. Nutritionally there may well be no advantage to organically farmed food, compared with conventional farming. But the use of pesticides and overuse of antibiotics and hormones, especially in high intensity farming do present a health hazard. I'd like a reference on the carbon footprint of organic farming.
    But organic farming often uses alternatives that can be just as threatening to the health. It would be easy to cite cases for either type of farming where health is put at risk, but I think that Andrew was saying that neither method is proven to be riskier overall.
  14. In your face
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    26 Mar '11 10:45
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I heard that that myth all started because of someone getting the decimal point in the wrong place (or some such error in measurement).
    I read that too. It was supposedly during one of the world wars and the government created a list of foods and their nutritional values. Spinach's iron content was made out to be 10 times its actual content due to a decimal point in the wrong place. I'm not sure if this is true or yet another urban myth in itself. Would be quite ironic if it was.
  15. Standard memberDeepThought
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    26 Mar '11 15:091 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Do you have any information that proves quantum mechanics is truly random and not just the chaotic results of some unseen activity? I had a whole thread on this earlier where I argued that it was truly random, but I couldn't prove it or back it up with references and others argued that it may not be the case.

    I don't agree with your statement about risk, but I think that Andrew was saying that neither method is proven to be riskier overall.
    Hidden variable theories were ruled out. Bell's inequality provides a way of distinguishing between the predictions of quantum theory (the theory assumes complete randomness) and hidden variable theories, which is what you described. The experiment was done by someone called Alain Aspect and the experiment ruled out hidden variable theories. The universe is fundamentally non-deterministic. The Wikipedia page titled "Bell's theorem" has a reference for the paper that Bell wrote (which as I remember is accessible to non-specialists), and Alain Aspect has a page which has the reference for his experimental write-up.

    With organic farming it depends on which set of organic farming standards are used. To be certified as organic in the UK you have to fulfill a bunch of Soil Association Rules which may not be concerned with safety, to operate as a farm you have to fulfill various standards which apply to all farms. The risks that organic farms pose do not include chemicals which persist in the environment, so the risk is of something that cannot easily be made good. The environmental damage you can do with organic farming can be made good just by leaving it (except in the case of massive soil erosion, but that's no different to conventional farming), it doesn't require soil detoxification.
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