This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Russian Wikipedia. (February 2013)
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A scientific myth is a myth about science. For example, scientific discoveries are often presented in a mythological way with a theory being presented as a dramatic flash of insight by a heroic individual rather than as the result of sustained experiment and reasoning. For example, Newton's law of universal gravitation is commonly presented as the result of an apple falling upon his head. Newton's observation of an apple falling did indeed play a part in starting him thinking about the problem but it took him about twenty years to fully develop the theory and so the story of the apple has been described as a myth.
The extent to which this occurs and is problematical is debatable. Scientific historian Douglas Allchin suggests that mythical accounts are misleading because they present the results as handed down by authority figures and understate the importance of error and its resolution by the scientific method. In responding to this, Westerlund and Fairbanks agreed that romantic accounts of science tend to distort its nature but, in the case of Mendel's discovery of the rules of inheritance, they argue that Allchin's criticism of Mendel's role and reasoning is over-stated.