Talk:List of common misconceptions

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Former FLC List of common misconceptions is a former featured list candidate. Please view the link under Article milestones below to see why the nomination failed. Once the objections have been addressed you may resubmit the article for featured list status.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
October 29, 2006 Articles for deletion No consensus
March 24, 2009 Articles for deletion Kept
February 8, 2011 Articles for deletion No consensus
April 25, 2011 Featured list candidate Not promoted
Current status: Former featured list candidate
High traffic

List of common misconceptions has been linked from multiple high-traffic websites.

4 January 2011 xkcd Link See visitor traffic
12 January 2011 Boing Boing Link See visitor traffic
3 February 2011 i am bored Link See visitor traffic

Rust and tetanus[edit]

"Rust does not cause tetanus infection. The Clostridium tetani bacterium is generally found in dirty environments. Since the same conditions that harbor tetanus bacteria also promote rusting of metal, many people associate rust with tetanus. C. tetani requires anoxic conditions to reproduce and these are found in the permeable layers of rust that form on oxygen-absorbing, unprotected ironwork."

Is this a straw man? I don't believe it is a widely held belief that tetanus is directly caused by rust. Even the average person is aware of the germ theory of disease. What I have heard people say is that you can get tetanus through contact with rusty objects, because the bacteria can hang out there, and also because rust is sharp and could cause a cut by which bacteria could enter the body. People also tend to specifically mention rusty nails, the idea being that a rusty nail could simultaneously puncture the skin and carry bacteria that cause infection. If it was actually a widely held belief that iron oxide itself causes tetanus, surely it wouldn't matter what shape the rusty object was? --Alextgordon (talk) 12:48, 15 April 2018 (UTC)

No, I think it's valid. The fact that the misconception doesn't make sense if it's analysed doesn't make it a straw man.--Jack Upland (talk) 09:33, 20 April 2018 (UTC)
But does the misconception actually exist? Does anyone really believe that rust causes tetanus? The source says "We grow up hearing that...." I didn't. HiLo48 (talk) 09:45, 20 April 2018 (UTC)
I did.--Jack Upland (talk) 09:48, 20 April 2018 (UTC)
Did you believe it? HiLo48 (talk) 10:04, 20 April 2018 (UTC)
Yes, and I didn't question it till now.--Jack Upland (talk) 02:47, 16 May 2018 (UTC)
I was told the same thing when I grew up. Wouldn't say I believe it now, but I certainly believed it at some point in my life. Headbomb {t · c · p · b} 18:15, 26 April 2018 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I was told that too - and my mother was an SRN. I suppose she perpetuated the myth because it was easier to enforce onto a small child than the concept of germs and disease. Chaheel Riens (talk) 18:31, 26 April 2018 (UTC)

I googled "tetanus rust" and found numerous sources that verify it is a common misconception: [1][2][3][4][5][6][7]. Here is an example dated 1900, and 1903. And so on.

It is really a waste of time to talk about whether Editor A is skeptical or Editor B personally heard it. Check the sources. Whether you believe it or not, our sources tell us that, yes, it is a common misconception. End of story.

The broader misconception isn't only "rust causes tetanus". Even people who know that rust (and dirt, jagged or rough surfaces) is merely associated with tetanus still have the misconception "a puncture from a clean nail will not cause tetanus". Even a sterile nail can carry bacteria from the skin deep into a wound. So: 1) there is copious sourcing that this is a common misconception, 2) It should probably say: "A puncture from an unrusted nail, and many similar injuries, can cause tetanus. While rust or other contamination are often associated with this infection, lack of vaccination and poor wound care are the typical causes." --Dennis Bratland (talk) 18:45, 26 April 2018 (UTC)

"Rust and tetanus" fails bullet point #3 "The common misconception is mentioned in its topic article with sources." - there is no misconception enumerated at Tetanus. That CFORK should be fixed before it is a listing here. Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 19:46, 26 April 2018 (UTC)
This is one of those “problems” that takes less time to fix that to complain about. Dennis Bratland (talk) 20:03, 26 April 2018 (UTC)
Its actually a slight problem of getting the cart before the horse. This list should not lead the parent article. Questions (such as this discussion) should be brought up there first. If the editors there (the experts?) think it is a "misconception" (and its a stable addition) then it should be added here. Conversely, if its shot down there, it should be removed here. Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 20:27, 26 April 2018 (UTC)
But why? What difference does it make in the end? The reason you don't put the cart before the horse is that carts are made to be pulled, not pushed, and it doesn't work to try. There is no such relationship between a list like this and the articles it depends on. If Wikipedia is better after you make an edit than if you hadn't made it, then it's a good edit. Yes, it's probably a best practice for editors who are most interested in and most knowledgeable about tetanus to make updates to the tetanus article and then come here and summarize. But it's not mandatory and it can't be made mandatory because it would violate WP:Editing policy.

This is really hairsplitting. The tetanus article already did say "Tetanus is often associated with rust, especially rusty nails. Although rust itself does not cause tetanus, objects that accumulate rust are often found outdoors or in places that harbour anaerobic bacteria." That is a hairsbreadth away from saying there is a common misconception that rust causes tetanus. If we dug through the history we'd probably find that at the time the editors were satisfied that this was sufficient to meet criterion #3. My minor addition just belabors the point -- mainly to answer the complaints of Wikipedia editors, rather than serve the interests of readers, who probably got the point without having to be led by the hand. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 22:51, 26 April 2018 (UTC)

  • Want to add another recurring issue that has helped to bloat many of these entries. Instead of just saying "X is not Y", there is pressure to explain why X is not Y, and how we discovered that X is not Y, and to tell the reader how many experts will assure you that X really is not Y. If the reader isn't convinced by a simple "X is not Y", or they want to know how we found out or who says so, they should click through to the associated article for all that. And editors who are adding entries here should feel free to expand the target article with any details or explanations that are lacking over there. Target article doesn't have the space limitations (WP:NOTPAPER, after all), that this list has bumped up against. We should be encouraging editors to go to the target article and expound at length, confident that if they are brief on this list, nobody need be left uninformed. Links are for clicking. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 21:15, 15 May 2018 (UTC)

Problems with this article and a proposal[edit]

As noted, this is not the proper venue for pursuing deletion of this or any other article, see WP:Deletion venues. Even if it were, WP:CONSENSUS is so firmly against that it qualifies as WP:SNOW. TompaDompa (talk) 19:15, 28 April 2018 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

This entire article is an attempt to WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS. This article does not use encyclopedic tone, see Wikipedia:Writing_better_articles#Tone. This article is not covering a notable topic, why do we care what other people's wrong beliefs are? See Wikipedia:Notability. This article is not factually accurate: how do we know that many people wrongly believe something? See Wikipedia:Accuracy dispute. This article has 427 references but still has room for a "citation needed" tag. I propose that we delete this entire article, and merge it's content into the articles it references. For example, if a misconception is about microwave ovens, move that misconception into the microwave oven article. The reason I am not adding the articles for deletion template tag to the top of "List of common misconceptions" is this article is very frequently viewed and I understand that my proposal may be very controversial for some readers and editors. I can provide more rationale if needed. Thanks. Brian Everlasting (talk) 20:39, 24 April 2018 (UTC)

My impression is that an awful lot of those secondary sources telling us that a misconception is common are quite poor sources, also strongly sending the message "I'm smarter than the silly people who believe this stuff". HiLo48 (talk) 23:22, 24 April 2018 (UTC)
I read that the first time you posted it. I'll ask you again to point out which ones, specifically, so we can fix them. If nobody ever tells us which sources, that I would expect mere handwaving at poor sources somewhere will be ignored. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 02:22, 25 April 2018 (UTC)
Dennis Bratland, my argument is that none of the 427 sources in this article can reliably say that "many people think this, but they are wrong". Can you please point us to a reference that reliably says: "many people believe this, but they are wrong"? Brian Everlasting (talk) 02:41, 25 April 2018 (UTC)
One entry I added was about storing car batteries on concrete. It has two secondary sources that say it has been widespread folk wisdom for generations, Snopes and Car Talk, and I added several examples of this myth being spread by mainstream sources such as Popular Mechanics and published technical books.

If you take a look at Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid in deletion discussions, you'll see that your reasons for wanting to delete this list are all surmountable problems anyway. Sources that can be replaced or incorrect facts that can be deleted are never a reason to delete an article or list. You are trying to assert that all 427 are inaccurate and unreliable, but right here I've just demonstrated that you did not actually read the sources cited for the car battery entry. Nobody is going to believe your generalizations about these 427 citations that we all know you have not checked.

A good use of your time would be to pick one of the entries, check the sources, and either discuss it or fix it yourself. If you really think you've got a winning AfD argument, then be my guest. Go to AfD and nominate it. The outcome will be no different than the other three AfD nominations. You should read all three of them to understand why. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 03:00, 25 April 2018 (UTC)

  • Oppose and snowball close on procedural grounds. Established articles are deleted after discussions at WP:AfD, not at the article talk page. There are plenty of other reasons but I don't want to add to this misplaced discussion. Sjö (talk) 03:34, 25 April 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose We've been through this before. The rationale presented here does not actually challenge the existence of the list, just its current quality. siafu (talk) 09:08, 25 April 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose This article is worthwhile.--Jack Upland (talk) 09:24, 25 April 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose Agree with Dennis Bratland (talk). If the sources for a specific misconception are of poor quality or don't support the claim, then lets address them individually. There is no reason to kill the entire article. Squatch347 (talk) 13:49, 25 April 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:SAL (and cleanup anything that doesn't follow WP:SAL). This article is a WP:LIST that fits the standard of an aid to navigation. It meets (or should meet) the WP:LSC that each entry article contains the identifiable attribute we are sorting for --> the linked article contains a clearly described and cited "misconception". Lists are not (and should not be) value judgments and actually this list needs no references... the linked article already contains them. If the list follows WP:LISTCRITERIA its pretty much all we need. Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 15:18, 25 April 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose This article has garnered press coverage. Is well referenced. Is interesting and has a decent readership of 45,000 per month. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 11:51, 27 April 2018 (UTC)
...which I see as really sad. It "showcases" one of our silliest articles. More like Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Not encyclopaedic at all. HiLo48 (talk) 23:10, 27 April 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose Virtually everything said in the proposal is not only wrong, but off-topic. Even if the accusation that the article does not use encyclopedic tone were true (it's not), that would not be a valid reason to delete it. The only thing relevant (and also wrong) is whether the article's topic is notable and there are literally dozens of reliable sources containing lists of common misconceptions. One need only check all the references in the article itself. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 23:25, 27 April 2018 (UTC)
I would genuinely interested to know how many other encyclopaedias in history have included such a topic. HiLo48 (talk) 23:32, 27 April 2018 (UTC)
Would that make any difference? I think the question was covered in the three AfD discussions I linked to above. I'd also suggest reading Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/UK telephone code misconceptions, Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/HIV and AIDS misconceptions, Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Genetic Misconceptions, Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Common misunderstandings of genetics, and so on. Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Myths and misperceptions about Texas was successful, as was Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Photosynthesis misconceptions and Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Physics misconceptions. These discussions provide a good guide on where the Wikipedia consensus is on this sort of list. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 02:14, 28 April 2018 (UTC)
Many times in my life I have been in a minority, and right. HiLo48 (talk) 02:57, 28 April 2018 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

14th Amendment[edit]

I'd like to add something along these lines.

"Despite widespread popular belief, U.S. military installations abroad and U.S. diplomatic or consular facilities abroad are not part of the United States within the meaning of the 14th Amendment."[1]

Benjamin (talk) 16:46, 1 June 2018 (UTC)

I added a less WP:AMERICENTRIC version. TompaDompa (talk) 17:25, 1 June 2018 (UTC)



  • Whether, or how frequently, a woman wears a bra is not a factor in the likelihood of developing ptosis, or sagging breasts, during her lifetime, and the so-called 'pencil test' has only social, not scientific, significance.[1][2]

Benjamin (talk) 23:09, 1 June 2018 (UTC)

  1. ^ "Female Intelligence Agency: Why do women wear bras?". 007b Breast. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Cawthorne, Simon (November 2000). "Bras, the Bare Facts". Channel 4.