Talk:List of common misconceptions/Archive 16

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real number 0.999

This is a bit confusing. The reference cited clearly makes a distinction between .99...9 a finite number and .999 with dot over the 9 signifying an infinitely repeating sequence. Yet the article misses this subtle but important distinction. It would be very easy to get the wrong impression. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:59, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you mean. The article clearly designates the number as 0.999... with ellipses following the last 9, which indicates an infinitely repeating sequence. I have added an overline on the last 9 in the first sentence for clarity but it seems redundant.
Would you care to propose a better wording? ~Amatulić (talk) 18:48, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

Adding Hindu beliefs to religious misconceptions section

Can we add something about how Hinduism does not belief in many 'gods' but rather different manifestations of the same 'ultimate reality', Brahman ???

<3 P44v9n (talk) 18:12, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

And references for this?Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 18:16, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
Mazdaism holds that all gods are the same god, Mazda. However, if they worship a god in the context of it being Ahura Mazda, they are still technically worshiping the other god. There are many gods in Hinduism, no matter how their nature is interpreted. Although, it is hard to draw the line. Are the sects and denominations of Christendom still monotheist, despite the fact that many of them worship a triarchy of gods, and their members pray to a plethora of deceased humans? If they are monotheist, why is it fair to call Hinduism or any other religion polytheist? Where is the line drawn? --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 16:30, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
I can't speak for any non-Christian point of view, but if, by "worship a triarchy of gods", you are referring to the Trinity, that is a gross misinterpretation of mainstream Christianity (Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc.). The belief is that there is one God that consists of three distinct persons. Now, we could debate for eternity how this is possible, but mainstream Christianity views this as ultimately unexplainable because, like most things in almost any religion, it is supernatural and beyond most rational thought. The persons are seen as inseparable and eternal. You personally can interpret that as three gods, but let's not make the mistake of suggesting that's how most Christians see it. Cresix (talk) 17:02, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
Catholicism in particular holds that the three are separate, and yet one. They do not deny that Jesus prayed to a 'Father' and 'received' the spirit, as some groups do (NKJ, for example, has changed the Bible text to make it seem as if Jesus prayed to himself). Other groups which believe this differently (that Jesus was, and is, God and the Spirit) simply do not understand the original trinity theosophy, which never contended that the three were inseparable. This theosophy apparently originated with the need to make Christianity more appealing to religions which heavily relied upon triunes of gods (see triple deity for the great list of such religions), perhaps when the Apologists were rationalizing their beliefs to those of contemporary philosophers. Anyway, this is the same way with Mazdaism, and perhaps Hinduism if the OP described its nature correctly. Mazdaism holds that the plethora of gods ever worshiped are the same and one God, whom they call Mazda. Christendom holds that the three are one, Mazdaism that the tens-of-thousands are one. Why make the distinction and call one monotheism, and yet call the other polytheism? --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 04:49, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
Not just Catholicism, but the vast majority of mainstream Christianity, holds that they are separate but one. I don't think you'll find a reliable source otherwise (remember, mainstream), and I especially doubt that you can find a source that mainstream Christianity believes in three gods. Individual people have a wide variety of beliefs, but again, let's not give the impression that the great majority believe in three gods. Maybe that's not your point, but if it is, it's incorrect. Cresix (talk) 16:41, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
The point was made at the end of my argument: if "the three are one" is monotheism, why is the "thousands are one" doctrine polytheism? Just because one belief makes more or less sense than the other, doesn't mean that they are altogether different cases. Both instances are nominal claims of serving one god. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 22:39, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
I won't belabor this, and I'll reiterate my lack of expertise in non-Christian religions, but I'll simply state that I disagree that the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is a nominal claim of serving one god. Cresix (talk) 22:53, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
Well, do you see an eastern religion which counts many gods as one person/god as being polytheist? I don't personally see why a distinction is made, just because the three figures of the trinity are not usually individually personified but remain as vague concepts when considered individually. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 06:25, 21 May 2011 (UTC)


I hear a lot "Australia's the only country-continent!" But it's not. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hamolton (talkcontribs) 21:16, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

I'll ask any Australians on Wikipedia to bear with me if I display a profound ignorance, but the link above, as well as Australia, don't seem illuminate this issue. What am I missing? Australia is a country, right? Australia is an island, right? Is there another country-continent? Cresix (talk) 21:24, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
Read the first sentence of the entry linked, or just look at the image. Hairhorn (talk) 21:34, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
Apparently, the Australian continent also includes some islands (such as New Guinea) which are separate countries. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 21:40, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

Again, please bear with me. But the fact that Australia includes more than the continent, in my opinion, does not negate that it is a continent and a country. As an analogy, the United States is considered to be on the continent of North America, but Hawaii is not part of North America. Can someone please explain this? Cresix (talk) 22:36, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

Also, I looked over the article, and I can't find a reliable source there that actually states that New Guinea is part of the "continent" of Australia. Maybe this is common knowledge that never passed my way. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 15:30, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

Centrifugal Force removal

The point in centrifugal force was removed despite following the 4 categories on the talk page.

The common misconception's main topic has an article of its own - Yes if you go to the wikipedia page Centrifugal Force there is the the subheading "Fictitious centrifugal force"

The item is reliably sourced, both with respect to the factual contents of the item and the fact that it is a common misconception - Below are the sources which also include the wikipedia article on the Fictitious centrifugal force. Source 1 explains how a lot of people think there is such a thing. I know plenty of people who believe such a thing exists. Below are articles which all mention that the Centrifugal force is a common misconception. These can be cited if needed;boardseen "I think there is a common misconception that "centrifugal force" is a force that will cause a rotating body to "fly off" at right angles to its direction of travel. Of course, we know that is not true. As soon as the centripetal force is removed, there is no centrifugal force, so why not simply call it what it is i.e., a reaction to centripetal force?"

The common misconception is mentioned in its topic article with sources - again yes, see "Fictitious centrifugal force"

The common misconception is current, as opposed to ancient or obsolete - yes people experience this everyday.

Below is the article: There is no such thing as a Centrifugal Force when an object bends around a corner. There is a common misconception that when an object is in angular motion it has a force that pushes it outwards called a Centrifugal Force. This is in fact an imaginary force that the object experiences as it tries to continue in a straight line but is being pulled inwards by the Centripetal force. Although the object can feel itself be pushed outwards, there is no specific force causing this.

Sources: 1) 2) (granted this is not a valid source so can be removed). 3) 4)

Sephers (talk) 22:00, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

The forum source is not a reliable source; blogs and forums in which anyone who is willing to register can make comments are not reliable sources. The source states "Not uncommon to hear mention of the word centrifugal", which is not equivalent to a common misconception. The other sources make no mention of how common the misconception is. The item should not be restored unless there is a consensus here to do so. Cresix (talk) 22:32, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
Please see the following source. Blood dynamics (2001) published by Academic Press (ISBN: 0127624570) Page 54-55 Sephers (talk) 12:29, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

John Hanson?

I don't want to go through a bunch of archives, but here's another "misconception". It's a common misconception in itself to believe that John Hanson was the first president of the US disproving the "misconception" that George Washington was the first president of the US, as at the time of the so called "presidency" of John Hanson, there was no official office. There was a weak central government, and he was the president of the Second Continental Congress, which was the closest thing that came to a president, but it had very limited powers. Even if we consider this as a "president", he wasn't the first "technical" president of the US anyway. In fact, the 1st President of the Continental Congress was Peyton Randolph. If you Google "John Hanson", you'll obviously get a lot of sites saying "He was the 1st President". This is in my opinion, a misconception that is commonly believed today. I'll try to find sources. GuyWithoutAUsername (talk) 05:29, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

I've been around the block a few times, and I've never heard of this. Google hardly qualifies as a source one way or another, since it's rankings are based not on quality but quantity. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 15:26, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't think this misconception is common either, although I have heard of it. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 15:50, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

It's time to address this again - Inclusion criteria

"A rigid consensus on inclusion criteria for this list does not exist, but any proposed new entries to the article must at least fulfill the following:

The common misconception's main topic has an article of its own. The item is reliably sourced, both with respect to the factual contents of the item and the fact that it is a common misconception. The common misconception is mentioned in its topic article with sources. The common misconception is current, as opposed to ancient or obsolete. If you propose an entry that does not fulfill these criteria but you still think should be included, please include your rationale for inclusion."

I don't see how we can have a special set of rules like this that apply to this article only. I know they were created in an attempt to keep order in this article and to limit its size, but these rules exist outside of normal Wikipedia policies, and are overly strict. I think we need to change the name of the article and lift these rules, or get rid of the article altogether.--Asher196 (talk) 20:26, 14 May 2011 (UTC)
I have no problem with the second option. The problem with the first option is that the genre "collection of common misconceptions" is one that can about as sensibly be converted into an encyclopedia article as the genre "thriller". Just because Wikipedia is the category killer for open content collaborative writing on the internet doesn't mean all of it has to happen here. Common misconceptions literature clearly belongs on WikiSource as we can simply not handle it properly. Besides, the genre is not about getting things right, it's about maximising the entertainment of readers with a minimum of research. We are trying to do it better, but this simply doesn't scale as this page is obviously not watched by all the subject area experts that we would need for the multitude of subjects. Hans Adler 20:56, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

This isn't the only article that has reached some agreement by consensus about how the article should be managed. For example, medical articles have their own guidelines about what is considered a reliable source, and it generally work well. The consensus for the criteria can change, of course, but there is nothing about them that violates any Wikipedia policies. And (without directing this to any editor in particular), I'll again ask anyone who advocates removing the criteria: Will you personally be the one to step in and deal with the dozens of items that will be added per week (in the past, it has been per day) that eventually will be added to the article, but that have no evidence of being common other than one editor's opinion? And that's a lot more than simply removing each item. You'll have to justify it here or on editors' talk pages when you remove someone's favorite misconception. And you'll be accused of everything from POV to being a communist. And even after that, many of the crappy items will remain in the article because no consensus to remove is as good as a keep. And it's not a meaningless question. When the criteria are removed, my ass will be out of here, as has been the case with several very good editors in the past who managed to keep the article under control, but who finally gave up in disgust. Cresix (talk) 21:00, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

I completely disagree about being overly strict, and in fact, inclusion criteria are REQUIRED as a part of a WP:LIST article. However, I do agree that these particular inclusion criteria STILL do not meet the requirements of WP:LIST. Active Banana (bananaphone 17:06, 17 May 2011 (UTC)
I'll remind everyone (again) that WP:LIST is part of the Manual of Style. It is a guideline, not a policy. It has suggestions and are guidelines, but no requirements. We can consider WP:LIST and encouraged to do so, but we are not required to follow it. Not meeting every stipulation of WP:LIST in no way violates any Wikipedia policy. Cresix (talk) 18:37, 17 May 2011 (UTC)
We can ignore them if it helps to improve the encyclopedia. The fact that ignoring them in this instance means that we have an article for which there is massive confusion and debate about nearly every entry does not seem that it is much of an improvement. Active Banana (bananaphone 18:41, 17 May 2011 (UTC)
Whether the criteria in any way contribute to "massive confusion and debate about nearly every entry" is a matter of opinion (yours, mine, or anyone's). I think without the criteria there was massive confusion and endless debate. Anyone who can read the archives before the criteria were implemented can see that. After the criteria were implemented, the confusion and lengthy debates diminished considerably, though not altogether. There may be legitimate arguments against the criteria, but very clearly they do not cause massive confusion and endless debate, certainly compared to the status of this talk page and article before the criteria. And my second point is this: WP:LIST and the effectiveness of the criteria are separate issues. Let's not confuse them. Cresix (talk) 19:08, 17 May 2011 (UTC)
I think the clause about 'only sources which use the exact phrase "common misconception"' should be changed to something more practical. The aim, of course, is not that more material should be acceptable; that would be the last thing we need. However, the phrase "common misconception" is often used in unreliable, novel sources. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 05:19, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
The criteria do not state "only sources which use the exact phrase 'common misconception'". The wording is "The item is reliably sourced with respect to ... the fact that it is a common misconception." In the original discussions before implementing the criteria, and in subsequent discussions, it has been acknowledged that the exact phrase is not necessary, just a phrase with very close meaning. Sometimes how far that guideline can be stretched is a point of discussion, but such discussion is normal for almost any article that gets this much attention. So far, no one has come up with another wording that is "more practical". Even if we list all the synonyms of "common misconception", it would never cover all possibilities. Often the sufficiency of the wording depends on context, such as the fuller explanation provided by the source. We certainly can't just use the word "misconception". Then the article could expand almost infinitely. Cresix (talk) 16:52, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

The current criteria were a compromise to kill off a Request for deletion discussion. As far as I am concerned, they must never be weakened. I still support deletion. This article is a collection of trivial rubbish. HiLo48 (talk) 11:55, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

Not really. In the most recent AfD, no one could come up with a single reason for deletion. Not one. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 12:12, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
You are naturally entitled to your own opinion, but do try to not be so insulting to so many other thoughtful and experienced editors. HiLo48 (talk) 18:21, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
Really, you think that's insulting? What do you call "This article is a collection of trivial rubbish" which you said to so many thoughtful and experienced editors? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 18:42, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
That you cannot see the difference highlights why you saw no arguments against the article's existence. For an item to be here depends on the random chance that someone can find a source (of almost any quality) where someone else has happened to use the term "common misconception" (or similar) to describe it. It's still far too sloppy a requirement. If the current criteria are ever weakened, I plan to add every religion in the world as misconceptions, because I think they are. HiLo48 (talk) 20:48, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
Actually, the community as a whole saw no reason to delete the article, otherwise, it would have been deleted. And please don't disrupt Wikipedia to make a point. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 21:09, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
That's a really dumb thing to say. We are all members of that community. I simply draw your attention to my post above of 11:55, 19 May 2011. I was certainly not the only one wanting it deleted. And what's wrong with me expressing my views on what are misconceptions? Others do it here all the time. HiLo48 (talk) 22:42, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
And the community as a whole disagreed with you. Yes, I am aware of the comments you made against so many thoughtful and experienced editors: "This article is a collection of trivial rubbish.". No, you weren't the only one who wanted it deleted. But that fact remains that no one could come up with a single valid reason why the article should be deleted. Not one. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 12:41, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
"And the community as a whole disagreed with you" thats complete bullshit. "There is so much here that no meaningful consensus can be derived." "We may well end up back here in a few months " "I am conscious from my fast-approaching-five years as a sysop that the deletion system has failed badly here. I could just as easily have closed this as delete by fiat, " by the closing admin. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to made comments based in actual reality. Active Banana (bananaphone 22:13, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
In AfDs, WP:consensus is determined by the strength of the arguments, not by the number of editors with thinly-veiled WP:IDONTLIKEIT votes. Could the admin have abused his authority? Sure. Did he? No. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 23:52, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

I'd like to remind everyone about keeping a civil tone, not because I have a perfect record of civility, but because this talk page has enough problems and I hope we can avoid an escalation of the heat that seems to be building up. Thanks. Cresix (talk) 22:49, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

I like the article, it's kind of fun. But my biggest issue is that it's not easy to find. I edit a lot of the articles that are listed here, and never knew this page existed because some of the original articles (I don't know what percentage) don't link here. The name is cumbersome–who would search for an article with this name. The only reason I found it was that I noticed another editors contributions, and I was wondering what was here. So, despite my finding the article fun and interesting, it really lives in its own world, referring out to other articles, but rarely linked within those same articles. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 16:04, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
Interesting point. We should try to be cognizant of adding a link back to this article from each item's parent article. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 17:27, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
Why does an entry in this article need a parent article?--Asher196 (talk) 18:14, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
  • To assure that the entry's parent topic itself is notable per WP:N, having enough sources to justify an article. And (of minor importance) to offload the sourcing and prose of the larger topic to the topic's article, reducing clutter here. Example: glass, and the common misconception that glass is a slow liquid and is why old windows are thicker on the bottom. --Lexein (talk) 19:10, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

Ich bin ein Berliner (Which is it?)

Judging from the article, in my opinion, it doesn't seem clear. Do we state that, to some extent, the legend is true because of a regional variation of the name of the pastry in question? If we are saying this, then to a certain extent, this is not a misconception. GuyWithoutAUsername (talk) 23:56, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

I removed the item because of not only your concern, but because it fails criterion 2. Thanks for you comment. Cresix (talk) 01:14, 15 May 2011 (UTC)
Reverted. This is very much a misconception and I don't understand the claim that it fails criterion 2. It's one of the best sourced in this entire article: "Let us quickly address and then shelve the persistent legend of the putative grammatical error that supposedly rendered the president's declaration nonsensical. According to many a German grammar book and by common usage, Kennedy should have said 'Ich bin ein Berliner' without the indefinite article ein. [...] What gives the grammatical error its comical touch, if one follows this interpretation, is that the president was declaring himself to be a jelly doughnut, a pastry some Germans call Berliner. The supposed error is much commented upon in Germany and, especially, the United States. The New York Times and Newsweek helped keep the story alive by claiming years after the event that the crowd at Schöneberg City Hall giggled and laughed when they heard the statement 'Ich bin ein Berliner'. Kennedy's supposed gaffe has become nearly as famous as the sentence itself [...] Moreover, the use of the indefinite article ein in 'Ich bin ein Berliner' is neither incorrect nor entirely uncommon, as the linguistic scholar Jürgen Eichhoff has demonstrated. [...] Saying 'ein Berliner' is grammatically correct if it is used metaphorically." [1]
This is part of more than two pages dedicated to dispelling the popular misconception in the Cambridge University Press book Kennedy in Berlin, written by a German and citing a German linguistic scholar who had covered the misconception earlier: Jürgen Eichhoff, "Ich bin ein Berliner: A History and a Linguistic Clarification" Monatshefte für den deutschen Unterricht 85: 71–80 (1993).
This academic online source summarises the latter paper as follows: "Thus President Kennedy did not misspeak, which explains why the myth developed only outside of Germany (see the serious images from German media on this page where JFK’s words were reprinted)."
How popular this misconception is can also be seen from the numerous lengthy discussions at Talk:Ich bin ein Berliner. Sometimes we even get Germans there who actually believe in it because the force of this misconception coming from all sides is so strong that they suspend their own sense for their own language.
To answer the OP's question, there are actually two related common misconceptions: (1) that the sentence contained a grammatical mistake, and (2) that it led to amused audience reactions. The first is disproved by what scholars say about the matter. The second cannot be entirely disproved in such a huge crowd, but it's very obvious from the recordings that the crowd understood the sentence precisely as intended and only laughed when Kennedy thanked his interpreter for 'translating' it. The misconception seems to have arisen when a comedian reinterpreted the sentence weeks later for comic effect, but we don't have a strong source for that. In any case, the mere fact that one can say a totally unlikely sentence that made no sense under the circumstances so that it sounds precisely like what Kennedy said doesn't make this any less of a misconception. Kennedy's sentence was not unintentionally funny. It can be forcefully reinterpreted as a pun, although for actual Berliners it's hard to do because in their local variant of German the pun doesn't even work. Hans Adler 02:20, 15 May 2011 (UTC)
I disagree that "persistent legend" is equivalent to "common misconception". I suspect if you ask people who are not familiar with the German language (and even some who are), I doubt that the vast majority will have any idea about the misconception. This comes down to a matter of opinion as to whether "persistent legend" is close enough to "common misconception". I'll leave the item alone unless there is a consensus here to remove it. Cresix (talk) 02:22, 15 May 2011 (UTC)
It's definitely a misconception about 20th century history. Most people who have heard about the speech (and that's a lot of people) believe in the misconception – except for some of those who have heard the explanation, which only started to get some publicity a few years ago. See e.g. this blog of a professional linguist who always suspected that there was something wrong with the story, and the reactions of his readers. The word misconception is actually used by some of the sources, just not those currently used in the article. Hans Adler 02:37, 15 May 2011 (UTC)
Again, this is a matter of opinion for both of us. JFK's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech is widely known, but until I read about the misconception here, I have never once heard anyone refer to a possible misconception in the 50 years since it was made. I can remember some people familiar with German talking about his Americanized pronunciation ("Ish" for "Ich"), but never a mention of a jelly doughnut. If I lived in Germany that might be different, but I seriously doubt that most people in the USA have heard of the misconception. Let's see if there are other opinions. Cresix (talk) 02:52, 15 May 2011 (UTC)
Which leads us back to the question of what is a common misconception? and the problem with the four arbitrary criteria for inclusion in this article.--Asher196 (talk) 04:36, 15 May 2011 (UTC)
Not really, Asher. The criteria certainly are not perfect, but they are far superior to nothing in keeping this article manageable. If we didn't have the four criteria (and I must disagree that they are arbitrary), we would be having disputes such as this dozens of times per week. And this is a civil dispute. I've never seen an article with this much traffic that didn't have occasional disagreements. Without the criteria, people would be at each others' throats because someone removed someone else's favorite misconception. Take a close look at the archives before the criteria were implemented. We can remove the criteria if that's what people want, but within a month or two this article would then be out of control. We can delete the article if that's what people want; that idea has failed more than once. Based on a lot of experience with the article, I can confidently say that there is no reasonable middle ground. Either keep the criteria (or some well-crafted modification of them), eliminate the criteria and have an utterly unmanageable article, or delete the article. Cresix (talk) 16:15, 15 May 2011 (UTC)
I've taken the liberty of deleting the final sentence which was causing the confusion. It was unsourced anyway. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 16:31, 15 May 2011 (UTC)

"far superior to nothing in keeping this article manageable" that is hardly an endorsement that the article in any way meets wikipedia stand alone article requirements. Active Banana (bananaphone 17:04, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

You're gonna have to do a lot better than that, Active Banana. Blanket, pervasive criticism with no specifics is worse than meaningless; it suggests something that may not be there. This article violates no policies. If you disagree (and please distinguish between guidelines and policies), give us specifics. Everything else is open to discussion but does not lower this article to the level of "bad article" without some specifics, including lots of examples, diff links, and suggested remedies. Simply stating "I don't like this article and I don't think this is a very good article" (or similar) without something substantive to back it up doesn't help the article and is a waste of our time. And my second point: let's not inappropriately mix "I don't like this article" with "The 4 criteria are a bad idea" without a good rationale that is based in fact. Cresix (talk) 16:52, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
The misconception is widely circulated in popular culture in the US. In fact, if I remember correctly, the misconceptions was of American origin. Obviously a German speaker would know that he wasn't saying he was a donut. If I understand correctly, it would be like someone saying "I'm a New Yorker!" and listeners interpreting it as "I'm a New Yorker [style of hot dog]!" --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 05:36, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
May you please give us any sources that he was in fact saying "I'm a Hot Dog" and this was the mistake. I also want to ask another question. Let's say that JFK was giving his speech in let's say Bonn (where the pastry is actually called Berliner). Technically, would this grammar mistake be correct in this city? If you may answer, thank you. GuyWithoutAUsername (talk) 05:36, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
I'm German, and I have never heard about this misconception, although the sentence is one of the most widely-known quotes in the history of the 20th century and is often used in such context. Futhermore, I'm not from Berlin, so the pastry is called a Berliner here, and yet I have never even thought of the wording as a possible mistake or heard from anyone who did so. (Actually, I thought of the same example as an explanation as IronMaidenRocks did above.) So, if this is indeed a common misconception in the US, the element should definitively a part of this list. Intelensprotient (talk) 00:36, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
It's mostly a US/anglophone thing, it makes sense that the native speakers would not be confused. The German wikipedia has a nicely sourced section on this: [2] quote:

Missverständnis im englischsprachigen Raum

In den USA entstand in den 1980er Jahren eine Moderne Sage, nach der sich Kennedy durch unsauberen Gebrauch der deutschen Grammatik [1] zum Gespött der Berliner gemacht habe. Der Sage nach habe der grammatikalisch korrekte Satz „Ich bin Berliner“ heißen müssen (ohne unbestimmten Artikel), und Kennedys Wendung sei von den Berlinern als „Ich bin ein Berliner (Pfannkuchen)“ verstanden worden, worauf großes Gelächter ausbrach. Obwohl diese Behauptung nicht stimmt, erfreut sie sich in den USA immer noch großer Beliebtheit und wird mit großer Regelmäßigkeit meist als „I am a jelly[-filled] doughnut“ zitiert.

Die älteste bekannte Fundstelle dieser Modernen Sage ist ein Artikel in der New York Times aus dem Jahr 1988.[2] Sie wurde auch weiterhin in seriösen Medien kolportiert wie in der BBC.[3], The Guardian oder NBC[4]

Abgesehen davon, dass der unbestimmte Artikel im Deutschen korrekterweise bei Nomen verwendet wird, die als Stellvertreter einer Klasse auftreten, war der Ausdruck „Berliner“ für den Berliner Pfannkuchen im Berlin der 1960er Jahre so gut wie unbekannt, da dieser dort einfach nur „Pfannkuchen“ heißt. Der Satz ist also korrekt und wurde auch vor der Rede entsprechend geprüft. Das Gelächter des Publikums bezog sich auf eine darauffolgende Bemerkung des Präsidenten, mit der er dem Simultandolmetscher für die Übersetzung seines deutschen Satzes ins Deutsche dankte. Rpvdk (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 08:12, 27 May 2011 (UTC).

Correct "alcohol has positive health benefits when used moderately"

Under "Nutrition, food, and drink" and the fourth subhead "Alcohol does not kill brain cells", there is a statement that "alcohol has positive health benefits when used moderately". This is a common misconception and does not belong under that subhead. Possibly it should have it's own subhead as a misconception to avoid confusion and digression. Maybe it should just be corrected.

Studies have shown that red and white wine are beneficial to heart health due to their ability to help with cholesterol. There have also been indications that it can help with certain cancers, among other things. Many of these beneficial effects are shown to also be gained through the drinking of non-alcoholic wines and grape juices, as the benefits are derived from the grapes themselves. More research still needs to be done, however, as not all benefits are shown to be gained from non-alcoholic wines and grape juices as are gained in alcoholic wines.

A glass or two a day of red wine, white wine, or champagne(which is a mixture of red and white wines) is beneficial, but more than that and the benefits may be outweighed by the other potential risk posed by alcohol consumption. - [1]

There are many scientific papers written about this. The blanket statement "[all] alcohol has positive health benefits when used moderately" should be corrected or pointed out.

Osaka35 (talk) 00:11, 22 May 2011 (UTC)

Do you know what moderately means? HiLo48 (talk) 00:16, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
Moderately is an ambiguous term that varies depending on the individual's perception. Some could believable say 4-6 glasses a day is moderate, which is double or triple what the research intends when it says "moderate". I feel there's no need to be ambiguous when it's just as easy to be precise Osaka35 (talk) 00:33, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
Equally, some people use larger glasses, etc. Do you want to change the wording to list exact measurements? HiLo48 (talk) 05:24, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
I am with Osaka on this, while larger and smaller glasses is a source of error, at least it gives a rough estimate as opposed to just "moderately". Shon Lee (talk) 03:12, 23 May 2011 (UTC)
perhaps change section title? It is not the alcohol itself that can have positive effects, but some of the other ingredients in some alcoholic beverages. I don't think you'll find someone who would indicate that a moderate amount of grain alcohol daily has any health benefits. Cliff (talk) 15:53, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
changed wording of the offending sentence, better? Cliff (talk) 16:02, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
I have removed the claim that some alcoholic beverages have positive health effects altogether. [3] The sources were and a web page written by a sociologist. These sources clearly do not pass WP:MEDRS, which applies to such claims in all articles. For me the main problem with the present article is that it is not watched by a sufficient number of experts to keep such dubious stuff out. Just pulling random so-called misconceptions from random "reliable" sources and hoping that they got things right is not a responsible practice. Hans Adler 16:25, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Osaka, if you provide an article that indicates that the belief that "alcohol has positive health benefits when used moderately" is a common misconception, I'll add it as its own subhead. Cliff (talk) 16:07, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

From Uptodate

Two European cross-sectional studies found that self-reported health was best among subjects who consumed one to two drinks daily [48,49]. Use of sick leave also shows this J-shaped relationship with alcohol consumption [50]. As noted above, abstainers may be prone to poor subjective health even in their youth [9].A study of 4,276 noninstitutionalized adults aged 50 years and older found that moderate drinking (<15 drinks per week AND <5 drinks per day for men or <4 per day for women) was associated with 25 percent lower risk for disability, compared with abstention [51]. This benefit was restricted to adults who reported themselves to be in good or better health.

A glass does have a technical defination just like teaspoon does. It is 125ml if I remember correctly.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:36, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't know what you mean by "from Uptodate", so I can't check the context. I believe normally these results are due to wine, as opposed to beer or even harder drinks. And at least one study came to the result that grape juice has the same effect. Saying that people who drink moderately are healthier on average is not the same as saying that moderate drinking is healthy. Hans Adler 16:41, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
And unfortunately, these studies don't show that the respondents believed that they were healthier because of their drinking, or that they thought that "moderate use of alcohol has health benefits" which is what we need in order to give it its own section. Cliff (talk) 16:50, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
Uptodate is a foremost medical source [4]. One however has to pay 300 USD a year for access. If you guys send me your emails I can sent you the full 30 or so pages of this document. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 16:51, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

A comment on the five senses (too many extras!)

While it is true that we have more than five senses, the list here is a bit excessive and ref. 127 (a discovery health page) is far from authoritative. Most standard neuroscience texts would support the addition of proprioception and the vestibular system, although some probably classify proprioception in the realm of somatic sensation (touch). Nociception and thermoception are definitely (for humans) classified under somatic sensation, as they are mediated by similar classes of receptors as the more familiar parts of "touch." This might be contrasted with pit vipers (for the thermal sense). If you want to include visceral senses, then those related to the bladder and colon are only two of many examples; they also strike me as questionably "senses" since they do not measure an extrinsic property. The same is true of blood CO2 level, and the body measures (and controls) myriad other internal chemicals & parameters as well. Osmotic pressure (water balance) is an obvious example, along with blood glucose. Like CO2, though, you don't directly sense these things so much as you feel bad when they're outside of a healthy range. Pyrilium (talk) 16:55, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Creation of the Internet

I don't think it's a misconception that Gore took excessive created for developing the Internet. At best, we might say it's controversial. But it would not be neutral to take sides in the squabble.

  • Gore, who boasted in a CNN interview he "took the initiative in creating the Internet," was only 21 when the Internet was born out of a Pentagon project. But after joining Congress eight years later, he promoted high-speed telecommunications for economic growth and supported funding increases for the then-fledging network, according to the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which presents the annual awards. [5]

If the above is factual, then the Internet had already been created before he gave it whatever backing he did. --Uncle Ed (talk) 04:12, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

Oh give me a break Poor. He sponsored and shepherded through Congress two key pieces of legislation that made the internet what it is today, a place for people to push their agendas, make money, and blather on about anything they want without support. That legislation was the 1988 National High Performance Computer Act, and the Information Infrastructure and Technology Act of 1992. Gore never ever claimed he invented the internet, and without these pieces of legislation, the internet would be nothing. So, unless you really have something useful to say about it, let's move on. OK? OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 05:03, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
He is claimed to have said he invented the internet while there is ample evidence that he did not in fact state this. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 05:31, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
Then it's a misquotation, not a "misconception". And the entry is misleading, because it implies that we are endorsing his claim to have "taken the initiative" (which is a matter of controversy) but I won't edit-war over this. I'll just add this to my long list of places where Wikipedia isn't neutral but takes sides with liberal viewpoints. --Uncle Ed (talk) 14:22, 21 May 2011 (UTC)
But there is still a controversy over whether Gore claimed credit for creating the Internet, even if we supply a charitable interpretation of his having said that he "took the initiative in creating" it.
  • Clearly, then, if we take Gore literally at his word, he could not have "taken the initiative in creating the Internet." As the ARPANET moved from research to deployment, Gore was finishing college and serving in the Army in Vietnam. From 1976 to 1985, Gore served in the House of Representatives. From 1985 to 1992, he served in the Senate. The record shows that his interest in national computer networking issues became acute during his years in the Senate - when the Internet clearly was fully in operation.
  • So let us grant to Gore's critics that he was in no position to "take the initiative in creating the Internet." But is it possible that Gore's declaration, chosen in real time during a live-on-tape interview, could be simply a poor choice of words - sloppy speaking on his part - and that a slightly different formulation might be quite reasonably interpreted as totally accurate? [6]
I still say this should not be in Misconceptions but in Misquotations. He didn't invent the Internet but he did claim credit for creating it. --Uncle Ed (talk) 15:47, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

If you're talking about "creation of the internet" misconceptions, I've heard more people claim that Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet than have claimed Al Gore did. Really there should be an entry on that IMHO. -- Guy with no login — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:20, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Inclusion criteria

No, I'm not questioning the inclusion criteria. What I am questioning, however, is the criteria being on front of the page. Is it really necessary? When you edit the page, it immediately shows a big hand on a stop sign telling you to read the criteria. I don't think we need to mention it twice. I say we remove it and just keep the warning when editing. GuyWithoutAUsername (talk) 22:42, 22 May 2011 (UTC)

Seems to be a point. The inclusion criteria seem awkward put on the front of the page. They serve as editorial guidelines, so should only appear in editing. Maybe rephrasing into a more encyclopedic manner helps.Kuphrer (talk) 22:52, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
Even with the inclusion criteria as obvious as they seem to be to you folk, there are still frequent attempts to add inappropriate content to the article. I emphatically oppose making them any less obvious. HiLo48 (talk) 22:56, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
And they are required by the WP:LIST manual of style "The contents of an article that is a stand-alone list should be clear. If the title does not already clarify what the list includes, then the list's lead section should do so. Don't leave readers confused over the list's inclusion criteria or have editors guessing what may be added to the list." Active Banana (bananaphone 22:57, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
However there has not been a proposal for criteria offered that doesnt also violate Wikipedia:Manual of Style (self-references to avoid). Active Banana (bananaphone 23:17, 22 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't care for the inclusion criteria being included in the lede, either. I'm not sure what to do about it, because as Active Banana points out, WP:LIST says the inclusion criteria should be explained in the lede. Is there a way to simplify it or reword it so it's more friendly to the reader? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:02, 23 May 2011 (UTC)
A while back I proposed the beginnings of a usable lead rewrite, which I'll expand here:
These currently held common misconceptions about notable topics have been reported by reliable sources from around the world. Each one has been discussed in published literature, as has its topic area (such as glass, and the misconception that glass is viscous, or Vikings, and the misconception that Vikings wore horned helmets).
This strongly implies the 4 criteria. Anyway, it's a first pass. (And I support the edit warning with the explicit criteria; maybe a smaller stop sign.) --Lexein (talk) 00:31, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
Lexein: I think that's excellent. What does everyone else think? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 16:37, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I like it and suggest it be boldly added sooner rather than later. Strangely enough, it appears better for the inclusion criteria for this list to be in prose format. VQuakr (talk) 20:19, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

Slightly revised. Awaiting comments from the first four editors in this section.--Lexein (talk) 20:54, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
There has been a leading sentence This list describes fallacious ideas and beliefs that are documented and widespread as well as the actual facts concerning those ideas for the article, do we need to preserve it? It has certain advantages over the proposed paragraph on prosing. Except for this concern, I support the adjustment.--Kuphrer (talk) 00:00, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
This is a list of current, widely held, fallacious ideas and beliefs about notable topics which have been reported by reliable sources from around the world. Each has been discussed in published literature, as has its topic area (such as glass, and the misconception that glass is viscous) and the actual facts concerning it.
--Lexein (talk) 15:31, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
It's been a few days and we seem to have consensus. I'll implement Lexein's suggestion. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 17:47, 31 May 2011 (UTC)

King Canute

This news story states that the story about King Canute is a misconception. Yes? -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 15:38, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Hey, why not? There's probably a book source for it, too. --Lexein (talk) 21:01, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
I just reverted the addition of this item because it did not satisfy the inclusion criteria. It may be possible to find sources that go a lot closer to doing so, but the one provided didn't do it. HiLo48 (talk) 23:37, 4 June 2011 (UTC)
Please be more specific. Which does it fail? -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 04:59, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
The requirement that it be described in the source as a common misconception, or something very similar. HiLo48 (talk) 05:05, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Source says "Everyone always gets it wrong. " -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 05:16, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
And therein lies the fundamental problem with this article. You have reinterpreted the words in the source to mean what you want them to mean. I can understand your thinking, but I see what you are doing as original research. The source doesn't say "common misconception", so somebody has to decide if it's close enough. You think one way, and I think another. I reckon that's a very poor approach to deciding on article content. HiLo48 (talk) 05:28, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, but rephrasing English is explicitly not original research. This seems to be a common misconception within wikipedia! (Please check the guidelines on this point.) You're ignoring the rider "or something very similar". You seem to be interpreting "something very similar" as "something identical", which is nonsensical.
PS I had to laugh, rereading the inclusion criteria, where it said there is NOT a rigid set of inclusion criteria.
-- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 05:34, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
rephrasing is not, but misquoting and misapplying the sources is. the "everybody" being referred to is "people who use the Canute and Tides example" - to jump from that to "common misperception" is not supported by that source. Active Banana (bananaphone 05:48, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
And the source goes on to explain that while the modern users of "Canute/tides" are misapplying the 12th century story, the validity of the 12th century story itself is suspect. Active Banana (bananaphone 05:56, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Irrelevant. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 06:12, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
No, in order for something to be false, the actual truth has to be known. Active Banana (bananaphone 06:17, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
No, the misconception is about the perceived reason for the incident, irrespective of whether it really happened (which we can never establish). -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 06:26, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Michael C. Price - I'm not disagreeing with your right to interpret those words, nor the existence of "something very similar" in the criteria. My concern is that we have to rephrase or interpret the words at all. There will obviously be some wording that's OK, and some that's not, but where is the border line? Without better, more precise inclusion criteria we are destined to be constantly debating the point. I don't see this one quite the same as you, but I really don't want a fight over it. On another day I might feel like more of a fight. It just seems a really dumb way to determine what should and should not be in an article. HiLo48 (talk) 05:52, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────HiLo48, if you wish an unthinking rigid set of inclusion criteria then create one, but at the moment the criteria say they are not rigid.

Banana, if the source said "this is a common misconception held by everyone", you could equally validly say that they actually meant "this is a common misconception held by everyone who uses the Canute and Tides example". So this is not an issue relating to the lack of the exact phrase "common misconception", but your interpretation of "everyone".

-- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 06:12, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

And yet again WP:LIST explicitly states "If the title does not already clarify what the list includes, then the list's lead section should do so. Don't leave readers confused over the list's inclusion criteria or have editors guessing what may be added to the list." The fact that we even have to discuss this is clear evidence that this article fails LIST. Active Banana (bananaphone 06:00, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

The inclusion criteria is clearly worded, but you guys are interpreting it in an overly rigid way, in defiance of the stated inclusion criteria. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 06:12, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

WP:DEADHORSE Active Banana (bananaphone 06:17, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

I see that Banana prefers to edit war rather than resolve issues by debate. Fair enough. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 06:36, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

It's absolutely true that the inclusion criteria are not rigid. My simple question is, where is the border line? HiLo48 (talk) 06:32, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

To be determined by debate. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 06:36, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
OK. I happen to agree with Banana's actions and views here. Does that mean you lose? You see, I don't like there having to be debates, and winners and losers, each times someone wants to contribute to the article. This whole discussion is problematical to me, and it is caused by the inclusion criteria. They exist as a compromise which came out of the last proposal to delete this article entirely. HiLo48 (talk) 06:46, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Just make the inclusion criteria reflect how they are implemented, which is not what I am seeing here. I made a proposal, waited a week, received support and no oppositon and added a one line entry. Suddenly I met determined opposition, accused of flogging a dead horse, of original research, of interpreting "everyone" to mean ... everyone. What gives? -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 06:58, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
What gives? Too much room to move for all players. It's good that you waited a week, but some of us have limited time outside weekends. HiLo48 (talk) 07:07, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
I appreciate that time is a scarce resource, but I don't see that the current implementation actually eliminates debate or saves time. It sounds to me like you are asking for a rigid set of inclusion criteria, but I doubt that such a formal set could be written - which is my point, I guess. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 07:42, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
At the last Request for Deletion discussion for this article, I was in favour of deletion because the article had become a random collection of "facts", with no clear common factor, and was very difficult to manage. Once it became apparent that there were too many votes of the "I like it" style for deletion to occur, some of us argued for very strict inclusion criteria. What we have now is the tightest we could get. I would prefer still tighter. HiLo48 (talk) 07:58, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
I understand, although they seem tight enough to me. BTW where are the AFDs listed? I can't see any. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 09:31, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Next to "List milestones" in the fourth box from the top, click "[show]". --Lexein (talk) 13:27, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 19:08, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

This editor never heard the name Canute until this argument. I don't think I miss much either, is it a European thing? Doesn't seem "common" to me. Cliff (talk) 22:01, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

It might be a European thing. Plently of American things in the article. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 07:01, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

Color of the Sun pt 2

We used to have an item about the color of the Sun. I'm not sure why it was deleted given the result of the past discussion.[7] I'm going to restore it. If there was a reason for its deletion, please let me know. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 14:48, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Actually, I looked through the article history and can't seem to find the item. Perhaps we just talked about adding it to the article but never got around to it? I'll write it up when I get some free time unless someone beats me to it. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 14:55, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
Looks to me like the discussion aborted inconclusively because it isn't clear whether the sun is white or yellow (there are sources for both). Color perception is a bit of a trickly thing. Even if the sun were purple we would probably end up perceiving it as white. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 16:21, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm with Michael. It WAS inconclusive. Anything to be added now needs to be extremely well sourced and precisely matched to the inclusion criteria, and agreed upon here beforehand. HiLo48 (talk) 20:10, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Roman Centurion

I was very surprised not to see this included, or in the proposals. A Roman Centurion did not typically command 100 men (though some did at one time). When most people talk of the "Roman Army", they mean the professional outfit which was only created by the Marian reforms in the late Republic. Under that system, a Centurion could command 80, 160, or a whole legion, depending on their rank. Reference [8] because the wikipedia article on Centurions is also currently wrong (even though it mentions the misconception itself). It really is a very, very common misconception.

Oh, the main article lacks a link to show the misconception. Here's one [9], but I reckon that if you ask 10 people, you'll get 9 answers of "100". I'll bet most people reading this proposal thought it was 100 until just now :)

— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:22, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Actually, I would have thought "roughly 100", which is of course precisely what you stated. As the order of magnitude is correct, I don't think it's really a misconception, and certainly not a common one because most people don't know enough Latin, or don't read enough Asterix books, to even come up with the question. Hans Adler 06:56, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Thomas Crapper was not American

Surely not a common misconception? see his Wikipedia entry  ;-) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:03, 18 June 2011 (UTC)

I honestly don't think many people know his nationality. I've never even heard of this. GuyWithoutAUsername (talk) 19:28, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
I've always assumed he was British. HiLo48 (talk) 23:14, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
^^ Ditto AerobicFox (talk) 23:23, 18 June 2011 (UTC)
Ditto. A Brit. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 06:52, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

Car crashes and explosions

I've heard from various sources that (a) most people believe that when a car crashes at high speed the occupants are is in imminent danger from a gas tank explosion, but also (b) that all fire departments and highway safety officials know this is just Hollywood nonsense. People are often injured when moved precipitously by "Good Samaritans" rushing to remove them from car (thinking themselves risking the same "danger" themselves to conduct this "rescue").

Can anyone help me find sources for this? And which section should it go in? --Uncle Ed (talk) 14:44, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

I looked but didn't find much. The best I could come up with is The 20 worst science and technology errors in films. But I'm not sure that this is really a common misconception. I think most people know it's just a Hollywood cliche. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 15:06, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Crashed cars don't usually explode, but they do catch on fire. This isn't really a misconception, removing someone from a crashed car might not always be the right course of action, but fear of gasoline fires is legitimate. --Daniel 15:09, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

Native Americans were riding horses in pre-Columbian times.

This is a common misconception. (talk) 22:04, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

That 10% of the United States' population is gay is false

The research cited for this factoid is biased and inaccurate. "Family Research Institute" is an anti-gay Christian-right organization from whom studies on homosexuality are dubious at best.

It also directly contradicts Wikipedia's own article on homosexuality, which states:

"The number of people who identify as gay or lesbian—and the proportion of people who have same-sex sexual experiences—are difficult for researchers to estimate reliably for a variety of reasons.[7] In the modern West, according to major studies, 2% to 13% of the population are homosexual.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18] A 2006 study suggested that 20% of the population anonymously reported some homosexual feelings, although relatively few participants in the study identified themselves as homosexual.[19] "

This section should be rephrased to indicate that it is in fact unclear what percentage of the population is gay, rather than citing clearly biased research while ignoring countless other sources. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:58, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

I too wondered a bit about the Family Research Institute, not a source I would trust without checking! A methodological problem with this page is that the term "gay" is not exactly unambiguous. Without a bit of explanation of how it is defined, these numbers are close to valueless. Petter Bøckman (talk) 18:36, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
In some cases, a "misconception" may actually be a "controversy" or dispute. Some things are assumed to be so, but haven't been checked carefully. People used to believe that eating sweets made children hyper, but that belief persisted for quite a number of years before anyone bothered to do a scientific study. A lingering dispute remains over a idea pitched by Larry Summers about why so few women become high-level academics in math and science: he suggested it might be something other than discrimination (like inclination or talent), but instead of his colleagues agreeing that studying the matter would be good, they pilloried him and he ended up resigning (forced to resign?).
My point here is that it's not easy to distinguish between a misconception and a dispute. Interested parties want the facts to be a certain way: "If there are enough of us, then we are not a fringe group and our views/preferences must be accommodated." Curiously, the magic number for considering something significant is 5%, so if gays are only 2% then people opposed to homosexuality feel they "have a case" to ignore their wishes; contrariwise, if gays are 10% or more, it's the other way around.
I wouldn't call this a misconception, because it's not cut and dried like the sweets and kids theory. --Uncle Ed (talk) 18:54, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
This was a common misconception some time in the past (an may still be) originally because a Kinsey Report concluded 10% of the population is homosexual (and the Kinsey Reports article mentions this misconception); but the study included a disproportionate number of prison inmates and other selection bias problems (including, I recall, classifying anyone as homosexual who had a homosexual experience, which may be true for prison inmates more than the general population). ~Amatulić (talk) 00:19, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
The issue is not that 10% is a misconception. The issue is that the cited "correction" is based on an extremely biased source with information that runs counter to other sources. The "correct answer" is not "somewhere between 3% and less than 1%" as this states. The "correct answer" is that there is no conclusive answer, with studies showing anywhere from 1 or 2 to 13% of the population identifying as homosexual depending on the study (based on the various sources cited in the article on homosexuality). Stating conclusively that 1-3% of the population is homosexual is just as much a misconception as saying 10%. This needs to be corrected. (talk) 03:43, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Edit: I have taken the liberty of rewriting the section to reflect current knowledge. We still need a source saying it is common to believe 10% of Americans are homosexual. If no such source can be found, this section should be dropped. Petter Bøckman (talk) 08:39, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
  • I took out the section. --John (talk) 08:51, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
Here's the latest edit, in case you find it salvageable:
A common perception is that 10% of the United States' population is gay. This number originates from Alfred Kinsey's 1948 book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, which claims that 11.6% of the male population at the time was bisexual.[2] However, the terms bisexual and gay are not interchangeable. In reality, the actual percentage of gay or bisexual people is impossible to pinpoint, in that there is no set definition as to what being bisexual, gay or lesbian is. Both terms are also function as social constructs, a matter of self identification as much as of biological sexual orientation.[3] The percentage of the population with at lest one same-sex experience from other Western nations correspond fairly well to Kinsey's 10% bisexuality (Norway: 12%, Britain: 13%).[4][5] According to exit polling on 2008 Election Day for the 2008 Presidential elections, 4% of electorate self-identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, the same percentage as in 2004.”[6] Among couples living together in the US, around 1% are same-sex couples. This contrast markedly with a 2002 census indicate about a quarter of the US population believe 25% of all Americans to be gay/lesbian.[7]
  1. ^
  2. ^ Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Table 147, p. 651
  3. ^ Rogoff, Barbara. The Cultural Nature of Human Development. New York: Oxford UP, USA, 2003: 63–64. Print.
  4. ^ AVJonathan Tisdall  . "Norway world leader in casual sex, Aftenposten". Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  5. ^ "Sex uncovered poll: Homosexuality". London: Guardian. 2008-10-26. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  6. ^ "27% of Gay Voters Sided with McCain". The Advocate. 7 November 2008. Retrieved 2010-12-21. [dead link]
  7. ^ Jennifer Robison (October 8, 2002). "What Percentage of the Population Is Gay?". Gallup. Retrieved June 17, 2011. 

Thanks for taking out the section. It's not a "common misconception" in the sense of a belief which Wikipedia has shown to be false - or to be more precise, which we've found that the "best authorities" say is false. Rather it is a controversy. I'd like to copy the information about the dispute over the "percentage of Americans who are gay" to a List of controversial topics or List of controversies page. --Uncle Ed (talk) 19:15, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

Feel free to nick what I wrote above if it can be used. Petter Bøckman (talk) 07:22, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

Smart Phones??

Isn't Smart Phones refering to their many capabilities and not their intellect?
If so, I think that it should be added to this list.

Mattan360 (talk) 22:39, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

Why do you think it should be added to this list? Do you have any reliable sources that claim smart phones are widely regarded as having an intellect? ~Amatulić (talk) 00:13, 23 June 2011 (UTC)
I honestly think not many people are aware why it's named, but I seriously doubt that's what many people think it means. — Preceding unsigned comment added by GuyWithoutAUsername (talkcontribs) 23:21, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

Mispronunciation of the Middle English "the"

I believe that under the "words and phrases" section that this should be added: "A common pronunciation of the Middle English "the" is ye. Those in the Middle English-speaking period never pronounced the word like this, as "the" has always been pronounced how it is. The confusion derives from the mispronunciation of the thorn, an archaic letter which resembles a y."

The only source that I've found is Paul Brian's "List of Common Errors in English Usage" online page: Common Errors in English Usage - Ye - Paul Brains. Although it doesn't state that it is a common misconception, it does state that the word is often misread (considering the long discussion we had on the King Canute misconception, I don't want to start a big debate as having a big debate on this page is almost unavoidable). GuyWithoutAUsername (talk) 23:16, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

It's here too, I don't know how Wikipedia feels about this dictionary as a source (I can't find the exact primary source for the entry) but it makes it pretty clear. This is also mentioned elsewhere on Wikipedia. iamlilyy (talk) 03:59, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
According to the relevant Google Books snippet, p. 219 of the 1961 edition of Eric Partridge's "The concise usage and abusage" contains an entry that starts as follows: "ye in such popular uses as 'Ye olde Englysshe Tea-Shoppe' is founded on a complete misconception of the old symbol þ, the letter 'thorn', which in Old English and Middle English represented the". Given that it clearly is a misconception, I wouldn't be too bothered by the fact that Partridge is slightly misleading on the details, possibly because the precise connection wasn't well known at the time.
As far as I know, y and þ looked the same in many hand writings, and the introduction of the Gutenberg printing press without this fancy letter (as it was produced in Germany) killed the thorn. Initially it was sometimes replaced by y as a substitute, rather than by th. I think we should include this. I can look up the details in an excellent modern source, but they are also discussed to some extent at thorn (letter)#Middle and Early Modern English. Hans Adler 06:57, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
As someone coming from a Scandinavian language background, I think the old þ has gone unrecognized for far too long! A section on "ye" is a good idea! Petter Bøckman (talk) 07:21, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Considering we have a good amount of sources, I will add this. GuyWithoutAUsername (talk) 02:49, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Suggestion: Definition of Insanity

Repeating an action and expecting a different outcome each time is not the definition of insanity.[1] What is actually being defined more closely resembles the definition of perseverance.[2][3] Insanity, while no longer a clinical term, is used as a legal defense in which a person lacks the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality. See also Insanity defense. (talk) 16:54, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

Maybe we should have a WP page for "Popular misquotes that should not be taken too literally". Roger (talk) 20:50, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
I've used that expression myself, but it never occurred to me that it was anything other than a joke. Are there really people who think it is an actual definition?--SPhilbrickT 22:09, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
My personal experience has been that people actually believe it is the definition of insanity. It's one of those things where people believe it and repeat it, and when you correct them they get defensive and argumentative. I feel it would be a good addition to the article. (talk) 04:03, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
By a complete coincidence, taking "repeating an action and expecting a different outcome each time is the definition of insanity" literally is the definition of stupidity. "X is the definition of Y" is a metaphorical cliché that can be used to express all sorts of things, and is never meant literally when used in this way. This cliché is actually the definition of a snowclone. Some other ways to express the same connection:
  • If Eskimos have 420 words for snow, then insane people must have 10,000 words for repeating the same thing in the hope that the outcome will be different.
  • The learning-resistant are the new idiots.
  • Save a patient, put a learning-resistant on the couch.
  • Idiots trying it again and again.
Of course, some people will take metaphoric speech literally, but I don't think we should cover any individual case of this here unless it's really very widespread and we have a reliable source saying it's a common misconception.
Disclaimer: I am not a linguist, though I play one on TV. Your mileage may vary. In cyberspace, no one can hear you groan as you read this post. Of course, the first rule for snowclones is, you don't talk about snowclones. Sorry for breaking it. Common sense, common sense! My kingdom for common sense! In my opinion, the only good snowclone is a dead snowclone, but whatever Xes your Y. Yes Virginia, there is a pattern here. What all these patterns have in common: Each is a few brain cells short of good style. But, of course: Brain cells? We don't need no stinkin' brain cells. Hans Adler 17:54, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
Interesting, I had never heard of the snowclone. I agree with your assessment of the situation, but still contend that people truly believe it's "the definition of insanity." Perhaps it's purely geographical and my limited sample size has lead me to believe the problem is greater than it really is. (talk) 18:18, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Not Illegal to Kill a Praying Mantis

This is a very common misconception, stemming from unclear origins but possibly pertaining to two notions:

1) Praying mantids are seldom seen due to their cryptic nature and are thus considered "rare" by some (they most certainly are not rare). 2) Praying mantids are considered "beneficial" due to the fact that they eat other insects (although they are as likely to eat other beneficial insects such as pollinators as they are to eat pest insects).

Also, many of the mantids most commonly seen in the US are of the species Tenodera aridifolia and are introduced from China. To my knowledge, there are no cases of any exotic species being protect under US law. (talk) 02:15, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Personally, I've never heard this particular idea. Cliff (talk) 05:27, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

Suggestion: mammals did not evolve from reptiles

I'd like to suggest an item: Mammals did not evolve from reptiles. The ancestry of mammals and reptiles diverged about 320 million years ago, in the Carboniferous period. Their last common ancestors were a group of primitive amphibian-like animals known as amniotes. The misconception that mammals evolved from reptiles arose from a once common practice of using the word "reptile" very loosely: the ancestors of mammals were sometimes called "mammal-like reptiles", a term that modern biologists avoid.

Let's for the moment ignore issues of sourcing these statements and demonstrating that this is a common misconception; I don't think there will be much difficulty about those things. I would like to get a feel, though, about whether people think the item would be appropriate if those conditions can be satisfied. Looie496 (talk) 17:02, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Good one. Looking it up I see mammals evolved directly from Reptiliomorpha which are "reptile-like amphiphians". You learn something everyday! -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 18:24, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
I think it's a good idea in principle, but I'm worried it will be harder than you think to find a reliable source that explicitly states that the idea of mammals having evolved from reptiles is a common misconception. There are many reliable up-to-date sources still claiming it as fact, for example [10] [11] -Ferahgo the Assassin (talk) 20:15, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes, the misconception is still very widespread, but this paper, in particular, explains the situation very clearly, even if you can only access the abstract. Looie496 (talk) 20:34, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Please tell me if I have missed something: The source linked above identifies this as a misconception, but not as a common misconception (or very equivalent wording), right? If I don't have that right, could we have a direct quotation from the source that identifies this as a common misconception? Thanks. Also note that finding a few sources that state a misconception as fact is very inadequate evidence that it is a common misconception because it doesn't tell us how many good sources do not identify it as a fact. Cresix (talk) 21:09, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
The Springer source says that "Dimetrodon Is a Dinosaur" is a common misconception. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 02:14, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
This would just be a clone of the misconception about monkeys, which did a fine enough job at explaining how evolution theory is meant to be interpreted. Or you could explain misconceptions for every animal which is mistakenly said to have descended from one another. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 23:10, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
So? If it is a misconception, it should be listed here - and I am struggling to think of other similar misconceptions beyond the monkey one and this one. And it is a common misconception. I would guess that 99% of population that is educated and non-Creationist believes mammals evolved from reptiles. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 23:16, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
99%? Geez, I hope not. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 23:58, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Hope is irrelevant. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 00:22, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
My point is that most people who care believe that humans evolved from contemporary animals. The point of the section about monkeys, and now reptiles, is that humans did not, according to mainstream scientific understanding, evolve from those modern-day animals. Both misconceptions are saying the same thing. This is not an exhaustive list; a clone misconception does not need to be included. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 03:54, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
The misconceptions are distinct (one is about the origin of mammals, the other of humans). Also if you think the list is not exhaustive then try finding sources that, say, that we evolved from mammoths is a misconception. You won't find any. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 04:32, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
Read the front page of the article. Every Wikipedia list contains the disclaimer "this list is not intended to be exhaustive". No, there probably aren't misconceptions about every single animal in this regard. However, I'm sure you'd find a lot involving modern fish, frogs, dogs, elephants, etc. You say that they're distinct, but the misconception is caused by the same misunderstanding in both cases. We could add similar to the "jalapeno and 'hot seed'" misconception, mentioned above, to every single pepper with similar traits. Or we could just explain that, in such cases, the irritants are contained in the organ which holds the seeds. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 20:02, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
They are not "caused by the same misunderstanding in both cases". -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 07:01, 11 May 2011 (UTC)
How so? Both misconceptions seem to be caused by the misunderstanding that all modern creatures descended directly from other contemporary creatures. That they diverged is the reason for these distinctions as "monkey-like" or "reptile-like". --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 21:44, 12 May 2011 (UTC)
Aside from the significant detail that reptiles are both contemporary and ancient, the point is, which you seemed to have missed, that mammals did not descend from reptiles or reptile-like creatures, but directly from amphibians or amphibian-like creatures.-- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 22:52, 14 May 2011 (UTC)
The text you quoted at the OP says reptiles and mammals share a common ancestor; the amphibian-like creatures of which you speak. So, as I was saying, it is held that they are not descended from reptiles because their ancestors diverged at some point. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 03:30, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
How is this truism relevant to whether the material should be excluded/included? -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 05:38, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

This entry says that mammals' and reptiles' last common ancestors, "were amphibian-like animals known as amniotes". But even the earliest amniotes were more like reptiles than amphibians (both genetically and in their appearance and features). So could someone change that phrase to "were reptile-like animals known as amniotes", or some other change to reflect this issue? (talk) 05:09, 28 May 2011 (UTC)

Good point. I'll add a few links as well. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 08:35, 28 May 2011 (UTC)
Actually, I think the users arguing for deletion have a point: mammals DID evolve from animals that were very similar to reptiles. The core misconception is simply that animals are descended from other contemporary animals. If the common ancestor of mammals and reptiles were alive today, it would probably be classified as a reptile, and if the common ancestor of humans and monkeys were alive today, it would be classified as a monkey. (talk) 04:28, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
No, that's the point, the common ancestor would not be classed as a reptile, it would be classed as an amphibian (or something slightly more advanced than an amphibian, but not yet either a mammal or reptile). To say that mammals descended from amphibians would not be a misconception -- at least not of the same order. Looie496 (talk) 05:26, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
And I don't think "the core misconception is simply that animals are descended from other contemporary animals." This seems to be an attempt to shoehorn two misconceptions into one. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 08:16, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
Ok, so now I think we're really getting to the core of the issue here. If I'm understanding correctly, Looie is saying that the reason that this item is a misconception is that no ancestor of humans would be classified as a reptile if it were alive today. If that's actually true, then I would agree that this item is important to keep in the article. But, Lookie, I think we might have our facts wrong. Are there any sources that say that the common ancestors of mammals and reptiles (they were an early amniote species) were substantially different from reptiles? I know that reptiliomorphs wouldn't be classified as reptiles, but those were BEFORE the first amniotes. Here's a quote from the article on Casineria, an early amniote: "With its advanced features, Casineria may have been one of the very first true amniotes, and thus the first reptile under traditional classification." What do you guys think? (talk) 07:38, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
Sorry for this second post and the length. I just read through the paper Looie linked to. It all about Synapsids. I trust the author completely that they are not reptiles. But the real candidates for our "most reptile-like" ancestors could be amniotes that precede the synapsids entirely (see Fig. 4b in the paper if I'm not being clear). (talk) 07:55, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
Mammals did very much evolve from reptiles under the common understanding of the term "reptile" ( an evolutionary grade). Mammals did not evolve from Sauropsida, but Sauropsida and Reptilia are not the same animals. Despite a very vocal minority of phylogenetic nomenclaturists in vertebrate papaentology unsing "reptile" when referring to sauropsids (a suggestion forwarded by Modesto & Anderson 2004), the classical Linnaean understanding of the term is stil the most widspread, and virtually the only one known to the public. Thus the "mammals did not evolve from reptiles" is at best a conditinal truth, and this should be explained in the article. That cladistic missconception demonstrated by Michael C. Price, that "mammals evolved directly from the reptiliomorpha at the start of this section would be a much greater missconception, and would imply that Amniota is biphyletic, a suggestion which has no support in the scientrific community. Petter Bøckman (talk) 05:26, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
Okay, the question seems to resolve around whether Casineria is a reptile. The infobox says "Class: Amphibia/Reptilia (uncertain)" What do you think, Looie? -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 06:46, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
Since I'm the one filling in that taxobox, I wouldn't put too much emphasis on it. The problem here is that "reptile" has a number of closely related meanings. Traditionally, Reptilia cover all (trait defined) amniotes, minus the birds and the mammals. In the mid 1990's, the proponents of phylogenetic nomenclature proposed a crown group definition if Reptilia to supplement the phylogenetic Sauropsida, which wasn't getting much traction. So, by a new (and not universally accepted) new definition, the old Synapsida (mammal-like reptiles) fell out of Reptilia. This do stil not make mammals totally unrelated to reptiles, it just makes the synapsid-sauropsid split a very deep one, but the spit does not go all the way down. Reptiles in the traditional definition (amniotes sans birds and mammals) predate the synapsid-sauropsid spilt by 20-30 million years. Only under the crown group definition (the restrictive crown group approach is not even accepted among all phyolgenetic taxonomists) would the two lines have evolved from a common species of "basal amniote" (the phylogentists way of saying ancestral reptile). Hylonomus has been suggested as the last common ancestor. The early mammal-like reptiles were quite reptile-like indeed, including parchment-shelled eggs, simple conical teeth, "cold-blooded" metabolism, sprawling legs and skin covered in scutes (scales are only really found in lepidosaurs). The only really "mammalian" trait in the early forms was a single fenestration low in the skull roof behind each eye, as opposed to two in diapsid reptiles and non in anapsids. Petter Bøckman (talk) 12:05, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
Edit: I have been bold and rewritten the section, see if it is to your liking. Petter Bøckman (talk) 12:56, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
.I am persuaded of the logic of your position. (Trim the entry back to just Dimetrodon, if you wish.) Don't understand the crown group article, though, and have left a note there to that effect. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 13:04, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
I think Petter has written a much-more-accurate paragraph on this issue. So now I just wonder whether it's actually different enough from the human/chimp one to warrant its own entry. Really, the misconception is the same. And while the human/chimp one is actually very common from my personal experience, I don't see the mammal/reptile one being any more common than the mammal/fish one or the mammal/bacteria one or any of the other many possibilities. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:30, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
I think it will come up from time to time, in that mammals did evolve from reptiles under one system but not under another (Linnaean vs phylogenetic taxonomy). Every now and then some hothead phylogenetecist will come in all guns blazing to educate the poor masses on the new brilliant conceptual breakthrough, which is really nothing more a new way of saying the same things. The actual phylogeny of mammals has been fairly well understood since the 1870s or thereabout, so there's really nothing new here. Petter Bøckman (talk) 20:44, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Whether reptiles=>mammals is a misconception or not, it is not the same as the chimp=>human belief. You can believe that mammals evolved from reptiles, without thinking that they evolved from tortoises or snakes or whatever; I have no idea why this misconception keeps popping up on the talk page.-- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 21:01, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

Remove Baraka Obama is not a Muslim

The "source" for this line is third party conjecture, not fact. More direct sources come from Obama himself: Writing in a chapter of his book describing his 1992 wedding, the presidential candidate stated: "The person who made me proudest of all was Roy. Actually, now we call him Abongo, his Luo name, for two years ago he decided to reassert his African heritage. He converted to Islam, and has sworn off pork and tobacco and alcohol." —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pendergast4 (talkcontribs) 15:04, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

If you're trying to suggest that Obama is in fact a muslim, you're in the wrong place. Hairhorn (talk) 15:11, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
Uh, it stays. Richard Dawkins might have gone to a Catholic Mass in his youth, but that doesn't mean hes not a hard-liner atheist today. Obama has called himself a Christian. His mother was apparently drawn to Muslims because she was a secular humanist who had a hard time with hypocritical members of Christendom. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 20:06, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
So, if a practitioner of one religion is proud of another person for making a strong start down a different spiritual path, this automatically changes the religion of the person who is proud? This doesn't even make sense grammatically! Couldn't agree more - it definitely stays! FlaviaR (talk) 16:55, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

I suggest the removal of this misconception, but for different reasons. I think that most, if not all of the people who believe Obama is a Muslim understand that he prays every day and claims to be a Christian, they simply believe that to be a mask to hide his true Muslim colors. While I think this is rather silly, it's not really a "misconception", as they more or less understand the facts, they just come to a different conclusion. Enigmocracy (talk) 01:34, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

I agree; the facts don't seem to matter to people holding on to the "misconception". Hairhorn (talk) 01:52, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
The problem with this line of reasoning is that it requires the assumption that people cited in the article as believing he is a Muslim are lying, and we have no evidence of that. I'm sure at least some people believe the "mask-of-a-Christian" idea; the question is, how many? So unless someone can come up with a reliable source stating that a substantial number of the people who state that they believe Obama is a Muslim don't actually believe it, the proposition that they are lying is simply unsourced conjecture. I doubt you'll find such a source. Cresix (talk) 02:33, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
You could be right, but you're reversing the onus somewhat; all of a sudden we have to prove that it's not a misconception. Hairhorn (talk) 12:23, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
I'm still in favor of removal. I think this item is better classified as a conspiracy theory, not a common misconception. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 15:27, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Response to Hairhorn: No, I don't think I'm reversing the onus. The item has already been sourced (i.e., that a substantial number of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim). To remove a reliably sourced item as being inaccurate, it is general practice on Wikipedia to expect another reliable source that conflicts (e.g., that a lot of the people were lying about what they believe; or that there is something wrong with the information in the source). Not to belabor this, but an analogy would be if someone challenged that John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln. We wouldn't remove the Booth info just because a few editors thought there might be a problem with the veracity of the claim; the onus would be on those challenging the information to provide convincing evidence for their claim. That having been said, almost anything in Wikipedia can be removed by consensus (as long as there is no policy violation), so I would respect a consensus for removal. Cresix (talk) 16:07, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

I've never heard "Obama is a Muslim pretending to be a Christian." I've always heard it similar to "That Obama is a Muslim, just look at his name! Rhymes with Osama!" I would say that most of those claiming Obama is a Muslim could care less about his actual views and personality; they're more concerned with generally disliking the man. I would guess they heard at churches which tried to sway for a Republican victory that election year. In America right now, being a Muslim is probably the worst thing you can be in the eyes of popular opinion: I'm sure they would have called him that, family background or no. And Cresix is right, you should have a conflicting source before we actually remove the item. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 04:26, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
<squeeze>Oh for whatever's sake! Could NOT care less! If you "could care less" then you DO care. If you "could not care less" then you don't care. Which is what you are trying to say, isn't it? (Let's quickly add this to common misconceptions before it becomes common usage..oh noes, too late!) -- (talk) 12:37, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Ahem to "Could NOT care less". That always bugs me too. Like when they say "I don't think" when they mean "I think". But we digress... -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 08:00, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

What you are saying is not factual but simply anecdotal. Let us argue the logic only for a moment. The reason that this should be removed is because it is not a verifiable fact. You cannot know the true beliefs of another human being ever. You can only know what they profess to believe. The only person who knows what Obama truly believes is Obama himself. Because of this fact, it cannot be considered a misconception for people to believe that in his heart Obama is actually a Muslim or an Atheist for that matter. The only thing we can verify is that Obama professes to be a Christian. Anything beyond that is just speculation. Therefore this item deserves to be removed. Bryansix (talk) 19:58, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

If I counted correctly, we have 5 editors against including this item (Pendergast4, Enigmocracy, Hairhorn, A Quest For Knowledge and Bryansix) and 3 in favor of including this item (IronMaidenRocks, FlaviaR and Cresix). Does anyone else want to weigh in on whether it's a common misconception that Barack Obama is a Muslim? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 12:53, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
Hello, even if you counted correctly and remove the remove Barack Obama is not a muslim line, then isn't that just further letting the disbelief spread, in my opinion not as a editor but as a reader. It should stay for the obvious reason that there is doubt about whether or not it's a conspiracy theory or rather just some irrational logic. My two cents. (talk) 05:48, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
I favor removal. Even if IronMaidenRocks is correct about why people say Obama is a Muslim, it is still not a misconception. Roger (talk) 06:24, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Considering the (in the US) rather widespread belief that he is a Muslim, I think it bears mentioning in this article. However, I also think the article should include Bryansix' notion that the actual belief of a person can not be established. Petter Bøckman (talk) 07:42, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Just a thought, but isn't the idea that Barack Obama is a Muslim more of a conspiracy theory that a misconception? Admitedly I'm not an American, but it's struck me that the people who believe this, believe that Obama is deliberately decieving them by pretending to be a Christian, rather than simply have an erronious belief that Obama is of a faith he is in fact not. Therefore I don't believe this qualifies as a misconception for this page, and should be removed. Coolug (talk) 13:27, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
nicely said, Coolug. I agree that this is not a misconception. Cliff (talk) 13:32, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. GuyWithoutAUsername (talk) 22:22, 25 June 2011 (UTC)
Not agreed. Many people simply believe this incorrectly. Guy, you had no consensus to remove this. Drmies (talk) 22:28, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

The above discussion is not so much about Obama as it is about the definition of a misconception. The source to "demonstrate" that it is a misconception does not use that word. It says "The number of Americans who believe -- wrongly...has increased (to) 20 percent of the nation's population". That leaves it up to we editors to decide if those words mean the same as misconception. (Some of us believe that this need to repeatedly re-interpret others' words to justify inclusion in this article renders the whole article meaningless, and too much based on the opinions of editors, rather than the sources.) The source also highlights the fact that it is a "wrong thought" that is deliberately encourage by Obama's opponents in politics and the media. This is NOT a normal misconception. HiLo48 (talk) 22:48, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

  • First of all, that sounds like a bad case of semantics. Second, could no one be bothered to type a couple of words in Google to see if the magic word appears? It does. Drmies (talk) 00:13, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
What? HiLo48 (talk) 00:18, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
My previous post stays, because that post from Drmies is still pretty incoherent. I think he was attacking me in the first part, but not very successfully if I couldn't understand it. A look at the article history also tells me that the second part of his post should be translated from "could no one be bothered to type a couple of words in Google to see if the magic word appears?" to "I have added two references". The world would be so much easier to live in if everyone just spoke simple English. I now point out that Drmies ignored most of my post. One of those new sources backs me up by asking "Does this prove...that there are a lot of dumb people out there?" I will add "There a lot of manipulative politicians out there." Is it really a misconception if someone believes what a lying politician tells them? I say again "This is NOT a normal misconception". HiLo48 (talk) 00:31, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
I agree with HiLo48; there are many intentional untruths that politicians repeat about each other and about history, science, and other subjects for political purposes. While these untruths may be technically "misconceptions", they are not what "misconception" connotes in this context, and the Barack Obama religion thing looks out-of-place in this article. Quigley (talk) 00:36, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

<--HiLo, if I unsuccessfully attacked you, I apologize--I'll try to do better next time. OK, in simple terms. The article is about common misconceptions, and many Americans apparently suffer from the misconception that the president is Muslim. Quigley, you haven't said how the Obama thing relates to your agreement. 20% of Americans (as reported), that's not some politicians talking to each other--it's also the local news and newspapers and the Fox channels and whatnot. Saying, as HiLo does, that it's all the fault of people believing some lying politicians, is not convincing. Why Quigley would talk about "untruths that politicians repeat" when the reliable sources speak of 20% of Americans (ahem, not politicians, but normal people), I don't quite understand. Probably too coherent for me. I'll leave this talk page and the article in your capable hands. Drmies (talk) 00:57, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

You're quite right. You don't seem to understand. Perhaps if you read the concerns of others more carefully, and thought about them all, you would manage a lot better. The point is that a lot of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim BECAUSE a lot of his political opponents (politicians AND media) are happy for them to think that way, are saying things that encourage them to think that way, and make sure that see or hear nothing that would make them think otherwise. There are a couple of layers in that logic. Please try a little harder to understand. HiLo48 (talk) 01:03, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
I agree that this is better classified as a conspiracy theory and not a misconception. There's a huge difference between the two. With a misconception, most people who have the misconception - if you explained why it's a misconception to them - would realize their mistake and change their mind. For example, I used to think of black holes as a giant cosmic vacuum cleaner. After I read this article, I realized why this perception was incorrect. With a conspiracy theory - whether its Obama being a Muslim, that 9/11 was carried out by the US government, or that the Apollo lunar landing was a hoax - conspiracy theorists have already heard the truth but refuse to believe it. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 14:10, 26 June 2011 (UTC)
Great point, people will change their mind when a misconception is explained to them, because they then understand how for whatever reason they were wrong. I'm very tempted to remove this myself now. In fact, I'm going to be bold and just do it. cya Coolug (talk) 15:45, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

Citation needed for claim regarding Middle Ages scientists.

"There is also no evidence of any scientist during the Middle Ages incurring infractions only for their research." Citation needed. Biased. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:19, 14 June 2011 (UTC)

Thank you, I have removed this claim, but "It is also erroneously claimed that the Roman Catholic Church suppressed scientific advancement during this era" still needs a citation. InverseHypercube 04:49, 27 June 2011 (UTC)


This article is fascinating. Knowing that there are some myopic "editors" out there I assume this is a fought article, I thought I'd show my support for the article and say I am glad it is here. -- (talk) 05:18, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

On behalf of the editors of this article, thank you! If you are interested you could help us improve it. InverseHypercube 04:40, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

Ordering of content headings

Does Wikipedia have a consistent ordering of topics to cover the range of human knowledge? The headings at WP:GA may be useful to adopt here. Also as this page gets bigger we may need to break off sections as subarticles. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 04:57, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

I like the idea of using the WP:GA headings. InverseHypercube 05:04, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

Misconception: Celery (or any food) is a "negative calorie food"

These two have links to more refences: Negative calorie food and Thermic effect. Citations 4, 5 and 6 from the Thermic effect are probably the strongest. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:34, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

Another Misc of Evolution

A common misc. of evolution is that it predicts "random" animals and that there should be (a fossil of) a lizardmonkeyduckpig somewhere. (talk) 07:06, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

Never heard of that one before. -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 07:50, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Nor have I. We would need to see a reliable source that describes it as a common misconception. HiLo48 (talk) 10:40, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
If anyone is actually looking for sources for this, I would guess that this misconception stems from Kirk Cameron's "Crocoduck" argument. I don't think I've ever seen it described as a misconception, anymore than any other creationist claim. Regardless, that would be a good place to start an attempt to find sources for this potential misconception. eldamorie (talk) 13:16, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Nice find! In fact, there is an article on this; crocoduck. I don't know how common this misconception is though. InverseHypercube 01:45, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
From the article on crocoduck: "It was later used by creationists to claim that the absence of any half-crocodile, half-duck chimera disproves evolution, an argument that quickly became a popular theme used to ridicule a common misrepresentation (my boldface) of the theory of evolution, namely, that the theory predicts forms intermediate between any two currently living organisms." (talk) 15:29, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
But is a common misrepresentation also a common misconception? -- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 18:13, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Yes. The people who misrepresent evolution in this way also, by default, have this misconception. (talk) 07:23, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Trying to get this going. Proposed text: Evolution does not predict the emergence of random or chimera species like a Crocoduck, a Birddog or a Fronkey. Modern species share a common ancestor, but are neither descended from each other nor from some crude composite chimera. The absence of any half-crocodile, half-duck chimera does not disprove evolution. (talk) 07:21, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

There certainly arn't any "half corcodile half duck" fossiles as such, but there's always Archaeopteryx which I suppose comes rather close to what just such a chimaera would look like. "Half crocodile half jellyfish" might work better. Petter Bøckman (talk) 17:47, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
Whatever combination of two (three? five!?) animals (why stop there; what about a dogrose?) you prefer. The point is the misconception that evolution predicts such critters. (talk) 13:40, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

This is far too uncommon to be added to the list. (talk) 05:24, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

I disagree. The crocoduck article clearly lists it as a common misrepresentation and even states it as a misconception: "... An illustration shows the Crocoduck Tie (...) in commemoration of this misconception."" Perhaps a more to the point reference to the crocoduck article could be added. Something in the line of "Evolution does not predict crocoducs. Modern species share a common ancestor, (...) and ducks are not descended from crocodiles" (talk) 08:26, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

I see this as a misunderstanding of evolution by people determined to misunderstand evolution. Not a misconception at all. HiLo48 (talk) 08:35, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

I quite agree. Fleshing out the crocoduck page a bit would probably be better. Petter Bøckman (talk) 08:55, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

Al Gore didn't claim to have "invented" the Internet.

Not saying it needs to be removed, but maybe just re-worded. Lots of people cite the fact that his claim was to have "created" the internet and it's only a case of synonyms. See the Boing Boing page comments section where a few people are griping about it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by MrJosiahT (talkcontribs) 23:17, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

It is not harmful to baby birds to pick them up and return them to their nests, despite the common belief that doing so will cause the mother to reject them.

In my personal experience, at least the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) often refuses to feed it's fallen chick which has been returned to it's nest. The reason for this behavior is unclear, but usually the returned chicks can be found starved to death from their nests after some time, even if the birds were in good condition in the time of returning to their nests. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:38, 12 July 2011 (UTC)

Christian Compatibility with Science / Conflict Theory

Most historians of science consider the supposed conflict between Christianity and science as a rare phenomenon in today's time. It is misconceived to believe that there has always been open hostility between faith and science. Most historical evidence points to a productive and positive relationship between the two. I cite the Wikipedia article "Criticism of Christianity." Big Mad Drogo (talk) 17:49, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

Tell that to Galileo. Looie496 (talk) 00:42, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
The misconception is so common that WP editors suffer from it. My guess is that the subject is too controversial for this page. Roger (talk) 05:12, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. GuyWithoutAUsername (talk) 16:27, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
As alllways: Can it be documented? If so, good, if not, not for WP. Petter Bøckman (talk) 21:18, 15 July 2011 (UTC)

Possible misconception on Chaucer

I believe it is a common misconception to think that Geoffrey Chaucer was a Protestant. Although Chaucer's poems were highly critical of the Catholic Church, he was born and raises as a Roman Catholic. Protestantism did not exist until the early 1500s, which made it historically impossible for him to be a Protestant. GuyWithoutAUsername (talk) 16:30, 15 July 2011 (UTC)

And your source that says this is a common misconception is?--Asher196 (talk) 17:11, 15 July 2011 (UTC)
Although I don't have any sources, in his article, it says:

"The myth of the Protestant Chaucer continues to have a lasting impact on a large body of Chaucerian scholarship. Though it is extremely rare for a modern scholar to suggest Chaucer supported a religious movement that didn't exist until more than a century after his death, the predominance of this thinking for so many centuries left it for granted that Chaucer was at least extremely hostile toward Catholicism. This assumption forms a large part of many critical approaches to Chaucer's works, including neo-Marxism." Although not necessarily a misconception, certainly it appears that this seems to be a first assumption. I will try to find sources. GuyWithoutAUsername (talk) 00:39, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

This article is about common misconceptions. Chaucerian scholarship is not common. HiLo48 (talk) 00:42, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

Edit request

The statement "around 41% of U.S. adults mistakenly believe humans and dinosaurs coexisted." is not supported by the press release from California Academy of Sciences reprinted by Science Daily. Aside from being incorrect the source is very flimsy I would guess not strong enough for this page. Removal is most appropriate. (talk) 18:56, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

It is in fact supported. Your link says "Only 59% of adults know that the earliest humans and dinosaurs did not live at the same time", meaning 41% think they coexisted. Maybe you read it wrong? InverseHypercube 19:15, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
No you've just read it and interpreted it incorrectly. It's a false dilemma and completely ignore the possibility of unsure, don't know or refuse to answer question responses. Additionally the scholarship is quite poor and omits the methodology or any of the raw data. A press release is hardly suitable for this page. (talk) 19:20, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Agree with IP that the wording is basically OR; surely there is a "unsure" answer in there, so have reworded to match source. Disagree with IP that the source is not reliable, though. If you want to see the methodology, you can contact the number on the press release. Yobol (talk) 19:40, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Oh, I see. Sorry. Here is a study that says that 30% of Texans believe that humans and dinosaurs coexisted: [12], and here is a study saying that 29% of Russians believe the same thing: [13]. Do you think these would be a satisfactory replacement? InverseHypercube 20:34, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
I believe that the CAL academy questionnaire was a fill in the blank. There is some support for that here. "Nearly half didn't even hazard a guess." The truest statement may be, "41% of respondents failed to answer the question...dinosaurs and man coexisted..." Whether they answered wrong or refused to answer, they certainly missed the opportunity to give the right answer once they had agreed to take the questionnaire. BTW, I only had one student get this wrong when I was handing out the questionnaire on a college campus.TheThomas (talk) 21:50, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

Following Yobol's edit, the "however" starting the second sentence no longer makes sense. User:th1rt3en made an edit reflecting this opinion, but it was reverted by another user. Should the "however" stand, or be removed? Cliff (talk) 23:55, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

I thought that the version without "however" looked weird and disconnected. We have "People believe X, however Y is true" rather than "People believe X. Y is true" where "Y" is not obviously "not X". Adding "however" makes it clearer that "Y" is "not X".-- cheers, Michael C. Price talk 00:02, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Sunflower misconception

A common misconception is that sunflowers track the sun.[7] In fact, mature flowerheads typically face east and do not move. The leaves and buds of young sunflowers do exhibit heliotropism (sun turning). Their orientation changes from east to west during the course of a day.[8] The movements become a circadian response and when plants are rotated 180 degrees, the old response pattern is still followed for a few days, with leaf orientation changing from west to east instead.[9] The leaf and flowerhead bud phototropism occurs while the leaf petioles and stems are still actively growing, but once mature, the movements stop. These movements involve the petioles bending or twisting during the day then unbending or untwisting at night.[10] I think this misconception deserves a place in the list, because I've just recently learned that, and I think it's quite widespread. Should it be added to the list?

--Theon144 (talk) 13:33, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

I see footnotes in your text above. Where are the references? ~Amatulić (talk) 14:08, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
The text is copied directly from Sunflower#Heliotropism. Looie496 (talk) 17:30, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

The article suggests that the vulnerability of the MacOs operating system to malware is as high as that of the Windows operating system

The article correctly lists the affirmation that Macs are immune to malware as a common misconception. However, the wording suggest that the MacOs operating system is as vulnerable to malware as the Windows operating system.
Although in my opinion this is completely false, what I can assert is that the sources in the article do not support the notion that MacOs is as vulnerable to malware as the Windows OS. The sources merely prove that there have been found a couple of malware in the wild for MacOs, this does not prove a trend nor it represents an actual study of the defense mechanisms and inherent security of MacOs.
I propose that the misconception be rephrased so it addresses the point that MacOs is vulnerable to some extent to malware, while clarifying that there is no hard evidence that suggests that is comparatively more or less secure than Windows.
I do suspect that there are several studies that, based on an analysis of the way permissions are managed in Unix based operating systems vs some Windows operating systems (namely versions between 95 and XP), reveal that these versions of Windows are more vulnerable once they are infected with malware, specially by backdoors, trojans and viruses.
Plaga701 (talk) 05:10, 24 July 2011 (UTC)


Contrary to a popular misconception—that hypnosis is a form of unconsciousness resembling sleep—contemporary research suggests that hypnotic subjects are fully awake and are focusing attention, with a corresponding decrease in their peripheral awareness.[6] Subjects also show an increased response to suggestions.[7] In the first book on the subject, Neurypnology (1843), Braid described "hypnotism" as a state of physical relaxation accompanied and induced by mental concentration ("abstraction").[8] — Preceding unsigned comment added by TheThomas (talkcontribs) 03:28, 25 July 2011 (UTC)

You would need to provide a reliable source establishing that it is indeed a common misconception that hypnosis is a form of unconciousness resemblins sleep. Dr bab (talk) 08:14, 26 July 2011 (UTC)

Gregorian Calendar

I don't know when it was put back in, but according to this debate in the archives, there was a consensus that there was not sufficient sources to establish that the Gregorian Calendar not having a year zero is a common misconception. I don't see that the current item provides any sources pointing out that this is a current misconception either. I have deleted the item. Dr bab (talk) 07:51, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

Please make sure to use edit summaries when doing edits like this. I was about to revert your edit on principle, and would have if I hadn't checked here first. Looie496 (talk) 16:43, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
Sorry about that, I was bit fast in hitting "save page". I normally use edit summaries, but I'll try to double check that I have done so in the future. Dr bab (talk) 06:58, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

Multiple problems in History section

Listing as individual issues to make debate easier. --Dweller (talk) 15:02, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

Dark Ages entry

Just because some or even many modern historians now reject this name, does not mean it is a misconception that there is a period in history known as the Dark Ages [to all but those modern historians]. --Dweller (talk) 14:43, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

I agree that this is badly worded. There clearly is an era commonly known as the dark ages; the recent work suggests this was an inappropriate appellation. The explanation is getting at this second point, but overall, this is a mishmash. Should be reworded or removed. Rewording would be better, as it is a common misconception that this era had little progress, but we need to say it right or not at all.--SPhilbrickT 13:28, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
Even on the more accurate point, it's just some historian's opinions, not necessarily consensus or (perish the though) "Truth". It's a bad concept [for a bad page, I'm afraid]. --Dweller (talk) 15:48, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
Well, of course, "truth" isn't our goal. I'm not sure how to proceed on this one. Citing one historian isn't enough, in fact, citing a dozen may or may not be enough, but smacks of OR. Unlike other misconceptions, where the refutation may be a simple fact, this refutation requires a consensus of contemporary historians. We certainly shouldn't undertake the summarization ourselves, per OR, so unless we can find a study that does do that survey, we might have to remove this one. Anyone disagree?--SPhilbrickT 16:20, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

Iron maiden entry

As our article Iron maiden (torture) makes clear, this 'misconception' is actually the view of one academic. According to most other opinions, they were used and our article has evidence of this. It probably is a misconception that they were used in medieval times, but I doubt that the difference between "medieval" and "Renaissance" is something "common"ly understood. --Dweller (talk) 14:56, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

Columbus entry

Lots of lovely references. Do any of them claim that it's a common misconception that he had problems to do with the Earth being flat? If so, they should follow that claim. --Dweller (talk) 15:01, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

Marco Polo entry

This is based on the following quote: "The story that it was Marco Polo who imported noodles to Italy and thereby gave birth to the country's pasta culture is the most pervasive myth in the history of Italian food". No evidence in the source that people "common"ly know any myths about the history of Italian food. This may be just the best-known of five not well known myths. --Dweller (talk) 15:05, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

Edit request from Clgood, 30 July 2011

Please add to the math section about 0.999... being equivalent to 1 this quote: "It's easy to prove this to most people's satisfaction by dividing both values by 3. Both 1 ÷ 3 and 0.999... ÷ 3 equal 0.333..., therefore both are equal to each other." Reference would be to:

Clgood (talk) 01:25, 30 July 2011 (UTC)

Not done: This isn't really an appropriate thing to quote. Also, there are already many proofs in the main article on the subject. Feezo (send a signal | watch the sky) 01:58, 30 July 2011 (UTC)

"Hebrew Bible"

This term is a specific, technical reference to the Masoretic text. The understanding of the name itself is a common misconception. I'd encourage you to discontinue its use in this article. Mind you, I'd also encourage you to discontinue this article. --Dweller (talk) 12:47, 26 July 2011 (UTC)

Hebrew Bible. I don't know what else you're going to use, most readers aren't going to know what is meant by the "Masoretic text". --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 09:03, 2 August 2011 (UTC)


It's a common misconception that burglary is to break into a residence to commit theft, but actually burglary includes breaking into a residence with the intent to commit any felony. Model Penal Code § 221.1. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:40, 30 July 2011 (UTC)

That seems to be a description of the situation in only one country (the USA?) so not appropriate to this global page. HiLo48 (talk) 04:40, 2 August 2011 (UTC)

Edit request from, 1/8/11

I'd like to suggest that the fact that mosquitoes are not primarily blood drinkers and mostly feed on nectar be added to the article. From the article on mosquitoes: "Both male and female mosquitoes are nectar feeders, but the females of many species are also capable of drinking blood from many mammals. Females do not require blood for their own survival, but they do need supplemental substances such as proteins and iron to develop eggs.". That paragraph could almost be straight copied to this article. (talk) 02:31, 2 August 2011 (UTC)

You would need a source to describe the misconception. HiLo48 (talk) 04:41, 2 August 2011 (UTC)

Christian section on Mary

This entry is extremely POV. Someone ought to delete the entire section. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 03:38, 8 August 2011

Are you referring to the paragraph beginning "The doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary..."? Please be more specific, quoting and indicating specific problems here. If there is a problem with sources, or disputes between sources, or incorrect quoting or paraphrasing of sources, please let us know. --Lexein (talk) 07:35, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Photographic or eidetic memory

Psychology Photographic or eidetic memory refers to the ability to remember images with extremely high precision—so high as to mimic a camera. However, it is highly unlikely that photographic memory exists, as to date there is no hard scientific evidence that anyone has ever had it.[273] Many people have claimed to have a photographic memory, but those people have been shown to have good memories as a result of mnemonic devices rather than a natural capacity for detailed memory encoding.[274] There are rare cases of individuals with exceptional memory, but none of them has a memory that mimics a camera.

Stephen_Wiltshire — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:36, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Why was this pasted here? Was there a question? --Lexein (talk) 03:01, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Milk, mucous, and dairy allergies

The statement about milk not creating mucous is highly controversial. The sources referenced are not sufficient to prove the point. As in many things, the reality is more complicated.

There is substantial evidence that dairy allergy causes an increase in mucous production for someone who consumes any quantity of dairy at all. So if someone is already eating alot of cheese, drinking more milk is not going to make it worse as they are already having an allergic reaction.

I know this first hand, because when I cut out dairy from my diet 100%- and this requires you to read labels very carefully- I stopped suffering from severe sinus headaches for the first time in my life. I went from being in pain 2-5 days a week, to not having had a sinus headache for the last 10 years. When I do eat a little cheese, I immediately feel and taste mucous in the back of my mouth and start to feel the pressure mount.

I have spoken with others who have experienced much the same. Also, parents have observed the same issue with babies when they are first exposed to dairy products.

There are many references on the net about this such as:

And here is a scholarly journal article that has many references to more information on this issue:

Here is a quote from this study:

The belief that excessive milk consumption causes excessive mucus production is common, however such an association cannot be explained using a conventional allergic paradigm.

Mucus overproduction from MUC5AC glands is characteristic of many respiratory tract diseases [15]. b-CM-7 from A1 milk could potentially increase mucus production from these glands. This association many not necessarily be simply cause and effect. For this to occur there needs to be a number of prerequisites. The person may have to consuming A1 as opposed to A2 milk, bCM-7 has to be passing into the systemic circulation and the tissues have to be actively inflamed. These prerequisites could explain much of the confusion in the ‘‘milk-mucus” literature. This would explain why a sub group of patients have found that their asthma or rhinitis symptoms improve on a dairy free diet

Since there are so few people in our society who consume absolutely no dairy products at all, there simply hasn't been enough data collected. All of the studies I have looked at test people for a few weeks or months, and do not control what the study participants are eating outside of the study. In other words, there is no study that I can find that looks at people who abstain from dairy 100%.

In any case, this matter is not firmly decided. If there is substantial disagreement about whether this common misconception is true or not, it should not be on this list as being absolutely true.

I'd edit it myself, but the page is locked. Can someone else please remove the statement about milk?

Thanks all. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Cxune (talkcontribs) 17:36, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

That article is from Medical Hypotheses, which is not considered a reliable source. Articles there are essentially unreviewed -- it publishes a bit of good stuff, but also a lot of wild and crazy stuff. We would need a better-quality source to back up the validity of the statements you are making. Looie496 (talk) 18:04, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

Also, it is worth noting that if someone is ill and taking antibiotics (specifically tetracyclines,) the calcium in milk can bind with the antibiotic and significantly lower absorption and efficacy. (


I enjoyed the reference to this page from an article, however it lead me to realize that this section of the misconceptions was actually misleading. This can be seen here: Article in geekosystem This reader concluded that glass does not flow, but it does in fact flow. It is a non-crystalline solid lacking local order, therefore it does have the ability to flow at elevated temperatures. Although very true that the case of thicker panes on the bottom of stained glass windows is not a result of this phenomenon, but rather that manufacturers perhaps made it uneven. I would like to not spread an additional misconception that glass does not flow, when in fact it does at elevated temperatures. (which is why we take great care in the glassware that we use to characterize our compounds). Thank you. MichChemGSI (talk) 17:07, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

Ok, that entry merits some cleanup. (As an aside, almost everything flows at elevated temperatures. The 2007 I-580 Freeway overpass gasoline fire and collapse is clear evidence that pressure+temperature produces steel softening, weakening, and "flowing" to a certain extent, then failure.) But anyways, a (book) source that states that glass (perhaps window glass, given the context) flows at elevated temperatures would be helpful. --Lexein (talk) 22:50, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
There's nothing with it as written. Old glass panes aren't thicker at the bottom because it's flowing. Whether or not glass flows at elevated temperatures is irrelevant to the list. Hot Stop talk-contribs 03:49, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

Removed content sourced to spam page -- August 2011

I removed content sourced to a spam page at Flowanda | Talk 06:05, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

Thank you, but please, in future, also link the diff. Might I also suggest commenting or deleting the ref, but leaving the content, tagged {{citation needed}}? --Lexein (talk) 00:03, 18 August 2011 (UTC)
On the spam-page the reference for the removed content is "Hanson, David J. Alcohol Education: What we Must Do. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1996, p. 13". I guess it is probably not the best source since it has the same author as the spam-page itself, but at least it gives him no traffic. Dr bab (talk) 08:03, 18 August 2011 (UTC)


While the Monty Hall Problem is entertaining is not a misconception but rather falls in the realm of questions with a trick. The correctness of the answer depends on an assumption on the understanding of the problem. I recommend removing the paragraph from the article or transferring it to somewhere more appropriate. (talk) 21:10, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. Not a common misconception. --damiens.rf 21:55, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
I tend to agree with you, but you might want to look into this and this debate in the archive before proceeding further with the debate. Dr bab (talk) 06:41, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
+1 --Lexein (talk) 12:47, 17 August 2011 (UTC)


It is certainly true that the roundness of the earth was universally known in the 15th century, so that belongs on the list. But it's a little simplistic to imply (the article doesn't actually say it explicitly, but it's suggested) that the only objection to Columbus was that he had the distance wrong (this bit is also uncited). It was fairly widely believed that the Atlantic was not navigable beyond a moderate distance from Europe; Dante mentions this as fact in the 14th century, and it certainly remained current, if more frequently questioned, in the 15th. Rather than expanding the entry, I think this is probably most easily solved by shortening it to the main issue, which is the misconception itself. Thoughts? Chick Bowen 21:51, 18 August 2011 (UTC)

Wright brother first to fly

Many people seem to believe this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:45, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

And...? HiLo48 (talk) 16:16, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
There's always Gustav Whitehead (Weisskopf) and Richard Pearse, though the first seems kind of apocryphal. Petter Bøckman (talk) 16:38, 20 August 2011 (UTC)
To add an item here you would need independent reliable sources telling us that it was a common misconception that many people believe the Wright Brothers were the first to fly, plus sources showing us they weren't. See the inclusion criteria near the top of the page. HiLo48 (talk) 16:41, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

Churchill's "up with which I will not put"

Is the incorrect attribution of "up with which I will not put" widespread enough to include? (Proposed ref. here.)--A bit iffy (talk) 12:18, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

  • Furthermore...I've now noticed this page has guidelines on inclusion.
    • Re "The common misconception's main topic has an article of its own." (see Preposition and postposition, Hypercorrection)
    • Re "The item is reliably sourced, both with respect to the factual contents of the item and the fact that it is a common misconception." (see refs. in Hypercorrection article)
    • Re "The common misconception is mentioned in its topic article with sources." (see point immediately above)
    • Re "The common misconception is current, as opposed to ancient or obsolete." (I've heard this several times over the last 40 years - OK, I know that's WP:OR)
    • --A bit iffy (talk) 12:33, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
      • There actually is a list of misquotations to which that one could certainly be added (that article needs work, though). A misquotation seems different from a misconception to me, though. Chick Bowen 18:01, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
        • Perhaps more a misquotation than misconception thing. Will consider in due course.--A bit iffy (talk) 20:10, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

Trees grow from the base

A fairly common misconception. But I've found only one good source mentioning that it is a misconception. There are other botanical misconceptions, such as "tomatoes are vegetables" and "bananas grow on trees". Are these good enough for inclusion? The mayor of Yurp (talk) 12:50, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

Tomatoes are vegetables, depending on how you define "vegetable." This has been the subject of legal and regulatory debate in the U.S.[14] And, IMHO, bananas grow on plants so tree-like that, even though they aren't botanically trees, the distinction is irrelevant to most of humanity and borders on niggling. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 13:42, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

Adam & Eve and the Tree of Life

The statement under the heading Hebrew Bible, "Adam and Eve did not eat from the tree of life in the Garden of Eden;[287] according to Genesis" is incorrect. The third chapter of Genesis is akin to all the chapters in the Bible in that it is not a detailed account of everything that happened during the life and times of the character in reference. Thus, it cannot be known whether Adam & Eve ever ate of the Tree of Life prior to eating the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. We can only assert that they were banished from the Garden of Eden to prevent them from eating of the Tree of Life after eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The disclaimer on Wikipedia is that content must be verifiable and stating that they never ate from the Tree of Life is not verifiable!

Additionally, "Hebrew Bible" is not a fitting description. It is called the Tanakh which is a name given by the Hebrews. This can be linked to here [[15]]. (talk) 17:55, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

  • Many Christians (including me) have never heard of the word "Tanakh". Anthony Appleyard (talk) 05:07, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
    • Tanakh is the Hebrew word, and its English transliteration is Hebrew Bible. There is no controversy here; that is what it's called by almost all scholars, except in specifically denominational religious cases. -- LightSpectra (talk) 01:55, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Macs vs malware (again)

  1. The discussion of inclusion criteria accommodated synonyms of "common misconception", including "myth" and "belief". So I've reverted the deletion of the Mac section, and added a supporting citation first.
  2. Outright deletion is not acceptable behavior, where discussion or rehabilitation is an obvious option. Deletion provokes revert warring, so deletion should be preceded by discussion and consensus. Discuss?
  3. I feel adding "or synonym" to the criteria would help prevent too-literal-minded reading of the criteria. Discuss?

--Lexein (talk) 21:30, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

My gut feeling is that most people are bright enough and not so much of a pedant that they will only accept something on here if the source specifically states it is a "common misconception", so there's no real need to amend the criteria. However, if past performance indicates otherwise then I don't have any issue with anyone changing the wording to make it any clearer. I suppose this may be beneficial to editors whose first language is not English. cya Coolug (talk) 15:18, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
I reverted the reversion of the deletion because the source used is about how Apple has used the paucity of Mac malware as a marketing tool, and has been forced to admit that Macs are not immune to viruses, NOT because it did not use the exact words "common misconception". After reading the sources, it seems like none of the cited sources really make the claim that this is a false belief, and seem to be mostly supportive of the idea that Macs are far less likely to be compromised than Windows machines. eldamorie (talk) 17:45, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
I think we can agree that causality is irrelevant, and was never important in this list of common misconceptions. Doesn't matter who started it, who failed to correct it, who marketed based on it, or who was finally forced to admit its falsehood. It's surely widespread and pernicious. I assume that the current sources (+3 since your edit) are sufficiently supportive? I can (as can you) supply many, many more. --Lexein (talk) 01:41, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
I disagree with your assessment. It is no falsehood that macs are far less likely to get viruses because there are less made for macs. It is definitely not a common misconception that macs are immune to viruses because nobody believes that they are, but it is true that there are less viruses designed for macs and that they are thus less likely to succumb to one.AerobicFox (talk) 16:45, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
On a related note, the source used for the explanation that the reason for the disparity is market share is simply a list of market share, and unless I missed it in one of the other sources, claiming market share as justification is original research. eldamorie (talk) 18:31, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Engaging brakes. Some of this discussion has been marred by run-on sentences, and some spotty punctuation, rendering parsing difficult. Are you (AerobicFox and Eldamorie) asserting that the following sentence is true?

There is no common misconception, myth, or belief that "Macs don't get malware"; further, there never was.

Sorry, but the history, reliable sources, books, magazines, blogosphere, Apple, and most Mac users, render such an assertion false on the face of it. How deep into history and internal Apple memos would you really like to take this? --Lexein (talk) 20:57, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Using internal Apple memos would be original research, you know. Just provide some independent third part reliable source that asserts the existences of such widespread myth. --damiens.rf 04:44, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Before going much further, I'll need an answer the above question "Yes" or "no." Without a clear answer, I'm not at all clear where Aerobicox and Eldamorie actually stand. (I was referring to published internal memos, of course ;) ) --Lexein (talk) 07:23, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
To be clear (and apologies for the delayed response) my objection is with the sourcing. None of the sources that were there when I reverted actually claimed that people held this misconception. I saw sources claiming that Apple has used the idea as a marketing tool, but not that it was a real misconception. My opinion on the above sentence is largely irrelevant. eldamorie (talk) 14:30, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Okay, is the sourcing sufficient now? --16:15, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

Birthday of Jesus

There is no evidence that Jesus was born on December 25.[301] The Bible never claims a date of December 25, but may imply a date closer to September.[301] The date may have initially been chosen to correspond with either the day exactly nine months after Christians believe Jesus to have been conceived

Use of the phrase "the day exactly nine months after Christians believe Jesus to have been conceived" is misleading and generalising. Very few Christians consider Jesus to have been conceived on March 25th as this is baseless conjecture from the middle ages. -- (talk) 22:58, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

Actually, it's not from the Middle Ages, it's from the era of antiquity, since this tradition came from Alexandrian Christians who followed the Jewish tradition that prophets were conceived on the same day that they died, and the traditional date for Good Friday was March 25. You're right that the sentence could possibly be misinterpreted but it is factual that there were Christians who believed that. -- LightSpectra (talk) 01:53, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Moved here for discussion

  • The doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary is not supported by canonical scripture, first appearing c.145 in an apocryphal gospel written several decades after the canonical ones. The Gospel of Matthew (1:24) implies that Mary and Joseph did indeed consummate a marriage after Jesus's birth, both Matthew (13:55) and the Gospel of Mark (6:3) indicate that Jesus had among his family four brothers (Joses, James, Jude and Simon) and an unspecified number of sisters, and both the Gospel of John and the Pauline epistles make reference to an unidentified number of Jesus's "brothers" associated with Mary (in John) and separate from his disciples (in both). Nevertheless, the doctrine was held as truth by virtually all Christian authorities until the twentieth century, and the doctrine remains a central tenet of the Roman Catholic Church.

Does not cite references which establish that it is a common misconception (or a doctrine, for that matter). Does not reference a main topic article which states so, with citations. Needs to meet all four inclusion criteria before reintroduction. --Lexein (talk) 03:05, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

I support removal based on current lack of sources. It also appears from the text that even if sources were found, they would show that this was a current misconception until the twentieth century. Any sources brought about to salvage this item would, under current inclusion criteria, need to establish that this is still a current misconception. Dr bab (talk) 06:42, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Cell phones at gas stations: citation needed

The following item was introduced with reference to a listverse source.Brutaldeluxe then removed the reference and replaced it with a "citation needed", claiming (rightly, in my opinion) that listverse is not a reliable source. However, I think that if the reference is not acceptable, then the item should not (yet) be included on the list. We could set a dangerous presedence if we allowed additions with "citation needed". I have therefore deleted the item from the article and moved here. Dr bab (talk) 06:38, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

  • "It is not dangerous to use a cell phone at a gas station. This misconception came about due to a bunch of emails being spread around the Internet describing cases of explosions caused by cell phone use. The emails were purported to have been sent by Shell Oil. When questioned, Shell denied sending the emails. Furthermore, not only has there never been a case of a cellphone causing an explosion at a gas station, no one has been able to prove that it is possible in scientific testing.[citation needed]"

Pretty poorly written. Maybe with the new criteria, it can be rehabilitated. The misconception is/was indeed induced by hoax emails, so I don't know how common it really is now, since it's been debunked in national media. Leaving out the whole Shell gossip, two car fire incidents were caught on video, presumed to be caused by static electricity due to sliding in and out of the vehicle while pumping fuel. This was coincident with cellphone use, but not caused by it. Sources for one car fire video:

It'll need an appropriate enclosing topic article. Fire? Cell phone? Static electricity? --Lexein (talk) 07:31, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

I'd like to include that the reason the use of a phone is banned is that people need to pay attention when pumping several gallons a minute of explosive mixture into their vehicle. This might be too obvious to source, though. The mayor of Yurp (talk) 12:27, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Snopes has this to say about it: — it's quite comprehensive on the subject. ~Amatulić (talk) 14:42, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Mythbusters did a show about this a few years back and found that they could not ignite gasoline even by enclosing a cell phone in a sealed chamber and injecting gasoline vapor.Asher196 (talk)

Many statements written in the affirmative and others written in the negative

The intro suggests this is a list of common misconceptions and that the statements written below are false. However many of the statements like, for example, vegetarians do in fact get enough protein, are written in the positive (i.e. is the negation of the misconception not the misconception itself). This list should probably be edited to keep things consistent or the intro should point out this fact. --MATThematical (talk) 18:36, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

Gringo does not mean American

The word "Gringo" is said to stand for "American," but it actually refers to a "White person." There are plenty of Mexican Americans who are definitely NOT gringos. (talk) 04:56, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Please read the section at the top of this page titled Please read before proposing new sections. Looie496 (talk) 05:09, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Another popular evolutionary misconception

Contrary to popular belief, non-avian dinosaurs did not go extinct because they weren't advanced enough to cope with change. In fact, dinosaurs were among the most successful vertebrates in the planet's history, dominating animal life for 160 million years. Most scientists agree that a sudden cataclysm, such as the impact of a large extraterrestrial body, was responsible for the reptiles' demise. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:34, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

I've added a section about it under "Evolution". Petter Bøckman (talk) 08:58, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
I think that passage may need some tweaking -- at the very least "a few species of small feathered theropods" is misleading, since birds had already become highly diverse and sophisticated flyers by the time of the CT mass extinction. Looie496 (talk) 16:06, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
You are right. Is it better now? Petter Bøckman (talk) 18:43, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Group "Chemistry"

The term "Chemistry" for the misconception concerning glass is incorrect. Instead of Chemistry, I would recommend Material Science, or Material Properties. Chemistry has more to do with molecules (small and large) and deals primarily on the atomic level. The question of whether or not glass is a highly viscous fluid or an amorphous solid is a property of the material "Glass".

Mckownr (talk) 11:52, 30 August 2011 (UTC) Ryan McKown - 30. August, 2011 - 13:51 - Würzburg

small grammatical error

Under the Evolution heading, the paragraph starting with the word "Mammals", the following sentence: "With the rise of phylogenetic nomenclature in the 1990s, "reptile" also sometimes became use as a synonym for Sauropsida, which exclude the basal amniotes and the synapsid line.[176]", "became use" should read "became used". (talk) 20:40, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Ick. I changed it to "reptile also began to be used as a synonym...". Thanks for pointing out the error. Looie496 (talk) 20:48, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Angels were previously humans in It's a Wonderful Life?

An entry under Religion reads "The Bible does not teach that humans can or will become angels after death.[309][310][311] This myth has been proliferated by films such as It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and Unlikely Angel (1996)."

I don't recall any part of It's a Wonderful Life claiming that angels were formerly human. The fact that angels are said to be wingless and then earn their wings does not at all imply that they were human. Can someone provide a quote where the movie makes this claim? -- Fyrefly (talk) 22:15, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Ich bin ein Berliner

While the missconception that the Berlins did not think Kennedy to state that he is a Pfannkuchen, at least today the Berliner Pfannkuchen is not usually called a "Pfannkuchen" but a "Berliner" (I can say this pretty safe as I am a german myself) also because if you would call woth the regular pancake as well as the jelly doughnout "Pfannkuchen" it woould be hard to decide wich one is ment.

I have also heard of this common missconceptions but at least today we take it as a joke towards the stupidy of the americans (having translated Kennedy´s words wrong) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Skullls (talkcontribs) 21:38, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Berliner Pfannkuchen are called 'Pfannkuchen' in Berlin and east germany and 'Berliner' in most of west germany (check the wiki article on Berliner Pfannkuchen). The entry is correct in the sense that the people of Berlin did not laugh about this, many in west germany did though (and still do, it is a common joke, also featured in TV comedy shows). I would adivise to clear up the misconception. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:41, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

I can hardly imagine that any german above the age of 10 would find the misinterpretation of "Ich bin ein Berliner" - which correctly and perfectly translates to "I am a citizen of Berlin" in all parts of germany - as stating "I am a jelly doughnut" amusing. The term "Berliner" to name jelly doghnuts is only used in contexts where it is pretty clear that we talk about pastries (also pretty sure because also german) (talk) 00:01, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Does this line make sense?

Under the Chemistry section, the last line: "In fact, the lead frames of the windows are less viscous than the panes, and if glass was indeed a slow moving liquid, the panes would warp at a higher degree.[178][179]" The section is arguing that glass isn't viscous and then goes to say that the lead frames are less viscous than the panes, which would mean that the panes have some viscosity and seems to be counter to the rest of the line. Also the last part that "if glass was indeed a slow moving liquid, the panes would warp at a higher degree." seems too obvious to state. I searched but couldn't find anything regarding the relationship between the viscosity of lead and glass in either of the two sources cited. (talk) 20:51, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

 Done. Removed unsupported sentence about lead. --Lexein (talk) 06:03, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

Teflon and velcro are not spin-off products from NASA space projects

I think it is very relevant, and both article have references of this fact: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:43, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

Care to write the proposed short item here, following all four critiria above? Might be better to workshop it here, rather than in the article space. --Lexein (talk) 05:50, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

(Put it in Technology > Inventions. I added also Tang. The reference is

Tang, Teflon and Velcro are not NASA spin-offs. The confusion arose as General Foods developed Tang in 1957, and in 1962 it was selected for the menu of the MA-6 mission, which increased its public awareness. NASA also raised the celebrity status of Teflon, a material invented for DuPont in 1938. Velcro was used during the Apollo missions. Although it is a Swiss invention from 1948, it has since been associated with the Space Program. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:52, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

Good so far, but the source doesn't state that these are common misconceptions (or synonym thereof),
  • states Tang/NASA "is a myth".
  • Teflon/NASA - no source found yet for "is a C.M."
  • Velcro/NASA - no good source found yey for "is a C.M." though it might squeak by, because it says "associated with" - other folks? Discuss?
--Lexein (talk) 09:05, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Teflon:I've certainly seen the teflon link to the space program numerous times, mostly in the form of arguments of the type "The space program is an expensive way to develop non-stick frying pans". I have no sources at the moment, but I think this is well worth looking into, and believe sources could be found.
  • Velcro: In my opinion, "associated with" is not enough and I would say we need further sources.
  • Tang: I have never heard about Tang in my life, so I have no way of making a meaningful comment on this.
Dr bab (talk) 12:24, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
Maybe this link is a good reference for the state of Teflon as a C.M.:
Another reference from a newspaper:
At the end of this article it raises a good point which I think is worth to tell: that there was no real incentive for NASA to set the record straight, as there were so much people speaking ill about it.
This article also mentions the controversy: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:33, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
Didn't forget - just busy. --Lexein (talk) 15:33, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Monty Hall

I can't find a citation, but I was wondering whether we should make a mention of the misconception that it is best to switch doors in the Monty Hall problem regardless of whether the host has prior knowledge, as advanced in, for instance, the film 21. (If the host did not know whether he was opening an empty door, the two possible scenarios are A: you chose the right door (1/3), and B: you chose an empty door (2/3), as did the host (1/2); since both of these have a 1/3 chance of coming up, the odds become even.) Twin Bird (talk) 06:02, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

I thought that the whole point of this scenario was that host did know what was behind the door? Isn't the idea behind this that people might at first think it's a 50/50 bet, when actually using maths we can prove that it's 66/33 in favour of switching doors. The Monty Hall problem isn't just about everyone choosing a random door. Coolug (talk) 13:05, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
Correct, in the monty hall problem, the host knows what's behind the doors. what Twin Bird is talking about is a hypothetical situation where the host doesn't know. How does that change the problem? Is it still best to switch when offered the chance? etc... I don't think it should be added to the section. Cliff (talk) 19:42, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
If he offers to swap doors regardless of his knowledge or lack there of, it doesn't make any difference to the problem at all.Number36 (talk) 03:01, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

OSX & Viruses

It's probably worth noting in the section claiming that Macs can't get viruses that the number of viruses isn't increasing in line with market share, which would be expected if the "not a big enough target" hypothesis is correct. Two occurrences of malware in the past decade isn't exactly in line with the 5-12% estimated here Usage_share_of_operating_systems. (talk) 08:37, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

That might sound like OR or synthesis, if you can find a reliable source who makes the point then it could possibly be okay to note it.Number36 (talk) 03:04, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Proposed new section under Biology

Elephants do not migrate to a particular location to die (a so-called "elephant graveyard"). However, this legend may have some basis in fact through indirect causes. Older elephants have a hard time consuming the tough branches and woody shrubs that their younger counterparts digest, and so migrate to areas with softer plant matter such as grasses. The very eldest elephants may die of old age while inhabiting these regions, which likely caused laypeople to believe they came intentionally to die. This could be added under Biology. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:10, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Please read the box at the top of this page that says "Please read before proposing new entries". Looie496 (talk) 00:59, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Though the editor who suggested this didn't provide a rationale it appears to meet the criteria set forth in the box; The subject has its own article here at Elephant's graveyard, which has sources, and the New Scientist article here explicitly refers to it as a misconception.Number36 (talk) 02:53, 26 September 2011 (UTC)


So why does this talk page need a {{Reflist}}, exactly?--~TPW 14:15, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

  1. ^ . Psychology Today  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ . Psychology Today  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ .  Missing or empty |title= (help)

Suggest merge from Popular errors

The following discussion is an archived discussion. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: page redirected. Redirected by user Wtshymanski Cambalachero (talk) 13:29, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

I suggest anything unique from the article Popular errors be merged here, and that article made a redirect. These would seem to be synonymous terms. --Wtshymanski (talk) 19:34, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

Support --Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:51, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
Support Yes, Popular errors is an even worse name for an article than this one. Best we keep all such ill-defined garbage all in one place. HiLo48 (talk) 00:15, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Support Is this a debate even worth having? Hot Stop talk-contribs 00:22, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Comment What is there to merge? This is a list of common misconceptions, and that article does not list any. The examples (which would not pass the requirements set here) were removed in 2008. It may make more sense to simply turn it into a redirect, either here or to urban legend. Cambalachero (talk) 00:25, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Support For the proposal in the last comment. Turn it into a redirect, it appears devoid of meaningful content to merge and seems to boil down to 'common errors are errors which are common'.Number36 (talk) 02:35, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Support I looked over Popular errors yesterday and I doubt if there's anything worthwhile that can be saved, and it doesn't appear as if there are any editors actively working on it. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 12:06, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Horses are not native to the Americas

Too many times I have seen people conjure up some image of "Native Americans were riding their horses and living in peace before the Europeans came". Horses are not native to the Americas and it was common for indigenous peoples to be at war with each other also they caused many animals to go extinct. (talk) 18:29, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

Please see the criteria for inclusion at the top of this page. Most importantly, you need to provide a reliable source that shows this is a common misconception. The horse article doesn't seem to say anything about it. ~Amatulić (talk) 20:05, 28 September 2011 (UTC)


The source provided for bananas being an herb, not a fruit, actually says that they are fruits because they do contain seeds, albeit in domesticated varieties they are reduced to tiny specks. The source confirms that the plants are considered herbaceous not that they are not trees. Pending a better source I will update accordingly.--~TPW 14:06, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

And as the sentence was written it implied that bananas are herbs because they don't have seeds, which is nonsense.Sjö (talk) 16:46, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Looked it up last night. I'm a zoologist, so forgive me if my botany is a bit off, but bananas technically are berries. They are a type of fruit in the botanical sense of a reproductive structure, but then again under that definition a nut or a pine cone is a fruit. The reason a banana palm is a herb and not a tree is that it lacks woody fiber. There is one in the greenhouse at the museum where I work. Squeezing the trunk with your fingers is an amazing feeling, as it gives slightly, like squeezing a very large tulip stem. Fruits in the narrow sense is composed of the ripened ovaries (and seeds).[1] A berry (like the banana) is produced from a single ripened ovary (note that a strawberry or a raspberry are not single berries by the botanical definition). Petter Bøckman (talk) 07:41, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
Berries are fruit in the botanical sense aiui. You know what, there's too many senses going on here for this to be a clear cut misconception imo. Have a read of the pages here for Bananas, Fruit, Herbs, and Berries. It appears to me that the banana could legitimately be described as a fruit, a berry, a herb, and who knows -probably a beetle too if we kept looking. I've forwarded this one myself in the past and appreciate its appeal (if you see what I did there), it has the feel of a nice neat surprising fact, but looking at it objectively it does seem a bit pedantic on one context and missing wider perhaps more common definitions, what say we just remove this misconception altogether?Number36 (talk) 21:35, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
The commom misconception is, IMO, that bananas grow on trees and that's worth keeping. That the banana is a fruit/berry is no misconception as it actually is both, depending on context. Sjö (talk) 06:08, 30 September 2011 (UTC)
Fair enough, that bit does seem fairly clear cut, and I've removed the second point as per the above.Number36 (talk) 20:31, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
No protests from me. Petter Bøckman (talk) 06:32, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

Viceroy Butterfly

The Viceroy butterfly is often mis-taught as an example Batesian mimicry, when in reality it is a Mullerian mimic throughout most of it's range. Sources:

The misconception is mentioned and sourced in the Viceroy Butterfly article, and is quite current. Safe to add under biology? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kramlmark (talkcontribs) 22:50, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

I've studied biology, and reckon this is a long way from being a common misconception. HiLo48 (talk) 23:06, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

Houseflies and mayflies

The article says: "Houseflies do not have an average lifespan of 24 hours. The average lifespan of a housefly is 20 to 30 days.[130] However, a housefly maggot will hatch within 24 hours of being laid.[131]"

But it is true that adult mayflies have very short lives ("from a few minutes to a few days depending on the species", according to the mayfly article, which also notes that the "immature stage [...] usually lasts one year in freshwater").

This is the likely source of the housefly misconception. It seems worth mentioning. —Jorend (talk) 20:56, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Theory of Evolution versus Law of Evolution

As it is true that the word theory is used differently in science than it is popularly, there is a distinction between different scientific principles. To equate Evolution to Gravitation is in error. Gravitation is a scientific law, where Evolution is scientific theory. The difference is that Gravitation can be explained empirically, where Evolution cannot. We can create experiments that are repeatable to demonstrate the Law of Gravitation. We cannot repeat evolutionary events by experiment. This is a misconception of the argument itself, and seems to be on the part of the author.Jwthrip (talk) 01:13, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

Sorry, but this is balderdash. Hairhorn (talk) 03:15, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
Jwthrip, you've been misled. Please read Objections to Evolution and Evolution as fact and theory to understand why. Also, for any future proposals, please be specific about what you'd like changed, and provide sources. Thanks.   — Jess· Δ 05:09, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

Physical events and sex

I believe the popular practice of avoiding sex during training has less to do with physiological concerns than psychological ones. If you are thinking about girls, your focus isn't on the game. Perhaps studies in that realm should be referenced as well.

Sorry, thought it would attach my username at least.

John Thrippleton

A quick Google shows a National Geographic Article from 2006. "[A possible way that sex before competition could affect performance is that] it could affect your psychological state of mind. This has not been tested." If you find a peer-reviewed article or corresponding news article on such a study, feel free to link it. nakomaru (talk) 09:53, 8 October 2011 (UTC)


As the Wikipedia article Mass-energy equivalence itself says, knowledge of the formula E=mc^2 is NOT required to build a nuclear weapon. This sounds like a common misconception to me... — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rohitsingh3141 (talkcontribs) 00:00, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

What it sounds like to you doesn't matter. It's what reliable sources say that's important to Wikipedia. Have a look at the section titled "Please read before proposing new entries" at the top of this page. HiLo48 (talk) 01:23, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Chill, dude, you seem to have bad issues. Calm your blood right down, man. --OhNoPeedyPeebles (talk) 20:06, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Cockroaches and radiation

Isn't it a common misconception? Quoting from "It is popularly suggested that cockroaches will "inherit the earth" if humanity destroys itself in a nuclear war. Cockroaches do indeed have a much higher radiation resistance than vertebrates, with the lethal dose perhaps 6 to 15 times that for humans. However, they are not exceptionally radiation-resistant compared to other insects, such as the fruit fly." It comes with a reference btw. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Orion sae (talkcontribs) 04:24, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

The canon and history of the Bible

There are several misconceptions about the history of "the Good Book". It didn't magically appear like so many megachurch evangelicals like to think. (talk) 06:32, 29 October 2011 (UTC)

I suggest you have a look at the section labelled "Please read before proposing new entries" near the top of the page. HiLo48 (talk) 07:01, 29 October 2011 (UTC)

The race of Jesus

This needs to be addressed. (talk) 02:23, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Be more specific Cambalachero (talk) 02:48, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
There was an earlier discussion about this. I guess the misconception would be that jesus was Caucasian, when in fact there is no clear evidence what "race" he was. However, we would need a reliable source that established this as a common misconception before it could be included here.Dr bab (talk) 11:25, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
There's something implicit in a "misconception": that, although there is a popular belief saying something else, the real knowledge about the topic is confirmed and undisputed among scholars. Cases of questions that are still unanswered, are something else. Cambalachero (talk) 12:42, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't think it matters here, as I don't think sources exist, but you raise an interesting point that I have thought about before. Should we exclude all misconceptions where there is not a clear cut "truth"? Related, I have an itch with the misconcpetions that are not completely wrong, but more impresise. Such as "Meteorites are not necessarily hot" and "only a limited number of earthworm species" are capable of anterior regeneration. With these explanations, is it really a misconception to believe that meteorites are hot and earthworms survive when cut in two? Surely one would then need to rephrase the misconception to read "All meterorites are hot on impact"//"All earthworms will survive when cut in half"? Dr bab (talk) 13:43, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
It is a common misconception that Jesus and the ancient Egyptians were "Negroid". (talk) 19:46, 29 October 2011 (UTC)
I suggest you all have a look at the section labelled "Please read before proposing new entries" near the top of the page. HiLo48 (talk) 22:32, 29 October 2011 (UTC)

I know that this is violating WP:FORUM

But may I just say I would like to thank the people who put this list together for making dealing with people so much easier (and correcting a few misconceptions I had myself). (talk) 16:22, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Hey, you're welcome. Dang, now we can't call the work here thankless. This list persists due to improvements by many editors in the inclusion criteria and sourcing, which were made in order to survive a nomination for deletion (of which there have been three.) --Lexein (talk) 04:33, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

Why is this article called "common" misconceptions?

Why is this article called "common" misconceptions? Is there any basis for individuals speculating that any of these misconceptions are widespread? I've only read about a quarter of these, but so far I haven't ever believed (and in many cases even heard) any of the "common" misconceptions. Shouldn't there have to be support (like a study of what percentage of people believe something) in order to accurately call something common? I know doing a study for each bullet would be absurd, but that seems to me to just show that we cannot call these "common" misconceptions. If the article wouldn't be called that, maybe it just by nature doesn't belong on Wikipedia. Not a big deal, but I just want to share my thoughts. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:00, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

If you look at the second point of the section up top called "Please read before proposing new entries", you will see that it says that entries here need a source confirming "the fact that it is a common misconception". Unfortunately, policing that and all the other rules requires constant vigilance, which no-one here has the time for. Some of us tried some time ago to get the article deleted because of this reality, but enough editors claimed it would work OK for it to be allowed to stay. As you have discovered, it doesn't work OK, but we're probably stuck with it. Please feel welcome to join us and help clean out the trash. HiLo48 (talk) 03:45, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

With no specific items pointed out, such complaints are not very constructive.

  • We leave it up to the reader to click the little superscript numbers and read the cited sources. Our job is done when all claims are supported there.
  • I disagree with HiLo48's critique one of HiLo's points.(Edit: Lexein) 1. "It" works pretty well, requiring some, but no more attention than any other article where inclusion criteria have been clearly stated, and people are enthusiastic about adding content which might not be well sourced. It's still working: yesterday an editor added a "citation needed" tag with a sensible edit summary, so I sourced it. 2. The article is fairly mature; there's no massive influx of attempted new content, and no massive attack against existing reliably sourced content. 3. Deletion is not the only way to article improvement. In fact, IMHO it's the worst way, as it goes against one of the WP:Five pillars of building an encyclopedia of reliably sourced content. See Alternatives to deletion, WP:PRESERVE, and the full text of WP:BURDEN.
  • Help out: be specific about perceived problems with the article. Add a {{fact}} tag and informative edit summary where a claim is not supported by the provided source(s). Add {{dubious}} where a source seems unreliable.
  • "Common" is only required to mean "common" according to the individual reliable sources (plural preferred). We do allow for synonyms for "common misconception".
  • We do not do original research to determine quantitative or qualitative "numbers" of people. We rely on the statements by the sources. This was discussed at length in Talk - see the archives.
  • This is the English language Wikipedia. This tends to gather misconceptions from countries where the main spoken language is English. We want misconceptions, reliably sourced per the inclusion criteria from other countries and languages, but they have been slow in coming. Help out: if there are misconceptions "local" to your region/country/language/profession, and there are reliable sources stating that, and the sources correct the misconception, and the misconception's topic has an article at Wikipedia, and that article includes the sourced misconception and correction, then it can go in this list.
  • If you think this is tl;dr, for a true TL;DR experience, I encourage reading the Talk page archives.

--Lexein (talk) 03:00, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

Marco Polo and Pasta

The section about Marco Polo and pasta needs to be improved because it refers to the same organization twice: The National Pasta Association. It refers to it indirectly as a publisher of Macaroni Journal as an untrustworthy source. The entry later refers to the same organization's newletter (renamed the "Pasta Journal") as a trustworthy source claiming that pasta came from a different location at an earlier date. The entry does not make this clear. 2dawolf (talk) 01:23, 3 November 2011 (UTC)


It seems misleading to state that "the Romans purged themselves during and after meals." This is probably overly generalized from passages in social satirists such as Martial and Petronius who point to the excesses of a few nouveau riche gluttons, as in Martial's epigram on Zoilus[16]; to say that this represents Roman dining custom is like using Kim Kardashian to typify the longevity of marriage in the contemporary United States. I'm having trouble verifying this, anyway, and ancient Rome is the subject area in which I make most of my contributions. I would hate to perpetuate a misconception in the service of debunking the more notorious vomitorium thing. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:53, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

For instance, in Patrick Faas, Around the Roman Table (University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 66,[17] it's stated that "There is no reason to believe that Romans did this any more than people do today." It was part of the criticism that might be leveled at emperors, in addition to the ostentatious gluttony I mentioned above. Might I propose a wording that goes something like:

The architectural features called vomitoria in ancient Rome were the entranceways through which crowds entered and exited a stadium, not special rooms used for purging food during meals. Although wealthy gluttons and emperors with excessive appetites might be accused of bingeing and purging, vomiting was not a regular part of Roman dining customs.

Faas meets RS standards; there are other sources that deal with the accusation against specific emperors, notorious gourmands, and religionists for whom frenzied dining and drinking was followed by purging. As Faas points out, vomiting even after drinking too much was considered disgusting and something to be derided (Mark Antony attracted criticism for this). Cynwolfe (talk) 21:25, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

Quotes should have quotation marks somewhere. Anyways, if you want to use the Martial and Faas sources, just WP:SOFIXIT. Understand the concept of helping out instead of complaining, and adding sources to the Talk page, when they belong in the article. I would write:

"Though a few citizens in ancient Rome were reported in social satires to have gorged and purged during meals[1 Martial], Faas asserts, "There is no reason to believe that Romans did this any more than people do today."[2 Faas]

No reason to delete the final source about the vomitoria themselves, by the way, since multiple sources are preferred, and we try not to be snobby about them. --Lexein (talk) 03:23, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps you should review WP:BRD. I'm discussing, not complaining, and I think if you look at my contributions you'll find that I "help out" quite a lot. I didn't delete the source about the vomitoria, because that source was accurate. The statement as it stood suggested that vomiting during meals was something "the Romans" did as a regular practice; they did not. Since the list is called "common misconceptions," I assumed the editors would not want to perpetuate one misconception in the course of debunking another. I marked that clause as needing a citation, then went to look for one myself. In the meantime, someone added a general source on nutrition or something that was not authoritative for Roman dining customs. WP:RS states that The reliability of a source depends on context. Each source must be carefully weighed to judge whether it is reliable for the statement being made and is the best such source for that context. Because the source added was not the best source for ancient Roman dining, I restored the "citation needed" tag and continued looking. I reported what I was finding here as a courtesy, because I had already reverted once, and to give others the chance to respond before making the change. I haven't edited this page, thought it might be well-watched, and didn't want to engage in an edit war without discussing. I have no idea why you've reacted as you have. Cynwolfe (talk) 11:47, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
And please note that the clause I marked as needing a citation failed verification: the cited source didn't say it. Cynwolfe (talk) 11:53, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
Belabored discussion solely to illustrate a WP:POINT is not necessary, and a misapplication of BRD. Verbosely rehashing history is not necessary. This isn't your blog, and it isn't a personal grievance forum. If you're confident about the sources, put 'em in. Just WP:SOFIXIT. Your "citation needed" tag was fine, the first time, and only then. We don't delete sources, but if we find improved ones, we replace them. I'm declaring this discussion WP:LAME. --Lexein (talk) 12:39, 3 November 2011 (UTC)
How imperious of you. Cynwolfe (talk) 12:54, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

Elephant's Graveyard

In a previous section that has been archived an anon editor suggested the above be added, though he/she didn't provide a rationale it does appear to meet the criteria for inclusion; Not only does the subject have its own article but the misconception itself also has one here at Elephant's graveyard, which itself is well sourced, in addition to this I added that the New Scientist article here explicitly uses the term misconception in relation to it. Would anyone like to add this to the article or have any objection to its addition? Though only incidental I have heard this enough myself that it would seem like a valid entry.Number36 (talk) 20:50, 6 November 2011 (UTC)

Seems perfect, good work on finding the source. Go ahead and add it! Coolug (talk) 21:25, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
What exactly is the misconception with the elephant's graveyard? I'm not sure that Elephant's graveyard explicitly states that this is false. Some myths and legends can be true, and the second paragraph in the Origin section seem to give plausable explanations. BTW, I was about to suggest an item about elephants never forgetting something, but that appears to be true.[18] A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 21:40, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
The misconception is that old elephants all go to the same place to die, and these areas are littered with loads of elephant skeletons. You know, like in The Lion King. I've heard it a load of times myself and I would say it's certainly a common misconception. Coolug (talk) 21:47, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
I'd say it is a common misconception, heck, it's almost a myth. Petter Bøckman (talk) 09:45, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Pedantry point: Isn't the apostrophe in the wrong place? Surely it should (almost?) always be Elephants' graveyard. HiLo48 (talk) 17:41, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Okay I added it. I agree with your pedantry point HiLo48 so I used that form. I note that there was some discussion on that page on the placement of the apostrophe and the conclusion seemed to be that it should be moved but no one did so. I would but I've never moved a page before and I don't really want to mess it up, though it seems to have been simplified so if no one else does I might give it a go at some point.Number36 (talk) 06:32, 11 November 2011 (UTC)

The Section on Common Misconceptions about Christianity

The vast majority of the section about common misconceptions about christianity is inherently flawed. All of the supposed misconceptions are based on the idea that the bible is the primary source for christianity, but the official view of the Catholic Church is that tradition is more important than the bible. Therefore, if tradition dictates that Jesus's birthday was on the 25th of December, then, according to the Catholic Religion, his birthday was on the 25th of December. If tradition dictates that there were three wise men who came to bear gifts on Jesus, then, according to the Catholic Religion, there were three wise men who came to bear gifts on Jesus. A better common misconception to include about Christianity would be the myth that the Bible is the be-all end-all of christianity rather than just a few out of multiple sources that Christianity is based upon. ---- — Preceding unsigned comment added by Robbiehare (talkcontribs) 02:19, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

Firstly: the Catholic Church does not say that "tradition is more important than the Bible." Apostolic tradition and sacred Scripture both form a single source, which is the Word of God. Secondly: the Bible is the primary source for Christianity, which however does not exclude there being other sources of information for doctrine. Thirdly: the Catholic Church does not dictate that December 25 was Jesus' birthday. December 25 was the day chosen for Christmas (a contraction of "Christ's Mass"), but it has never been the position of the Church that Jesus was definitively born then. The celebration does not have to be on the same day as the event that occurred. Fourthly, it is not apostolic tradition, but rather a literary one, which has come to assert that there were three Magi. This Wikipedia article was careful in wording this point. -- LightSpectra (talk) 11:26, 11 November 2011 (UTC)


Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to this list so far, it was an enormous pleasure for me to read it over.

As things like the humans-and-dinosaurs thing and the lightning superstition are present, could misconceptions about the human's heart also qualify eligible for inclusion, if a source is found to indicate how many people erroneously believe that the human's heart actually is:

  • heart-shaped (♥);
  • responsible for feeling love and any other emotions?

--Theurgist (talk) 04:47, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

I don't feel there are enough people who think ♥ is the shape of a person's heart for it to qualify. As for the latter suggestion, it's more of a metaphor than anything (similarly, do people really "think with their gut?") Hot Stop talk-contribs 04:58, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
See enteric nervous system :-). Looie496 (talk) 17:08, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

Hypothermia in infants

The article states (under Human Body and Health) "it has been shown that hats effectively prevent hypothermia in infants." I'd like to suggest a slight rewording. I created an account to change this, but I can't modify the page yet. It should read "it has been shown that warm hats can significantly reduce the risk of hypothermia in infants." The current phrasing suggests that 'hats' WILL prevent hypothermia in infants, which is only true in some cases (the ambient temperature and the rest of the infants clothes contribute significantly). It's more accurate to say that hats reduce the risk.
Xephyrous (talk) 02:20, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

I agree but I'd change "infants" to "newborns".Sjö (talk) 09:06, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
Good catch. I've rewritten two sentences, because the cited study was not about the condition of hypothermia per se, but about quantifying thermal stress and heat loss in uncovered infants and newborns under care. I've added two additional studies, after searching for "gamgee lined hat" (heh). --Lexein (talk) 09:19, 17 November 2011 (UTC)
Nice correction, I like it, thanks. How does this work now, do I delete this section of the discussion page? (I'm the original poster) Xephyrous (talk) 04:57, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
We tend not to delete helpful discussions. This one will automatically eventually roll off into the archives and be available upon searching. --Lexein (talk) 04:04, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

Mammal blood as blue

It is STILL a common misconception that mammal blood is blue! I just argued this point last week with friends. I was the only one who knew that it wasn't! You guys force us to provide all this "proof" that it is a "common misconception". Do you want us to poll all of our friends on every misconception we've ever heard and report back the results? In order to keep this page interesting and INFORMATIVE, we need to relax our standards a bit. Providing proof and sources for other Wikipedia articles is fine. But misconceptions are LARGELY carried by word of mouth. That is MUCH harder to reference. But it still makes them entirely relevant.

I read the talk page way back in which someone in the medical field stated that they knew of NO ONE who believed this. Yet Being 27 years old, I STILL know many people who believe this. Eminem made a reference to it in one of his songs. Google the lyrics to "Still Don't Give a Fuck". And no, I don't listen to Eminem. The point is, that just because ONE OR TWO people on Wikipedia don't think that something is a common misconception, DOESN'T MEAN THAT IT ISN'T! My biology teacher in HIGH SCHOOL argued that blood was blue, and I showed him in our book where it said that it wasn't. He said the book was wrong. IT IS a common misconception. It should be referenced here. As should many other things that I'm reading in the talk section which are removed because their exist "no source which lists them as common misconceptions" COME ON! All of these deleted things that I've read ARE INDEED common misconceptions! But like I said, it's harder to prove, as they are largely carried by word of mouth.

StrangeApparition2011 (talk) 04:19, 19 November 2011 (UTC)

Please read the box at the top entitled 'Please read before proposing new entries' and also WP:VNT.Number36 (talk) 08:45, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
So your're basically saying we should not require sources for this article since it is somehow different from the rest of Wikipedia? By using "word of mouth" as reference, we would basically open up for absolutely everything. Any editor could make up complete nonsense and add it, and any inclusion-arguments on the talk page would be impossible to resolve, as pointing to sources should apparently not be good enough. For your "blue-blood" misconception for example, I have never heard of anyone believing mammal blood is blue (have these people never seen uncooked meat?), and would never yield in a talk page discussion if the arguments for inclusion were "word of mouth". However, point to a reliable source that explains this, and I'd be happy to include it. Dr bab (talk) 07:42, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
If it is true or not does not matter. The inclusion criteria is that it should be verifiable with reliable sources. I'm afraid there are plenty of things that are true that do not make it into Wikipedia. --Mlewan (talk) 07:54, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
I don't get this. Mammalian blood varies between bright red and a bluish red depending on how much oxygen it is carrying. But as soon as we bleed, it's obvious it's basically red. What kind of person would ague that it is blue? HiLo48 (talk) 10:07, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
I think the idea comes from the fact that the veins of people with pale skin look blue and is reinforced by references to the "blue blood" of nobility. Very pale skin in mediaeval Europe signified that the person spent much time inside and could afford sun protection, whereas most people slept in overcrowded houses and spent most of the time outside. (Obviously, the effect is also more visible when the skin is clean.) This source claims that the term came from Spain, where the large Moorish (mostly 'black') population must have been an additional factor.
Whether you believe that blood can be blue (as some responders here seem to do -- note that this is in no way a reliable source that it's a common misconception) or not depends mostly on whether as a child, you understand (1) that the colour of the veins is not precisely the colour of the blood, and (2) that the "blue blood" of nobility is just a manner of speaking. It is easy to miss these two facts, since you may have no reason to even ask about this, some adults have the misconception, some adults speak to children using irony which they don't get, and many parents actively discourage their children from asking such knowledge questions. Hans Adler 10:42, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
Once you even entertain the possibility that (some) blood might be blue, the next step is to take the colours used in anatomical drawings too seriously. By convention, arteries are drawn red and veins are drawn blue. Add to this the fact that blood without oxygen is darker (although by no means blueish), and we get the somewhat more refined misconception that deoxygenated blood is purple. This is a pretty interesting post on the topic.
It does appear to me that this is a common misconception, after all, and we just need to find a good reliable source that says so. Maybe this? If anyone can check this book out from a library it might help. Hans Adler 10:59, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

@Dr. Bab, The idea is that blood inside of our bodies is blue, but as soon as it touches oxygen (i.e., the majority gas in the air we breathe) it turns blue. Therefore, no meat, no cuts, no blood outside the body would be blue, as it's touched oxygen. Furthermore, the appearance of blue veins (as stated above) causes people to believe that it is the color of blood making it that way. Again, I have numerous word of mouth references to prove that it is indeed a common misconception. Snopes does not require such references, just inquiries, and they don't manage to get bogged down by every little thing, as you say. Regardless, I will submit this for them to post instead. I STILL firmly believe that this is one example of us tearing this great (once even better) article apart because of this problem of sources. If it's a popular belief (hence "common" misconception), that comes in many forms. Written, word of mouth, etc. StrangeApparition2011 (talk) 01:22, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia is, as opposed to Snopes, an encyclopedia. Snopes may create their content based on inquiries alone, posting them as "Many people have asked...". That is not the way an encyclopedia works. As Mlewan states, many things that are true does not make it into Wikipedia. When you hit the "edit"-button in Wikipedia, there is a comment under the editing window: Encyclopedic content must be verifiable. Clicking that link takes you to the following statement:
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether editors think it is true.
Without this demand for verifiability, how could anyone trust any material on Wikipedia? Without this demand, how could you prevent that this site is used to spread NEW misconceptions? You're blue blood misconception, for example, might lead people to believe that "People in the US are so thick, they think blood is blue". There really is no way to get around the demand for reliable sources. They do not need to be written, but they must be verifiable. From Hans Adlers post, it is possible that such sources exist. I encourage you to try and find such sources, rather than rant about Wikipedia rules. If you don't have the time or energy to do this, you might be lucky enough that the people over at Snopes dig up some sources if they decide to cover this. Dr bab (talk) 11:27, 23 November 2011 (UTC)


Is there anyway where this could be organized into a table or something where the misconception is on one side and the explanation is on the other? Some of these make it sound like the misconception is the fact or vice versa. (talk) 04:42, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

I certainly agree with your second sentence. I would be interested in seeing how a table would look. Anyone got the time and skills to create a sample? HiLo48 (talk) 07:01, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure if a table would be the best option, as some of the items on here are quite lengthy. But I support a common format. Dr bab (talk) 07:26, 5 December 2011 (UTC)


Alexander Graham Bell did not invent the telephone. He was, however, the first to obtain a patent, in 1876, and to develop a commercially succesful and practical device. -- (talk) 18:44, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Please see the section at the top headed Please read before proposing new entries. It's important that entries be structured as described there. HiLo48 (talk) 19:39, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Also, it is often worthwile to check the archives. I liked a comment by Cresix in the archive, where it is stated that:
More importantly, however, a resolution by the U.S. House of Representatives is not unequivocal evidence that Bell did not invent the telephone. A House resolution has no force of law (it's just the opinion of the majority of members; and even U.S. laws must also be passed by the U.S. Senate); and even if it were a law, a law does not determine historical fact. The U.S. Congress could pass a "law" that the Earth is flat, but that wouldn't make the Earth flat. I realize that there has long been controversy about who invented the telephone, and I think if you look at reliable sources you will not get a firm answer. For one thing, how do we define "invent"?
Dr bab (talk) 09:42, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
The suggested text by| is quite accurate and has nothing to do with whether the U.S. Congress recognized earlier work or not. Also, it fulfill the criteria by having an article of it's own (Invention of the telephone) and being supported by literature, e.g. Coe, Lewis (1995), The Telephone and Its Several Inventors: A History, McFarland, North Carolina, 1995. ISBN 0-7864-0138-9 Petter Bøckman (talk) 10:02, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
So the misconception is that "Alexander Graham Bell did single handedly invent the telephone", whereas the reality is that "his work was heavily dependent on earlier work by many different individuals?". What is the definition of "inventing"? Could we phrase it so that "The myth is A, but the reality is complex?" I'm not sure if I am comfortable with this, especially in cases where "The myth is A, but the reality is complex but not totally different from A". From the Invention of the telephone article, it is not indisputably clear to me that Bell did not invent the telephone.Dr bab (talk) 10:43, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
My suggested wording: Alexander Graham Bell did not invent the telephone. The telephone was invented in several stages by several inventors in the mid 19th century. Bell however, was the first to make the telephone into a practical device with commercial potential, and obtained a patent in 1876. Better? Petter Bøckman (talk) 08:02, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Where in that linked article (or elsewhere?) do we satisfy the requirement that "The common misconception is mentioned in its topic article with sources"? HiLo48 (talk) 08:19, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
The articles (the one on Bell, on the invention of telephone and the cases) are not specific about it, however they all state that Bell was the first to make a practical telephone, and all mention earlier work by others. Thus, it it is a reasonable interpretation that he did not invent the telephone as such, but it is not specific. Then again, this being Wikipedia, one could always edit one of the articles to be more specific. Petter Bøckman (talk) 20:00, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
I think you have missed my point. You need evidence that the claimed "common misconception" exists. HiLo48 (talk) 22:07, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
I think that if it is 100% certain that Alexander Graham Bell did not invent the telephone, then it is a "common misconception" that he did so. We still need sources that say so of course, but as it is frequently quoted as the correct answer to quiz-questions and the like, I am fairly certain that it should be doable. However, I am still not convinced that he did not "invent" the telephone; as it will depend on your definition of "invent". He was the first person to make a working telephone and patent it. Surely that could be a suggested definition of "inventing"? If we define "inventing" it as a discovery completely independent of prior work, then the definition of "invention", would depend upon your definition of "prior work". Dr bab (talk) 07:32, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
I see your point. This is not one of those clear-cut cases (like the horns on Viking helmets). Certainly, he did invent some of the features of the telephone, but not all, and certainly not the basic concept of using electricity to transfer voice. I think we are in a situation where inclusion would be on our discretion. I have no strong opinion on the inclusion or not, other than that I found the entry enlightening when it was presented here. Petter Bøckman (talk) 07:44, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

Nutrition Food and Drink

Can someone please add the myth that eating before bed is bad, "because the body stores fat at night". This is wrong because the body stores fat all day long, and all through the night. The only thing wrong with eating before bed is you might get troubled sleep from: heartburn from lying down with food in your stomach, and other digestive issues.

I've argued with many people over this. It's a very common misconception. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:37, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Please see the section at the top of this page headed Please read before proposing new entries. It's important that entries be structured as described there. HiLo48 (talk) 19:39, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Well, right after the 4 points necessary for inclusion, it says to: "include your rationale for inclusion." There are lots of articles online about this misconception, many people still believe it. That's my rationale. If it won't get included because it doesn't have a page of its own, well, then it should have a page of it's own too. I'm not an experienced Wikipedia editor, so I'll leave that up to the pros. I just wanted to put out an idea, maybe someone will agree and run with it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:26, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the idea. Looie496 (talk) 16:35, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

Phases of the moon

I was wondering if we could list the misconception that the phases of the moon are due to the Earth's shadow being cast onto it. Wikipedia's article on phases of the Moon says in the first sentence of the overview:

"they are not caused by the shadow of the Earth or umbra falling on the Moon's surface (this occurs only during a lunar eclipse)."

NASA's Q&A "Ask an astrobiologist" on phases of the moon mentions:

"Lunar eclipses take place when the Moon moves through the shadow of the Earth, and solar eclipses when the Earth moves through the shadow of the Moon. Shadows have nothing to do with phases, which are just a matter of the angle of illumination."

Also, HowStuffWorks Dark Side of the Moon article states:

"A common misconception about the moon is that a new moon occurs when the Earth blocks light from the sun, casting the moon into shadow."

And, anecdotally, it seems whenever phases of the moon is brought up on reddit, people always give the incorrect reason. -- MacAddct1984 (talk &#149; contribs) 20:48, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

I find it easy to believe there are people who think this, but I'm struggling with the notion that it is a popular misconception. And as an aside, one of my pet peeves is sites that use the "contrary to common belief..." construction, when it really means the author was that clueless, but not most people. --SPhilbrickT 20:36, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
It seems difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that which constitutes a "common" misconception. A little more searching came across The Straight Dope's article stating it's a common misconception as well as a question on our own Science Reference Desk -- MacAddct1984 (talk &#149; contribs) 20:00, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

0,9999999999 = 1


you cannot just claim that 0,9999999 [...] = 1. It is not a common believe in mathematics as surreal numbers prove.

For the surreal number calculus 0,99999999[...] < 1

is strictly smaller than 1. Please remove that example, it is just false to call it a common misconception. The opposition is true.

At least remove it, as long as you dont contribute to hyperreal analysis, instead of just claiming it to be false.

Cfg — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:10, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for the comment. I think that this page must deal with real numbers, as it is intended to dispel common misconceptions, not educate people in obscure fields of mathematics. From the article on 0.999...:
"In mathematics, the repeating decimal 0.999... (which may also be written as 0.9, , 0.(9), or as "0." followed by any number of 9s in the repeating decimal) denotes a real number that can be shown to be the number one."
Based on this, I think we should be ok to leave it here. That article does include information about infinitesimals (and other number systems like p-adic numbers), so anyone seeing this and wishing to explore further can go to the article. I do not dare to think how many "common" misconceptions we would have if we started from the crazy world of p-adic numbers. Dr bab (talk) 07:45, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
You raise an interesting point. While I think the entry is fine, it is not quite as simple as it would appear. Despite the term "real", the real numbers aren't real in the sense that they actually exist. They are a human construct. There is no such thing as 0.999… independent of human convention, and it seems conceivable, in a parallel universe, a different human society could have chosen a different convention, following the convention of the surreal numbers. In that universe, they wouldn't have this common misconception, or perhaps they would have the reverse. However, an implicit assumption in all these entries is that we exist in this universe, and statements about numbers, unless otherwise specified, are references to our conventional number system, including the real, and imaginary numbers. --SPhilbrickT 13:07, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

The Founding Fathers

it can not be overstated that the founders of the United States were NOT right-wing pillars of Christianity for their time period, they were probably the most liberal men on the face of the earth and while some of them may have been practicing Christians, the leaders were all Free Masons, and believed more in science and philosophy — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:25, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

This is so true. I can't wait to see the new section. Someone needs to get to work and don't forget the sources. (talk) 03:42, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
Not sure if the wording will be exactly what we are looking for, but several articles in TIME magazine and The Economist have certainly strongly implied the existence of such a misconception. Dr bab (talk) 07:45, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
It can be overstated, but that's not the first problem we'd face if the topic was to be introduced to the article. First, the American founding didn't take place in the context of the French Revolution, so "right-wing" isn't a relevant descriptor. Second, if the left-to-right political spectrum were to be anachronistically introduced, and the change in meaning of "left" and "right" over time explained, there'd be an endless war on which the founders were. Third, Who's a founder? You've got declaration signers, convention attendees, soldiers, writers, presidents, foreign aristocracy, etc. Fourth, Who and/or what is a "pillar"? Is that a measure of being devout or statement on the degree of Christian-ness? If the former, does frequency of church attendance provide a measure? If the later, what scores do we give Unitarians? Methodists? Catholics?
That fact of the matter is that the founders were a politically and religiously diverse bunch... radicals, conservatives, populists, elitists, religiously orthodox, and freethinking. No one is going to fit all of this into a succinct, neutral paragraph stating "the founders were/were not x". Armandthecorsair (talk) 02:45, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

Good article on the Pilgrims [19] Wayne (talk) 10:46, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

"The Founding Fathers" is too vague a term to make any definitive statements about their beliefs. What you said rings totally true of Thomas Jefferson, not so much of Benjamin Rush or John Adams. -- LightSpectra (talk) 16:57, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Well, every Founding Father was certainly against the status quo and support the revolution. Making them anti-conservative. The conservatives were the Tories and Loyalists who sided with the British Crown. (talk) 18:28, 10 December 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia mandate vs. this article (propose deletion?)

I've read the guidelines, and I hate to say it, but the existence of this article does not fit into the Wikipedia mandate. This should be on any website on the internet other than Wikipedia. Among other considerations,

1. Nothing of this kind would ever be found in a real encyclopedia… as a genre of non-fiction, this simply does not fit under the heading of an encyclopedia entry.

2. At least hypothetically, the scope of the article is infinite

3. Thirdly, a large portion of the misconceptions worth pointing out will be about the sort of contentious/unsettled issues that Wikipedia is very bad at broaching (and, indeed, that encyclopedias generally can't say much about aside from "opinions differ…").

4. Finally, within the near-infinite range of such misconceptions, the Wikipedia format would not have any guidelines as to sorting or prioritizing which ones were of significance. Yeah, Ancient Rome has some amusing examples… but how much would the list expand if you gave equal billing to misconceptions about ancient China? Ancient Egypt? Modern China? Modern Egypt? In every period and on every continent, the scope is near-infinite… and nobody is going to be able to edit it (and neither expanding nor contracting it would make an encyclopedia article out of the thing). These are discussions worth having, but… elsewhere (is anyone else here old enough to remember that was created for this purpose generations ago, relative to the internet timescale?).

Would anyone second a motion to archive this on another website (or create a wholly unique website for this purpose of "debunking" and challenging popular misconceptions?)

You're welcome to take the article to WP:AfD if you feel strongly about it, however, the article passed its last AfD, and is now in far better shape than then. You're also welcome to copy it to another site if you wish, without deleting it here.   — Jess· Δ 04:28, 26 November 2011 (UTC)
If it really is in better shape (and I have my doubts) that's only because of the near constant vigilance of editors like me and others who, in truth, would also like to see it deleted. I don't want to try to give reasons here. It is too time consuming. Our OP has made a good start. It's very un-encyclopaedic. HiLo48 (talk) 05:00, 26 November 2011 (UTC)
It serves a purpose, and a number of editors have put quite a bit of work into it. I say let it live. Petter Bøckman (talk) 19:00, 26 November 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia's mandidate is to provide educational content. Clearing up common misconceptions is most definitely educational content. In fact, this is one of our best articles. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:10, 26 November 2011 (UTC)
The editor originating this thread makes a good point. My view is that there are few -- a very few -- articles where we can relax the standards a little, and this is one of them, provided it's well-maintained and watched and kept trimmed, which it is. Herostratus (talk) 19:33, 26 November 2011 (UTC)
A "real encyclopedia"?! What is that supposed to mean? Wikipedia is currently the best collection of human facts all categories. I do not know what a "real" encyclopaedia would be, but it is probably nothing I would want. Before Wikipedia, there were encyclopaedias whose facts were not verified by millions of people, that had a page layout that had to adapt to the fact that it was not searchable, that lacked hyperlinks and had low quality illustrations. They were, compared to Wikipedia, pretty useless. That is hardly an ideal to try to live up to for Wikipedia articles. All this talk about "encyclopaedic" material only dumbs down Wikipedia. --Mlewan (talk) 19:35, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

Here's my opinion on the arguments so far.

  • Bad arguments for deletion
  • "hypothetically, the scope of the article is infinite" - The same is true for hundreds of other Wikipedia articles. Hence Category:Incomplete lists, Category:Dynamic lists, List of supernovae, List of inorganic compounds, etc. The key word in the article title is "common"; depending on how we define "common", the complete list of common misconceptions may actually be quite small.
  • "a large portion of the misconceptions worth pointing out will be about the sort of contentious/unsettled issues" - Then either remove those entries, or note that in some cases we know that certain misconceptions are false even though we haven't totally confirmed what the right answer is. For instance, there may be three answers to a question, A B C. Most laypeople believe A; half the experts believe B; and half the experts believe C. Assuming the experts can substantiate their rejection of A as a plausible account, A would certainly qualify as a 'common misconception'. But honestly, I'm not seeing which entries on the current list you think are contentious. Could you give some examples?
  • "how much would the list expand if you gave equal billing to misconceptions about ancient China? Ancient Egypt? Modern China? Modern Egypt?" - Personally, I think List of common misconceptions in ancient China would make a fascinating, highly useful encyclopedia article. What's wrong with having a top-level list for multiregional misconceptions, and daughter lists for culturally particular myths?
  • Good arguments for deletion
  • "the Wikipedia format would not have any guidelines as to sorting or prioritizing which ones were of significance" - This isn't insurmountable. Wikipedia does have 'notability' and 'fame' criteria that it regularly employs. But ordinarily we arbitrate notability by citing sources. To do that in this case, we must cite sources that show that each of the claims in question is (a) a frequent misconception (ideally, reputable polling data), and (b) a notably frequent misconception (e.g., it's not something boring like 'most people think the things on the ends of shoelaces have no name').
  • "Nothing of this kind would ever be found in a real encyclopedia" - This isn't a knock-down argument. Wikipedia hosts tons of content you'd never find in an ordinary encyclopedia, like Timeline of the Turkish War of Independence, List of 1933 ballet premieres, List of soundtracks to fictitious films, List of animals with fraudulent diplomas, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, List of sexual positions, New car smell, List of Pokémon (252–319), Introduction to evolution, List of Latin phrases, or Where's the beef?. Wikipedia is a dynamic and multi-strategy educational resource.
    • At the same time, there are many things Wikipedia isn't. "Clearing up common misconceptions is most definitely educational content." is a bad argument for keeping this list around, because there are thousands of things Wikipedia could do to clear up misconceptions that wouldn't fall within its encyclopedic purview, like absorbing WikiHow, or campaigning against the Republican Party,, or incorporating Google Maps directions to get to places, or publishing quizzes at the bottom of each page to see how many misconceptions people cleared up in the process. Both sides need to more clearly and concretely articulate what it is about this particular page that makes it fall (or not fall) within the scope of the mission of this particular encyclopedia (and not, say, some other branch of the WikiMedia foundation). "Wikipedia is currently the best collection of human facts all categories." is an even worse argument, since, if we took it seriously as an argument against deletion here, it would us to incorporate [[Wiktionary], the complete corpus of all English literature, and the name and address of every human being into the English Wikipedia. Just because something is useful doesn't make it encyclopedic, or, if you prefer, 'Wikipedic'. -Silence (talk) 20:16, 26 November 2011 (UTC)
Well, it is encouraging to see that people care… there are many other sections of wikipedia that totally lack editorial oversight of this kind… I would counter-pose just two more points here:
1. While it has been said that many of these points are contentious/dubious by nature, there is a special problem resulting from their gathering under this common heading where the tiny number of people who "know better" are unlikely to engage with them. Many of these points require scrutiny from specialists that they won't receive here.

In this context, of a miscellaneous article (not under the editorial oversight of any one discipline or science) it is vexatious and invidious to try to start discussions that would draw in people with unrelated expertise. I hate to point it out (e.g.) but one of the "misconceptions about Buddhism" is itself a misconception: what is currently footnote number 345 links to a very causal posting on a website ( that would not be taken seriously (as a source of information) by any editors at a real encyclopedia, and, in fact, the point it is making can be refuted by references to material that already exists within wikipedia, e.g. Yama (Buddhism and Chinese mythology). Now, I don't want to bore anyone here by getting into details (and the issue really is boring to non-specialists, and this is a problem with discussing it on the same page as Thomas Crapper's contribution to the toilet, etc.) but this is a matter that involves pious fraud of a sort, and, like many contentious things in religion and politics, it can't easily be resolved (because there are strong biases within the tiny number of people who contribute to those issues on Wikipedia). It is also the sort of problem that Wikipedia policy should help us to avoid. It is contentious to say that there is no "judge" in "the afterlife" for Buddhists, indeed, it is a point easily refuted by anyone… but it wouldn't be refuted here (on this miscellaneous list of supposed misconceptions…) and this lack of scrutiny from salient specialists is a special problem with this approach to the material (i.e., some of these claims might be debated properly if they appeared elsewhere on the Wiki). As boring as this example may be, however, it is odious to see something like this treated as if it were a self-evident fact, along the same lines as Thomas Crapper's role in the manufacture of the toilet --and it is prejudicial to see such diverse controversies put under one heading, as if the wikipedia were equal arbiter of of them all.

2. Nobody is saying that these debates shouldn't exist, and nobody is saying that this content should cease to exist… but it probably should be on a different website.

As per the one example I just mentioned, I wouldn't want to drag anyone into a discussion of it here, and these types of debates should transpire in a non-anonymous setting between people with demonstrable expertise, etc. etc. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:52, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

  • I don't see any claim about afterlife judges on the List. However, I do see "Siddhārtha Gautama possessed no salvific properties" here, which is demonstrably false. Although it's true that orthodox Buddhists don't consider Gautama a god, his superpowers in many traditional digests are more impressive than those possessed by gods — omniscience, omnipresence, perfect skillfulness, a magical cranial protuberance, etc. On the other hand, I don't think this argument works; List of common misconceptions actually receives more traffic than most of the topic-specific articles in question. I think it's an open question whether random Buddhism experts browsing the Internet are more likely to stumble over Yama (Buddhism and Chinese mythology) than they are to stumble over List of common misconceptions. If anything, this article could be a gateway for more experts to find the articles they have expertise in, and more laypeople to gain access to relevant facts about those disciplines. The main problem is Wikipedia's general problem with inter-article consistency; editors at one article must be kept up-to-date on changes to summaries or references to that article from elsewhere, else the whole encyclopedia will grow apart from itself. This is a systemic problem, not one that's unique to this page. If I were to suggest a solution, it would be providing a list of 'Relevant sections of irrelevant articles' for WikiProjects to regularly check up on. For instance, WP:AST might want to keep a special eye on List_of_unsolved_problems_in_physics#Astronomy_and_astrophysics as well as List_of_common_misconceptions#Astronomy. -Silence (talk) 22:31, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

Too much of the content of this article is of the form "I know a fact and I want to show that I'm smarter than all those dummies who think differently by showing off my fact on Wikipedia." We have no meaningful measure of how many of those "dummies" need to exist. We don't address why they think the wrong thing. A very contentious issue here is about that particular set of dummies who believe that Obama is Muslim, or not a natural born American. They believe those things because of political bigotry over-riding truth. Is that a misconception? (Please don't try to answer. This isn't the place for that discussion. It's the fact that the question exists that is the problem.) HiLo48 (talk) 02:21, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

  • I'm not sure I grasp the problem. If we were doing a more topic-focused article, like List of misconceptions about American presidents, I think the Obama fact would be totally relevant and citable. Suppose we find reputable sources (PEW polls, science textbook, etc.) alleging that something is a common misconception, a myth, etc. I'll agree with you that absent such sourcing, a list like this is very dubious. But what's your argument if you want to say that even with such sourcing, a claim by Wikipedia that X is a 'misconception' is not adequately fortified? -Silence (talk) 02:50, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
The title says "Common Misconception", not just "Misconception". We have had considerable argument about what "Common" means. Does it mean something that is common across the globe, or just in one country, or just among less well educated supporters of a particular political party in one country who choose to ignore considerable, already available evidence proving that their belief is wrong? HiLo48 (talk) 03:03, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
What qualifies as notable? Does it mean something's notable across the globe, or just in one country, or....? What hard facts can we cite to demonstrate when something is notable? In 2010, 20% of U.S. citizens said that their President was a Muslim or other non-Christian. Considering the population of the U.S., that's over 45 million people. At that point, I'd say that's relatively "common"; perhaps not common enough to belong on List of common misconceptions, but in principle common enough for some page about particular sorts of misconceptions to cite it as an example, and with statistical evidence to back it up. -Silence (talk) 05:46, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Personally I don't regard the belief that Obama is Muslim to be a misconception, common or otherwise. It's dogma, in the face of rational reading of masses of evidence. It's a deliberate avoidance of the truth. Misconceptions occur when someone hasn't had the chance to learn the truth about something. HiLo48 (talk) 07:00, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
I don't think the 'Obama is Muslim' belongs here. That's more of a conspiracy theory than a misconception. Does anyone object if I remove it? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 00:54, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
Remove it? Read the conversation again. To my knowledge, that fact has never been on this article. HiLo48 brought it up as a hypothetical test case. It's just that we disagree about the hypothetical's implications, and if we can't agree on a baseline case we can't draw conclusions generalizing over the actual cases. -Silence (talk) 07:43, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
It used to be on here, there are discussions on this in the archive. Dr bab (talk) 11:20, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the link! No one's seriously suggesting it be re-added, though. (Even if it were a misconception, I think 'live' misconceptions, about ongoing current events, should be minimized since they're so likely to change from month to month.) -Silence (talk) 21:27, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Fringe as it may be, it's still truth to people who hold that view, also believing that the truth presented in mainstream outlets is a government-perpetrated lie. It's more of a POV issue than anything else. Hearfourmewesique (talk) 18:58, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
That's a set of sentences that's fairly immune to the sorts of charitable interpretations that might make of them something beyond nonsense. "Truth to people who hold that view"? All misconceptions are "truths" in that sense, i.e., untruths that happen to be beliefs. HiLo48's argument was far more relevant: The idea that a "misconception" is purely subtractive (it's merely a matter of lacking some fact which, were you presented with it, would immediately enlighten you), whereas conspiracy theories and dogmas of the sort in question are additive, i.e., clearing them up requires eliminating certain bad rules for processing information and faulty data points/experiences, not just adding new data points into the mix. -Silence (talk) 07:43, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
I like this definition of misconception, which is a reason why I am sceptical about including "mathematical misconceptions" such as the monty hall problem. It is a serious weakness of this article, in my opinion, that we do not have a good definition of "misconception". Dr bab (talk) 11:24, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
I'd say it's a misconception to think that the wrong solution to the Monty Hall problem is straightforwardly correct, or that 0.999... is universally agreed to be distinct from 1. In other words, the naive, totally uneducated view is a misconception. Now, if someone is educated on the matter and still refuses to 'come around,' then he might be harboring a delusion or a deviant theory of mathematics, rather than a mere misconception; but I think we can allow that 0.999... != 1 is a misconception even if not everyone who believes in it is suffering from that misconception (because some people believe in things like infinitesimals). Similarly, "Barack Obama is a muslim" is a misconception if you're a kid who just think that's a universally acknowledged fact and has never been exposed to the standard view of Obama's religiosity; it only ceases to be a misconception when it becomes immunized to (and, therefore, to some extent aware of) the evidence. So including 0.999 here and leaving out Obama's Christianity could be justified on the grounds that most people with the former belief have a misconception-belief (remedied by adding data points), whereas most people with the latter belief have a dogmatic-belief (remedied by removing data points or other cognitive architecture). -Silence (talk) 21:24, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
Fine, if you want to draw the line, do just that – find multiple WP:RS that hold a concrete definition of "misconception" and stick with it. Hearfourmewesique (talk) 17:42, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

  • Ahem* … I'd refer back to the comment now very far above, that "Too much of the content of this article is of the form "I know a fact and I want to show that I'm smarter than all those dummies who think differently by showing off my fact on Wikipedia."" Somehow, the subject has drifted toward defining "misconception" and "common" rather than the (valid?) encyclopedic purpose of the article as a whole. Anything that genuinely is a common misconception will be genuinely contestable and contested. As per all examples above and below: evolution, the existence of god, etc., what is the role of an encyclopedia upon these issues? It is certainly not the form of an overbearing reproach directed toward the misconceptions of the commons; and if it is inevitable that such a tone of reproach may creep into encyclopedia articles, let this at least occur in the specialized departments where people with salient expertise will be able to scrutinize them and their cited sources. (talk) 23:59, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
I disagree with this statement: "Anything that genuinely is a common misconception will be genuinely contestable and contested." Many misconceptions have their roots in false information originating in misinformation, misinterpretation, propaganda etc., but is primarily a lack of correct information. The misconception will be rectified as soon as correct information is provided. Example: the Great Wall of China is visible from the moon. Dr bab (talk) 07:42, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
Propaganda is contentious. If you had a list of "lies contained in government propaganda" that would be a more finite task (hey, putatively, with separate articles for separate governments), and would avoid questions of what is and isn't "common", "notable", etc. …but it would be extremely contentious. In terms of the argument that some forms of misconception are so trivial that they are not controversial, I certainly can't disagree with you about that; however, I can state that such misconceptions are also unworthy of being dealt with in an encyclopedia. Thus, you end up (implicitly) addressing a "middle range" of things that are "moderately contentious": you can't deal with evolution or the existence of god… and you can't deal with anything that is (frankly) as trivial as whether or not the Great Wall of China is visible from the moon (have enough people been to the moon to have this misconception? Has it really been important enough to merit an encyclopedia's treatment of it?). The notion that cod liver oil is good for your health is incorrect; but is it worthwhile to address that in a list of random, unrelated factoids, that have nothing in common except a tone of reproach against the common man's presumed ignorance? Frankly, even the idea of a list of lies contained in propaganda seems to me like it should be a separate website: it entails a type of editorial oversight, debate, and indeed proof that wikipedia can't provide (and/or is really bad at). Currently, nobody is even looking into the (often very dubious) citations that are pinned on to the claims made here, and, as I've said, people with salient expertise will not be looking here to sift as necessary.

A number of people did agree with my earlier motion to either divide this topic into several separate articles (that would come under the purview of editors with salient expertise) or else to delete it entirely. I don't know why that was then ignored, or dropped out of sight when people digressed into particular examples (such as Obama, etc.). Regardless of the outcome, I think there is a real question here of what is the role of an encyclopedia upon these issues? (talk) 21:03, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

  1. ^ Schlegel, Rolf H J (January 1, 2003). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Plant Breeding and Related Subjects. Haworth Press. p. 177. ISBN 1-56022-950-0.