Talk:List of common misconceptions/Archive 7

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Contents

US-Centered

Just reading the section on America, before the one on Europe one immediatly sees how it is everything about the United States with the exception of the mention of Columbus... That's something that really needs improvement!Undead Herle King (talk) 01:23, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

I'm taking this back here 'cause seeing the dates of thiese participations and those in the archvies I find it unjustified that it has been archived and forsaken...Undead Herle King (talk) 13:40, 17 June 2009 (UTC)


Deleted entries

Following are some entries that have been removed from the article, mostly for being unreferenced.

I'm surprised to see the one about pre-Columbus visits to North America gone. It's very well established and pretty uncontroversial that there was a Norse settlement in L'Anse aux Meadows at around 1000 AD. Hairhorn (talk) 19:27, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
I re-added the pre-Columbus bit, with a wikilink to Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact. -M.Nelson (talk) 01:49, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
The one about "French Fries" may be wrong anyway; I was under the impression that "the French method" does not mean deep-frying, but refers to the way that the potatoes are sliced into strips. Vegetables sliced in this manner are known in Europe as "julienned", which sounds French. — 92.40.49.151 (talk) 17:49, 13 July 2009 (UTC)


History

Asia

  • The belief that gunpowder, even though it was a Chinese invention, was first used for war by the Europeans is a misconception. The Chinese used flamethrowers and gunpowder arrows for military purposes from the 900s CE onward.[1]

The Americas

  • Christopher Columbus was not the first European to discover North America. The earliest physical evidence of European colonization comes from the Norse: Greenland was settled by Icelanders in 984 CE, and a Norse settlement was established at what is now L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland ca. 1000 CE. Scholars are divided on whether Norse explorer Leif Ericson established the L'Anse aux Meadows settlement.[2]
  • The Spaniards did not conquer the Aztecs with a "hundred men and a handful of cannons". Although Cortes only brought with him (approximately) 400 soldiers, 100 sailors, and about 10-20 horses,[3] the conquest of the Aztec was a complicated affair which included thousands of natives who allied themselves to Hernán Cortés and a smallpox outbreak.[3]
  • The German crowd witnessing John F. Kennedy's speech in Berlin in 1963 did not mistake Ich bin ein Berliner to mean "I am a jelly doughnut."[4] It is an incorrect American notion that he should have said "Ich bin Berliner" rather than "Ich bin ein Berliner". Different areas of Germany refer to a jelly doughnut as a Berliner.
No. The correct German would be, "Ich bin Berliner." However, no german person watching would have mistaken what he said. They would have understood him, but "Ich bin Berliner" is still more correct. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.212.106.138 (talk) 01:14, 27 October 2009 (UTC)

Europe

  • The trenches on the Western Front in World War I are often said to have stretched "from the frontier of Switzerland to the English Channel". The trenches reached the coast at the North Sea, not the English Channel. In fact much of the British war effort was a bloody but successful strategy to prevent the Germans reaching the Channel.
  • It is a common misconception that the Scottish Tartan has always identified the clan of the wearer. Tartans were more commonly associated with a region, and it is only in modern times that the connection between a pattern and a clan came into being.
  • Common misconceptions about vikings: Vikings wore helmets, but not the horned helmets often depicted in media (Viking Helmet from Gjermundbu); horned helmets were used in Celtic religious rituals, but are unsuited for combat, the horns easily catching on weapons – the imagery of horned vikings is believed to come from 19th century Scandinavism romantic nationalist movement. Neither did they drink from skull cups.

Politics

  • Former UK prime minister Tony Blair never said that he remembered sitting behind the goal at St James Park watching Jackie Milburn play for Newcastle United. As Milburn retired from football when Blair was four years old and seating was not introduced until the 1990s it was suggested that he lied about it, in an interview in December 1997 with BBC Radio 5 Live, to boost his working class credentials; however he was misquoted, saying his time as a supporter came just after Milburn.[5]
  • UK prime minister Gordon Brown never claimed to be a fan of the Arctic Monkeys nor that he wakes up to them. He did say that if they were playing on the radio it would certainly wake him up.[6]
  • Peter Mandelson never mistook mushy peas for guacamole. The mistake was made by a young American researcher working for the then Labour leader Neil Kinnock who mischievously attributed the mistake to his colleague Mandelson.[6]
  • Sarah Palin never claimed to be able to see Russia from her house in Alaska, an attribution to Tina Fey's parody of Governor Palin. She said, in a September 11, 2008 interview with Charlie Gibson: "They're our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska." In a September 25, 2008 interview with Katie Couric she added: "It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state."[7] Two islands in the Bering Strait called Big Diomede, which sits in Russian territory, and Little Diomede, which is part of the United States are only separated by about two miles and can be seen from one another. The sea between them freezes in the winter.[8]

Cooking

  • French fries (or French fried potatoes) did not originate in France. The term comes from frying potatoes in the French method (frire, meaning "to deep fry"). French fries were invented in Belgium.
  • Adding salt to water does not make it boil faster, the salt is just an impurity that allows the water to come to a higher temperature. Furthermore, adding a "pinch" of salt to water will make little or no measurable difference. The salt does, however, introduce free ions to the water, which will help prevent superheating from taking place were the water to be heated by microwave.

Law

  • In the United States, Police are not required by law to immediately give the Miranda warning when arresting a suspect, and the Miranda warning is not given only to suspects under arrest. Rather, according to the 1966 United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona, a suspect in custody or in a custodial situation must be informed of these rights before being subject to interrogation. If the Miranda warning or similar warning is not read, incriminating statements made by the suspect while in custody are not admissible evidence in court.
  • It is not illegal or unconstitutional, in the United States, to pray in a public school. Supreme Court cases going back to Engel v. Vitale (1962) have held it unconstitutional for a public school to lead students in an officially sponsored prayer. However, the Court has also consistently recognized a right of students to pray and to organize religious extracurricular activities, for instance in Widmar v. Vincent (1981) and Good News Club v. Milford (2001). Another misconception is that opponents of official school prayer are largely atheists. Rather, the plaintiffs in many Establishment Clause cases have been members of minority religions, such as Jews in Engel v. Vitale or Catholics in a largely Baptist school district in Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe (2000).

Science

Astronomy

  • Modern spacecraft returning from space do not suffer a communications blackout. While the heated atmosphere in front of the spacecraft prevents direct communication with Earth, and in the early days of the space programs of the world indeed meant that no communication was possible during reentry, systems like the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System have removed this problem.[9]
  • Liquids will generally freeze when exposed to space, such as in the movie Mission to Mars. A hard vacuum greatly lowers the boiling temperature of most liquids. This causes heat energy to be boiled away until the liquid freezes.[10]
  • The Fourier series approximation of degree n is optimal in the least-squares sense, amongst all approximations in terms of trigonometric polynomials of degree n.

Biology

  • Koalas are not bears. Koalas belong to the marsupials infraclass of mammals, a separate lineage from the placental mammals of which bears (along with most mammals found outside of Australia and South America, such as rodents, primates, canines, etc.) are members.
  • The Platypus is often heralded as the only egg-laying mammal. However, there are four species of Echidna, also of the order Monotremata, which also lay eggs.
  • Plants do not metabolize carbon dioxide (CO2) directly into oxygen (O2). Light-dependent reactions capture the energy of light and consume water, producing high-energy molecules and releasing oxygen as a by-product. Light-independent reactions use the high-energy molecules to capture and chemically reduce carbon dioxide, producing carbohydrate precursors and water. See Photosynthesis.


Physics

  • When floating ice melts, it does not raise the water level (Archimedes' principle). However ice such as glaciers rests on rock, and is held above water: releasing it, or melting raises the level of the water that it is dropped in. The predicted threat of rising sea levels due to global warming is mainly due to the detachment or melting of inland ice, such as that on Greenland and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet in Antarctica, the melting of glaciers, and the thermal expansion of seawater. Melting of sea ice in the Arctic makes a tiny contribution, by lowering the global average salinity (and therefore the density) of seawater.
  • The melting of Antarctic ice is not predicted to be the largest cause of rising sea levels in the near future. Complete melting of the Antarctic ice sheet would be the largest of all potential contributions to sea level change. At worst, the partial melting of Antarctic ice is predicted to be only the fourth-largest potential contribution to sea level rise by the year 2100 (−170 to +20 mm), after thermal expansion of the world's oceans (+110 to +430 mm), melting glaciers (+10 to +230 mm), and melting Greenland ice (−20 to +90 mm).
  • There is no such thing as centrifugal force, or a force that pushes outward while an object is undergoing circular motion. What many people confuse for centrifugal force is actually just inertia, because the object in motion wants to maintain its velocity and move in as direction tangent to the path of its circular motion. The force people often confuse with centrifugal force is centripetal force, the force required for an object to remain in uniform circular motion. Centrifugal force is one of several so-called pseudo-forces (also known as inertial forces), so named because, unlike real forces, they do not originate in interactions with other bodies situated in the environment of the particle upon which they act.
    • I disagree with the phrasing of this one, "[t]here is no such thing as a centrifugal force". The centrifugal force is a well defined concept, and even though it falls under the classification of a "fictitious force", fictitious forces do exist and are NOT in any sense more "fictional" than any other forces. Just as some people are confused about the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers due to its name, the concept of imaginary numbers is just as legitimate a concept as real numbers or natural numbers and there is nothing fake or fictitious or imaginary about them. Fictitious forces are a very useful concept and this arguing about how they are not "real" is silly. Fictitious forces arise naturally when you operate in an accelerated frame of reference, e.g., when you are on a rotating reference frame such as driving a car in a circular track, you will feel a force throwing you in a center-fleeing direction. Under the theory of general relativity, fictitious forces such as centrifugal and Coriolis are on the equal footing with gravity, all of which are the result of "inertia" in a non-inertial reference frame (which for gravity is a result of being in the vicinity of large mass that warps the spacetime around it).[11] I will concede that you could clarify that Newton's third law (Force on A due to B is equal and opposite of Force on B due to A) does not hold for forces classified as fictitious, for gravity it holds only in the Newtonian limit (where gravitational potential << c^2, and v << c). Jimbobl (talk) 06:31, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
  • It is not true that a mirror reverses left and right. It actually inverts front and back.[12] The left and right sides of a person's mirror image seem to be reversed because we are actually accustomed to everyone else's left and right being reversed when they turn around to face us. If, instead of rotating on the spot to face us, people instead flipped over into a handstand, we would see their left and right remain the same, but their top and bottom being reversed from our own. The mirror image faces us without its left and right or top and bottom being reversed in this sense, which is why it is the reverse of what everyone else sees when they look at us. Another way to understand this is the following. The misconception arises because one compares the image in the mirror to an object already 180° rotated around a vertical axis on the plane of the mirror, and then notices a left-right reverse. However, if one takes this (subconscious) rotation also into account, the rotation plus the left-right reverse together actually mean a front-back inversion. (Image a rubber mask being pushed inside-out, as opposed to being turned around.)
  • Surface area does not have much influence on the frictional force between two surfaces.[citation needed] Although friction is not an exact science, a good approximation in many circumstances is that the frictional force between two surfaces sliding past each other depends on two factors: the coefficient of friction and the normal force between the surfaces. A common misconception is that increasing the width of a vehicle's tires will decrease the breaking distance.[citation needed]
  • It is not true that a nozzle (or a person's thumb) on the end of a garden hose makes the water squirt farther because the same amount of water gets forced through a smaller opening. The rate of flow of water through the hose is not a set constant; in fact, putting one's thumb over the end of the hose reduces the rate of flow. What is constant is the water pressure at the source. When water is flowing, the pressure decreases the farther from the source one gets due to friction between the water and the pipes it's flowing through. The faster the water moves through the pipe, the greater is the friction that cuts down pressure at the output end. A thumb over the end of the hose decreases the flow rate, causing the friction from the source to decrease, causing the remaining water to have more speed.[13]
  • Surface area does not have much influence on the frictional force between two surfaces.[citation needed] Although friction is not an exact science, a good approximation in many circumstances is that the frictional force between two surfaces sliding past each other depends on two factors: the coefficient of friction and the normal force between the surfaces. A common misconception is that increasing the width of a vehicle's tires will decrease the breaking distance.[citation needed]
This is a nice one. The explanation is poor. I'd bet some source could be found for the general statement. Deacceleration of the car is proportional to the frictional force opposite to the direction of motion. If we could vary the width of the tire, keeping the force per unit area, pressing the tire against the road, constant, the force would increase with increased area. But the force per unit area declines proportionally with the increase of area because the weight is distributed over the increased area. The two effects roughly cancel each other out, I expect. (please move this comment to a better place if there is one, I don't understand how to approach this Talk section.) --Abd (talk) 21:12, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

Evolution

  • It is misleading to claim that evolution is completely random. Normally, the random results of genetic mutation are filtered by ontogeny, natural selection, and other non-random mechanisms. On the other hand, some evolutionary changes result from genetic drift, which is random.
  • Speciation does not happen within a single organism: a chimpanzee cannot be born a chimpanzee and turn into a different species within its lifetime. Evolution to a new species deals with changes to the gene pool of a population, which accumulate only over generations. Nor does speciation occur on an individual basis. It is not meaningful to speak of the first member of a new species. However, plants may undergo speciation within a single generation through the production of fertile hybrids and/or ploidy changes.
  • Organisms cannot pass on acquired traits to their offspring; a bodybuilder's children are not born with bigger muscles. (See also epigenetics.)
  • The theory of evolution does posit "transitional forms", but not "endpoint forms". That is, every animal, plant, fossil that exists, is an example of a transitional form. Evolution is a continuous process that has no "goal" per se.[14][15] (See also List of transitional fossils.)


Earth science

  • Mount Everest (pictured) is, indisputably, the highest point of land above sea level (8,850 meters / 29,035 feet) which, according to traditional measurements, means that it is the tallest mountain in the world. Given certain definitions, however, this can be challenged.[16] One alternative method of measurement is the base-summit height. When this is applied, Mauna Kea (a dormant volcano in Hawaii) turns out to be much higher at 10,314 meters (33,480 feet). This takes into account Mauna Kea's base on the ocean floor, some 6000 meters below sea level. Its height above sea level is only 4,208 meters (13,796 feet). If the base-summit height is measured from land only, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, meaning it does not belong to a mountain range or chain, measured from its base (at ground level) to the summit at 5,896 meters (19,344 feet). Another alternative method is to work out the furthest point of land as measured from the centre of the earth. Chimborazo, a volcano in Ecuador, takes this honor, because the Earth bulges at the equator.[17] This peak is 2,100 meters further away from the centre of the Earth than the top of Everest is.
  • The Sahara is the world's largest hot desert, but it is not the world's largest desert (arid land). Antarctica has almost no liquid precipitation (rain) and is thus a desert. Almost no animal life exists in its interior at all (nesting snow petrels and scientists in research stations are about the only exceptions).

Religion

Judaism and Christianity

  • Although Christians and Jews agree that the Ten Commandments are ten in number, they are not explicitly separated from each other in the original text. Thus the interpretation of the precise text of each of the Ten Commandments differs between Jews and Christians, and between various Christian denominations (see this chart). The Bible mentions three sets of ordinances, in 20:2–17, Exodus 34:11–27 and 5:6–21, that are all called by the name "Ten Commandments". The verses in Exodus 34 are not the Ten Commandments commonly referred to, and are called by some scholars the "Ethical Decalogue". They include an obligation to sacrifice the first born male of cattle, another to eat unleavened bread for a week and a final tenth commandment phrased as "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk".[18]
  • Kosher food is not food that has been blessed by a rabbi. It is any food that is not prohibited in the Biblical laws, meets the requirements for slaughter enumerated in the Mishnah (in the case of meat), and is prepared and served in accordance with Jewish law. For kosher certification to be approved, a rabbi or other religious Jew who is well-versed in Jewish law (called a mashgiach) serves as a production supervisor. Jews make individual blessings over the food they eat; there is no blessing said by a rabbi or layman that would make a food kosher.


Hinduism

  • Throughout most traditions, the Bhagavad Gita is not equivalent to the Christian's Bible in level of scriptural authority. It is considered Smriti (that which is remembered) which is a class of scripture lower in rank than Shruti (what is heard), containing the Vedas. The Bhagavad Gita, though, is considered the most popular.[19]
  • Hinduism is considered a family of religions and as such has no concept of God universal to all astika sects. Hinduism is thus not strictly polytheistic across all sampradyas (traditions), but can be pantheistic or panentheistic, or be distinctly henotheistic or monotheistic.
  • Hindus do not worship "300,000 gods". Someone arranged the various gods that were worshipped in his time in various parts of India, into 30 classes, using a Sanskrit word that means "a class" and also "ten thousand"

Paganism

Technology

Inventions

  • Neither did Guglielmo Marconi invent the radio; a patent was filed before him by Nikola Tesla, a claim that was ratified by the US Supreme Court in 1943 in Tesla's favor.[21]

Other

  • There is no reliable scientific evidence that installing security lighting in outdoor areas actually deters crime; it may actually make crime easier to conceal. For instance, a burglar who is forced to use a flashlight is more easily spotted than one who can see by existing light.[22]
  • Passive night vision devices do not actually illuminate an environment, rather enhancing the visibility of light reflecting off surfaces. Image enhancement night vision does not assist visibility in an environment with absolutely no visible light; thermal imaging would be required in this situation.[23]
  • The number of megapixels in a digital camera is not a sufficient measure of image quality. The skill of a photographer, the quality of the lens, and the number, size and compression of individual pixels all impact image quality. Most viewers hold contrast, color saturation, and color accuracy to be more important than resolution.[citation needed]
  • Card counting in the game of blackjack does not allow the card counter to know specifically what cards are going to be dealt, and it does not guarantee positive returns to the card counter in the short term. Counting cards only allows the player to know that the remaining cards in decks will give the players an edge on the house in the up-coming hands (usually only a few percent), and so allowing the players to maximize the projected (not guaranteed) profits from this edge by betting larger amounts.[24]
  • The Nigerian scam, or Advance Fee Fraud, is not new as is commonly believed and did not originate on the internet. It dates back to the early years of the 20th century when postal mail was used in place of email.
  • R.I.P. does not stand for "Rest in peace". It actually stands for Requiescat in pace (Latin for "May he/she rest in peace") and is an inscription on many Roman graves.[25]


Proposal for removal of unsourced material

There has been a long-standing debate about unreferenced material in this article. [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

While some of the above issues have been resolved, some have not. Further, it does not appear as if any editors are actively working to resolve them. Therefore, I propose that we set a deadline by which any item or sentence (or phrase) that is currently marked as "citation needed" be removed from the article. I would think that one month should be more than enough time to resolve these issues. Today is May 1. I propose that anything currently marked as "citation needed" still not referenced by June 1st be removed.

Keep in mind that per prior discussions, we should use at least one reliable source per misconception that:

1) Explains the misconception.

2) Describes it as a popular misconception (or words to that effect).

Yes, there are other problems with this article, but let's at least start by addressing the items currently marked with the "citation needed" tags. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 14:05, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

I agree. The article as a whole has been tagged since march, many of these inline ones have been there for some time, and this topic was extensively discussed in the AFD debate. Its now May; editors have had at least a month to source things. From my perspective, if there are questionable and unsourced statements in the article there is no reason to wait any longer to remove them. Remember that even after removal the content is retained in the page history; so if someone can source it they can easily re-add it with no loss of information. Right now, however, these questionable assertions are undermining the quality of this article and taking away from the material that is sourced. Locke9k (talk) 18:42, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I support this proposal as well. Removing the "misconceptions" that have no sources that support their being so described will make this a much better list. UnitedStatesian (talk) 18:39, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I suggest that you not remove things that you don't have any doubts about. Otherwise people will continue to reinsert them, and you'll get sucked into fights that only waste everybody's time. A realistic attitude is that on a site like Wikipedia, articles like this one are always going to draw cruft, and the only hope is to contain it -- completely eliminating it is not on the cards, unless you want to devote your life to maintaining this article. Looie496 (talk) 14:58, 2 May 2009 (UTC)
Given the diverse nature of topics (history, cooking, law, science, sports, etc.), it's unlikely any one editor will know which ones are correct and which ones aren't. I already took a stab at some of the science-related ones. In the past, editors have tried doing mass removals and yes there was a lot of edit warring. I'm hoping to avoid that this time by giving a specific deadline and one month advance notice. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 16:43, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
What I was trying to say, and didn't say very well, is that there are quite a number of these that I have heard of but wouldn't be able to find a source for, for example George Washington's wooden teeth. It just wastes time to remove things that you know from experience are actually widespread misconceptions, regardless of whether you happen to know a source for them. Of course if you actually doubt that something is a widespread misconception, it's a different story. Looie496 (talk) 02:02, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
No, I understand you and I made a similar argument here.[16] At the end of the discussion, a compromise was reached where I was given time to find cites to the ones I believed to be true, but just not cited. I completed my work here.[17] To be honest, I thought Locke9k or Hippo were going to delete the remaining entries after I said I was done and I'm honestly surprised that they didn't. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 13:15, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm probably going to soon. I've been trying to reciprocate your excellent good faith effort at citing them by giving a little extra time for someone to find a cite and being more careful myself about ensuring that I really think it is doubtful. Locke9k (talk) 15:45, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
I haven't had a chance to delete them, just too busy. When I have a chance I'm going to delete ones which aren't sourced as common misconceptions. I have no idea if some of these unsourced ones are commonly believed, and don't want to guess - my own opinion shouldn't really matter. If there isn't a source which says it's a common misconception or similar, it doesn't belong in wikipedia. Like Locke, I think Quest's work has been excellent. --hippo43 (talk) 18:25, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, I appreciate the kind words and I also appreciate you guys giving me the time to add cites to the ones I was concerned about. To clarify my proposal, I'm suggesting deleting all the ones with a [citation needed] of April 2009 or earlier. I just went through the article and added [citation needed] tags to any item that didn't have at least one cite. There were several. A bot will come in and add the month and date to it. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:49, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

Create a talk page subsection if have concerns about "losing" the content (which is retained in the page history regardless). E.g. Talk:List of common misconceptions/lacking sources. Policy is very clear that unsourced content may be removed when challenged, if there is reasonable reason to believe that a source should be required. Savidan 00:30, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

  • I know I'm gonna be way in the minority here, but I think this is a perfect example of where placing policy and process first is a mistake. The article is interesting and thought-provoking, lacking in adequate citation or not. If the only false information provided is how many people have false beliefs, just let the thing live for people who want to read it, rather than *reducing* its value for the sake of policy. --MQDuck 02:02, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, it's been three weeks. I'm not sure if we have reached conscensus but it appears as if the majority of editors are in favor of removing unsourced items/sentences/phrases. How shall we proceed? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 14:18, 20 May 2009 (UTC)
The proposed deadline has passed. How shall we proceed? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 17:52, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

William Henry Harrison

I tried finding a source for this item. The best I could come up with is an article from the Chicago Tribune.[18] (I found many cites stating the misconception as true.) The problem I have with the article is that it doesn't really explicitly state that Harrison did not catch the cold during his inauguration speech, it sort of implies it. But maybe I'm being too picky. What do you guys think? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 16:31, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

Tried again to find a good source but failed. Encyclopedia Britanica[19] states this as true (not a misconception). That creates enough doubt in my mind. I'm removing it from the article. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:21, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
He had no symptoms until 3 weeks after the speech. How can there be doubt in your mind? Rracecarr (talk) 18:56, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Common-Misconceptions.com

Has anyone seen this site? It doesn't look like it would qualify as a WP:RS so I don't think we can use it. It's a shame that they don't list their sources. Based on the date of the oldest entry I could find, it looks like the web site went online circa January 25th, 2009. I think I'll add to our External Links.

BTW, they've got a great quote on their article on Darwin Said We Came From Monkeys: "Saying we come from monkeys is like saying you are the child of your cousin.'". A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:22, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Oh, it looks like they got that quote from The Guardian. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:24, 20 May 2009 (UTC)


Let them eat cake

There's a potential myth here, but I'm not sure it is the one implied by the opening sentence: Queen Marie Antoinette was not the first woman to whom the sentence "Let them eat cake" was ascribed.

I can find discussion of the possibility that her actual phrasing was misunderstood. I can find some noting she didn't literally say that statement, but other than the few yokels who think Jesus spoke English, who really thought Marie uttered an English sentence?

While there may be some confusion worth clearing up, I have never heard it claimed she originated the phrase, which is the purported myth being debunked. While I didn't do a thorough search, the burden is on those making the claim to support it. I'll leave it for a few days, but unless someone can find some evidence that it is commonly believed that Marie originated the phrase, I'm planning to remove it (or move it to talk.)--SPhilbrickT 18:47, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

It seems obvious that if she is not the first woman to whom this sentence is ascribed, then she probably didn't say it. The misconception is that she actually said it. Such a story can be repeated even by authors who know it's not literally true, following the principle Se non è vero, è ben trovato. Taking it literally is like taking the Genesis story literally. OR considerations may prevent us from saying explicitly that she didn't say it, but I think the sources get us close enough to justify keeping this entry. Hans Adler 19:17, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Long Distance Flying

The misconception about long distance flying makes no sense:

It is commonly believed[citation needed] that airplanes flying long distances between two places usually take less time flying west-to-east than east-to-west because of the earth's rotation. This is false. The difference is accounted for by jet streams and trade winds, which usually flow in an eastward direction (because of the rotation of the earth).[140]

It basically says that flying west-to-east is not faster because of the Earth's rotation. It is faster because of the (jet streams and trades winds caused by) the Earth's rotation. Perhaps it needs to be clarified what the misconception is? If the misconception is that the earth moves faster underneath you while you are in the air or something to that effect, then this would be correct. I have never heard anyone say that, however (although I'm sure someone has somewhere). On a basic reading of the misconception as stated, along with its explanation, it seems to contradict itself because, as it states, the shorter travel time is, ultimately, due to the rotation of the earth. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.252.215.254 (talk) 20:25, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

I agree. I hadn't noticed this earlier, but it is an astounding claim. I've never heard anyone express this, nor have I even heard it expressed as a common misconception. I say give this a few days for someone to find a citation, then move it here (just so it doesn't get lost). I guess I can imagine someone making this error, but I doubt it is widespread.--SPhilbrickT 20:38, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Lunar phases

I added a citation needed tag.

Someone might think the reference supports the claim, and indeed the reference claims it is a misconception. But asserting a claim is not the same as supporting a claim. Proper support is either a large number of references making the claim, or a single, good reference doing a study which documents a large number. I did a quick Google search, checked quite a number of the links, found two asserting it was a misconception, but neither cited any examples. I found zero examples of the error, and dozens with adequate explanation. Surely if this is a common misconception, someone can find many examples of the mistake. By the way, this is a common theme, and not just here. It is a common construction to try to make a point by purporting to explode a myth. In many cases, the myth is either made up, or exceedingly rare. I don't want to see Wikipedia falling into that bad practice.--SPhilbrickT 21:05, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Columbus/Cabot

Currently the article says "Christopher Columbus was not the first European to discover North America. In fact he never set foot there; the closest he got was a Caribbean island. The first real European explorer was John Cabot in 1497." This seems a bit... silly. Cabot landed in Newfoundland. Why does a Caribbean island not count as North America, but another island a bit more north counts? Also the wording "The first real European explorer was John Cabot" seems un-encyclopedic. But I don't have enough know how or confidence to make the edit myself so I'm putting it here... —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.193.195.244 (talk) 18:17, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Heat lost through head

I've decided to be Bold and remove this myth, for the simple reason, that it isn't a myth, it is a statement of fact.

I could be wrong, and if someone can cite Reliable Sources showing that it is false, it can be restored.

Here's the original text.

# A disproportionate amount of heat is not lost through the head.[51] 
This myth originated from a poorly undertaken military study that went on to 
suggest that "40 to 45 percent of body heat"[53] was lost through the head.  
Recent studies have shown that heat loss from the head is completely proportionate.

Let's unpack it. A typical use of the statement is when a person is fully clothed, but without a hat, about to venture outside when it is cold. In such circumstances, the statement is absolutely true, and is backed up by the cited military study. The clothing on the person partially blocks heat loss from much of the body, so that the uncovered heat is responsible for a large amount of heat loss.

The statement would be false if a naked person were planning to go outside in the cold. In that case, heat loss is roughly proportionate to surface area, and the head doesn't have 40% of the area. But trust me, if you decide to go out and play in the snow naked, your mother isn't going to tell you to wear a hat.

The second sentence refers to a "poorly undertaken military study", but the cite doesn't claim that, it is a fabrication, of the WP editor. There's nothing in the cite to suggest that the study was poorly undertaken. It might be poorly understood (by the WP editor), but my cursory read doesn't find any serious problems in the study design. Finally, the last sentence claims that heat loss is proportionate. This is no doubt true, but again, heat loss is proportionate from an unclothed body. That's not the usual situation. I grant there might be a tiny number of people who read the correct statement about disproportionate heat loss form a clothed body, and mistakenly infer that it applies to an unclothed body, but that's their mistake, and not the sensible interpretation of the traditional statement.

As an aside, I think the article is still embarrassingly bad, with some recent improvements. However, rather than excise every questionable claim, I'd prefer that we go through them and debate each one. Other s may have a different approach, and I'd be hard-pressed to argue agasint removing all questionable items and restoring only those which can be verified, but that approach has met with resistance, so I'm going for Plan B.--SPhilbrickT 18:24, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

By all means discuss each entry, but there is no basis in policy for leaving them in the article until they have been discussed. --hippo43 (talk) 18:35, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. Someone did a mass delete, and it was reverted. I plan to go through and remove items one at a time, if I can find justification, but if another person chooses to removes all items for which there is no justification, I won't object. I'm just observing that it didn't work last time. Somedays, I'm obnoxiously headstrong about proper process and policy, other days, i just want to be practical.--SPhilbrickT 21:19, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

Paul Revere

I see the Paul Revere entry has been reverted. I'd like to add a {{fact}} but that might imply I question the statement. I don't question the question, just as I wouldn't question the statement, "Paul Revere is not a hippopotamus". In both cases, I would like to see a source justifying the inclusion of this fact in an encyclopedia. Many people grew up hearing about the story of Paul Revere. I don't know how many people jumped from the story to the impression that he was the SOLE person attempting to warn the locals. Maybe it's true, but I question it, so I'd like to see some support. And support means documentation that many people believe it, not documentation that many experts have debunked it. I think the misconception that Paul Revere reached his goal on time is a more significant misconception, but even that requires some sourcing. I still think this whole article has promise, but is sadly in need of better format and better sourcing. This item is a classic example.--SPhilbrickT 17:10, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

Try adding {{cn}} (which results in the same "citation needed" notice being inserted, but without the negative implications of {{fact}}). Blueboar (talk) 23:24, 7 August 2009 (UTC)


Removed entries

I will try and add an explanation for why I object to each of these. Basically, I removed entries which did not have a clear explanation of the misconception, or sources which did not clearly state that it is both a misconception and common. I may have got some of these wrong, I'm happy to discuss them. --hippo43 (talk) 15:25, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

  • Christopher Columbus was not the first European to discover North America. In fact he never set foot there; the closest he got was a Caribbean island. The first real European explorer was John Cabot in 1497. He was sponsored by a merchant called Richard Amerik. The earliest physical evidence of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact by Europeans comes from the Norse: Greenland was settled by Icelanders in 984, and a Norse settlement was established at what is now L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland c. 1000. Scholars are divided on whether Norse explorer Leif Ericson established the L'Anse aux Meadows settlement.[26]
No source for common misconception.

* Columbus's efforts to obtain support for his voyages were not hampered by a European belief in a flat Earth.[27] In fact, sailors and navigators of the time knew that the Earth is spherical, but (correctly) disagreed with Columbus' estimates of the distance to India. If the Americas did not exist, and had Columbus continued to India (even putting aside the threat of mutiny he was under), he would have run out of supplies before reaching it at the rate he was traveling. The problem here was mainly a navigational one, the impossibility of determining longitude without an accurate clock. This problem remained until inventor John Harrison designed his first marine chronometers. The intellectual class had known that the earth was spherical since Ancient Greece.[28] Eratosthenes made a very good measurement of the Earth's diameter in the third century BC.

No source for common misconception.
This one is probably true. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 16:58, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
You could be right, but I haven't been able to find a source describing it as a common misconception yet. --hippo43 (talk) 17:49, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Did even you look? How much time do you spend on this item?A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 01:50, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

But is that a valid reason for removal? WP:V states that only material challenged or likely to be challenged requires a reliable source. In this particular case, it's not being challenged on the grounds that's it's wrong or inaccurate. Instead, it's being challenged for simply not being sourced (which is not a requirement). Is this a valid reason for removal? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 02:07, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

To be clear on this (I think it was discussed before), I am challenging these, hence their removal. I don't think any of them are really common misconceptions, though I accept I might be wrong on some of them.
WP:V, as far as I can tell, requires all material to be verifiable, ie backed up by a reliable source. The first line of the policy reads "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—that is, whether readers are able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source.." This seems clear to me, Editors can choose to remove material if it's not sourced, or tag it,[citation needed] or discuss it first, but it can't be restored without being sourced.
Moreover, the lead of this article explicitly states that it is a list of misconceptions confirmed by multiple reliable sources. --hippo43 (talk) 10:36, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Actually, the source does support it being a common misconception. Did you read the opening paragraph or did you just do a search on "misconception"? BTW, you might be able to make an argument that it's not a reliable source. In any case, I've found two reliable sources and will restore the item shortly. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 00:28, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Going back to the edit history, you did originally say it wasn't reliable, but when you put the notice here, it just said "no source". I've added two new sources to the item and restored it. The text should probably be updated to better match what the sources actually say. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 00:43, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Removed the Bede source - as you pointed out, it is not reliable. Also removed the philly.com source - it doesn't say this is currently a widely-held misconception. It just says "The idea that Columbus battled a flat-earth establishment was concocted by ... So we've been taught to believe a myth about a myth." I'll grudgingly accept the LonelyPlanet pdf, although it seems to be saying "some stupid kids think..." --hippo43 (talk) 00:59, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Wait, what's wrong with the Philly.com article? It states "But what about Columbus? Why does just about every schoolchild think that he discovered that the Earth was round more than a millennium later?" This establishes popularity (i.e. common).
"Historians say the joke's on American schoolkids. By Columbus' time, "the spherical shape of the Earth was universally known among educated people," said Owen Gingerich, a professor emeritus of astronomy and of the history of science at Harvard University." This establishes that it's incorrect (i.e. misconception). A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 02:00, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Fair enough. I see what you mean here, though I still think it's a stretch to use this as a source for a current common misconception. It isn't "multiple reliable sources", but I'm ok with it being restored. --hippo43 (talk) 10:20, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
No source for common misconception.
  • Pilgrims did not dress only in black, nor did they have buckles on their hats or shoes.[30]
Source doesn't say it's a common misconception.
Actually, I think it does. It describes it as a "myth" and "popular" although it seperate sentences. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 16:58, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Does it say that a lot of people genuinely believe they dressed like that? To me it reads like there is an stereotypical portrayal, but not that people really think it's true. Perhaps I'm being pedantic. Surely 'the media sometimes portray historically inaccurate images' is no great revelation. --hippo43 (talk) 17:49, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
No source for common misconception.
  • U.S. president William Henry Harrison did give a three-hour inauguration speech on March 4, 1841, with his jacket off during a wintry day, but he did not catch pneumonia or a cold that day. The pneumonia-like symptoms that killed him on April 4 began March 26, three weeks after the speech.[citation needed]
What is the misconception? No source for misconception or debunking. Tagged for months.
See this small discussion for more information on this item.[20] A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 00:46, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I don't know what the misconception is here. Can someone explain if they know? --hippo43 (talk) 10:20, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Vikings wore helmets, but not the horned helmets often depicted in media (Viking Helmet from Gjermundbu); horned helmets were used in Celtic religious rituals, but are unsuited for combat, the horns easily catching on weapons – the imagery of horned Vikings is believed to come from 19th century Scandinavism, a romantic nationalist movement. Nor did they drink from skull cups.[33]
Non-reliable source
  • Queen Marie Antoinette was not the first woman to whom the sentence "Let them eat cake" was ascribed. The phrase is first found in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions, of 1770, when Marie-Antoinette was fourteen (prior to marriage or revolution).[34] Countess Madame de Boigne recalls in her memoirs that Madame Victoire was "by no means clever, though extremely kind. It is said of her that during a famine, when the conversation turned upon the sufferings of the poor for want of bread, she said with tears in her eyes, 'But why cannot they put up with pie crust?'" [35]
What is the misconception? IMO it might be a common misconception that MA said it, but that isn't what this says. I don't think it's a common misconception that MA was the first person to say it, or that she was the first person to whom it was ascribed.
No source for common misconception. Hitler's party was elected with a plurality, so it was not unexpected that, as leader of the largest party, he would become chancellor. Perhaps the misconception is that "in some electoral systems, the head of government is not directly elected"?
  • Although many young people in the 1960s were actively opposed to the Vietnam war, evidence from opinion polling in the United States showed consistently that younger people were more likely to support sending US troops to Vietnam than were older people. A Gallup poll in March 1966 found that 21% of Americans in their 20s thought the US made a mistake sending troops, which rose to 30% of those over 50. Four years later the percentages had risen to 49% of those in their 20s (a statistical dead heat with supporters), but 61% of those over 50 (a clear majority regarding the war as a mistake).[38]
No source for common misconception. What is the misconception here?
The misconception is the widespread belief that Vietnam caused a generation gap, with middle-aged and older Americans tending patriotically to support the war while young people mostly protested against it. There is a good source both for the fact that this was widely believed, and for the fact that it was wrong, in this Google books link to Edward K. Spann's book "Democracy's children: the young rebels of the 1960s and the power of ideals‎". Norman T. Feather's "Values in education and society‎" (1975) makes much the same point on page 168. For straightforward examples of people indulging in the misconception and not checking the facts, see Ronn Owens' "Voice of Reason" (2004) here: "So it would come as no surprise to find that, by and large, opinions on Vietnam were also split pretty much on generational lines" which in context means young people were against it, older people were for it. (page 22) Sam Blacketer (talk) 11:13, 8 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Former Vice President Al Gore has never won an Academy Award (AKA "Oscar"). "It is often erroneously claimed that Al Gore himself won the Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth; in fact, director and producer Davis Guggenheim was the Nominee and Recipient of the Academy Award. The Oscar statuette was handed to Mr. Gore briefly during Guggenheim's acceptance, which may be the source of the confusion." [39]
No source for common misconception. Wikipedia is not an acceptable source.
No source for common misconception. This is a mess. Who does it inform? It has been tagged for five months. One source refers to a misconception, but only quotes one person (Linda Orr), this is not multiple reliable sources stating that it is a common misconception.
  • The Federal Reserve System is often presumed to be part of the United States Government. The bank is a quasi-public institution owned by 12 private banks chartered by Congress to carry out a Constitutionally delegated responsibility.
Presumed by who? Source?
  • When a person is arrested in the United States, there is no legal requirement that the police must "read him his rights" (i.e. give a Miranda warning), either at the time of arrest or anytime thereafter. The failure to give the warning will merely preclude the prosecution from using a confession (or other incriminatory statement) against the defendant; it will not preclude the criminal prosecution itself and it is possible that the defendant may be convicted without any introduction of an unwarned confession into evidence. [44][45][46]
No source for common misconception.
No source for common misconception.
No source for common misconception.
  • There is no permanently dark side of the Moon; every part of the Moon's surface (except perhaps deep craters near the poles) is illuminated by the Sun roughly half of the time. The phrase uses the word "dark" in the less-frequent sense of "unknown" or "obscure" to refer to the far side of the Moon, which because of tidal locking is never visible from Earth.[52]
No source for common misconception. Who actually thinks one side of the moon is always dark?
No reliable source for common misconception.
  • Crickets do not chirp by rubbing their legs together. The male rubs his hindwings together, which the female feels on her legs. [55]
No source for common misconception.

* An earthworm does not become two worms when cut in half. An earthworm can survive being bisected, but only the front half of the worm (where the mouth is located) can survive, while the other half dries out or starves to death. If one cuts the worm too close to the saddle (the fat pink section where all of the worm's vital organs are located) then the worm may die.[56] On the other hand, species of the planaria family of flatworms actually do become two new planaria when bisected or split down the middle.

No source for common misconception. This is not a list of "stuff that some idiots believe."
I've restored this item with a cite to a WP:RS. The last sentence does not have a source so I added a {fact} tag. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 15:44, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
  • It is sometimes stated as a fact that "there are more people alive at this moment than have ever lived"[57][58]. Although there is no definite starting point for the human species, estimates of the total number of people who have ever lived have been made, and range from 45 to 125 billion people. Even the lower estimate of 45 billion far outnumbers the 6.6 billion people alive today.[59] See also World population: Number of humans who have ever lived. This fact was well known to Arthur C. Clarke who remarked on it in the opening sentence of his 1968 novel 2001: A Space Odyssey: "Behind every man stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living."
No source for common misconception. Example of usage ≠ credible secondary source.
  • The claim that evolution makes no meaningful predictions is not true — for example the discovery of the relationship between chromosome 2 and chimpanzee chromosomes at the end of the completion of the human and chimp genome projects was predicted, and makes meaningful sense as evidence of a common ancestor.[60]
No source for common misconception. What claim?
  • The process of biological evolution is not necessarily slow. Millions of years are not necessarily required to see speciation (a change in characteristics of a kind of organism, typically rendering offspring infertile with the previous species). The length of time for speciation to occur depends strictly on the number of generations that have gone by. For this reason, organisms with shorter lifespans such as fruit flies will evolve much more quickly than animals with longer lifespans. Indeed, it has been observed multiple times under both controlled laboratory conditions and in nature.[61]
No source for common misconception. So evolution is not necessarily slow - who says it is?
  • The claim that "almost all mutations are harmful" is strictly speaking false. In fact, most mutations have no noticeable effect, mainly because most mutations do not occur within coding or regulatory regions of the genome. One study gives the average number of mutations that arise in a human conception to be around 128, with an average number of harmful mutations per conception of 1.3. However, most mutations that have an effect on phenotype are indeed detrimental to the organism.[62]
What claim? No source for common misconception.
  • The centrifugal force an object moving in a circular path "feels" is actually inertia, the tendency of an object to move in a straight-line path. The centrifugal force is a pseudoforce which appears if you draw a force-body diagram from the frame of reference of the object, but since it is undergoing centripetal acceleration, it is not an inertial reference frame. In fact, the only true force that exists in this case is the centripetal force, the force acting to keep the object moving in a circular path.[63]. For example, the Earth revolves around the sun, and in the rotating frame of the Earth there is a centrifugal pseudoforce which pushes the Earth outwards. This is balanced against the centripetal force of gravity from the sun.
No source for common misconception. What is the common misconception here?
  • Similarly, sailboats are not propelled by wind "pushing" the sails. In reality, sails are vertical airfoils, which is what allows ships to sail into the wind.
    Further information: Sailing
No source for common misconception.
  • Some textbooks state that electricity within wires flows at nearly (or even exactly) the speed of light, which can give the impression that electrons themselves move almost instantly through a circuit. The electrons in a typical wire actually move at a drift velocity on the order of centimeters per hour[64] (much slower than a snail). The random thermal motions of the electrons are much faster than this, but still much slower than light, and with no tendency to occur in any particular direction. It is the electrical signal that travels almost at the speed of light. The information that a light switch has been turned on propagates to the bulb very quickly, but the charge carriers move slowly.[65]
No source for common misconception.
Wrong. The reference says: "Many books claim that these electrons flow at the speed of light." I'm restoring. Rracecarr (talk) 05:03, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
My mistake here. The reason I took this out is because it's not a reliable source - it's a personal website. --hippo43 (talk) 09:03, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I've removed this again - while I may be wrong, I don't believe misconception. The source which says it appears in textbooks is a personal site, so not a reliable source. Rracecarr may be correct that it is very common, but for now it is an unsourced misconception. --hippo43 (talk) 14:07, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Rracecarr, the "source" is a personal website, not very professional, making an unsourced claim. A cite to an actual textbook would count, a cite to a guy on the internet claiming he's seen it in a textbook doesn't count.--SPhilbrickT 18:43, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I disagree - a cite to a textbook would not be sufficient. A secondary source commenting on the numerous textbooks is needed to show that this is a common misconception. The problem with the source I removed is that it is a personal site, so not a reliable source. If a reliable source said the same thing, I would have no problem with it. --hippo43 (talk) 19:51, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
  • The blue color of lakes and oceans is not a reflection of the blue sky. Water also looks blue because water is blue; the water molecules do absorb some light, and they absorb red frequencies more than blue.[66] The effect is small, so the blue color only becomes obvious when observing layers of water many meters (or more) thick. (This effect is noticeable to a lesser amount in white-painted swimming pools.) In salt water or mineral-laden fresh water, the color of dissolved minerals can also be seen. Sky-reflection does play a role, but it is not the only factor. See Colour of water.
No source for common misconception.
  • It is commonly believed[citation needed] that airplanes flying long distances between two places usually take less time flying west-to-east than east-to-west because of the earth's rotation. This is false. The difference is accounted for by jet streams and trade winds, which usually flow in a westward direction (because of the rotation of the earth).[67]
No source for common misconception.
  • Astronauts in orbiting spacecraft are not in a location where there is zero gravity in the simple sense. They accelerate along with the spacecraft. The principle of equivalence shows that accelerating free-fall environment is exactly the same in every respect as zero-gravity. NASA refers to near free-fall conditions with low G-force acceleration as microgravity. Earth's gravitational effects are very strong at the low orbit altitudes used by the space shuttle, where the acceleration due to gravity is about 85% of what it is at Earth's surface. Gravity falls off rapidly as one leaves the Earth's surface, but one can never completely escape the gravitational pull even at vast distances, though the effect will become negligible. A free-fall situation is sometimes called "simulated zero-gravity", and can be experienced in any near-freefall situation, including extremely fast elevators. Astronauts ride inside free-falling airplanes for training (see Vomit Comet).[citation needed]
No source for common misconception. Tagged for 5 months.
  • While the Earth's north magnetic pole is near the geographic north pole, it is in physics terms a south magnetic pole. By accepted convention, a compass needle is a magnet whose magnetic-north pole is termed the geographic-north-seeking end of the magnet. Therefore, because magnetic poles are attracted to their opposites, the compass needle points to the magnetic south pole of the Earth's magnetic field. The Arctic pole is a south-type pole, while the Antarctic pole is a north-type pole. The poles have undergone geomagnetic reversal in the past, the last being the Brunhes-Matuyama reversal of 780,000 years ago. Earth also has a more complicated magnetic field than one might get from a simple dipole. The earth has a strong overall dipole which is superposed on a weaker quadrupole, as well as higher-order magnetic moments. Not only have the magnetic poles moved to opposite geographic poles in the past, but they also drift around more or less randomly, presumably because of the movements of the molten nickel-iron alloy in the Earth's core.[citation needed]
No source for common misconception. Who believes 'the North Pole' means 'a north magnetic pole'??
No source for common misconception.
  • It is not true that paper can be folded in half a maximum of seven, eight, ten, or indeed any selected number of times. It is true, however, that there is a loss function associated with each fold, and thus there is such a practical limit for a normal sized (letter or A4) sheet of writing paper.
No source for common misconception.
  • Several incorrect explanations have been circulated for what causes a Crookes radiometer (pictured) to turn. The earliest incorrect explanation – that its motion is caused by radiation pressure – was posited by its inventor, Sir William Crookes.[68] A common subsequent explanation, still offered by references such as Encyclopaedia Britannica,[69] is that its motion is caused by expansion of gas near the black side of the vanes, due to its absorbing more radiation and passing on that heat to gas molecules that strike it. This explanation only explains a part of the force exerted on the radiometer.[70] A fuller explanation includes the effect of thermal creep – the tendency of a gas to flow from hot to cold areas (in this case, around the edges of the vanes).[70][71][72][73][74]
No source for common misconception. In what way is this common?
Yes there is. The first reference describes the incorrect explanations as "common". Do you ever read the references? I'll restore soon.Rracecarr (talk) 05:11, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
It refers to the explanations as 'common', it doesn't say that a misunderstanding of how these things work is widely-held - there is a difference. These incorrect explanations may have reached some people who have heard of Crookes radiometers, but that isn't the same thing as lots of people in general labouring under a misconception of how they work. --hippo43 (talk) 15:14, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
  • It is not true that a mirror reverses left and right. It actually inverts front and back.[12] The left and right sides of a person's mirror image seem to be reversed because we are actually accustomed to everyone else's left and right being reversed when they turn around to face us. If, instead of rotating on the spot to face us, people instead flipped over into a handstand, we would see their left and right remain the same, but their top and bottom being reversed from our own. The mirror image faces us without its left and right or top and bottom being reversed in this sense, which is why it is the reverse of what everyone else sees when they look at us.[75] Another way to understand this is the following. The misconception arises because one compares the image in the mirror to an object already 180° rotated around a vertical axis on the plane of the mirror, and then notices a left-right reverse. However, if one takes this (subconscious) rotation also into account, the rotation plus the left-right reverse together actually mean a front-back inversion. (Imagine a rubber mask being pushed inside-out, as opposed to being turned around.) In fact this is due to the reason that we have two eyes for our vision. Our eyes are oriented horizontally, then we think on an inversion horizontally due to we inverse what is near to each eye. For example, if we read something vertically written we see the letters inverted up to down and the right and the left of each letter are in its usual place (of course we can see also it turning 90 degrees our head).
No source for common misconception. This is an interesting explanation of why mirrors look like they revert left & right, not a debunking f a common myth. In practical terms, mirrors do invert left & right.
  • Claims [76][77][78] that the number and intensity of earthquakes are increasing are unfounded. The number and intensity of earthquakes vary from year to year but there is no increasing trend.[79][80]
No source for common misconception.
No source for common misconception.
  • Nowhere in the Bible is the fruit eaten by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden specified to be an apple. The fruit is called the "fruit of the tree" (that is, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil), and neither the fruit nor the tree is identified by species. In Middle English, as late as the 17th century "apple" was a generic term for all fruit other than berries but including nuts.[82] However, in continental European art from that period representing the Fall of Man the fruit is often depicted as an apple. The apple myth comes from a Latin word likeness: Latin m?lus = "bad", m?lum = "an evil", m?lus = "apple tree" and "mast of a ship", m?lum = "apple (fruit)". Other traditional claims for the fruit include grapes, figs, wheat and pomegranate.
No source for common misconception. No source for debunking.
  • The Bible does not state that God took a rib from Adam to make Eve. The Hebrew word used translates as "side."
  • Nowhere in the Bible is Mary Magdalene ever referred to as a prostitute. Before her seeing the risen Jesus, the only other mention besides the listing of her name is the mentioning in Luke 8:2[83] that she had been possessed by seven demons. In fact there are several sinful women mentioned in the gospels, one of whom is "caught in adultery". The earliest recorded mention of this connection was in a sermon of Pope Gregory.
No source for common misconception.
No source for common misconception. Tagged for months
No source for common misconception.
  • The Niqab veil (and by extension, Burqa) is not considered by all[86] Islamic scholars to be obligatory. Some view it as a voluntary show of piety. The passage in the Quran instructing women to "…not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to…" is interpreted by some to require covering off the hair, while others say it simply calls for modesty of dress.[87]
No source for common misconception.
  • Allah does not refer to a Muslim, as opposed to a Christian, God. It is simply the Arabic word for "The God". Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews also refer to God as "Allah".[88]
No source for common misconception.
  • Jihad is not an "Islamic war on the western world" but rather a verb meaning to struggle or to strive. One can have an internal jihad, family jihad, or religious jihad, which may or may not include violence towards non-Muslims.[89] A comparison may be made with the term "crusade", which is sometimes considered by Muslims to mean Western violence against Islam, when it is more often used as a metaphorical struggle; for example, "a crusade against drugs".[90]
No source for common misconception.
Not reliable sources.
No source for common misconception.
No source for common misconception.
No source for common misconception.
  • Most Internet traffic travels via fiber-optic cables, not satellites. [95]
No source for common misconception.
  • A byte is not necessarily 8-bits, it simply refers to the smallest field that can be independently addressed in a particular system (though most current common place computer systems do use an 8-bit byte).
No source for common misconception. No source for debunking.
  • Web cookies cannot execute code on a recipient's computer, nor can they modify or otherwise access files or settings on the computer (at least not in the absence of security flaws in the web-browser application, see for instance Buffer overflow). They can, however, be used for limited tracking of a recipients activity on the web.
No source for common misconception or debunking.
  • The Internet and World Wide Web are not synonymous. The Internet is a physical (albeit highly amorphous) entity composed of interconnected computer systems and other devices. The World Wide Web is the non-physical collection of all hyperlinked content available from the Internet through the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Properly, the Web is just one of many services accessible over the Internet.
No source for common misconception.
  • Pong was not the first video game. In fact, OXO, created in 1952, was one of the first electronic games to use a graphical display, utilizing a cathode ray tube on the EDSAC computer. There are also patent records for an earlier game using a CRT, but no existing physical records of it. The first commercially sold coin-operated video game, Computer Space, was created in 1971 by the future founders of Atari. Fearing that Computer Space had not been popular because of its complexity, Nolan Bushnell and Allan Alcorn created Pong in 1972 after Bushnell had seen a similar game at a trade show.[96]
No source for common misconception.
No source for common misconception.
  • The first heavier-than-air craft was not flown by the Wright brothers. Human-flown gliders and kites had been flown far earlier. The Wright brothers did fly the first heavier-than-air craft capable of controlled and sustained powered flight.[98] There is even some evidence to show Clément Ader was the first to fly a heavier-than-air craft capable of controlled and sustained powered flight in 1890.[99][citation needed]
No source for common misconception.
  • Charles Lindbergh was not the first man to fly the Atlantic Ocean, although he was the first to have flown across it solo. The first flight had been done first in stages between May 8 and May 31, 1919, by the crew of the Navy-Curtiss NC-4 flying boat which took 24 days to complete its journey. The first truly non-stop transatlantic flight was made in 1919 by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown in a modified Vickers Vimy bomber[100]
No source for common misconception.
No source for common misconception.
  • The Black box, used for aviation accident investigation, is actually painted bright orange as to aid in recovering it from the crash site.[102][103]
No source for common misconception.
No source for common misconception.
No source for common misconception.
No source for common misconception.
  • The ice hockey term "Original Six", contrary to its implication, does not refer to the six original members of the National Hockey League. It actually refers to the six teams which formed the entire league from 1942 to 1967. Only two of them were actually charter NHL members, but all six were founded within the NHL's first decade.[citation needed]
No source for common misconception. Tagged for months
  • Another common ice hockey misconception is that the game known as the "Miracle on Ice" in the 1980 Winter Olympics clinched the gold medal for the USA team. Even though Team USA stunned the heavily favored Soviet team in that game, it did not clinch the gold medal. Under Olympic hockey rules at that time, the medal round was contested in a round-robin format. Team USA went into its final game against Finland with the mathematical possibility of finishing in any position from first to fourth. The Americans defeated Finland to secure the gold medal.[107][108]
No source for common misconception.
No, there's a broken link. Did you think of checking Archive.org[22] or adding a broken link tag instead of deleting it outright? If you went through this much effort in deleting each of the items as you did with this one, maybe we should restore them all. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 18:59, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
No, I didn't think to check archive.org, and chose not to add a tag. I did search for other references online but, like SPhilbrock below, didn't find any. I removed it because the remaining ESPN source doesn't say it's a common misconception - it just says "Myth: ..."
I read the reel.com source, after you supplied the archive link, but I#m not impressed with it as a source. It is a DVD review - is the reviewer any kind of expert on misconceptions? I don't imagine a point like this in a review of this kind would be fact-checked. I can't find any statement on the [archive of the] reel.com website explaining their policies re fact-checking, editorial control etc. I don't think it is a reliable source, so there is still no reliable source describing it as a common misconception. --hippo43 (talk) 20:57, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
I'm sorry that reel.com has apparently gone out of business (or whatever happened to it), but when I worked on the article a few months ago, you didn't seem to have a problem with it then. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 00:11, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I guess I didn't notice it back then - I don't remember. I may be wrong, but for me it's not a reliable source, even if it was still in business. What do you think? --hippo43 (talk) 01:05, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Well, I could have been mistaken, but normally I'm a stickler for using reliable sources. I'm guessing that at one point, I looked at their About or Contact Us page and concluded it to be reliable. If you go back and look at the talk page archives, if I had a good reason to doubt a source, I posted it on the talk page and solicited feedback. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 01:48, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I read the archived 'About us' page but could find no info on their editorial policies. For me, not a reliable source, though there may be something I'm missing. --hippo43 (talk) 14:10, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
  • The term "Romance Language" is not derived from the word "romance" in the sense of a "romantic relationship". It actually comes from the Latin "Romanus," meaning "Roman" or "of Rome."[citation needed]
No sources. Tagged since March
  • The North Star, Polaris, is not the brightest star in the northern hemisphere night sky, as is sometimes supposed.[109] The brightest star is Sirius, with an apparent magnitude of ?1.47; Polaris in comparison is 1.97, barely making the top-50 brightest stars list (a lower number indicates a brighter star). Its importance lies in its proximity to the north celestial pole, meaning its location in the sky currently marks North.
"often thought to be" ≠ common misconception. Is a Farmers Almanac press release a reliable source?
  • The most common incorrect explanation of the lunar phases is that they are caused by the Earth's shadow.[110] [citation needed]Instead, as the Moon orbits Earth, we see its illuminated half from differing angles in relation to the Sun. (Lunar eclipses, by contrast, are caused by Earth's shadow passing over the Moon.)
Doesn't say that this is a commonly held misconception. Source is a personal site.
Source says "The most common incorrect reason given for the cause of the Moon's phases is that we are seeing the shadow of the Earth on the Moon". Bad Astronomy is a reliable site full of good information. Will restore.Rracecarr (talk) 05:16, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, but - while I think way, way too many entries have been removed - I have to take issue here. There is a very basic grammatical difference between saying something is a "common misconception" and saying something is "the most common misconception" about such-and-such. Something can be "the most common misconception" without being common. For example, and sticking with the moon, the most common misconception about what material the moon is made out of is that it's made of cheese. But that's certainly not a common misconception. When you say something is "the most common misconception" about X, you make no claim at all about whether people in general have mistaken ideas about X. I apologize if it seems like I'm clutching at straws, but this is an important difference. Hairhorn (talk) 06:20, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Hairhorn is right, this doesn't say it's a common misconception. As for badastronomy.com, my understanding is that personal websites are not considered reliable sources. If the author of this site is correct, maybe it has been published in a reliable source somewhere? If such a reference can be found, then I'm in favour of putting it back in. --hippo43 (talk) 13:42, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
  • (Martial arts) ... First, the system was invented in the early 20th century, contrary to the myth that it is based on the ancient practice of students starting with a white belt and gaining a black belt through accumulated dirt, sweat, and blood on an unwashed belt.[111] Second, receiving a black belt usually does not mean mastery, as there are always several levels of black belt for each martial art, and standards for attaining a belt can vary greatly.[112]
Sources don't confirm common misconceptions. --hippo43 (talk) 14:01, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
  • The characterization of evolution as the "survival of the fittest", in the sense of "only the best-adapted organisms will prevail" (a view common in social Darwinism), is not consistent with the actual theory of evolution. In this context, fitness is strictly defined as the capacity of reproducing. In other words, a species (and not an individual) is "fit" if it is able to reproduce on an ongoing basis. Nothing is said about the "fitness" of any individual organism, which may actually include non-inheritable traits; selection acting on individuals also does not readily explain, for example, sterility among worker ants and termites. A more accurate characterization of evolution would be "survival of the genes of the individual that produces the most surviving, reproducing offspring".[113][114]
What is the misconception here? Is it common? Is it sourced? Sounds like "some people think fittest means X, in terms of evoultion it means Y"
I'll try to take a look at it later, but here are a couple of sources that might be of useL [23], [24]. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 18:44, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for these. I still don't know what the misconception is meant to be. Neither source explains a clear, specific misconception. Maybe some people don't understand exactly what evolutionary biologists mean by 'survival of the fittest' but it seems a pretty small distinction to me. --hippo43 (talk) 21:10, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
  • The human body can briefly survive the hard vacuum of space unprotected, despite contrary depictions in much of popular science fiction. Human flesh expands to about twice its size in such conditions, giving the visual effect of a body builder rather than an overfilled balloon. Consciousness is retained for up to 15 seconds as the effects of oxygen starvation set in. No snap freeze effect occurs because all heat must be lost through thermal radiation or the evaporation of liquids, and the blood does not boil because it remains pressurised within the body. The greatest danger is in attempting to hold one's breath before exposure, as the subsequent explosive decompression can damage the lungs. These effects have been confirmed through various accidents (including in very high altitude conditions, outer space and training vacuum chambers).[115][116] Human skin does not need to be protected from vacuum and is gas-tight by itself. Instead it only needs to be mechanically compressed to retain its normal shape. This can be accomplished with a tight-fitting elastic body suit and a helmet for containing breathing gases, known as a Space activity suit.
Neither source documents a common misconception. "Representation in popular culture" is not the same thing. --hippo43 (talk) 13:53, 7 August 2009 (UTC)


  • The truth of the statement that "Humans are descended from monkeys" depends on whether the last common ancestor of the parvorder Catarrhini could be described as a monkey. Humans did not evolve from any current (non-human) apes.[117] (Some scientists say that humans are a type of ape, biologically speaking, but that is not common word usage.) Rather, humans and other modern simianschimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, baboons, etc.—all share an extinct common early ancestor. Humans are more closely related to modern fellow apes than to monkeys, and humans and other apes share a later common ancestor that lived around 7 million years ago in the late Miocene epoch.[118][119] However, fossil discoveries of "recently" (as in, only millions of years ago) extinct species are, in the experience of paleontologists, rarely direct ancestors of living species (cf. missing link). Clarity here is affected by people who are unaware of recent taxonomic shufflings-around of the biological names and taxa in the Anthropoidea: for example, in former times the Hominidae only included the genus Homo and the most man-like of the extinct genera.
Sources don't refer to a widely held misconception. Seems like the explanation is semantic; it reads like "depends what you mean by 'monkeys'", which is hardly a thorough debunking of a common misconception. --hippo43 (talk) 13:58, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
What's up with this mad dash to simply to delete everything rather than actually fixing it? The common misconception that this addresses is that humans descended from modern-day monkeys (rather than humans and modern-day monkeys descended from a common ancestor). I think that what happened is that some editor or editors got overly clever/technical and turned a simple item into something way too complicated. I'm restoring the item. If you have a problem with the wording, fix it. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 14:30, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
My main objection is not to the wording. I did fix it - I removed it from the list, because as far as I know it's not a widely-held misconception. I can't find support within these sources for the idea that lots of people believe humans are descended from current species of monkeys. If you prefer to fix bad examples, great - that's your choice. I prefer to remove them then put them back in if there is consensus and if reliable sources are found for the supposed 'misconception'. I note that in this case you put it back in, despite your acknowledgement that it is not a clear example, and didn't "fix it." --hippo43 (talk) 15:04, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Why do you care about this article so much but are unwilling to do even the simplest amount of work to improve it? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 15:13, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I have put work in - quite a lot over the last few days. Reading all of these and checking whether the sources support the misconception has taken quite an effort. We obviously come at this article from different angles. I see a ton of badly-referenced examples which I don't believe are widely-held misconceptions. Someone obviously thinks they are misconceptions, but the onus isn't on me to somehow prove that they are. In many of them, it isn't clear to me what the supposed misconception is. :::::In this case, it seems like one misconception is supposed to be "humans are descended from modern monkeys", and a separate issue seems to be that some people refer to our common ancestors as 'monkeys' or 'apes', and some don't. In any case, I don't believe it is referenced as a common misconception.
I care about this article because so much of it was crap. The crap gets in the way of the good stuff. Removing badly-referenced material is improving the article. If some of these go back in after discussion, with better sources found and maybe some rewording, great. --hippo43 (talk) 15:30, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
The problem with these blind deletes is two-fold:
  • First, these mass deletes have been careless. Many of the items that were removed turned out to be valid. The items on the earthworm and Christopher Columbus/flat Earth are just the latest examples of items that never should have been deleted in the first place. If we go back through all the edit history, I can probably find a good 10-20 items that erroneously removed. Stranglely, all these mistakes has not seemed to curtain the zeal of doing mass deletions.
  • Second, these mass deletes were done without any sort of prior discussion as to which items would be deleted. A couple months ago, I made the following proposal: [25]. Through the use of the "citation needed" tags, the exact items would be removed would have been clearly identified and it gave editors a full month to add cites. This would have been a much better way to go about this matter. To be honest, I find your edits of the last couple days to be highly disruptive. You should not be making such massive changes to the article without first attempting to build concensus with your fellow editors.A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 15:56, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
These were not blind deletes, and they were not careless. Removing the Columbus and earthworm examples was legitimate - they were unsourced, and have now been improved, so my approach worked. You have pointed out these two that you consider mistakes, out of the many that I removed. Why would I stop rmeoving bad examples because you have managed to find sources for two? There are loads that I chose not to remove, because they seemed fine to me. Looking at the previous "Deleted entries" section above, there have been loads removed in the past, and very few returned to the article.
Of course some of the ones I've removed may turn out to be incorrect, so they should go back in with proper references. You wrote above "Given the diverse nature of topics (history, cooking, law, science, sports, etc.), it's unlikely any one editor will know which ones are correct and which ones aren't."
Editors have as long as they need to find sources for these, not limited to a month, but they shouldn't be in the article while we wait for people to find good sources. They are not referenced properly, so they have been challenged and removed. Those which are referenced properly have been kept.
As I think I've said before, I am in favour of us agreeing clear guidelines for these. For me, every entry needs:
- A very clear and specific explanation of what the misconception is - i.e. something like "It is a common misconception that Al Jolson invented oranges", rather than just "Al Jolson did not invent oranges" or "Whether or not Al Jolson invented oranges depends on what you mean by oranges..."
- At least one, ideally more, reliable sources (i.e. relevant to the subject, reputable publisher etc) which confirm that this is a misconception and that it is common, or similar wording.
- A clear explanation of the debunking
- At least one reliable source for the debunking - i.e. a source which specifically deals with the misconception rather than just stating a different point of view.
Without these, an entry shouldn't be in the article. I don't think I've removed any where these conditions were met.
As Ive argued above, fact tags don't work, at least not in an article like this. They are one option open to editors for dealing with unsourced material, but not the only one. I don't believe they are a good choice for this issue - they clearly did not work in the past. When an article is as bad as this one was, more drastic action is needed.
Discussion before removing unsourced material is just not required by policy. Removing unreferenced material makes articles better. I have been open to discussing these with a view to restoring some, and have not objected when proper sources have been supplied. --hippo43 (talk) 16:39, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
  • ENIAC, (1946), was not the first digital computer; rather, it was the first general-purpose all-electronic computer. The Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) (1942), was the first digital electronic binary computer. The partly electromechanical Z3 (1941), was also among the earliest digital and general-purpose computers. The first electronic computer was the Colossus computer (1943), but was not general-purpose, being designed only for particular applications.[120]
Not a common misconception. --hippo43 (talk) 14:17, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Not a common misconception. --hippo43 (talk) 14:21, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Eating at night does not cause any more weight gain than eating the same amount of food during the day.[122] Some studies have shown a connection; however, it has since been shown that the "effects" were due to a confusion between correlation and causation.
Source given does not say it's a common misconception, and does not say even unequivocally conclude it doesn't make you gain more weight - it just says it's "probably a myth". --hippo43 (talk) 17:01, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Charles Darwin did not convert to Christianity on his deathbed,[123] as alleged in a story by British evangelist Lady Hope.
This is not a common misconception. The source does not even say it is - it only says the story was alleged, and that it was published. --hippo43 (talk) 01:12, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Hinduism is not one distinct religion, but was considered to be so since at least AD 1323, as attested by South Indian and Kashmiri texts,[124] and increasingly so during the British rule. Since the end of the 18th century the word has been used as an umbrella term for most of the religious, spiritual, and philosophical traditions of the sub-continent, excluding the distinct religions of Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Despite this, many traditions considered "Hindu" today draw their validity from core texts called the Vedas, though in various degrees; some traditions[which?] assert that their own texts supersede the Vedas. The traditions that reject the Vedas are considered nastika (heterodox), as opposed to astika (orthodox). Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma are now seen as trinity; that is, highest in the order of Hindu Gods (See Astika and Nastika). Nastika is often translated as "atheist", though it does not exactly correspond to the English definition.[125]
  • Another common misconception by Westerners is that Hinduism is polytheistic or pantheistic. One would assume such because of the vast amount of gods, but in truth, all of the gods and demigods are part of the supreme reality called the Brahman, and is therefore technically monotheistic.[126]
  • Albert Einstein's position on God has been widely misrepresented by people on both sides of the atheism/religion divide.[127] In truth, Einstein was neither religious (in the traditional sense) nor atheistic. He did not believe in a "personal" God and discounted the existence of a creator; he was closer to being a rationalistic pantheist.[128] Many people misinterpreted his words in public, to which Einstein himself responded by saying: "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God, and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."[129] He has also said: "I'm not an atheist, and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God."[130]
What is the common misconception here? I can't see any, and the sources provided do not claim that there is one. --hippo43 (talk) 04:23, 23 September 2009 (UTC)


Language

  • Inuits do not have an unusually large number of words for snow. In fact, English has many unrelated root words for snow, such as snow, sleet, powder, flurry, drift, slush, whitewall, avalanche and blizzard. Each Inuit language has a similar number of unrelated root words. Since these languages are polysynthetic, arbitrarily complex thoughts such as "snow with a herring-scale pattern etched into it by rainfall" can be expressed in a single long word each, but this feature of the language is by no means restricted to snow.[131]
Another example of "depends on what you mean by Eskimos/snow/words." This is not as clear as the entry here suggests - see Eskimo words for snow. --hippo43 (talk) 03:54, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
  1. ^ Gunpowder and Firearms
  2. ^ "Leif Erikson (11th century)". BBC. Retrieved April 2008. 
  3. ^ a b Empires Past: Aztecs: Conquest
  4. ^ Ich bin ein Pfannkuchen. Oder ein Berliner?
  5. ^ "Blair football 'myth' cleared up". BBC.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  6. ^ a b "Hague's baseball cap, Mandelson's mushy peas: True tales or just great political myths". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  7. ^ "http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/25/eveningnews/main4479062.shtml". 25 September 2008. 
  8. ^ Nina Shen Rastogi (September 15, 2008, accessdate=18 February 2009). "Can You Really See Russia From Alaska?". Slate. Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ Shuttle Blackout Myth Persists, MRT Mag. Retrieved 18 March 2008.
  10. ^ Water State in Space
  11. ^ Einstein: The Foundation of the Theory of General Relativity, 1915.
  12. ^ a b Plane-mirror inversion
  13. ^ Epstein, L.C. Thinking Physics. San Francisco: Insight Press. ISBN 0-935218-06-8
  14. ^ Hunt, K (1997). "Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ". The TalkOrigins Archive. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  15. ^ Where can I find an example of "transitional fossil species"?
  16. ^ geology.com: Highest Mountain in the World
  17. ^ npr.org: The 'Highest' Spot on Earth?
  18. ^ Stephen Poly - The Ten Commandments are not what you think
  19. ^ Heart of Hinduism: Hindu Sacred Books
  20. ^ All About Spirituality - Paganism
  21. ^ "Nikola Tesla". Inventor of the Week Archive. Retrieved 2008-12-13. 
  22. ^ "Our Far-flung Correspondents: The Dark Side". New Yorker. 
  23. ^ "How Night Vision Works". How Stuff Works. 
  24. ^ Card counting 101
  25. ^ Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
  26. ^ "Leif Erikson (11th century)". BBC. Retrieved April 2008. 
  27. ^ The Myth of the Flat Earth
  28. ^ Dicks, D.R. (1970). Early Greek Astronomy to Aristotle. Ithaca,Ny: Cornell University Press. p. 68. ISBN 9780801405617. 
  29. ^ The William Dawes who Rode
  30. ^ Top 10 Myths about Thanksgiving
  31. ^ Viva Cinco de Mayo.org
  32. ^ Mexican Independence Day . El Grito.16 de Septiembre
  33. ^ Solar Navigator:Vikings
  34. ^ Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations
  35. ^ M. Charles Nicoullaud, ed. (1907). Memoirs of the Comtess of de Boigne, Vol 1. 
  36. ^ There were no more free and fair Parliamentary elections in Germany after March 1933 until after the fall of Hitler.
  37. ^ Bullock, Alan (1971). Hitler: A Study in Tyranny. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0060802162.  Fest, Joachim C. (2002). Hitler. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0156027542. Kershaw, Ian (1999). Hitler 1889–1936: Hubris. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-04671-0. Shirer, William L. (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-67-172868-7. Toland, John (1976). Adolf Hitler. New York: Doubleday & Company. ISBN 0-385-03724-4. 
  38. ^ "Generations Divide Over Military Action in Iraq", Pew Research Center commentary, 17 October 2002.
  39. ^ "[1]", Wikipedia
  40. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed., tea. ("5. Used as a general name for infusions made in the same way as tea (sense 2), usually from the leaves, blossoms, or other parts of plants; mostly used medicinally, sometimes as ordinary drinks.") Webster's Third New International Dictionary, tea. ("2a (1) : any of numerous plants somewhat resembling tea in appearance or properties (2) : an infusion prepared from their leaves and used medicinally or as a beverage - used usu. with qualifying adjective or attributive").
  41. ^ http://www.theolympian.com/living/story/774075.html
  42. ^ http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/tea.htm
  43. ^ http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2003-05/a-2003-05-17-7-Teaism.cfm
  44. ^ See Miranda warning ("If the suspect did not make a statement during the interrogation the fact that he was not advised of his Miranda rights is of no import.... If all six factors are present, then Miranda applies and any testimonial evidence that was the product of custodial interrogation is subject to suppression under the Fifth Amendment exclusionary rule unless the interrogation was preceded by a valid Miranda waiver or an exception to the Miranda rule of exclusionary rules applies.") (emphasis added) and Miranda v. Arizona.
  45. ^ See also Landmark Cases, US v. Nichols(Rule applied in context of sentencing, after defendant had already been convicted following a Miranda violation)
  46. ^ See also Mirfield, Peter (1997). Silence, confessions and improperly obtained evidence. Oxford University Press. pp. 225 et seq. ISBN 0198262698. . It is nevertheless wise and standard police procedure to give the warning, as otherwise confessions will likely be barred under the exclusionary rule.
  47. ^ Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
  48. ^ See United States v. Cruikshank (the federally specified right to assembly "was not intended to limit the powers of the State governments in respect to their own citizens"); United States Bill of Rights(discussing incorporation concept)
  49. ^ Krusch Book Online; and see extensive discussion of incorporation issue in footnote of article Creation–evolution controversy, at discussion of Tennessee state constitution Religious Preference Clause in appeal of Scopes judgment.
  50. ^ See Privacy laws of the United States; Griswold v. Connecticut (US Supreme Court finds a right of privacy implicit in the Constitution as a result of "penumbras" that emanate from other rights); Lawrence v. Texas (US Supreme Court rules Texas sodomy law unconstitutional as a violation of constitutional right of privacy).
  51. ^ Other such "implied" doctrines include the dormant Commerce Clause (Courts have implied power by negative pregnant to nullify state laws which unduly interfere with interstate commerce, when Congress has not spoken to the issue in question, even though Congress is by the text of the Constitution the guardian of interstate commerce) and a suspect's Miranda rights (Court held that a detained suspect must receive a fairly specific "Miranda warning" as a precondition to prosecution's use of his later-made incriminatory statements against him in court, or statements will be inadmissible under the judge-made exclusionary rule). See generally Living Constitution.
  52. ^ NASA on the dark side of the moon
  53. ^ "Amerindian Pictures Painted by Those Who Were There". Hutchison Research Center. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  54. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions - Page 2". WWW Virtual Library - American Indians, Index of Native American Resources on the Internet. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  55. ^ http://insected.arizona.edu/cricketinfo.htm
  56. ^ BBC: Gardening with children - Worms
  57. ^ Finlay, Paul N. (2000). Strategic Management: an introduction to business and corporate strategy. Pearson Education. p. 207. ISBN 0201398273. 
  58. ^ Dobson, James; John Sander, Judith Woodfield (2001). Living Geography. Nelson Thornes. p. 23. ISBN 0174343256. 
  59. ^ "Myth Busters > "There are more people alive today than have ever lived"". Sustainable Development New Zealand Programme of Action. Statistics New Zealand. 
  60. ^ Origin of human chromosome 2: a ancestral telomere-telomere fusion. J W IJdo, A Baldini, D C Ward, S T Reeders, and R A Wells
  61. ^ Jiggins CD, Bridle JR (2004). "Speciation in the apple maggot fly: a blend of vintages?". Trends Ecol. Evol. (Amst.) 19 (3): 111–4. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2003.12.008. PMID 16701238. 
    *Boxhorn, J (1995). "Observed Instances of Speciation". The TalkOrigins Archive. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
    *Weinberg JR, Starczak VR, Jorg, D (1992). "Evidence for Rapid Speciation Following a Founder Event in the Laboratory". Evolution 46 (4): 1214–20. doi:10.2307/2409766. 
  62. ^ F. Giannelli, T. Anagnostopoulos, and P. M. Green (1999-09-15). "Mutation Rates in Humans. II. Sporadic Mutation-Specific Rates and Rate of Detrimental Human Mutations Inferred from Hemophilia B". [dead link]
  63. ^ "Centrifugal Force". 
  64. ^ hyperphysics
  65. ^ Mac Elwyn Van Valkenburg (1955), Network analysis, p. 3  Unknown parameter |http://books.google.com/books?id= ignored (help)
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  67. ^ National Weather Service on jet streams
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Problem with the move of elements with references

I have no objection to unsourced or poorly-sourced elements being discussed here. However, the moves have created problems with accessing the sources initially provided, which makes it somewhat difficult to debate them. -- Alexandr Dmitri (Александр Дмитрий) (talk) 15:06, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

Thank you User:Algebraist for sorting that out. -- Alexandr Dmitri (Александр Дмитрий) (talk) 15:22, 6 August 2009 (UTC)


Much work needed - few citations supporting wide belief of myth

I'm happy to see that a significant number of items have been removed, but there is still work to be done.

Can we first agree that any entry requires not just one but two types of reference (possibly covered by one citation):

  1. Documentation of the true state of affairs, that is, a reliable reference supporting the facts
  2. Documentation that a false belief is, in fact, widespread.

Many of the myths were completely devoid of references, but many of the remaining ones have type 2 references, without type 1 references. And no, a site simply declaring that such and such a myth is not true does not establish that such and such is widely believed.

I see the Columbus item was restored. I don't happen to disbelieve that many people still think Columbus was the first, but the current entry contains NO evidence.

The Napoleon entry has three decent references showing that he wasn't short, but not a single reference supporting that claim that many people think this. I thought it was true, I don't doubt it would be hard to find some, and I'll look, but I believe citations are needed to support the claim that this supposed fact is widely believed. Does anyone disagree?--SPhilbrickT 18:20, 13 July 2009 (UTC) Addendum - having found some support that some believe Napolean was short ( a little harder than one might think, most of the first few hits were debunking sites), I'm not sure where to place such a reference. the format of the page is not Myth, Debunking, but simply Debunking. I'll try something, but we may need a common style.--SPhilbrickT 18:31, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

I think it would be a good thing to transform the page to Myth, Debunking style. In the past I had to add the Myth part myself when I didn't even believe it, because otherwise there was nothing to put a fact tag on! Of course it would still be much better to delete this article altogether. We should have a policy against articles that collect random facts from all conceivable areas, which will never get the necessary expert attention. Hans Adler 19:22, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I've removed numerous examples lacking sources. I completely agree that each example needs a clear explanation of the widely-held misconception, and sources for both the misconception and the reality. Rracecarr has reverted my edits, without supplying sources for the stuff I took out - I don't want this to turn into an edit war. There are a lot more examples that I haven't been able to check yet, but which are dubious at best. --hippo43 (talk) 17:15, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Some of the stuff you've removed is dubious, other stuff just needs better sourcing. Rather than throw out the baby with the bathwater, at least move entries to talk rather than deleting outright, until some consensus has been reached about whether it should be included. If you don't want an edit war, stop edit warring. Rracecarr (talk) 17:26, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
This stuff has been discussed to death, a debate which you took part in - Talk:List_of_common_misconceptions/Archive_6#Removed_numerous_badly-_or_unsourced_examples. The examples I removed all had edit summaries explaining why they were removed. There is no requirement to discuss before removing unsourced material. There is no consensus for reinserting it, and you have clearly not checked each entry before restoring them. Per WP:V, the burden of evidence is on you. Your opinion about what is badly sourced and what dubious is irrelevant - please do not reinsert these without proper references, in line with policy. --hippo43 (talk) 17:34, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Rracecarr, meant to add that I didn't see the point moving examples to this discussion, but if you think it'll help, I won't object. --hippo43 (talk) 17:58, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
The point is that that way, there's a chance that a number of contributors' insights and efforts won't be squandered simply because the entries don't conform to your idea of perfect. I know you are aware of the 3RR rule, having run up against it before. You have reverted 4 times in a couple hours, and could certainly be blocked from editing on those grounds. If you don't slow down your rampage, I will go tattletale. Rracecarr (talk) 18:36, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
It's not my idea of perfect, it's Wikipedia's verifiability policy. Some of these are interesting stories, but if they are not verifiable as common misconceptions, they don't belong in the article. No good work will be squandered - if an editor finds good sources for an entry, it can go back in. By all means move entries here if you want to discuss them. Apologies for 4 reverts - I just wasn't counting, though that wouldn't have been an issue if you weren't also reverting. I will keep trying to improve the article, so may well remove some more entries if I find more which aren't consistent with the article's lead or with policy.
Very well, I've filed a report. Like as not we'll both get blocked, although I have not actually violated 3RR. At least there will be a break from all the deletions. Rracecarr (talk) 19:06, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
It would be good to hear views from some other editors on this. --hippo43 (talk) 18:44, 3 August 2009 (UTC)


A common misconception about WP:V

Please note that WP:V does NOT state that all content must be cited to WP:RS. Instead, it says that material challenged or likely to be challenged requires reliable sources. If something is factually accurate but not sourced, that doesn't automatically mean it should be removed. The two items on Columbus are factually accurate (although I could not find sources for them). The one on Emancipation Proclamation is also factually accurate and I've restored the material with a cite to Time Magazine where it states this is a common misconception. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:35, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

That citation is weak. I've observed that many authors of article in the mass media find it a useful construction to start an article "It is a myth that xxxx, in fact, yyyy". In many cases, the author wants to assert yyyy, but needs a hook, and uses the myth construction without any support for the myth. Sometimes there is a myth, sometimes there is not.
That said, for better or worse, Time is considered a reliable source. However, the opening paragraph is self-contradictory. The fourth sentence states:
It's likely that none of them had any idea that they had actually 
been freed more than two years before.
What possible interpretation of this sentence can be consistent with the claim that the slaves were not "actually...freed more than two years before"?
If the claim is based upon the few months between the date or the order (22 Sep 1862) and the effective date (1 Jan 1863), rather than the two years between the order and the effective implementation, then this falls into that category of anal distinctions that do not belong in an encyclopedia.
I don't feel strongly enough about this issue to make a change, but it is one more example showing why this whole article is a black eye for Wikipedia. Many articles have questionable claims, and we all need to work to improve them all, but an article about misconceptions ought to be held to a strong standard, just like an article about spelling ought to be especially free of spelling errors, or an article about common math errors ought to be free of math errors (except, of course, the examples).--SPhilbrickT 20:40, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
The author means that they were freed in a technical/legal sense, but the North couldn't enforce the proclamation in areas they did not control. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 21:31, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
I understand the distinction - de jure emancipation occurred on one date, de facto on another date, but if one wishes to express this distinction, one cannot use the virtually identical construction in both cases. Not to mention that the term "actually" would be more appropriate for de facto, not de jure, but that's JMO. I see that you have improved the wording, thanks. I still don't think the sourcing is acceptable, but there are bigger fish to fry, so I'll move along :)--SPhilbrickT 15:35, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

But there's a larger issue at play here: WP:V does NOT state that all content must be cited to WP:RS. Instead, it only says that material challenged or likely to be challenged require reliable sources. Thus far, not a single challenge to an item actually involves the factually accuracy of the item. Instead, the challenge was merely for the sake of having WP:RS (which isn't not required by WP:V). A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 02:40, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

OK, as I stated earlier in this thread, WP:V does not say that all content must be cited to WP:RS. Instead, it says that material challenged or likely to be challenged requires reliable sources. If something is factually accurate but not sourced, that doesn't automatically mean it should be removed.
Since no one has bothered responding, I am restoring all deleted content which is factually accurate, but just not sourced. If you have a problem with this, please address my concerns that these mass deletions are not supported by WP:V. Simply not having a source is not a valid reason for deletion. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:10, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
As I responded below, in reply to one of your other comments, WP:V clearly states that all content must be verifiable. You've clearly read the policy, but are choosing to ignore the first line: "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—that is, whether readers are able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether we think it is true." This is crystal clear - everything in Wikipedia has to be verifiable, i.e. backed by reliable sources. Whether you believe, for example, that the "humans are descended from monkeys" example is true or not is irrelevant. Removing unsourced material to the talk page is a legitimate option - as I've said elsewhere, tagging has clearly not worked here.
To be clear again, I don't believe the examples I removed are actually widely-held misconceptions. If unsourced material is questioned and removed, restoring it without sources (as you have done) is a blatant breach of policy ("The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material.") --hippo43 (talk) 19:46, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
(ec)No, many of the reasons you gave was simply "No source". AFAIK, that's not a valid reason for removing content. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 20:01, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
One more thing, I agree that WP:V does not require unsourced material to be removed, but it does explicitly say that it can be removed - "Any material lacking a reliable source may be removed, but how quickly this should happen depends on the material in question and the overall state of the article. Editors might object if you remove material without giving them enough time to provide references, especially in an underdeveloped article. It has always been good practice to make reasonable efforts to find sources oneself that support such material, and cite them." The discussion of these unsourced and badly sourced examples has gone on for months - we have had more than enough time to clean this up. The removed examples are here on the talk page so can easily be moved back in if sources are found and consensus reached. --hippo43 (talk) 19:58, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
For the sake of transparency, I've posted a question clarifying WP:V here Can material be challenged not for being wrong or inaccurate, but simply for not being sourced?. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 20:02, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

Removed unsourced misconceptions again.

I removed the entries restored by Rracecarr, and a few more which are not referenced as common misconceptions. I can't see consensus here for restoring the stuff he put back in. Per WP:V, the burden of evidence is on the editor who restores material. These entries were challenged and removed, with edit summaries for each one, and Rracecarr put them all back in without making any changes. He clearly did not assess each one individually or improve any of them.

As various others have said above, these examples must all be sourced as common mosconceptions (or similar). If not, they have no place in this list. If Rracecarr would prefer to move them here to discuss each one, I have no problem with that.

Quest said above "WP:V does NOT state that all content must be cited to WP:RS. Instead, it says that material challenged or likely to be challenged requires reliable sources. If something is factually accurate but not sourced, that doesn't automatically mean it should be removed." I realise they don't have to be removed, but they can be removed if an editor chooses to. They cannot then be restored without the proper evidence. I don't believe any of these are factually accurate, i.e. it is factually accurate that they are common misconceptions. I may be wrong, but would want to see reliable sources which explicitly say so before I'm convinced. The article lead says it is a list of "ideas that are described by multiple reliable sources as widely held" but listed a load which were no such thing. It would be good to get the views of others on this. --hippo43 (talk) 13:39, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

My only comment is that I wish we'd come to decision and then stick with it. Would a RfC help? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 14:21, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
I have reverted the deletions (again) not because I think they are all bad, but because taken all together, I think they are a step backward. It takes a lot more thought and effort to add a new entry than to delete it. Each entry should be considered separately--there are no doubt some that don't belong, but by deleting dozens at once, even if some are garbage, we get further from, not closer to, a good article. For example, in the Physics section, I think the entry on sailboats is oversimplified and unreferenced, and I suspect consensus could be found to remove. You can say for the umpteenth time that consensus isn't needed according to policy, but in fact, if you want your changes to stick, i.e. if you want to make forward progress, getting consensus is the way to go. On the other hand, the misconception about the speed of electrons moving in wires is referenced, accurate, and is a quite common misconception. I strongly disagree with its removal. Let's discuss entries one at a time rather than making huge cuts all at once. This can be done before any changes are made to the article, or, if you must, you can move entries here to talk during the discussion. But simply deleting them makes them more difficult to discuss, and more difficult to restore if the result of the discussion is "keep". Rracecarr (talk) 14:35, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Fair enough. We disagree, but I'm sure we can work on this. I will move them here to a new section below. --hippo43 (talk) 14:56, 6 August 2009 (UTC)


Miracle on Ice

I have problems with the re-add of Miracle on Ice.

I reviewed roughly the first twenty Google hits searching for "miracle on ice" gold. Every single one correctly noted that the gold was the result of the game with Finland. I found two (may have missed some) that said there was a misconception, but saying there is a misconception is not the same as documenting that there is a misconception. Not a single source claimed that the US won the Gold with the Miracle on Ice game. (one or two could be misread to imply it, but often sloppy headline writing.) I realize my sample is biased. It's plausible that sites with correct information score higher than sites with flawed information, But to support the contention that it is a common misconception, we either need a LOT of sites making the claim, or a cite to a good study confirming the misconception. I haven't found any. Doesn't mean they don;t exist, but the burden in on the editor adding the information to supply, not on me to read 106,000 hits to confirm it isn't there.

Ironically, I think there is a misconception about this game - many people who watched it, or claim they watched it, think they were watching it happen live, as opposed to tape delay.

Again, adding a misconception to a list requires a source documenting that it IS a common misconception. Documenting the truth isn't sufficient, and IMO, documenting that some people repeat a claim that there's a misconception isn't goof enough for a quality encyclopedia, as the whole reason misconceptions exist is because people repeat plausible statement without requiring documentation.--SPhilbrickT 20:06, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

I skipped past the first 100 hits, thinking I might find something better further down. The first few all seemed to be correct, but I did find this. One example, not enough to support the claim.--SPhilbrickT 20:13, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
I agree - see comment above. I'm for taking it out. --hippo43 (talk) 21:01, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but that sounds like WP:OR to me. The threshold for inclusion in Wikpedia is verifiability, not truth. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 00:03, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Can you clarify what you feel is original research? I'm pointing out that the implied claim (many people think the Miracle on Ice resulted directly in a gold medal) is not sourced. Outsourced claims should be removed. I attempted to find such a source, rather than simply note the lack of source. I failed to find a good source. But maybe something more familiar with the subject and/or more skilled at searching might find a source soon. So I opted to leave it as is, and wait to see if someone can find a source. Or perhaps someone will argue that it is sourced. The talk page seems like the right place to talk out whether the sourcing is adequate, rather than simply removing and moving on - do you disagree?--SPhilbrickT 01:08, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
"Can you clarify what you feel is original research?" Doing a Google search and then using those search results to draw the conclusion that the misconception is not popular. Please provide a reference to a reliable source that draws such a conclusion. In any case, it's already cited. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 01:39, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I'm afraid we are talking past each other. Let me try saying it a different way.
Saying something is a common misconception means that many people believe something (that doesn't turn out to be true.) If we want to include a misconception in a list, we ought to be able to point to a reliable source documenting that there are many people who mistakenly believe the claim. There is not a single cite that does this. I believe it would either be adequate to cite a large number of sites making the false claim, or one reliably sourced study of the false claim, but I do not believe that the mere assertion that there's a misconception proves anything. The whole point of a misconception is that people mistakenly believe something that seems plausible. As the editor of a reputable encyclopedia, I think we need a higher standard than some guy thinks so, but doesn't assert any evidence.
Based upon the lack of a cite, it would have been acceptable to simply remove the item. However, I decided to go the extra mile, as search for a cite. After all, if it really is a common misconception, it doesn't seem like it should be hard to find any evidence. My Google search is not evidence that the claim is invalid, but the claim has no reliable source, I made a good faith effort to find one, and the best I could do is find one lame support that ONE person mistakenly believes this.
If this was a page about hockey games, the cite you include would be a Reliable Source to support the claim that the USA beat Russia, and then beat Finland for the gold. However, this is not a site about hockey games, it is a site about common misconceptions. The citations does not, in my opinion, adequately support the claim that is it a common misconception.--SPhilbrickT 02:12, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I believe that at least one and possibly two sources have been provided. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 02:29, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
There are two cites making reference to a myth. Both would adequately a claim that "two people think this is a common misperception, but neither cites any real evidence". I think we should hold ourselves to a higher standard, but I'm not going to continue—you are doing fine work trying to make this article better, and there are bigger problems to address.--SPhilbrickT 13:12, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

Truce?

Rracecarr/Quest, I suggest we calm down a little. We have all been edit-warring over the last few days. I think we all want the same thing - well-sourced entries that reflect actual common misconceptions. Can I suggest we actually discuss these examples and only move them back in if we agree that they are reliably sourced? I have no problem with restoring entries which are reliably sourced as such, but the three of us fighting is getting in the way of actually working on the article. --hippo43 (talk) 20:03, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

What was wrong with my proposal on May 1st? If we had followed it, we'd be done by now. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 21:44, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
Um, ok. Can we try to move forward? As you know, I've spent some time on this in the past, but I didn't have much time for it around May/June. I don't think that my actions were inconsistent with your second last statement in that section - "I'm not sure if we have reached conscensus but it appears as if the majority of editors are in favor of removing unsourced items/sentences/phrases."
Anyhow, my suggestion is that we stop fighting (reverting) and focus on the article. If there are examples you think should go back in, can we discuss them? You clearly don't think all of them should go back in, so we obviously agree on a lot of this. --hippo43 (talk) 22:07, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
No, I do agree that a lot of what was on here was crap. But some of it wasn't. I would rather take a more judicious and orderly approach to this.
If you look at the last mass deletion[26], out of 21 items, only 1 was even flagged with a {fact} tag. So nobody even knew there might be a problem. I certainly didn't know and I'm one of the most active editors of this article. I think we should move them back to the article page where people are more likely to see them but this time we insert {fact} tags to the items.
So, here's my proposal:
a) Any items (or sentences) with a {fact} tag of May 1st should be deleted now if they haven't already.
b) For any items that we think that there's a reasonable chance of finding reliable sources for, we add back to the article. But this time, we add {fact} tags on them so other editors can see them and possibly help out. The ones that I think have a reasonable chance at being sourced are here:[27].
c) For any other items that aren't sourced, we add {fact} tags.
d) For any sources which may not be reliable, we add {Verify credibility} tags.
e) For any sources which are dead, we add {Dead link} tags.
f) Set a deadline for when we delete any remaining items (or sentences) which haven't been fixed. Given this month has already started, I propose Sept 1. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 22:38, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
I can't support adding this stuff back to the article. I removed it because it was not sourced - adding unsourced material back into the article will make it worse, if only for a month, and is not consistent with policy; better to have some (maybe) correct but unsourced material missing for a while.
This has been ongoing for months, and the article has been tagged as badly referenced since 2007. You, Rracecarr and others were active in this article when I removed loads of these in April. A large number of the ones I removed recently are the same ones, so you (and other involved editors) were definitely aware they were contested. They have not been properly referenced since then, and other bad examples which have appeared since then have not been policed very well by us. For me, it's very obvious that tagging does not work here.
The list you think have a realistic chance of being kept has about 20 entries on it. I agree that some of them sound plausible, but IMO there are others which are hopeless. If we focus on these 20 or so on this talk page, it won't take long to get through them. --hippo43 (talk) 23:28, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
"I removed it because it was not sourced...I agree that some of them sound plausible"
OK, so you agree that you removed material not because you think it's incorrect, but just because it was not sourced.
"large number of the ones I removed recently are the same ones, so you (and other involved editors) were definitely aware they were contested. They have not been properly referenced since then, and other bad examples which have appeared since then have not been policed very well by us. For me, it's very obvious that tagging does not work here."
Only 1 out of the last 21 items you removed contained a {fact} tag. So, no, tagging doesn't work when you don't bother using it.
"adding unsourced material back into the article will make it worse, if only for a month, and is not consistent with policy..."
No, WP:V does not say everything needs a source. Only material that is challenged or likely to be challenged requires a source. By your own admission, you are not claiming any this material is incorrect, only that it isn't sourced. I don't think that challenging for the sake of challenging meets the letter or the spirit of WP:V. I've asked a question on the WP:V for clarification as to whether this is a valid reason for removing material.
You should not have made such massive, sweeping changes to the article without first attempting to reach consensus with your fellow editors. I am attempting to resolve this issue with you in good faith. I've proposed a compromise which I feel is fair and will resolve the issue. Do I understand your position correctly that you refuse to discuss a compromise? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 00:46, 8 August 2009 (UTC)
I don't support adding material back until it is properly sourced. Adding material that is questionable, simply because it was there for some period of time, doesn't strike me as a good working model. The article still has problems. Black belts have to register their hands with law enforcement? Are you serious? Are there really more than a handful of people beyond middle school who believe this? It sounds preposterous - which doesn't make it not true, but it requires a cite. What is the rationale for adding back questionable material? The article is an embarrassment - and I fully expect some editor to see it and propose Afd. I don't know that we'd survive an Afd vote. Let's not make it worse by adding in more questionable material. JFTR, I love the concept of misconceptions. I'm a big fan of Snopes and Mythbusters, but I want this article to be one I'd be proud to show them, and right now I'm worried they'll feature it as a prime exhibit - Myth - Wikipedia digently sources its material - busted.--SPhilbrickT 03:12, 8 August 2009 (UTC)
Quest, you're being ridiculous now. I haven't 'agreed' any such thing. I've said I removed these because they were unsourced and because I don't believe they are actually widely-held misconceptions. Please stop repeating your accusation which I have already explained more than once - by making the same baseless claim, you are not acting in good faith. I have not 'admitted' to any such thing, you have just misunderstood what I've written. To be honest, there are examples still in the article which I think are not misconceptions either, but they are verifiable - i.e. someone has said in a reliable source that they are. In those cases, I've left them in. When I've written "No source for misconception" I was trying to be brief - I have not been removing material which I believe is factually accurate. When I said "some of them sound plausible" I was trying to be open to discussion and persuasion - I can see that some of those may turn out to be verifiable as misconceptions, though I don't really think they actually are. I've said all along that I could be wrong - as another editor pointed out recently, none of us is an expert in all these areas, and what is obvious to one editor may not be to another.
As for "not bothering" to use fact tagging, this is an old argument, and horseshit. When I removed a load of these months ago, my position was that tagging material had not worked here - the article had been tagged for years, and was stacked full of crap. Material was put back into the article, which editors knew was challenged, but was not tagged. Presumably, you also haven't "bothered" to use it, over the same period - why did you not add tags to all the examples which were restored? Some of the examples I removed recently were tagged since March - why has no active editor removed these in the intervening five months?? You may be a fan of fact tagging, but I'm not - it doesn't work, so I don't use it much.
Re WP:V, I've already addressed your view above and at WT:Verifiability. You are misunderstanding the policy - its first line is clear: "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—that is, whether readers are able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether we think it is true." The threshold for inclusion is verifiability - if material is not verifiable it should not be included. Not every sentence needs to have an inline citation, but it must have been published in a reliable source. It goes on to say "Any material lacking a reliable source may be removed" - why is this hard to understand?
Moreover, this article is explicitly a list of examples which are backed by "multiple reliable sources", so I'm baffled by why you are supporting keeping unsourced entries. Restoring unsourced material is a blatant breach of the policy - "The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material. All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation." If material has been removed, i.e. challenged, an editor who restores it must supply a source.
I have obviously not refused to discuss suggested compromises - I discussed this one, so no, you don't understand my position. Whether I can agree to a suggested compromise is different. I have compromised already, by discussing these here rather than simply deleting them. I don't see any benefit to moving any of this material back into the article, and I see a lot of harm in doing so, so if that is what you mean by compromise, I can't support it. I am, however, willing to focus on discussing those which you think are most likely to be verifiable. I suggest we do that rather than obsessing about the process. --hippo43 (talk) 10:35, 8 August 2009 (UTC)
Well, I have attempted to resolve this issue with you in good faith. Your refusal to discuss a compromise is unfortunate and I ask that you reconsider your position. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 16:04, 8 August 2009 (UTC)
Good faith? At WT:Verifiability you claimed I am lying. If you want to actually deal with the problem, let's discuss the removed material. You are now edit warring by restoring false and unsourced material - which you have acknowledged contains a lot of crap - without consensus, without adding proper references and without 'fact'-tagging any of it. --hippo43 (talk) 22:15, 8 August 2009 (UTC)
Look, at one end of the spectrum is keeping the items permanently. At the other end of the spectrum is removing them immediately. In the middle, is adding {fact} tags amd setting a deadline for deletion. Is this not a reasonable compromise? In the end, you're going to get what you want anyway.
I only restored items that sounded plausable. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 23:18, 8 August 2009 (UTC)
No - you are, probably unintentionally, misrepresenting the spectrum of reasonable outcomes, and proposing a false compromise. Keeping contested material permanently, even after it has been fact-tagged, is not really at the inclusionist end of the spectrum - it's just not a reasonable solution.
At the deletionist end of the spectrum is deleting the whole article. Deleting the dodgy material immediately would maybe be next - this is what I did initially. Rracecarr suggested the compromise of moving the stuff to the talk page, which I did. So my original position was to delete the bad entries outright, but I went along with Rracecarr's suggested compromise. Your initial position was the same suggestion you are making now - you haven't compromised at all! Trying to present your own preferred option (which didn't work the last time it was tried) as somehow a compromise between your position and mine is disingenuous at best. --hippo43 (talk) 16:11, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
No, WP:V does not require all material to be sourced, and no source is not a valid reason for deletion. I don't know why I have to keep reminding you of this. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:07, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Quest, I have no idea why you keep 'reminding' me of this, because you are wrong on both counts. I not also that instead of answering the points that I make (such as about your supposed "compromise" above), you change the subject and revert to tired, discredited attacks.
I used to think you made intelligent contributions, so your recent behaviour seems strange. As has been pointed out to you at WT:V and in this discussion months ago, I have not removed material only because it is unsourced. Your repeated assertions that I have are a clear breach of WP:AGF. Here are the relevant passages from WP:V which I have pointed out before, but which you appear not to have read, and have not addressed in your replies:
"The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—that is, whether readers are able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether we think it is true." Material without a reliable source does not meet the threshold for inclusion, therefore material needs a source to be included.
"Any material lacking a reliable source may be removed." Speaks for itself. If you have an opinion on these, I'd love to hear it. --hippo43 (talk) 19:42, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Well, that's why I sought clarification on the WP:V talk page if challanging material not for being factually accurate, but for not being sourced was a legitimate reason for deleting content and the concensus was no. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 20:43, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

Misconception

There appears to be a misconception that the title of this article is "miscellaneous facts".

If I assert that Abraham Lincoln is not a hippopotamus, and proved a reliably source cite verifying that Lincoln is not a hippopotamus, I've adequately sourced a fact, but I haven't adequately justified why it belongs in this article.

There has to be a belief, held by many people, which turns out to be false. To deserve inclusion in this article, there needs to reliable evidence supporting the misconception. This can take the form of many citations to sources making the false claim, or a single formal study, with evidence that many people have been polled or studied in some way, with the conclusion that many people belief the false statement.

We can and should debate some implicit boundary conditions. If evidence shows that high schoolers have a mistaken belief, but most adults do not, does this qualify? I say no, but at a minimum, such a state of affairs should be noted. If evidence shows that many people used to have a misconception, but the misconception is rare today, should it be included? I say no, but again, perhaps yes with the right qualifier.

Most of the entries removed failed to meet adequate citing for inclusion. In fact, some on the list before the recent reversion didn't meet the test.

Let's see if we can debate the rules for inclusion, so we are all on the same page.--SPhilbrickT 23:58, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

I think you've summarised the problem accurately - people have added things which they believe are misconceptions held by others, but haven't provided sources which verify that they are in fact common misconceptions.
For me, every entry needs:
  1. A very clear and specific explanation of what the misconception is - i.e. something like "It is a common misconception that Al Jolson invented oranges", rather than just "Al Jolson did not invent oranges" or "Whether or not Al Jolson invented oranges depends on what you mean by oranges..."
  2. At least one, ideally more, reliable sources (i.e. relevant to the subject, reputable publisher etc) which confirm that this specific misconception is indeed a misconception and that it is held by many people, or similar wording. Or, a number of otherwise reliable sources which repeat the misconception as true.
  3. A clear explanation of the truth of the matter.
  4. At least one reliable source for the debunking - i.e. a source which specifically deals with the misconception rather than just one stating a different point of view.
If a misconception is only held by a particular group (Americans, children, doctors etc) then it needs to be noted as such. We need to consider in each case if these are notable. However, every example implicitly has these kind of limits - people knowledgeable about particular subject areas generally will not hold these misconceptions; astronomers, for example, probably don't believe idiotic stuff about outer space. In that sense, each entry could begin "it is a common misconception among the ill-informed that..." IMO the key thing is that every entry is impeccably sourced, or the list has no real value. --hippo43 (talk) 00:52, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

Proposal for deletion of unsourced/poorly sourced items

Part of the problem with the most recent round of mass deletions is that only 1 of the 21 items were even tagged with {{fact}}. So most of the editors of this article weren't even aware that there might be a problem nor were they given a chance to actually fix things. Therefore, I make the following proposal:

  1. Any items (or sentences) with a {{fact}} tag of May 1st July (or earlier) should be deleted now if they haven't already.
  2. For any items that we think that there's a reasonable chance of finding reliable sources for, we add back to the article. But this time, we add {{fact}} tags on them so other editors can see them and possibly help out. The ones that I think have a reasonable chance at being sourced are here:[28].
  3. For any other items that aren't sourced, we add {{fact}} tags.
  4. For any sources which may not be reliable, we add {{Verify credibility}} tags.
  5. For any sources which are dead, we add {{Dead link}} tags.
  6. We then work together to resolving the above issues.
  7. Set a deadline (such as Sept 1) for when we delete any above items (or sentences) which haven't been resolved.

I honestly believe that the above proposal is fair and reasonable to all sides. Please discuss. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 03:12, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

I can't agree with this. I realise you really think this is a good proposal to resolve this, but I can't agree to restoring such poor material, even temporarily, rather than discussing it here. Fact tagging has been tried here, and it didn't work. Much of this material has been removed before and was previously available here to be discussed - it is well-known to interested editors that it is contested. Putting material back in after it has been challenged and removed (in many cases, at least twice) makes the article worse, and does a disservice to readers. If interested editors care about this material, they will see from their watchlists that the article has been reduced by about half. If these things are actually common misconceptions, I'm sure you will be able to find good sources which confirm them. You have done a lot of good work on this and been able to find reliable sources in the past. You probably could have got through most of the 20 or so in the time you have been arguing with me, and either found sources, or cleaned up the language, or concluded that they are not really misconceptions.
If you are sincere about improving the article, rather than winning an argument with me, please stop edit warring (no consensus has been reached to put this stuff back in) and stop claiming I removed this only because it was unsourced. If you want this to remain civil, please read WP:AGF and WP:NPA.
My proposed solution is this: part of the problem, as SPhilbrick notes, is that the criteria are not clear, so perhaps we are not all looking at this the same way. So we need to agree criteria for inclusion, as discussed in the section above. We leave the disputed examples here on the talk page (as Rracecarr initially suggested), and restore only those for which there is genuine consensus. After 2 months, we archive the discussion. Thoughts? --hippo43 (talk) 13:17, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Please stop saying "Fact tagging has been tried here, and it didn't work.". 20 out of the 21 items that you deleted didn't have any {fact} tags. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 14:03, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
No, I won't stop saying it. I'm not talking about just the most recent stuff that has been removed. Tagging has been used in the past (just take a quick look through the discussion archive) and has clearly failed, as we're still having the same problems. Numerous examples I removed in the last few days were fact-tagged for months. For some reason, nobody - including you - had removed them over that time. It doesn't work here so I won't support using it. --hippo43 (talk) 15:58, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Except for the fact that these items weren't tagged. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 16:35, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Just look through the examples I removed - William Henry Harrison, herbal tea, zero gravity, Council of Nicaea, Original Six and Romance languages all had unresolved tags from months ago. Still no explanation why you didn't remove the disputed entries when your previous deadline passed. --hippo43 (talk) 16:52, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
I didn't remove the items because because I wanted to acheive conscensus first and I didn't want to trigger an edit war. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 17:19, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
I think Hippo has a very good point as to setting a clear criteria for inclusion before you do anything else. Questions that need to be answered are: 1) What constitutes a "common misconception"? 2) How do we verify that what we list actually is a misconception (as opposed to, say, an alternative viewpoint or an accademic dispute)? and 3) How do we verify that the misconception is common?
That said... Quest's idea is a very reasonable compromise once that criteria has been set. I esspecially approve of setting an agreed upon deadline for removal of items or sentences that remain problematic. Blueboar (talk) 13:35, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Blueboar, I would agree it could be a reasonable solution if it was the first time it had been tried. (I think I did agree to a similar solution some time ago) This same debate has arisen before, time and again. A similar arrangement was tried around April this year, but for some reason the contentious material was not removed (even by Quest, who was active at the time). Several recently removed entries had been tagged for months, and noone had removed them. Between May (when Quest's deadline expired) and a few days ago, the article had grown in size from around 85k to 110k, with many of the additions being of very poor quality. The previous approach has just not worked, so I can't support trying it again. Let's try a different approach for a while - ruthlessly cut out the garbage, then leave it open for discussion here. If consensus is reached, we can put entries back in. If it hasn't worked after a few months, let's try something else. --hippo43 (talk) 15:58, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Yet again, they were NOT tagged. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 17:25, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
See this version from 3 August, before my removals - Harrison, lunar phases, tea, zero gravity, Council of Nicaea, pendulum, North Pole, Gutenberg, Wright brothers, Original Six, Romance language - all tagged.
In fact, you actually tagged several of these! You should have tagged more - the many others that were removed and disputed. And you (as well as others) should have removed the ones that were tagged in the intervening months. How can you seriously propose that tagging these and removing them at a later date is a workable solution? --hippo43 (talk) 18:11, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
OK, let's try this again. How many of these items that you deleted contained a {fact} tag?[29] A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 18:52, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
I don't know what point you are trying to make. That I removed some items which weren't tagged? Yes, I did, and haven't claimed otherwise. Many, if not all, of the items I removed in the diff you supplied were the same ones removed and discussed months ago - why on earth are you suggesting putting them back in again when no editors, including you and the many others involved in the discussion who knew they were contentious, have improved on them in months?? If you're so in favour of tagging entries, why did you not tag these months ago? Tagging has been tried in the past (as in the examples of your tagging I showed above, and previous attempts) and has clearly not worked - can you address that point? --hippo43 (talk) 19:58, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Hippo, this 'my way or the highway' attitude is not helping matters. I've proposed a compromise and solicited feedback here and on the WT:V talkpage and so far, everyone has said that my compromise seems fair and reasonable. The only one opposing it is you. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 18:59, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Couldn't agree more to what Quest just said above. -- penubag  (talk) 06:47, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
Quest, this 'let's try an approach that has failed in the past' attitude is not helping matters. Should I assume that your focus on getting this stuff back in the article means you haven't had much luck finding reliable sources? You haven't proposed a compromise, you have proposed the same thing you tried months ago. Rracecarr proposed a compromise and we followed it. I suggest you go along with it. Your attempt to solicit support for the idea that I was removing material only because it was unsourced was shot down at WT:V. Your subsequent attack on me showed you have maybe lost a little perspective on this. You received some support for your proposal there (not here), but we haven't heard from Rracecarr, SPhilbrick, Locke9k, Hans Adler, SLRubenstein on it here and SPhilbrick has spoken against it ("I don't support adding material back until it is properly sourced. Adding material that is questionable, simply because it was there for some period of time, doesn't strike me as a good working model").
Why do you keep restoring these even though there is no consensus for it? How can we take your involvement in this discussion seriously? --hippo43 (talk) 19:27, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Since I've been working on this article, it hasn't failed. As you remember, back in April (or so), I went through each one that didn't have a source and either fixed it, removed it or posted something on this article talk page. Had my suggestion of May 1st been followed, we'd be done with the article now. In any case, the items that I am restoring have a reasonable chance at being sourced. But since they didn't have {fact} tags on them, I had no idea anything might be wrong. Had I known, I would have looked them up. No, I'm not working on the article (other than the Pilgrim one) until this dispute is resolved. All this time we're wasting arguing about this could have been spent fixing it. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:45, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
I looked over the entries that are currently being fought over. Very cursorily, so don't read it as an endorsement when I say that apart from the absurd pilgrims entry I saw nothing in them that concerned me particularly. The pilgrims entry is very bad. Apparently it uses pilgrim in some weird US-specific sense that I have never heard of but never even so much as hints that it does. It even links to pilgrim, which contains what I would expect in the article and nothing about the American "pilgrims". The only clue is that this entry is in the America section. And of course we have the usual problem that this misconception cannot possibly be common in parts of the world where these "pilgrims" are not even known. Hans Adler 20:04, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
PS: I just looked a bit closer (sorry, I dobn't have much time and concentration today), and found that "pilgrims" seems to be used as an abbreviation for Pilgrim Fathers. Now even the misconception makes sense... Hans Adler 20:07, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Hans, I tried addressing your concerns with this edit[30]. Is this any better? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 20:39, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Quest, that is a fair point - I realise you have only been editing this since around April. However, it obviously didn't work in the past - that was a central point of the discussion back then. Moreover, of these items you tagged in May seven were still in the article until a few days ago. At the risk of sounding repetitive, tagging hasn't worked here. --hippo43 (talk) 20:10, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
I worked on the William Henry Harrison item quite a bit, but had trouble finding a decent source. I created a separate discussion here. I removed it[31] but it must have been added back in. I'm fine with deleting all items (or sentences) that had a {fact} tag as of a couple days ago. It's the ones that don't have a {fact} tag that I would like back in the article with {fact} tags and given a fair amount of time to find sources. If we can't find sources, we can delete them. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 20:33, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
What you are suggesting is largely what has happened in the past, but with added fact tags. As WP:V says, the burden of evidence is on the editor who restores material. I can't see any advantage to putting challenged material back in before finding sources. Let's not lose sight of the fact that none of these should have been added in the first place without the proper references. Editors have already had more than a fair amount of time, and haven't fixed the problems. They didn't find sources so I deleted them. I can't support going through the process again. --hippo43 (talk) 21:27, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
But I reject the legitacy of challenging material for the sake of challenging. And lots of the material you removed was, in fact, valid. For example, you deleted the common misconceptions about earthworms and Christopher Columbus/flat Earth. Both were valid. Do you care to explain these mistakes? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 22:52, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Not to mention the item you just deleted on pilgrims is valid. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 23:06, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Material has not been challenged for the sake of challenging, at least by me. Endlessly repeating this lie is not civil. The examples you mentioned were not mistakes - I believed they were not common misconceptions, and they had no sources allowing me to verify them, so I removed them. If they had been sourced, I would have read the sources, and known that in fact they were common misconceptions. So removing them improved the article. --hippo43 (talk) 23:18, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
As for pilgrims, I don't believe it is a common misconception. The source says pilgrims are depicted this way, but it doesn't say that a lot of people actually think they looked like that. If someone can supply a source which states that it is commonly believed that they dressed that way, I will have to accept that it is verifiable, but I don't believe it. --hippo43 (talk) 23:30, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
(outdent) You can accuse me of lying all you want but see Wikipedia has this wonderful thing called an edit history which keeps tracks of everyone's edits. If we carefully examine this edit diff here[32], Hippo removed about 60 items, the vast majority of which had no explanation at all, and the ones that did, the explanation was "No source". Per the discussion at the WP:V noticeboard, not having a source is not a legitimate reason for deletion. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 02:10, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
That's not a diff.
This has been explained to you numerous times over the last few months. This material was not removed simply because it was unsourced, but because it is both inaccurate and unsourced. Most editors have taken it as read that I was challenging the accuracy of material, otherwise I wouldn't have removed it. So in cases where I wrote 'No source' or similar, I did so for brevity. I didn't think ahead that one otherwise rational editor would interpret that to mean I was removing material only because it is unsourced. However, WP:V explicitly states that "any material lacking a reliable source may be removed". Can you explain what you think this means?
Your refusal to assume good faith and your recent edit-warring, restoring material which you know to be unsourced and contentious, give the impression you are more interested in trying to win a petty personal battle than actually fix the obvious problems in the article. --hippo43 (talk) 02:33, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
You removed them because you claimed that they weren't sourced and now that you realize that challenging for the sake of challenging isn't a valid reason for deleting valid content, you try to change your story. I'm sorry that you see this as a personal battle, but I'm just trying to improve the article. I've attempted to reach a reasonable and fair compromise (which other editors have also agreed with) but you refuse to even discuss it. It's a shame this article is being held hostage by efforts of one problem editor. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 13:55, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
4 sentences, all of them garbage. --hippo43 (talk) 21:16, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

Suggested compromise regarding inclusion criteria and maintenance problems

Talking about compromise and inclusion criteria: Two things need checking for each entry:

  1. it's a misconception, and
  2. it's common.

This article is mostly about exceptional claims, but it generally doesn't use exceptional sources to back them up. That's a big problem. I am willing to compromise regarding 2, because (almost) everybody can see that it's common practice to stretch the words "common" or "popular" a bit if it allows inclusion of something that is particularly interesting/entertaining. Saying that a misconception is common if it isn't (and only some poor-quality source claims it is) can mislead our readers, but it's unlikely to cause much harm. But I am not willing to compromise regarding 1. It's embarrassing to claim that something is a misconception if it's actually true and only some pedants claim otherwise. This is not theoretical – I have myself removed at least two such cases in the past, and there was violent opposition. (Herbal tea is tea according to one of the definitions of tea in the OED and most other dictionaries, although it's of course not camellia sinensis. Mirrors do exchange left and right according to the only reasonable interpretation of the sentence, which is of course not the literal one.)

So here is what I propose as a compromise.

Types of sources

The following are some of the most common types of reliable sources for this list:

  • Infotainment sources
    • Collections of misconceptions
    • Newspaper articles
  • Popular subject-specific sources
  • Scholarly sources.

Misconception

Something can only be a misconception if it is actually wrong. To prove that it is wrong, an infotainment source is not sufficient. Popular subject-specific works are acceptable.X Scholarly sources are preferred. When evaluating a subject-specific, and especially a scholarly source, care must be taken to account for different uses of language. A work written for a community that uses the word tea as short-hand for camellia sinensis may claim correctly that "rosebud tea is not tea" without proving that "rosebud tea is a kind of tea" is a misconception. (It is simply a different use of language.)

Common

There are no special sourcing requirements for the claim that a misconception is common. However, it should actually be said in the source and not follow indirectly. E.g. a book "The 1000 most popular misconceptions" may well cover some misconceptions that are not actually common at all. If there is reasonable doubt that a misconception is common, a RS claiming explicitly that it is common will be needed. On the other hand, when it's clear that a belief is common, a single "some people believe that..." may be adequate.

I can suggest a workable criteria for inclusion on this point... to say that something is common, it should be mentioned by multiple (mainstream) reliable sources. Blueboar (talk) 15:42, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Do you mean that several reliable sources must state that it is a misconception, or that several reliable sources must present the misconception as true?
Also, can we define 'multiple' more narrowly? 2? 5? --hippo43 (talk) 16:19, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
I think this wouldn't really solve anything. Once a real or claimed misconception has arrived in one misconceptions compilation, it is copied into others, with no attribution. I think in practice this rule would only amount to additional work and clutter, while randomly excluding only a small number of entries that aren't worse than others that would still get in. Hans Adler 16:25, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Good point. --hippo43 (talk) 16:27, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

Formulations

Each item must start with a clear statement of the incorrect belief and a claim that at least some people believe it. This is important for the readers, who have in the past often been confused about what the misconception was supposed to be. An explicit statement of this kind also provides a place where a tag can be added in case of sourcing problems.

Related article for each item

If a misconception is common, then there can be no doubt that it also needs to be dispelled in an article that is directly relevant to the topic concerned. With rare exceptions,X every item also needs to be discussed in such a more relevant article, although the article need not mention the common misconception itself; it's enough if it explains what is actually true. Each item should link to this article, and the article must link back with an invisible comment next to where the misconception is dispelled, or by some similar mechanism. This is to ensure that the two discussions stay synchronised.

I would go a step further... I would require a short statement in this article explaining why the item is a misconception (with proper citations of course). Blueboar (talk) 15:45, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

Extra care in dubious cases

This list will never be complete, and that's not its goal. If an item appears highly dubious, extra care needs to be taken. In particular, if some editors doubt that a belief is false, the two clauses marked with "X" must not both be applied. I.e., if there is only a popular source saying that a belief is false, then the misconception must also be discussed in an article where it is more likely to generate intelligent comment from readers and editors competent on the subject.

Some things I am personally not happy with in this proposal (as I said, it's intended as a compromise): It's easy to get misconceptions in that are not common. The system of duplicating each misconception in another article gives prominence to an article that I personally still believe should be deleted. But at least we seem to have a chance to solve the systemic problems with this proposal. And if this leads to peace, the list might even grow enough to allow us to split it into subject specific sublists, improving the expert scrutiny on the individual items further. Hans Adler 15:07, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. --hippo43 (talk) 15:59, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Well, my own long-term personal goal is to look into splitting the article into multiple sub-articles so we can attract more subject-matter experts. But first, we must clean up the problems on the current article which I am attempting to do, but unfortunately, resistance to improving the article has forced me to stop working on improving it. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 03:10, 11 August 2009 (UTC)
I doubt there would be consensus to split up the article. I don't care either way, but I think some people like this list because it is so mixed, and would want a list of items linked just by being misconceptions. I'm not sure why our disagreement would stop you working on it - you are obviously able to look for sources for these if you want. --hippo43 (talk) 12:40, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

Is there a reason for this page?

I wonder how it can be written without violating NOR. The Columbus thing is a good example - by what standard is it a common misconception? According to whom? When I went to grade school (which I regret to say was a looooong time ago) we were never taught that Columbus discoveredn "North America." Our textbook and teacher seemed to agree that he landed on Hispanola in his first voyage. "America" means the Americas which include lots of islands. I think we were taught that what made Columbus's discovery important was that he demonstrated that one could sail west in what were at the time state of the art sailing vessels and reach landfall - specifically, a source of fresh water and fresh food - before stores ran out. We were also taught about Ponce de Leon and Cabot and many other explorers. And that Leif Erikson probably siled to Newfoundland. So what is the misconception?

It seems to me that the proper place to address any such misconception is in the relevant articles.

What next? Do we add that it is a misconception that Jews killed Jesus? Or that it is a misconception that God is a man? Or the very common misconception that the conflict between the Church and Galilleo had to do with a clash between the Church as authority or scientists as authorities of knowledge of the natural world? Slrubenstein | Talk 19:00, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

It doesn't have to involve original research. When finding cites, I look for sources which state the misconception is common (or words to that effect). A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 19:59, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Sometimes a misconception is only *implied* in writing - especially in published print - but held passively by lots of people. The idea that the US President, beginning his term, must swear his oath with his hand on a Bible, and that this is demanded by the word of the Constitution, for instance. That's something lots and lots of people take for granted, but actually it's just established custom. But it would be hard to find people who state the belief and say it is widespread - I know William Manchester corrects this one inThe Death of a President, but it's just random that I happen to know that citation.
Or suppose I add, "Commonly held: Private investigators are allowed to commit certain otherwise crimninal acts and often do so to catch someone they believe to be a culprit. They are protected by their PI license." - like on tv. It's indisputable that very many people think that's how it works, but I honestly can't recall anyone who says it *is* a sidespread belief, simply because it's so cute, and the matter falls outside of ordinary science while it's so obvious for law trained people. /Strausszek (talk) 08:27, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
Strausszek, your view that these are "indisputable" misconceptions isn't worth much. I dispute them - I don't think either of these is a common misconception. Do you honestly believe that people think Magnum is allowed to break into houses because he's a PI, and it was on TV? If you can't reference them, they don't belong in an encyclopedia, so why bring them up? --hippo43 (talk) 08:48, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm sure you could find a good batch of people who think that if the PI was caught by the cops after breaking into a house, and he could show results pointing to someone else who was involved in a more serious crime (incriminating documents, jewels from an earlier theft that the police had failed to resolve), so it made a "reason" for him to be there, then he'd walk away without any real punishment. People who are legally trained wouldn't buy it, but many millions of other people would. Of course the idea I gave as an example wasn't that Magnum can commit any crime he likes, save homicide, but that he can commit some acts with impunity, like a cop. Reasonably often I've heard people imply that at least American PIs can do a Sam Spade like that. /Strausszek (talk) 09:11, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
OK, I think I see where you're coming from. You can show all kinds of crap on TV and people will believe it. I just don't think that makes it a common misconception. Maybe belongs in a list of "stuff gullible people will believe if you show it on tv". As for the US president being sworn in with a bible, I don't think most people give it any thought. "That's the way they always do it" ≠ "It must be written down in the constitution." --hippo43 (talk) 09:39, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
Part of the issue I think is, does "common misconception" mean common among trained professionals in a field (lawyers, doctors, scholars) or "widespread among the general public"? Of course, no cop would suppose that PIs have any legal immunity, and no trained historian would think people in the Middle Ages believed the earth to be flat, but those ideas are widely believed among everyday folks, even quite educated people.
/Strausszek (talk) 10:11, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
It's a list of common or popular misconceptions, so the general public are implied. Take a look at List_of_common_misconceptions#Further_reading : those books all seem to be about misconceptions among the general public. To answer the original question, yes this list can be populated without original research, just summarising existing published literature: that further reading section shows which literature we're talking about. MartinPoulter (talk) 16:28, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
That's my idea too, it seems plain to me that what belongs here are beliefs that are widely held among the general public, and which those people will defend: "Yes it is, of *course* it's like that" if you ask them. it doesn't have to be a majority belief, but we're not talking about just "erroneous opinions among trained experts in a field". hippo43 seems determined to crop the list as short as possible though - he's been a regular at it for many months - and you can see he implies that what counts is whether many people who 'ought to know' are misinformed.
Martin, you're making the common appeal to sourcing things from reliable texts. I agree that's broadly a good method, but I don't agree everything that's not taken cut and dried or strictly pieced together from a patchwork of external reliable sources (in English, preferably?) has to be original research. This is not a heavyweight article, but if you'd tried to write about any kind of historical, human or social sciences subject for WP, you'd have realized how hard it can get to produce something intelligible if you try to follow a doorknob rule that every single bit of every single statement or argument must be sourced by one or preferably three good sources. Why is it self-defeating? because
i. An expository text doesn't always spell out who's behind "many people", "the educated public", "commonly believed", "it was understood that...", "the people who heard X thought that..". It's not so transparent that you'll always be able to pick out the "fact statement" behind the words if you don't understand in some depth what it's about. In a book about physics the writer will ideally be 100% clear about how he proved something and just what he has refuted, but most other ways of talk and most other sciences are not like that. So it becomes problematic to run the verifiability taliban line, like hippo does.
2. Historians and journalists (the kind of people who supply a lot of WP's "sources") do not always spell out every implication of what they have said. They may feel there's reasons for them not to shout out a conclusion that's still in the text, or they may simply not feel at ease with taking the spotlight. Or they don't want to bog down the text with giving the exact, long-winded way they reached that conclusion, so they skip it or just hint it - and hints are not good sources on WP.
3. Some kinds of knowledge are kept up without being stated all the time. The words "fuck" and "cunt" survived hundreds of years when they were methodically purged from spoken and written English. No one was supposed to use them or learn them, and they were never seen in print in honourable books or papers, or spoken in broadcast (the word "fuck" first appeared on the BBC in 1965 and provoked a debate at Westminster - these days it's a mainstay of English tv). Surprise, all that didn't stop most people from knowing them! In the same way, people don't always state what they think is the norm even if they'll obey that norm all the time. If you insist what people mean, what they say is always spelled out flat on the surface, then you run the risk of turning this place into a storehouse of systematized knowledge about knee-joints and ant legs /Strausszek (talk) 19:43, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
Strausszek, comments like "...the verifiability taliban line, like hippo does" are ill-advised - please stay civil. Besides, you're not even close to summing up my view on this article - I'm not at all interested in cropping it as short as possible, nor do I believe "that what counts is whether many people who 'ought to know' are misinformed." If good quality sources report that something is a widely-held misconception, and good sources are given for the correction, then I have no problem with it. I do, however, think it's important we give some context - it's patently obvious, for example, that huge numbers of English-speaking Indians are not generally living in the mistaken belief that George Washington had wooden teeth, or that the vast majority of English-speaking people around the world who have never considered the details of American entrapment law are struggling under the misconception that an undercover cop can't deny being a cop!
I am definitely interested in keeping it verifiable, and I'll continue to strip out unverifiable nonsense. The article lacks any encyclopedic value or credibility if it is just a list of crap that some editors think a lot of people mistakenly believe. If you can't verify that it is a common misconception, it shouldn't be in an encyclopedia. If you want to publish material that is not verifiable in reliable sources, maybe find another website? --hippo43 (talk) 21:49, 8 October 2009 (UTC)


The workforce that built the great pyramids

Even today, popular fiction puts forth this notion that the great pyramids at Giza were built by slaves, when strong evidence shows that a skilled national workforce was organized during the non-harvest season to perform their duty to their demi-god pharaoh. Here's what I'm talking about, right from wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_pyramid_construction_techniques)

The Greeks, many years after the event, believed it must have been built by slave labor. Archaeologists now believe that the Great Pyramid of Giza (at least) was built by tens of thousands of skilled workers who camped near the pyramids and worked for a salary or as a form of tax payment (levee) until the construction was completed, pointing to worker's cemeteries discovered in 1990 by archaeologists Zahi Hawass and Mark Lehner.

BBlze1 (talk) 14:02, 8 September 2009 (UTC)

Does the evolution item belong?

I see that some material about evolution was removed, then restored. I looked at it, and don't think it belongs. Let me confess to a possibly unfair view of this article—I think of it as having the title, things (many) people know that aren't so. I think something belongs in this article if you could walk down the street, ask a number of people a question and get a wrong answer, coupled with some assurance that the answer was right.

The mistake than many people think sushi is raw fish qualifies. I am confident (because I've tried the experiment) that many people would be surprised to learn the truth. This article provides a useful function if is collects such examples.

I recognize that the title is softer - "common misconceptions". But the title isn't "A long list of things that some people don't properly understand". That list could literally fill an encyclopedia.

Are there people walking around who think "evolution" has something to do with the Big Bang? I don't doubt it - I watched a clip of Jay Leno asking a person on the street who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Some got it wrong. Does anyone honestly think we should add that as a misconception, simply because some people get it wrong?

I think we need evidence that a large proportion of people not only get it wrong, but feel fairly confident that they know the right answer. I don't doubt that some people might be mistaken about the precise definition of evolution, but I doubt a significant number of people both get it wrong and are highly confident they are right. (I may be guilty of being too optimistic.) I also did a mini-survey about the brightest star in the sky (other than the sun). One person mentioned the North Star, but not with any confidence, and only because it was the first star that popped into his head. When I said no, he was quick to concede that he had no idea and was guessing. That doesn't qualify for what I think belongs in this list. I think when you tell someone the truth about an item, they should be surprised and maybe even disbelieving. I think if you tell the average person that evolution is unrelated to cosmology, their typical response (after asking what "cosmology"Is) will be, oh, OK. I don't think that makes the cut.

The first evolution item has two references. the first didn't work for me, the second barely supports the claim. It doesn't cite a scintilla of evidence that large numbers of people are actually believing the wrong thing, they simply state it in passing. I think we should have tougher standards.

No, I didn't delete it, because I don't want to get into a revert war, I'd like to continue the conversation about what belongs in this list. If it is to be a list of things that some people don't know, then I'll propose it for deletion, as that doesn't belong in an encyclopedia. If it has a narrower definition, I can support it, but we don't have a clear consensus on what belongs, as evidenced by the reversion of a very marginal item.--SPhilbrickT 23:07, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

The first link worked a few months ago. Unfortunately, sometimes web sites change their content. I checked archive.org for it, and they don't have it. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 23:48, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

I’ll say that when polls have been taken in America (and other places) whether evolution or creationism is true and the masses say creationism is fact and evolution is a lie, then it is quite clear that there are some serious misconceptions. Things like the 2nd law of thermodynamics, macro-micro evolution, etc. are commonly misunderstood and cited falsely as truth. This kind of “stuff” would seem to qualify for a common misconception. Andrew Colvin (talk) 20:04, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

Champagne point - physics

what does this mean 'Putting a teaspoon in the neck of an opened bottle of champagne will not help it retain its fizz' - a teaspoon? I have never heard this. nor do I understand it fully - any old teaspoon is supposed to do this? my plastic one? did they mean (haven't looked at history) a teaspoon of sugar? because that would work. stopper that sugared champagne and you'll have more bubbles (if you can keep that top on!)

this doesn't seem all that 'common' or clear imho. moreover this whole bit is written poorly. there is a slight confusion regarding the authors intention.


Daviddec (talk) 06:58, 9 October 2009 (UTC)


Black belt holder? - sports

"A myth is prevalent in America that black belt holders in martial arts must register their hands as a deadly weapon with law enforcement agencies."

Should this be here? I have never heard this drivel, nor would I think it was common.

from the looks of the discussion here, this is a tricky article, but this belt comment seems a bit ridiculous in my opinion.


Daviddec (talk) 07:27, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

As an American, I've heard this one before. Whether people actually believe it or not, I cannot say. Personally, I never really thought too much about it, but I kind of assumed it was a joke. Is it reliably sourced? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 12:04, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
I've removed it. The source wasn't especially reliable, and didn't actually say that this is widely or commonly held. --hippo43 (talk) 16:51, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

I've heard this one before, but there's no reason to think it's a common misconception. It's more like an urban legend. Hairhorn (talk) 22:49, 9 October 2009 (UTC)


I think it should be put back in. I must have heard this 20 times throughout my lifetime and since reading this here, have thought it was true. -- penubag  (talk) 00:40, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

Do you know of any sources which verify that it's a common misconception? --hippo43 (talk) 00:54, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
No offense intended to the person that heard it many times, but this is the type of thing adolescents tell elementary school children. There's probably a few adults who never gave it another thought, and don't know for sure, but I just don't believe it is commonly believed. Think about it - you don't have to register knives or chainsaws, but you have to register your hands? Please.--SPhilbrickT 23:46, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

I've heard it before (in the UK but always regarding US law) but always from children. I suspect it's a popular urban legend amongst kids (especially ones who have recently discovered/gotten interested in martial arts movies) but you'd be hard pressed to find an adult who would believe it. For what it's worth though I've heard the same about kickboxers feet and, of course, Chuck Norris. Danikat (talk) 17:52, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

Sources for warts

There are so many sources that show Duct tape is a common misconception with warts. Just go to google and type duct tape wart and every article there states that duct tape cures warts, which is not the case. This overly supports how commonly misconceived this is. -- penubag  (talk) 02:47, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

If you want a specific website, here it is: http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N06273370.htm : "Dutch researchers reported on Monday in a study that contradicts a popular theory about an easy way to get rid of the unattractive lumps." -- penubag  (talk) 02:50, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

First, pointing to search results that repeat a flawed claim does not amount to a reliable source documenting a misconception. "Popular theory" ≠ "popular misconception." Second, the sources you have given do not conclusively debunk the idea that duct tape cures warts. The USA Today source, for example only says its effectiveness "may have been overstated" and that the new study it reports "raises doubts." It then suggests duct tape may be more effective in children and that the researchers used a different type of tape. The Reuters report (from earlier than the USA Today report) says that the Dutch study "showed the duct tape worked only slightly better than using a corn pad." I have no idea if it works or not, and the idea sounds like bullshit to me, but the sources presented so far do not support that this is a misconception. --hippo43 (talk) 13:24, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
That's personal opinion. But regarding your second comment, I believe that given the amount of mistakes made in this area (even by licensed doctors and people with credentials) it deserves at least a mention here. -- penubag  (talk) 22:11, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
What's "personal opinion"? This shouldn't be included (until/unless conclusive sources are supplied) because there isn't a reference to it being a common misconception (or similar wording). Moreover, the sources are not consistent - as things stand, according to the sources given, it isn't clear to what extent duct tape works. -hippo43 (talk) 22:18, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
What's personal opinion is saying "Popular theory" ≠ "popular misconception", furthermore, it is not your place to decide this. Do you want me to actually a source that says word-for-word misconception to satisfy you? Contradicting popular believe is synonymous to misconception. The sources claim that the effectiveness of duct tape is grossly overstated so this should be included since a huge amount of works claim it is an effective remedy. -- penubag  (talk) 23:05, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
More sources: [33]: "lahovic noted that several studies have shown duct tape in no better than a placebo." [34]: "It is very easy to fall for this one as a lot of people are doing it. The idea is to place a piece of duct tape on the infected area to inhibit the growth of warts. It is a mystery as to what compound in the adhesive surface of duct tape would actually bring the cure, but several studies have been made on this theory. All reports show that the effect is negligible or very close to zero. "
That's not my personal opinion, it's the common, accepted meaning of the words. Similarly "red tomato ≠ red fire engine." --hippo43 (talk) 23:20, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
Okay, but the sources I've provided say common misconception, so I'm readding it to the main article. -- penubag  (talk) 23:58, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
The Artipot article is not a reliable source, IMO - their fact-checking policy is not clear at all. The ivillage source is not decisive - the doctor they quote says "Don't put duct tape on it and expect it to go away, since there is a specific protocol for using it. See your dermatologist or podiatrist for this and other treatment options." I'm taking it out - the sources you've given on this are not conclusive and contradict each other - it has not been effectively debunked, so can not be considered a misconception. --hippo43 (talk) 02:05, 19 October 2009 (UTC)
What more do you want? Credited sources and people overwhelmingly state something that isn't true, including almost every top listing on Google. I've provided sources that show how many people get this wrong. This is clearly a misconception, and I even provided 2 sources that has that exact word in it. It may not be completely debunked but most all sources say it does only a little better or not at all to a placebo. This definitely deserves to go in the List of common misconceptions. -- penubag  (talk) 06:19, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

Blue sky

"Some believe that the sky looks blue because it reflects the colour of the ocean."

Oh please, this is nonsense. Even the citation notes that it can be shown to be false with a couple seconds thought. This isn't an article to list all those things someone, somewhere misunderstands, it is about Common misconceptions. Some are quite good, but some, like this one, have a laundry list feel to them. It is NOT sufficient to find some source that says that some person mistakenly believes it (and this citation doesn't even meet that weak standard.) We need sources demonstrating (not simply asserting) that some falsity is believed by many. This doesn't qualify. (Sorry, I'm cranky over the Chzz incident, but this whole article is a source of embarrassment, and we need to clean it up). Does anyone think this item deserves inclusion? If so, where is the support?--SPhilbrickT 02:45, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

Predictably, I totally agree. Bin it. --hippo43 (talk) 03:22, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Hmmm...According to the cite, it says "The vast majority of adults in the world have seen a clear-blue sky tens of thousands of times, yet only a few know why it's blue." Then it says "Even worse, a lot of web sites I've seen give an incorrect answer to the question". Then it says "Probably the most common idea is that the sky is blue because it reflects the blue color of the ocean". Sounds like a common misconception to me. I would consider Bad Astronomy to be a reliable source due to its reputation for accuracy and fact-checking. If there's a more specific objection, then let us know. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 04:06, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
"Probably the most common idea" does not equal "a common misconception." "Most common" among websites which give bad info? "Most common" among people who get it wrong? "Most common" among these bad explanations does not necessarily equal "widely held" in real terms. The most common type of jetpack might be the ThrustMaster 3000, but that doesn't mean ThrustMaster 3000s are actually a common mode of transport.
AFAICT, Bad Astronomy only exists to highlight flawed science - its author has an obvious interest in claiming that various dumb ideas are commonly believed, otherwise what myths would it smugly debunk? It may be a reliable source for the scientific explanations, but it is not an authority on how widely people hold these supposed misconceptions. (It appears to offer no evidence or research into how common these beliefs are.) Do any independent sources claim that this is a widely-held belief? (Note that the lead refers to multiple sources.) --hippo43 (talk) 05:24, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Countless people get this fact wrong. This just needs some rewording for it to be included. -- penubag  (talk) 08:12, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
You may be right:, but you are not a reliable source. --hippo43 (talk) 22:39, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
I have included references in the sky entry. Also, I'm reverting your removal because when "discussion is ongoing" the default is not to delete until consensus, the default is to keep it as the status quo even if the debate has no consensus. -- penubag  (talk) 23:37, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Dispelling myths is often a journalistic device. Just like FAQ. Do you really assume all FAQ have been asked often? Just because some book or column wants to use the device to make a point doesn't mean the false claim is truly that common. If it is, it could be cited, and that almost never happens. I don't find it hard to believe that many people don't know why the sky is blue. I can easily imagine someone pressed for an answer to wonder if it might be reflection of the ocean, although I've never heard that in my life. But I simply do not believe, and no evidence has been presented, to support the claim that this misconception is common.--SPhilbrickT 23:45, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Exactly what Sphilbrick has said. Moreover, we don't keep badly sourced embarassing misinformation in our articles until the editors pushing it give in. That kind of stuff needs to be removed immediately. Hans Adler 23:57, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Penubag, the only source so far supplied has been challenged and is not accepted here as reliable for the existence of a common misconception. If you read the quote above posted by Quest, nowhere does it say that a lot of people believe the sky is blue because it reflects the colour of the sea. If you can't find anything which actually confirms that it is a common misconception, it will have to go. Hans' comment above means there is a majority supporting removal. I think I'm at 3RR, so I won't be removing it today, but I will take it out soon, assuming nobody finds a compelling source. --hippo43 (talk) 00:02, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Looks like Hans beat me to it. --hippo43 (talk) 00:04, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

Sourcing standards for medical advice

Please note that any medical information in the list has to meet the higher sourcing standards of WP:MEDRS. Some of the popular misconceptions claimed in this list do not meet this standard, and I have flagged them accordingly. Hans Adler 00:35, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

It's been over a month. If you honestly feel the information is not factually accurate, I have no problem with it being removed. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 01:00, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

JFK "Ich bin ein Berliner"

I've removed this. It's not a common misconception. The source given was a blog, not a reliable source. There are far more sources around which state that JFK did mis-speak, and they have not been reliably debunked. --hippo43 (talk) 10:00, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Oh, please don't restart the silly discussion that we had at Talk:Ich bin ein Berliner. For me there is no doubt at all that this is a very common misconception. Of course we have the usual problem that experts normally aren't very motivated to debunk a misconception. In this case it's debunked by Wikipedia, probably using the best sources that could be found, and in an article that is being watched by plenty of Germans who simply know that any German who claimed to misunderstand Kennedy (or even just that Kennedy "really" was referring to a doughnut) did so only as a joke. This urban legend also has a section in de:Ich bin ein Berliner. On the corresponding talk page there is no dispute among the German-speaking editors about whether this was a legend. But I found a pointer to a book that should remove all doubt:
Let us quickly address and then shelve the persistent legend of the putative grammatical error that supposedly rendered the president's declaration nonsensical. [...] The supposed error is much commented upon in Germany and, especially, the United States. [...] It can neither be proved nor disproved that several people among the hundreds of thousands gathered in front of the city hall grinned at the somewhat unusual sentence – on account of either the indefinite article or the multiple meanings of Berliner. It is, however, very clear from the audiovisual documentation available that the crowd did not regard Kennedy's as comical or as a reason to laugh any of the four times they heard it. Nor did the German or American press accounts at the time say anything about a grammatical mistake or the spectators finding the sentence amusing. [...] Moreover, the use of the definite 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. To take a more common parallel example, the sentence "Er ist Schauspieler" (He is an actor) is a statement of fact about a man's profession; the sentence "Er ist ein Schauspieler" means the man is putting on an act. [...] Two further points [i.e. several native speakers checked the speech first, Berliner in the sense of jelly doughnut is not used in Berlin.] In sum, it is safe to say that the jelly doughnut jokes can be relegated to the realm of legend.
Andreas Daum, Kennedy in Berlin, Publications of the German Historical Institute, Cambridge University Press 2007, p. 148f [35]
If all misconceptions presented here were of this quality I would have no big problem with this page. Hans Adler 12:11, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
Looks good to me. I have no objection to it now. --hippo43 (talk) 12:41, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
So Hippo, it appears that yet again you deleted valid content that you claimed was wrong. How many times is that now? 10? 20? BTW, I was able to find a source[36] in about a minute. Perhaps you've heard of something called Google? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 21:23, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

Forbidden fruit

I've removed this. It's not a common misconception. There is no source supplied which states people widely believe the forbidden fruit mentioned in the bible was an apple, far less a source which states that they are incorrect in that belief. I haven't been able to find any such source. --hippo43 (talk) 10:03, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

I don't think you tried very hard. Even Forbidden Fruit mentions it, and googling "forbidden fruit apple misconception" turns up a plethora of information. The article would get better quicker if people put their efforts into finding sources rather than fighting it out via edit wars. Rpvdk (talk) 12:06, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm not too stressed about whether you think I tried hard or not. I did find some sources, including two of the sources you cited. However, I didn't consider them of sufficient quality to support the claim. I don't know if The Straight Dope qualifies as a reliable source, but as far as I can tell it doesn't state this is widely believed - it just says "the item in question is invariably depicted as an apple". The JAMA source is clearly not reliable on this, as it's a letter from a reader to the editor. I've removed these two sources from the aricle for these reasons.
Since you've reworded it, the supposed misconception now reads like "many people believe the bible identifies the forbidden fruit is an apple". However, the ohr.edu source doesn't support this statement at all. The rabbi approaches this from the perspective of Jewish theology - he writes "So, what was this forbidden fruit? There are at least three opinions in the rabbinical literature..." and goes on to explain various Jewish interpretations of what the fruit might be supposed to be. In answering the question "What is the identity of the Fruit ...?", he states that there is a misconception about what the fruit is. He doesn't mention any popular misunderstanding over how the fruit is identified in the text, or whether christian artistic depictions of the fruit as an apple equate to people believing that the bible mentions it being an apple.
Further, I'm not sure that the agony rabbi, or the website ohr.edu, are reliable sources on what is or isn't a common misconception. I can't find any statement on editorial control or fact-checking on either ohr.edu or the rabbi's own site. If the mistaken belief is actually "the forbidden fruit was an apple", then I don't believe this rabbi can be considered a reliable source.
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this, and from other editors. There may be a misconception in there somewhere, but I haven't found any reliable sources which nail it down yet. I've removed it for now, pending further discussion or reliable sources for the misconception being supplied. --hippo43 (talk) 13:58, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
The misconceptions seems to be more common in German than in English:
I found a source that explains why (a piece by a translator, published in a leading Austrian newspaper: "The apple is held to be the symbol of the fall of man – but wrongly. A misconception has crept in here. [...]" The author does not mention the "malus" = apple or evil reading of the Vulgate, but instead explains that for a long time "apple" was a generic word for fruits that could also be applied to oranges, tomatoes and even potatoes. This also explains the term Adam's apple. [39]
But in English the misconception seems to be quite common as well. I don't have access to the following book, but read the first sentence of the Google Books overview: [40]. Now citable reliable sources aside, I found the frequency with which the apple thing is mentioned in the Amazon reviews quite convincing: [41].
I don't know if this convinces you, but it is enough for me. Hans Adler 15:30, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
The Lang book does seem to cover it, though I'm always sceptical about sources which purport to debunk a bunch of misconceptions, as it's in their interest to depict every bizarre factoid as a common misunderstanding. Without reading it myself I don't know what he says the misconception is. Can anyone supply a cite? --hippo43 (talk) 16:19, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
I share your attitude towards the "misconceptions" edutainment literature. But I think it's acceptable for non-contentious entries, and I thought perhaps I can convince you to accept this particular misconception as a real one, if not a perfectly sourced one. Hans Adler 17:29, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm sure a world renowned journal like the JAMA does enough checking before it prints anything, letter or not. The Straight Dope is used elsewhere in the article as a reference already. There is a good basis for the misconception as it's hisory in art shows. In any case, the sources meet Wikipedia:Verifiability which is the only thing that matters. Restoring the entry. Rpvdk (talk) 17:33, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
I've no idea what you mean by "the sources meet Wikipedia:Verifiability which is the only thing that matters." Have you actually read the policy? I've removed the JAMA and Straight Dope sources again. The Straight Dope source may be reliable if used in support of something else, but does not mention any misconception so does not verify this material at all. As for the letter to the JAMA, it is ridiculous to contend that these are fact-checked and subject to the same editorial control as the rest of the journal. Periodicals publishing letters routinely include some kind of disclaimer to the effect that "views published here do not represent the views of the publisher etc" - if they only published correspondence that had been rigorously checked, how would there be any scope for correspondents to disagree? I can't find anything on their website to confirm that JAMA staff fact-check these letters, and neither JAMA or the letter's author are widely considered an authority on the subject of misconceptions or biblical language. Moreover, letters are generally conisdered primary sources, and secondary sources are preferred.
Anyhow, as Hans stated above, and I agreed, it does seem to be covered by the Lang book. If it can be worded correctly (consistent with that source), I have no problem with the example being included. I've left the example, reworded and with a 'citation needed' tag, so hopefully someone can supply a source from the Lang book or similar. --hippo43 (talk) 18:19, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Verifiability defines unreliable sources as "Questionable sources are those with a poor reputation for checking the facts, or with no editorial oversight." The JAMA certainly does not fall into that category. The policy also states that source quality is most important for contentious claims, so it follows that less contentious claims can do with less than multiple peer-reviewed doctoral studies. I'd certainly qualify whether or not something is a common misconception into the latter category, if there is widespread information on it. Never led it be said that I'm not willing to work with other editors though, so I'll go along with your rewrite and extra citation. I've not been able to dig up the Lang book yet, but I have found another book in print, with the cited page available online: http://books.google.nl/books?id=ttRALSu_bIwC&pg=PT102&lpg=PT102 Since the misconception is adequately sourced by this anyway, I'll remove the JAMA reference. The other references are in place to source the other information so please leave those. Rpvdk (talk) 20:59, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
We could easily go round and round all day quoting various parts of WP:V and WP:RS, but let's just agree to use the best quality sources available. You're right that the JAMA is a very respected source - but in its field of expertise only. It has no standing at all as a source on biblical semantics or popular stupidity, nor a reputation for meticulously fact-checking letters it receives. A non-expert on biblical matters writing a non-fact-checked letter to a medical journal complaining about an author's misunderstanding of the point is just not a good quality source for this - let's not pretend that it is. There are two secondary sources now available (the Lang book and the Szpek source that you added) which deal directly with the subject area, so are clearly preferable. I've again removed the rabbi's article - unless I'm missing something, it adds nothing to the explanation and is a very poor source. I'm certainly open to rewording the example if there's a better way of phrasing it. All in all, I think we have a fairly good entry now.
As for whether or not this stuff is contentious, have you read some of the discussion on here? :) --hippo43 (talk) 23:41, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Consider Wikipedia:When to cite - we're only writing that there is a common misconception about something, not claiming someone was part of the Nazi party or such. The various religious sources used seem to qualify for the "Subject-specific common knowledge" part of that article. I have no interest in edit warring over these sources though so I'm not going to put them back.
Anyway, not to be pedantic, but you changed "malum" to "mali" - the source says "malum" and List_of_Latin_phrases:_M suggests to me that "malum" is correct. I'll admit I have limited knowledge of Latin but I would like an explanation for this change (or dare I say it, a source :) ) Rpvdk (talk) 00:25, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
You're absolutely right that this is all really a trivial matter - I guess I read 'contentious' to mean 'disputed', rather than 'serious'. For something to be included as a common misconception in this list, it seems natural that citing each supposed misconception is important, particularly given the wording ('multiple reliable sources') in the intro.
On the form of 'mali'/'malus'/'malum' used in the vulgate, I was going with the text quoted in the forbidden fruit article - ""de ligno autem scientiae boni et mali". Sources online such as this seem to confirm it, but I may have got this wrong. --hippo43 (talk) 01:13, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

I've removed the reference to the pomegranite in this section. The source for this, Cecil Adams, simply asserts that "Many modern scholars think the author(s) of the text had the pomegranate in mind." without any references to which scolars believe this and why. I don't think this should be in the article until we can get a proper citation; at the very least we shoud have the names of the scholars that make this claim.77.99.151.39 (talk) 13:11, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Since I don't have access to the cited book ISBN 9780595256198, what does this source say regarding what is currently in the article, because it looks like there might be some original research there. Asher196 (talk) 13:31, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
Unfortunately I don't have access to that book either, but i've done a search in google books which I think searches the full text and the words "pomegranate" or "pomegranates" don't appear once.77.99.151.39 (talk) 15:41, 25 February 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 77.99.151.39 (talk) 15:40, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
Please be careful before removing references in this way. I put it in there to back up the rest of the section. I don't know who added the pomegranate bit but they should have put it after the reference. I've restored the ref minus the pomegranate bit. Rpvdk (talk) 16:15, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
Oh, Sorry. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 77.99.151.39 (talk) 19:01, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Adam and Eve's children

I removed this. There's no misconception, no sources given - pure original research. --hippo43 (talk) 10:07, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Blatant contradiction

Al Gore did not specifically say that he invented the Internet. What he did state was, "I took the initiative in creating the Internet".

So which is it? Did he say it or not? A.J.A. (talk) 00:12, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

That quote is too short to get the proper context. See the somewhat generous Snopes page. Hairhorn (talk) 00:58, 25 January 2010 (UTC)


The Order of the Article

What is the rationale for the order of the sections in this article? There seems to be none, other than "history" is first, which seems to be a convention in Wiki articles. However, as a list, it would be better listed alphabetically if there is no rhyme or reason otherwise. Airborne84 (talk) 08:24, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

Double spacing at the end of sentences

Am I missing something? In what sense is there any "common misconception" concerning double spacing at the end of a sentence. There is one convention on a typewriter, a different one in typeset copy. Where is the misconception? I vote to delete this section. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 09:41, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

I assume that's a joke. Try doing a Google or other Internet search. People type in "How many spaces after a period?" thousands of times per day. There are dozens of websites full of people arguing about the proper usage. The double space is still being taught in some schools. When I typed that on Myspace, eight of my friends asked me what I was talking about and "when did the 'two spaces' change to 'one space?'"? Of the 20+ people I've asked about this in the past few months (two had PhDs, three were teachers, and about half of the rest had university degrees), only two actually knew what the convention is today. It's good that you know the proper usage, but it would seem that you are in the minority. Airborne84 (talk) 09:59, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
See for example this post on a website from 2006
I teach a Graphic Design class for non-Graphic Design majors in an art college. I was stunned to see most of the students putting two spaces after periods in a book they were making in my class. I explained why this was uneccessary (and in fact wrong) with most typefaces available on the computer, and they said they had all learned this in computer classes in the various high schools they had attended.
Airborne84 (talk) 10:18, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
No, not a joke. I agree that it is something that people often get wrong when preparing copy for typesetting, so it is a common mistake, certainly. But it doesn't somehow seem like a "common misconception" in the same way as most of the contents of this list. It's a typographical error. Do you also want to include the grocer's apostrophe as a common misconception? I am open to persuasion, but I see errors like these as rather different from the kind of conceptual error that the article is concerned with. I'd be interested to see what others think. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 11:14, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Concur. The other items are about beliefs people hold which are factually wrong. Conventions don't really fall in to the same category. Rpvdk (talk) 13:38, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
I see your point. I think this can easily be addressed by a wording change. In this case, the "misconception" is that people think that the current convention is to use two spaces following a full stop. It's not about "right" or "wrong." It's about the misconception over the current convention. That would be easy to support. A couple of people I had asked about this didn't believe me when I told them that books, magazines, and newspapers used one space only. I told them to go pick up any book and look. This is also easy to support as a misconception since so many authors send manuscripts to publishers that are double spaced because they think that is the convention. Publishers have software that removes them as a result. I can provide references for this and will do so later today. That will more properly illustrate this as a "misconception," along with the wording adjustments. And thanks for the clarification. I think it will make a worthy addition once it is properly defined within the parameters of the article. I suspect that this is one of the many items on the list that will raise eyebrows in surprise, and in that respect also it is a worthwhile addition. Cheers! Airborne84 (talk) 16:58, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Done. The section now clearly provides: 1. Exactly what the misconception is; 2. A reference that illustrates its widespread belief in the general public. It's very easy to provide additional references, but I think it is adequately resourced as it is. The link to Double spacing at the end of sentences will be important for some, since (of course) not all style manuals are listed - I only listed the most widely used ones that were relevant. Airborne84 (talk) 23:18, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
I've personally never heard about this (maybe it's a US thing) but from what I've read so far it seems plausible enough. That said, certain other editors may want a better source but they can speak for themselves if they feel the need. I'm not sure the entry qualifies for its own section and subsection heading but as you pointed out earlier, the article is due for a cleanup in that department anyway. Rpvdk (talk) 17:34, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
It is mostly a U.S. misconception. Also, I tried to find a section that this would fall under, but it didn't fit well in any of the existing sections. I have no problem moving it to a previously existing section, but that section heading might have to be adjusted to encompass a broader scope. Airborne84 (talk) 07:49, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
Still not convinced it's enough of a conceptual misunderstanding to qualify. I would categorise it as a simple error, or barely even that. It's no more than a habit, a convention that is appropriate in one environment (typewriter and monospaced font) but not in another (typeset copy and proportional font). That said, I would disagree that it's mostly a US thing. Authors of all nationalities habitually use a double space at the end of a sentence, and copy-editors routinely change them to single spaces. What is different about Americans, perhaps, is that they tend to be very dogmatic about matters like punctuation and grammar, having been taught one way to do it, and they think that their way is the only way (whereas British authors, for example, are much more likely to take a fuzzier approach).[citation needed] So perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps, from an American prescriptive perspective, the issue of the double space is important enough to qualify. Hmmm. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 08:13, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
I agree and disagree. First, I can't categorize it as an "error" like the grocer's apostrophe. If someone used the grocer's apostrophe and you explained that it was incorrect, they would probably agree with you. If you explained that the double space rule was wrong to many Americans (I can't speak for most other countries), they would tell you that you're wrong. There's another difference also. If someone said that you could see the Great Wall of China from the moon, that would be an error also. It's simply wrong. What's similar between that misconception and the double space one is that in the past, authoritative sources (teachers in these cases for the most part) perpetuated the misconception. Today, because of the past misconceptions, people still believe they are true. This is different from the grocer's apostrophe. I don't know the history, but I doubt that it was taught as correct on a wide scale in the past by authoritative sources. If it was, it might well qualify as a misconception, but it would probably not be notable enough to include here. There's no online debate raging about the grocer's apostrophe. There is about the double space issue.
Consider also that it might be an error if one "english teacher" in an American school taught that "accept" and "except" meant the same thing. When typing, computer science, and writing teachers in American schools teach on a wide scale that the use of the double space is the convention today...it's a misconception.
However, I will agree with you that Americans tend to be emotionally attached to their beliefs. For example, you could pull out five of the most widely-used style manuals, and examples of books and newspapers and show that the single space is the convention. A lot of Americans will simply go into denial and refuse to believe - regardless of the incontrovertible evidence presented. I've seen the same phenomenon with Americans that firmly believe that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen, as well as those that firmly believe that the scientific commmunity is divided over Anthropogenic Global Warming. In that respect, you are most certainly right.
Anyway, I have no objection to adding the "American" caveat to the section. I couched it as "some in the United States" in the Double spacing at the end of sentences article, so I see no reason why it couldn't be done here if that is a more accurate representation of the misconception. Airborne84 (talk) 08:55, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
This is an inappropriate category, which I am removing for the following reasons: First, a disagreement about style preference is not at all a misconception of fact (style preferences are simply an agreed-upon consensus and are subject to context, circumstance, and controversy over who is considered an authority) and doesn't belong on this page in the first place. Also, the poll cited about the prevalence of this "misconception" is merely an online poll of a blog's readership and is insufficient to support the claim that "many Americans" have this belief. How do we know (A) the people taking this poll were Americans, or (B) the 45% of 1,748 Internet users represent the belief of a sizable percentage of Americans? Moreover, many of the supposedly supportive references (ie, the ones online that I could verify) directly contradict the section's claim regarding the number of spaces for "languages that use the modern Latin alphabet." (is this original research?). Particularly this one from the MLA , which states "As a practical matter, however, there is nothing wrong with using two spaces after concluding punctuation marks unless an instructor or editor requests that you do otherwise." Another cited reference also contradicts the claim, stating "The new edition of the Publication Manual recommends that authors include two spaces after each period in draft manuscripts. For many readers, especially those tasked with reading stacks of term papers or reviewing manuscripts submitted for publication, this new recommendation will help ease their reading by breaking up the text into manageable, more easily recognizable chunks." The cited American Psychological Association (are psychologists an authority on grammar?!) also contradict the claim: Although the usual convention for published works remains one space after each period, and indeed the decision regarding whether to include one space or two rests, in the end, with the publication designer, APA thinks the added space makes sense for draft manuscripts in light of those manuscript readers who might benefit from a brief but refreshing pause." Even the Chicago manual of Style reference makes it clear that the preference for one space expressed is "the opinion of this particular copyeditor" The print citations are are not readily verifiable (at least by me) but may be out of date. This section is out of place, makes unsupported assertions, uses original research, misrepresents citations, and is generally wrongheaded and silly. I am removing this. --Replysixty (talk) 10:28, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Oh, and in defense of using two spaces-- not every application of printed text in English uses kerned/proportional fonts. Courier, a monospaced font, is industry standard in screenplays, for example. From the link: "First, the font: use Courier at 12pt., and nothing else. Do not use Times New Roman, Arial, Helvitica, nor any other font. Do not even use a different "typewriter" style font. Do not use 10pt. type faces, nor 14pt., nor any size other than 12pt. It's Courier 12 and that's the deal." --Replysixty (talk) 10:28, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Because this section was removed a while ago, I didn't try a manual revert. I simply re-added the section since its deletion was in violation of WP:PRESERVE. A few more points:
The wording of the section did not contradict your disagreements above. Read the section again carefully. I did remove the words "while writing" since that was misleading and did not belong. However, the words "convention" and for "final written and published work" are correct. There are also other ways to phrase it that would not violate WP:PRESERVE. That allows for the double space to be used as a preference in draft manuscripts, and for personal correspondence, for example. However, I did add a sentence with supporting typographic manuals to further support the convention. Believe me, these represent only a portion of the supporting references I have. I just don't want to make the list of citations lengthy to the point of instigating laughter.
"Latin-based alphabet" simply describes the scope of the section - since the listed citations do not cover other types of alphabets.
That leaves the website that establishes the premise. Since this has been discussed before and the consensus was that it was sufficient, you will have to establish a consensus to change this. I have no intent to go back to the web and gather more justification simply becase one person follows WP:IDONTLIKEIT. If there is a new consensus that it's not sufficient, then I will do so. It won't be hard, as you can see for yourself by doing a Google search. It took me about two minutes to find the reference that I did.
By the way, 45% is a sizable percentage. And if the consensus of the editors here is that the words "of Americans" should be struck, that would be acceptable to me also.
The courier font argument doesn't hold much weight since I have plenty of references that state that the single space is the convention regardless of font used. Your source might simply indicate a change in wording from "with the widespread use of proportional fonts" to "due in part to the widespread use of proportional fonts." This, by the way, would be in keeping with WP:PRESERVE. Airborne84 (talk) 08:24, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Ah yes, I forgot. Style guides are not controversial lists of style preferences. They are primary sources on writing style. I won't elaborate or ask you to explain the "controversy" you mentioned since that should be relatively clear and, frankly, I'm tired of explaining that to people on other related pages. Airborne84 (talk) 08:29, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Interesting. Replysixty doesn't like this one because he/she doesn't agree with the references. Snalwibma deleted the section again due to a conception that there are differing conventions between typewriters and typesetting. As I was rewriting it to more clearly show that the convention is the same whether it is typewriter or professional typesetting now (with references), someone else deleted it because it is not "weighty enough." That is certainly an arbitrary decision based on opinion. There are dozens of websites set up for people to argue about this. Most style guides address this issue specifically because there is a widespread misconception. Most modern typography books devote at least an entire section to this issue, and some more. The book "The Mac is not a typewriter" devotes an entire chapter to this. Why write an entire chapter in a book on this "irrelevant issue"? Because it's a widespread misconception in America. And it's not the last chapter... It's Chapter 1. Because you think that it's not "weighty enough" or that people shouldn't give it undue weight because you think it's not very relevant, doesn't mean that it isn't. However, I can't keep up with "driveby deleters" of the entire section and I won't try to. It's just not worth my time. Airborne84 (talk) 14:03, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Using a double space instead of a single one at the end of a sentence is not worthy of inclusion, for the simple reason that it is not a misconception about a matter of fact, just an issue of preferred typographical style, and a pretty insignificant one at that (in spite of the fact that Wikipedia has an article on it that is longer than this one!). Furthermore, it is not especially "common". Yes, I agree that many people don't seem to realise that it's no longer the usual way to do it, but it hardly ranks with the other contents of this page in terms of their widespread nature. I can think of many things that people "get wrong" when writing or preparing copy for typesetting, but none of them is a "common misconception". What makes this particular little detail so important? SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 14:34, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
You're right, it's not a "misconception", it's a style issue. There is no universal law that dictates this and prescribes penalties for violating it. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:53, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, I'm just not that interested in trying to keep up with statements of opinion anymore. I might have discussed them before the arbitrary deletions, but not now, so I won't replace the section.

I'll leave you with a few parting comments before I drop this matter. Manuals on typography (of which I inserted six or seven references to yesterday), clearly state that the single space is the correct usage - whether on typewriter or for professional typesetting. This typographic convention is not open to preference - according to typographic manuals. You can state that it is so, but that does not make it so. There are no penalties for violating most of the other misconceptions in this article either, so I fail to see the relevance of that line of logic. As far as why this particular little detail is so important? It's clearly not important to you SNALWIMBA. Does that really mean it couldn't be important to anyone else? I have dozens of Webpages bookmarked that show this is a topic furiously debated on the web. The discussions on this actually get quite heated. There are examples of people posting about the single-space convention on Twitter and being vigorously attacked by hundreds of people that say its wrong because its less readable and they were taught differently. There are pages where (probably American) college professors write that all of the students they get in their classes are using double-spaces because that is what they learned in high school. None of them knew why they were taught that way. Now they have to follow a style guide that says to use the single space convention and unlearn what they were taught - by teachers who have a misconception about the convention. I've seen thousands of posts by people claiming that the double-space is more legible and readable with no supporting evidence (the only studies done are inconclusive either way). The Webpages for the major style guides all have answers and discussion pages devoted to this - because people keep asking what the convention is. 6,000-9,000 people per month visit the double-spacing at the end of sentences article on Wikipedia, and it's been rising as the article improves and external Webpages link to it. This part of the Wikipedia MoS has been batted back and forth for years, because people disagree on it - and there's a misconception that the double space is proper typographic useage. It's not hard to establish the notability and importance of this issue to people - if you actually look. It's also not hard to conclusively answer the question of what the actual convention is - given the primary and secondary sources in style guides and typography manuals I've provided. Of course, the easiest thing to do is go with WP:IDONTLIKEIT and delete the entire section without discussion or giving other editors a chance to address disagreements. I'm done with it. You've successfully removed a notable and well-supported topic that many are interested in - based purely on your opinions. I hope you think that made Wikipedia better. I do not. Airborne84 (talk) 16:59, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
On the contrary - it is important to me! But not as important as getting hyphens in the right places, and avoiding grocer's apostrophes, or 101 other things that people get wrong in writing – but I wouldn't for one moment suggest that "Accommodation is not spelled accomodation" or "The plural of potato does not have an apostrophe in it" merit a place in this article. What makes this double-space thing even less deserving of a place is that it isn't even an error, just a convention. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 17:16, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Of course, it's clearly very important to you. Otherwise, why your question: "What makes this particular little detail so important"? By the way, I haven't found any Internet debates raging on the use of the grocers' apostrophe. I looked - where there's discussion there is simply agreement. Not debate. And I see you're hung up on semantics. Perhaps phrased as: "this misconception is about the error in the use of the modern convention" would have met your vaunted qualifications for inclusion.
Regardless, there is no need to respond. I'm not interested in more statements of personal opinion, and I'm not going to repost the section. Feel free to close this thread and archive it. Airborne84 (talk) 18:26, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Instead of starting another thread I'll post it here. Please change the lead from "fallacious, misleading, or otherwise flawed ideas" to only "erroneous" so that people like me won't waste our time here posting items that are not "errors." Thanks. Airborne84 (talk) 18:34, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
That's precisely it. Thank you for pointing out so clearly why this topic does not belong here. The notion that you should insert a double space after a sentence is not fallacious, it is not misleading, and it is not flawed. Over and out. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 19:05, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Of course you're right. Your logic has won me over completely. Cheers!
Recommend close. Airborne84 (talk) 20:55, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

(moved from below) I think it should have been reduced to a few sentences. Tis a common misconception. - RoyBoy 02:12, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

I know it is. There are just too many pages on the Web that show it. Here's one where over 15,000 people voted on one or two spaces. Poll Results The answer is revealing.
It could be easily rewritten shorter. "Not the convention" could also easily be replaced by "incorrect usage" since typographic manuals all state that-regardless of style manuals. I'm just not interested in dealing with editors who delete entire sections without discussion. Airborne84 (talk) 04:34, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
I'll just reiterate- there is no authoritative consensus on how many spaces to use after a period. Style guides for particular applications are not authoritative, they represent mere opinion. This is akin to saying there is a common misconception that "email" is spelled "e-mail" or that "web site" is improperly used when "Website" is correct according to Microsoft's style guides. Moreover, most of the "authoritative" style sources cited by Airborne84 (the only one vigorously defending this section) indicate that the number of spaces is a personal preference. On top of all this is a question of whether style conventions are a matter of "fact". It's not whether one or two periods are "truly", "factually" correct-- obviously it's a matter of opinion. The only issue of fact here is whether or not the conventional standard stylistic practice is to use one space or two after a period. As I've said, this is neither (a) settled or (b) significant enough to warrant inclusion here. --Replysixty (talk) 15:14, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
I'll indulge in some discussion since I may revisit this when I have more time in a few months.
1. If "authoritative consensus" and "factual errors" are requirements for inclusion in this article, I could go through and remove about 70% of the entries here (which I certainly won't do since I like this article). Because the majority of these entries cannot be proven mathematically or logically, they are established by scientific or expert consensus. I'll just start at the top:
a. Searing meat does not "seal in" moisture, and in fact may actually cause meat to lose moisture. This would be accurately stated as "sources say that searing meat does not..." or "experts indicate that..."
I think saying "experts indicate that..." would be a great addition. --Replysixty (talk) 22:20, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
b. Mussels that do not open when cooked can still be fully cooked and safe to eat. Again, this is accurately prefaced with "sources state that" or "experts tell us that."
Agreed. --Replysixty (talk) 22:20, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
c. It is commonly claimed that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from the Moon. This is false. Accurately represented, this should read "experts/scientists tell us this is false."
Again, I totally agree. It would be much better to say "Astronauts who have been to the moon have attested that this is not the case." --Replysixty (talk) 22:20, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
This is a small sample. There are items in the list that are clearly and factually erroneous. For example, we can read Humpty Dumpty and see if the word “egg” appears. These mathematically or logically provable (zero=none=does not appear) misconceptions are relatively few. We must rely on experts (here in Wikipedia, reliable sources) to show a misconception in this article. Because I used language that accurately described the double-space misconception, and the other entries use simple language that describes other misconceptions as “factually incorrect,” seems to be lulling people into drawing distinctions between this misconception and those.
My problem is that you are using widespread disagreement and discussion on line as evidence that there is a great misperception out there that needs to be corrected. I see the same evidence (assuming a few online polls constitute such widespread discussion) as an indication not that a great number of people are misguided, but that this is a matter that is unsettled and for which a consensus has not been reached. -Replysixty (talk) 22:20, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Let's cast aside style guides which are primary sources on writing style since that seems to be an issue of debate for those who prefer not to offer evidence, but only continue to repeat "it's not enough for me" when more is presented to them.
Yes, we should cast aside style guides. There are style guides for standard usage (Strunk and White's Elements of Style, for example) that are widely adopted by English teachers, journalists, documentation writers, etc. And then there are the style guides sourced in this section, which seem to be for a particular niche audience (psychology articles, for example). Moreover, as I showed above, even these sources do not weigh in very strongly on a stylistic preference one way or the other. --Replysixty (talk) 22:20, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
No, they do. Visit Double-spacing at the end of sentences again and actually read the section on style guides this time. There is a consensus for final work, and published work - newspapers, magazines, books, and the Web. Why is it that you think the Chicago Manual of Style is for a niche audience. Don't worry about "in this copywriter's opinion." Look at what the latest edition of CMoS says. Also, I have the latest edition of the Elements of Style on my shelf. It uses single spacing.
Does it specifically advocate the use of single spacing in the text? Is the page number at the bottom and centered? Is that the new standard as well? And why should I not worry about "in this copywriter's opinion", since that's how it appears in the CMoS? --Replysixty (talk) 02:38, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
This is a typographical convention/rule. Who are the experts on typography? Typographers. (Since I foretell a retort that they are not expert opinion on this matter, please remember that your opinions and my opinions are not relevant here on Wikipedia - reliable sources are. I have a large number of authoritative sources that say the single space convention/rule/usage is a typographic convention/correct usage/typographic rule.) Typographic sources are the medium to communicate their expert opinion here on Wikipedia. Let's see what a small sample of them have to say on this subject:
The Complete Manual of Typography (2003). "The typewriter tradition of separating sentences with two word spaces after a period has no place in typesetting."
The Elements of Typographic Style (2003). "Use a single word space between sentences."
Getting it Right with Type: The Dos and Dont's of Typography (2006). "The full point is otherwise known as a full stop or period....It is always followed by a letter space."
About Face: Reviving the Rules of Typography (2004). "Word spaces, preceding or following punctuation, should be optically adjusted to appear to be of the same value as a standard word space."
Desktop Publishing by Design (section on typography). "Typesetting requires only one space after periods, question marks, exclamation points, and colons."
I’ll leave the list there. However, you should understand that I have researched this (and other typographic issues) extensively. I have dozens of authoritative references that state that the single space is the correct usage today. I have seen zero that state two spaces is correct, is the current convention, or has been anything other than a typewriter convention and a personal preference for the last 70 years. Zero. Yet, I fully expect someone to retort with a statement along the lines of "that doesn't matter," followed by a sentence that will be asserted as fact but should actually should start with the words "My opinion is." I've come to expect it by now.
It doesn't matter. You are wrong that this is a 'typographical" matter. If your sources refer so narrowly of the one-vs-two-spaces-after-a-period stylistic convention according to typographers in formal typographical applications, then how does this apply to a "common misconception"? Most people are not typographers and could care less about industrial standards that pertain to professional typographers, particularly the "typesetters, compositors, typographers, graphic designers, art directors, comic book artists, graffiti artists, and clerical workers" that make up the typography community. Common writing situations that have nothing to do with typography might include formal emails, playwriting, journalism, documentation, etc., and while most of these applications do involve standard conventions for spelling and grammar, the standard stylistic convention may be one OR two spaces. In other words, if you're narrowing the scope of your authoritative references to the field of typography, then you've limited the scope of the "common misconception". My opinion is that most people don't care what typographers happen to do as it's totally irrelevant to common practice. --Replysixty (talk)
You are wrong that this is a 'typographical" matter. My opinion is that most people don't care what typographers happen to do as it's totally irrelevant to common practice. I see that you are still laboring under the common misconception that your opinion, or mine, matters on Wikipedia. They don't.
Oh give me a break. I was fulfilling your expectation that I would start with "It doesn't matter" and include "My opinion is that..." Your opinion is based on the existence of two web polls. I've already made the case that these are insufficient and inconclusive. I further discuss using online polls on WP to establish anything factual (aside from the existence of the poll itself) below. --Replysixty (talk) 02:38, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Ah sorry. My mistake. Actually I caught your humor and got a bit of a chuckle. Not bad. I didn't mean to paste that first one in there. Did it later.
I have plenty of sources that state (1) This issue is a typographical convention, and (2) typographical literature says it is incorrect usage. That is what matters. The rest of what you posted above is irrelevant, however true you believe it to be. Remember, Wikipedia represents verifiability, not truth.
You did make an interesting statement. "Most people don't care what typographers happen to do as it's totally irrelevant to common practice." Thanks for bringing that up. There is ample empirical evidence of "common practice." What percentage of professionally published work (let's limit it to English for now) in the last 50 years uses the double-space? (Books, magazines, newspapers, Web.) More or less than 0.0001%? No need to answer without a source. Please reference my note about opinions above.
Again you are bringing in "professional, published works", and yet you have provided zero evidence that people have an misconception about spacing in professionally published works. The polls you cite do not mention anything about professionally published works. One asks simply "One or Two Spaces After a Period?" This generic question is not to be understood as a question about publishing practices. If anything, it appeared on a blog owned by a literary agent whose readership is probably thinking of manuscripts written for submission to publishers. Such manuscripts are traditionally submitted in Courier, a monospaced font.[1] But assuming you're correct, that this poll is asking specifically about professional publishing practices and the readership (which we'll assume is composed Americans and answered in kind), so what? The public may have all kinds of misunderstandings of the practices of professional publishing (what ink is made of, who owns media companies, how to get an agent, etc.), so how is that notable or encyclopedic? --Replysixty (talk) 02:38, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
The discussions we are having are evidence of a misconception in themselves. Look at the above posts. There are plenty of people there that believe there is no “correct usage” and that there is no "right" or "wrong" usage. There is.
For non-typographers? One industry may decide to use "email" and another "e-mail" and yet another "Email". And maybe the telecommunications industry has settled on "e-mail", and I can find a style-guide to prove it. Would it be fair to say that it is a common misconception that one should hyphenate "e-mail" but cite as a reference that the Email Experience Council has determined that it is properly "email"? --Replysixty (talk) 22:20, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Besides typography guides, it’s described in style guides – primary sources on writing. Dictionaries are also primary sources. Replysixty, did you know that the inclusion and changes to words in dictionaries is done through the opinions of experts on a board?
Did you know that dictionaries are meant to reflect actual usage by actual humans? Dictionaries are descriptive works-- reflections and descriptions of a word's real-world usage, and they only have a proscriptive/authoritative function for particular applications such as determining what is acceptable in Scrabble, spelling bees, or for seeking clarification on how a word is used or how it will be understood by a speaker of the language in question. Lexicographers look at how words are used in practice and make determinations about which words and phrases are significant enough in common usage (or for whatever scope the Dictionary is intended to cover) to be cataloged. Dictionaries do not invent words, they catalog and report them. It may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the history of the Oxford-English Dictionary, and dictionaries in general.
To quote lexographer Erin McKeon, "if you love a word, use it. That makes it real. Being in the dictionary is an arbitrary distinction. It doesn't make a word any more real than any other way." ---Replysixty (talk) 22:20, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
It’s done in the same manner that style guides are prepared.
Well, yes and no. Unlike a dictionary, style guide is not a mere cataloging of how words are commonly used (along with pronunciation and derivations, etc.); a style guide is intended as prescription-- "this is how WE in SUCH AND SUCH a context stylize our text for a particular use". A style guide for educational texts for children, for example, may have radically different requirements for technical journals. Some structured languages, such as SGML, have arisen specifically to direct a particular stylistic preference. A style guide is telling how how things should be. A dictionary, in most cases, is telling you how things are. --Replysixty (talk) 22:20, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Do you dismiss those that state that “airplane” is spelled a certain way in an American or British English dictionary as the mere matter of the opinion of some people? I doubt it.
No-- but you make my point nicely. These words are not spelled as they are because the dictionary people tell you that's how it should be spelled. It reflects the evolved spellings of those words in two different branches of English. It can further serve the purpose of helping someone who wants to be more clearly understood or write in the common language of a particular region how to best accomplish this end. ---Replysixty (talk) 22:20, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
It was difficult to read what you posted above without smiling. Please reference my note about your and my opinions. I'll just leave it at that.
Please don't. Are you suggesting that the two spellings of airplane (vs. aeroplane) was the result of some dictionary-lead campaign? Of course you aren't. Again, the dictionary reflects usage of language as it is. A style guide represents an opinion of language as it should be (for a particular application).
Style guides evolved too. Many previous editions (yes, I've referenced those too, to see the progression through time) of style guides didn't mention this. Now they do. Because people ask these style guide boards and editors what the correct usage is. That might indicate something to you. People ask style guide editors and boards what the correct useage is... I wonder why they ask them if style guides are only opinions?
Because they are asking about the opinions expressed in the style guide? The rules expressed by a style guide OBVIOUSLY represent subjective points of view organized for the purpose of guiding someone's writing toward a particular result-- clarity, organization, appropriateness for an audience, aesthetics, whatever. The aesthetics part is certainly reflective of someone's opinion. There are many types of style guides used for many purposes. Again, see my discussion of prescription vs. description. Style guides say "when writing for X, Y, or Z... write like this, not like this". They ARE opinion, sometimes backed up by study such as the most efficient way to communicate or an attempt to avoid confusion or whatever. Style guides may be used for applications ranging from academic works, technical writing, literature, medicine, legal citation, screenwriting, Encyclopedias, etc etc. and each discipline has its own convention. These varied style guides will not necessarily be in agreement with each other. Contrary to your hopes and dreams, "professionally published works" in a proportional-spaced font are not the be-all-end-all goal of all human composition. --Replysixty (talk) 02:38, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Now you say that this is a "typographical" issue and so the whole world should conform to the typographers' style guides as holding some sort of universal truth about this matter. Again, I disagree. Your polls do not reflect the public's confusion about typographer's professional style choices. I have seen zero evidence in support of your claim that a significant portion of the public is confused about publishing convention. --Replysixty (talk) 02:38, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
You should not, then, dismiss style guides in the same manner. A few leave room for personal preference in drafting manuscripts, but not in final works, as well as published work, which is what people actually see. Most that describe proper usage for their adherants simply state that one space is used - and make no distinction between monospaced and proportional fonts. Period. (And there are no style guides that are published with two spaces between the sentences within their own text.)
I'm not going to argue whether or not some style guides are published with two spaces, although I doubt that none are. Regardless, I am dismissing style guides for typographers as authoritative for common usage because that is outside the scope of its intended use, and no one (aside, apparently from typographers) really care what they have to say, much in the same way I could care less what Microsoft's style convention is for "email". --Replysixty (talk) 22:20, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
You shouldn't argue this point - because you clearly haven't researched it. So how can you assume that you are arguing from a position of knowledge? I have researched this - in far more depth than you probably even realize. Again, however, my opinion doesn't matter here. Your dismissal of style guides is equally irrelevant, although you might be interested to know that in the 20+ U.S. and international style guides I have researched - zero have used two spaces. Zero. That, in itself, is a consensus of "opinion."
If the style of a style guide is your idea of consensus, again, I wonder if there is a typographical "consensus" on page numbering, font, index, etc. I'm interested more in what such guides have to say than how they happen to be formatted. --Replysixty (talk) 02:38, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
All this said, Strunk and White is a recognized authority for one simple reason-- it has been adopted by most elementary school systems as well as universities and corporate writing by name as the authority on style and grammar. If Strunk & White had said something about periods and spaces, I'd be more hard-pressed to dismiss it out-of-hand, as they have established themselves as a recognized widespread prescriptive authority general use over nearly a hundred years. --Replysixty (talk) 22:20, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for proving my point! Strunk and White have said something about it. Check the spacing in the book. Feel free to look at previous editions of the Elements of Style also, as I have. And you're right, that is a great point.
See above. I am not "proving your point". I am making mine. Is the current edition of Strunk and White printed in a proportionally-spaced font? What does that have to say about works written in monospace fonts? Nothing. What is included in the actual TEXT of Strunk and White on this matter? My guess is nothing, or you would have mentioned it. --Replysixty (talk) 02:38, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
As to your other assertion that this is not a notable topic, I’m afraid I will never be able to convince someone who simply makes statements dismissing evidence without actually researching the topic. Did you actually look at the poll I posted? I could easily present more evidence, but it is all too easy for some to continue stating “it’s just not enough for me.” At some point, one has to decide that it's not worth arguing against opinions that cannot be overcome with logic and evidence.
Yes, I looked at the poll. It was an online poll with a few thousand participants from who-knows-where, and it suggested to me that there is no consensus one way or the other. --Replysixty (talk) 22:20, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
A few thousand? Ah, I see you looked only at the first poll I posted. Look at the one that shows over 15,000 responses. If that's the one you're referring to, I think we're simply done on this line of discussion. I'm not going to play the "it's not enough for me game."
It's not enough for me. An internationally accessible poll on a desktop publishing site asking "what's your preference" (as opposed to "what is standard usage") of who-knows-who with a clean 50/50 split on preference, without specificity to typeface or formality and where one of the options is compatible with either of the others does not support the claim. That is a primary source and not a very good one at that.
Final point. In the entire thread above, there is only one person who has offered any sources to back up their statements. No one else has provided a single authoritative source to back up their assertions. The exception is Replysixty who used the sourced I provided in a manner that ignored how the section was actually written, and dismissed the other sources as "probably out of date." (They are the most current.) That should indicate something. Please refrain from simply reiterating your opinions again and provide a source to back them up. Airborne84 (talk) 16:59, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, since you mentioned me- I was saying that the printed sources cited were not online and were unverifiable. If you are going to quote me, quote me correctly. I didn't dismiss them as "probably out of date". What I said was: "The print citations are are not readily verifiable (at least by me) but may be out of date." It's ironic that you accuse me of misrepresenting your sources (I did not) and in the next virtual breath misquoted AND misrepresented me. --Replysixty (talk) 22:20, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
You did misrepresent the sources. Look again. Do you really think I would have used sources that disagreed with what I said? I had dozens more. I simply used ones that (1) were the most authoritative and (2) the few that were accessible on the Web so people could check for themselves. My apologies for misrepresenting the wording (but not the message) of your statement. Why would you guess that they may be out of date? You should WP:assumegoodfaith, but you do not. However, you need to familiarize yourself with WP:RS, and WP:V, which states that The principle of verifiability implies nothing about ease of access to sources: some online sources may require payment, while some print sources may be available only in university libraries. Because you don't want to spend the time to do the research doesn't mean you can arbitrarily dismiss the ones I use. Check out Double spacing at the end of sentences, again, for more detailed information.
I had plenty of good faith before discovering that the sources were cited did not support or contradicted the claim that was being made. I have given examples above and will not so again. Why you used sources that disagreed with what you said- well, I have no idea. --Replysixty (talk) 02:38, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Given the apparent debate about it, maybe the better way to say it would be, "There is a common misconception that whether you put one or two spaces after a period really matters." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:52, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Certainly it doesn't matter as much as whether Humpty Dumpty was really an egg or something else...or whether it's easier to balance an egg on its end on the first day of spring. These are much more pressing concerns. Airborne84 (talk) 18:58, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

Replysixty, I won't debate the spacing issue with you anymore since we're not moving past your opinion. I made some notes above regarding this article - or what it was before summary deletions without discussion.

There was plenty of discussion prior to my deletion. It's still there for you to review. I simply elected to be bold. So let me summarize:
  • The commonality of any belief in the issue of 1 vs. 2 spaces after a period is not well-supported by evidence.
  • It is not well-supported by evidence that this is a commonly-held belief about all writing in English.
  • It is also not well-supported by that is is a commonly-held belief about the professional stylistic consensus with regard to published works (in monospaced, proportional font, both, OR unspecified).
  • As a factual matter, the claim that one space is correct usage is not supported for general usage in English.
  • There does some to be some evidence that in the professional publishing industry, style guides request a single space, although there are indications from many of the cited sources that the rule is subject to personal preference.
  • And finally, there is nothing notable about any of this.
It'll probably revisit in a month or two. You'll get a chance then to provide sources that agree with your opinion. I'll be interesting to see them, since I have been unable to find them. It will make my research more complete. Airborne84 (talk) 23:58, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Sorry- I don't have to cite reasons for this section to be included- it's on you to write a clear well-supported section that is related to the article subject. If you ever do that, I say the topic should stay. My issue is that you have neither established the "commonality" of a particular belief nor that any such belief is a "misconception". I've touched on the notability issue, but of course that's a concern as well. Accuracy first. Seeya in a month or two. --Replysixty (talk) 02:38, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Here's where you've gone astray: If Humpty Dumpty was not really an egg, that's a misconception. If Washington didn't have wooden false teeth, that's a misconception. If those are in fact misconceptions (barring any future contradictory research), those items will remain misconceptions forever. If I put two spaces after a period, as I was taught to do in typing class, and continue to do on e-mails, that's not a misconception, it's a stylistic disagreement. And the style guides could change tomorrow and say, "OK, we've decided to have 2 spaces instead of 1." And then it will be the folks putting 1 space instead of 2 that have the so-called "misconception". Nope. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:10, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Oops. Better delete the "Entrapment Law" entry and a few others (e.g. what if it turns out that electric fans really do cause deaths in the summer in Korea?). Sorry, couldn't resist. ;) No need to delete anything. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Airborne84 (talkcontribs) 07:06, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
This has got to be the most inane talk page discussion ever. (two spaces) Please stop this. Asher196 (talk) 01:48, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
"The most inane ever" would be difficult to prove, but I'd venture a guess it would be in the running. :) ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:43, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Welcome to the Internet. --Replysixty (talk) 02:50, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
I think I'll end it here. I only posted one quick note for you above. By the way, we're just talking past each other above, but since you indicated that you didn't know, you might be interested in the CMoS 15th edition (the latest edition) - you don't seem to have a copy handy. I'm happy to help.
"6.11 Space between sentences. In typeset matter, one space, not two (in other words, a regular word space), follows any mark of punctuation that ends a sentence, whether a period, a colon, a question mark, an exclamation point, or closing quotation marks" (Page 243).
However, if you don't know much about the Chicago Manual of Style, that won't mean much to you - or it might mean to you that it's only used by people in Chicago. ;) It's relatively ambiguous anyway, so it's probably irrelevant. (A bit of humor there back at you. Please don't take it in the wrong way.)
The good news is that I quite enjoyed our little session. And I certainly harbor no ill will toward you for expressing your opinions. This thread served its purpose well for me, although you and the others weren't aware of it. I hope I wasn't too flippant above. I was simply trying to get everything possible out in the open. Thanks for investing the time here on this subject.
Please feel free to archive this thread. There's no need for more discussion here, even though it's been quite interesting. Cheers! Airborne84 (talk) 03:38, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, as I said, it's merely a stylistic disagreement. CMOS is not necessarily the all-powerful judge, and besides which, they could change their minds tomorrow. But if Humpty Dumpty wasn't an egg, then he wasn't an egg, regardless of any manual of style. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:45, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

OK, since my mind is now aglow with swirling transient nodes of conceptions and misconceptions, I have to bring this one up. On his radio program in the late 40s or so, Ernie Kovacs had a feature called "Mr. Question Man", in which he would read questions allegedly posed by the radio audience:

"Dear Mr. Question Man: If the earth is round, why don't people fall off?"
(chuckles) What the listener has asked is a common misconception. People are falling off all the time!

Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:59, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Interestingly cordial consensus, if it holds for a month I'd advise posting this Thread as a FAQ link in the talk header. - RoyBoy 02:50, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

E. Conductivity of water, atmospheric content, metal in microwave

Seeing as how this is a heavily disputed article, instead of simply adding things, I figured I'd post them here first, and only add them after discussion or after a few days with no responses.m

1. I'm not sure this even qualifies anymore as most people probably know this, but the idea that "air" is mostly Oxygen is false. It is mostly Nitrogen.

2. "Putting metal in a microwave is automatically dangerous, and will blow up your microwave." This is false, depending on the type of metal and how long you microwave it for, it will at best damage the magnetron in your microwave, and it is easily multiply sourced with a simple google search.

3. "Water is a good conductor of electricity." This one is definitely a widespread belief and is false. Pure water is a bad conductor (and good insulator) of electricity...impurities in water are what conduct electricity, and that, coupled with the salt on your skin, is the real reason you should not take your toaster into the bathtub.

--Stevehim (talk) 15:58, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

(1) No. (2) Maybe. (3) Yes. SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 16:02, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
To meet WP:V it would be best to find a good source stating it is a common misconception, as well as a source which backs up the rest of the claim so we don't spread new misconceptions. Rpvdk (talk) 17:34, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
Here are a few links:

- Water: Misconception (look at how often it is asked): google search
- Water: Truth: physicsforums

- Metal in microwave: Truth: Wiki, physics forums
- Metal in microwave: Misconception: google search

- Atmosphere: Truth: Wiki
- Atmosphere: Misconception: de-fact-o

--Stevehim (talk) 18:39, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

You can't really source the misconception based on google searches, forum posts etc without coming into conflict with WP:NOR. I don't personally have a huge problem with it but having had this article on my watchlist for a few years, I know it will just end up getting deleted if it's not published as a misconception somewhere. Something like [42] is probably a better source. Rpvdk (talk) 22:50, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
Well, since you supplied the water one, here's the metal in a microwave one (2nd paragraph states it as a common misconception (http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/7112771/description.html). I am assuming since the google search/forums weren't used, the atmosphere one still holds up? I will still wait for more discussion before changing anything. --Stevehim (talk) 17:22, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
This site looks pretty good for that one: [43] - looks like it's actually been researched. Haven't looked long at the de-fact-o site but much of its content appears copied from wikipedia, which would not make it a good source. Rpvdk (talk) 22:31, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
Cool. Thank you for finding some supporting sites. Is this enough to add them to the page? --Stevehim (talk) 00:11, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
I think it's adequately sourced yes. I'm not the final word though (no-one is) but I would have no problem with it. Rpvdk (talk) 10:38, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

"No low-velocity relativisitic effects"

This has several sources but none of them support the idea that this is a common misconception. Most people know too little about relativity to be even capable of having misconceptions about it. Hairhorn (talk) 01:46, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Agreed - no misconception, and reference for one. I've removed it. --hippo43 (talk) 21:43, 12 April 2010 (UTC)

Couple things missing

Here are 2 more misconceptions that I don't see on this list. 1. Masturbation does not actually cause loss of eyesight. There are essentially no direct metabolic connections between the male reproductive system and the visual sensory system. 2. Most natural scientists are not actually Atheists. Einstein fled the Third Reich because he was a practicing Jew. Robert Hooke and Gregor Mendel were both Roman Catholic monks, and Darwin a former divinity student, who dropped out of that major before figuring out evolution and therefore not because of it. Despite how the church treated them, Galileo and Copernicus were both practicing Roman Catholics. Copernicus, in particular, attended the Papal University at Krakow.

So, let's add these things. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 01:06, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

  • Maybe in Kansas people think all scientists are atheists, but you'll have to come up with some good sources to convince me this is a common misconception. Hairhorn (talk) 01:24, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
First of all, the misconception is most, not all. Second, try asking members of YouTube who write comments on videos. They're one of the few worse fact sources than some of Wikipedia, and they're a great source of common misconceptions. The Mysterious El Willstro (talk) 04:06, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
I said good sources... Hairhorn (talk) 05:27, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
What utter nonsense. If these two are common misconceptions anywhere in the world, then something is seriously wrong with that region. Since we don't even have agreement that this article should exist in the first place, there is currently a consensus to be very formal about the sourcing for the claim that something is a common misconception. Hans Adler 10:49, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

Written Language

I added a section on written language. I thought I'd add a few notes here since the "double spacing" article is being held to a higher standard (in some ways) than other article already included. Fair enough. It's a topic of widespread and vigorous debate on the Internet, so I can't say it was unexpected.

While sorting through various sources, I pulled a few more items out here and there to establish its notability and its magnitude as a misconception.

Besides the poll listed in the section (which is worded more precisely for the benefit of some editors) here are two more.

Poll with 43,000 respondents The wording is irrelevant from my viewpoint. The people who respond are allowing that it could be proper usage when they answer that they prefer to use two spaces. The misconception is that it is still proper usage.
[44] Same here.
What is Typography? (Book) 2006. pps. 54-58. "why do so many people continue to use the primitive (and entirely obsolete) conventions of the typist?"
[45] "It's the debate that refuses to die: Do you set one word space or two after a period? In all my years of writing about type, it's still the question I hear most often, and a search of the web will find threads galore on the subject." James Felici is the author of "The Complete Manual of Typography" and has been in (and written books and articles about) the publishing industry for over 30 years. If it's the question he hears most, there is a widespread misconception that it is (or could be) correct usage. Also note that he writes books on typography. So, if people ask him, they are asking if it is correct usage, typographically speaking.
[46] Patricia Fry is a noted author in this area. "Most writers still leave two spaces after a period, question mark, etc. The rule now is one space after all punctuation."
[47] Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer and writer specializing in all aspects of typographic communication. "Much has changed along the journey from typewriters to setting type on computers. Still, there are a number of typewriting conventions that are no longer relevant but which stubbornly refuse to go away. At the top of this list is the practice of putting two spaces between sentences. Forget about tolerating differences of opinion: typographically speaking, typing two spaces before the start of a new sentence is absolutely, unequivocally wrong. Why is typing a double space after the end of a sentence such a common practice? And why do so many writers still deliver copy this way? The answer: typing class! This is how most of us were taught to type (and still are, in many cases)."
Typography for Lawyers. "This is a rule that many nonprofessional writers resist. I’m not clear why that is. But you don’t have to take my word for it—pick up any newspaper, book or magazine and tell me how many spaces there are between sentences." (common usage)
[48] "As a graphic designer, I spent HOURS removing that extra space from others' content. I can't believe that keyboarding teachers are still teaching it, but they must be since the practice is so widespread."
[49] When writing for a newsletter, a number of style misconceptions exist. Try to avoid these popular pitfalls. Use two spaces after a period. This may have been true when writing was done on a typewriter, but variable font widths make this an obsolete rule.

There are actually a few (non-blog) websites that used the words "common misconception," but their reliability was suspect, in my opinion. Thus, I did not list them. The above should suffice to establish the "commonness" of this misconception. The notability of this topic can be established by the numerous sources in which this is mentioned, so the above is not needed in this regard - even though it also performs that function.

The rest is relatively straightforward. This topic is a typographic issue. Grammar guides usually cover "terminal punctuation," but not spacing matters between punctuation and text (the very few that do are in line with the above.) I have not seen one contemporary book on typography that has not covered this. (I might add that I have researched quite a few books on typography...) Many cover it in great detail - providing multiple pages to cover this topic (establishing notability). Multiple style guides provide guidance on this subject - in sections entitled "Typography" or "Matters of Typography." The 15th Edition of the Chicago Manual of Style lists it under "Other Typographical Matters," for example.

As a typographical issue, the typographic literature I have listed indicates that the double space is not proper or correct usage. I'll paste some of the text from the sources, as it was in the previous thread.

The Complete Manual of Typography (2003). "The typewriter tradition of separating sentences with two word spaces after a period has no place in typesetting." p. 80.
The Elements of Typographic Style (2003). "Use a single word space between sentences." p. 25.
Getting it Right with Type: The Dos and Dont's of Typography (2006). "The full point is otherwise known as a full stop or period....It is always followed by a letter space." p. 59.
About Face: Reviving the Rules of Typography (2004). "Word spaces, preceding or following punctuation, should be optically adjusted to appear to be of the same value as a standard word space." p. 92.
Desktop Publishing by Design "A Handful of Typographic Conventions" "Typesetting requires only one space after periods, question marks, exclamation points, and colons." p. 34.
Chicago Manual of Style. "Other Typographic Matters" "6.11 Space between sentences. In typeset matter, one space, not two (in other words, a regular word space), follows any mark of punctuation that ends a sentence, whether a period, a colon, a question mark, an exclamation point, or closing quotation marks" (p. 243.)

I kept the section shorter on purpose since someone mentioned it would have been better as just a few sentences. There are ways to clarify some points, but it is probably better as it is for this article. It could easily grow too large. It's linked to the main article, and that should suffice.

As a parting consideration, I thought this point was applicable (only to those arguing about this on the web, of course - not here): "So if you’re inclined to fight tooth-and-nail for full justification and two spaces after punctuation, bear in mind that your own habits are less relevant than the views of typography professionals." Adam Smith, author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting

I believe the other two articles will also meet the qualifications for this article. They were both featured in Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language as widespread misconceptions. This was also supported in the Oxford Guide to Plain English, which is quite good, by the way (for those who are interested). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Airborne84 (talkcontribs) 10:15, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

While attitudes change and grammatical rules are fluid over the long term, it's false to say, for example, that "no such rule exists" concerning split infinitives. Different sources say different things: great, you found a source that says it's okay to split, but it's not the only source. Just because a rule is falling out of use does not mean that there is no rule. Hairhorn (talk) 11:46, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, I found three reliable sources that say it's fine to split infinitives (and two used wording clearly supporting its inclusion in this article). Only one used the specific words "no such rule exists," so if you're concerned only with that specific wording and can find a clear and authoritative rule that existed or exists to contradict these contemporary sources, we could strike that specific sentence. However, the remainder of the sources support that particular section within the parameters agreed on for this article. I could have added a few more sources, but I thought it unnecessary. Airborne84 (talk) 22:54, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

I am against putting prescriptivist nonsense such as that related to split infinitives and ending sentences in a proposition in the list. These are not really misconceptions. They are examples of people assuming authority over language and being taken seriously by others. Basically it's the same phenomenon as with the tea example we had much earlier: A tea enthusiast decides that the word tea may not under any circumstances be used for any other tea-like stuff you can brew. And then whoever wants to be taken seriously as a tea lover by that enthusiast will have to conform. Of course this doesn't change the fact that the word tea also has an alternative dictionary definition that includes herbal tea. The tea enthusiast says: "It's a misconception that there is such a thing as herbal tea. The term makes no sense because only black tea is tea." Of course he doesn't actually mean that it's a misconception. (If he does, he is suffering himself from a misconception.) He is really defining the language of an in-group. Which is precisely what prescriptivists do when they postulate arbitrary restrictions for the English language: They define the rules of a variant of English for those who consider themselves superior. There is a widespread misconception: That what these prescriptivists say is based on a scientific analysis of language. It isn't. But I doubt that we can find a reliable source for that. And if you want to cover every little bit of prescriptivist nonsense you are going to get a lot. See List of English words with disputed usage for some examples. Better start a separate list for that. Hans Adler 23:23, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

I think that's why the requirement has been established that it requires multiple reliable sources to state that it's a widespread misconception. Also, the Oxford University Press is more reliable than a random "person" deciding they want to change the meaning of one word. According to WP:V, books published by university presses fall just after peer-reviewed journals in measures of reliability. We just report what the sources say are the widespread misconceptions, not our personal feelings on the matter. We should also not suppose that a matter described as a common misconception by multiple reliable sources is irrelevant, or of insufficient interest to others. That is our own personal opinion interjecting into the matter again. Airborne84 (talk) 02:08, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

Are we going to go all through this again? A misconception is something thought to be a fact which is not a fact. It is not a "fact" that you can't split infinitives, for example, because obviously, you can. It is not a "fact" that you can't put two spaces after a period, because obviously, you can. It may be a "fact" that there's a grammar rule about it, but that rule could change tomorrow. Rules are not facts, they are merely a decision someone made at some point in time. There is a place for language, though. Consider the old saying, "I before E except after C, and when pronounced A as in Neighbor and Weigh." That's a misconception, because there are many counterexamples. Whether it's a "common" misconception is where sourcing comes in. Regarding the one-or-two spaces, you cannot say that one choice or the other is a "misconception". What you could say, given proper sourcing, is "It is a common misconception that typography rules call for two spaces after a period." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:41, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

I thought you were going to wait a few months, Airborne. Well regardless... I haven't had a chance to go through this carefully yet. Seeing that the double-spacing thing was put back is not encouraging, nor is the fact that there is still a only single advocate for this section (Airborne) and a consensus among editors that this section does not belong in the article. I'll take a closer look soon and will be applying the same standards as I did a few weeks ago. --Replysixty (talk) 03:26, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Baseball Bugs, that is exactly what I wrote. Double spacing at the end of sentences, as a typographical convention... I also provided reliable sources that state it is a typographical convention (as you can see above), such as the Chicago Manual of Style. If you choose to define double spacing as a grammatical or other rule, you could ignore this section since your individual definition would not apply to the definition that limits it to a typogrpahical convention - in sources.
Also, why did you delete all three sections? Is it OK with you as the WP:OWNer of this article if there is some discussion on this before you announce your final verdict? The other two posts clearly meet the requirements of this article. They are described by multiple reliable sources as common misconceptions. Your opinion that they are not is completely irrelevant against reliable sources.
I also wonder why the double spacing section must conform to a higher standard than the sections listed in the article already? The entrapment law is not a permanent and unchangeable fact. It's a rule/law that can be changed at any time. The "fans in Korea" belief is not factually incorrect. It's a considered opinion by experts. There are others I can point to. Why must this particular post meet a higher standard than the ones listed in the article?
"Finally, you keep saying that "A misconception is something thought to be a fact which is not a fact." That is your definition. If multiple reliable sources state that it is a common misperception, that is what matters, not your definition, or the definition of particular editors. It's right in the lede. "Fallacious" is one element. "Misleading or otherwise flawed ideas" are also part of the lede.
There is no consensus to delete all three sections. There are disagreements, which is not uncommon in this article. My two cents is that argument at this point as to the double spacing issue not being adequately sourced as a common misconception approaches cognitive closure. The remainder of that section is well-resourced with as reliable sources as you can get. It doesn't get much better resourced than that on Wikipedia. However, that's my opinion. If there are continued disagreements, (and I'd like to see some more editors weigh in), I'll be happy to offer it up in an RfC. At this point, I'm not willing to just acquiesce to outright deletions that don't follow Wikipedia policy. I've put quite a bit of good faith effort into resourcing these, as part of other projects I'm involved in.
Finally, I welcome you to take a step back from all the "infighting" and try to look objectively as to whether these sections make the article better. Do they add interesting and reliably sourced additions that people will be interested in when they come here? I believe that to be true. If you live in America or England, go out and ask some people about these sections. People will tell you that you cannot split infinitives, you cannot end a sentence with a preposition, and more than half will tell you that you have to use two spaces in between sentences. What's interesting is that they will argue with you vehemently when you tell them that "might not be completely true." I've done it. Don't let your personal opinions get in the way of what should be additions of great interest to a lot of people. Isn't that the point of this article? Airborne84 (talk) 05:02, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
I am open to persuasion in relation to the items on ending a sentence with a preposition, and on split infinitives, but I (still) have a real problem with the notion that the double-spacing thing qualifies. If it does, why not also assorted "misconceptions" concerning en-rules and em-rules, serial commas, hyphenated compound modifiers, etc? These are matters of typographical convention. The split infinitives and propositions have a more solid basis in real language issues, and are closer to qualifying - but I'm still not sure. Where is the boundary between fact and opinion in all this? SNALWIBMA ( talk - contribs ) 08:25, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
The boundary is described in the literature. Defined as a typographical convention, it is incorrect to use two spaces. That is how it is defined. I adjusted the language defining it as such. It now states, "Double spacing at the end of sentences, defined as a typographical convention..." In that sense, it is factually incorrect, according to multiple, reliable sources. If it is still an issue, let me know and I will open an RfC so we can get more eyes on this. Airborne84 (talk) 14:07, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Also, the word "convention" seems to be a sticking point, although I don't know why when I again look at its definition. However, that word could be easily changed. It could say instead "as a typographical rule" or "as a matter of typography" or even "according to typographers." In any of those senses, the use of two spaces is "incorrect." I am fine with any of those wording changes. Airborne84 (talk) 14:13, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
I've made changes to the split-infinitive and ending a sentence with a preposition that, I think, clarify what the underlying "facts" of these misconceptions are. That is- Misconception- "It is definitively and uncontestably wrong to end a sentence with a preposition or use a split infinitive." Fact- There is an ongoing debate around both these rules. ElijahBenedict (talk) 18:20, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Fair enough. And this is in keeping with the principles of WP:Preserve (as opposed to wholesale deletions for the other section). Airborne84 (talk) 19:19, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
I've added the RfC below. Since the topic meets the requirements of WP:V and other core Wikipedia policies, and wholesale deletion violates WP:PRESERVE and WP:V, please leave the topic in the article until the RfC is complete. If a clear consensus develops that this topic does not belong here, and cannot be modified to merit inclusion, I will remove the section myself and not pursue the matter further. Airborne84 (talk) 19:51, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
The editors that frequent this page have weighed in. I don't believe it will take 30 days to make a determination on the RfC. However, I would like to get the opinion of some outside editors. To allow that, I propose we give the RfC at least 5 days. If a clear consensus to remove is formed with outside opinions as well, I'll be happy to personally remove the section in question at 1200 noon, Central European Time. And I will not pursue this matter further. Airborne84 (talk) 00:46, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
I removed the Double spacing at the end of sentences topic. I doubt that further time will change the consensus on this topic. I appreciate the editors here letting it run its course. One editor's opinion is less relevant than the consensus, so I will accept the decision gracefully. Airborne84 (talk) 21:47, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

The Most Popular Myths in Science

Here's a potential source that we can use for this article: http://www.livescience.com/bestimg/result.php?cat=myths. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 17:24, 27 December 2009 (UTC)


  1. ^ [4]