Are people really this ignorant of science?

Don’t answer the question in the thread title – we know for a fact that people have some very strange ideas about how things work.

For instance, lightning and thunder. It’s amazing how thunderously stupid people can be about it. Take this afternoon for example. I was hanging out with my GF’s family, in the pool, when a thunder storm was threatening. The prevailing notion was that lightning and thunder were two completely seperate things. It was generally agreed that thunder happens first, then the lightning follows. When you hear thunder, a lightning bolt will soon follow. It was also generally acknowledged that sound travels faster than light.

I spent a good part of the afternoon debating this with them, and I don’t think I convinced a single one of them.


They *did *know enough to get out of the pool, right?

Person where I worked once was convinced that (a) you should not look directly at a lunar eclipse lest you go blind, and (b) the lunar eclipse was caused by the sun getting between the earth and the moon. Really.

I once spent an hour trying to dissuade someone of the notion that there is no gravity on the moon. When I asked him to picture the films of astronauts bounding across the moon’s surface, and how this could be done is there was no gravity, he claimed it was “because they were wearing those really heavy boots”. :smack:

About a year later, I read a story somewhere on the web of a person who ran into the same sort of density…from a science teacher.

When I was just a wee little Kunilou my mother told me thunder was the sound made when clouds bump into each other.

Even though I now know better, I still prefer her explanation.

My grandma lives in the Northeast. She is steadfast in her notion that she spends less on gas driving to Texas than she does when she drives from Texas back to the Northeast. Her reasoning? She’s driving “down” the globe when she drives to Texas. It takes more gas to go “up hill.”

The “all rivers flow south” one certainly surprised me when I first heard it a few years ago.

Yes, but aren’t rivers that flow north unusual enough to comment on? 'Cause as I recall, there’s a north flowing river around where I live and people actually vist it for that reason.

I think.


While watching a solar eclipse on TV once, my ex-MIL asked if the sun really disappeared (is in not just gets hidden, but somehow actually goes away). The Japanese for eclipse means “sun meal” so she thought that the moon “ate” the sun. :rolleyes:

In the mid 90’s my stepson’s wife told me that the devil was responsible for a passing comet. Some fundie preacher put the idea into her head, she refused to listen to any logical explanation.

I was told it was God moving chairs in Heaven. Made sense to me at age 5 but not at 7.

“The moon’s the North Wind’s cookie
He bites it, day by day
Until there’s but a rim of scraps
That crumble all away.”

The particular landform of North America results in a tendency of many major rivers of the U.S. (but not necessarily of Canada) to flow South. However, to the extent that the Mississippi is fed by rivers running from the West to East (even if tending South) such as the Missouri or tending East to West (even if tending South) such as the Ohio means that those rivers will need to be fed by rivers flowing North (such as your Monongahela–along with the Little Kanawha, Kanawha, Licking, Cumberland, and Tennessee).

I am a bit surprised that the same odd belief occurs in Australia, but I would speculate that that is, again, an accident of geography. As the more settled portions of the continent are to the South, I would guess that more Australians are simply aware of South-flowing rivers emptying in the Ocean.

I would be surprised to find Europeans holding a similar belief when crossing the Seine, the Meuse/Maas, the Rhine, the Elbe, the Oder, etc.

I try to be logical and systematic when it comes to living. I’ve upheld the basic pillars of science throughout my life, applying it to a broad range of topics.

I don’t know where I get it from.

My dad believes that if you soak your hands in lemon juice, you will do better on tests. He also thinks pork fat and orange peels, applied to the face, makes acne go away. Not to mention how he takes so many vitamins that likely do nothing, and his refusal to accept that something he hears on this one radio show is false beyond question.

My sister once told me that the first high we ever experience, as kids, is spinning in chairs. That’s where we get our addiction/love for drugs later on. It may sound crazy, but it’s science - she learned it in college!

My mom… I’ll save it for later.

My mother’s ex-paramour, and his entire family, believed that if you dropped two objects at the same time from different heights they hit the ground at the same time. When I demonstrated this not to be true, holding one an inch above the ground and one three feet above the ground, they said “Oh well, no, not like that, but if they’re closer together they’ll still hit at the same time”. No amount of reasoning or demonstration would shake them. The fact that this required inanimate objects to communicate with each other fazed them not a bit.

I think this was based on some warped memory of two objects of different mass being dropped from the same height landing at the same time.

I don’t think this view does occur in Australia. I heard it being expressed by an American tourist when I was in Kakadu a few years ago. That was the first time I’d ever come across it. The tourist was busily correcting a local guide who talked of the Alligator rivers flowing north to the sea on the basis that “surely everyone knows that all rivers flow south”.

Of course they did. We heard distant thunder, so they knew that the lightning that belonged to that particular boom might be along any minute.

Um … if there were no gravity whatsoever, how come the astronaut comes down at all? I thought I learned in junior high that the moon has about one-sixth of Earth’s gravity.

:smack: Holy crap! I just realized Hal Briston said DISUADE, not PERSUADE!

“Bad things don’t happen to you because you’re unlucky, Eric. Bad things happen to you because you’re a dumbass!”
[RIGHT]Red Forman[/RIGHT]

Pfffft - EVERYONE knows it’s the angels bowling.

Sheesh. :rolleyes: