One myth is that we use only about 10% of our brain. In fact almost all the brain is active all the time so we use about 100% of the brain, although certain regions of the brain are more active than others for given activities. MRI’s are one way to detect brain activity for different mental activities or different activated regions in the brain.
It is a myth that the left brain is more logical, analytical, intellectual, and the right brain is more intuitive, creative, and artistic. Both sides of the brain participate in analyzing, synthesizing, and intuitively being creative.
While it is true that some humans who do better in mathematics and science with much formal training, they tend to be more logical and analytical and their creativity and intuition is more firmly limited by objective rules and principles that guide their thinking. Both sides of the brain are used to function.
Artists can also analyze and synthesize what they are doing. Their subjective, impulsive creativity and often less formal training has less rigorous limitations. This results in many more mutant forms of creativity which are frankly very random in nature and often show a minimum of focused skill. You could generally say that artists are much freer or wilder in their thinking and doing than mathematicians and scientists but both sides of the brain participate.
It is a myth that there is ESP or extra sensory perception or psychic ability. Despite the fact that there is no scientific evidence to support psychic ability, humans love to think and believe that someone may be able to foresee the future and tell them what is in store for them.
The popularity of horoscopes is one indication of the gullibility of humans who fall for these predictive prognostications. Yes, there is coincidence that what the horoscope talks about or predicts is what generally or actually happens in your life on certain days. However, statistically horoscopes are less than 50% accurate which means that they are worse at predicting the future than a coin toss prediction.
Human hope springs eternal and one or a few lucky coincidences or events is unfortunately what keeps fortunetellers and gambling operations in business. One accurate prediction or a fake staged performance of many accurate predictions in front of a large audience can make many gullible believers in psychic ability.
It is a myth that subliminal messages can affect our behavior. Subliminal means something below the threshold of sensing and/or consciousness so if the message is visual and/or verbal we would not be aware of it realistically.
Yes, you could randomly flash a picture or part of a picture on the screen or flash an audio of a word and/or sound. This would register on our brain and we would be probably annoyed at the random disturbance, not be positively affected by it, and it would no longer be a subliminal message which we are not aware of.
It is a myth that adolescence is a time for emotional outbursts, stress, tension, rebellion, dependency conflicts, peer-group conformity, sexy dress, motorcycles, black leather jackets, and similar deviant behavior. Most adolescents from normal moral families do not have turbulent adolescences and those that do usually come from dysfunctional families.
Sure, even moral families may witness a few rebellious incidents such as clandestine cigarette, drug, or alcohol use, trying to fit in with undesirable popular peers, or inappropriate clothing and accessories. However, the vast majority do not have many such undesirable behavior problems, especially in nonwestern cultures where parenting is more formalized, better disciplined, and less permissive.
It is a myth that polygraphs or lie detectors and truth serums can accurately detect dishonesty or lies. Polygraphs measure parameters such as degree of sweating and heart beat but they are only about 60% accurate in detecting lies which means that about 40% get away with the lie.
Truth serum like alcohol reduces your inhibitions and you are slightly more inclined to tell the truth but the accuracy of truth serum is no better than the polygraph. The government still occasionally uses the polygraph on some of it’s high security workers but it is forbidden evidence in a court of law because it can’t prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt or close to 100% accuracy.
It is a myth that happiness is mostly dependent on our external circumstances. While it is true that there are certain things like possessions, great house, great job, plenty of pleasurable events, and much money which can bring great happiness in the short duration, long duration happiness is mostly dependent on inner drives, ambition, personality traits, attitudes, disposition, motivations, thoughts, and beliefs and not so much on external circumstances.
An external circumstance like divorce and death in the family can lead to some long duration unhappiness but in general we adjust to our own homeostasis or how happy we are over the long haul.
Yes, having some close and great friends are an external circumstance which has the potential to create great happiness but it is often because we ourselves have INNER integrity, are dependable, trustworthy, encouraging, and competent in our lives and attract other humans with similar characteristics.
Other humans, an external circumstance, make volunteering possible but it is ultimately the INNER satisfaction of helping others or a cause which makes the volunteer happy in the long duration.
A lonely household cat can be happy with food, water, sleep, shelter, petting, and a little exercise. Some minimally existing humans also don’t need very much to be happy if they have adequate food, water, sleep, shelter, clothes, alcohol, and occasional contact with other humans.
The truth is that both internal and external factors affect our happiness but the greatest source of long duration happiness is internal factors. Being optimistic, ambitious, driven, grateful, friendly, empathetic, courageous, confident, and being a perpetual thinker and doer trying to achieve short and long duration goals are internal factors which yield the greatest personal happiness under all external circumstances over a lifetime.
It is a myth that humans who are opposite in looks, personality, and beliefs are attracted to each other. It is a popular Hollywood myth which makes for interesting cinema but the reality is that similar looks, personalities, and beliefs result in more lasting relationships with spouses and friends alike. Our ideal mate or friend may be someone whom we ourselves would not attract because we ourselves are not as ideal as we think we are and simply can’t attract and land our ideal mate or friend.
Many of us like to fantasize how great it would be to marry a beautiful or handsome human with a great personality even though we are plain looking with borderline personalities. This is why opposites attract films get much support from the common filmgoer or watcher.
Yes, being too similar in looks, personality, and beliefs may lead to boredom but most humans are different enough to have slightly different likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, which makes an ongoing relationship interesting if both have an ambition to improve themselves in some way or have different goals in life as time progresses.
It is a myth that men and women communicate in completely different ways. Some women are more talkative than men because some are more social than men and have more friends. They also have a tendency to go into minute details about who said what to whom and what were the reactions. Men historically have been doers and not talkers on the job so traditionally women stayed at home and communicated with offspring and friends over the phone. Today both men and women work and lead similar lifestyles so the difference in talkativeness is rather minimal overall but may vary widely for individual couples.
It seems that women and men in positions of power interrupt conversations more often so it is not a characteristic of men only.
Women seem to be more perceptive of nonverbal cues than men or can detect emotional nuances better than men. This is not surprising because women have historically been trained to express their emotions rather than suppress them as is more common with men. Yes, it is acceptable if a woman cries but not a man in most cultures and this is just a reflection of cultural bias and conditioning. A man is supposed to control his emotions and a woman can be more emotional. Women in general and men with emotional intelligence can better pick up emotional cues.
Individuals differ in the degree of the quality and quantity of their personal communication but there are no glaring differences between how men or women communicate in general.
It is a myth that it is better to express anger than to hold it in. While some humans may initially feel better after yelling loudly, punching a bag, or destroying some property the long duration result is that it encourages or enforces future angry or aggressive episodes and prolongs the hatred of the subject or object of the anger.
Disciplining yourself to internally suppress angry feelings when they arise is the best policy. Taking concrete steps to reduce that anger such as counting to ten or delaying a problem for future resolution when the anger has subsided is the right thing to do.
It is a myth that low selfesteem is the major cause of psychological problems. Research has NOT shown a cause effect relationships between low selfesteem and problems such as violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, eating disorders, school dropouts, teenage pregnancy, suicide, and bad academic achievement.
Accepting this myth has resulted in rewarding trophies to losers in sports and falsely telling students that they are smart, great, and wonderful for trying and failing at important tasks. Praising humans when they don’t deserve it or have not earned the praise leads to humans who are deluded into thinking that they are greater than they really are and their sense of selfworth is corrupted or is highly inaccurate.
True confindence or valid selfesteem grows out of successfully achieving more goals than failing at goal achievement. Delusional selfesteem arises when we fail much more often than succeed at doing things and still have a great deal of delusional confidence in ourselves.
The primary source for this article was 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology by Lilienfeld, Lynn, Ruscio, and Beyerstein.
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