left biblioblography: The Ten Percent Solution - Another Psycho Fact Refuted

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Ten Percent Solution - Another Psycho Fact Refuted

We hear this occasionally: "We only use 10% of our brains." This is false.

According to Snopes.com, it's an urban myth, usually trotted out by frauds like Uri Geller, or Caroline Myss -

"This was also the reason that Caroline Myss gave for her alleged intuitive powers on a segment of Eye to Eye with Bryant Gumbel, which aired in July of 1998. Myss, who has written books on unleashing "intuitive powers," said that everyone has intuitive gifts, and lamented that we use so little of the mind's potential. To make matters worse, just the week before, on the very same program, correct information was presented about the myth. In a bumper spot between the program and commercials, a quick quiz flashed onscreen: What percentage of the brain is used? The multiple-choice answers ranged from 10 percent to 100 percent. The correct answer appeared, which I was glad to see. But if the producers knew that what one of their interviewees said is clearly and demonstrably inaccurate, why did they let it air? Does the right brain not know what the left brain is doing? Perhaps the Myss interview was a repeat, in which case the producers presumably checked her facts after it aired and felt some responsibility to correct the error in the following week's broadcast. Or possibly the broadcasts aired in sequence and the producers simply did not care and broadcast Myss and her misinformation anyway."

This nonsense rates right up there with the 'swimming right after you eat' myth.

Just so my readers know that I don't cherry-pick my links, here's two more links  - three different sources, one to state, two to validate.

I've learned a new word from this - psycho-fact. From the first link given:

Regardless of the exact version heard, the myth is spread and repeated, by both the well-meaning and the deliberately deceptive. The belief that remains, then, is what Robert J. Samuelson termed a "psycho-fact, [a] belief that, though not supported by hard evidence, is taken as real because its constant repetition changes the way we experience life."

I have a few more of these examples, but let's have some fun: how many do YOU know of? Non-religious, that is. (We all know that religion ABOUNDS with this folderol, so let's find some 'secular' samplings, shall we?).

You'll probably use more than ten percent to dredge them up, too, I'll bet.


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Aaron Kinney said...

Ha! You cant shake my belief in the 10% rule; its supported by scientific fact in the form of Deepak Chopra's say-so :P

Krystalline Apostate said...

Hey, Aaron!
Isn't Deepak in the 5 percentile range? ;)

Chris Bradley said...

You have been tagged. Exciting, isn't it? :)

remy said...

You have asked for examples but I can only think of something similar which often irritates me:

"Ignorance is bliss."

The original is opposite:

"If gnorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

I suppose I have to accept these changes in the language. Definition follows usage.

Stardust said...

KA - you've been tagged...check out details at my Stardust blog.

Krystalline Apostate said...

remy - I was actually looking more for some of those anecdotal oddities - like that crap about Arab sheiks towing an iceberg from the North Pole for water needs, things like that.

Stardust, Chris - wow, been double-tagged? Same meme?
I'll get to it fairly soon.