|St. Patrick stepping on a snake-Courtesy of Microsoft Word|
We live in the Information Age. We are creating new data at a dizzying pace. Unlike in previous generations, we often do not have to wait for this knowledge to appear in a book, a newspaper, or a magazine before we can gain access to it. Instead, we can obtain this information almost instantly via a simple Google search.
Despite this fact (or perhaps because of it), many of us still subscribe to common myths and hold fast to outdated concepts.
Here are five of these popular myths and misconceptions.
Blinded by the Television?
When you were a child, did your parents warn you that you would go blind if you sat too close to the television? If your mom and dad gave you this advice, they were only following conventional wisdom. However, it turns out that your parents were wrong on this one. Researchers have studied the issue and have conclusively proven that people will not suffer any ill effects from sitting close to the TV set.
Abner Doubleday Strikes Out
Many of us, at least those of us who are Americans, would be surprised to learn that Doubleday did not invent the game of baseball. It appears that this popular myth goes all the way back to 1907. In that year a special baseball commission, convened by a businessman named A.G. Spalding, anointed Doubleday as baseball's founder. Unfortunately, the commission was wrong. Scholars now believe that another man, Alexander Cartwright, should claim this title. Researchers might be convinced of this fact; however many Americans continue to cling to the Doubleday myth.
The Brontosaurus Never Walked the Earth
In the 1880s paleontologist, O.C. Marsh, announced to the world that he had found a new plant eating dinosaur. He called it a brontosaurus. However, Marsh's brontosaurus was actually an apatosaurus-a previously known dinosaur type. Scientists realized the mistake as early as 1903; however, many of us (laypeople) still believe that the brontosaurus existed. Merriam-Webster admitted as much in a recent edition of its popular dictionary, when it listed "brontosaurus" as a synonym for "apatosaurus."
Is Reading in the Dark Harmful?
When I was young, my parents scolded me for reading a book in near darkness. They told me that I would harm my vision if I did not turn on some lights. It appears that I was not the only child who received this rebuke. Luckily for me and for millions of other individuals, this is one parental lesson that we can ignore. Experts assert that reading in the dark is not hazardous to our health.
Benjamin Franklin and Bifocals
Like many other children, I grew up believing that Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals. Even PBS credits Franklin for coming up with the idea. However, a number of historians doubt the veracity of this statement. Instead, they assert that someone living in London created the first bifocal lenses. The jury is still out on this one; however the circumstantial evidence points to someone other than Franklin as the inventor of this eye accessory.
The author is a freelance writer and has a B.A. in History from Roanoke College.
-- Anthony Hopper
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