What Is The Most Misunderstood Idea Ever?  


by Ed Brayton

Longtime friend of Dispatches Ron Brown asks an interesting question at his blog: What is the most misunderstood idea of all time? He offers an initial suggestion that the most misunderstood is Descartes’ famous statement cogito ergo sum, but I think his second idea is even more misunderstood:

* That evolution is driven by random chance. While genetic mutations occur at random, natural selection is the exact opposite of randomness.

* That evolutionary theory or Darwin himself ever argued for eugenics. Evolution is a theory of what is, not what ought. Further, in On The Origin of Species, Darwin specifically spoke against human eugenics.

There are so many misconceptions of what evolutionary theory means or requires that I would nominate this as the clear leader for the most misunderstood idea ever. Very few people understand what the theory of evolution is, what it entails or how it happened. How often do you hear people ask, “If we evolved from apes (or worse, monkeys), why are there still apes?” Anyone asking that question doesn’t have the first clue how evolution works, yet it is staggeringly common. There are more myths and false perceptions of evolution than any other idea I can think of.



This is from an article by Ed Brayton.  Very thought provoking question.  I hear people say things that require a second, even third or fourth take. You just want to reach over and hit their reset switch. You know, the one that is blinking bright red between their eyes. And hit it hard.

I agree that evolution is probably the most misunderstood, but quantam physics is a close second, if not tied with evolution.

On the social side, feminism is an idea that is completely misunderstood by most people. Also race, as in there isn’t any, except the human race.

Anyway folks, what’cha think? Anything is fair game.

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Replies to This Discussion

Tom Sarbeck I so much like your proposal of photoshopping a croc's head onto a pope and naming it Crococrap. Are there any photoshoppers in the crowd?


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