6 Common Myths About Animals

September 4th, 2009
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A very interesting read from cracked.com “The 6 Most Frequently Quoted Bullshit Animal Facts.”�� It outlines the classics like the myth that lemmings commit suicide or that ostriches bury their heads in the sand when scared.�� It� also has some fascinating information on just where these myths come from and why they’re not true.�� One thing I’ve always been taken by is just how easy it can be to start a myth that is nearly impossible to kill.�� In some cases, these bogus facts can be traced back to a single individual or publication that got the whole idea started.

Definately worth a look!


This entry was posted on Friday, September 4th, 2009 at 11:41 am and is filed under Bad Science, Culture, Good Science, History, Links, Misc. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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9 Responses to “6 Common Myths About Animals”

  1. 1
    Stewart Peterson Says:

    One thing I’ve always been taken by is just how easy it can be to start a myth that is nearly impossible to kill.

    Steve, have you read the book Made to Stick? I highly recommend it if you haven’t–it models this kind of phenomenon quite thoroughly and generally.


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  2. 2
    Soylent Says:

    Lemmings do indeed migrate if they end up overcrowding an area. They don’t commit suicide, they’re just not very clever and they can end up swimming out to sea and drowning.

    Such as the example at the end of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWuiGWkd7mM


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  3. 3
    Gordon Says:

            Soylent said:

    Lemmings do indeed migrate if they end up overcrowding an area. They don’t commit suicide, they’re just not very clever and they can end up swimming out to sea and drowning.

    Such as the example at the end of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWuiGWkd7mM

    Yes, they’re rather dumb animals that will just swim to death if they’re pointed in the wrong direction and start off going. That doesn’t make it suicide though, because if stupidly doing something that ends up killing you counts as suicide then I think the numbers for suicide would increase by at least ten times and the number of “accidental” deaths would plummet.

    A long while back someone not far from me was varnishing or stripping some furniture in their garage with all the doors closed and several buckets and rags soaked in acetone and paint thinner. I guess the fumes didn’t bother them, but they decided that it was time for a smoke. I believe they managed to live for a while, spent a week in the severe burn unit before finally passing away.

    It wasn’t suicide, just not the smartest thing to do.


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  4. 4
    Chem Geek Gregor Says:

    Okay I admit it. I got schooled because I had bought into a myth. I totally believed that chameleons changed color to hide from predators. I never gave it much through, but if you asked me before reading this I would have said it was camouflage


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  5. 5
    Steven Earl Salmony Says:

    Regarding the myth of human beings as lemmings…..

    For me, it is impossible to believe that a species so wondrous and gifted as Homo sapiens will not find a way to continue rather than to induce its own extinction as we appear to be doing now. Somehow the miracle of life as we know it, with all its beauty and biodiversity, has to be protected. At least we have to try, whatever the odds.

    What I find difficult to see this morning is how the human community can protect itself from itself. It looks like most of the leaders among us who are organizing and managing the global political economy have determined how the family of humanity will proceed. It reminds me of the strategy deployed by the stars of the movie, Thelma and Louise. The greediest among us, who have hoarded most of world’s wealth and purchased political power with it, appear to have determined that they will play their game out to its bitter end. Come what may for the children, coming generations, life as we know it and the integrity of the planetary home God has blessed us to inhabit.

    These leaders have decided not to concern themselves with the future. They live for themselves. They remind us that in the future, “We’ll all be dead anyway.” Why worry? After all, they say that, according to their endgame, we should embrace ‘the courage’ to do nothing…….except to conspicuously consume, hoard and party hardy until our enterprise goes over the cliff marked UNSUSTAINABLE.

    Everyone is encouraged to ravenously consume and excessively hoard resources, just like they do. Climb any mountain, cross any stream so you can worship your very own “sacred cow”. Perhaps a fleet of autos, a private jet, a mega-yacht, a Madoff-like beach house in the Hamptons, a ski chalet in Davos, a club membership at Augusta National or day to day living in a gated community of your choosing. This is the “greed run amuck” way of life that has been legitimized, institutionalized, legalized and regarded as virtuous. This “greed is good” way of living in which everyone is encouraged to participate is of all things, so we are told, the one and only way to live. Life is not worth living if the values of wanton greediness are not idolatrized. People who say and do otherwise are branded losers and chumps.

    The bold-faced recognition that this way of living in the world we inhabit is as unsustainable as it is obscene is not something leaders in the last 8 long, dark years cared to talk about. Dishonesty, duplicity, double-dealing and denial prevailed. These leaders were famous for not fighting the battles for freedom but are all too ready to send other peoples’ children into harm’s way. They had bigger things to do. These leaders make statements like, “I haven’t flown commercial in thirty years. Only private jets for me.”

    So here we are, nearing the end of the first decade of Century XXI. Wealthy people buy politicians and the same old business-as-usual activities continue, just as all of them have agreed. Corporations have their PR firms promote whatever it is they want to keep doing. We have large-scale business enterprises that are “too big to fail” and too big to succeed as viable operations because they are soon to become unsustainable.

    The focus of many too many leaders remains riveted upon convenient and attractive matters associated with endless growth of human enterprise, per-capita overconsumption and overpopulation rather than upon the actual threats to human wellbeing and environmental health that are directly posed to the human family by these very same, distinctly human global overgrowth activities. By so doing, these leaders could be willfully, duplicitously and perniciously directing the children down a “primrose path” to face some sort of unimaginable, colossal, human-driven wreckage which a single, selfish generation is largely responsible for precipitating.

    Perhaps it is somehow right, and timely finally, to speak openly of such things even though so many of our most greedy leaders appear so clearly unready to change their unsustainable lifestyles. I would submit that it is not the public who is not ready to address global challenges and make needed changes, but too many leaders who have chosen to disregard the welfare of others as well as the preservation of Earth’s body and its environs for the sole purpose of protecting the greed-mongers’ way of life.


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  6. 6
    anon Says:

    [off topic]

    You know the ridiculous RF/cancer correlation myth you often write about? Check this out (if you haven’t already):

    http://tech.slashdot.org/story/09/09/05/1755238/ELF-Knocks-Down-AM-Towers-To-Save-Earth-Intercoms

    ELF idiots just knocked over a AM tower with a bulldozer.


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  7. 7
    drbuzz0 Says:

            anon said:

    [off topic]

    You know the ridiculous RF/cancer correlation myth you often write about? Check this out (if you haven’t already):

    http://tech.slashdot.org/story/09/09/05/1755238/ELF-Knocks-Down-AM-Towers-To-Save-Earth-Intercoms

    ELF idiots just knocked over a AM tower with a bulldozer.

    I know about this and I plan on a post on it shortly. If not tonight then tomorrow. I just got home and it’s kinda late.


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  8. 8
    Steven Earl Salmony Says:

    Sometimes animals act as if they are mythical creatures not human beings…….

    So few with much too much to the point of obesity and obscenity and many too many with so little, to the point of starvation and extreme poverty. Towers of Babylon thrown up everywhere. Vendors of empty words peddle unnecessary stuff and duplicitous double-dealers engineer fraudulent financial schemes. A sacred world desecrated by filthy lucre and garish quests for power. Respect for moral authority and ethical behavior are nowhere to be found. Not one word of truth is spoken clearly, loudly and openly. Caring and sharing are anecdotal, token experiences.

    Without realizing until it is too late to respond ably, the human community has evidently become ensnared in a condition of bondage of its own making. Unfortunately, during the past 8 long dark years, too many leaders of the human family have been adamantly intent on ruthlessly maintaining these precise conditions of subjugation, even though such conscious determinations have mortgaged and threatened their childrens’ future and are likely to lead the children to confront some sort of colossal ecological disaster which their greedy leading elders have surely perpetrated.

    Thanks to new leadership, new values and a new direction provided by President Barack Obama, perhaps necessary change is in offing.


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  9. 9
    Michael Karnerfors Says:

    Missing myth #7 in that article: the one about the supposedly deadly pitbull. That myth is comeplete hogwash from start ’til finish. Pitbulls have none of the “deadly” qualities that people pin on them.

    /Michael


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