an Oh Myyy Property

Those of us without genius level leanings seem to be ruffling the feathers the Mensa crowd. Apparently we're getting a few things wrong or continuing the lifespan of a few misguided myths. Sorry guys we don't know it all. So tell us.

Redditor u/charlychapal reached out the smarty pants folks on Reddit by asking... Scientists of Reddit, what misconceptions do us laymen often have that drive you crazy?

Life is old...


Geologist here, people don't understand the massive time scale of the earth, and how little we know absolutely beyond the last 100-1000 years. LulaMaybeBarnes

Same for evolution. 20,000 generations just to get a bacteria to use a different sugar? It's VERY difficult to comprehend huge numbers. CortexiphanSubject81

Math ain't easy...

Mathematician here, but it's astounding how many people think that people get Ph.Ds in the subject simply to be "human calculators." I once told someone I had a degree in math, and the person proceeded to ask simple mental math questions. Once I answered them (toughest was 17*15) he admitted that I really was amazing at math and that my degree was put to good use. I don't think I've face palmed harder.


You're hiding the truth!


I am a scientist and my sister legitimately thinks the cure for cancer has been found and 'we' (I am not a cancer scientist but apparently we're all in on it together) are keeping it from the public. She does not understand what cancer actually is or that its really bloody hard to treat but gets really angry at me whenever cancer is mentioned because I'm the reason people are suffering. Wtf. yasellpro

What the What?

"What's the use?"

Most of the time, we either don't know or have a vague idea of how research could go out of the lab. It is usually written in conclusion of articles, sometimes a bit too emphatically, which gives sensational headlines. Stockholm-Syndrom

People always get it backwards. Necessity isn't the mother of invention, usually we invent something and then try to find a use for it. See: Viagra. They were trying to treat heart disease, turns out the drug's side effects were waaaaaaaay more valuable. grendus

I don't recall CRISPR...

Back when CRISPR became big news I kept seeing articles about how in the next 5 years we'd be custom making designer babies. Meanwhile I was trying to make a CRISPR mouse where I made a single nucleotide change and it took MONTHS. It's an incredible technique and miles faster and easier than some of the old methods of mouse model generation but hot damn, it's not 5 years to superhuman babies fast.... Mumblechops

Big Pharma


I am a cancer scientist and I get this all the damned time. It's always "follow the money!" Like cancer therapies are expensive and that proves BIG PHARMA can't allow a cure to come out. A legitimate cure for cancer would be a trillion dollar drug in its first year, I guarantee you BIG PHARMA would murder to get their hands on it and sell it if it existed. And I work in big pharma.


Also, the loons who think this probably wouldn't even trust the cure if we had it. I'm an oncology pharmacist and the amount of people who forgo chemo and biologics for frankincense and essential oils from their "trusted" naturopath is mind-numbing.

9 times out of 10, they show back up in our office a year or two later with stage IV metastatic cancer and beg us to save them. Usually at that point the most we can do is palliative treatment to slow tumor growth.

The worst part is, after they eventually die the families are distraught and sometimes want to sue the naturopath for misleading them into thinking cancer can be cured with crystals and oils. But it's almost always unsuccessful because an MD can't be would be an irrelevant expert witness against a naturopath in a malpractice claim, they would need another naturopath (or so I've been told). So the naturopaths continue this irresponsibly fatal nonsense, and people continue to die of treatable cancers because they think they know better than modern medicine.


Oh Higher Education...

I go to a 4 year university and I'm getting my BS in biology soon. Right now I'm having to take upper division electives in other subjects. I had an anthropology professor last semester... mind you this is someone with a higher degree than the one I already have... tell the whole cultural anthropology class that designer babies are here and widely accessible. She even quoted prices; 200$ for eye color, 500$ for skin color. Same professor told the class That mothers are "not allowed" to give birth in a squatting position in the United States. That class was just a whole semester of me trying not to scream. SnoozingBeauty

It's more than 10? 

Neuroscientist here. If everyone stopped repeating that "we only use 10% of our brain" thing, my blood pressure would probably drop significantly. sqrrl101

Silly kids... enjoy the "air!"


That there could ever be some great global conspiracy of scientists to hide the "truth" about climate change or evolution.

Research science is as filed with pettiness and ego as any corporate boardroom. Everyone is trying to get out the next big discovery, and the competition between labs is fierce and sometimes nasty.

There is no way 97% of climate scientists are getting together and sharing a cheese plate while discussing how to take away your Suburban. Asasarame

Tip The Man

If there's one thing I've learned as a math major, it's to not tell anyone I'm a math major. Then they just want you to calculate the tip for dinner.


Beyond tips and discounts do you run into people flat out not believing you if it's over their heads? They have to 'see it for themselves'? There was a segment on the Sunday morning shows about this pervasive theme.


X is not always the spot! 

The biggest one I deal with at work is "scientists know everything." I work as a food scientist/R&D, and whenever we have something unexpected happen (e.g. a product is way stickier than I thought it should be, takes more water than our quality regs allows to prevent mold, etc.), no fewer than 4 people will come to me with a product in-hand and ask "why did this happen?" No context; not even sure what the actual problem is, just that they're holding something that's apparently not right. Depending on what the problem is, I usually have a couple ideas. Follow-up is then "well which one is it??" Like I'm actively trying to avoid giving them the one correct answer... No, it could be any one of them OR it could even be a combination of all of them. We just have to try them out to find know for sure. My boss is the biggest offender of this, where he'll send me an email saying "Product X doesn't look good. What happened. We need to fix it" and I have even less to go on..

I don't have all the answers, and scientists aren't fiendishly withholding knowledge from people. camomcg

The Big Bang


Sciences aren't about telling what reality is, it's about making models that fit observation. These models can have a 99.99999% certainty to be true, but they're still only models. It's a concept that's often overlook but is actually very important. Maybe the actual explanation of chemical reactions or physical phenomenon is completely different of how our scientific theories explains them. It doesn't matter. It wouldn't make the models less valid because they're still fulfilling their role: predicting results based on initial conditions.

So whenever someone goes "And how science explains X or Y then?!" as if an unexplained anecdote will suddenly bring the sum of all or scientific knowledge to its knees, I just roll my eyes and sigh. At best they find the edge of the model, it doesn't make the model invalid -its framework will generally disqualified itself from trying to explain stuff it's not meant to- nor is an invitation to fill it with whatever myth you want, it's just an area where we still have to work on.

Example: what there was before the Big Bang.


Equal pay for all! 

Zoologist here there are two misconceptions that drive me up a wall:

1.) When people say, incredulously, that humans evolved from monkeys, as if to denounce the whole idea of evolution as some crackpot idea. No, we did not evolve from modern day monkeys, we both share a common ancestor.

2.) Whenever people say that modern AZA zoos steal animals from the wild. They did do that in the past, but nowadays pretty much all animals you see in a reputable zoo are bred in captivity using SSP guidelines. Of course the same people who like to spout such nonsense also support shoddy "reserves" that have less funding and less support for their animals, and sometimes are no better than those roadside zoos that only see their animals as money makers.



We're all self-conscious about something, and it doesn't help when our faults get thrown in our faces. You don't want doctors hinting that something is "weird down there," nor do you want someone to tell you you're balding. WE KNOW.

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When you know your kids backwards and forwards, this is the best tool in your arsenal.

Getting our kids to listen to us is not always the easiest of tasks. They're willful and stubborn, but we've got a mighty weapon they are rarely prepared for: reverse psychology. Getting them to convince themselves to want to do something against their own initial intentions takes some work and a whole lot of creativity, but a little sneaky manipulation goes a long way. Here are some clever parents' tricks that are definitely worth taking notes on.

Redditor u/LeanderD Asks:

Parents of reddit, what's your best example of reversed psychology on your kids that actually worked?

He Floated His Idea Through A Back Channel


Wanted to name my boat. Anything I would think of was dismissed as stupid by my 13 year old son. After deciding on a name, I confided to a male friend my son liked. Made my friend suggest the name as though it was his idea. My son thought the name was perfect. Done.


We Always Want What We Can't Have

One of my best friends through childhood used to be punished with no salad if she misbehaved. She cherishes salad now and would always try to eat as much as possible during school lunch. Coincidentally, her now husband used to be punished with no books, it had the same effect. I think it's hilarious that they'd be hitting the salad bar and library like some black market their narc parents couldn't reach hahaha.


A Deceit That's A Cut Above The Rest


Don't know if this counts, but, at my high school (private, boys only) in the 1960's, they made a big deal about how long your hair was, and would occasionally order a boy to go home and "get a haircut".

I thought it was stupid, until years later, a master confided to me at a reunion that the policy was deliberate. The school figured we'd spend so much energy rebelling about hair length, that we would ignore other aspects of teenage rebellion. (Not?) Surprisingly, they were mostly right.


Damn! That's smart. Wow.


Oh they don't like long hair?

I'll show them. I'll grow my hair out as lon- what?! No I don't want to go "party"? I gotta try out this horse shampoo.


The Forbidden Book

Hi I was a victim,

There was a forbidden book that I was not allow to read on the shelf. My parents said I could only read it if I behave myself.

It was summer holidays and I was playing games all day (after 6 hrs of summer homework). One day I was home alone and had the opportunity to grabbed it. I read like half of it in one go. It was 5000 years of Chinese history.

Safe to say I was bamboozled.


Flowers Of The Queen

My parents always told me my broccoli were the flowers of the queen and that I really shouldn't eat them, or else the queen would get very upset! I, of course, ate the whole broccoli in a few seconds.


I'm telling the queen and she's gonna be pissed


Sleeping Beauty


I taught my kids when they were toddlers that no amount of yelling, shaking or hitting can wake a sleeping adult. The only thing that works is a gentle hug and/or a nice kiss on the cheek.

Edit: Probably needed some more details for the reverse psychology aspect to be clear. It went something like this - Step one, tell the kids I'm going to sleep and nothing they do will wake me (head buried face down is the safest position). Step two, after the initial onslaught dies down pretend to awaken on your own. Tell them you got a bit of nap left in you and nothing can wake you, especially not hugs and kisses.


Holy sh*t...if my daughter woke me up like this I would buy her a pony.


I am saving this comment because this will save lives if I ever have kids, stg.


A Walk In Someone Else's Shoes.

Split custody with my ex. When my son was around 10, he visited two weekends a month. I was waiting tables and didn't have a huge amount to spend, but he was so needy from divorce (and I'm not blaming him, it was ugly), he begged constantly for MORE when he was with me. Whatever more was, it didn't matter... he'd be eating ice cream cone and begging for teriyaki.

I finally realized that he just felt empty, and getting MORE whatever from me wasn't filling him up. His next visit I handed him $100 in cash and told him it was our food/fun budget for 3 days and two nights, and he was in charge of it. I bought him his own wallet to carry. We figured out how many times we were going to eat and what we were going to do, and he paid. He got to keep whatever money he had left...thought he was rich...then realized just how much everything cost. Well. Shoe on other foot then. If we had no money for food, we ate leftovers - and I didn't contribute more to pot. After a few weekends of running short or not getting something he actually wanted because he was foolish with funds, he started to really think about how to spend that money. He budgeted and kept to his budget. And a few times he actually went home with a little cash for his private stash.

Many years later, he thanked me for this. It really changed the way he thought about money and love.


This Is Worth Giving A Shot

Took my 3 year old son to one of those doctor's visits where he was going to get a shot. He was worried about the shot on the whole drive over, almost to the point of tears. We get to the doctor's office and a nurse subtly lets me know that my son is not just scheduled for 1 shot, but 5 of them in the same visit.

I turn to my son with an exaggerated smile and tell him, "Good news! They figured out how to take that one big shot you were going to get and instead break it up into these 5 little tiny shots so it won't hurt nearly as much!"

You could see the relief wash over his face. He stopped squirming and relaxed completely. He took the first shot and even smiled and said "It's true! The small ones don't hurt!"

We actually made it through the third shot before the effect wore off and reality kicked in. Still... I counted it as a victory.


Put This To The Taste


My mom would tell me she only lets me eat soup after candy and she'd only buy me candy that i didn't like. After a few times, i stopped trying and begged her to let me eat soup first. She gave me a smirk and told me go ahead. This doesn't sound as evil as it was. But trust me i suffered.


So what was the candy?


Mint chocolate, raisins, stuff like that. I still hate them to this day. Who the f--- thought while eating chocolate "hmm id like some tooth paste with this."


This is Truckin' Awesome

Mum had sworn a bit around the house.

When 4, while out at the supermarket, I said F word really loudly.

Very quickly and intently, she asked if I had just said "Truck" and said that was a bad word and not to ever say Truck like that again.

I thought that was the bad word so used that when being naughty.


The "Silly Mom" Routine

The "Silly Mom" routine.

My kid, and a few other kids I've known, would balk at getting ready to go. I'd grab their clothes and say, "Well, if you won't put on your clothes, I guess I'll put on your clothes. Cute shirt, by the way! Does it go on my foot?"


"Does it go on my head?"


"Oh, that's right, thanks! So, it must go on your legs, right?"


"I just can't figure this out! Where does this adorable shirt go?"

[kid grabs shirt and puts it on] ON MY TUMMY! SILLY MOM!

"Oh, thank you so much! Now what about these pants? Shirts go on tummies, so...the pants go on the tummy, too, right?"


[continue until kids have dressed themselves]

I would also do things like hand the kid my keys and say, "Alright, you're driving, I'll sit in the booster seat in back," attempt to feed the kid by putting a spoon up to his ear or his belly button, and attempt to put away his toys in the refrigerator.


Some Foot For Thought.


My mum would always yell at us "if you don't do X, you have to go to bed without socks!"

I never wore socks anyway, and I'm ashamed to admit that this worked.


That would work really well on my son, or make him cry for a really long time... He's 3 and over the last few weeks has decided that he is fully unable to sleep without socks on.


Toddlers man. Completely unpredictable.


I'm Greens With Envy

My mum had a friend that would put vegetables on her own plate and not the kids.

When the kids asked she would be reluctant to share, "that's grown up food. But I suppose I can let you have a little."

Her kids grew up loving vegetables.

I sat at the dinner table for 3 hours staring at the yucky cauliflower I refused to eat.


This reminds me of an instance when my child convinced my wife and myself to change our plans for dinner. We were in a grocery store to pick up something quick and easy to eat that we wouldn't have to prepare. Our daughter, wanted none of that, she demanded that she wanted a salad from the salad bar. We started to argue back, but then realized: "Our child demands that we feed her vegetables for dinner instead of a microwaved meal, why are we saying 'No?'"

We had salad for dinner that night.


The Power Of Choice

I don't so much know if you would call it reverse psychology, but I didn't realize it until my dad told me this.

When there were chores that needed doing, he noticed if he asked me to mow the lawn, I would complain and procrastinate. But if he asked would I rather mow the lawn or wash the windows, I'd pick one and just get it done.

Shattered my brain when he told me when I was in my twenties. I use it when I'm coaching or baby sitting all the time and it almost never fails.


The Boy Who Cried 'Ouch'


I've done this one with tens of kids. Any time a kid gets "hurt" (falls down on grass, gets gently hit in the face with a ball, etc.) instead of stopping the activity to pick the kid up and see if they're ok you just scoot them off to the side and resume. Within 10 seconds of not getting all the attention and seeing the fun is resuming they pop right back up and are magically healed.

This of course is only for the "injuries" that aren't actually injuries.


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