1. April Fools' science fables2. Suicidal rodents3. Half rot, half right4. Mocking mimics5. Booked for bunk6. Ignorance = bliss   April fools! Science fable vs. science fact
     
    True or False?
T or FPOSTED 29 MAR 2001 It's surprising how many mistakes and misconceptions get accepted as scientific truth -- then linger for years after they've been disproven. We're not talking 19th century stuff like Lamarck's acquired characteristics or phlogiston, the undetectable stuff that was supposedly needed for fire. And we're not talking "scientific creationism," either.

We're talking popular scientific tales that turn out to be science fiction. And it's not just we regular folks who swallow this stuff, either. Scientists buy bogus explanations because they make sense -- not because they've been proven. In fact, German physicist Max Planck said science only advances because older scientists refuse to accept new findings, but eventually die off.

You can read science fables in textbooks and newspapers. You can hear them on the radio. And we know you gabble about them at the water cooler.

Think you're immune to science fables? Then take our "April Fool's" fact or fiction quiz:

Test your mettle:

 

 

 

 

 

 

vintage image of hand holding cola bottle

 

 

 

 

 

 
lemming illustration1. Lemmings commit suicide by jumping from cliffs into the ocean.

TRUE. Incorrect. Nobody has seen lemmings commit suicide."); } >
FALSE. Correct! Nobody has seen lemmings commit suicide"); } >

2. A baby's tooth will dissolve overnight in a glass of Coke.

TRUE. Incorrect. Coke does contain phosphoric and citric acids, but it won't dissolve a chomper that fast!"); } >
FALSE. Correct! Coke does contain phosphoric and citric acids, but it won't dissolve a chomper that fast!"); } >

illustration of viceroy butterfly3. For self-protection, viceroy butterflies evolved to resemble bad-tasting monarchs.

TRUE. Incorrect. To birds, viceroys taste as putrid as monarchs."); } >
FALSE. Correct! To birds, viceroys taste as putrid as monarchs."); } >

4. Textbooks are carefully checked for accuracy and you can rely on them for up-to-date information

TRUE.textbook image Incorrect. Some science texts contain lots of errors."); } >
FALSE. Correct! Some science texts contain lots of errors."); } >

5. You generally have a good idea of your own capabilities.

TRUE. Incorrect People who do worst on tests have the most inaccurate view of their abilities."); } >
FALSE. Correct! People who do worst on tests have the most inaccurate view of their abilities."); } >

The strange saga of lemmings, cliffs and suicide.

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