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All in the Mind, 3rd Edition by Dimitrios Tsivrikos, Adrian Furnham

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2 “Untangling” Myths and Psychological Realities

2.1 Popular Myths

Psychologists spend a great deal of time and effort attempting to re‐educate people who hold erroneous ideas about a subject. From one source or another many people come to believe in certain psychological theories that are patently untrue. And because of self‐fulfilling prophecies it becomes extremely difficult to dislodge those ideas. Let us now consider myths in a number of different areas.

2.2 Mind and Brain Myths

The brain

We use only 10% of our brain.

Beyerstein (1999a) has pointed out the many illogicalities of this myth. First, if 90% of the brain is usually unused, there should be many parts of it that could sustain damage without disturbing any of those abilities. Second, given the process of natural selection, it seems improbable that scarce resources would be wasted to produce and maintain an underutilized organ. Third, brain‐imaging technology shows that, even during sleep, there are no completely silent areas in the brain. Finally, in the extensive examination of brain functioning and specialty localization, no one has detected the silent 90% that is not used.

Metabolic studies, microstructural analysis, and work on neural disease provide no support for the 10% myth, which seems to have originated in the self‐improvement industry and among mad numerologists. Beyerstein (1999a, p. 23) notes:

It seems likely that some early investigators’ (probably optimistic) estimate that researchers ...

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