What is Myths: Definition and 36 Discussions

Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans, such as gods, demigods, and other supernatural figures. However, others also include humans, animals, or combinations in their classificiation of myth. Stories of everyday human beings, although often of leaders of some type, are usually contained in legends, as opposed to myths. Myths are sometimes distinguished from legends in that myths deal with gods, usually have no historical basis, and are set in a world of the remote past, very different from that of the present.Myths are often endorsed by rulers and priests or priestesses and are closely linked to religion or spirituality. Many societies group their myths, legends, and history together, considering myths and legends to be true accounts of their remote past. In particular, creation myths take place in a primordial age when the world had not achieved its later form. Other myths explain how a society's customs, institutions, and taboos were established and sanctified. There is a complex relationship between recital of myths and the enactment of rituals.
The term mythology may either refer to the study of myths in general, or a body of myths regarding a particular subject. The study of myth began in ancient history. Rival classes of the Greek myths by Euhemerus, Plato, and Sallustius were developed by the Neoplatonists and later revived by Renaissance mythographers. Today, the study of myth continues in a wide variety of academic fields, including folklore studies, philology, psychology, and anthropology. Moreover, the academic comparisons of bodies of myth are known as comparative mythology.
Since the term myth is widely used to imply that a story is not objectively true, the identification of a narrative as a myth can be highly political: many adherents of religions view their own religion's stories as true and therefore object to those stories being characterised as myths, while seeing the stories of other religions as being myth. Labelling all religious narratives as myths can be thought of as treating different traditions with parity.

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  1. BillTre

    What Are 10 Medical Myths That Have Been Debunked by Recent Studies?

    Summary: A variety of studies have contradicted several medical practices and theories. This NY Times article lists 10 findings that contradict what were once widely held theories:
  2. T

    I Myths of Modern Popular Physics

    In our IT company sometimes we make presentations, sometimes even just for fun, not related to IT things. I suggested the presentation with the title above and many people are interested. They are quite smart, but there will be no formulas in my presentation. Please review my list. Any...
  3. P

    X died of pneumonia doing experiments in the cold myths?

    Can science text writers please stop repeating these sorts of unfounded, unscientifically grounded anecdotes in science texts as if they are fact. I was just reading in Universe 8th ed. astronomy text and found this passage: "Sadly, Goodricke paid for his discoveries with his life; he caught...
  4. Elbert Anstein

    B Pulsars and Neutron Stars debunked?

    Now kindly pardon my ignorance but I hope one of you can explain to me how this can be possible. A rotating neutron star or pulsar have been observed to spin at between 10 to 700 times per second. Now before I proceed further I like to draw your memories back to the merry go round we played as...
  5. anorlunda

    Expunging Myths from The Classrooom

    I am not an educator. However, I just read a fascinating article that just screamed "education issue" as I read it. The article was: The point of the article is that I and almost all other students of engineering or science were taught that the Tacoma Bridge (known as Galloping Gertie)...
  6. manzana

    Can Mixing Different Battery Brands Damage Your Devices?

    These are some of my favorite myths I have encountered in my EE career... 1. NEVER mix Duracell and Eveready batteries in the same flashlight 2. Never leave your car battery on a cement floor, it will ground out and drain itself ( A metal shelf on concrete is OK) 3. Never use a wireless phone...
  7. davidbenari

    Understanding Thermodynamic Efficiency: Debunking Myths

    The thermodynamic efficiency ##\eta## is calculated by ##\eta= \frac{W_{out}}{Q_{in}}## Using the first law of thermodynamics we usually say that ##W_{out}## is ##Q_c+Q_h##, where ##Q_c## is the heat dissipated into a cold reservoir, and ##Q_h## is the heat absorbed by the system because of a...
  8. jedishrfu

    How Effective Is Challenging Our Own Beliefs in Debunking Myths?

    BBC article on the difficulty of debunking myths and Misinformation http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20141113-the-best-way-to-debunk-myths
  9. Greg Bernhardt

    Most common myths and misconceptions infographic

    What do you think?
  10. Medicol

    Are there any other thrilling episodes in Egyptian mythology like Seth's?

    Lately, I've been interested in Egyptian myths. I've read about Seth's and am wondering if there are any thrilling episodes similar to his.
  11. C

    Schools What are the top factors in grad school admissions?

    Well after reading tons of posts and talking to my friends who are headed off to grad school here is what everyone says: PGRE is really important, GPA is really important, publications really important, leadership roles really important, multiple years of research experience really important...
  12. rhody

    What U.S. Economic Recovery? Five Destructive Myths

    I am no economics expert but I think this http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2076568-4,00.html" is fair IMO, however, you decide... and I am interested in what PFer's below the age of 30 have to say about the above paragraph, particulary the section I highlighted. What plans do...
  13. atyy

    Medical Can playing video games improve your visual perception and attention span?

    Some may find this interesting: http://www.sfn.org/skins/main/pdf/neuromyth_busters/neuromyth_busters.pdf Myth: You only use 10 percent of your brain. Myth: Listening to classical music makes you smarter. Myth: Vaccines cause autism. Myth: Brain damage is always permanent. Myth: Your...
  14. D

    Penrose-Terrell rotation and the 3 great special relativistic myths

    After searching, I found only one post-title on the Penrose and/or Terrell effect/rotation. It is odd that innumerable popular discussions on PF and elsewhere omit this 50+ year modification of externally measured length-'contraction'. There is neither contraction, nor measured contraction...
  15. A

    Programs Myths vs. Facts About Majoring in Physics

    I just finished my first year as an undergrad, and am currently declared as a mechanical engineering major. However, I sort of have this nagging feeling that what I'd really like to study is physics (for the record, I am also considering changing which type of engineering I'm doing). In my...
  16. Ivan Seeking

    5 Surprising Holiday Health Myths

  17. wolram

    The Mystery of Mythology: Bigfoot, Loch Ness, Flying Saucers

    I think i can remember the one about the loch ness monster, and the one about Flying saucers, But what about bigfoot, yeti etc?
  18. wolram

    Is dark energy really responsible for the expansion of the universe?

    arXiv:0807.1635 [ps, pdf, other] Title: Dark energy: myths and reality Authors: V.N. Lukash (Astro Space Centre of P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow, Russia), V.A. Rubakov (Institute for Nuclear Research, Moscow, Russia) Comments: 17 pages, 2 figures Journal-ref...
  19. B

    Technical question about Nikolic' Quantum Myths

    I am referring to the http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0609163" discussed at length in other threads with a purely technical question to help me understand more of the paper. On page 12, formula 26 defines the norm of a vector as \langle\psi|\psi\rangle = \psi_1^*\psi_1 + \psi_2^*\psi_2 ...
  20. F

    Light Reflection between Mirrors: Facts & Myths

    Why are we not able to capture and store light between two mirrors? I'm going to take a guess at the answer but I'd like to hear from someone who knows for sure... I'm wondering if you actually can for a small amount of time, but the inefficiencies of an imperfect mirror cause some light to be...
  21. F

    Debunking Yield Stress Myths: The Truth About Fluid Properties

    Is Yield Stress for a fluid a real property? Or is it a time dependent illusion we are measuring? For example - some glass materials are referred to as super-cooled fluids and yet behave and appear like solids. In reality though these super cooled fluids flow - very slowly. Some old...
  22. M

    Evolution: 24 myths and misconceptions

    Evolution: 24 myths and misconceptions The following myths are debunked: - Everything is an adaptation produced by natural selection - Natural selection is the only means of evolution - Natural selection leads to ever-greater complexity - Evolution produces creatures perfectly...
  23. Ivan Seeking

    Medical Medical Myths Exposed: Evidence Rejects 8 Glasses of Water a Day

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7153880.stm Oh thank goodness. My health just improved dramatically...again. :biggrin: It used to be that coffee was bad and sure to be the death of me. Now it acts as a supply of water, it is high in antioxidants [the greatest source by far in many...
  24. R

    Persistence of Myths: How to Debunk Without Repeating

    Apparently, this WP article says that trying to debunk a myth might actually end up reinforcing the myth via repetition. "Myth-busters, in other words, have the odds against them." I wonders, how do we debunk a myth without actually repeating the myth itself in the process?
  25. Demystifier

    Quantum mechanics: Myths and facts

    A common understanding of quantum mechanics (QM) among students and practical users is often plagued by a number of "myths", that is, widely accepted claims on which there is not really a general consensus among experts in foundations of QM. These myths include wave-particle duality, time-energy...
  26. S

    Humans Use More Than 10% of Their Brains: Science Myths

    http://www.livescience.com/bestimg/?url=myths_gumballs_03.jpg&cat=myths I thought that was true.
  27. wolram

    Exploring the Myths of Norway/Sweden: Trolls and Beyond

    http://www.sunnyway.com/runes/gods2.html Many myths seem to originate from Norway/sweden, Trolls are the oldest mythological beings i can find, i guess some where like India will have a," troll", myth that is older, anyone know ?
  28. B

    Debunking the Myths of Global Warming

    so I am thinkin of wrting and essay on global warming... ive kind of decided if I am going to write it on global warming i want to argue that it does not pose a real threat. Its so cliche to write essays on effects of glbal warming and how its going to ruin our Earth and all that media hype. If...
  29. TheStatutoryApe

    News Exploring Clear Channel: Debunking Myths & Facts

    Clear Channel... I know that it isn't really current news but I have heard quite a bit of bad press in regards to Clear Channel. Alot of it seems to be embellished from what I have gathered. There seem to be two main complaints. One: Clear Channel is partisan and it's radio news, among...
  30. Reshma

    What Causes Common Cold? Investigating the Myths

    I have a weird question here :biggrin:. What exactly causes common cold? I'm aware it is caused due to viruses but why do doctors prescribe anti-biotics for common cold which are supposed to fight bacterial infection? Do the following cause common cold: *Eating ice-creams *Wet hair *Hot...
  31. matthyaouw

    Most Persistent Myths: Debunking the Loch Ness Monster

    Which myths, theories or conspiricies most annoy you? The kind where no matter how many times you fully debunk them, they just keep coming back again and again, and will probably never go away, despite how obvious it is that they cannat be true. A personal favorite of mine is: "The Loch Ness...
  32. E

    Evidence of Time Travel Discovered: Source of Ancient Myths, Legends, Religions

    This news has just been released in Australia. I thought you may be interested in examining the evidence then discussing the implications, etc. Edward T > - - Evidence of Time Travel has been discovered by an Australian researcher. This evidence reveals the Source of ancient Myths...
  33. Ivan Seeking

    CSICOP Albuquerque Conference Has Fun Exposing Hoaxes, Myths and Manias

  34. M

    Simulteneity and other myths, maybe?

    [SOLVED] Simulteneity and other myths, maybe? In perusing Einstein's ‘Relativity’, I made a few notes for discussion. Using the moving train vs. the platform model some Einsteinian axioms get a tad oily. A mark on the train coincides with a mark on the platform just as two lights flash, both...
  35. Ivan Seeking

    Myths of Skepticism: An Analysis

    Myths of Skepticism. the article continues to include: Myths about Science and the Scientific Method. Also, Myths of Problem Solving and Decision Making. Myths about Belief Systems. Myths about Skeptics. For the entire discussion, please see this link...
  36. H

    Mysterious Black Dogs: Unexpected Encounters and Urban Myths

    my mom is a nurse and has personally witnessed many people claiming to have seen a black dog sitting by the door of their room, all of them died soon after. I'm not really sure if this is a popular myth or not, but it seems i have seen a black dog in a rather unexpected situation as well (i...