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Your personal misconceptions about the world and all kinds of stuff?

  1. Aug 7, 2004 #1

    Janitor

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    I grew up the youngest of three kids, so as you can imagine I got more than my fair share of laughter and belittling over my proclamations of Things As I See Them. My brother in particular found it irresistible to shoot down my ideas, particularly when there was company present, so that he could demonstrate his superior knowledge and intellect.

    So, anybody out there brave enough to list some things you thought that you later had to admit were wrong? :redface:

    Two examples stand out for me...

    My sister was in the back yard. She opened the door and yelled into the house, "Hey Janitor, what time is it?" I looked over at the clock on the wall, which was around the corner from where she was, and which read something like 2:35, and then I yelled back to her that it was seventeen after three. So that was not the time that our clock read, though I had been taught not to lie. But my figuring was--somewhere in the world the time matches any number I make up. I knew that there were time zones, and that thousands of miles away it was some different time of day than it was where I was located. So I figured I was safe: technically speaking, I was not lying, since my sister did not specify the location for the time she was asking for. Well, sis was rightly suspicious of me and my sneakiness, so she came into the house to look at the clock for herself. She gave me heck for it, and when I defended myself on the basis that "somewhere in the world it is 3:17," she said in no uncertain terms that it was not, and that times zones are spaced apart by exactly one hour. Until that moment, I had made the assumption that the world's time zones formed a continuum, such that if it is 2:35 here, then a few miles away it is 2:36, and a few miles farther on it is 2:37...

    My brother was telling my father about a book he had read on Allied POWs escaping from a German prison during the Second World War. He said the prisoners headed north once they got out of the prison camp. I piped in with a question: "How would they know which way was north if they didn't have a compass?" He was already laughing at me when he said, "All they had to do was look at where the sun rose and set." His laughter increased when I said, "That only gives them east and west. How could they figure out north?" The idea that, if you are standing right side up and looking east, your left shoulder faces north, was something that had never dawned on me up to that point in my life. :uhh:
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2004
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  3. Aug 8, 2004 #2

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    When I was little, we had a hurricane and the electricity went out for several days. I was amazed that the toilet still flushed. Up until that point I had assumed that everything was powered by electricity. :blush:
     
  4. Aug 9, 2004 #3

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    I took a vacation trip through Nevada and California. I stayed at a budget motel in the little crossroads town of Buttonwillow, in the dry part of California. I flushed the toilet, and was amazed that the whole act took about two seconds. I investigated, and there was a pressure tank inside of the traditional ceramic tank at the rear of the commode. I can't say for sure that there was any wiring involved, or an air pump or anything. But it was a one-of-a-kind experience for me.

    I am always pleasantly surprised to find that the phone works when there is a power outage.
     
  5. Aug 9, 2004 #4

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    Oh yeah...

    My brother shot down my bright idea that gusts of wind could just as easily be viewed as the Earth speeding up or slowing down in its spin. He pointed out that people would be violently thrown off their feet if that was what was happening. :rofl:
     
  6. Aug 9, 2004 #5

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    Your brother had an unfair advantage over you. :wink:

    If I wasn't so tired I could remember more. Although I was given a great book by a friend of my parents when I was very little, titled something like "1001 answers" that clarified every known fallacy, so I had a jump start. That book made me what I am today, a tiresome bore. :zzz:
     
  7. Aug 9, 2004 #6
    My shining moment of idiocy was when I forgot my mom's name once when a friend's mom wanted to know her name and so kept saying her name was mom like maybe it was a joke but I knew she was thinking what an idiot, I can't even blame age I was about 9, it was so embarrasing that I still occasionally forget names to this day when put on the spot. That "but that would only give east and west" one is a good one but I think I have that beat.
     
  8. Aug 9, 2004 #7
    Lol, I didn't even know my mom's name until around that age. My mom and dad called each other mom and dad while we were growing up. I learned my mom's name through my friends mom. Which the name she gave me for herself was Honeylove. I called her by that name for a long time before I knew her real name.
     
  9. Aug 9, 2004 #8

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    Also-

    When you are a little kid and you only see your grandparents once or twice a year, it is hard to absorb the concept that those chubby white-haired people were once young parents of your own parent, and that they have actual first names as well.
     
  10. Aug 18, 2004 #9
    When I was young, I found out that in order to make babies, the man must deposit something into the woman. I knew that this occured by the man putting his p*nis into the woman's v*gina.

    I thought about what the man must leave behind and concluded that it must be pee. What else could it be? Nothing else appeared when I stood at the bowl as a wee lad. I also had it figured out that pee was the only thing happening with women as well.

    Therefore, in my juvenile logic, anytime that I went to the toilet after a female had been there, I would always flush the toilet beforehand in order to ensure that I did not mix my pee with the woman's pee and cause a baby to be created in the sewer somewhere.

    -Ray.
     
  11. Aug 18, 2004 #10

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    I have a set of CDs called The John Lennon Anthology. On one disc, John is talking to his young son, and the topic of babies comes up. Sean asks how he got here, and his father explained that he was delivered in a lettuce box from the store.
     
  12. Aug 18, 2004 #11

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    I actually was vindicated, many years later, in one matter of dispute. My brother was talking about the Mercury capsule that sank into the Atlantic Ocean after the hatch was prematurely blown off, and I opined that someday it would be found. My brother looked down his nose at me and said in no uncertain terms that the capsule was way too small to ever be found.

    http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/liberty_bell_000617.html
     
  13. Sep 5, 2004 #12

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    I remember a couple more...

    I thought that aircraft must have some sort of motor, probably electrical, that rotated the wheels so that they could move around on airport property. My intuition told me that jets, in particular, could only provide propulsion when airborne, and therefore that some other, less mysterious, source of motive power was needed for rolling on the pavement.

    I figured that train locomotives must have something more or less like the steering wheel on a car. How else could the engineer force the train to take a certain direction at a track switch?

    A man I know was showing his young son the route on a map that they would be taking to get to Disneyland. He explained that the trip would take most of the day. His son was very doubtful that it could take so long to get to a place that is only a few inches away on a map.
     
  14. Sep 6, 2004 #13
    When I was a child I heard someone say that Christmas was just around the corner. So I went down the street and looked, and sure enough, there was a house down there with Christmas lights. Obveously they were already having Christmas.

    Later, in about third grade, I was late for school one day. It occurred to me that if I ran very fast away from the school, I could make up the time, and that then if I ran very fast back toward the school, I could still arrive there before the bell. It didn't work. I decided I just couldn't run fast enough.

    However, in my defense, my older brother was even more confused. He told me once that there was a guy down at the courthouse whose job it was to turn the streetlights on in the evening and off again in the morning. He had a room full of switches, one switch for each and every light, and at dawn he would go down the rows and turn them off, one by one. So I got up early in the morning before it was light outside, and watched down the block to see which lights went out first. When they all went out at once, I knew that my brother was lying to me again.

    As an adult, I once watched a child and her mother discuss electricity. The little girl had picked up a trouble light and tried the switch, to no avail. Her mother told her it had to be plugged in to work. So the little girl plugged the end of the wire into the socket that the manufacturer had supplied just below the bulb, making a closed circuit, and then looked at her mother like, see, you don't know what to do either.

    A bystander (I swear it wasn't me, I am never cruel to children) then told her she had to find an electrici-tree to plug into. That poor kid will never learn physics.

    Currently, I still believe in the simultanaety of events seperated by distance, even though I "know" that such simultanaety is really imaginary, and so is relitive to the condition of the observer. However, I have been slapped down by my betters for suggesting that a pair of twins might have a different birth order to observers zipping by in spaceships going opposite directions. Someone who still believes in absolutes will have to decide what this means for primageniture, either that or move to France.

    I feel stupid now. Can we really know anything for certain, other than the "fact" of our own existance?
     
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