In a recent blog post on the National Council of Teachers of English message board, NCTE Council Historian Paul Thomas discussed the topic of the degree to which false ideas persist in popular perceptions of scientific “truths” despite their having been thoroughly debunked, or never even been shown to be demonstrably true in the first place. He wrote about the quite widely accepted but totally false idea that humans supposedly “only use 10% of their brains” and its use in the movie Lucy, directed by Luc Besson, as a reference point. In a post from earlier this year — Getting All Black and Blue Over Media Literacy — I discussed the degree to which falsehoods and distortions become accepted as fact by movie viewers, even if there is copious evidence — whether historical, social, scientific, or otherwise — that these false perceptions are indeed untrue. Funny enough, the standard line of “it’s only a movie” should be more aptly referenced as “well, it’s in a movie, that’s why they believe it.”
There are few goals that must be more important to educators than tackling these ideas: how to seek out truth, how to ask questions of what is being presented to viewers or readers, and how to evaluate and produce material so that truth and authenticity are readily addressed and apparent.
For my own take on Luc Besson’s Lucy, please check out my earlier post Hi there, writers!