Myths and Pseudo-wisdom
Myths and pseudo-wisdom surround us and so can, or probably do, play a significant part in our lives, and I should imagine that that role is greater than most of us realise.
Here are a few examples old and new of myths and pseudo-wisdom, but I’m sure you can think of many others:
My family in the U.K. constantly advised us kids against playing in the rain, wearing wet clothes, sitting in drafts, and ‘being cold’ in general, because, they said, we would catch a cold. They still say it now; despite the fact that it was proven decades ago that the common cold is brought on by a virus that you have to catch from someone else. It does not lurk in cold wind and water waiting to jump out on people.
You could sit naked in a lake on a mountain for the rest of your life and never catch a cold if no-one came along to rescue you, although you might well die of exposure before then.
My wife is Thai, and about ten years ago, when I stepped on our threshold, she became very angry. Inordinately so; she said I might break it. Now, it was a brand-new house, and I do not yet weigh two tons, so this was obviously not the real reason. In fact, to this day, she hasn’t given me the real reason.
However, a few years ago, I read about an ancient Thai belief that a god lived under the threshold to protect the house. The writer said that it was considered an insult to step on his resting place, and that it would bring bad luck. She will not admit that this is the reason for her anger, but it seems more likely than an irrational fear that I’ll break it, especially since Thais are so superstitious.
I’m sure there was a similar belief in Saxon Britain.
I am equally certain that my wife does not believe this, at least, not one hundred percent, but she’s like the Agnostic who doesn’t want to say she’s an Atheist, just in case.
And finally, a very modern one.
Last year, I got a piece of advice from a group of self-proclaimed Internet marketing experts, that you should keep hyperlinks out of the body of Twitter messages, because the blue hyperlinks were ‘unreadable’.
This particular piece of modern pseudo-wisdom struck me as odd from the moment I heard it. Why, I asked myself, would such rich giants as Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Twitter all use blue hyperlinks as default, if most people found them invisible? Tradition is one explanation, but that doesn’t hold water with me. Blue hyperlinks would not have become a tradition, if people had trouble seeing them, and those giants above are capable of paying for plenty of market research.
Not only that, but most platforms allow users to change the default colours, so that if they are colour-blind to say, blue, they can change it to green, or something else. Not only that, but not all devices display hyperlinks in the traditional way. My Kindle shows them as bold, black and underlined.
The only reason I can think of for that group of ‘experts’ to say that, was because their guru had said it and they were repeating his gospel like good sycophants. Perhaps he or she, the guru, that is, didn’t know that default colours could be changed. Who knows, not even gurus can be expected to know everything, can they?
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All the best.
Podcast: Myths and Pseudo-wisdom