Writing Prompts: Counter popular myths with facts

There are many, many myths that have taken on a seemingly factual quality. Some may be considered small (for example, carrots do not help you see better in the dark, that was a World War II-related myth), others have become wrapped in conspiracy theories and other wild notions (see the Flat Earth myth, which thankfully, is not taken seriously by most people). There are some that, for whatever reason, have slipped into the background noise of culture and society, despite not actually having anything tangible behind them. Popular myths rely upon collective ignorance to take hold.

Another example is the idea that Jesus Christ was born on the 25th of December. The 25th of December is celebrated as Jesus’ birthday, but there is no evidence to suggest he was actually born on that date (some contend he was never real, though I believe he was a real person, I just don’t know if I believe in all the supernatural stuff attributed to him). Many western nations produce images of Jesus as a white man, which would be in stark contrast to who he would have most likely been, when you consider where and when he was born. Jesus would have been an Arab, yet this is not a popular fact, so it is ignored, and the myth exists in some parts of the world that he was a white man. This myth endures because it fills texts and documents about Jesus, all over the western world.

There is a widely-held myth that climate change is itself a myth, despite the vast majority of scientists in the field concluding that humanity is influencing our climate (and you don’t need to take their word for it, the UK never used to see temperatures exceed 30C, but last summer it hit 40C, and this is set to become a regular occurrence). There is some derision (stemming from confusion), because at one point, the term ‘global warming’ was used a lot, and when there is a cold snap, climate change deniers sneer, and say ‘oh look, it’s cold, so much for climate change!’ As scientific understanding of this problem has grown, we have learned that climate change means increasingly hotter summers (with serious consequences), and the potential for increasingly cold winters. It is predicted that hurricanes and other deadly forms of weather will become more frequently, and more powerful.

Some of the climate change deniers frame their argument around the idea that proponents of the reality of climate change do so to get rich. What these deniers fail to understand is that there are extremely wealthy gas, oil and coal businesses, who often have strong lobbying ties to political parties around the world, who benefit from doing absolutely nothing. They are the source of the anti-climate change myth. They do not want to see any course of action that does not benefit their coffers, and they have made sure certain political spectrums are firmly wedded to their cause, thanks to generous financial donations. The money trail here is exceedingly obvious, yet some people prefer to be in stark denial of it. It doesn’t serve their political or social cause to acknowledge it.

So many myths rely upon popular ignorance. Hopefully, I’ve made a small dent in that notion today.

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