This myth refuses to die simply because it would be nice to believe it was true, that you have this reserve of brainpower just waiting to be accessed, a wealth of knowledge and problem solving potential that, if tapped into, would create a superhuman, with incredible powers and unmatched intelligence.
This myth is one that is so widespread, that it even lives in the minds of psychology students and well-educated people.
In a study conducted, one third of psychology majors believed the 10% myth (Clay, 1998)
Another study showed that 59% of college educated people in Brazil, also believed the myth, along with 6% of neuroscientists (Herculano-Houzel, 2002).
The perpetuation of the myth is believed in large part due to continuous marketing of products that claim to be able to “unleash” the power of the brain, or advertisements that make the statements.
An example of this is the book How to Be Twice as Smart, by Scott Witt (1983) where he writes “If you’re like most people, you’re using only ten percent of your brainpower (Witt, 2002)”. Or a 1999, an airline tried to entice potential flyers by informing them that “It’s been said that we use only 10% of our brain capacity. If however, you’re flying XYZ Airlines, you’re using considerably more”.
Self-proclaimed psychic Uri Geller claimed that “In fact, most of us use only about 10 percent of our brains, if that. (Geller, 1996)”. Promoters like Geller imply that psychic powers reside in the 90% of the brain that simple folk forced to subsist on the drudge-like 10% haven’t yet learned to use.
With all o...
... middle of paper ...
...s of neuroscience create further problems for the 10% myth. Areas of the brain that are unused because of injuries or disease tend to do one of two things. They either wither away, or “degenerate”, as neuroscientists put it, or they’re taken over by nearby areas that are on the lookout for the unused territory to colonize for their own purposes. Either way, perfectly good, unused brain tissue is unlikely to remain on the sidelines for long.
In summary, the myth of 10% brain usage, is clearly untrue, with the lack of any clear evidence to support it, and a preponderance of scientific facts and established neuroscience principles available to disprove it, this is a myth that can quickly and simply be put to rest, it is a theory of those that wish to use it for profit against those that have developed less than 10% of their intellectual capacities.
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