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Leadership from a different perspective – history!

Naked Leader Week – 132 (w/c Monday 28th November 2005)

Please forward to those whose lives you touch

 Leadership from a different perspective – history!

 Last week I found myself in one of those deep, intellectual debates around what is a “fact” and what is not a “fact” and I was challenged to find just one single “fact” that turned out not to be true.

 Eh…thanks to Google, I found ten.

 With love – and to those of you in the North stay warm, and in the South, be cool



 Ten Absolute Certainties in life that we have been taught, that we learned…


10        Seasons are caused by how close the earth is to the sun

 This sounds reasonable, but distance between the earth and the sun plays a very minor role in our temperature. Earth is actually closest to the sun in January. And if the distance to the sun was what caused the seasons, the northern and southern hemispheres would have identical seasons. The real cause of the seasons is the tilt of the earth’s axis. In August, the northern hemisphere leans towards the sun, in February, it leans away from it.

 9          The reason clouds form when air cools is because cold air cannot hold as much water vapour as warm air

 And therein lies the origin of the myth. The temperature of a cloud droplet or ice crystal will be (nearly) the same as that of the air, so people imagine that somehow the air was to blame. But, if the (other gases of the) air were removed, leaving everything else the same, condensation and evaporation would proceed as before (the air was irrelevant to the behaviour). 

 8          The Greenhouse Effect is caused when gases in the atmosphere behave as a blanket and trap radiation which is then re-radiated to the earth

 The correct explanation is that the surface of the Earth is warmer than it would be in the absence of an atmosphere because it receives energy from two sources: the Sun and the atmosphere.

 7          Water and oil repel each other…

 Or at least attract each other very weakly. Nothing can be further from the case! An individual oil molecule is attracted to a water molecule by a force that is much greater than the attraction of two oil molecules to each other.

 6          There are seven colours in a rainbow

 There are as many colours in the rainbow as the eye can see. Red and blue are prominent because they mark the edges of the bow, and yellow-green usually stands out because the sun is brightest in that colour. But rainbows, like sunlight, contain a continuous spectrum that does not neatly divide into red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

 5          The Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from the moon

 The only thing you can see from the moon is a beautiful sphere, mostly white (clouds), some blue (ocean), patches of yellow (deserts), and every once in a while some green vegetation. No man-made object is visible on this scale. In fact, when first leaving earth’s orbit and only a few thousand miles away, no man-made object is visible at that point either.

 4          The less clothes you wear in winter, the more likely you are to catch a cold

 Colds are caused by viruses, not exposure to chilly temperatures. In pursuit of this evidence, “scientists have done every possible mean thing to people,” says G. Edgar Folk, Ph.D., professor of physiology at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, including exposing subjects to frigid air and soaking their feet in cold water. “Still, they don’t come down with a cold.” That is, unless they come in close enough contact with another person infected with a cold and pick up the virus. But that happens in any temperature. People get more colds in winter than in summer, experts say, not because they’re out in the cold more but because they spend more time indoors, where viruses easily circulate.

 3          Those who go swimming less than an hour after eating will be more likely to get cramp and have an increased risk of drowning

 Whether oxygen-deprivation stomach cramps are real or not is open to debate, as is whether they can be brought on by eating right before engaging in strenuous activity. What’s not in doubt, however, are the lack of deaths associated with swimming right after eating — there hasn’t been so much as one drowning attributed to this, not even a near drowning. For something that was supposed to be fatal if you so much as dipped a toe, this particular old wives’ tale proved to be a dud.

 2          One Vote Fallacies

 In 1645, one vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England. In 1649, one vote caused Charles I of England to be executed. In 1776, one vote gave America the English language instead of German. In 1845, one vote brought Texas into the Union. In 1875, one vote changed France from a monarchy to a republic. In 1923, one vote gave Adolf Hitler leadership of the Nazi Party. In 1941, one vote saved Selective Service – just weeks before Pearl Harbour was attacked. All, not true.

 1          The Earth is Flat


Summary by Jeffrey Burton Russell for the American Scientific Affiliation Conference “It must first be reiterated that with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat.”


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