Those common misconceptions we have about so many things in life often get fueled by the numerous inaccuracies depicted in Hollywood movies. That being said, here are ten movies based on common misconceptions.
Contrary to what many movies (TV shows, too) depict, using the defibrillator paddles on someone who flatlines does absolutely nothing. That’s because asystole, the technical term for “flatline,” is the absence of electrical and mechanical activity of the heart. In order for defibrillator paddles to work, there has to be electrical activity occurring within the heart. So, you would actually use the paddles when someone is in ventricular fibrillation (V-fib), that is, when they’re experiencing rapid heart contractions due to abnormal electrical activity in the heart.
9. Star Wars
If you were a kid when “Star Wars” hit the big screen, then you know that one of the coolest things in that movie was the lightsabers. And, every kid wanted one of their own. But, if you remember, the toy ones didn’t quite work the same way as the ones in the movie. Instead of looking like a laser beam, it looked more like a big flashlight. That’s because laser beams are not visible — at least not without something to reflect on, be it fog, dust or whatever. But, let’s be honest. Those fight scenes would have been pretty boring with people aiming invisible lasers at their enemies.
8. Jurassic Park
The common misconception in this movie is that when humans walk up on big, predatory dinosaurs, the dinosaurs drop everything they’re doing and make a meal out of those humans — even if they’re already eating something else. While it makes for a very interesting store line, it simply just isn’t true. Based on Holling’s type III functional response in predator–prey systems, they’d do what any other animal, or human for that matter, would do. They’d keep eating. Think about it. When’s the last time you saw an animal ditch the food it was already eating because the number of potential prey suddenly increased?
7. Bicentennial Man
“Bicentennial Man” is about an android that’s been purchased by a family to perform menial tasks around the house. The robot, known as Andrew, begins to experience emotions and creative thought, and eventually desires to become human. But, according to Science magazine, Marcus Hutter, a German computer scientist and a professor in the Research School of Computer Science at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, says that the notion that an advanced robot would have a desire to be human is probably “somewhat egocentric.” An intelligent robot like Andrew would be able to recognize the benefits of not being fragile and breakable.
6. Independence Day
If you watch “Independence Day,” and a lot of other action-packed movies and TV shows, you’ll be convinced that fire and lava only burn you if you touch them. But, according to Cracked.com, that’s simply not true. That’s why firefighters and volcanologists wear protective suits. Even if the fire or lava is several meters away, they can still get flash burns. A flash burn is simply a “tissue injury caused by exposure to radiant heat of high intensity (as from electrical discharges or explosions),” according to Merriam-Webster.com.
5. American Sniper
Despite what you might have seen in movies like “American Sniper,” there’s no such thing as gun silencers — at least not the way they’re portrayed on the big screen. In fact, “the idea of the Hollywood Silencer is so prevalent that real silencers were commercially rebranded as ‘suppressors’ in the 1970s,” TV Tropes said on its website. That’s because they don’t actually silence the sound of a gunshot — they merely muffle the sound. “For silencers to work properly, the bullets must travel at a subsonic speed, which can make them less accurate or deadly,” according to TV Tropes.
Communication between planets is not instantaneous. For example, PhysLink.com says that it can take up to 21 minutes for a radio signal to travel from Earth to Mars. Then, you have to add another 21 minutes or so to receive a reply. In total, communication between Earth and Mars could take up to 40 minutes or more. Of course, no one would want to sit through a movie with 40 minutes of silence waiting for a message to be transmitted, so they just make it appear to happen instantaneously.
FUN FACT: It takes the longest for radio signals to travel between Earth and Mars when the two plants are at opposite sides of the sun.
3. Ant-Man and the Wasp
In “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” small-time crook Luis, a friend of Ant-Man, is kidnapped by a villainous tech dealer named Sonny who injects truth serum in him so he can ultimately steal Dr. Hank Pym’s technology that makes objects and people grow and shrink. The serum works, but it has some unintended consequences. This indeed makes for a good story line, but according to the CIA, “no such magic brew as the popular notion of truth serum exists. The barbiturates, by disrupting defensive patterns, may sometimes be helpful in interrogation, but even under the best conditions they will elicit an output contaminated by deception, fantasy, garbled speech, etc.”
Just the mere thought of a man-eating rogue shark is enough to keep most water lovers on the shore. Thankfully, the man-eating rogue shark idea is a misconception. The fact of the matter is that sharks rarely kill humans. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, there were just five fatal shark attacks in 2018. “By contrast, fisheries kill about 100 million sharks and rays annually,” the museum said on its website. One reason for so many sharks deaths is the practice of overfishing — cutting off their fins (to make shark fin soup) and then releasing them back into the water to drown. Another reason is that many sharks get caught in nets meant for other fish. So, as you can see, we are far more dangerous to them than they could ever be to us.
This movie is based on the misconception that people use only 10 percent of their brain. But, as NPR correspondent Eric Westervelt said in 2014, “this is a total myth.” No one knows exactly how it got started, but it’s been around for a very long time — at least since the early 1900’s. And, it’s a very popular belief, too. But, the truth of the matter is that your brain is constantly active, even when you’re sitting around doing nothing. In fact, it’s very active even when you’re sleeping.
Your turn! What other movies can you think of that are based on common misconceptions? Share your comments below.