A Most Memorable LieCredit: mspmag.com
The best one I remember from childhood was this: "Don't wear patent leather shoes because your undies will be reflected on them." That sucked because I already had to wear a uniform (a hand-me-down no less), and those Catholic nuns were really strict. Geesh, no shiny Maryjane's for me! Well, as far as I can tell this was a myth perpetuated for some chaste reasoning, and of course any females who did break the myth were thought to be not-so-nice, if you know what I mean. This myth certainly contributed to sex thoughts that may never had entered chaste youthful minds. Alas, I still want a pair of patent leather Maryjane's, and they have to be ruby red.
When the myth busting begins there is a process that actually helps to dispel the fact from fiction. The first thing to do is to communicate the facts, not perpetuate the myth. The louder the myth is spewed, the less the facts are heard, so try not to repeat the myth - but do repeat the facts. For instance, here is a very popular myth that has even become a goal of dieters.
EAT LIKE A BIRD
Really, you think it means to eat a tiny amount of seeds and fly high the rest of the day? Not so. Birds graze all day and eat lots of food to maintain their fat metabolism and high body temperature. Birds have such a fast metabolism that they have to eat almost their entire body weight in one day to maintain life.
So, maybe state the fact, "Did you know that those lucky birds have such a cool, quick metabolism that they get to graze a lot of goodies all day just to maintain? Wow, to-bad we can't do that to maintain."
Sometimes debunking myths can get way to complicated and wordy. The next part of the process is to keep the facts simple. There are some major controversies out there, like, can Sara really see Russia from her post in Alaska? Just kidding, we know that is true. Ha!
Religious themes such as The Gospel of the Beloved Companion, supposedly the gospel about the works and life of Jesus written by Mary Magdalene, can be hotly contested as truth or fiction. There have been a lot of words written about the reality of the gospel almost to the point of overkill. By this, I mean that the original information may sit so pleasantly with so many believers that the long refuting can instead backfire so that the original myth (I'm not saying this gospel is a myth) becomes reinforced rather than proven fictitious. A complicated refutation may not be as believable. Keeping it simple, like, "Show the world the gospel and the truth will prevail," says it simply. That KISS (keep it simple stupid) rule works well here.
Another major obstacle to myth busting is from those souls who are so firmly hardened in their prefixed ideas that they are totally contrary to another worldview. They have idea sclerosis, a common dis-ease affecting hard headedness. Some have died from it. I just made that up, see how easy it is to start urban legends or traditional stories?
Anyways, the fixed worldview is not that easy to correct fact from fiction. The mental model of one's personal worldview does not just come down when another view is presented. Any alternative narrative suggested must not be threatening. Instead, it can be framed with other explanations of events that are in the myth. Think of murder trials where different scenarios are played out by each side. Graphics and data are presented to offer a truth. Remember the O.J. Simpson murder trial? Who could forget the endless tape of the cars on the California highway and the various reasons presented for the seemingly endless car chase? The many different worldviews of justice were sorely communicated during that famous trial.
Does everyone lie because it is part of the human condition, possibly coded in human DNA and we humans have this need to clone ourselves including our lying genes? Do we lie to protect a code of silence so that we all tell the same lie? At times we lie to be polite, "My what a nice new nose piercing you have." Haven't you been guilty of lies on your resume, FB profile, or your kid's private pre-school application? Come on, we all lie about something or another at some time.
Not only do we lie, we continue to perpetuate lies. Santa Claus? Holy Mary sightings (real ones, not those on toast), has an alcohol tax saved lives and money, did a man really walk on the moon, will more school lunches with more veggies solve the obesity crisis, is the sun getting hotter or cooler, and on and on, the debunking opportunities are growing.
I guess that the most we can hope for is that the truth is out there, waiting to be believed.