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Reading Common false beliefs in Physics I feel that there are also "fake false beliefs", ie, that the "false belief" does not actually exists, it is a rhetorical argument or just a basis for argumentation, but not actually a belief... while the meta-belief on its existence actually exists.

Prototypical example is mid-age "flat-earth". All the discussion with Colon was about the diameter of the earth, not about the flatness or sphericity. And still, you can hear here and there that the mid-age philosophers had the "false belief" of a flat earth.

A more dubious example: does people actually think that summer is related to the distance to the sun? Or is it a rhetorical trick of the teacher, to induce this thinking during the classroom only to correct it later? Most countrymen clearly perceive that summer is about height of the sun, not distance.

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+1. A good idea should not have to show it's power by proving to be superior to scarecrow theories. Let's have them out, then. (Also: community wiki?) –  Niel de Beaudrap Sep 7 '11 at 13:43
    
It is not clear that flat-Earth wasn't a popular belief in the middle ages. The bible supports a flat-Earth cosmology, and people took it very literally back then. The higher-ups might have some Aristotle, so they believed the Earth was round, but they didn't believe Aristarchus that it was moving. I am not sure that the false belief is completely false. –  Ron Maimon Sep 7 '11 at 15:14
    
I really don't see the point of this question... one list of false beliefs seems to be enough (and even that question isn't a good fit to the Q&A format, but it's popular enough and old enough that I'm leaving it alone). I'm open to arguments to reopen this though. –  David Z Sep 7 '11 at 17:23
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@David Zalavsky: I think the point is to create a list of statements which are false, and which are often presented as false beleifs, but for which there's no evidence that it was ever an actual beleif. That is to say, things which are presented as "false beleifs", but which never were (beleifs). Lists of examples are instructive for framing one's understanding of a field and its history, if the lists are not terribly narrowly defined; because the story of the development of science is somewhat prone to myth, I think such a list would be instructive. –  Niel de Beaudrap Sep 7 '11 at 21:09
    
@Neil: OK, I see what you're saying. But I would still argue that this question doesn't belong on the site for a couple of reasons: first, SE is intended to support questions which have a single, canonical answer, not a list of equally valid answers; also, I really don't see how it increases anyone's understanding of physics to identify which false beliefs are/were actually believed. The other question about false beliefs I'm willing to let stand as a one-stop reference to correct common misconceptions, but I don't think this question adds anything to that. –  David Z Sep 7 '11 at 21:17
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closed as not constructive by David Z Sep 7 '11 at 17:22

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