Have you ever been taught something in school that was completely incorrect?

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When I was in elementary school in the 1950s, we had a science book that said, “it might look as though western Europe and western Africa could nest against the east coast of North America and South America. This is just a coincidence. Continents don't move.”

Within ten years, tectonic plate theory had spread into the high schools and suddenly we knew that continents are drifting all the time and causing earthquakes. We found out that rock formations in England seemed to continue tha Appalachian Mountains. Now it's hard to remember how recently Continental Drift became consensus science.

When I was young, Big Bang was used derisively for the hypothesis that the universe had a sudden beginning.

The Martian Chronicles was still highly recommended as science fiction, even though Mars was known to be uninhabitable before the stories were written.

The double helix model of DNA was not taught in schools when I was first taking science classes, and the terms genes and chromosomes were our main genetic vocabulary.

But that's just a function of science gradually improving on what was known before. Just as I had to learn new names for a lot of countries as they became independent: Bechuanaland to Botswana. Tanganyika and Zanzibar to Tanzania. The Rhodesias and Nyasaland to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. And many other examples. So I learned the true names, then history happened, so the truth was revised.

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