The Role of Movies in Circulating Urban Myths

A couple of days ago MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Company) aired the movie Lucy starring Scarlet Johansen, it made me have two thoughts, first, how a good script can discuss an important idea, and in this film it was that we as human beings are not using our full brain [potential] to advance as a species, the second thought I had was; How movies can spread wrong ideas and theories. somehow, contradictory, but please bear with me.

I first had to dig the trueness of the main idea the film is based on, that is “We only use 10 percent of our brain”. As it turns out this is nothing more than an urban myth, it’s hard to establish how it started but it’s been circulating for a long time.

Research shows we use every part of our brain and that most of the brain is active almost all the time, according to the Scientific American website. Scientists were able to establish through imaging technology that most of the brain is continuously active, however, as Dr. John Henley, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, explains, “Even in sleep, areas such as the frontal cortex, which controls things like higher level thinking and self-awareness, or the somatosensory areas, which help people sense their surroundings, are active”.

So physiologically we use almost all parts of our brain. But I think reaching our potential is what does not exceed 10% for many people. That’s what separates highly productive and achieving individuals from others who are not.

The film “Lucy” taps on the notion of using our brain to its full capacity to unleash an incomprehensible knowledge. Although the main idea of the film seems enlightening, however, the theory itself it is based on is untrue, it’s like having a research based on a wrong theory but the research methods are valid and accurate, the same happened here, the main idea that we as humans use only 10% of our brain is an urban myth. Other movies have had the same idea such as John Travolta’s “Phenomenon”, and “Limitless” starring Bradley Cooper, this reflects the ability of movies to circulate and insert erroneous facts and establish them as common knowledge within the public thinking. Scriptwriters can get away with it, after all, as they see it, their work is presented as fictitious so they can’t be held accountable for it. It becomes our responsibility, as viewers, to be savvy enough as not to accept any piece of knowledge without checking them first.

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