5 Famous Scientific Theories That Were Later Debunked

December 06, 2017
Scientific Theories

Throughout history, scientists have worked tirelessly to find out the mysteries of the world. While at present, we have successfully discovered a vast range of facts, they did not appear suddenly as many scientists worked on them for years. You would be surprised to know that there were many theories given by earlier generation scientists that have been debunked today. In this blog, we have enlisted some scientific innovations that became famous for a certain period of time but became obsolete by emergence of a more relevant idea. Have a look at them:

Bode’s Law or Titius-Bode law

Proposed by German astronomer Johann Daniel Titius, this hypothesis was used to measure the distance between the planets of the solar system. The law also suggested the existence of a planet between the planets Mars and Jupiter which later turned out to be an asteroid belt. After becoming popular in 1766, this theory was used by a German scientist Johann Elert to discover the existence of Uranus. However, in 1846, after the discovery of Neptune by William Herschel, this theory was proven to be vague.

Physiognomy Theory

Given by the famous mathematician Pythagoras, this theory suggested that psychological characteristics of a person depend on his physical appearance. Later, Aristotle wrote a compendium on the subject, with many examples stating that if a person shares a facial appearance with an animal, he/she would possess aspects of that animal’s nature. For example, those with green eyes were clever like a deer. By the 20th century, the theory had been completely debunked, but some of the physiognomy’s ideas still persist among people of Greece and China.

Black Slate Theory

In the 17th century, there was a common perception among the scholars of the society that human mind is born without any inbuilt mental content like a black slate and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception. The theory was popularized by John Locke during the year 1689 and prevailed for almost a century. But with the proposal of gene theory in the mid-nineteenth century, the theory became futile as it clearly stated that human characteristics are inherited from ancestors through DNA i.e., the genetic information carrying molecules present of a chromosome.

Spontaneous Generation Theory

This popular theory was propounded by Aristotle in his book “On the Generation of Animals” around 350 BC. It suggested that the first living organism on earth was formed due to a spontaneous reaction. He proved the theory by giving examples of flies that appeared on meat pieces when left for a few days. Another popular example was that of cheese and bread when wrapped in rags and left in a corner would produce mice. Later, in 1668, an Italian doctor Francesco Redi, disapproved the theory and showed that the flies could have appeared due to exposure to the air, thus allowing them to land on it. But still, the idea persisted until 1859 when the French chemist Louis Pasteur explained the reasons that how flies can appear on decaying meats even in a vacuum.

Phrenology

Although at present, Phrenology  theory has become a futile, in the past, it was one of the most popular branches of neuroscience. The theory stated that an individual’s traits and interests could all be localized to specific parts of the brain. And, the larger each part of the brain is, the better that particular trait would be.

These were some interesting laws that became obsolete with time. If you find this blog interesting, share these ideas with your friends and family.

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