Richard Carnes
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July 28, 2014
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Vail Daily column: Silliness of movie myths

“The average person uses 10 percent of their brain capacity. Imagine what she could do with 100 percent ... ”

And thus begins the trailer for the new movie “Lucy,” with the popular voice of Morgan Freeman selling the myth to the gullible public as if it’s an actual fact of which we are all aware.

What a load of marmot poop.

For the record however, this is not a column concerning a brain-dead Congress deficit-spending us into bankruptcy, as we should never confuse brain use with approval ratings.

And also be aware of Morgan Freeman doing an entire episode of “Through the Wormhole” where he methodically debunked this exact myth, but hey, he’s an actor reading a script.

What’re you gonna do?

Anyway, with approximately 86 billion brain cells comprising 3 percent of our total weight yet consuming 20 percent of our energy, the brain is a complex system comprising multiple subsystems working, in one form or another, literally 100 percent of the time, otherwise we would all be motionless vegetables incapable of cognitive thought patterns.

But like I said, this isn’t about Congress.

Ninety percent of the brain works on automatic, subconsciously, for efficiency and as a basic survival mechanism. It regulates our heartbeat and breathing without any conscious thought, along with every other body process that occurs 24/7 without us having to think, like sex for men and shopping for women.

Wait, wait, that’s not all women, of course, just my wife, and perhaps a few others. (Don’t worry, she never reads my columns.)

So our brain uses up to 100 percent of itself, or as much as it needs according to the moment. The more conscious thought needed, the harder it has to work, like finalizing a major financial decision, taking a ski instructor test, picking the right club for the next golf shot or having to decide which beer to choose at the Gore Range Brewery.

It’s like your computer. It has memory, a hard drive and processors that do 90 percent of the work in the background, with your input taking up the rest. But the more input you force it to calculate at any one time causes the entire system to slow down a bit.

In biological terms we call it “stress.”

Sadly, Hollywood, along with the series of tubes known as the Internets, perpetuates these silly myths daily, causing the accumulative intelligence level of our species to drop accordingly.

To be clear, there is no dark side of the moon, chewing gum does not stay in your stomach for seven years, lightning indeed strikes the same place twice, moguls are not wire-mesh contraptions stored in large warehouses for the summer, deer do not transform into elk at tree line and Colorado does not have an extra special species of evergreens that sporadically turn rust-colored to help our state’s reputation as being “colorful.”

Granted, I have yet to see “Lucy,” and perhaps they debunk the myth in the first 10 minutes, but enough ignorant damage has already been done by the promos.

Please don’t fall for the anti-scientific hype.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at poor@vail.net.


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The VailDaily Updated Jul 28, 2014 09:30PM Published Jul 28, 2014 04:48PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.