Don’t facepalm in public

Or people will think you’re insane.

I was at my Young Driver’s course (to lower my insurance…considerably) and there was a video that came out with this little gem:

We only use 10% of our brains! [Amidst a bunch of otherwise useful stuff about training the brain to do things and react automatically.]

Although I get what the video was trying to say, as a former neuroscience researcher this is a huuuuuge pet peeve of mine and I couldn’t contain the facepalm. So I’m in a class of 4 people (including me) plus one instructor and we’re in the middle of this short video and a quiet *slap* rings out through the room. I say after noticing the looks: “That’s not true.” [Now, I’ll digress here again to emphasize that everything else in the video was perfectly reasonable and if that one sentence had just not been there it would have been damn near perfect, but I just couldn’t ignore that because it’s one of those things that drives me nuts.]

Don’t get me wrong, I think the facepalm was well-deserved. The 10% brain thing was stated as if it were fact in the middle of an educational video. Completely inappropriate. However, I probably could have just kept it to myself and no one would have been the wiser, because the rest of the day every time there was a story of someone doing something stupid I was sort of “teased” (not in a bad way) that maybe I should rethink that people use all of their brains hehehe. I didn’t want to digress the class by explaining further so I just shrugged it off and waited until lunch.

I said to the instructor in line for lunch (because the classroom here is in the Subway – rural!) “sorry for disrupting things a bit with the 10% thing, it’s just something that bothers me because of my background in neuroscience — we do use all of our brains” and I explained in about 2 sentences why that’s true (blood flow + electricity -> without which = brain death). It wasn’t a huge deal, I just didn’t want to be seen as a prick. I was sort of rationalizing my facepalm because I felt like an idiot.

She agreed that it didn’t make sense and we went on our merry way…with yet more in-class “teasing”. [Edit for clarification: So it seemed like they didn’t quite get it. In my head I was like “NO, REALLY!!! There is no truth to this! No joke is going to make it true!”] I don’t think they meant anything by it and were just trying to come up with a way to be amusing in an otherwise dry class (I mean, it’s road rules – yawn). But it’s annoying to be that person because you can’t help perceive it a little bit as punishing intelligence and rewarding ignorance.

Anyway, after that I was reminded to try to reserve my facepalms for more socially appropriate occasions in the future and try to find an appropriate way to point out those errors (such as on feedback forms). In the middle of class did not work out so well – especially because it was completely tangential to the actual topic. [Edit: I fully intend on noting the error on the feedback form. To some it may seem like a simple thing but to me including such a glaring error, even if it’s only tangentially related to the topic, undermines their educational value. So if they make new videos in the future, hopefully that sentence will be omitted.]

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4 responses to “Don’t facepalm in public

  1. I actually applaud your public facepalm, you stood up and addressed the misconception. Don’t let the teasing get to you, who knows they may have learned something thanks to you.

    • I’m fragile. I don’t handle that kind of teasing well. :) I also felt a bit like a know-it-all and that my information wasn’t well-received (because of the teasing). Really I shouldn’t feel guilty for that! But unfortunately too often I’m put in a situation where intelligence is punished and I think it’s trained me to try to avoid such confrontation.

  2. I hope you don’t feel like you have to keep quiet, I think we need more like you to point out silliness. Besides after meeting you I can tell that you sure aren’t one of those arrogant “know-it-alls”

    • I definitely won’t be keeping quiet (see edits above for clarification – because I realize now I sounded a bit wishy-washy at the end there). I think my automatic facepalming just needs to be a little curbed depending on the audience. :) ‘Cause they were all looking at me like “wtf is your problem? melodramatic, much?” when I could have just kept it in and noted it on the feedback form and/or spoke to the teacher privately. Instead, I accidentally made a small scene…which was uncomfortable later because I was singled out all day. For a shy person (who me? whaaa? yes, I am incredibly shy), that is just torture.