IKIA: Popular Misconceptions

A ‘misconception’ is a false, misleading, or factually incorrect idea that is being distributed online around a topic and whose truth value contradicts a credible and authoritative source in the archive by a leading expert in a specific field which has reached a clear consensus. Each misconception must be sourced to a leading expert and clarification of each misconception is equally sourced. 

The complexity of online media and search around a given topic can give rise to falsifiable misconceptions that can often become social or viral online. These misconceptions can make their way through discussion forums, Wikipedia, blog articles, and social sharing. The Popular Misconceptions context cubby is here to help sift through and sort, with quick access, trending misconceptions online and offer clarity to them based on sources available in the archive.

Our misconceptions cubby is clarified by leading experts in each specific field, and will address popular misconceptions as they appear in timely media.

Popular Misconceptions structure 

Popular Misconceptions publishes a list of misconceptions, attributable to a publishable source online, with a clarification summary. See example below.


Popular Misconceptions publishes in CMS and is currently active as a prototype.


Topic: Genetics

1: “Every aspect of the biology of an organism can be predicted from its genes 

 Published at: http://www.personalityresearch.org/evolutionary/sphexishness.html

Misconception clarified

It is widely believed that genes provide a “blueprint” for the body in much the same way that architectural or mechanical engineering blueprints describe buildings or machines. At a superficial level, genes and conventional blueprints share the common property of being low dimensional (genes are organised as a one-dimensional string of nucleotides; blueprints are typically two-dimensional drawings on paper) but containing information about fully three-dimensional structures. However, this view ignores the fundamental differences between genes and blueprints in the nature of the mapping from low order information to the high order object.

In the case of biological systems, a long and complicated chain of interactions separates genetic information from macroscopic structures and functions. The following simplified diagram of causality illustrates this:

Genes ? Gene expression ? Proteins ? Metabolic pathways ? Sub-cellular structures ? Cells ? Tissues ? Organs ? Organisms

Even at the small scale, the relationship between genes and proteins (once thought of as “one gene, one polypeptide”) is known to be complicated, with approximately 5 proteins in the human body for each gene. More significantly, the causal chains from genes to functionality are not separate or isolated but are entangled together, most obviously in metabolic pathways (such as the Calvin and citric acid cycles) which link a succession of enzymes (and, thus, gene products) to form a coherent biochemical system. Furthermore, information flow in the chain is not exclusively one-way. While the central dogma of molecular biology describes how information cannot be passed back to inheritable genetic information, the other causal arrows in this chain can be bidirectional, with complex feedbacks ultimately regulating gene expression.

Instead of being a simple, linear mapping, this complex relationship between genotype and phenotype is not straightforward to deconvolute. Rather than describing genetic information as a blueprint, some have suggested that a more appropriate analogy is that of a recipe for cooking, where a collection of ingredients is combined via a set of instructions to form an emergent structure, such as a cake, that is not described explicitly in the recipe itself.

Source: The Interpretations of Genes. (Dushek, Jennie) Natural History Oct 2002