January 8, 2008

5 Truly Bizarre (and Discredited) Historical Theories

From subterranean Martians to female hysteria, people have been known to believe some pretty bizarre things. What does it take to make a believable scientific hypothesis out of a strange idea like Hollow Earth theory, what suspension of believe is needed to agree with the Intelligent Design nutjobs? Apparently, not much. Here are five of the strangest examples and who knows what people will find hilariously untrue from our era in 50 years? Everyone will no doubt have other ideas for what the world’s weirdest theories are so give it a shot in the comments below!


1. Trepanation

Ouch. In one of the oldest known medical interventions, a hole is drilled in the skull of a patient who is suffering from defects such as seizures or migraine headaches. The idea was to relieve pressure in the head which was believed to be causing the ailment. Today, trepanation is used on a very limited basis as a mechanism to access the brain for necessary surgery. Some people practice recreational or spiritual trepanation, presumably because they need modern medicine like they need a hole in the head.

Woman screaming

2. Female hysteria

Women in the Victorian age were said to be suffering from female hysteria when they were moody or a little more “difficult” than usual. Fortunately for them, the treatment was something called pelvic massage. We can’t laugh too hard at this one, though. Many years later, it directly caused vibrating devices to be widely available for, um, home treatment.


3. Expanding Earth

As bizarre theories go, this one doesn’t sound that far-fetched. Expanding Earth is the idea that the planet was once a lot smaller and completely covered in one continent. If you mentally shrink the globe and try to fit the continents together like a puzzle, you could almost start to believe this theory


  1. I love trivia stuff like this!!!

    Comment by rukuku2 — January 9, 2008 @ 3:04 pm

  2. Where is Creationism on this list?

    Comment by Vaca — January 9, 2008 @ 3:07 pm

  3. […] list has been severely abridged. To read the full list, view the original post at it

    Pingback by 5 Truly Bizarre (and Discredited) Historical Theories | AnyNumberOfThings — January 9, 2008 @ 5:04 pm

  4. Don’t forget this one whopper of a criminally insane theory/concept: “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of higher animals, directly follows”

    The only problem is, we’ve all been brainwashed for generations, from birth, and at the expense of your tax dollars with the ideas that make this quote a ‘logical’ conclusion, for the above quote is from Darwin’s “On the origin of species by means of natural selection or the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life.”

    Tell anyone anything from birth long enough and they’ll take it for granted. The Catholic Church (the Mother of Harlots) had most the civilized world laughing at anyone who said the earth wasn’t flat (proven wrong by Galileo, a Christian). Today the same Catholic church supports evolution (not to mention man-made global warming), even helped establish it in the public mind with the Jesuit priest and archeologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who discovered ‘Peking Man,’ a supposed ‘missing-link’ in Asia (now a well-known fraud, yet still denied by the hardcore rock-to-man believers). Chardin is also one of the greatest contributors to the ‘New Age Movement’ and is even considered the father of it by many. Al Gore even quotes him favorably in his pagan/pantheistic/mother-earth,gaia religion/environmentalist book, ‘Earth in the Balance.’

    The idea of ‘evolution’ is indispensible to the ‘new age movement’ (and politics/socialism, all of which converge toward the same goal) which is why it’s been crammed down your throat at every turn and is forced into public schools (fraudulently viz extant legislation) at the instigation of the ACLU, at tax dollar expense.

    Evolutionists like to call Christians nutjobs, and I might even agree seeing how most seem to believe in evolution.

    Facts schmacts, just go with the flow and watch more Comedy Central or take more college biology to reinforce your state sponsored religion..

    “God is known by nature in his works, and by doctrine in his revealed word.” – Galileo

    Comment by frog to prince — January 9, 2008 @ 6:49 pm

  5. *sorry, not flat earth but geocentricity. Galileo helped develop the theory with Copernicus, also a Christian. Not a big difference tho.

    Comment by frog to prince — January 9, 2008 @ 7:03 pm

  6. Creationism? OK how about the “theory of evolution” I believe that is still a theory isn’t it?

    Comment by Greenie — January 9, 2008 @ 8:14 pm

  7. All well, except for point 3. All the continents were once linked to a huge continent pangaea. I wouldnt say thats discredited because well, thats a scientific fact. The earth itself has not expanded though, indeed.

    Comment by Ithrazel — January 10, 2008 @ 1:11 am

  8. Reply to Vaca:

    Creationism is not science;it’s bizarre religion.


    Comment by Last10words — January 10, 2008 @ 5:00 am

  9. I don’t really see Phrenology as that bizarre. It was just stretching localisation of function too far, and ignoring the fact that the inside of the skull is smooth.

    Comment by dan — January 10, 2008 @ 5:33 am

  10. Where’s atheism on this list? Atheism has been disproven.

    Comment by Vaca — January 10, 2008 @ 6:03 am

  11. Where is evolution on this list?

    Comment by Anti-Vaca — January 10, 2008 @ 6:36 am

  12. Yeah, where is creationism?

    Comment by Jeebs — January 10, 2008 @ 7:48 am

  13. What about man made global warming…

    Comment by Michael — January 10, 2008 @ 8:07 am

  14. I’m Afraid the theory that the earth is expanding is true. It was Thought up by Alfred Wegener. The Single Continent was called Pangea that existed during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras about 250 million years ago. Not only can you see the continent fit together on a map, but rocks where found on different continents that belonged on a different continent. As well as animals that belonged on different continents. Come on i learned this in like grade seven. And the fact that Scientists dismissed this is absolutley wrong. Sure Scientists didnt believe him at first but they found later that he was not wrong. Maybe you should do more research next time???

    Comment by John — January 10, 2008 @ 4:04 pm

  15. […] 5 of the World’s Weirdest (Discredited) Scientific Theories […]

    Pingback by Jay Gaulard Blog » Blog Archive » Scientific Theories, Web Hosting and Google Earth — January 10, 2008 @ 7:49 pm

  16. @Frog to prince – I’m not in any way indoctrinated by the theory of evolution – I’ve considered it in relation to all the other theories I’ve heard for speciation, and it makes the most sense. I’m open to any conflicting theories if you have one, but you seem to just be trashing ‘Darwinism’ for the hell of it…

    @Greenie – only a ‘theory’ in the scientific sense.

    @Michael – bit early to say on that one methinks. Either way though, in fifty years people will be looking back and saying either “I can’t believe they ever thought global warming was/wasn’t caused by humans!”

    @John – You’re thinking of continental drift – some continents are moving apart due to tectonic activity, but they’re drifting closer to others at the same time: the size of the planet isn’t changing. Thought it was a bit unfair to include that one in the article, after all they were half right…

    Comment by Johnny — January 11, 2008 @ 5:59 am

  17. I think “Global Warming” should soon make this list.

    Comment by Dave C — January 11, 2008 @ 7:58 am

  18. John, plate tectonics explains how the continents broke apart and drifted, and why they appear to fit like a puzzle, and that theory is widely accepted as fact. The “expanding Earth” theory, however, postulates that the DIAMETER of the Earth is increasing, that our orb is becoming larger, which is just absurd. Do not confuse the two ideas.

    Comment by Dave C — January 11, 2008 @ 8:00 am

  19. You forgot
    1) manmade global warming
    2) evolution

    Comment by Jim — January 11, 2008 @ 9:47 am

  20. OMG, where do I start?
    Greenie, look up the word ‘theory’ as used in science. It’s not the same as ‘hypothesis’. A scientific theory is considered fact, supported by massive amounts of evidence. The only thing more sure is a ‘Law’, like gravity.
    John, the separation of Pangea into individual continents has NOTHING to do with the earth expanding!!! Continental drift is still going on and can be measured. The Asian sub-continent is still moving northward, causing the Himalayas to increase in size. It’s happening all over the world!
    Frog-to-prince, if you want to talk about brainwashing, you have to put religion at the top of the list. Evolution theory is based on hard, cold facts and Darwin’s observations continue to be supported year after year. The method of change is often challenged (see S.J. Gould’s punctuated equillibrium), but the FACT of evolutioon is not in dispute among open-minded scientists. Religion is based on thousands of years of folk lore being changed and manipulated by people with a social or political agenda. Wake up!

    Comment by Steve — January 11, 2008 @ 2:23 pm

  21. “Greenie

    Creationism? OK how about the

    Comment by Facto — January 11, 2008 @ 11:10 pm

  22. How would we prove that Trepanation does not work. We laugh at the concept but the procedure was probably done 1000’s of times. Why would these people continue to preform it if it did not work.

    Comment by Charlie — January 12, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

  23. My Expanding Earth Knowledge site was referenced. Thank you all. I just returned from Athens Greece where I gave a talk to the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Their avante guard meeting was titled “Examine our Myths”, which brought forth a number of EE’ers from around the world. I showed that the five points on the earth clearly identified on the site (with US Patents received) align with great circles to many of the world’s major oil, gas, and mineral fields and can be used to increase the probability of finding new resources. Mark the 5 points on your own globe. Google for the major oil fields and draw the connecting great circles. If I’m contacted I can send you some jpegs, or answer any questions.

    Comment by Keith Wilson — January 12, 2008 @ 8:38 pm

  24. Evolution is not a theory – It is a long time scientific established fact.

    Creative design and other pseudo-scientific crap belong on this list.

    Comment by Antonio — January 13, 2008 @ 7:23 am

  25. I have a theory that John went to public school.

    Comment by Marc — January 13, 2008 @ 7:46 am

  26. The nutjobs seem to be out in force tonight…

    Comment by Laughing Bystander — January 13, 2008 @ 10:30 am

  27. Hey, that female hysteria was a good idea while it lasted, wasn’t it?

    Comment by Miss Cellania — January 13, 2008 @ 12:34 pm

  28. Evolution is intelligent design.

    Comment by Jim — January 13, 2008 @ 3:42 pm

  29. I am quite amazed at the ignorance of the pro-evolution crowd.

    Remember that for hundreds of years it was a “proven scientific fact” that spontaneous generation fully explained the origins of life.
    Then came Darwin who believed characteristics passed from parent to offspring by the environment. This was called “Acquired Characteristics” and was undebatably considered truth. You remember the old experiments where they would cut off the tails of mice for several generations believing that eventually the mice would be born without tails.

    Then the science of genetics came along and totally disproved yet another “proven scientific fact”. Now you believe that we evolved through random genetic mutations. We are still looking for an example of even one positive genetic mutations, but you believe that countless billions and billions of them have taken place.
    The more we learn about the complexity of DNA the more it looks like your latest “proven scientific fact” will fall by the wayside.

    But this time you are completely sure that there are no holes in your theory.
    Fine, believe what ever you want, but don’t stand in the way of those that actually want to seek the truth. And if it happens to lead to “Intelligent Design” or even “Creationism” so be it.

    Comment by Steve from Ohio — January 14, 2008 @ 1:41 pm

  30. At those of you disputing what a theory is or isn’t, I’ll tell you what every science teacher told me. A theory is just a hypothesis that has not yet been disproven.

    Comment by Harmsy — January 18, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

  31. […] Five “Bizarre” and Discredited Theories. But, one day, California probably will be an island. What’s left of it, anyway, after “The Big One.” […]

    Pingback by Believe. Act. Achieve! - dcr Blogs dot Com » Blog Archive » SciFi Saturday — January 19, 2008 @ 11:26 am

  32. Hey “Steve from Ohio.” I only have a point or two to make. Admittedly Darwin hadn’t quite figured out how traits were passed down from generation to generation. I believe we, excuse me, I mean some of us have learned that there are four mechanisms for change in phenotypes, excuse me, observable traits resulting from genetic combinations.

    There is Natural Selection, where creatures with less desirable traits die off or fail to reproduce, and creatures with more desirable traits reproduce more and live longer. The less desirable characteristics are somewhat weeded out of the population, and the more desirable characteristics continue to flourish.

    There is also Random Genetic Drift, where random events happen, say a tree falls in the forest and kills fifty people, then some genes may not get passed down to the next generation (usually only works on a large scale).

    Then there is Gene Flow, which is basically when genes get brought in from a different source, like when a group of people migrate to another area and mix their genes with the pre-existing population.

    And lastly, there is Mutation. This rarely leads to great change of any sort. A gene may mutate, and express itself as a trait in someone, and if the trait is really useful and really helps the person who has it to survive and reproduce, then it MAY get passed on.

    And you think that all evolution/change comes around solely through genetic mutations? Are you crazy? That’s the LEAST likely method of change. I’m sorry if I sound a little harsh, but please don’t be too self-righteous if you don’t actually know your facts.

    Comment by Saefas — January 20, 2008 @ 9:14 pm

  33. “Now you believe that we evolved through random genetic mutations.”

    If you hadn’t made such a beginner mistake thinking “random” has much to do with evolution, I would have at least respected, if not disagreed with your position. You’ve simply revealed the scientific method of how we expand our understanding. Science is not embarrassed by contrary or ambiguous evidence. It adapts and progresses with each finding.

    Creationism, on the other hand, fights tooth and nail to discount any new evidence that erodes its stance. Sticking his head in the sand has worked very well for the ostrich. Does that seem familiar to you?

    Comment by penny — January 21, 2008 @ 9:05 am

  34. @Penny: perfect explanation, thank you.

    Also, I have a popularly accepted and recently discredited theory to add to the list. Before common sense proved it blatantly wrong, many people thought that most people replying to someone’s well-thought out, entertaining post had something equally well thought out to say in reply.

    Grow up, everyone. More than half of you have used this space to do nothing more than whine about how evolutionism or creationism is a lie, doing everything up to and including insult the intelligence of people who believe something different from you.

    I cannot believe that you are acting so immature. There is scientific evidence for and against evolution and creationism, and it is certainly something that needs to be discussed. However, this is not the time or the place to do so.

    This is a list of bizarre and discredited theories. Neither evolution nor creationism have been disproved, even if either seemed particularly bizarre. The same goes for global warming. This list is only for theories PROVEN to be incorrect. Absolutely nothing that anyone has posted on here has ever been proven wrong.

    Get yourselves under control. No matter how strongly you feel about how life began, you do not need to force it on people who only wanted to be informed and entertained by Delana’s very excellent post. Discuss your pet theories somewhere else.

    Comment by Voice of Reason — January 22, 2008 @ 8:38 am

  35. To John and Ithrazel: Nobody would deny that all the continents were once a single land mass. The Expanding Earth Theory is suggesting that the planet itself is growing in size. This is not true. When Pangaea existed, the earth was the same size, but there was also one massive ocean to make up for the rest of the area. There was never a time where the earth was completely covered in land.

    Comment by Victor Crowley — January 23, 2008 @ 1:03 am

  36. And then let us not forget the Flat Earth Society. They’re still around (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth_Society) and are the leading proponents that the manned missions to the moon were faked.

    Comment by Joe Code — January 23, 2008 @ 2:48 pm

  37. Thank the stars for ‘hysteric’ women!!!! I solute you Vmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Comment by Denise — January 28, 2008 @ 10:07 pm

  38. Wow, John is a moron.

    Comment by Observer — February 9, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

  39. Vaca, when was atheism disproved? For that matter when was theism proved? You can find more evidence for the existence of unicorns than you can for any god.

    As for evolution, every university and museum has countless pieces of evidence for evolution, but not one can be found anywhere for creationism.

    A theory, so is the theory of gravity, electricity, ns aerodynamics. Yes all of these can be demonstrated and the results reliably repeated by even hostile experimenters. How about creationism and theism?

    Comment by James Smith — March 5, 2008 @ 9:11 am

  40. though it is called the theory if evolution, in science theory is what we call something that is proven. hypothesis is something that is not proven.

    Comment by trey — November 13, 2008 @ 7:54 am

  41. Expanding earth theory is true.
    All the continents fit together on all sides.

    Yes it was smaller, the core of the earth is more dense than the crust.

    As rock leaves the center of the earth to become the crust, it gets bigger, and therefore so does the earth.

    Think of the earth like a giant ball of lava, cooking off into space, and slowly cooling.

    Like the top of a muffin, same thing.

    Comment by Science guy — December 17, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

  42. Creationism has not been disproved in the same way that the giant green monster I believe lives in my closet has not been disproved.

    Comment by beach — March 23, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress