True or False? Great ideas that died

Related Topics
The twentieth century has been shaped by a succession of beliefs and credos that have had tremendous influence on us all and then been proved to be false. Beliefs such as Soviet communism. The belief that the Tory party is the party of tax cuts. The belief that electrical goods made in Japan have comprehensible English instructions provided with them. The belief that if you start a part-work history and give away instalment Number Two FREE with Number One, then people will buy Number Three ...

Today, as it happens, I am starting a new part-work history, and by incredible chance it is a collection of Beliefs and Credos that have had Tremendous Influence on us all In The Twentieth Century and then Been Proved to be False. What is interesting is that all the false ideas and beliefs I bring you today are still believed by most people!

So here we go, with Part One of A Hundred Great Ideas That Have Shaped Our Century Even Though They Were Non-Starters.

1. The idea that adding "Le" to an English word makes it French. "Le Shuttle" means nothing - there already is a good French word for shuttle and it isn't "shuttle" and anyway it should be "la shuttle" if anything. Le Crunch in apple advertisements - who are they kidding? "Le car" in car ads - do they know that "le car" in French already exists? And means "the bus"?

2. The Tory belief that if you preach the value of giving people the right to choose, this automatically means that there are things worth choosing from. If I have the right to choose my child's school, and there are no good schools, what price choice? To put it even more plainly, if I have the right to choose at the ballot box, and my choice is between Labour and Tory, is it worth having a choice? And what price democracy?

3. The belief that if something is light it is easy to lift, but that if it is "lite" it will help you get slim.

4. The belief that anything in a hotel bedroom is yours to take away free. This light-fingeredness on the part of guests has led to a radical rethink in hotel bedroom design, even down to keys, which now tend not to be heavy metal items but light computerised cards which cannot be re- used. Hotel hangers have been made useless anywhere but in the hotel cupboard. Everything else has been made too small to be tempting (soap, shampoo sachets, bottles in mini-bars) or too foolish (eg. shoe-shine papers, courtesy shower caps).

5. The belief that the new computer culture will lead to better design. Nothing could be worse designed and cluttered than the cover of the average computer magazine. God knows what the contents are like.

6. The belief, very common among even experienced passengers, that if you jump to your feet when the plane comes to a stop you will get off quicker. All that happens is that you stay on your feet for ten minutes, unable even to get back to your seat. If by a miracle you do get off quicker, you only have to stand longer in the terminal.

7. The belief that you have to go away from home to be on holiday.

8. The amazing belief, sincerely held by petrol companies, that motorists prefer one brand of petrol to another. (They must believe it, else they wouldn't do all that advertising.)

9. The belief that the pace of life is big cities is much faster than elsewhere. Actually, it's much slower, because of the crawling pace of traffic and people's unwillingness to walk. The reason that city life seems rushed is that people are always delayed by the slowness of city life and late for something else. The symbol of city life is a man standing still on a street corner, idly chatting into a mobile phone, the modern equivalent of a country yokel chewing a bit of straw.

10. The belief that an information explosion is the same thing as a knowledge explosion.

11. The belief that sex education is more important than love education.

12. The belief in Britain that anyone in America is aware that there is a special relationship between us.

13. The belief that fashion and style are the same thing. Not only are they not the same thing, they are actually complete opposites. Fashion changes all the time, style stays the same. If you've got style, you don't need fashion. In Quentin Crisp's words "Fashion is only for people who don't know who they are".

14. The belief that if you leave washing-up without rinsing it, the taste of washing-up liquid will magically vanish.

More great wrong-headed notions of the twentieth century coming soon!

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam