What are WE wrong about, in OUR times?


It’s easy to laugh at the mistaken ideas of the past:

Good thing we don’t believe silly stuff like that any more, right?

The thing is, it’s only with hindsight that the error of these false beliefs is obvious

In their time, they seemed like simple ‘common knowledge’. Questioning them was preposterous.

Nowadays we know for sure that Galileo was right – but when he first challenged the accepted wisdom that the earth is the centre of the universe, he was tried by the Inquisition, found ‘vehemently suspect of heresy’, and forced to recant.

In those days, of course, heresy had religious implications. But Galileo’s real ‘heresy’ was daring to disagree with the basic common knowledge accepted by all at that time. And that, unfortunately, is a sin that still exists today.


So have you ever wondered what false beliefs we might be accepting as common knowledge, right now?

It turns out there’s a few right under our noses. They have to do with speech, and with how spoken communication works.

Phonetics, the science of speech, shows that many ideas our society currently accepts as ‘common knowledge’ are actually wrong.

And if you’re thinking it’s all those ‘uneducated others’ who accept false beliefs as common knowledge – sorry but ‘our society’ includes educated, well-spoken people, who are very confident in their knowledge of speech!

In fact, without being rude, the more confident you feel about your knowledge of speech, the more likely you are to hold beliefs that phonetic science has shown to be false.

Does it matter? Surely lots of science is beyond common knowledge?

It ain't what you don't know that gets intro trouble; it's for sure just so
A lot of people ‘know for sure’ that this quote originates from Mark Twain – but evidently that ‘just ain’t so’.

False beliefs don’t stop us using speech in everyday conversation – which is interesting, and we’ll come back to it.

Where false beliefs do get us into trouble is when they are used as the basis of important practical applications.

RTS specialises in three practical applications

All of them are negatively impacted by false beliefs about speech, often held by well-educated people with high-level responsibility for running our society:

  • forensic speech evidence in criminal trials
  • speaking and listening between native and non-native speakers of English
  • understanding literacy
  • building theories of how our minds work

Hang on! That’s four – and that last one doesn’t sound very practical!

At Rethink Speech we believe there is nothing so practical as a good theory – and conversely, nothing so impractical as a theory full of false beliefs. And there’s no theory so important as the one we use to think about ourselves.

You might find Rethink Speech makes you rethink more than just speech – you might even come to see yourself in a whole new way, as you come to realise that false beliefs about speech rest in false beliefs about our minds.

So there’s four reasons Rethink Speech wants to fast-track you to some advanced findings of phonetic science.

It’s conceptually challenging but not at all technical. If you like thinking about things, and thinking about how you think about things, you’ll probably enjoy it – despite the fact we take every opportunity for bad puns and quirky humour.

Image from Pixabay

Curious? Want to learn more?

Check out the TASTER and the INTRO for more information. And try the other open material in the top menu if you like.

When you’re ready, dive in to the UNLEARNING of your choice.

And don’t worry, you won’t suffer a fate like poor old Galileo!