A major part of truly learning any discipline is weeding out the misconceptions that were either planted by others early in life, assumed 'facts', or poorly taught concepts. The matter of of correcting misconceptions in physics, I believe, is highly important but I was surprised that a tag does not exist - or is there another term being used? My intent indeed to study discussions on physics misconceptions.

It did occur to me that people that ask questions probably would not use the tag since they would probably not know that their question involved a misconception. It would be more useful for persons answering their question to edit the question and add the tag thus adding the question as a resource to study, understand misconceptions.

In any event I would like to get some opinion on this before I propose adding the tag, but that maybe hard to do since I don't have any questions other than in this Meta site.

  • $\begingroup$ It is a myth to believe that misconceptions are taught/independently read in physics schools/books nowadays, and it is a misconception to believe that physics theories are free of myths. :) $\endgroup$
    – DanielC
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 0:31
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Wouldn't just about every question on the site need this tag? $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 0:45
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielC not all misconceptions taught. Most I believe are invented in one's mind to fill gaps in knowledge. Our brains do that even for simple vision; illusions illustrate that. The trouble is it's difficult to recognize your own personal misconceptions. Best to always question, validate your knowledge. $\endgroup$
    – docscience
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 1:58

1 Answer 1


I don't like the idea of having this tag.

  • It doesn't really help characterize the subject of a question, which is what tags are for.
  • I doubt that the presence of this tag would help correlate similar questions, which is another thing tags are for. It seems like the kind of tag that would apply to many different questions on disparate topics.
  • I don't see there being experts in physics misconceptions who would want to follow the tag to stay aware of questions in their area of expertise, which is yet another thing tags are for.
  • Conversely, I don't see there being people who would want to ignore questions about physics misconceptions in general, which is sort of an edge use case for tags (but one with significant precedent).
  • And it's really not clear to me what sort of question this would be used for, or would not be used for - and more importantly, I don't see it being clear to most other people posting on the site. So if this tag existed, I foresee it being used wrongly a lot of the time, which would ruin its effectiveness.
  • $\begingroup$ On your last bullet the tag would not be useful at all to people posting questions since, until the question is answered or the concepts corrected, would the OP be aware. My point, the person answering the question would edit the post with the tag - to brand the question as a myth or misconception. Then the tag would be useful to others reading posts without having to read fully the answers and decide themselves if its a misconception. BTW here is a sizable list of misconceptions compiled by one science teacher: newyorkscienceteacher.com/sci/pages/miscon/phy.php $\endgroup$
    – docscience
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 1:53
  • $\begingroup$ @docscience Yeah, exactly - but a tag that can't usefully be applied by the original poster is almost certainly a bad tag to have. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 7:03
  • $\begingroup$ Consider that people answering questions have more knowledge, a better grasp on categorizing a posted question than the OP, and I believe they often edit tags accordingly when they answer the question if a tag is incorrect or missing. I know I have at least on several occaisons. And I have answered questions that fit in the 'misconceptions' category ... unfortunately no tag. $\endgroup$
    – docscience
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 17:44

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