34 Things Science Hasn’t Proven Yet But Folks In This Online Group Have A Hunch Are True Anyway

Our world is a peculiar place – and there are a ton of questions, both simple and not-so-simple, that remain to be unanswered. 

When did time begin? How do you know you’re not crazy and just hallucinating your whole life? Did you arrive at this point in your life because you wanted it or because you were destined to be here? 

There are a million and one things that can keep you up at night – however, we evolve, and the stuff that was unknown a couple of years ago is now being studied broadly. 

That said, our society never stands still, and although there are some things we might never know the answers to, many have their own suspicions that they are absolutely sure of: 

Scientists of Reddit, what's something you suspect is true in your field of study, but you don't have enough evidence to prove it yet?” – this online user turned to one of Reddit’s most informative and thought-provoking communities, asking professionals to share the things they suspect are true but can't prove just yet. The post has managed to receive 8.7K upvotes and 3.4K comments containing some gripping ideas. 

More info: Reddit

#1 Neurodiversities Are An Expression Of Social Evolution

Neurodiversities are an expression of social evolution and by trying to get neurodivergent people to be "normal" we're shooting ourselves in the foot.

If someone is interested, I can explain further, but I think I came into the post way too late.

Millions years ago, organisms went from unicellular to multicellular by having cells join and work together spliting tasks. Eventually the system was so complex that today's human's neurons, for example, can't feed themselves. They have to depend on other cells to help them do basic tasks. Your body is so complex that if some cells stop doing their work, the whole system collapses and you die.

So, if you look at society now, we work like this. Some people farm food, others transmit information, others work as society's immune system, and that have allowed us to grow and turn more complex. Basically, evolve. Society is now working as a multicellular organism because we have split tasks.

Now, neurodiverse people are notorious for not being able to do some very basic things, but they excel at others. Forcing them to act "normal" and do tasks they can't and someone else could do for them is wasting their specific potential. Hawkings wasn't neurodiverse, but I like to use his disability as an example: thanks to all the people that worked hard to keep him alive and allowed him the technology to communicate, we got to benefit from his incredible mind. If we had judged him as a burden to society because he couldn't tie his own shoes, we would have lost all his knowledge.

By forcing neurodiverse or disable people to perform normality (mask) instead of giving them help to thrieve as they are, society is wasting their potential and slowing our social evolution. Diversity is a necessity for our evolution.

Image credits: Haebak

#2 Treating Students More Like Adults Will Cause Them To Begin To Develop Into Adults More Quickly

Treating students more like adults/people will cause them to begin to develop into adults more quickly.

A lot of teachers that I've worked with/talked to treat students like a subclass of humans who are expected to give respect but not receive it. I treat my students like collegues and I end up getting a lot more output and learning from them.

I have collegues who shame them when they don't do what they think is right. When my students act like stupid kids I tell them, "Of course you did that. You're kids. Kids act like stupid kids." and usually after those conversations they start to act more like adults. I think it's because instead of shaming their behavior, I justify their behavior as a maturity and show them that if they grow in maturity they'll be more deserving of the benefits of maturity.

Image credits: chessandkey

#3 Intergenerational Trauma

I’m not sure if this really fits but, intergenerational trauma.

We know that physical and psychological stress in one generation (whether it be war, rape, genocide, alcoholism, drug use, growing up in the system, I could go on forever) can “pass on” to the next generation. But, we don’t really know how. Heritable epigenomic changes has been the first proposal.

But no one has done this *specific* research. My supervisor demonstrated a change in mitochondrial DNA copy number, resulting in epigenomic changes in regions of the genome associated with disease. Epigenomic changes mean that the expression of the underlying genes can be altered. This can result in disease.

Usually as a result of intergenerational trauma, people suffer more health repurcussions, and no one could really explain why. I want to explain why on the genetic level. I think I’m on the right path and I’m excited!

Image credits: midnightpatches

#4 99% Of All Animals Are Sentient

I agree with Gordon Burghardt that pretty much 99% of all animals are sentient, and our testing for sentience is wrong.

Image credits: NFRNL13

#5 Depression Isn't A Single Disease

Depression, just like cancer, is not a single disease.

Image credits: queeroctopus

#6 Antibiotic Resistant Organisms Are Going To Be A Massive Problem

Antibiotic resistant organisms are going to be a massive problem in the coming decades

Image credits: leanmeankrispykreme

#7 Babies Master Crawling Faster If There Are Pets At Home

Babies start crawling earlier when they have pets

Image credits: gabtonber

#8 The Crespi-Badcock Hypothesis

[The Crespi-Badcock Hypothesis] that autism and schizophrenia are exactly opposite neurological divergences, which develop epigenetically in the womb in response to entirely opposite environmental stressors — a world of excess and a world of scarcity, respectively — and therefore are never comorbid in the same individual.

My extrapolation of Crespi-Badcock is that autism spectrum disorder is really a first world problem in the truest sense. It is rapidly increasing in the developed world, but not the developing world, because compared to the environment in which humans evolved, today's first world embryos receive a stream of resources and conditions indicating it will want for nothing. If the developing human does not anticipate needing the usually large amount of brain resources devoted to reading other people in order to survive, this frees up these resources for understanding systems. Essentially, a person on the autism spectrum is a person whose developing brain received the consistent message that they can make it on their own without relying on many other people, and that their brainpower is better devoted to understanding lots of different and new systems to great detail, so that they *can* make it on their own without relying on many other people.

Schizophrenia, meanwhile, is largely a disease of the developing world, and of urban slums worldwide. The brain that's able to become schizophrenic, meanwhile, receives a consistent message during development that it's entering a world of great scarcity and insecurity, and being attuned to other people and their needs and what they communicate will be absolutely indispensable to their survival. The kickstarting event for the first psychotic break is usually some sort of forceful rejection or other form of psychologically traumatic social interaction, in the late teens or early 20s for men, and 30s for women.

Autistic patients miss messages from other people that are indeed there. Schizophrenic patients see messages from other people that aren't actually there. Hyposensitivity and hypersensitivity to social cues, respectively.

Source: I am an independent general practice physician with a strong interest in psychiatry / behavioral health, who is himself on the autism spectrum, and attracts largely patients who are on the autism spectrum.

Image credits: hononononoh

#9 Food Addiction Is A Thing

There probably is a food addiction, specifically towards food rich in sugars and fats, but it's still incredibly difficult to prove it, decipher the specific mechanisms, decipher it from eating disorders and establish if it's an addiction to food, an addiction to eating

Image credits: Matrozi

#10 Our Only Hope In Being Able To Fight Off Total Antibiotic Resistance Is To Develop Bacteriophages

Microbiologist — our only hope in being able to fight of total antibiotic resistance is to develop bacteriophages (viruses that eat/destroy bacteria) that we can use and prescribe in place of existing antibiotics

Image credits: AquariiBETA

#11 The Language We Speak Affects Us, From Our Culture To How We Perceive The World

That the language we speak (our native language) affects us from our culture to how we perceive the world to how we make decisions and process information and to possibly bring one of or the factor that allows us to have and enjoy this higher level of consciousness. It even effected how our bodies form (larynx shaped differently than in other primates, while it makes us more susceptible to choking, it allows us to make the complex sounds needed in languages). However, there haven’t been many studies on these topics, because, for example, the topic of the origin of language (and other scientific language topics on how it has affected us) was banned by the leading scientific institutions in the 1600s and 1700s, and was considered taboo because, for example, the topic of the origin and evolution of language was used in arguments on how the Earth was older than the Bible made it out to be. It was considered taboo for a long time, and as late as the 1970s these topics were just not to be discussed or researched. It was only in the 2000s that the first major studies started to be carried out, and today, because of this, it is still a relatively unexplored area, though this is starting to change.

Image credits: Big_bird_lll

#12 Digital Communities Have Replicated The Authority Of Religious Communities Without Their Physicality

Digital communities have replicated the authority, structure, and meaning-making functions of religious communities without their physicality.

Image credits: DrRexMorman

#13 Low-Pressure Weather Systems Increase The Frequency And Intensity Of Epileptic Seizures

As a former math and physics major, I took meticulous notes of my son’s epileptic seizures. At one point, I added barometric readings and current weather data to standard information of date, seizure type, and seizure length in seconds. I’m convinced that low pressure weather systems increased the frequency and intensity of his epileptic seizures. During a trip to North Carolina, the area had an unusually high, stable high pressure system. He didn’t have any seizures during our time there.

My theory is that high or low pressure weather systems microscopically change the flow of fluids in the brain or other neurologically sensitive areas of the body such as the micro biome of the gut.

Image credits: KindnessIsKey2019

#14 There’s A Huge Amount Of Environmental Contamination In Residential Areas, And Rapid Development Is Only Making The Problem Worse

Environmental Geologist - That’s there’s a huge amount of environmental contamination (soil, water, air) in residential areas, and rapid development is only making the problem worse. Most people in populated areas are likely very very close to known sites with dangerous contamination, and the number of unknown sites dwarfs what’s been addressed.

On top of that in the USA low income housing projects don’t need to meet as stringent environmental regulations, so a site that fails for normal residential use might still qualify for low income housing.

Image credits: Jesper90000

#15 The Total Biomass In The Oceans Has Decreased Significantly, And We Don't Have Enough Data To Understand What We've Done

The oceans are incredibly, catastrophically, incomprehensibly f****d. We’ve been using the oceans at a high level for centuries, and our awareness of the impact on the oceans has come far too late. We just don’t have enough data from before industrialization to understand what we’ve done.

edit: a clarification: the total biomass in the oceans is decreased significantly. Its like if we had been hunting every animal in every forest for 1000 years instead of ranching cows and stuff, started doing so industrially 100 years ago, and started worrying about the impact 50 years ago.

Image credits: Turtledonuts

#16 Gut Bacteria Has Evolved To Influence Our Behaviour

Gut bacteria has evolved to influence our behaviour, either directly or indirectly, to crave foods that benefit it. That's why it's hard to "come off" certain foods.

Anecdotally, it's hard to give up high sugar, high fat foods, yet if you go for long enough without them, your desire for them drops massively. I believe it's because the gut flora that likes that food dies off and no longer influences your behaviour.

It's very, very hard to prove, but it seems self evident that if bacteria even had the slightest opportunity to evolve a means to do this, it would almost be a certainty.

Image credits: AlterEdward

#17 We Spend Way Too Much Money On Cancer Research And Not Enough On Basic Research

Cell biologist: we spend way too much money on cancer research and not enough on basic research and have for decades.

Despite that it's finally working and the wave of immuno oncology drugs that are in clinical testing now will significantly reduce deaths from cancer.

We could have had this 30 years ago if we had spent a ton on basic research and not convinced ourselves we were about to beat cancer in the 70's.

We might be fooling ourselves again, I've not been working on cancer directly for too long. Previously though it seemed like everyone was convinced we were about to cure cancer then it fizzled. This time it seems like few people expect cancer to be cured despite real breakthroughs.

Image credits: leftier_than_thou_2

#18 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Is Caused By A Bacterial Phage Which Attacks The Mitochondria

That chronic fatigue syndrome is caused by a bacterial phage which attacks the mitochondria

Image credits: Mr_P_scientist

#19 There Has To Be A Way To Make Pavements More Frost Resistant

There’s gotta be a way to make pavement more frost resistant. Civil engineering background. I always thought it was the subsoil since they check the density of the rest of the layers that make up the pavement. I live in pothole infested State.

Image credits: redheadMInerd2

#20 If Scientists Got Paid More And Management Knew How To Plan Work More Efficiently, They'd Cure Everything

Chemist here. If scientists got paid more and management types knew how to plan work more efficiently, we'd cure f*****g everything. But we aren't paid enough and mgmt doesn't care as long as they get paid to sit around. So bench scientists just fart around finishing projects here and there, sometimes making a mad dash at the last possible minute to get data for a deadline, but mostly just surfing the web and drinking coffee.

Image credits: SixethJerzathon

#21 Covid Deaths Are Higher Than Most Estimates, Due To The Shortening Of Lives By Only A Month Or So In Some People

COVID deaths are higher than most estimates, due to shortening of lives by only a month or so in some people.

While I do have a doctorate in applied physics, this comes from one of my other jobs, taking funerals. During a lockdown event, my group sees demand go up by about a factor of three vs normal background demand. That is expected. What is unexpected is that it falls to about 50% of background after lockdown, implying that about a quarter of the excess deaths were people who would have died within the next month. As I understand it, the year on year comparison usually used to estimated excess deaths from COVID is unlikely to show this short term impact, hence I think that overall COVID death rates are probably underestimated by about a quarter.

A few specifics:

* This is in the UK

* Peak demand was about 40 funerals per month in our group. n is not great for physicists, but not out of place for small medical studies

* I can’t just ask what people died of. Most families don’t know it was COVID, but the 3x rise in funerals clearly shows most of them were due to COVID.

Image credits: ctesibius

#22 Melanism Exists In Mountain Lions

Melanism exists in mountain lions. I was driving and looked down a dirt road & saw a black animal run across it briefly. It was deer sized, black like a black bear, and had a long tail. Too big to be a dog. There is no recorded instance of melanistic mountain lions but I want to start looking for them.

Image credits: A_ChadwickButMore

#23 Plants Might Be Sentient

Plants might be sentient, a bit.

Image credits: dorisfrench

#24 You Don’t Literally Have Infinite Density Inside A Black Hole

Astronomer here! You don’t literally have infinite density (or mass) inside a black hole- I don’t think anyone really thinks that. Instead you have the laws of general relativity no longer work when you get a black hole where mass is compressed into such a tiny area. The devil is in the details though and no one knows how this alternative might work.

Image credits: Andromeda321

#25 People Who Have Done Software For Many Years Don't Need Hand-Holding And Retros

Software engineer.

The belief that all teams should be run the same way at a company. I waste alot of time in meetings every day. Daily "standups", "retros" etc. It's the classic round peg, square hole. A team of 3 doesn't need to manage things the way a team of 20 does.

People that have done software for 20 years don't need hand holding and retros. And they talk to new employees daily so we don't wait for retros. We also didcuss what needs to be done as needed. Not every day at 10 am.

We need to prove this all in studies and write a book that discusses how to properly manage teams.

We don't need ro map stories to classes/methods. When s**t breaks we don't look at stories (or requirements) to figure out where the code likely is. This made sense when you wrote code in notepad. Modern ides make this a total waste of time. Prove this by studying how experienced people solve bugs.

Image credits: kfh227

#26 UHT Pasteurization Of Liquid Food Products Leaves A Barely Perceptible Aftertaste That Only Some Can Detect

That UHT pasteurization of liquid food products leaves a barely perceptible aftertaste that only a small segment of the consumer population can detect.

Edit: I need a disclaimer that I was not referring to milk and other dairy beverages. The way the comments are shaping up I sound like somebody theorizing that people like ice cream.

Image credits: TheUnblinkingEye1001

#27 Minor Differences In How You Compress And EQ A Singer Or Rapper’s Vocals In A Song Can Affect The Emotional Reaction Of A Listener

That’s even minor differences in how you compress and EQ a singer or rapper’s vocals in a song can literally affect the emotional reaction a listener has when hearing the song.

Image credits: Yusi-D-Jordan

#28 Once You Cross The Line Of Dependence On Drugs, There Is No Going Back

No necessarily a field of science (I guess technically it is), but I worked in drug/ alcohol treatment for a few years and it was widely accepted that anyone and everyone could get clean and sober from drugs and alcohol. However, I have never seen anyone get clean off fentanyl after using for many years. By some it is believed that once you have carved that behavior in your brain for long enough, and with strong enough substance it is over for you. Typically fentanyl, as it is so strong on the brain and kids are using it so young, that they are not really giving themselves a chance at life (which can be as early as elementary school).

Along those lines once you cross the line of dependence on drugs there is no going back. Once an addict always an addict. You cant prove it but i believe this to be so.

Image credits: 666moneyman999

#29 The Semi-Classical Theory Of Gravitation Is An Incorrect Theory Of Quantum Gravitation

The semi-classical theory of gravitation, put forth by Moller and Rosenfeld in 1960s and further refined by physicists since then, is an incorrect theory of quantum gravitation. It's seductive because it marries Albert Einstein's theory of General Relativity (which we know is true for the large) with quantum mechanics (which we know is true for the small) in a very natural, intuitive way.

To be fair, nobody believes it (I think), but so far, nobody has been able to rule it out, either.

Image credits: taway0112358

#30 Those Who Were Exposed To Alcohol In The Womb Could Be Suffering From A Shadow Disorder That Has Similar Effects To FASD

We know that 25% of us were exposed to alcohol and sometimes other substances in the womb. I think 25% have some lasting effects similar to what you would see in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder but not severe enough to be diagnosed. It’s called shadow disorder: too mild to be diagnosed but still some symptoms. I think a lot of people with either ADHD, trouble regulating emotions, sleep problems or heart/GI problems and with prenatal alcohol exposure may actually be experiencing FASD-like shadow symptoms.

#31 The Octane Rating You See At The Gas Station Can Vary Much More Than You Or Even The Regulators Think

The octane rating you see at the gas station (87, 89, 91, etc) can vary in actuality much more than you or even the regulators think. There are so many factors that go into rating gasoline octane, and virtually every lab doesn't take them all into account, which creates massive variability.

Even an EPA lab where they verify the fuel is untrustworthy. I can promise you they are not considering all the factors they should be, and the reason they don't is because the allowable variability of gasoline octane is so large.

You're not filling up with 87, you're probably filling up with 85.4, or 88.3.

Image credits: Narfu187

#32 The Results Of Many Experiments In Ecology Would Not Stand Up To Replication

As an early career ecologist I suspect that the results of many experiments in my field would not stand up to replication. There's a huge bias toward "positive results" - those which support your hypothesis - and you are extremely disincentivized from research that is not seen as novel. This is doubly true for those of us without tenure yet, because we need to be seen as at the cutting edge of our field to get a job in the first place.

Meta-analyses help separate the signal from the noise a bit, but I suspect there's still a field-wide confirmation bias

Image credits: mr_robototoro

#33 Women Can Smell And Taste Sour Milk Much Sooner Than Men

Women can smell and taste sour milk much sooner than men. Can’t explain it but I know it’s true.

Image credits: alittlebitsarcastic

#34 Some Essential Oils Do Have Anti-Cancer Properties

Some essential oils do have anticancer properties (in-vitro evidence so far at least). I’ve gotten into this research because I TRUELY DISLIKE IT when people are like ohh essential oils are this cure all miracle, natural is good, chemical is bad.. etc.

Turns out it’s producing some AMAZING data that I’m proud of, not affecting any of the healthy cell lines so far. Only thing is I’m truly worried about those people misquoting my research paper, as we still need to figure out the active compound, optimal concentration… etc. But I’m sure some essential oil MLM would take it as “HA you see? Just sniff this 3 times a day and you’ll get rid of your cancer”…

Edit: FYI: the aim of our study is to identify and isolate the compound responsible for this effect, please don’t swallow lavender or lemongrass essential oils because it doesn’t work like that xD.