In Luc Besson’s latest sci-fi thriller “Lucy”, the director delves into one of the most famous myths of all time – that we only use 10% of our brain capacity.
In the movie, when Lucy (Johansson) becomes the victim of a drug trafficking plot in Taipei, she has a bag of highly valuable synthetic drugs called CPH4 sewn into her abdomen. Whilst trapped in a holding cell, Lucy rebels against her captors only to be kicked in the stomach, breaking the bag to release the drug into her system. This is where the fun really begins as Lucy starts to experience unimaginable changes that start to unlock her mind’s full potential.
The movie revolves around the myth that the average person only uses 10% of their brain and explores what could happen, theoretically, if it was possible to access 100% of the brain’s capacity. Despite this being somewhat of an urban legend, an alarming number of professionals actually consider this to be true. In the UK 48% of teachers buy into this misconception and across the pond, 65% of teachers and 30% of psychology students agree.
The belief originally stems from the father of American psychology William James, who in the 1890’s challenged the nation by saying “Most of us do not meet our mental capacity.” This kickstarted the rumour mill and in time led to the 10% myth being widely considered as true, strengthened by the fact that (until recently) scientists could not identify a purpose for the brain’s massive frontal lobes.
Besson has been criticised for using the 10% myth as the premise for Lucy, but argues, “It’s totally not true. Do they think that I don’t know it’s not true? I work on this thing for nine years and they think that I don’t know it’s not true? Of course I know it’s not true!”