10 Percent Myth


William James gives speeches on accelerating raising

Approx. 1895 - Approx. 1900

Neurologist and philosopher William James often told audiences that people only meet a fraction of their full mental potential. It is likely that he was speaking metaphorically.

1929 World Alamanac published


In this book, a self-help advertisement contains the line "There is NO LIMIT to what the human brain can accomplish. Scientists and psychologists tell us we use only about TEN PERCENT of our brain power."

How to Win Friends and Influence People published


In the preface of Dale Carnegie's book "How to Win Friends and Influence People," Lowell Thomas summarized James's speeches by writing: "Professor William James of Harvard used to say that the average man develops only ten percent of his latent mental ability."

Georgi Lozanov proposed teaching method of suggestopedia

Approx. 1970 - Approx. 1979

He wrote "that we might be using only five to ten percent of our mental capacity."

Deathstroke the Terminator comic book villain is introduced


Deathstroke is said to be able to use 90% of his brainpower.

Magazine ads for Satellite Broadcasting


National magazine ads for Satellite Broadcasting showed drawings of the brain with a caption underneath that read: "You only use 11 percent of its potential."

ABC runs promotional spot for The Secret Lives of Men

July 1998

Advertisements for the ABC show "The Secret Lives of Men" claimed that "Men only use ten percent of their brains."

Snopes page on 10% Myth is published


The Dark Fields book is released

March 2001

Techno-thriller novel The Dark Fields by author Alan Glynn is based on the premise that we only use 20% of our brains and a pill could unlock the rest.

Limitless movie is released

March 18, 2011

Limitless (starring Bradley Cooper) is a movie based on the novel The Dark Fields.

Lucy movie is released.

25 July 2014

Lucy (starring Scarlett Johansson) is a science action film about a woman who gains superhuman abilities when she takes a drug that allows her to access 100% of her brain.

Limitless TV show season 1

September 22, 2015 - February 10, 2016

This TV show is based on the same concepts as the movie Limitless.