Wednesday News Chum: Interpreting Science, Bad Adults, and Round Monopoly

Surprisingly, there hasn’t been that much news from the lunchtime news reading of late that has been chum-worthy — which usually means a theme hasn’t emerged. However, I do have some mini-themes to share with you:

  • From the “Leave Science to the Scientists” Department: In Steve Allen’s book Dumpth, he talks about how society today has lost the ability to do critical thinking. Two articles I’ve seen demonstrate this. The first, concerning the media’s favorite non-politician, Sarah Palin, highlight how she dismisses scientific findings on climate change (a much more accurate term than “global warming”) as “snake oil”. She said the government’s approach to climate change “didn’t make any sense because it was based on these global warming studies that now we’re seeing (is) a bunch of snake oil science”. Politicians are quick to remind us that it is difficult for normal humans to comprehend the workings of the political machines (the usual analogy is the making of sausage). Similarly, politicians should leave the understanding of scientific research to the scientists who have technical degrees. In particular, Ms. Palin’s education is in journalism and sports, does not have the training to judge or recognize truly snake-oil science. I’m sorry, Ms. Palin, I’m more likely to trust the Secretary of Energy’s opinion, as he has a technical PhD and has won a scientific Nobel prize.

    Related to this is another article related to the obesity “epidemic” (hmmm, does this mean you can catch it by contact?): It appears that a recent study has found that sitting in front of the TV doesn’t make you obese. It is the commercials. Oh Stan. Paging Mr. Freberg. Sigh. This goes to show that advertising, surprise surprise, works. You advertise junk food, and kids will eat junk food. The way to get rid of this is to ban all advertising. Let’s see that get through congress!

  • From the “What Adults Do To Kids” Department: Two small articles highlight some bad things that are happening to our kids today. First, an 11-year old girl has given birth. Read that again slowly. Eleven years old. That’s far too young, and I’ll relatively sure the father was not the same age, but was older. Another story tells of a father (an Iraqi war vet) who waterboarded his 4-yo daughter because she didn’t know her alphabet. Both of these are horrific stories — and as a father of a daughter, they just make me cringe. I just don’t understand how adults can do these things to children.
  • From the “Going in Circles” Department: Monopoly has to be one of the most well known board games around (I’m not saying that it’s good or strategic, just well-known). It has also inspired the most variants. But in general the base game has stayed the change: pass go, collect $200; jail in the corner square, free parking, and funny money. That’s changing. Hasbro has issued a 75th anniversary edition with a round board and no money, just an ATM machine. No pewter pieces, either. Inflation has also hit the game: pass go, collect $2,000,000.