Questions set the scientific method in motion. Without that initial curiosity, that “I wonder…”, that “What if…”, we would not have the technology, the medicine, nor the knowledge that we have today.
But not all questions have readily attainable answers. Despite our formidable advances in probing reality over the years, there are some things we are still incapable of concretely knowing. One day, that could change, but for these topics it’s currently hard to fathom how. Here are four questions that humans may never know the answers to:
Every member of America’s expert class possessing even a modicum of integrity and self-awareness has long been aware of a simple truth: Only a fool would trust the emanations of America’s leading experts.
Worse, the more prestigious the job title, the less trustworthy the pronouncement. Official experts who speak for the government are the most suspect of all. Worse still, you can’t write off anything they say because a great deal of it is informed and valid.
The Pacific Northwest was hit with a record-shattering heat wave in June, with temperatures over 35 degrees higher than normal in some places. On June 28, Portland, Ore., reached 116 degrees. Late last week the region suffered another blast of hot weather, with a high in Portland of 103 degrees. The New York Times didn’t hesitate to pronounce the region’s bouts of extreme weather proof that the climate wasn’t just changing, but catastrophically so.
To make that claim, the Times relied on a “consortium of climate experts” that calls itself World Weather Attribution, a group organized not just to attribute extreme weather events to climate change, but to do so quickly. Within days of the June heat wave, the researchers released an analysis, declaring that the torrid spell “was virtually impossible without human-caused climate change.”
World Weather Attribution and its alarming report were trumpeted by Time magazine, touted by the NOAA website Climate.gov , and featured by CBS News, CNBC, Scientific American, CNN, the Washington Post, USAToday, and the New York Times, among others.
Albert Einstein. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Marie Curie. Gaia. The first person came up with the general theory of relativity. The second is regarded as perhaps the greatest classical composer of all time. The third is the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields. The fourth isn’t a person at all; it’s a dog.
All might be considered geniuses.
Some individuals are supremely gifted, with abilities that the vast majority of people cannot hope to replicate even after years of dedicated practice – the adolescents who are chess grandmasters, the musicians with perfect pitch, the professional athletes who make their colleagues look like amateurs. Scientists have been studying these people for decades, hoping to uncover genetic, environmental, or social underpinnings for their talents. Researchers have yet to find satisfactory answers.
The remains of a 26.5-million-year-old giant, hornless rhino — one of the largest mammals ever to walk Earth — have been discovered in northwestern China, a new study finds.
The newly identified species, Paraceratherium linxiaense — named after its discovery spot in the Linxia Basin in Gansu province — towered over other animals during its lifetime. The 26-foot-long (8 meters) beast had a shoulder height of 16.4 feet (5 m), and it weighed as much as 24 tons (21.7 metric tons), the same as four African elephants, the researchers said.
The new species is larger than other giant rhinos in the extinct genus Paraceratherium, said study lead researcher Deng Tao, director and professor at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. A new family tree analysis of Paraceratherium species, including P. linxiaense, reveals how these ancient beasts evolved as they migrated across Central and South Asia at a time when the Tibetan Plateau was lower than it is today, Tao told Live Science in an email.
Diets that exclude meat and fish (vegetarian) or all animal products including dairy and eggs (vegan) are becoming increasingly popular for health, environmental and ethical reasons.
Past research in adults has linked vegetarian and vegan diets with a reduced risk of heart disease but a greater risk of fractures, caused by low calcium intakes. But the impact on children has not been evaluated, until the release of a new study this week.
The researchers found a link between shorter heights and lower bone mineral content among vegan children, compared to meat-eaters. But they didn’t show vegan diets caused the difference. Nor can they say the differences will last into adulthood.
It took three biologists to haul a 240-pound (109 kilograms) fish out of the Detroit River in Michigan last month. The nearly 7-foot-long (2.1 meters) “monster’ sturgeon,” caught and released by the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, could be more than 100 years old. It’s a mightily impressive catch for sure, but is it the biggest freshwater fish in the world?
The Detroit River fish is a lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens), and while it is believed to be one of the largest ever caught in the U.S., there are much bigger fish swimming in rivers around the world. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the planet’s largest freshwater fish is the beluga sturgeon (Huso huso), living between Europe and Asia in the Black, Azov and Caspian seas, and the rivers feeding them.
Beluga sturgeon can reach a maximum length of more than 26 feet (8 m), or about four times as long as a king-size mattress, and weigh up to 2.2 tons (2,000 kg, or 2 metric tons), according to the Pan-European Action Plan for Sturgeons, prepared by the World Sturgeon Conservation Society and World Wildlife Fund. When they grow up, belugas are at the top of the food chain, eating fish such as roach and carp, aquatic birds and even seals, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Once upon a time long ago, we agreed there were certain immutable laws of human nature. These laws were based on facts, reality, and data.
In other words, we accepted common sense about the way the world worked according to logical and even “scientific” principles. That assumption defined us as “enlightened” rather than Dark Age reductionists and ideological- or myth-driven zealots.
Not now. “Progressives,” especially the media, are most often regressive, anti-Enlightenment, and intolerant people, who start with a deductive premise and then make the evidence conform to it—or else.
Americans mostly have given up on familiar institutions for entertainment, guidance, or reassurance. What now do Hollywood, network news, the media in general, Silicon Valley, the NBA, NFL, MLB, or higher education all have in common?
A propensity to lecture Americans on their moral inferiorities, a general ethical decline in their own disciplines, and a strange obsession to acquire great wealth while living in contrast to what they advocate for others. Add also incompetence. Movies are mostly bad now. The network news is blow-dried groupthink. There is no “paper of record” anywhere. Twitter and Facebook no longer even try to hide their politicized contortions of warped rules and twisted protocols.
Professional athletes are now reminders of why no one ever wants to be “enlightened” by multimillionaire quarter-educated narcissists. The public a half-century ago lost faith in academia. It wasn’t just that most new bad ideas could be traced to the campus or that hothouse professors increasingly seemed both ignorant and arrogant, but rather their product—educating students—was defective. No one believes anymore a BA is synonymous with knowledge. More likely, it is a euphemism for incurring $100,000 in debt.
Over their 165 million-year reign on Earth, hundreds of billions of dinosaurs lived and died. Occasionally, they did the latter en masse, making it much easier for us to find their fossilized remains and examine them. Concentrated areas of dinosaur death have become colloquially known as “dinosaur graveyards”. The following are some of the most remarkable.
1. The Hilda Mega-Bonebed. Around 75 million years ago, a herd of Centrosaurus that may have numbered in the thousands was swept up in a torrential flood that inundated the lowlands of what is now Alberta. The hapless, top-heavy dinosaurs were dragged into river channels that flowed into the shallow inland sea which cut North America in two, where they drowned and accumulated in a macabre mass. Scavengers feasted upon their fleshy remains.
Today, these centrosaurs’ resting place is a jumble of bones roughly the size of 280 football fields in southern Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park, a goldmine of ancient history. It is so large that completely excavating it would be impractical.
Journalists and scientists have more in common than you’d think—at least they should. Scientists seek to understand and explain how the natural world works. They observe, ask questions, and approach new information with skepticism as they work through a careful process to determine what is true.
Journalists, in theory, use the same curiosity and rigor to provide the information we need to make good decisions in our lives. According to the Society of Professional Journalists, a core tenet of journalism is to “seek truth and report it.” In both worlds, negligence begins where skepticism ends, creating dangerous opportunities for peddlers of misinformation.
The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) annual “Dirty Dozen” list is a perfect marriage of scientific and journalistic negligence. Each year, the EWG, a controversial, agenda-driven organic activist group, purports to rank the top 12 fruits and vegetables most contaminated with pesticides. And each year, the media takes the bait without fail, and the coverage reads like sponsored content.
Black Lives Matter. Believe All Women. Everybody wants to be on the right side of contentious civil rights issues — that’s why the debate over what that “right side” is becomes so intense. But the most quantifiable systemic injustice in our nation today is not black versus white, or male versus female. It’s old against young.
During the coronavirus pandemic, abandonment of adult responsibility in respected institutions — medical, educational, and parental — is indicative of sweeping moral collapse. Making sacrifices for future generations used to make sense in a grown-up world. But baby boomers, those children of the ’60s who have controlled the country for 30 years, have desensitized our culture with their apathy and entitlement. Why should healthy children be held to the same medical standard as a 70-year-old “boomer” with multiple comorbidities? Why have young people, who beat COVID-19 quicker than the annual flu, been forced to surrender a year of their lives to satisfy the anxieties of a paranoid gerontocracy? The calculated hysteria of our politicians has accelerated institutional fragility, a condition of paralysis in which medical and educational leaders refuse to acknowledge prejudicial restrictions on the young and the healthy.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who announced plans to step down as Amazon’s CEO last month to focus on philanthropic and science interests, is set to spend the $10 billion he invested in the Bezos Earth Fund by 2030, the Associated Press reported.
Bezos announced the fund in February 2020, but he offered few details on how exactly the money would be distributed. Andrew Steer, who for eight years has been the head of the environmental nonprofit World Resources Institute (WRI), will be the fund’s CEO.
In a series of tweets, Steer revealed very few details, however he did say Bezos’ “goal is to spend it down between now and 2030.”
A dozen generations or so ago, the scientific method gradually began superseding the method of authority as the most reliable way of knowing the world. We no longer had to accept without question what powerful individuals and institutions asserted; we could observe and test and measure, relying on a more objective approach. This profound shift in focus helped the human family take steps away from darkness and toward light. But apparently the light was too bright.
In an interview with Tucker Carlson, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy unintentionally defined this critical moment in America’s history. “We weren’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this,” he explained about his draconian decrees, including a ban on religious gatherings, to fight coronavirus. “First of all, we looked at the data and the science and it says people have to stay away from each other.”
Murphy’s comments undoubtedly buoyed the egos of academic “experts” across the country. A leading politician boasted, without the slightest sense of remorse, that his fidelity to the almighty deity of “science” prevailed over protecting the rights of his state’s citizens.
The first 10 amendments to the Constitution? Meh. The six-foot distancing rule concocted by a handful of careerist bureaucrats in Washington? Bow and scrape.