“Popular Science is An Oxymoron”

Update: Poe’s Law.

Back in middle school science classes, when we finished all our work, we were allowed to read through my teacher’s old issues of Popular Science magazine. During this time I once heard an otherwise rather thick, snobby, and not particularly pleasant girl say the most truthful thing…

Popular Science is an oxymoron.

I then also realised that Scientific American is also an oxymoron.

I now have evidence for this…

Seen at the Fail Blog.

Kids, study hard in science. If for nothing else so that you don’t fail like this and make the rest of your fellow humans feel embarassed that you’re a member of our species.

I know, I know. This is only one example of stupidity. I wouldn’t doubt that the vast majority of people understand daylight savings time.

But at the same time I’m open to being surprised… although I wouldn’t be surprised at all if 30%, 50%, even 75% of Americans don’t understand daylight savings time and think this way.

I would say that somebody should do some research, but the last time somebody suggested that the media blared that he was anti-Harry Potter.

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17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by TheOtherOne on October 29, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    “I would say that somebody should do some research, but the last time somebody suggested that the media blared that he was anti-Harry Potter.”

    There are worse ways to get some publicity. 😉

  2. Wow… that is just sad on so many levels.

  3. This is coming right up against Poe’s Law, or whatever the equivalent of Poe’s Law is when it involves stupidity but not necessarily fundamentalism.

    I remember years ago a classmate of mine complaining about DST because it interfered with milk and egg production on this uncle’s farm (or some such). As if when the farmer sets his clock back or forward, all of the animals magically get jet lag. He seemed mystified at my suggestion that when his uncle sets his clock back an hour, if he feels it’ll be smoother for the animals, he might consider getting up an hour earlier too. Couldn’t seem to wrap his head around how that would help.

  4. Posted by Rev. Reed Braden on October 29, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    I am so filled with hate right now that it’s not funny.

  5. A minor nit, but the idiot there is not American.

    (He’s a fellow Aussie – Albury and Wodonga are cities either side of the Murray river; Albury is in New South Wales, Wodonga is just the other side of the river, in Victoria. The CSIRO is an Australian government scientific research organization.)

    So that particular letter really doesn’t constitute evidence that “Scientific American” is an oxymoron.

  6. It occurs to me that maybe you already knew he was an Aussie, but then I have trouble making it fit with “I have evidence for this”, unless that wasn’t intended to refer to your mention of Scientific American.

    Either way, I’m confused.

  7. “…I wouldn’t be surprised at all if 30%, 50%, even 75% of Americans don’t understand daylight savings time and think this way.”

    Isn’t it a bit extreme to use an example of near-clinical stupidity on the other side of the world to disparage up to 230 million people who certainly know better?

  8. Posted by Al on October 29, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    I think it’s reasonable to assume that the average scientific literacy in Australia is at least broadly comparable to that in the USA.

    It may even be somewhat better…

  9. Posted by Michael on October 30, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Al, I wouldn’t bet on it. I used to think that, but I’ve since met enough people out of my university-graduate friends and family (who are not, yet have a clue) to realise this was probably colouring my view. Just look at the success of chiro, reiki and all that shit here.

    This is actually a common … i strain to use the word ‘misconception’ … among the `rural folk’. A constant source of mirth for the rest of us. The upsetting of milking the cows is a particularly good one. Another argument was that by milking the cows later the milk would go off in the higher heat of the day …

    Some farmers `defiantly’ refused to turn their clock backs. Like they were somehow bucking the evil system and that somehow the clock dictated their day, rather than the position of the sun.

  10. I predict that Chris Hill, if he actually exists, will become famous in 2025 for commanding the first manned landing on the Sun. How will he keep from burning up during the attempt? He’ll go at night, of course! 🙂

  11. My head, I am BURNNIIINGGG!!!! Ouch, that will leave an ugly scar in my brain, visible in an MRI. Stupid neuron apoptosis inducing stupidity…

  12. @Efrique

    I meant more the Popular Science bit than the Scientific American bit.

    @gfish

    Isn’t it a bit extreme to use an example of near-clinical stupidity on the other side of the world to disparage up to 230 million people who certainly know better?

    No.

    I wouldn’t doubt that the vast majority of people understand daylight savings time.

  13. Posted by Waldo on October 31, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    It’s another take on a famous joke letter sent to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2007.

    http://www.snopes.com/humor/letters/daylight.asp

  14. Actually, when the Australians introduced Daylight Savings they had people on the news worrying about fading their curtains.

    As for the cows being disturbed, they really were. Farmers have to wake up before dawn early in the milking season, so they use an alarm clock. If the cows get used to one time (milking starts in the middle of winter) and then the time changes by an hour, they get confused and angry and complain most mercilessly.

    They know something’s up.

    And I’m a farmer’s son, so I know what I’m talking about.

  15. I bet that guy just has a stupid sense of humor. I have a stupid sense of humor, too. I used to also have a deadpan delivery style, but learned that I’d better laugh or people would just think I was stupid, rather than stupid AND funny.

    In emails, on message boards, and in other written expression, I know I’ll be misunderstood if I don’t use smilies and winkies and LOLs, or say (kidding) or something, because nobody could believe that someone would intentionally be so stupid.

    LOL.

  16. Posted by fred on January 30, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    ‘s called taking the piss.

    I think it’s funny that all these “intelligent,” educated folk like to pontificate on the ignorance of the common masses, yet are completely blind to what is obviously satire.

    And, as wazza mentioned, farmers complained for legitimate reasons.

    The initial post and most of the following responses are proof that stupid people abound. Chris Hill, however, is not one of them.

  17. Well, stupidity is different from ignorance.

    I, in this instance, was ignorant. Everybody can be a victim of Poe’s Law. Granted, I should’ve put more effort into Googling stuff.

    The reason why I’m blind to what is satire is because there are far too many people who are actually serious (e.g. young earth creationists).

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