The Speed of Stupid

26 Oct

I’m back to picking on education.

Today’s topic is Science.

This is something I am particularly picky about, since my wife Karrie, aside from being lovely, is also a science nerd of epic proportions; she has a Bachelor’s in Aerospace Engineering and a Master’s in Physics.  Because of this, it is not uncommon for our dinner-time conversation to turn to “the problems of time travel”, and we have had heated arguments over “terminal velocity”.

So, you’ll have to excuse me if you think I am being a bit harsh here.

In my life, I have met a frightening number of people that firmly believe that Science is a complete waste of their time.  Of course, these same people likely believe that the sun is dragged across the sky in a flaming chariot, so perhaps I shouldn’t let them bother me so much.  For simplicity’s sake, I will refer to these people as “idiots”.

I mean… seriously… Science?  A waste of time?  Have these people never seen MacGyver?

My concern, however, is not for them.  Not directly, at least.  My primary problem with these people is that they are allowed to breed.  They are allowed to bring a new life into this world, fill it up to the brim with “stupid” and set it free.  Don’t get me wrong here.  My kids are going to need some people to pump their gas, and clean their homes, just not that many of them.

But I am getting off topic again.  Back to Science…

The MTA frequently provides me with wonderful examples of the appalling state of education in America today.  And for science, it doesn’t disappoint.

I was sitting there on the train, likely playing a game on my laptop, when I overheard a man describing to his friends how a “Mosquito Magnet” works.

What struck me about this man was the supreme confidence with which he spoke.  He spoke as if he had not only invented the “Mosquito Magnet”, but that he personally built each one by hand to ensure that they adhered to his high quality standards.

The gaggle of commuters that surrounded him was enraptured.  This guy must have been in sales; he could have told them almost anything, and they would have believed him.  I’ll be honest here.  I really only had an inkling of how these devices work, but it took me about 30-seconds to find a website that explained it in detail.  To make a long story short, I think the only thing he got right was the name.

Maybe this guy doesn’t deserve my ire.  I mean, sure, he is as dumb as the day is long, but boy do I wish I was as good at making shit up and saying it with such confidence…

Commuter: So, you’re saying that my car can run on Mayonnaise?

Me: That’s right.  And the only byproduct is bubbles, which come right out of your muffler to the delight of the neighborhood children.

Commuter: I’m stopping at Costco on the way home!

Of course they’d learn, soon enough, that I was wrong.  But not before I’d had my fun…

Me: You used Hellmann’s?  You idiot!

Commuter: But… you said…

Me: Everyone knows that Miracle Whip is what cars run on!

Alas, our friend from the train is not alone.  No, he’s just one of many science-challenged people, all of whom believe they are not.  You can find clues of cluelessness everywhere.  Let’s take, for instance, some lyrics from a popular song by Sheryl Crow:

“And every time you hear the rolling thunder
You turn and run before the lightning strikes”

If you don’t know why I have a problem with these lyrics, please stop reading now.  Go, find your High School Physics teacher.  Tell them you are sorry.

For those of you that are left…

Perhaps you think that I am going to point out the obvious; that lightning comes before thunder.  Or, maybe you expect me to eviscerate Sheryl Crow for making such a blunder.  Wrong on both points.  Instead, I am going to focus on her fans.

For, you see, I am not the first person to notice this chronological conundrum.  A little Googling will bring you to sites where at least one of her fans defends her lyrics by saying that “Rolling Thunder” is different than “Thunder”.

I see.

So… when thunder “rolls”, it somehow makes sound faster than light?

It’s all so clear now.

Another fan confidently informs everyone that “thunder always comes before lightning”.  He enforces his argument further by adding “it’s a fact”.

Wow… just… wow.

While the first fans only took a sip from the stupid well. This guy drank deeply from it, took a bath in it, and then bottled some to take home.  I really hope it was actually a smart fan who was just kidding.

Let’s just put this one to bed, shall we?  Light is faster than sound, even if you “roll” it.  I forgive Sheryl Crow for not knowing, or even caring, about this.  If she wanted to, she could probably pay someone enough money to change the world to match her lyrics.

But, those that try to defend her by disregarding a few laws of physics, are idiots.

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Posted by on October 26, 2008 in Gripes


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