Will water give you cancer? Could peeing in buckets end all our energy troubles? Will the Large Hadron Collider destroy the Earth? Scientists have found a grand unified answer to all these problems and more, and the conclusion is “No.”
“Question marks are how you print bullshit lies without getting in trouble,” explains Doctor Sherlock Obvious of the Negative Excrement Institute. “If there was the least scrap of truth they’d report it as fact and it would be the story of the century. Deep in the scarred sewage trench that used to be a heart they know it’s bullshit, but they’ve reached the point where absolute toxic falsehood is an inconvenience instead of a reason not to print it. They’re scheduled to squat out something in the next twenty minutes, so they stick a question mark on the end to peddle noxious fearmongering bullshit.”
“It’s actually quite simple, like the click-bait headline writers. We’re hoping someone will make a browser plug-in which detects headline question marks and appends NO IT ISN’T.”
The question headline works by willfully misinterpreting the basics of the scientific method to achieve the exact opposite effect: a belief in things without evidence. The scientist can’t rule anything out entirely, so the scaremonger seizes the openness to new data to scream the absolute absence of any with “SO THERE’S STILL A CHANCE!”, whipping everyone up into a lather of bullshit. If you asked a taxonomist if there was such a thing as a unicorn, they’ll say that Equus Unus has never been observed.
“But can you definitely say there have never been any unicorns anywhere in the universe?”
“Of course not, though, haha, it’s extraordinarily unlikely…” but the bullshitter is already demanding that audiences be fitted with mandatory magical swords at all equestrian events to protect themselves from being headbutt-stabbed.
It’s the easiest way to not technically lie, and the easiest way to plant an idea while pretending to do the exact opposite. For example:
“Could io9’s stupidity damage the entire progress of the human race?”
No. Thank Thoth. But the idea has been planted with stuff like this.
The story is another couple of lawyers manufacturing themselves a job by opposing the very idea of progress. Again. But instead of reporting “Unqualified lawyers manufacture bullshit case out of thin air”, io9 decided “Hey, those lying attention-thieves are on to a good thing! We’re on their side!” This time the lawyers are taking on an upgrade to the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. It’s an exemplar of the legal system as molasses poured into machinery of progress so that all kinds of insects can crawl in and get fat before being eventually crushed by the gears of progress their own parasitic existence has slowed.
It’s based on the appalling idea that democracy means unqualified assholes and experts have equal weight. They don’t. If you’re a lawyer: fine, you get to deal with law. Particle physicists don’t come into your courtroom and bombard you with antiprotons. But if you keep this bullshit up, maybe they should. Because the laywers apply their form of only-literally legitimate pedantry to fields where it has no function.
They write “The original [RHIC] report assumed the RHIC would only run for a planned 10 years. But thanks to program extensions, the RHIC is now entering its 15th year”. We know laywers change their minds about what you’re allowed to get away with every time a judge farts, but the laws of physics haven’t changed in the last five years.
“The machine has also been continuously upgraded since the report… The suitability of models and assumptions used in the original analysis might be profitably reappraised.”
It’s nice to see them reveal their real motivation with “profitably reappraised”.
The next trick is usually destroying probability by taking a 0.0000000001% chance of anything, then multiplying it by six billion people no the planet, then by thousands of collisions, and then you might as well multiply them by the 718 Pokemon to the power of twelve zodiac signs because you’ve already destroyed the concept of probability math. Simple multiplication of odds is to probability what throwing stones is to architecture: you can cause pain and fear, but you’re not making anything worthwhile.
The idea of particle acceleration destroying the planet is disproved by cosmic rays. The Earth has been bombarded by far higher energy particles than anything we can generate for its entire existence. If the entire universe can’t wipe out the Earth with stranglets, micro black holes, and other words these writers heard somewhere once but never really understood, then the scientists (who actually created those terms) thank you for the compliment. But their hardware isn’t quite as powerful as everything else ever put together.
We need to stop listening these bullshit headlines. We need to stop people from using the legal system like a media mafia. “Sure is a nice plan to upgrade you got there after finally extracting some funding from politicians who hate and fear what they don’t understand. Sure would be a pity if anything happened to it, like baseless scaremongering.”
A question mark at the end of a headline means “THIS IS LIES, CLOSE THE WINDOW.”
Continue your anti-anti-education with
We as a species could avoid a lot of this bullshit if everyone lived according to Nuhr’s maxim*: the amount of words coming from one’s mouth should be directly proportional to the knowledge one has about the topic at hand. Should be right up there with Kant’s categorical imperative and the Golden Rule… oh wait, we’re ignoring those, too.
*named for the German comedian Dieter Nuhr, who famously said: “Wenn man keine Ahnung hat, einfach mal die Klappe halten.” Translated: “If you don’t know anything about it, just shut you trap.”