"There is no such thing as a dumb question," as the late, great Carl Sagan once said. But, as you are about to find out, even he might admit that he might have spoken too soon.
We have scoured the internet to find some of the best examples of terrible science questions around -- actually they are very funny!
What is a good scientific question?
Concepts like "good" and "bad" are, by their very nature, subjective. But there are some characteristics of a worthwhile, aka "good" scientific question.
According to sites like enotes.com, a good scientific question could be defined as something like:
"A good scientific question has certain characteristics. It should have some answers (real answers), should be testable (i.e. can be tested by someone through an experiment or measurements), leads to a hypothesis that is falsifiable (means it should generate a hypothesis that can be shown to fail), etc."
What does bad science mean?
The term "bad science" has gained traction over the last few decades. But what exactly is it?
This is where bad actors use science to justify a falsifiable position or persuade a third-party to buy into an idea, concept or even a product. The phenomenon tends to come from a position of bad faith rather than genuine scientific intrigue.
"Bad science is where people misuse science and scientific research, usually to get you to buy something, to change your mind, or to make something seem better than it actually is." - sciencemadesimple.co.uk.
What are the problems of science?
Science is a venerable and important discipline of study, but it is not without its shortfallings. According to sites like editage.com, some of the main issues and conflicts of interest within science includes:
- Financial crunch in academia.
- Poor study design in published papers.
- Lack of replication studies.
- Problems with peer review.
- The problem of research accessibility.
- Lack of adequate and accurate science communication.
What are some terrible scientific questions?
And so, without further ado, here are 9 of the funniest, most terrible, science-related questions we have ever seen. This list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.
1. Any question that combines "The Rock" and science is ALWAYS worth asking
If Dwayne Johnson is studying his family history, is it called genealogy or geology? from r/shittyaskscience
Whenever you combine wrestling and science you know you are on to a great thing. And this question, albeit in jest, is certainly a great example.
Of course, this is a rhetorical question but it certainly made us smile; at least for a few seconds. In case you are wondering, the answer is, of course, what "The Rock says".
2. Here's another interesting, though most likely rhetorical, science question
The first dog in space died of stress. Was that because of all the vacuums up there? from r/shittyaskscience
Have you ever actually wondered why Laika the dog died? Apparently it was due to stress but what exactly stressed the poor mutt to death?
This questioner might well have hit on the core issue. After all, as any dog owner knows they have a perverse hatred for vacuum cleaners here on Earth.
But, jokes aside, Laika's death appears to have been very tragic indeed.
"The animal, launched on a one-way trip onboard Sputnik 2 in November 1957, was said to have died painlessly in orbit about a week after blast-off. Now, it has been revealed she died from overheating and panic just a few hours after the mission started." - BBC.
Poor Laika never stood a chance.
3. That's one big USB stick
This keen-eyed Redditor managed to spot the world's biggest USB stick, apparently. As they succinctly state, it must require one hell of a computer to actually read it.
Well spotted, and a very good (well bad) question.
Or it could just be a piece of reinforced concrete? We may never know for sure...
4. Yeah, why is that?
Why do you hear of celebrities dying, but you never hear of them being born? from r/shittyaskscience
Yeah, why don't we ever hear about celebrities being born? Royalty and other high-status individuals aside, society never appears to get a heads up when a new future celebrity first pops into the world.
Strange, very strange...
The question is obviously a joke, but we do like the way this person thinks.
5. Good point!
Pizza has crust. Earth has crust. Pizza is flat. Doesn't this prove that Earth is flat? from r/shittyaskscience
Since pizza and the Earth, both have crusts, and pizzas are flat, surely it follows that the Earth is flat too right? Come on, its obviously true!
You can't fault the logic! Well, you actually can pretty easily as it turns out.
6. Seems like a case of false advertising if you ask us
Observe a case of gratuitous false advertising on the part of the British Royal Mint. Notice how the coin clearly states "two pounds" yet, when weighed, their deception is revealed to everyone who cares to notice.
Far from being anywhere near the stated weight, it is actually a fraction of it at 0.02 pounds. Someone needs to inform Trading Standards immediately.
A shocking display. And from an official Government body too -- doubly shameful!
7. Give this man an award -- or lock him up (one of the two)
People say microwaves are invisible but I can still see them in my kitchen. Am I a genetically engineered superhuman who will save the human race? from r/shittyaskscience
My goodness, it appears we have found the world's first human microwave detector! Someone inform the scientific community immediately, we must study this person's eyes and mind in more detail!
Or not, as the case may be.
Indeed microwaves are invisible to the human eye, but this chap appears to be conflating the EM waves with the physical device of the same name. Silly person!
We do hope he is joking!
8. It seems we've found another case of false advertising!
As Reddit user Maggin1 keenly points out, why do people come back with the same baby after visiting a "baby changing station". It seems to us that this is yet another violation of trading standards in plain sight!
How come no one has noticed this before? Someone call the authorities immediately!
9. Think of the children!!!
And finally, but by no means least, is this nugget of a silly science question. How could someone so flagrantly advertise the brutal and cruel slaughter of children by cutting them in half?
Dear oh dear. Something needs to be done immediately.