Ever been shocked at what some people believe?

I still run into a very large number of “average people” who are shocked that coal is used for electricity production in the US. What’s most worrying is science teachers who don’t know this. When I used to do a mini lecture circuit in Junior High and High Schools to talk about energy in the US, probably 75% of the science teachers I met had no idea where energy comes from.

I can understand ignorance but what gets me is that they’ll argue with me about it. “No, I don’ think that’s right” said one science teacher who it turned out had no college degree at all, and doubled as a football coach.

And because natural gas is colloquially referred to as “gas” a lot of people believe that gasoline and natural gas are the same thing when it comes to power plants. And despite my best efforts there are still a lot of people who believe that a significant part of our energy generation is oil-fired.

And let’s not forget that ANY power plant with a hyperbolic cooling tower is a nuke. I’ve actually driven into coal power plants past anti-nuke protestors - several times, in fact. And you can’t even tell them the score - you’re just lying to them, and really there’s a secret, hidden nuclear power plant on site - “we can SEE the towers! Stop lying to us!” Seriously, that’s bark-at-the-moon crazystupid.

Some of the nuttier things I’ve heard about energy:

  • Wind turbines don’t really work, they’re a conspiracy to funnel money to companies owned by relatives of Nancy Pelosi et al, and the crews putting up the wind turbines are all illegal immigrants Muslim Mexicans who use the money to buy guns, and to sell drugs to Christian white kids.

  • The noise from wind turbine blades is proven to cause autism, ADHD, aspergers, or any one of a number of self-diagnosed illnesses, like lupus.

  • For that matter, ethanol in gasoline causes autism (the pollution products of burning it in your car, that is). So does biodiesel. And nuclear power plants. And the Easter Bunny; may as well.

  • Solar cells on your rooftop give kids cancer by reflecting UV light down onto the ground where it hits them. Part of Obamacare is supposed to help treat this. They can also cook birds in the air, dropping them like an avian hailstorm when a flock passes overhead. Make sure, that your umbrella, is upside down…

  • Innumerable treatises on how AGCC is a myth which Democrats are using as back-door wealth transfer. I used to be able to say that in my industry most of the engineers and scientists believed in AGCC and felt something needed to be done. That has changed quite precipitously over the last 4 years, coincident but not definitively causal with Obama, and now an informal survey around an office of Master’s level scientists and engineers, as well as many PhD level folks I meet or work with, is perhaps close to 75% believe AGCC is a myth. I don’t argue with them; I may as well argue with Christians over biblical inconsistencies.

That is very scary stuff, Una. Some ignorance just isn’t funny.

Okay, my bad.

I worked many seasons as a cleaner at a camp-site, so nothing really shocks me anymore.

I met a middle-aged woman at the womens toilet at the camp-site, while I was cleaning. I told her to use the mens room while I was cleaning. As it turns out she didn’t want that, because she had to do the number two and that, according to her, there were only pissoars in the mens room.

Me and a friend met a girl who we made believe that I was one of the three. One of the three men that raised the electrical poles on Røst, Lofoten, Norway, by hand. She was very impressed, but didn’t like the ecological consequences it must have had.

Another time I met a guy who believed all holy books were written by witches, and told about how humans were once aliens with superpowers, and that messiah would be the one to remember that he/she was an alien and regain his/her powers. He also believed that jurrasic park was true, and for some reason, that the US government suppressed all this information from the public, so that they one day could claim monopoly on intergalactic tourism. He also combined his faith with islam, christianity and judaism.

I also got quite bewildered when my grandmother told me she hated kids in kindergarden, because they steal the retirement homes of elderly people.

I just remembered another one: a couple of people I met at a school function once told me that the Soviet Union was the cause of air and water pollution in the U.S. - that somehow the communists were using mind control to cause us to pollute our own environment. When I questioned how this would be possible and what would motivate the Soviets to do this, they responded, “Who is assaulting you?”

Did you bother to read the OP before you decided to post that?

Or how about the “FAQ - Rules for Posting at the Straight Dope Message Boards”?

Discussion of your religious beliefs belongs in the Great Debates forum.

This isn’t my forum, so I’m not issuing a mod note.

I work with an otherwise intelligent guy that honestly believes he was “tricked” into getting addicted to his doctor-prescribed medicine for the treatment of high-blood pressure.

See, he didn’t take the medicine when he was young, and his blood pressure was fine. Now it’s high. It must be the medicine’s fault, and the drug companies are just trying to milk him. Makes perfect sense, right?

He’s on this insane cycle, which typically lasts about two months. Start cycle: He has been taking his medicine, and has been feeling fine. But he starts to think about how the drug companies are playing him for a sucker, and that he’s fine, he doesn’t need the medicine, right? He gets angrier and angrier and then just stops taking it.

From that point on, he deteriorates. Feels worse and worse as his blood pressure soars. You can literally see it on him - he just looks sicker and sicker. Once or twice co-workers have taken him to the emergency room because he looked like he was going to have a heart attack or a stroke or something.

Then, his wife or his doctor will find out he’s been skipping his meds and yell at him. At this point he’s feeling too lousy to argue so he’ll begrudgingly take the medicine again, and very quickly feel better. But of course this is just proof that the drug companies have him addicted. Now he needs the medicine, it’s all their nefarious plot.

After a few weeks feeling better, he’ll repeat the cycle.


He’s also a vaxxer, but not for the autism argument. He believes the government is genetically modifying viruses and vaccines are their way to try them out on the public. I get this speech every year when flu shots are offered at work. Thank god his stepson was already done with the major vaccines before he married his wife.

One of my best friends is a serious believer in homeopathic medicine. She is definitely otherwise a very intelligent woman, but I cannot convince her that this is nonsense, so we simply don’t discuss that subject any more.

I know someone at a previous job who felt this way about her diabetes meds :eek: She passed out at work and when tested was somewhere in the 480 range :eek: I understand that she is now on disability for diabetic retinopathic based blindness. I believe she can see light and dark, and shapes but that is about it. :frowning:

My friend Nancy, as a young child, was told by her parents that “the entire house would blow up” if she touched the stove. This was obviously hogwash, but the parents didn’t want their 4 year old to hurt herself (or start a fire).

Nancy continued to believe this until she was 12 years old and was starting to help her mom cook.

I have lost the capability for any belief to shock me. However, I will probably never lose the capacity to be saddened and disgusted by people’s beliefs.

If you look into a lot of examples of “food X made by company Y contains gross ingredient Z”, Z turns out to be more expensive than whatever food X is supposed to be made of. The rumor about fast food hamburgers containing earthworms is an example of this. Earthworms cost more per pound than beef, so the rumor makes no sense.

That was my immediate reaction to the Bubble Yum spider-egg rumor. “Wait, this company is selling candy made with the eggs of poisonous spiders? For 35 cents? How can they possibly be making money?”

There’s a grain of truth to this, in that pollution doesn’t respect national borders, and that the Soviet Union was pretty bad about environmental issues, particularly before Gorbachev came to power. Of course, the mind control bit is just plain nuts.

I actually believed this (that hyperbolic cooling towers are limited to nuclear power facilities) until I took a trip out to western China (Xinjiang) and saw the trademark “nuclear” cooling towers on the coal-fired power plant near Urumqi. A quick Google indicated that all of China’s nuclear power facilities were in the east. :smack: I consider myself well-educated-- it was just a situation I’d never thought about before.

I’m still amazed when people in my Facebook “friends” post those stupid urban-legend statuses as fact. I must seem like a pretentious bitch because I always point them towards Snopes.

I had never thought about it all that hard, but that was my take on it, too - all the way into my first year in vet school, actually. :smack: My mum’s still bringing that one up at family dinners ten years later.

Wouldn’t that make him an *anti-*vaxxer?

Generally, when I run in to one of them, I’ll try feeding them facts. Most refuse to believe the facts, but every now and then I get one that’s actually willing to do a little bit of reading.

True, but I think it’s understood that either term refers to people who are willfully wrong about vaccine facts.

Kind of like “birthers” don’t deny that Obama was born.

I don’t see a lot of difference between that, and people who point out that some of the highest crime rates are in cities with the strictest gun control laws.