Social Question

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

What topic or issue do you wish more people were knowledgeable about?

Asked by FireMadeFlesh (16548points) May 17th, 2010

For example, I wish more people understood how driving style affects fuel consumption, which household substances can be recycled, and how radiation works (just because it would make my job easier if less people were scared of x-rays).

What topics/issues/fields do you think are important, but the general public seems to be ignorant of?

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38 Answers

Rarebear's avatar

Evolution. Cosmology. Rational thinking. Geology. Physics. History.

jaytkay's avatar

Science, math, compassion, empathy, geography.

Critical thinking most of all.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Common sense. Their health.

ETpro's avatar

Logic. I think there is a great deal of extremely foggy thinking in the world today. Part of it may be due to our short attention span and a culture based on sensationalism and tabloid journalism. The most absurd statements are all too often accepted as gospel truth. Politicians and news people know this, and use it.

Here’s an example. A recent question asked about the Pope weighing in on Gay rights in the UK. The Pope said that homosexuality should be illegal because it is “unnatural”. Unfortunately, those who support gay rights did not see how preposterous the Pope’s claim is. Instead, they argued back that homosexuality is, indeed, natural.

But that tacitly accepts the Pope’s basic premise that things which are unnatural should also be illegal. If that premise is correct, then almost everything in the modern world should be a crime. Chemotherapy and all of modern medicine are unnatural. Air travel is unnatural; as is travel using cars, trains, ships and even bicycles. Manufacturing is unnatural. Does anyone in their right mind think we should ban all things that were not part of a caveman’s natural lifestyle?

One can make rational arguments for and against liberalizing the treatment of homosexuality in modern society, but we should not dignify idiotic arguments by buying into their basic premise. Society, the media, opposing politicians all should be capable of basic thought that is clear enough to see the logical fault in such a flawed argement—and this is just one example of a near infinity of such flawed “thinking”.

Democracy relies on the electorate being able to look at policy proposals and the discussion of them with a critical eye. I think it holds serious implications for the future of liberty if we do not learn to think logically.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Rarebear I’d agree with all of those, even though I find geology to be quite dry.
@jaytkay Good answer, thanks.
@Seaofclouds Thanks.
@evandad Is there any particular type of music?
@ETpro GA. I think all high schools should have a class on pure logic and critical reasoning, even if it is only for one hour per week. Thinking is a more important skill than knowing.

deni's avatar

the earth’s formation. it is so fascinating and mysterious and amazing. we should all take some time and read up!

Vunessuh's avatar

Sex trafficking.
The psychology behind bulimia/anorexia and other forms of self-harm instead of immediately dismissing them as cries for attention.

Blondesjon's avatar


I’m fucking fascinating.

Facade's avatar

Crooked governments
Crooked businesses

Trillian's avatar

Critical thinking.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Okay, who’s going to be shocked about me saying : their food and what goes into it and what the costs are to the animals and to the environment. Also, logic and sociology.

DominicX's avatar

I second most of what was said above, especially that about logic and critical thinking, as cliched as it sounds.

Additionally, I wish people knew more about homosexuality. I don’t mean that in terms of the activism and the rights and all that. Of course people should know more about that, but it’s fairly public as it is. What I’m talking about is the fact that we didn’t even mention homosexuality in sex ed when I was in school. I would like it to not be this big thing people keep quiet about until they find out someone in their family is gay.

I also wish more people knew about the environment and what destroys the environment and helps the environment. I’ll admit that I don’t have the greatest knowledge of it and if people knew more about it, it would be a whole lot easier to preserve and better the environment.

ETpro's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Comes under the topic of logic I mentioned and the tightly related one of critical thinking that @Trillian cited.

@DominicX Excellent point.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ETpro I know – I totally agree with you both but you know, you know it bears repeating!

aprilsimnel's avatar

People should know how PACs and lobbyists work in the United States. People in the US should become familiar with the political systems of other countries. Heck, a lot of citizens of other countries know our Constitution and Bill of Rights better than we do, and some have based revolutions on their readings of those documents.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@aprilsimnel Agreed – I don’t think people realize how much our ‘representatives’ are bought by corporations.

YARNLADY's avatar

I wish people had a better understanding of how the government should work, and what they can do to help make it so, especially the process and benefits of taxation.

zenele's avatar

Israel and the Middle East in general.

zookeeny's avatar

Cause and effect

liminal's avatar

Criminal Justice and Prisoner Reentry
Human Trafficking
Fair Trade
(I consider myself one of the people.)

jerv's avatar

Damn near anything that the average person talks about.

I am sick of bobble-heads just parroting their talking heads of choice and not actually forming their own thoughts, or even remembering basic facts.

roundsquare's avatar

@zenele Any good references? I’m trying to learn more.

Economics – if people understood it politicians could make proper decisions.
Probability – so people can weigh choices better.
Critical Thinking – see everyone else’s answer.
Psychology – so people could unerstand others.

InspecterJones's avatar

I wish my family and everyone they knew how to WORK A DAMN COMPUTER SO THEY WOULD LEAVE ME ALOOONNNEEEEEE.

That extends to everyone I have and will meet ever. Sigh…

zenele's avatar

@roundsquare Ask something – it’s a social thread so we can chat here. References for Israel and the Middle East? Google – there’s only 5000 years of history and millions of books and articles. But if you want an opinion, ask away.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Do you think that if they knew more about driving styles and fuel consumption they’d change their driving style?

I don’t think I have any. The wish is predicated on the idea that if they knew what you knew, they would think the way you think and act in the manner that you want them to, and that’s usually not the way things go down. You can teach them until you’re blue in the face, and they might understand, and still think and act differently.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@papayalily It is not about the resultant actions. I don’t care if someone thinks differently to me, as long as it is not dangerous, I just want them to understand enough to construct an informed attitude. I think some people would drive differently if they knew it would save them fuel, and therefore money, but there would still be some that did not. That would be their right, but they would at least have the knowledge to back up their choices.
For example, you are not thinking like me to make such a reply, but you have thought about it so it is still a good answer.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Sometimes. Other times, they simply choose not to make an informed decision. People have to choose to use logic…

roundsquare's avatar

@papayalily Sad but true.

I think part of the problem is that “logic” is seen as ignoring emotion or assuming people are all cold hearted beings, etc…

jerv's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Regarding driving style, I have had too many cars that got better MPG at higher speeds rather than lower under otherwise identical conditions (same route, weather, vehicle, etcetera) to put much faith in the “driving slowly saves gas” theory. If I can increase my speed by 10% while my fuel consumption per unit time only increases 5%, then my miles per gallon actually increases. Going a little faster pushes the engine into an RPM range where it’s volumetric efficiency increases enough to offset the increase in volumetric flow rate, so it is entirely possible to increase fuel economy and decrease emissions by driving fast…. in certain vehicles.

Or we could ignore the theory and just divide the trip odometer readings by the number of gallons required to refill my tank and prove that my MPG increases at 65–70 MPH as opposed to the sorts of speeds people claim saves fuel. Now, if you can prove that using 9.8 gallons to go 242 miles is more efficient than using 9.3 gallons to go 258 miles then I will alter my behavior. Otherwise, I’m just going to keep on driving like a madman on overinflated tires like I’ve been doing.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@jerv This is slightly off topic, but I’ll bite. I never said people should drive slowly. Hell, I don’t! I just said that I wish people better understood how driving style affects fuel consumption. You obviously do understand it, so there is no problem. An example of what I am talking about is people who brake downhill to stay strictly within the speed limit, when if they just let the car roll a bit they wouldn’t need as much throttle to get up the other side. Of course this should only be done when it is safe. I can understand opening the taps to have a bit of fun too, which I also enjoy from time to time.
Driving slowly almost never improves fuel consumption in my opinion. Slow drivers typically brake for anything, and braking is dumping the car’s kinetic energy into the environment in the form of heat. If people learned to better judge when to brake, they would save fuel without any drastic change in performance or the time taken to get from A to B. I could go on, but I think my point is made.

Berserker's avatar

Not so much anything in particular, rather than the approach, or lack thereof, that people use for most of anything. I’m sick of people who say that any music that isn’t from their generation sucks, I’m tired of people who don’t watch horror movies or play video games but act as if they know everything about them, and people who think they’ve learned everything there is to learn in life aren’t worth my time.

Specifically though, I also wish some subjects weren’t so…taboo, and avoided. Like sexual abuse with children. I hate the whole see no evil hear no evil shit that goes on about it, and the misconceptions it creates. How can people, in this day and age, actually believe that a man raping a little girl was just really horny? Dude wtf

In order to learn I think you have to seek, and to do that we need more open minds and the courage to tell your delusions to fuck off, and I don’t really see it happening.

jeanmay's avatar

As an English teacher abroad, I wish other teachers would endeavour to find out more about the language and culture of the country in which they are teaching. It is so easy to exist in an English bubble; have English speaking friends only and frequent expat bars and restaurants. Those who complain more about the native culture are generally those who avoid participating in it. That applies to me too, to some extent.

I wish I knew more about the natural world. I’m so jealous that my dad can just point to a tree and name it, or that a friend can pull up a generic looking leaf and declare it to be sorrel.

In fact, most things I can think of apply more to me than to anyone else, and the list is exhaustive. I just wish I could be an expert in everything!

@FireMadeFlesh I don’t see how geology is dry.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@jeanmay I’m glad you enjoy geology, it means I can leave it for you to study. It is just a topic that doesn’t interest me – for the same reason I do medical imaging instead of physiotherapy.

jeanmay's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Maybe you’ve just never met the right geologist! Fair enough though, horses for courses.

roundsquare's avatar

@jeanmay I agree about the being in another country thing. To some degree, I blame the fact that people expect culture shock, and make immediate attempts to dampen the effects before getting to know the culture.

Of course, some of it is just ingrained concepts of good and bad.

jeanmay's avatar

@roundsquare I’m shocked at how ingrained my own cultural concepts of good and bad are, despite having lived abroad for five years. When I moved to Asia I was not expecting culture shock, but boy did I get it!

liminal's avatar

@roundsquare I wish people were more aware of their concepts of good and bad.

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