Political Ignorance

Study Finds Almost 40 Percent of People in Eight European Nations Would Like to Live "in a World Where Chemical Substances Don't Exist"

Such scientific ignorance is common in th US as well, and can have a harmful influence on government policy.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

A recent study published in Nature Chemistry finds that 39 percent of respondents in eight European countries say they "agree" with the statement that  "I would like to live in a world where chemical substances don't exist." Another 39 percent say the "slightly agree" or "slightly disagree" with this statement. Similarly,  40% say "they do everything I can to avoid contact with chemical substances in my daily life."

As the study's authors—Swiss academics Michael Siegrist and Angela Bearth—point out, such "chemophobia reflects stunning scientific ignorance, because human life would be virtually impossible without chemicals. Indeed, pretty much everything we use or touch is a chemical or combination of chemicals. Even if we limit the definition of "chemicals" to artificially produced substances (as opposed to naturally occurring ones), most of the products of modern industry and agriculture routinely use such materials, and they are—on average—no more dangerous than "natural" substances are. If you truly do everything you can to avoid contact with chemical substances (even just artificial ones), you would probably have to return to a stone-age lifestyle. Siegrist and Bearth note that "many claim that they do everything they can to avoid chemical substances although they clearly — and most likely unknowingly — rely extensively on products, from food to cell phones, that would not be possible to manufacture without synthetic chemicals." If you're reading this post on a smartphone or on a laptop, you are using "chemical substances" right now!

It may be tempting to make fun of scientific illiteracy in Europe. But we Americans are in no position to judge. Surveys in the US routinely find similar ignorance in this country. For example, some 80% of Americans say they want mandatory labeling of food containing DNA, probably because they do not realize that nearly all food contains DNA, as indeed does every human body. A 2012 survey found that 1 in 4 Americans do not know that the Earth revolves around the sun, rather than vice versa.

Most of what I said about the US DNA survey also applies to the data on chemophobia in Europe:

Polls repeatedly show that much of the public is often ignorant of both basic scientific facts, and basic facts about government and public policy. Just before the 2014 elections, which determined control of Congress, only 38 percent realized that the Republicans controlled the House of Representatives before the election, and the same number knew that the Democrats control the Senate. The public's scientific knowledge isn't much better…. Issues like food labeling bring together political and scientific knowledge, and it is not surprising that public opinion on these subjects is very poorly informed…

It would be a mistake to assume that widespread political and scientific ignorance are the result of "the stupidity of the American voter," as Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber put it. Political ignorance is not primarily the result of stupidity. For most people, it is a rational reaction to the enormous size and complexity of government and the reality that the chance that their vote will have an impact on electoral outcomes is extremely low. The same is true of much scientific ignorance. For many people, there is little benefit to understanding much about genetics or DNA. Most Americans can even go about their daily business perfectly well without knowing that the Earth revolves around the sun. Even the smartest people are inevitably ignorant of the vast majority of information out there. We all have to focus our time and energy on learning that information which is most likely to be instrumentally useful, or at least provide entertainment value. For large numbers of people, much basic political and scientific information doesn't make the cut.

As with the US survey result, the European one is not quite as bad as it looks. Many people can happily live their lives in blissful ignorance of basic chemistry. They can continue eat GMO and processed foods, use cell phones, and partake of many other wonders of modern technology in blissful ignorance of the fact that these products contain supposedly nefarious "chemical substances." If you don't know what DNA is or don't know that artificial chemicals infuse most of the items we use every day, when you see a term like "DNA" or "chemical substances" in a survey, you might assume that these things must must be dangerous, or at least should be viewed with suspicion. But, at the same time, you can still be a reasonably discerning consumer when it comes to specific products you are familiar with. Scientific ignorance should not be conflated with stupidity or irrationality.

But even though it may not have much negative effect on most people's daily-life choices, widespread scientific ignorance can have a dangerous impact on government policy, which can be influenced by ignorant public opinion:

Unfortunately, this is a case where individually rational behavior leads to potentially dangerous collective outcomes. While it doesn't much matter whether any individual voter is ignorant about science or public policy, when a majority (or even a large minority) of the electorate is ignorant in these ways, it can lead to the adoption of dangerous and counterproductive government policies. In this case, excessive and unnecessary warning labels on food products could confuse consumers, and divert their limited attention from real dangers.

Chemophobia of the sort documented in the European study can also lead to bans or restrictions on useful products. When activists or politicians run a PR campaign claiming that products that contain supposedly dubious "chemical substances" should be banned, people who don't understand basic science will often be susceptible to such manipulation and disinformation, even if the products in question are actually safer or better than "natural" ones. The European Union has in fact enacted a variety of dubious restrictions on GMO foods, despite the scientific consensus that they are no more dangerous than conventional ones.  Here, as elsewhere, voters have more incentive to be ignorant and to do a poor job of evaluating the information they do know when it comes to public policy issues than when it comes to making decisions in their daily lives.

NOTE: The full text of the Nature Chemistry article is only available in a gated version (though you can get access to it through most universities in the US, Europe, and elsewhere). But here is an ungated summary. Although the latter is by an advocacy organization, I have checked it against the original, and am able to confirm that the summary accurately conveys the main points of the original.

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  1. “because human life would be virtually impossible without chemicals.”

    It would be more than virtually impossible, given that humans are composed of chemicals.

    1. I believe Mnanto’s slogan in the 1970’s literally was “without chemicals, life would be impossible”.

    2. Primitive cave dwelling humans from the paleolithic era were composed of chemicals.

      Water is a chemical, oxygen is a chemical. everything that you can touch, taste, and/or feel is chemicals.

    3. Not to mention that humans have inordinate amounts of the deadly chemical DHMO!!! 😉

    4. The term “chemicals” generally refers to “synthetic/artificial/man-made human chemical compounds”, not any chemical compound under the sun.

      1. No one ever specifies that, however, thus underpinning first off their inexactitude and secondly their ignorance. They tar all “chemicals” (man-made chemicals) with the same brush while happily making use of all the ones they enjoy. They really only have a problem with a few that have become politically objectionable.

        1. It doesn’t have to be specified; that’s the meaning in standard English.

      2. Oh, good.

        I can continue consuming arsenic without fear.

        I mean, if it’s natural, it must be good for me.

        1. No doubt. Cmon people. Are all chemicals necessary in consumer products.

        2. Arsenic is for wusses who want a quick way out….

          lead, now there’s the way to go!

        3. What does that have to do with anything I said?

  2. DiHydrogen mono oxide is fatal if inhaled

    1. Reminds me of florida radio station that got into trouble several years ago for an april fools joke warning that the towns water supply was contaminated with Dihydrogen monoxide.

      https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/04/florida-djs-april-fools-water-joke/316668/

    2. Not at low vapor concentrations.

    3. It’s toxic if you ingest a large enough dose.

      water intoxication

      1. Everything is toxic if you ingest large enough a dose

        1. “Everything is toxic if you ingest large enough a dose”

          In a short enough period of time.

  3. A 2012 survey found that 1 in 4 Americans do not know that the Earth revolves around the sun, rather than vice versa.

    Well, damn! I thought the world revolved around Nancy Pelosi.

    1. I don’t get it. What was Pelosi doing in 2012 (or, I guess, in 2011) that would make people think, “Man, that Pelosi is really self-aggrandizing.”? I guess it’s possible that you are trying to make some sort of clever political jab. But it’s one that’s flying over my head.

    2. Nancy is too skinny. Everything else will end up orbiting the most massive object. The world revolves around Gabriel Iglesias. Go fluffy or go home.

    3. This explains our elected officials. I wonder if we could change democracy so that you could only vote for people who you are proficient in understanding their campaign initiatives. So, in order to vote for school district supervisor – you’d have to know the ins and outs of what that industry entails. For something like president, you’d have to have majored in history and politics. Sure, a lot less voters, but at least they are knowledgeable. Oh, and they’d have to be cut off from society completely so that they couldn’t be influenced by anyone else. Perhaps we would keep them on an island, or floating underwater like those three precogs in minority report.

      Alright I guess my idea is shit. For some reason this website always brings me to the same conclusion on what the best thing to do would be: self immolation.

    4. You can also cherry pick surveys with deceptive wording that make the most egregious claims that aren’t even faintly plausible.

  4. I suppose that, perhaps in at least some sense, you can avoid chemicals if you’re dead.

    https://www.livescience.com/45986-what-is-chemistry.html

    1. Nope. Even then those nasty chemicals like Glucopyranose will find you.

    2. Living or dead, you are chemicals.

      1. Dead, “I” am no longer, and therefore am not composed of anything.

        1. I don’t think, therefore I’m not.

  5. While amusing, realistically this survey says more about the science of surveys than it does about people and science.

    Part of me believes that we’ve gone past “peak survey,” where the relative ease and value in obtaining surveys outweighs the cost. Meanwhile, the time-cost to people in taking the damned things outweighs the novelty. Personally, I avoid surveys like the plague. And when required to do one (typically to get to another webpage), I select an option at random, as fast as possible.

    Higher quality, more representative, more “thoughtful” surveys would be nice. How we get there is an interesting question that will require survey science to evolve.

    1. An excellent TV documentary covered this topic years ago.

      Way back when, when we taught statistical survey methods to undergrads, we would tell the students that having confirmation questions (a similar question with different phrasing repeated later in the survey) was important to avoid that exact behavior.
      On top of that, the general agreement was that phrasing or structure could get about 10% of the population to agree to any statement, even mutually contradictory ones.

      There is a very good reason that survey design is usually taught over multiple semesters of senior- and grad-level courses in a statistics program.

      1. While true, that’s more about priming for survey questions.

        What I’m talking about are survey response rates, bias, and a more meta-based system of “how” people answer surveys overall these days.

        Survey response rates have been dropping for some time. https://www.nap.edu/read/18293/chapter/3
        And really, it’s only accelerating. Likewise, people’s responses to surveys are occurring with less thought.

      2. “There is a very good reason that survey design is usually taught over multiple semesters of senior- and grad-level courses in a statistics program.”

        Would that reason be to teach the people designing surveys to get the answers they want? And then to give their counterpart who criticizes surveys something to write about?

        I don’t respond to surveys except for goods/services I purchased and then mostly to reward those who’ve exceeded expectations, and I never answer political surveys or provide any personal information. It bothers me that a lot of politicians are gathering data on us and getting people to knock on our door during elections.

    2. Every time I vote there is some asshole with a clipboard outside wanting to ask me questions. Who did I vote for? Why?

      I lie. Every fucking time. Hillary probably thought she won because people like me lied on voter surveys. Good.

      1. On the official voter surveys, more people who took the time to vote wanted her to win than did people who wanted the other guy to win. Regardless of what they told anybody on the way out.

        1. And you can get more total runs during the series, yet still lose the championship.

          1. If you get the runs, you’re losing.

            1. Or is that loosing? I spoz both work.

      2. OTOH, no one has ever asked me anything, either by phone or in an exit poll. Do I live in the wrong neighborhood?

  6. I’m all for a bit of man on the street are dumb polling fun, but this is just some semantic/jargon jollies.

    1. Right. These kinds of surveys are pretty dumb.

      Let’s take the further step of asking what they take the phrase “chemical substances” to mean, or to provide examples. It’s not that they don’t know water is essential to life, it’s that they don’t automatically think of it as “chemical substance.”

      Big deal.

      1. Indeed.

        And similarly, while I’m on board with the whole rational ignorance concept (I’m an economist after all), if 80% of Americans don’t know what DNA is, that’s just rubbish education. I don’t see how that is something you’d be rationally ignorant about.

  7. Let’s take the further step of asking what they take the phrase “chemical substances” to mean, or to provide examples.

    Exactly. While it’s true that there are many alarmingly uninformed people out there, this does not demonstrate the fact. People are busy. They want to get the survey over with. They assume that the interviewer is referring to illegal drugs.

    1. In fact it seems to be a fairly good assumption that the interviewer is referring to illegal drugs, since what sense would it make to ask if he or she would like to llve “in a World Where Chemical Substances Don’t Exist”?

      1. ???

        We live in a world of people who think ‘organic’ food is somehow different or better than other food.

        It’s all organic. Otherwise we couldn’t eat it.

        1. Organic has been given a second definition. So while it is all composed of C, H, N, O, it does not all fit the second definition of how it is produced. This definition is also not widely agreed.

    2. I’ve met a number of people from Europe though who are legit terrified of GMOs. People from America too.

  8. “ A 2012 survey found that 1 in 4 Americans do not know that the Earth revolves around the sun, rather than vice versa.”

    I suspect that the survey writers are unprepared to deal with the true answer, that the sun and earth orbit their common barycenter. Further complicated by the earth-moon barycenter, and the sun-rest of the solar system barycenter.

    1. Of course the common barycenter for the earth-sun orbit system lies within the sun. So, for all intents and purposes, the earth revolves around the sun.

    2. Our Sun is orbiting around a barycenter. Is the planets the reason causing it or the barycenter happened before planets are formed? Do suppermassive black holes have a barycenter? Is there any orbiting movement that has no barycenter?

      The barcenter is a technical name for the center of gravity of a system that is orbiting… it is not a physical object, but a mathematical abstractions.

      The Sun and all the planets orbit about the barycenter of the solar system… they do not “orbit the barycenter” since that implies there is something there pulling everything towards it.

  9. The full text of the Nature Chemistry article is also available here for free. | Title: Chemophobia in Europe and reasons for biased risk perceptions | Authors: Siegrist, Michael; Bearth, Angela | DOI: 10.1038/s41557-019-0377-8 | Journal: Nature Chemistry | Publisher: Nature Publishing Group | Year: 2019 | URL: https://libgen.is/scimag/10.1038%2Fs41557-019-0377-8

  10. “Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.”
    Dave Barry

    ‘Nuf said.

    1. That’s great.

      Thanks.

  11. All substances are chemicals. This is almost as funny as the effort to ban dihidrogen monoxide.

    1. Not all of them. Electrons and neutrons taken in isolation, or groups of either, are substances but are not chemicals. Single protons, or groups of them, can be understood as ions and therefore chemicals, but it’s not always a useful model. Other particles with mass exist, but at a minimum you need a proton and normally an ordered collection of protons, electrons, and neutrons, excepting the cases of hydrogen and ionized helium.

  12. Sarcastr0
    December.23.2019 at 5:38 pm
    I’m all for a bit of man on the street are dumb polling fun, but this is just some semantic/jargon jollies.

    I have to agree. The question is ambiguous. When I read the headline I assumed the subject was controlled substances. I wondered if the respondents understood the “natural” chemicals, like pot and nicotine, as compared to synthesized chemicals, like heroin, and meth.
    I could fill a book with peoples misconceptions about the midwest, and production agriculture. Corn, soybeans, cattle and hogs. The fact is, all of us are ignorant of way more than what we are informed about.

    1. Or chemicals like sugar and salt?

      The question seems entirely straightforward to me.

  13. Those concerned about public ignorance of science may be consoled by the fact that our own President can do a deep dive into it (science, I mean) when the spirit moves him. “I know windmills [he means wind turbines –ed.] very much. I’ve studied it better than anybody,” he recently proclaimed to a conservative student group.
    It was presumably this hard-won knowledge he was drawing on when he earlier found it plausible that the noise from wind turbines is carcinogenic, and more recently expressed concern about toxic fumes associated with wind turbines (presumably due to their manufacture) while paying no heed whatsoever to emissions such turbines displace.

    1. True, Trump will be collecting Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, and, of course, Peace quite soon.

      1. Nope. Nobel prizes are handed out by furriners. We need a wall to keep them (and their “prizes”) out.

  14. It reminds me of the petition (hoax) so many signed to ban Dihydrogen Monoxide, a nasty sounding chemical, that would be H2O, or commonly called water.
    http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html

    1. Oops…I should have read all the comments before I posted my. Evil geniuses think alike.

      1. LOL, that is okay, and that was the point. Everyone that signed that petition was taken in by using a scary sounding chemical name, and misrepresenting the facts, (ingestion of water is deadly is about drowning). It shows how easily the public can be manipulated by propaganda, from the right or left. People have agendas, and that is a actually the truest of “facts”.

  15. They actually did ban C2H6O via constitutional amendment but it was determined to be essential for human life so they repealed the ban.

    1. They banned dimethyl ether? Man….

      1. Only one of its structural isomers.

    2. water of life

  16. In everyday life, and especially on this blog, “chemical substances” is a legal term meaning illegal drugs.

    1. In everyday life? No. Here in the US ‘chemical substances’ is hardly exclusive to drugs, or illegal drugs. Every Materials Safety Data Sheet refers to chemical substances, very few of which are drugs of any sort.

      More importantly the study was done in eight European countries, only one of which may have used the English language.

    2. I usually see those referred to as “recreational drugs”, actually.

  17. Yeah these studies are kinda silly – but so is the “outrage” about the results.

    If someone stopped me on the street and polled me about “chemical substances” in my life, I’m not going to go all Sheldon-Cooper-austistic and start explaining how everything is made of chemicals.

  18. Ban dihydrogen monoxide now!

  19. Well, these people would probably support banning DHMO, dihydrogen monoxide. http://www.dhmo.org/ Allow me to quote from this website:

    Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) is a colorless and odorless chemical compound, also referred to by some as Dihydrogen Oxide, Hydrogen Hydroxide, Hydronium Hydroxide, or simply Hydric acid. Its basis is the highly reactive hydroxyl radical, a species shown to mutate DNA, denature proteins, disrupt cell membranes, and chemically alter critical neurotransmitters. The atomic components of DHMO are found in a number of caustic, explosive and poisonous compounds such as Sulfuric Acid, Nitroglycerine and Ethyl Alcohol.

    Each year, Dihydrogen Monoxide is a known causative component in many thousands of deaths and is a major contributor to millions upon millions of dollars in damage to property and the environment. Some of the known perils of Dihydrogen Monoxide are:

    Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.
    Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage.
    Excessive ingestion produces a number of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening side-effects.
    DHMO is a major component of acid rain.
    Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.
    Contributes to soil erosion.
    Leads to corrosion and oxidation of many metals.
    Contamination of electrical systems often causes short-circuits.
    Exposure decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes.
    Found in biopsies of pre-cancerous tumors and lesions.
    Given to vicious dogs involved in recent deadly attacks.
    Often associated with killer cyclones in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere, and in hurricanes including deadly storms in Florida, New Orleans and other areas of the southeastern U.S.
    Thermal variations in DHMO are a suspected contributor to the El Nino weather effect.

    End of quote. DHMO has an easy to remember chemical formula: H2O.

    1. I’m more worried about oxidane.

      1. Hey, sometime even in politics, we all need a good laugh!

    2. DMHO is nothing compared to the far more nefarious hydrogen hydroxide.

  20. You can say “ha ha, look at these people. They don’t even know how many things are made of ‘chemical substances’, what boobs they are!”
    Or you can interpret it by what they actually meant.

    One of these choices reveals a great deal of ignorance.

    1. You mean by what (you assume) they inferred.

      Which could be any number of things, none of which can be ascertained from their answers.

      1. “You mean by what (you assume) they inferred.”

        No, actually, I didn’t.

        1. Pray tell how you know what they ‘actually’ meant?

          1. Pray, point to any claim I made as to knowing what they actually meant?

    2. Even with the most generous interpretation, they still sound like idiots, with uniformed phobia of “bad things”, and the nature of the current world, both natural and man-made.

      So all possible interpretations reveal ignorance–on behalf of the Luddites.

      1. I stand by my analysis.

      2. My first thought was that most of the respondents would assume “bad” drugs (not booze, of course) but I agree with Earth Skeptic. I’m no scientist, but the logical retort is “which compounds are we talking about?”

        1. ” the logical retort is “which compounds are we talking about?”

          I can’t say with certainty, but I’m fairly confident they weren’t given this option.
          You ask people a bogus question, you’ll get bogus results. You can pretend to find meaning in them, but that’ll be bogus, too.

        2. Rather than ‘chemical substances = drugs’ I suspect more people would equate ‘chemical substances’ with the equally nebulous (but no less pejorative) ‘toxins.’

          1. If you’re being asked about getting rid of something or staying away from something, an automatic assumption many will make is to limit the question to just the bad part of whatever it is you’re being asked about.

  21. Even if we limit the definition of “chemicals” to artificially produced substances (as opposed to naturally occurring ones)
    How natural? Natural like ricin or arsenic?

    1. “Even if we limit the definition of “chemicals” to artificially produced substances (as opposed to naturally occurring ones”

      Simply put, that sentence is entirely emblematic of the thinking (or lack thereof) that the study question was striking at.

      In terms of the final product it does not matter whether you produce your table salt by mining it from the Earth, or reacting chlorine gas with metallic sodium. NaCl is NaCl.

      1. “In terms of the final product it does not matter whether you produce your table salt by mining it from the Earth, or reacting chlorine gas with metallic sodium.”

        It makes a difference as to which impurities you’re likely to find.

        1. Impurities are, by definition, not the final product.

          1. If you have a process that produces final product without impurities, the Nobel committee would like to talk with you, about your disproof of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

  22. Government educators: “Mission accomplished.”

  23. To be fair, Europeans are extremely stupid.

  24. And what percentage of Americans think that it is possible to change your sex, or that there is more than one sex/gender?

    1. Keep it partisan!

      You must be fun at parties.

    2. Well I’d hope just about everyone knows there’s ‘more than one sex/gender’. We don’t reproduce by budding or binary fission.

      1. Doh!

        More than two though?

        1. There are more than two, naturally occurring. Expressed genetically, you can get XX, XY, and XXY. I suggest you try Googling “intersex”.

    3. “And what percentage of Americans think that it is possible to change your sex, or that there is more than one sex/gender?”

      Just the ones with functioning brains, I guess.

  25. When you look at a forest are you aware that almost all of the mass in the trees came from the air? Cellulose (wood) is made from water, carbon dioxide and sunshine. Carbon dioxide is the most important rare gas on earth for life. Without carbon dioxide their are no plants and without plants to eat there are no animals.

    The increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is greening the Earth. Plants are doing much better. The atmosphere was down to 270 ppm CO2 which is only 120 ppm from extinction. Eons of plant life being buried geologically is being repaired by humans digging up coal and burning it. The atmosphere is better for life today than it was 100 years ago.

    People who make a living growing plants in green houses keep the CO2 at about 1000 ppm for better plant growth. There are not enough fossil fuels to create too much CO2. Most of the CO2 is tied up in carbonate rocks (limestone).

    1. Unfortunately, film, an evil ignorant religion has turned the (m)asses against that rarest of fertilizers, CO2.

  26. Monsanto: “Without chemicals, life itself would be impossible.”

    I prefer to be in Chemist-Free Zones however…

  27. Ironically, the scientists themselves made a statement that was stunningly scientifically ignorant.

    “As the study’s authors—Swiss academics Michael Siegrist and Angela Bearth—point out, such “chemophobia reflects stunning scientific ignorance, because human life would be virtually impossible without chemicals.”

    Human life would be “virtually impossible” without chemicals? Umm, how about completely impossible? Geez, your body is fueled by chemicals. No chemicals, no life.

    1. He obviously means “human life would be virtually impossible without man-made/artificial chemicals”.

  28. If your goal is to actually obtain and analyze information (rather that just snark about DMHO), If wouldn’t be difficult to phrase a question that with much better odds of actually doing that. For this one, how revising it to say:

    Do you…

    a) agree
    b) slightly agree
    c) slightly disagree
    d) disagree

    …with the following statement: “I would like to live in a world where chemical substances don’t exist outside the compositions, concentrations, and locations found in nature?”
    ( indicate the revision to the actual question in the story.)

    The results might not be much different, but at least they’d soliciting the respondent’s actual thoughts on the subject, undistorted by a possible lack of knowledge or reasoning ability.

    And while “a” would not be my choice, it’s at least defensible—if you’d like to live in a world with a little gold, but no copper, bronze, or iron.

    1. Arrrggg. In your imagination, replace the question mark with the necessary end italics tag.

      1. The natural world isn’t entirely without (metallic) iron. True, most of it is tied up in iron ores but some is of meteoric origin.

          1. Both true! But the hypothetical says “…outside the compositions, concentrations, and locations found in nature?

            So, a world with only meteoric iron and native copper—both much rarer than native gold.

            Ah, but how about meteoric adamantium? Worked for Wakanda!

  29. If you’re reading this post on a smartphone or on a laptop, you are using “chemical substances” right now!

    Whew, I’m safe!

  30. Perhaps more importantly, nearly 90% of Europeans would want Europe to remain neutral if China or Russia attack the US.

    Those are the people we go into debt in order to defend.

  31. The question and the responses obviously refer to “man-made/artificial chemicals”. That’s still stunningly ignorant.

  32. The ignorance is here in the comments.
    Look up hormone disruptors then ask yourself why there are so many transexuals.

    Your political prejudice has turned you folk into unthinking goobers.

  33. “The full text of the Nature Chemistry article is only available in a gated version”

    It’s available if you have a key to the gate.

  34. Ummm, yeah, these people are idiots.

    It’s one thing to not know the year the Normans invaded England, or being able to draw the atomic structure of some obscure element from memory…

    Anybody who doesn’t know the earth revolves around the sun in the 21st century is a low IQ moron. And THIS is exactly why the Founding Fathers DID NOT believe in universal suffrage. Dumb people have no business voting. They used the so-so proxy of being a land owner to effectively only allow people that weren’t total blow it cases to vote. Nowadays we could have a history/civics test that was moderately hard. Or there are lots of other ways. The bottom line is that the low IQ morons voting is exactly why this country has slowly but surely gone to shit.

    1. I’m always suspicious of people who have plans for disenfranchising other people. They never seem to think of the possibility that they, themselves, might be disenfranchised.

      1. So? I didn’t vote much of my life because I knew I didn’t understand the issues; I should have been disenfranchised, as should most people younger than about 45 and without a substantial positive net worth.

        1. Your opinion, though utterly without value, is noted.

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