Here’s my list, in no particular order. Challenge it if you like, but it’s one I’m confident of. I submit that, backed by 7 decades of experience and two degrees, it is at least worth a read.
- CEO salaries need to be very high, or they will be lured away by other companies. Truth: top executives are grossly over-compensated. See this LINK.
- Flying is dangerous. Actually it is probably the safest form of travel. See this LINK.
- Barack Obama was not born in the United States. I don’t care what The Donald says, it is absurd that this kind of thing gets traction. See this link on Snopes.
- CEO performance is the primary factor in a company’s success or failure. I can cite no proof that this isn’t true because you can’t prove a negative, but company operations are a complex mix of many personalities and economic conditions, not to mention accounting tricks to make the bottom line appear something it isn’t. In my opinion the idea that success can be achieved by purchasing managerial talent is pure confirmation bias. When success is achieved, management is glad to take the credit. When it isn’t, multiple reasons are manifest. For one perspective, see the paragraph titled “Criticism”.
Global warming is a myth.No, global warming is real. The extent to which mankind’s operations are contributing to it is controversial, but the correlation of the temperature rise with fossil-fuel use since the industrial revolution is undeniable. This LINK has a list of the most prominent effects.
- Autism is caused by the mercury-based preservative in vaccines. This has been thoroughly discredited, as has it’s instigator, Dr. Wakefield, and yet millions continue to have reservations. My post on “Information Please” discussed this and other misinformation circulating on the internet.
- Nuclear power plants are more dangerous than conventional power plants. Just the opposite is true. An excellent USA Today article discusses this irrational fear in detail (and also mentions the vaccine scare).
- Vitamin pills are necessary and desirable. This topic is an enduring source for confirmation bias. For some reason most people find highly appealing the notion that some kind of pill can give us leverage we wouldn’t otherwise have, and the fact that we have to pay for it makes it seem all the more valuable. Vitamin D is such a topic, and while it’s true that it is a vital substance, 200,000 years of evolution are testimony that nature knows best how to supply it. I posted HERE on the subject recently.
Sunlight is bad for your skin.No it isn’t, unless you over-do it of course. Moderation in all things is, IMO, one of the most sensible adages of all time. See the link above.
- The national debt is so bad that we need to cut all government spending, including programs for the needy. Wrong. The debt and the budget deficit are both due primarily to the large entitlement programs, the two largest of which are Medicare and Medicaid, and the reason their costs are out of control is that our current rules insulate the customer from applying cost concerns to their purchases. I summarized the case for this in the post, “Boiling It Down”.
- The Civil War was fought over States Rights. No it wasn’t. It was all about slavery, pure and simple. There is an outstanding essay on the subject in this week’s Time Magazine.
Space exploration is best done by astronauts rather than robots.Wrong. Mars is being explored quite well by robots so far, both from orbit and on its surface. It was an absurd notion that we should risk people to travel for more than a year through an extremely hazardous radiation environment just to bring back rock samples from an uninhabitable environment we already know well. President Obama did the sensible thing to cancel it.
- Someday people from Earth will visit a planet in another solar system. I don’t have a ready reference for this one, but it has been a subject of interest to me most of my life. The physics of the situation simply do not permit the possibility because even the nearest systems are light years distant and even if we had an energy source large enough for the journey, which even fusion power wouldn’t supply, any speed over 1/10 of light would produce deadly radiation to the travelers.
- Earth has been visited by extraterrestrials. Art Bell notwithstanding, hasn’t happened. See item above.
- Congress is overpaid. Not really. Doing the people’s business is hard, frustrating work, unless you are dishonest (and there are a few of those) and the jobs pay much less than most top managers make. (See items above about CEO’s.) Most of the people in Congress are already wealthy when they get there. They come for ideological reasons and because they enjoy being important.
- Money does not buy happiness. Yes and no. Up to a certain point, it does. Abraham Maslow in his “hierarchy of needs” confirmed that people can’t really be happy until their basic safety is assured, and by this he meant food, clothing, shelter, and the like. To this I would add some degree of assurance that medical needs will be met. From what I read, people in places with socialized government, like Finland for example, are likely happier than we are. Certainly a highly-stressed life tends to be a shorter one. Americans pay more for health care and die sooner all the same.
- The world was created about 6,000 years ago. This simply isn’t so. See this POST for a discussion.
- Fluoride in drinking water is a Communist or an extraterrestrial plot to kill us. Nope, neither. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring substance found in most of the world’s freshwater and has been found to be important to good bone health. If it were otherwise we would have evolved differently.