Pharyngula

Oh, thank you, Oprah!

We’ve all been sitting around wondering what big questions would ever completely stymie science — we’ve been just knocking ‘em down right and left, and scientists have been completely baffled about what good question they could possibly ask next. We’ve all had serious concerns that maybe we were all done, and we’d have to go work for a living or something terrible like that.

But we’ve been saved by Oprah. She, or rather the scientifically deep team of scientific and philosophical experts on her staff, have come up with a challenging list of Humongous Questions that we’ll have to address in our next grant proposals. Here they are, Six Questions Science Can’t Answer.

  • Padre Pio’s Stigmata! Old dead Italian priest would poke himself to make himself bleed every day, and people worshipped him like Jesus!

  • Hindu statues drink milk! When offered sips of milk, statues of Ganesha are claimed to have drunk it, and people believed it!

  • Mosque didn’t fall down! Old mosque in city damaged by tsunami failed to collapse; populace dumbfounded and consternated!

Well golly gee. I am sorta puzzled…not by the questions, which are trivial and stupid, but by the fact that the authors, Jennifer Margulis and Meredith Bryan, managed to find gainful employment as writers and that CNN thought this crap was worth publishing. More Mysteries! That Science Can’t Answer!

But wait! I’m sure at this point, Jennifer and Meredith — hang on, I need a cutesy name for this couple…Jennidith! — Jennidith looked at their list of big questions and pondered. They’d hit up a couple of the Big Religions, and they were probably thinking that they could have gone on in this vein for a while. After all, they haven’t said anything about Judaism or Buddhism yet (maybe, “Why is a Catholic girl like Madonna suddenly so Jewish?” or “How will you explain what the Dalai Lama will be reincarnated as in his next life?”), but they were unsatisfied. These questions didn’t sound very sciencey. They weren’t even sciencish.

So they puzzled and they pondered and they contemplated, and they thought of some big science-like questions that had nothing at all to do with the first three questions, but kind of looked like questions a really smart person might ask, and since they didn’t know the answers, they must be the big questions we should shoo the scientists off to find out.

  • How did the universe begin? Like, planetariums are really awesome. Especially during Laser Floyd.

  • Do aliens exist? We’re not crazy to believe in space aliens, and we found a scientist who says there are other planets out there for them!

  • How many species live on earth? So many of those species are really, really small, so they must be hard to count!

I’d say more, but right now I’m just looking at Jennidith, shaking my head sadly, and wondering if maybe there isn’t somewhere else I’d rather be. Somewhere else with beer, maybe. And maybe with grown-ups who can talk intelligently. Because Jennidith, poor Jennidith, is an airhead.

They shouldn’t feel too bad, though. You can’t even imagine what I think of Oprah!