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Straight Dope

Thursday October 4, 2012 04:00 am EDT

Is it true that, as a class, psychotherapists and other mental health professionals are crazier than average? And that despite their training and experience, they can recognize their own issues less readily than the average nutcase?

— Paul

I defer judgment on whether shrinks don't recognize their problems. On the contrary, there are indications some mental health professionals enter the field...

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Straight Dope

Thursday September 27, 2012 04:00 am EDT

I am 5, and have been wondering about this for almost half my life now: How many ice cubes would it take to put out the sun? My mum found your website and thought you must know the answer, since you know everything.

— Rei Mordue

You're one articulate 5-year-old, Rei, and plainly your mum is also no dummy. Your question has obliged us to rethink the basics, always a useful exercise. Plus...

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Straight Dope

Thursday September 6, 2012 04:00 am EDT

Space companies looking to mine asteroids are thinking of bringing them into orbit for easier access. Wouldn't several of these asteroids eventually pull on the planet so much they would change the orbit of the earth or the moon? Is there a certain weight we need to reach before it's a problem?

— Quinn

What? Oh, sorry, Quinn, I was daydreaming. I was in the court of Ferdinand and Isabella in...

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Straight Dope

Thursday August 30, 2012 04:00 am EDT

According to the Humane Society, you can extend your dog's life a couple of years by getting him neutered. Are testes really lethal? Does neutering your dog really extend his life? Would the same thing work for men?

— Dave Greenaway

You're not going to want to hear this, Dave. But according to one much-cited study, castrated men live nearly 14 years longer than their intact brethren, which if...

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Straight Dope

Thursday August 23, 2012 01:00 pm EDT

So ... after all those decades of physics and chemistry, can science transmute base substances into gold?
?- Bill Johnson, Fort Mill, S.C.

Don't you think you're being a little unappreciative here, Bill? Decades of physics and chemistry have given us space stations and electronic intelligence, conquered disease and extended lives, and enabled us to download gigabytes of pornography at a...

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Straight Dope

Thursday August 16, 2012 02:27 pm EDT
In a recent Straight Dope Message Board thread about transsexuality, one commenter offered the following: "People who have gender identity disorders ... are just dudes dressing up as chicks and/or dudes who have gotten a doctor to mutilate them to have imitation female genitalia (or the other way around for women, I guess.) ... GID patients have a mental illness and society should be looking... | more...

Straight Dope

Thursday August 9, 2012 04:00 am EDT
Public service announcements admonish us to not "waste water," with suggestions about five-minute showers, low-flow shower heads, fancy Euro-style toilets, turning off the tap when you brush your teeth, etc. I can understand this if you live in dry areas such as Reno or Vegas. But what if you live next to a big honking body of water like the Great Lakes or the Atlantic Ocean? I currently live... | more...

Straight Dope

Thursday August 2, 2012 04:00 am EDT
Evolution as I understand it favors selection of traits giving a species the best chance of reproductive success. Mates who are healthy, strong, faithful, hard-working, generous, and so on seem more apt to produce offspring who survive till reproductive age than those who aren't. However, physical beauty doesn't correlate with any of those qualities. So why have we evolved such a strong... | more...

Straight Dope

Thursday July 26, 2012 04:00 am EDT

Why is the letter Z, specifically, associated with sleeping? It seems silly to have a letter correspond with sleep at all, but even sillier that we don't do this with any other action. You don't hear being awake referred to as "catching some A's."

— Ethan Reber

Sorry to go off on a tangent, Ethan, but you know what they call sleeping in the U.K.? Catching some zeds. I get this from my...

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Straight Dope

Thursday July 19, 2012 10:10 am EDT
My mother is prone to kidney stones — no problems in a while, but lately she's had symptoms that made her think perhaps she was cooking up a new stone or two. I noticed she drinks a lot of Coca-Cola and wondered if this was a causative agent ... but from what I see online apparently it's a cure for kidney stones. I never heard of this before, but there's stuff all over the Web and YouTube about... | more...

Straight Dope

Thursday July 12, 2012 04:10 am EDT

In a column a while back, you told your assistant Una to "quit with the Wikipedia" because "from the standpoint of reliability, Wikipedia might as well be written by gorillas." The weekly science journal Nature reports Wikipedia contains less erroneous material than the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Are you willing to withdraw your sensational claim?

— Conrad

Yes, I'll withdraw it. From a...

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Straight Dope

Thursday July 5, 2012 09:46 am EDT

Is it true an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) would stop cars and trucks, and they would not run until fixed? Would our stores be empty of food because trucks could not move food to them? Would water to our homes stop flowing because of EMP damage to electrical equipment? Why don't we hear more about this?

— Mark Terry, Honolulu

What do you mean, why don't we hear more? We've heard plenty. We...

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Straight Dope

Thursday June 28, 2012 04:00 am EDT
I've heard you can avoid paying a tax bill, traffic ticket, or other debt by writing "accepted for value" on it. I understand that's nonsense, of course. But I'm curious: How is this supposed to work? I've always found the theories of tax protestors entertaining — for example, the idea that U.S. income tax is invalid because Ohio was never legally granted statehood. "Accepted for value" seems... | more...

Straight Dope

Thursday June 21, 2012 09:00 am EDT
TV programs about space exploration and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) often say our broadcast signals are traveling into space and will someday be seen by intelligent beings many light years from here. On the other hand, on the program "Life After People" they said these signals disperse after a few light years and are too scattered and weak for anyone to see or hear them.... | more...

Straight Dope

Thursday June 14, 2012 04:00 am EDT
I've heard that instead of heading to an old folks' home when you reach that age, it's actually cheaper (and presumably more fun) to go on an endless cruise. All your meals are covered, apparently first-rate medical attention is available, and hey, you get to see the world. It also means you don't have to take a bus to visit a casino. If you don't need 24/7 medical care, is a cruise the way to... | more...

Straight Dope

Thursday June 7, 2012 12:45 pm EDT

I first heard the claim that Jesus was a copycat of the Egyptian god Horus when I watched the so-called documentary Religulous. Horus supposedly walked on water, was born from a virgin, healed the sick, etc. Naturally, I was skeptical and tried doing some research but found only biased opinions that weren't backed by much evidence. So what's the deal?

— Johnny Oregano

There's more of a puzzle...

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Straight Dope

Thursday May 31, 2012 04:00 am EDT
I'd like your opinion on which is most likely in our lifetime: 1) The sun explodes. 2) Earth shatters, like that planet in the asteroid belt. 3) We get the Big Rip, where everything dissolves as Shakespeare predicted, "leaving not a wrack behind." 4) A gamma-ray burst hits us. 5) An unseen black hole swallows us. 6) We all die from nuclear winter. 7) The Cubs win the World Series. (OK, that... | more...

Straight Dope

Thursday May 17, 2012 04:00 am EDT
I was reading on Cracked.com about the tarantula hawk, a giant wasp that hunts tarantulas and has one of the most painful stings on earth. We know this because the tarantula hawk ranks at No. 2 on the Schmidt Pain Index, just behind the bullet ant. Who is Schmidt, you ask? Cracked says he "volunteered to be stung by every goddamn awful thing in existence despite nobody ever asking anybody to... | more...

Straight Dope

Thursday May 10, 2012 04:00 am EDT

Why do we have allergic reactions? What use do allergies serve? I can't imagine any Darwinian advantage. I can't see being a successful mastodon hunter with sneezing and hacking giving away your position. Don't get me started on trying to woo a female with things that are meant to be dry being moist and things that are meant to be moist being dry and itchy.

— Sneezy

You ingrate. Sure, a runny...

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Straight Dope

Thursday May 3, 2012 04:00 am EDT

Is pot stronger these days? Some folks state as fact that parents should realize "pot these days is stronger than when they smoked." Are you aware of any evidence for this?

— Dinsdale, via the Straight Dope Message Board

Yes, pot is stronger than in the old days. This is bad?

People have been warning about supposed high-potency pot since the early days of the Reagan administration's War on...

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Straight Dope

Thursday April 19, 2012 04:00 am EDT

On my drive into work today, the first workday back since the Daylight Saving Time spring forward, I noticed a stark increase in road kill, specifically raccoons. Has anyone else noticed this? My theory is it has to do with more drivers on the street before sunrise because of the hour shift forward.

— Matthew Bates, Chicago

There are indications — but so far no proof — that the Daylight...

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Straight Dope

Thursday April 12, 2012 04:00 am EDT

I've heard of the occasional car in a baseball stadium parking lot being damaged by an out-of-the-park home run. I wonder: Have there ever been any skulls or other body parts crushed? Who would be liable for the hapless victim's misfortune?

— Victor, Santa Cruz

I first tackled this question in 1978. Things were different then. I pounded out columns on a mechanical device called a typewriter....

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Straight Dope

Thursday April 5, 2012 04:00 am EDT

In winter I've gotten big shocks from static electricity when getting out of my car, and once saw a video where a crewman touching a race car during a pit stop was thrown back several feet, I presume from static charge built up as the car circled the track. This gotten me wondering: Have there been instances of injury or death from static discharge?

— Mike

Yes, many — and if you're not...

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Straight Dope

Thursday March 29, 2012 04:00 am EDT

Is there any evidence to support the mantra that cutting taxes stimulates job growth? I'm old enough to remember the Reagan years, and it seems most of those tax cuts went into the pockets of the wealthy, and what trickled down was pink slips as jobs went offshore. Was that an anomaly, or par for the course as tax cuts go?

— Keynes Friedman Locke Jr., Greenspan, Minn.

Touchy subject. The...

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Straight Dope

Thursday March 15, 2012 04:00 am EDT
This is an old one, and I'm surprised it didn't turn up when I did a search on your site. It has to do with boiling frogs. Goes something like this: If you tossed a frog into already-boiling water, it would leap out. But a frog placed into a pan of water with a low flame under it will slowly be boiled alive, the temperature change being too subtle for the frog to notice. This is exactly what is... | more...