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5 Scientific Discoveries Spotted By Examining The Unlikeliest Stuff - crosswords

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From an article at by Ivan Farkas, July 13, 2021.

His intro:

"Science is great. It's so universal and accessible that you use its tenets even when you don't realize it. Every time you spray the Golden Corral parking lot with puke, then limit yourself to seven plates on the next (day's) visit, you're practicing science through trial and error. And that's one of the best things about science, as the following examples illustrate: Even when it sounds stupid, it's still just as valuable as "good science."

The New York Times Crossword Puzzle Highlights America's De-Culturization

If the proliferation of reality TV and firework-related fatalities isn't ample evidence of America's mass-dumbening, the devolution of the Times crossword puzzle provides further proof. Over the past 80 years or so, the New York Times' famed crossword has become easier and now includes fewer, simpler global references. Compared to its cultural peak in 1943, it now features two-thirds fewer international references and one-third fewer foreign words than in 1966. And, considering the demographics that dabble in crossword generally inhabit the upper two quartiles of intelligence, this suggests *everybody* is getting dumber.

Past puzzles required at least some knowledge of foreign words. Like mit ("with" in German) or vir ("man" in Latin), reflecting a golden age when men spoke the language of Virgil and smoked cigarettes around preschoolers. But that epoch has closed, and crossword clues have become more obvious. For example, "Uber" is no longer clued as a German word but as a car-sharing service (that screws its customers).

To be fair, some foreign words *have* increased in frequency. But even that highlights a negative trend: they're words people only know because they've eaten them (taco, dim sum, churro). In the same vein, the term "Lipo" no longer refers to the ancient Chinese poet but a surgical procedure.

And the geographical questions have decreased in difficulty. In the past, a clue may have simply hinted "Burkina ____," referring to Burkina Faso, the landlocked West African country known for its, uh ... the landlocked West African country. But now, the puzzlers offer an extra bit of information, hinting that the answer is an African country. Overall, international geographic references have decreased, from more than 15% to around 5%.

But screw it, what's the point of knowing all those obscure countries and funny-sounding, hard-to-spell words when the only three letters that matter are U, S, and A, bay-bee!
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Easy, pigeons.


I would be wondering where all the pigeon poop is coming from......!


:::wondering where all these holes are coming from?:::



:::Loading some pigeonholes onto the trebuchet:::


I have no category.




I am of the 'show me how to do it ten more times' category, lol!!



I am of the 'show me how to do it' category. Reading goes in one eye and out the other--doesn't seem to make it to the brain! (hahahaha)



You can become a well-rounded human by wide reading or by wide "living." College isn't for everyone, and it shouldn't be. Dj, I can barely use my own microwave, because I am used to learning by reading, and the manual is poorly written. So that's a downside for me.

I chose to give up driving in part because I knew I would have to take care of my car, and it seemed too overwhelming. I think most people feel the opposite way, and they love their cars rather than fearing them, lol. I am afraid of the wilderness and the beach, of heights and depths, of clogged toilets and of bugs. Instead of learning more about them, I prefer to live in fear, which is clinically crazy.

@jimez, for a few years in college, when I got off work I would walk two miles to visit my bf at his bookstore, and I would read my homework on the way; it was usually a paperback novel. I grew used to listening while reading. Once I passed a couple of young lads skateboarding and one of them said to the other, "How can you read while walking?" Without looking up, I said, "Lots of practice." I quit doing that when I actually was bumped by a car - in a parking lot! - and broke my wrist.

That's another sort of learning I don't have - knowing how to anticipate what drivers will do. And I would do poorly on Jeopardy, because at least one of the categories each round will require real-life knowledge about sports and so on, and all I feel confident about is literature!

I know perfectly well how smart you all are, it's why I love you and choose to hang out with you!


DJ and I are quite similar in that respect.


I read a lot of books in the street. I learned that some cars will not stop for you.


Got you fooled!!! hahahaha I'm of the 'street-smart' category. Never went to college because I hated school (long story), but I was no dummy. Guess you can say I taught myself by doing what I was interested in. Did pretty good for myself over the ages! *LOL*


@Donnajames, the fact that you tried already puts you above average intelligence!

@jimez, I AM a little bit cross about it, but only because the issue of intelligence is so thorny.

Some studies show that undereducated people think they are highly intelligent, more intelligent than graduates who have only "book-learning." As one of the latter, I have to agree that those folks likely have more street-smarts and/or wilderness intelligence than I do. Those same studies show that people with more education are less certain of their ability to do well in tests and in life - they are more humble, as Hoff would say. @msbonne

Is it better to feel confident with less real scholastic learning, or to know that we've earned a degree and thereby realize that there is so much more yet to be learned?

We vote for what we are, but perhaps with niggling doubts.


I never finished ONE NYTimes crossword puzzle. Gave it the ol' college try, but nope, nary one! Did come close a few times........ :-)) dj


You sound a little CROSS about this PUZZLE. :D


Journalism? Science? What's the difference after all?? :))


I want to state up front that I don't agree with this fellow, perhaps because of his cheeky snark -- which, in full disclosure, I always expect and anticipate from Cracked. I'll have to go read the article on which this was based, but I think (at the very least) he did a poor job of presenting the science, because I don't see where any real science was applied.

All the same, whenever crosswords get into the news, I have to read all about it. :-)

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