The Three Cultures Solution: Is Comedy the Gateway to Youth Engagement?

At the "three cultures summit" this past weekend in Oregon, I had the opportunity to meet Hank Green, creator of the immensely popular EcoGeek blog and YouTube auteur of the successful Vlogbrothers series.

Hank's creative work raises the question I posed at this blog last year. Specifically, on science and environment, is comedy and irony the new gateway to public engagement, especially among young audiences?

Consider, for example, that Hank's video above, a comedic and philosophical skit on the trade-offs in eating meat, has been commented on at YouTube more than 2800 times over the past week and ranks as the number # 1 most discussed and viewed clip in the "Nonprofit & activism" community at YouTube.

The potential for comedy and irony to be used in public engagement efforts on science and the environment, especially around questions of civic participation and learning, is a research question that my colleague Lauren Feldman and I have things in the works to explore. We hope to be reporting back with some key announcements, findings and conclusions in coming months.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less