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Chris Hadfield
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Democracy is Pointless Without Education

Words of wisdom from FDR: "Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education."

Today's words of wisdom come from former American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), who we're going to assume you've probably heard of. The quote below makes clear that democracy cannot succeed on its own. It's only one piece of a larger puzzle.


There are those in America who treat the U.S. Constitution as if it were a sacred document, a sort of divine cookbook recipe for the perfect free society. The truth is that a democratic society is fragile and ripe for exploitation. A successful democracy relies heavily on the abilities and intelligence of the populace. 

But what if the populace lacks in ability? What if the world continues on a slow, meticulous de-evolution into superficial idiocracy? What if — and this might not be a difficult hypothetical for you to conceptualize — the voters are nothing but a bunch of misinformed morons?

Well, then it all falls apart.

This is why education is so important. It's also why powerful people make it a priority to try and wield as much control over education as possible, although that's a different topic altogether. Democracy cannot succeed without a culture of learning, introspection, and critical thinking. FDR knew that then; we ought to know it now.

Words of wisdom from FDR: "Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education."

Scientist Lawrence Krauss expresses a similar view in the video below. A robust education system is in America's best interest. It's in the world's best interest. Yet time and time again we fail ourselves and our society by bastardizing "the safeguard of democracy":

Is the universe a graveyard? This theory suggests humanity may be alone.

Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?

According to the Great Filter theory, Earth might be one of the only planets with intelligent life. And that's a good thing (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team [STScI/AURA]).
Surprising Science

Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.

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The key to better quality education? Make students feel valued.

Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.

Future of Learning
  • Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
  • One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
  • "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
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Study details the negative environmental impact of online shopping

Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.

A truck pulls out of a large Walmart regional distribution center on June 6, 2019 in Washington, Utah.

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
  • Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
  • Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
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Personal Growth

Childhood sleeping problems may signal mental disorders later in life

Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.

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