This hilarious song shows how frustrated scientists can get when you ignore climate change.
Sierra Club

Jeremy Hoffman spends his days studying ocean sediment samples.

That may not sound very interesting, but for Hoffman, it's fascinating: He's reconstructing climate records from Earth's past.

So you can imagine how the 26-year-old paleoclimate scientist feels about climate change doubters, people who say Hoffman — and 97% of his colleagues — are wrong about the effects of human activity on global climate.

He's tried to convince them using traditional methods, but some people can't be swayed by peer-reviewed papers.

So he's decided to use a different tool: parody songs.

There's something familiar about this Hoffman and Jerfunkel duo. Images and GIFs via Jeremy Hoffman/YouTube.

Hoffman has long been fascinated by what he calls "the ability of people to deny overwhelming scientific consensus," and last spring, as he sat in on an online seminar about dealing with climate change doubters, inspiration struck.

15 minutes later, he had written "Sound of Skeptics" to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence."

“Hello, skeptics, not our friends / We've come to share with you again / Data proving that the Earth's warming / Is a phenomenon that we're causing."

The music video he posted to YouTube and recorded in his home studio in Corvallis, Oregon, where he's a doctoral candidate at Oregon State University, is as ridiculous as the task it describes: repeatedly presenting hard evidence to an unpersuadable minority.

In climate science, dealing with the doubters has long been a part of the job. Why not do it with a wig and a song?

But the frustration it captures is real.

"There's this feeling that whatever we do there's still going to be this doubt, and there's really no explanation for it," he said. "When I ask in the song, 'What else will we need to show?' I'm actually asking — realistically at this point — what else is there that we as scientists can do to convince you?"

Hoffman posted the video last month and hopes it reaches people ahead of the UN-led climate change talks in Paris starting Nov. 30, 2015.

"Unless we have everybody on board it will be too late to act on climate change, and our actions will be too slow and will not have a large enough effect," he says.

Like a lot of young scientists today, Hoffman has prioritized outreach as an integral part of his research.

When he's not studying ocean sediment cores to reconstruct historical climate records, he's a science communications fellow at the Oregon Museum of Science of Industry in Portland and is a big proponent of "informal science learning" — learning done outside of the classroom.

But the parody takes a different approach.

Rather than helping viewers understand the science, this song is a way to express some of the frustrations that come with being a scientist today.

"How do you engage the public in understanding this feeling of futility in a fun way?" he said. "Music is a good way to get them to remember, and humor is one of the best ways to connect with people on a basic level."

A scientist showing people data can only get so far. Hoffman said combining his love of music and humor (he performs at some open mic nights in Oregon) was a "nonthreatening" way to show people where scientists are coming from.

Watch "The Sound of Skeptics" here:

Hoffman might not be a one-hit wonder either.

His love of music and humor resulted in another parody song earlier this year — to the tune of "Eye of the Tiger" — about dealing with a group of people who require at least as much patience as climate change doubters: doctoral thesis advisors.

Maybe his climate song won't reach as many people as Simon and Garfunkel's version, but it could get people thinking and talking climate change a bit more — and at the very least drown out some of the doubters.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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