Is Some Scientific Research Useless?


I sincerely believe that the solutions to mankind’s problems, past, present and future, were, are and will be found by scientists, not by politicians or
businesspeople. From Isaac Newton to Stephen Hawking, scientists have discovered and revealed laws that have made us achieve extraordinary things: From how to fly to space exploration; from sterilization of surgical instruments to magnetic resonance imagining.

Because of that conviction, I read scientific news. Ninety-nine percent of the time I shake my head in awe at new discoveries and silently thank scientists
for their work. But one percent of the time I shake my head in disbelief and think “Was it important to learn this? How much money this study cost? How
does this contribute to better understanding our present or to make our future better?”

Therefore, I want to share with my Facebook friends and the readers of my blog a few examples and ask them to please explain to me what I am missing.

On January 8 of this year, the Science section of the Christian Science Monitor, quoting an article published in the journal Scientific Reports reported that palaeontologists, based on huge scrape marks, believe that dinosaurs (who disappeared from Earth 66 million years ago, give or take a couple million years) performed dances to woo mates. You read right, performed dances to woo mates. Publications in several countries spread this transcendental news all over the globe.

The same day Reuters let us know that the tongue lashing technique of chameleons had been analyzed. A biologist from a university (I choose not to identify
the man or the institution) “studied the feeding technique of 20 species to test his theory that smaller chameleons could pack a more powerful punch. He
based his hypothesis on recent anatomical studies that found that smaller chameleons have a proportionally larger tongue structure than bigger chameleons,
and so could have relatively longer tongue projection distances.”

On January 24, Toronto Sun, a Canadian tabloid, reported that scientists from Calgary, California and Japan had concluded that zebra stripes are
not for camouflage.

Yes, January was a rich month.

On May 8 I learned that a paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society that a new study that analyzed a wide variety of primates including
humans had found “that male voices are not deeply pitched in order to attract females but to dominate the competition with other males.”

Today, August 30, the New York Times (and many other media) has an article on the cause of death of a truly important scientific discovery: A
pre-human ancestor found in Ethiopia in 1976 named Lucy by the team who found her. We learn that fractures on the 3.2 million year old skeleton were caused because she fell from a tree.

The possibility that I must be missing something very important keeps nagging my mind. Would someone please explain to me how learning that dinosaurs
danced to woo mates, studying the tongue lashing techniques of chameleons, finding out that zebra stripes are not camouflage and that Lucy died because she
fell from a tree contribute to our present and future?

Appreciate it.

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