The Straight Dope | Salt Lake City Weekly


Who came up with our popular image of Jesus?

Singing English

Why don't British singers sound British when they sing?

Border Tax

Is a border adjustment tax really just a plain old tariff?

Veto Protocol

Can a crazy president be removed from office?
How crazy must the President of the United States be before it's considered cool to refuse an order?

Free Samples

When is it legal to sample music?
After the death of Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, I read an article about how their album Paul's Boutique could never be made today because of copyright laws governing music sampling.

Costly Care

If everything else is more expensive in Europe, why do we pay more for health care?
People always point out that Americans pay 2.5 times more per capita for health care compared to Europe and receive much poorer results.

Toxic Test

How do we know poisons are tasteless and odorless?
The recent dispatch of Kim Jong-nam by VX poisoning is all over the news at the moment, and reports invariably describe VX as odorless and tasteless.

Roll the Credits

What do movie production credits mean?
Not so many years ago, when you went to the movies, the opening credits just concluded with "produced by," then "directed by." Now, you'll see three or four different company logos, two or three executive producers, a batch of regular producers and maybe even some co-executive producers or co-producers. What do they all do?

A TP Tale

Why do we wipe?
When and why did humans start wiping or manually cleaning themselves post-defecation, since animals generally don't do this?

Pill Drill

How do they measure the effectiveness of birth control?
How is the effectiveness of contraception measured? Do they survey people? Could researchers randomize different birth control methods, even if they wanted to?


Can you tell me about the role bacteria play in our lives?
I read once about a woman who got a fecal transplant from her obese daughter. Talk about unintended consequences: The woman became obese. Is that possible?

Do the Math

How did anyone do math in Roman numerals?
Let me toss that question right back at you, Leonard: How do you solve complex math problems?

After It's Confiscated ...

What happens to stuff confiscated at security checkpoints?
What happens to all the items taken away at these checkpoints, or at the airports?

Fitness Privacy

Do fitness trackers pose a privacy risk?
I bought a Fitbit for my company's health challenge, and I was surprised to see how it could not only monitor steps but also track sleep, calories and resting heart rate.

Criminal Crash

What does it take to get charged with manslaughter when your negligent driving kills someone? Last year, the driver of a semi entered a bike lane and killed a Chicago bicyclist. He was issued tickets for driving in a bike lane and failure to take due care with a bicyclist. Why mere tickets instead of a more serious charge?


Is PTSD more common among soldiers now than in the past?
Is there any research on whether the incidence of PTSD has increased over time? Could the stout farm boys who fought in World War II cope with greater stress than modern soldiers, or did we just sweep it under the rug back then?

Tax Facts

Why do we have to fill out a 1040 form? The IRS knows what most people owe. Why don't they just send us a bill or a refund?

Sweet Teeth

Just how necessary is the dentist?
I get it—no one likes being told what to do and when to do it, and that goes double for having the corners of your mouth yanked open while steely implements scrape and prod. And surely there's no reason dental maintenance should be exempt from cost-benefit analysis.


Recent Comments

  • Re: Veto Protocol

    • There was no doubt in my mind Reagan was suffering from early stages of dementia…

    • on May 4, 2017
  • Re: Costly Care

    • Great Article. Scott Simmons wrote a response to this article on facebook that shows why…

    • on May 4, 2017
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