#2. Using Antibacterial Soap
Why People Do It:
Bacteria makes us sick. The only way for us (and our precious children) to stay healthy is to kill the fuckers. We're, uh, referring to the bacteria there, not the precious children.
These days you can get antibacterial anything: hand soap, dish soap, hand lotion, edible panties, gun oil. We'll have those bacteria eradicated in no time!
Why They Shouldn't:
Nature is a funny thing. Not "knock-knock joke" funny, but "horrifying death preceded by agonizing suffering" funny. The thing about biology is that while it is really easy to kill a lot of something, it's a lot harder to kill all of something. And the survivors tend to be a lot tougher and pissed off.
Thus, there is concern that the stronger bacteria will become resistant as the weaker bacteria are killed off by our shelves of antibacterial products, leaving only the resistant ones behind. Darwinism works its magic.
This has already happened with the staphylococcus bacteria, which have developed strains that laugh at penicillin like Superman laughs at bullets, except Superman won't cause you to develop pus-filled boils and kill you afterward.
If the idea of super germs isn't scary enough, it turns out the same chemicals we're using to try and kill those germs may actually be making us sick as well. The active ingredient in antibacterial soap is now thought to have the potential to affect sex hormones and the nervous system both. In fact, the chemicals causing the concern have been found in the urine of 75 percent of people, which means the poison is probably in your wiener right now.
If all this still isn't ironic enough for you, then consider that getting rid of all those bacteria may actually be worse for us in the long run. Scientists believe that kids who are kept in sterile environments develop more allergies. The theory is that these kids are not exposed to the germs and their immune systems never develop the natural resistance to them. Basically it means our immune systems are playing Dungeons & Dragons instead of pumping iron and taking Karate and banging hot chicks.
The final nail in this comedy of errors and mixed metaphors is that studies found that using antibacterial soap is no better than using regular soap. Just one more marketing gimmick.
#1. Buying Carbon Offsets
Why People Do It:
Unless you think it would be awesome to have have Earth turn into freaking Tatooine, you're probably in favor of stopping global warming.
Carbon offsets are supposed to make you carbon neutral, by paying to have someone else reduce their carbon dioxide output in an amount equal to the amount you are putting into the air with your decadent, Hummer-driving lifestyle.
Why They Shouldn't:
At the end of the day, much like buying your girlfriend a bracelet after a night in the champagne room, it's debatable whether you are doing anything except paying to clear your own guilty conscience.
Because I love you?
You're buying a promise from someone else that they are going to reduce their own carbon emissions by a certain amount. The trouble is that currently there is no standard or authority that monitors the offsets.
Investigations found that often, people buying offsets have bought worthless promises. Even when the company offering the offset follows through, there still might not be any additional benefit because the company who took your credits was already planning to reduce its emissions anyway.
They couldn't design a functional one that looked like a middle finger, but they wanted to.
Take, for example, the company that sold carbon offsets based on a plan to reduce methane gas at a landfill. It sounded great until investigations revealed that the methane reduction plan was in place long before the offsets were sold. That part of the plan is all well and good, but it completely destroys the whole concept of buying and selling carbon offsets. Nothing was being "offset."
Man, if we can't trust a painless "something for nothing" scheme to save the world, what can we trust?
See some more stupid shit people did in the name of a cause, in The 6 Most Insane Moral Panics in American History. Or find out exactly what can happen when you respond to unfounded rumors, in 7 Bullshit Rumors That Caused Real World Catastrophes.
And visit Cracked.com's Top Picks because it will cure cancer (seriously).