5 'Common Sense' Solutions That Make Everything Worse
Good intentions can easily go awry. And once they do, all they're good for is paving some particularly hellacious roads. We're not saying that the folks behind the following things set out to be bad people -- we're just saying that, given their track record, we'd sooner take a punch to the gut than their helping hand.
Supplement Pills Can Destroy Your Health
If you want to get in shape, you need to do two things: exercise and eat well. But eating well is hard, and taking pills is easy, so let's do that instead! Cut to you, a week later, buying a bunch of over-the-counter supplements at Costco alongside a 24-pack of Steak-umms. Then cut to you, a decade later, wondering why you have so, so very much cancer.
100 percent "beef," zero percent prevention.
The Surprising Downside:
There are many ways vitamin supplements will mess you up. Especially if you don't pay attention to the dosage. In 1999, researchers noticed that people who ate lots of beta-carotene (vitamin A) were less likely to develop lung cancer. They tested the theory by feeding 15,000 smokers the equivalent dose of six carrots a day, only to find that their doses were too large, and they were actually giving their test subjects cancer. In 2015, Norway's equivalent of the FDA verified that overdoing it with vitamin A may increase lung cancer risk for anyone with any kind of lung problems at all -- not only smokers.
So if you're asthmatic and your mom makes you eat these things, you should probably call Child Services.
Other vitamin supplements don't fare much better. A study of 2256 women over 70 found that people who took mega-doses of vitamin D had 15 percent more fractures than those who took a placebo, because it turns out that our bodies consider high amounts of D toxic and start to break it all down, including the D already in our bones. Vitamin E doesn't fare much better: Several extensive trials have reached the conclusion that it seems to "increase mortality," and not because it gives you so much energy that you're out all day jumping motorcycles over bridges.
She won't want the D for a very, very long time.
The problem with vitamin supplements is mostly related to free radicals, which are atoms with an odd number of electrons that form when the body turns food into energy. If they interact with DNA, then, scientifically speaking, you've bought yourself two front-row tickets to the shit show. Antioxidants, which you find in vitamins, are thought to combat this. However, when you take too many antioxidants, you kill too many free radicals, severely impairing your immune system in the process. Going nuts with vitamins to supplement your diet is like setting fire to the bar in order to stop a fistfight; sure, it works, but it's generally not worth it in the long run.
Not that you're any safer if you pay attention to the dosage. The FDA has virtually no oversight when it comes to supplements. Sure, manufacturers need to have scientific evidence in support of any claims they make, but they are under no obligation to present said evidence to the FDA until something goes terrifyingly wrong. And sometimes it does: The FDA recalled 237 supplements from stores between 2004-2012 because they contained substances that might cause death or serious injury.
Listen: We know vegetables are weird. We've been taught all of our lives not to eat food that's been dropped on the ground, but suddenly we're supposed to eat food that comes out of it? Nice try, hippies. Still, if the alternative is a supplement high in "Vitamin Cancer," maybe we'll choke down those carrots after all.
Culling Animal Population To Protect Nature Can Backfire Big Time
Sometimes you have to suck it up and shoot Bambi's mom in the face. That's why hunting seasons are a thing. If a certain species grows too populous, it needs to be culled in order to preserve the ecosystem before we all drown in Tribbles, like what happened with poor Australia.
The Surprising Downside:
Australia would like to state for the record that culling can also achieve the exact opposite of the intended effect. A 2014 Australian Geographic article recalls a time when university ecology researchers decided to cull the dingo population in order to protect native rodent species. A successful poisoning campaign soon came back and boomeranged them right in the face, because that's what boomerangs do. Turns out the dingo diet includes a lot more than rodents -- they're also huge fans of fox, kangaroo, and wallaby steaks. The reduction in dingo numbers resulted in a huge spike in those other populations, which proceeded to screw the rodents worse than the dingoes ever could. The kangaroos chewed up the bushland that the rodents called home. The foxes ate the rodents. The dingo cull took rodents off the appetizer menu, only to make them the main course.
We've finally found a bigger asshole boxer than Floyd Mayweather.
Another Australian cull study: Tasmanian scientists began trapping and killing feral cats in a local forest, in the interest of protecting native wildlife. After the cull began, the researchers did indeed notice a shift in the cat population ... by which we mean it exploded, increasing 75-211 percent. Unwittingly, the researchers had killed most of the forest's alpha male cats, because they were the only ones brave and confident enough to stroll right into the traps. With the alphas gone, a massive surplus of beta males immediately started sexin' the females, leading to a full-blown kitty sexual revolution.
Two minutes into one of their orgies, and you'll never think of "Meow Mix" the same way again.
If you think of the forest as a high school, it's like we thought we'd lower teen pregnancy rates by expelling all the sports teams, then were shocked to see the chess club finally getting some play.
Driver's Education Turns Teens Into Overconfident Jerkwads
Oof, teenage drivers, right? They're reckless, they're impulsive, they probably listen to stupid music that you can't relate to -- just the worst. Science backs us up on at least two of those accounts: According to the CDC, the risk of a teen driver being involved in a fatal crash is nearly three times that of drivers over 20. They're more likely to drink and drive than other age groups. Hell, only 55 percent of them even use seat belts. That's why high school driving education is such a great thing: Any amount of training you can cram into a teenager's skull might keep their brains from leaking out later when they flip their Mazda while texting.
"G2G bro, my dad's screaming @me. Something about blood n 911? WTF?"
The Surprising Downside:
Research indicates that drivers ed is all but useless, and may even be harmful to a driver. That's partially due to stuff like ineffective teaching methods and bored, unmotivated students who won't pay attention unless you pepper your lectures with hip slang and freestyle raps. Worst of all, since drivers ed courses emphasize emergency maneuvers, teen drivers make the deadly mistake of assuming they know what the hell they're doing. Pro tip, teenagers: You never, ever know what you're doing.
"Road's clear and I'm barely hitting 20 mph. This'll only take a sec--"
Besides, that training doesn't last unless you practice it, and most don't regularly practice it. So by educating teen drivers on what to do in emergency situations, we make them overconfident and they drive more recklessly, leading to them more frequently encountering those emergency situations that they are not truly prepared for. We guess the alternative is either never letting teenagers drive, or throwing them out there on the streets with as little instruction as possible and hoping they bounce on impact.
"Scared Straight" Programs Increase Criminal Activity
The Scared Straight program sprung from a 1978 documentary of the same name, wherein a group of convicts showed a bunch of troubled kids what prison life was really like. The film was an Emmy-worthy success, and went on to educational notoriety, spawning numerous spin-off programs. It's also now the basis for a reality show. Surely, something that popular has to be doing something right?
Shitty kids' shows have made parents cry for decades. Finally, the tables have turned.
The Surprising Downside:
Nope! In fact, subjecting troubled teens to a Scared Straight program increases the chances of them turning to a life of crime. The problem with Scared Straight is simple, when you think about it. The program specifically targets troubled kids, i.e. teens who already think crime is cool. Putting them in a room with criminals won't exactly scare them. Hell, we're essentially paying for these kids to hang out with their idols for an afternoon. Experts have noted that doing absolutely jack shit to help these kids would be better than exposing them to the program.
The program's reputation took a blow when one of the kids from the original documentary was arrested for shoplifting in 2005. DNA evidence then linked him to a cold case murder, for which he is currently serving a 25-to-life sentence in the very prison he visited in the film. He committed that crime in 1982 -- a mere four years after the movie was shot. Strangely enough, it turns out that if you throw a kid into a cell with Murderin' Mike for an afternoon, all he'll learn is how to murder better.
The lessons you impart to a child can help shape their entire wasted life.
Overseas Orphanages Are A Horrific Scam
What's the downside to adopting a child? That they can't technically grow up to be Batman anymore? We're pretty sure they'd give that option up for a steady supply of sandwiches and love. Sheltering an orphaned child from the third world is not only the winning card in activist Bingo; it's also the noblest thing you could possibly do, short of feeding your body to a starving endangered animal.
The Surprising Downside:
There's just one problem: The staggering majority of those kids are not orphans. In 2009, Save the Children reported that an estimated four out of five children in international orphanages are in truth random, non-orphan kids. Fake orphanages hire "recruiters" who buy, trick, or straight-up steal children from their parents. When the kids arrive in the orphanage, they're told to look sad for the prospective parents, and the money comes flowing in.
"This couple looks like a tough sell. Start playing the Sarah McLaughlin."
The bigger problem (holy shit, there's a bigger problem than mass baby theft?) is that no one wants to adopt a kid in actual need. Privileged parents want their babies to be as healthy, cute, and young as possible. As such, they're in really short supply in poverty-stricken areas. Which is why in 2008, 98 percent of all US-adopted babies from Guatemala were "relinquished" -- a.k.a signed over to an attorney who approved of the adoption "without any review by a judge or social service agency." That means that the baby was almost certainly bought or stolen from its parents.
This shit is global and high-profile. Consider the case of Lauryn Galindo, the woman who arranged for Angelina Jolie's adopted Cambodian child, Maddox. Galindo has a heavy-handed history of purchasing healthy babies from Cambodian mothers for prices ranging from $700 to as little as $100.
Having the built-in Hollywood connections to die in World War Z? Priceless.
Holy crap, you can buy a human being for less than an Australian pays for GTA V.
We have a long history of instituting safety measures that just do not work -- like automatic seatbelts that behead drivers. See that and more in 5 Safety Measures That Caused Rampant Death And Destruction. And this bad habit is even filtering into our schools, like those that force kids to wear tracking devices. See more of these awful policies in The 6 Dumbest Things Schools Are Doing In The Name Of Safety.
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