[snip] Trust but don’t verify? In 1989 the Army Corps of Engineers promised to ensure that this country would have “no net loss” of wetlands. The Government Accountability Office recently visited seven of the corps’ district offices and examined 152 cases in which the corps had required “compensatory mitigation”–someone who wanted to fill in one wetland was required to create or restore a wetland somewhere else. Yet in only 15 percent of those cases did the corps do an inspection to see if the party had complied.

[snip] Fear of flying. “Imagine that it is 1900,” writes J. Storrs Hall of Nanorex Inc. in the Futurist. “Some people (like the Wright brothers) believe heavier-than-air flight is possible, and others don’t. Some people have become alarmed by the idea, and they spin out a scenario in which a group of bandits builds a plane, at the level of a World War II B29 bomber. In 1900, such a group could have leveled Washington without resistance and dictated terms to the country. An alarmist might well have drawn such a picture and urged that heavier-than-air research be banned. People building kites and wood-and-silk gliders would have scoffed at the proposed capabilities of a B29. . . . Such alarmism and scoffing can clearly be seen in public discussions of nanotechnology today. Neither side has a handle on the truth.”

[snip] You know what they’d say if they dared. Writing in Slate, Meghan O’Rourke points out that in recent diatribes against premarital sex, paleoconservatives Leon Kass (University of Chicago) and Harvey Mansfield (Harvard) agreed to fight on their opponents’ turf, saying things like “Without modesty, there is no romance”–in effect acknowledging that the language of sin won’t play anymore. Instead “they cast the sexual revolution as something that makes women unhappy, couching their critique in the fuzzy language of gratification and personal gain that we Oprah-raised kids can relate to.”

[snip] This movie rated XXX for nicotine content. A study published in Pediatrics found that the more teenagers see people smoking in movies, the more likely they are to try it. That’s even after controlling for sociodemographic factors; friend, sibling, or parent smoking; school performance; personality characteristics; and their parents’ parenting style. Two percent of those who were least exposed to smoking in movies and 22 percent of those most exposed had tried it.