Big Questions

Big Questions

Scott Pickard / Top Tens / Questions

Biosphere, Climate Change, Sustainability, Green

Is the global ecological impact of meat production sustainable?

When it comes to the conflict between growth’s relentless extractive attack on the biosphere vs. the imperative to feed and provide jobs for 10 billion people in the future, are we truly caught between a rock and a hard spot?

Are citizens and scientists underestimating climate change’s potential existential threat?

How can we turn economies that need to grow, whether or not they make us thrive, into economies that make us thrive, whether or not they grow?

Matter, Energy, Universe

Are we alone in the universe?

How do we have a civil and productive discussion with the anti-science community that brings us closer together?

What is the lowest level machine code for how our universe works? (Wolfram)

Is renewable energy essentially a shill for the fossil fuel, mining, and heavy industries?

Coronavirus

Was COVID-19 a zoonotic disease (animal to human), or was it developed in a Wuhan lab?

How should followers of Jesus think about the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Is our world ready for the next epidemic?

What can science learn from the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Are immunity passports a bad idea?

Will we ever trust crowds again?

What wasn’t the U.S. prepared?

Is American Exceptionalism working against us in these times? Does wearing a mask require and deserve our solidarity?

When can America go back to work and school?

Are we ready for medical rationing and its unintended consequences? Will doctors be replaced by algorithms that will automatically assign an economic value to human life and make medical decisions accordingly?

After decades of decreased funding and demonization of the federal bureaucracy, has the coronavirus crisis exposed the tragic ineffectiveness of federal leadership at a most critical moment when we need it?

War, Peace, and Military

Can Israel find a way to have security in a way that respects Palestinian dignity?

Is adopting a no-first-use policy among nuclear-armed states a good starting point towards ultimately achieving a safer and saner nuclear-weapons-free world?

Why is it so difficult to make a good peace when it is so easy to imagine? What does it take for societies and individuals to move forward after unspeakable brutality?

By returning and renegotiating the Nuclear Deal with Iran, can we (a) avert the threat of war with Iran, and (b) prevent the possibility of an Iranian nuclear bomb?

War, what is it good for?

Has the disruption of the military by COVID-19 pushed the military towards more autonomous force projection across all of its strategic platforms?

  • Are machines now more reliable then humans?

Does the U.S. need such a large and expensive military?

Immigration & Refugees

Is there a way to balance

  • holding firm to our principles, values and laws governing border security, while
  • treating immigrants and refugees with humanity?

Truth & Trust

What can I say with certainty is true about me?

If you want to find and verify the truth, where do you look, who do you ask, and what does the truth look like compared to disinformation?

Can you believe what you read, see, and hear?

Racism, Prejudice/Empathy, Poverty, Income Inequality

Is the United States a racist country, or is it a democracy with racism embedded within and throughout its borders?

Who has value? What is a disability? And how do we correct the imbalances we see in the world? (autism)

For over 400+ years, why have white Christians and the Church not stood up against genocide of indigenous peoples, slavery, and racism?

Where does all this hate for American Asians and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) come from?

  • How do we fight it?
  • Is racism predominantly instinctive (nature) or learned (nurture)?

What has been and continues to be the cost of racism and prejudice for our country and ourselves?

Was that a lynch mob on January 6? Are we in the midst of a slo-mo devolution happening in plain sight?

As the pandemic has painfully revealed, do we need a new hybrid socio-economic model for the 21st century that provides for a more fair and equitable set of economic and social outcomes that an unchecked free-market capitalistic system cannot alone guarantee?

How do we battle racism without harming or killing peaceful and innocent protesters, and, well-meaning police trying to keep the peace?

What is a hero?

Education

What are the top ten books that have made the most impact on your life?

Is there a better plan for Student Debt Accountability than wholesale write-off?

How has the pandemic disrupted education for the better and/or the worse?

Does busing work as a school desegregation strategy?

Politics, Rule of Law, Policing, Gun Violence

Is there no violence and death threshold at which the NRA and its loyalists say “enough is enough”?

Why do we still have the electoral system?

Is white supremacism the ugly truth behind voter suppression?

How can we achieve a balanced, fair and equitable policing environment in a nation increasingly divided by race, class, ethnicity, geography, and ideology?

How long should people stay in prison before they get a second chance?

Does character matter?

If we don’t reform the filibuster, will we be permanently reconciled to a Privileged White Male Evangelical Christian Minority Rule in America (the Senate)?

How do we live in a 50-50 country?

Is our Democracy as we’ve known it, at risk?

Is white collar crime far more dangerous (in terms of societal impact) than street crime?

Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Social Media

As we accelerate our ability to hack the laws of natural selection, where is this leading us, and where do we want to go?

Are you ready to give up driving your own car?

How do we protect ourselves against those scientists who would willingly weaponize the technologies they develop?

What are the long-term social implications of Artificial Intelligence?

Should there be limits on persuasive technologies?

  • Is Facebook crushing their competition legally or illegally?

Existential Risks

Is it time for ecocide to become an international crime?

Is protecting humanity’s future from existential risks the central challenge of our time? If so, what good do warships, warplanes, 14,000+ nuclear bombs, space force, infantry, commando teams, tanks, and aircraft carriers accomplish against

  • lethal pandemics
  • rising tides
  • burning forests
  • poverty and income inequality, and
  • animal, insect and plant extinction?

How are we destroying the planet? How will we save it?

What are the biggest long-term risks to the global economy?

Dystrumpia Rising

Evangelicals, how long do you apologize and put up with Trump’s lies and vulgarity?

Why do people latch on to conspiracy theories?

Was Trump ever the Chosen One?

How do we fight THE BIG LIE propagated by Donald Trump?

So white nationalists, if you overthrow the federal government, what do you put in its place?

Why do Trump’s apologists and sycophants say nothing about the cumulative time and scope of his lying and vulgarity?

If Trump encourages Dystrumpia to defy the Biden White House, is that an act of treason per the Constitution?

Is Trump undermining and delegitimizing our elections (democracy) in collusion with Putin?

Is Truth now whatever is first in a google search results listing?

Is Fascism sneaking up on us one tweet at a time?

Are science fiction’s themes of a Dystopian Society disturbingly visible in today’s world?

Art

Do you have to accept the character of the artist to accept their art?

Sports

What is a hero?

What does sport teach us about leadership?

Is the purity of sports being poisoned by

  • technology (AI, surveillance, wireless)
  • the values/corruption in our increasingly uncivil society, and
  • gambling and corruption?

Religion

If an alien was sent to explore earth, what religion would the alien choose to follow, if any?

Why would you support a religious community that constantly tries to deride and diminish your humanity?

If you had to choose, would you rather live in a world without technology, or a world without religion?

Virtual Reality

When it comes to Virtual Reality’s impact on kids, how long is too long? How young is too young?

Are kids now officially citizens of a dual world, real and virtual?

Has this forced online family distance-learning experience during the self-quarantining COVID-19 crisis confirmed the importance of brick-and-mortar schools for kids?

But at the same time has the social, emotional, and intellectual value of online games been confirmed during this period of virus isolation?