Fireworks cause pollution and health risks while disturbing veterans and pets. On this Skeptical Sunday with David C. Smalley, can we find alternatives?
Welcome to Skeptical Sunday, a special edition of The Jordan Harbinger Show where Jordan and comedian and podcast host David C. Smalley break down a topic that you may have never thought about, open things up, and debunk common misconceptions.
On This Week’s Skeptical Sunday, We Discuss:
- Studies have shown that fireworks have negative effects on human health and the environment as they release toxic metals and contribute to air and water pollution.
- The noise from fireworks can be extremely distressing for combat veterans, individuals with PTSD, and pets, leading to anxiety, panic attacks, and even running away.
- Fireworks-related fires cause significant property damage and pose a risk to both people and wildlife.
- Fireworks regulations are fragmented and challenging to enforce, and there are political and monetary pushbacks against stricter regulations thanks to moneyed interests (like fireworks manufacturers) lobbying lawmakers.
- One 21st-century solution to overcome these negatives is the use of drones for aerial displays, which are quieter, more environmentally friendly, and can still provide a visually stunning experience.
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. If you have something you’d like us to tackle here on Skeptical Sunday, drop Jordan a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know!
- Connect with David at his website, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, and make sure to check out The David C. Smalley Podcast here or wherever you enjoy listening to fine podcasts! If you like to get out of your house and catch live comedy, keep an eye on David’s tour dates here and text David directly at (424) 306-0798 for tickets when he comes to your town!
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Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Miss the conversation we had with science champion and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson? Make sure to catch up with episode 327: Neil deGrasse Tyson | Astrophysics for People in a Hurry!
Resources from This Episode:
- US Fireworks Industry Revenue Figures Breakdown by Industry Segment 2000–2021 | The American Pyrotechnics Association
- Fireworks Injuries and Deaths | Consumer Product Safety Commission
- A 12-Year-Old Suffered Traumatic Hand Injuries after Setting off a Firework | Los Angeles Times
- Fireworks Used to be Insane (and Hella Racist) | KLAQ
- The Evolution of Fireworks | Smithsonian Science Education Center
- Fireworks Scare Us — That’s Why We Love Them | Popular Science
- Fireworks | Air Quality and Health Effects | Wisconsin DNR
- How Fireworks Work | Explain That Stuff
- Carbon Footprint of Fireworks (How Much CO2 Do Fireworks Produce?) | 8 Billion Trees
- The Fourth of July Air Pollution in L.A. Was the Worst in Years | Timeout
- Nationwide Study Measures Short-Term Spike in Particulate Matter Due to Independence Day Fireworks | NOAA Research
- Effects of Independence Day Fireworks on Atmospheric Concentrations of Fine Particulate Matter in the United States | Atmospheric Environment
- Toxicity of Particles Emitted by Fireworks | Particle and Fibre Toxicology
- How Your Fireworks May Affect America’s Veterans | Veterans Affairs
- How Common Is PTSD in Adults? | National Center for PTSD
- How to Prevent Your Pet From Going Missing This Fourth of July | AKC
- How Fireworks Harm Nonhuman Animals | Animal Ethics
- Every Firework Is an Explosion of Fear for Animals. Keep Them Safe With 10 Simple Recommendations | OIPA
- Wildlife Official Asks Town to Skip Fireworks for the Sake of Bald Eagles | CBS News
- Fire Causes and Risks | NFPA
- Five Years Ago, Eagle Creek Fire Started in Columbia River Gorge | KGW
- Fireworks Lobby to Obama: Enough with All the Rules | Politico
- Kristi Noem Says Biden Admin. Blocked July 4 Mt. Rushmore Fireworks for Third Straight Year | Fox News
- Fireworks and the Second Amendment | Tully and Weiss
- Preserving and Promoting an American Tradition | American Pyrotechnics Association
- Fireworks Ban Pays Off as Beijing Records Best Air Quality for Lunar New Year’s Eve | Reuters
- Drone Light Shows “Way Cooler” Than Fireworks | Forbes
854: Fireworks | Skeptical Sunday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to Airbnb for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:04] Maybe you've stayed at an Airbnb before and thought to yourself, "Yeah, this actually seems pretty doable. Maybe my place could be an Airbnb." It could be as simple as starting with a spare room or your whole place while you're away. Find out how much your place is worth at airbnb.com/host.
[00:00:21] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger, and this is Skeptical Sunday, a special edition of The Jordan Harbinger Show, where fact-checker and comedian David C. Smalley and I break down a topic that you may have never thought about, open things up and debunk common misconceptions — topics such as why the Olympics are kind of a sham, why food expiration dates are total nonsense, why tipping makes absolutely no sense, recycling banned foods, toothpaste, chemtrails, and a whole lot more. Normally, on The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. We have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of amazing folks, from spies to CEOs, athletes to authors, thinkers, to performers.
[00:01:02] If you're new to the show or you want to tell your friends about the show, I suggest our episode starter packs as a place to begin. These are collections of our favorite episodes organized by topic. That'll help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on this show. Skeptical Sundays included in those playlists, of course, persuasion, influence, disinformation, cyber warfare, crime, and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start, or take a look in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:01:27] By the way, if you use the Stitcher app to listen to the show, they are getting rid of that app, August 29th. It will no longer be useful, so switch to a different app if you use the Stitcher app to listen to this podcast. If you're on Android, I suggest Podcast Addict. It might not be as pretty, but it works really well. If you're on iOS, Apple, you should use Overcast in my humble opinion, or Apple Podcasts, but definitely no longer Stitcher. It will not update anymore in the next couple of months. So if you're using the Stitcher app, now's a good time to switch to a new podcast app. And if you have any problems with this, you're kind of Boomer in terms of your tech, you don't know what to do, you can always email me email@example.com. I will try to point you in the right direction, but the Stitcher app will no longer work for this show.
[00:02:10] Now, today, the fireworks industry netted 2.2 billion in 2021 billion. In 2020 when the pandemic was on and nobody was really gathering or even celebrating much of anything, the fireworks industry netted 1.9 billion. Talk about recession proof. As always, where there's money, there's a powerful lobby. You might even say where there's smoke, there's fire, David. The American Pyrotechnics Association generates their fortune by presenting a loss of fireworks as a loss of American history, loss of tradition, a loss of freedom.
[00:02:40] But what's the point of fireworks really? Why do we turn away from fireworks' negative effects on the environment among other drawbacks and insist on looking up at explosions to celebrate Independence Day, a baseball game, a day at an amusement park? Are fireworks a necessary part of patriotism along with flags and guns? On this Skeptical Sunday, let's bang out the facts with comedian David C. Smalley.
[00:03:02] David C. Smalley: Thanks, Jordan. This one, this topic's going to be fire.
[00:03:07] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, indeed. Okay. Tell me what are the pros and cons of fireworks? That's my first question. Just lazy wind you up and go.
[00:03:14] David C. Smalley: All right. Yeah, yeah. So look, I realize by now people know I'm here to ruin their good times.
[00:03:20] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:03:20] David C. Smalley: Right? I'm the Debbie Downer of the podcast world. I just won't let people have a good time.
[00:03:26] Jordan Harbinger: Correct.
[00:03:28] David C. Smalley: I mean, you don't have to answer that so quickly, but, okay.
[00:03:30] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, I'm sorry. Correct.
[00:03:34] David C. Smalley: Okay, Jordan. Look, fireworks are fun.
[00:03:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:03:38] David C. Smalley: Right. I mean, it's cool to watch things blow up.
[00:03:41] Jordan Harbinger: Word.
[00:03:41] David C. Smalley: But as for your pros and cons question, all right, look, the reality is the cons are extensive. Fireworks damage property. They pollute the environment and quite literally blow off fingers.
[00:03:54] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:03:55] David C. Smalley: Like it's a problem. And there are more incidents every year than you can count on both hands, especially if you use fireworks.
[00:04:02] Jordan Harbinger: So how often does somebody actually blow off a finger? Like off?
[00:04:06] David C. Smalley: Yeah. So according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, firework injuries are actually up 25 percent in the last 15 years. So it's definitely gotten worse over time and in 2020 maybe, because we were all just at home doing this ourselves, it actually spiked. It was 15,600 people being sent to the emergency room. And 31 percent of those emergency room visits are classified as hands or fingers. So I don't think they count the number of fingers that are blown off.
[00:04:39] Jordan Harbinger: Ah, too bad.
[00:04:39] David C. Smalley: But it's about 4,800 people per year have hand or finger injuries due to fireworks.
[00:04:46] Jordan Harbinger: You know, this makes sense. And when we were creating this episode, I was thinking like, okay, how many people are blowing their hands up? Nobody's even celebrating anything. And during the pandemic, right? But here's the thing. I realize now, when I was growing up, I had a cottage up north and I would go up there and there's kind of like we affectionately refer to our neighbors as rednecks. They were nice people and they played with fireworks a whole lot. There wasn't a home theater where you could go in their house and sit down and watch a bunch of really nice movies most of the time. You really just went outside and drank beer and shotguns and fireworks. So if people didn't have to go to work then and there were things were slowing down, these people didn't just go into their room and play Xbox. They went out and did more fireworks. So it doesn't surprise me at all that the 4th of July and the gatherings all sort of went down, but fireworks injuries and revenues basically stayed the same.
[00:05:33] David C. Smalley: Yeah. You don't have to tell me. I was raised in Texas.
[00:05:35] Jordan Harbinger: That's what I figured. Yeah.
[00:05:36] David C. Smalley: Literally blowing stuff up or just going shooting, one of the most common pastimes.
[00:05:40] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I don't mean shooting is a redneck thing, I just mean shooting things off your porch is. And there's a lot of that.
[00:05:48] David C. Smalley: Yeah, for sure.
[00:05:50] Jordan Harbinger: I've definitely seen some nasty firecracker hands in my day as well. I actually wonder what else gets injured most of the time. I've seen blood blisters on hands from, "Oops, I didn't realize I had to let that go," or, "I tried to but my fingers were sticky from the ribs" that kind of thing.
[00:06:04] David C. Smalley: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:06:05] Jordan Harbinger: I'm assuming hearing, ear damage has got to be up there as well. Maybe the backs of heads as people are running away from the giant homemade firework you created in your backyard.
[00:06:14] David C. Smalley: Yeah, so I actually thought the same thing when I first pulled up this chart and I was looking at the sort of breakdown on the body in terms of the percentages. Hearing and ears specifically are actually on the lower end. The way they classify it as 21 percent to the head, face, or ears, and then 14 percent to the eyes, and then 34 percent other body parts. But if you count the eyes as part of the face, it's kind of evenly distributed. It's about 30 to 35 percent per part of the body kind of.
[00:06:43] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, just the phrase other body parts gives me a little bit of a shutter, not going to lie.
[00:06:48] David C. Smalley: Yeah, I don't think we want to know the details.
[00:06:50] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:06:51] David C. Smalley: And specifics and definitely no photos.
[00:06:53] Jordan Harbinger: You taped a what to your what, sir? Just make it stop, the pain.
[00:06:58] David C. Smalley: You inserted a what into where?
[00:07:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, exactly.
[00:07:01] David C. Smalley: Yeah, an absolute nightmare. And keep in mind, these are just emergency room visits. I feel like I've told this story before on this show, but someone, they called them, I think, jumping jacks. The ones that skip and sort of make a loud hissing noise and they just kind of skip across the ground.
[00:07:17] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:07:18] David C. Smalley: Someone threw one of those at me when I was about eight years old. This guy was a full-grown man. He thought it would be funny to skip it toward me. I was an idiot and I just fell down and covered up because I thought it was going to bounce.
[00:07:31] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:07:31] David C. Smalley: So I covered up, it hit my head, set my hair on fire.
[00:07:35] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my gosh.
[00:07:36] David C. Smalley: And I had a hairspray in my hair. I was a little kid. I used to spike my hair up, set my hair on fire, and we were at a lake and I went headfirst into the lake to put the fire out and I couldn't swim.
[00:07:48] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:07:49] David C. Smalley: So at eight years old, I was literally on fire and nearly drowned all within about 30 seconds.
[00:07:54] Jordan Harbinger: This is like a law school hypothetical who's responsible and how much are they responsible when the boy just was doing this and then did this, and then did this, and then did this, and then...he died. It's like, oh, it's called foreseeable consequences. Anyway, it really is like a hypothetical.
[00:08:09] David C. Smalley: Well, but guess what? No emergency room visit.
[00:08:11] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:08:11] David C. Smalley: So as traumatic as that was for me, that's not even in the stats.
[00:08:15] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:08:15] David C. Smalley: You know? So how many rednecks do we know we're going to have a giant scar on their hand and go, "Oh, fireworks event, 1989." I mean, they're going to do that because they never went to the emergency room. It's definitely going to be worse than the statistics show.
[00:08:26] Jordan Harbinger: That's true. You go when you're like, "I slipped in the bathtub. Okay. That's how it happened."
[00:08:32] David C. Smalley: Right. So in Torrance, California in July of 22, just this past year, a 12-year-old girl actually blew off every finger on her left hand.
[00:08:42] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my God. That's terrible. Ugh.
[00:08:45] David C. Smalley: I feel like there's a hundred different types of situations that could lead to something like this.
[00:08:48] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:08:49] David C. Smalley: The LA Times covered this one specifically. And in this instance what happened was another kid in the neighborhood, the article says he found it, but he gave it to her and told her it was a smoke bomb. So she thought it was going to sizzle and let out all this colorful smoke.
[00:09:04] Jordan Harbinger: Oh no.
[00:09:05] David C. Smalley: So she held onto it thinking she was going to be able to like play with it, and she lit it with a sparkler turns out it was an M-80.
[00:09:13] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my God.
[00:09:14] David C. Smalley: And it popped and it took every finger off her hand. So sad.
[00:09:18] Jordan Harbinger: That is truly horrible. So she wasn't even necessarily negligent, somebody tricked her. She might have been a little negligent, but somebody tricked her, whether the kid meant to or not. He might have got in from an adult. Also, M-80, those are illegal literally since the '60s. No exaggeration. I mean, there's a law, I think it was 1965, but then again, that didn't stop me when I was a kid either. I played with those, they were no doubt manufactured and sold illegally, and you just got to ask, where the hell are the parents in this situation?
[00:09:45] David C. Smalley: I thought the exact same thing. So as far as the legality, the New Hampshire Department of Safety says this on their website, and I'm quoting, "Illegally manufactured explosive devices are frequently referred to as fireworks because of their resemblance to a large firecracker. These items are commonly known as M-80s, M-100s, M-250s, and M-500s." I think that just depends on the size. "Cherry bombs, Quarter Sticks, and even Blockbusters. These devices and others of light construction are federally banned, explosive devices and should never be referred to as fireworks."
[00:10:22] Jordan Harbinger: Well, when you put it that way—
[00:10:23] David C. Smalley: Right. I've never even thought to not call them that.
[00:10:26] Jordan Harbinger: No.
[00:10:26] David C. Smalley: It's an interesting thing. It's not a little — fireworks sound like something we can control. It's a thing that we do. No.
[00:10:31] Jordan Harbinger: That like worst case, you get your hair lit on fire, that's it. And then you jump in a lake.
[00:10:35] David C. Smalley: And you can't swim and you jump in a lake and almost die.
[00:10:37] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:10:37] David C. Smalley: And then constantly have panic attacks around fireworks as an adult. Long story. No, I actually don't have panic attacks. What'll happen is I get highly agitated.
[00:10:46] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, I thought maybe you curl up in a little ball and look for the nearest water source.
[00:10:50] David C. Smalley: It's quite the opposite. I like literally want to fight people. The guy that's having a good time. "Come on, let's shoot off the bottle rocket." I'm like, I better leave before I go to jail.
[00:11:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You have PTSD, man.
[00:11:01] David C. Smalley: I do. It is, but my response is like not to run. It's the fight part of that fight-or-flight response.
[00:11:07] Jordan Harbinger: Right. It's the fight part of fight or flight, yeah.
[00:11:09] David C. Smalley: This is a different website, americanpyro.com.
[00:11:11] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm. Great domain.
[00:11:14] David C. Smalley: Yeah, perfect, right? "Cherry Bombs, Silver Salutes, and M-80s have been banned by federal law since 1966 because of large amounts of explosive composition they contain. And if you find any of these items, do not touch them immediately. Call your local police or fire. If you are aware of someone selling these illegal end dangerous items, contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms immediately at 1-888-ATF-BOMB. So yeah, they're pretty damn illegal.
[00:11:44] Jordan Harbinger: So people are just out here posted up on the side of the road selling federally banned explosives, and we're just like America, thanks, man.
[00:11:52] David C. Smalley: America, yep.
[00:11:52] Jordan Harbinger: 1999 for 12, hell, yeah.
[00:11:56] David C. Smalley: Apparently. And as far as "where the hell are the parents," that crossed my mind as well. And it does seem to be a good question. So the details I gathered from the article was, it wasn't like an event she was at, she wasn't like at a fireworks thing. And the mother was actually inside folding laundry as her kids were outside playing and she had no idea they even had access to fireworks at least. That's what she said. And this happened the day after the July 4th celebration. And by the way, one of the documents I did link to where we talk about the injuries, it says on there that 74 percent of all firework injuries or accidents happen like the week of July 4th.
[00:12:34] Jordan Harbinger: Of course.
[00:12:35] David C. Smalley: It's either of course, right before or right after. And I've never even thought about after, you know, but if you think about it, July 5th and 6th, every now and then you'll hear a loud boom or a pop. Somebody's like, "Oh, I found another thing. Let's go blow it up."
[00:12:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. "Oh, I was so drunk the other night. I didn't finish lighting them off." That was what it was up north in Michigan. It was like they were just so drunk. There was a bunch left, or like all the garbage piles have some unopened bags on top. Or if you're me, you stashed a few bags while all the adults were passed out on the lawn.
[00:13:03] David C. Smalley: And then the next day you go blow stuff up.
[00:13:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I'm like, sweet. Well, I know what I'm doing tomorrow.
[00:13:07] David C. Smalley: So basically, that's what happened was the day after. And it is unclear from the article if the mom knew about this, but she also had a sparkler. So the girl goes outside just to have a sparkler.
[00:13:19] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:13:19] David C. Smalley: And she's apparently playing with his sparkler. And then this other kid comes up and hands her what he calls a smoke bomb. And that's how she ended up lighting it with the actual sparkler.
[00:13:28] Jordan Harbinger: Sure. Yeah.
[00:13:29] David C. Smalley: And it blew up. Now, we'd all like to think, "Oh, that would never be us. My kids would never do that. My kids know better." But if you're a parent, you know, you can't watch 'em all the time and you can teach them to be safe, you know? But you're not always going to be there to force them to be safe. So part of being a parent is teaching your kids the best and hoping they learn something the easy way instead of the hard way.
[00:13:50] Jordan Harbinger: True dude. And at 12, you get a lot of time away from mom and dad. So that's a really unfortunate incident that they're going to have to live with for the rest of their lives.
[00:13:58] I bet you can't wait to get one of your fingerless hands on one of these great deals from the fine products and services that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:14:10] This episode is sponsored in part by Airbnb. So we used to travel a lot for podcast interviews and conferences and we love staying in Airbnbs because we often meet interesting people and the stays are just more unique and fun. One of our favorite places to stay at in LA is with a sweet older couple whose kids had moved out. They have a granny flat in their backyard. We used to stay there all the time. We were regulars, always booking their Airbnb when we flew down for interviews. And we loved it because they'd leave a basket of snacks, sometimes a bottle of wine, even a little note for us. And they would leave us freshly baked banana bread because they knew that I liked it. And they even became listeners of this podcast, which is how they knew about the banana bread. So after our house was built, we decided to become hosts ourselves, turning one of our spare bedrooms into an Airbnb. Maybe you've stayed in an Airbnb before and thought to yourself, "Hey, this seems pretty doable. Maybe my place could be an Airbnb." It could be as simple as starting with a spare room or your whole place while you're away. You could be sitting on an Airbnb and not even know it. Perhaps you get a fantastic vacation plan for the balmy days of summer. As you're out there soaking up the sun and making memories, your house doesn't need to sit idle, turn it into an Airbnb, let it be a vacation home for somebody else. And picture this, your little one isn't so little anymore. If they're headed off to college this fall, the echo in their now empty bedroom might be a little too much to bear. So whether you could use a little extra money to cover some bills or something a little more fun, your home might be worth more than you think. Find out how much at airbnb.com/host.
[00:15:33] Now back to the show.
[00:15:36] Do you know, can they find and reattach fingers? I feel like they can do that. Didn't they reattach his wang, John Wayne Bobbitt? I mean, they must be able to reattach a finger. It seems like a simpler device. I'm assuming though, with something like the explosion caused by an M-80, which is a military-grade explosive device. Again, something I used to play with a lot as a kid actually, even though they were federally illegal for civilian use. Speaking of negligent parenting, maybe they can't because the fingers are a hundred yards away and in a hundred pieces each.
[00:16:05] David C. Smalley: A lot of times in these injuries too, there is so much bone damage to the hand as well.
[00:16:10] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:16:11] David C. Smalley: Like you just end up with just a mangled mess of bone and tissue. It's not even like if a finger is completely severed, yes, you can reattach that, but these explosions are just maiming the entire hand.
[00:16:23] Jordan Harbinger: That's true.
[00:16:23] David C. Smalley: There's not really much to attach it to. The ligaments are gone, the bones are gone. I mean it's just completely destroyed.
[00:16:29] Jordan Harbinger: Right. It's not a bandsaw where you lop off a couple and they're in great condition with covered a little bit of sawdust and you've got two stumps where fingers were and you just run into the emergency room. You're right. Yeah. I didn't think about that. Ugh. Graphic.
[00:16:42] David C. Smalley: Yeah. Maybe put a warning at the top of this one.
[00:16:44] Jordan Harbinger: I think so. No kids in the car for this one, folks. What am I too late? So, yeah, all right. So if somebody says, "Okay, well, I use them safely and that won't happen to me. Why should I stop using fireworks because other people's dumb kids get hurt or the dumb adults get hurt?
[00:17:02] David C. Smalley: And a lot of people think that about 15,600 people per year think that.
[00:17:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, yeah.
[00:17:08] David C. Smalley: Like it's not the same 15,000 people going to the emergency room every year. I mean, I'm sure there's a few repeat customers.
[00:17:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I'd love to see the data on that. I guarantee you there's plenty.
[00:17:17] David C. Smalley: Like a Venn diagram, a Venn diagram of been here before, you know, type situation.
[00:17:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yes. Hi. If I blow off another finger, I get a free, like a punch card.
[00:17:26] David C. Smalley: I was just going to say a punch card.
[00:17:28] Jordan Harbinger: One more finger and I got a free vasectomy.
[00:17:30] David C. Smalley: Yeah. So honestly, they're problematic for several reasons. Look, both commercial and consumer fireworks disrupt communities, right? Veterans of war obviously suffer a lot of psychological damage with PTSD. That's a real issue.
[00:17:48] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:17:48] David C. Smalley: Fireworks torture pets and kill immeasurable numbers of wildlife, animals, and insects. The list goes on. Fireworks start fires, of course. And especially here on the West Coast in California, it's a big problem every summer. Fireworks actually emit metals into the air.
[00:18:05] Jordan Harbinger: See, that? I didn't know. That I never thought about.
[00:18:08] David C. Smalley: Yeah. And then an often overlooked con, the packaging—
[00:18:12] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:18:12] David C. Smalley: It's actually steeped in racist stereotypes.
[00:18:15] Jordan Harbinger: Racist plastic packaging. So I didn't even realize fireworks had been racist the whole time. Now, why am I just not surprised at all though?
[00:18:22] David C. Smalley: It's bad, like it's so bad and some of it's still out there. Some of it was very recent. I mean—
[00:18:28] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:18:29] David C. Smalley: It's pretty easy to find things. At least within the last few years, there were things called Red Engine Fireworks.
[00:18:36] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man.
[00:18:36] David C. Smalley: China Boy. There's one called Dixie Boys. It was wrapped in like confederate paper. It was like a—
[00:18:42] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, gotcha. All right.
[00:18:43] David C. Smalley: Okay. You got to see the packaging of the — I'm going to stop saying it, but you just got to go look. And it's not just the names, the images, trust me, they're offensive. And because I don't want to be caught on tape saying something any worse, that could be used against me out of context. I've included a link if people want to go see how problematic this is. It's K-L-A-Q.com's full list, and I've got it in the show notes so people will be able to see it for themselves.
[00:19:07] Jordan Harbinger: Ironic because again, I think most of these are made in China anyway, with all that, there are still fireworks going off somewhere in the United States every single night, I would imagine, including my backyard, because one of my neighbors is a drunk moron. But let's hear about the pros if they exist. I mean, they're fun. They really are.
[00:19:25] David C. Smalley: Okay. Okay. Pros. Sure. Okay. Fireworks momentarily, distract that primitive part of our lizard brain with one to two seconds of shiny lights and big booms. End of list.
[00:19:39] Jordan Harbinger: That's a really lame way of saying super fun, but, okay, when you're a kid and you have no sense of consequences whatsoever, they're extra fun. I think now, as an adult, I'd be a little bit more wary. When I was younger, I was like, let's see how long I can hold onto this while the fuse goes as low as I'll let it before I drop it. I guess it's just another billion-dollar industry that's bad for the environment. Offers no real benefits. This is probably a little bit more philosophical than we're used to on the show, but why do humans engage with this spectacle so often? Did we look into that at all?
[00:20:10] David C. Smalley: Yeah, so there's some psychology-based reasons that make sense of human fascinations with explosives, especially explosives in the sky, actually.
[00:20:18] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:20:19] David C. Smalley: And I was a little surprised to learn how old fireworks are. The first ones are from 200 BC—
[00:20:26] Jordan Harbinger: Really?
[00:20:26] David C. Smalley: —when people realize that like hollow bamboo would pop and explode when you throw it into a fire.
[00:20:32] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, wow.
[00:20:32] David C. Smalley: And apparently they got a real kick out of that fireside entertainment. And we haven't evolved much in that way. And still today, the fear that fireworks conjure actually fascinates us. Daniel Glaser, who's a neuroscientist in the UK, he says, the reason we enjoy fireworks is because they frighten us.
[00:20:51] Jordan Harbinger: Ooh.
[00:20:51] David C. Smalley: Like lightning or the bright flashes or whatever, like the bright flash of a lightning kind of warns us that something's coming. And then, boom, you have this clap of the thunder or this hollow pop of a firework, like it's about to happen, here it comes. This activates our amygdala, the little ball of nerves inside the brain that detects fear. After the lights have stimulated that anticipation of a threat, the proceeding boom of the firework confirms this perception in our brains. And in response, our reward centers release a surge of dopamine, which is the chemical that regulates pleasure. So we kind of torture ourselves on purpose.
[00:21:26] Jordan Harbinger: Huh? But why does something that we fear end up entertaining us?
[00:21:31] David C. Smalley: Well, if you think about it, like horror movies, right? Haunted houses, screaming at people when we jump out to scare them, these are things that are very popular. I mean, Glaser says that unlike the fear of the unknown, fireworks-induced fear is controlled, and that's kind of the point. It's simply the predictability of the fireworks. The bang follows the flash, and it rewards us with a shot of dopamine, pretty colors in the sky. And he explains that people seem to be excited by the anticipation of a slightly scary experience. And fireworks repeatedly set up this expectation over and over, and each flash like generates this anticipation of a bang. And then that satisfaction seems to be what's so exciting about the entire fireworks display.
[00:22:16] Jordan Harbinger: Is there anything wrong with humans continuing to create these manufactured feelings? I mean, again, I'm going down like a philosophical rabbit hole here, but—
[00:22:25] David C. Smalley: Yeah, I mean, people like the tradition. What's the 4th of July without that sound and even the smell and the bright lights flashing in the sky, right? And what's the end of a fun day at Disneyland without the magical explosions in the sky? What would Beyonce's concert in Dubai be like? Would it be as spectacular without her million-dollar fireworks display, you know?
[00:22:47] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, you think Beyonce would be enough fireworks, you know what I mean? But I think, uh, I mean, I'd buy a firecracker if she run the label.
[00:22:54] David C. Smalley: I'd start smoking cigarettes if she were on the label.
[00:22:56] Jordan Harbinger: What about all of these cons? Do they really add up to anything?
[00:23:01] David C. Smalley: Okay, look, so like many issues facing our society, we know the negatives, right? Smoking causes cancer. People still smoke. Obesity and a sh*tty diet will kill you. People still eat sh*tty and don't exercise. Most of the cons surrounding fireworks people have heard before. They're quite damning when you list them all together and maybe this podcast will make somebody shift gears and stop messing with this stuff, but there's no way you can take away tradition and habit just like that. I mean, fireworks are like flags. Every country has them and their patriotic, depending on which borders they fly in. That's kind of how it's looked at in our culture.
[00:23:38] Jordan Harbinger: So you mentioned the effects on the environment. How bad is it? Okay. Racist, plastic packaging, fine. What else? What about these metals?
[00:23:45] David C. Smalley: Yeah. The colors that you see in fireworks actually come from metallic compounds such as barium, aluminum, things like that. Lithium salts actually produce pink fireworks, sodium salts produce yellow fireworks and so forth. And when these metals explode in the air, they can have negative effects on human health, but like short-term exposure to these metals can exacerbate lung disease, for example, causing asthma and acute bronchitis. It can increase someone's susceptibility to respiratory infections and in people with heart disease. Short-term exposure to smoke from fireworks has actually been linked to heart attacks and arrhythmias. When fireworks explode, the metal salts and explosives like undergo this chemical reaction, that release gases including carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide and nitrogen. Gases that drive climate change. And I know some people are just like, bro, like it's sports—
[00:24:44] Jordan Harbinger: It's just fireworks.
[00:24:45] David C. Smalley: It's one day. Yeah, no, it's not though. It's not. It's like you mentioned all these baseball games, all these football games, sometimes there's explosions after every touchdown, something like that. During the explosion, these medals don't just burn up and disappear. Our senses might tell us that these things are gone, but they end up as aerosols that poison the air, and then eventually some of them can fall back down to the earth and poison the water, poison the soil. And when inhaled or ingested, these metals can actually cause a variety of illnesses, including asthma attacks, kidney disease, and various cancers. And also to produce the oxygen needed for the explosion many fireworks contain oxidizers called perchlorates.
[00:25:30] Jordan Harbinger: Perchlorates, yeah.
[00:25:31] David C. Smalley: Yeah. Perchlorates can dissolve in water and then if they dissolve in the water, they're contaminating rivers and lakes, including drinking water. So that's how bad it gets. And finally, you know, fireworks release this fine cloud of smoke in particulate matter, of course, that affects the local air quality. I think we can all agree on how fireworks shows change the air around us. We've all been there, you know?
[00:25:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, we kind of just touched on this, but I was going to take a jab at you and be like, okay, there's no way we use enough freaking fireworks to really move the needle on pollution or climate change, but I do remember hearing that LA, surprise surprise had its worst air quality in a decade after the 4th of July last year. And if you've been to LA that's really saying something because LA's Air is disgusting.
[00:26:14] David C. Smalley: Absolutely.
[00:26:15] Jordan Harbinger: If that moved the needle on fricking 4th of July, that's a lot of pollution and smoke.
[00:26:21] David C. Smalley: Exactly, and it's not just LA, you're right, it's bad here, but it's not just LA. There are over 14,000-plus fireworks displays in the US alone.
[00:26:32] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:26:32] David C. Smalley: Just over the 4th of July weekend. That's just over that weekend, and a new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAH, shows fireworks used to celebrate independence, temporarily increase particulate pollution by an average of 42 percent.
[00:26:50] Jordan Harbinger: Oh wow. That's actually a lot more than I thought. And again, quite gross because it's completely unnecessary, really.
[00:26:57] David C. Smalley: Yep. Exactly. And that's not the only type of pollution we've yet to even cover the effects of my least favorite pollution, noise pollution.
[00:27:05] Jordan Harbinger: Ah.
[00:27:05] David C. Smalley: Fireworks disrupt communities, but they particularly wreak havoc on our combat veterans. I mentioned this earlier, but people suffer from various ailments like tinnitus or autism, and of course, our pets.
[00:27:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Let's start with the veterans, autistic pet-owning veterans.
[00:27:23] David C. Smalley: I mean, it's so bad. Could you imagine if someone's in that situation, they're an autistic pet-owning veteran, how miserable they must be during the 4th of July weekend. And according to an article on va.gov, the Veterans Administration website, the human brain is very good at pairing things, particularly threats, right? That's how we so quickly recognize threats sometimes. Combat veterans can pair threats to things they experienced in combat zones. So when they hear loud noises, a veteran's brain can feel in real danger and small things like that can trigger PTSD like a car backfiring or a door slamming. So we can only imagine what explosives going off in the air for an entire evening might due to a veteran suffering from PTSD.
[00:28:09] Jordan Harbinger: Ironically, it's the vets we're celebrating by triggering their PTSD with his fireworks display. So that sucks.
[00:28:16] David C. Smalley: Yeah, of course. And it's not just the veterans who were triggered or upset by the sheer volume of noise produced by these displays. PTSD affects over 12 million Americans every year. There are people who've been in gunfights and traumatic things as a child or whatever. Many of these folks actually have to plan to get out of the range of firework shows, and when you've got over 14,000 per year, it's kind of hard to get away from them. It's not only during the displays, fireworks can trigger different symptoms like nightmares and flashbacks and panic attacks that can actually continue for weeks after being triggered.
[00:28:51] Jordan Harbinger: You are listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show. We'll be right back.
[00:28:55] This episode is sponsored in part by Airbnb. We used to travel a lot for podcast interviews and conferences, and we love staying in Airbnbs. We often meet interesting people. The stays there are more unique, more fun. One of our favorite places to stay in LA, a sweet older couple, their kids moved out. They've got an in-law unit in their backyard. We used to stay there. We used to book that place every time we flew down for interviews, and it's great. They had parking, they had snacks. They would bake banana bread for me because they knew I liked it. They listened to this podcast, which is a great way to become one of my favorite people. So maybe you've stayed in an Airbnb before, you thought to yourself, "Hey, this seems pretty doable. Maybe my place could be an Airbnb." We built one in our house with a separate entrance because we thought we would utilize the space. It could be as simple as starting with a spare room, your whole place while you're away. You could be sitting in an Airbnb right now and not even know it. Maybe you live in a city with a music festival, an epic sporting tournament, and that noise isn't your cup of tea. Get out of town. Make a quick getaway. Leave the chaos behind. Meanwhile, Airbnb your home, earn a little extra cash while you're at it. Or maybe you're in the work-from-home club and now you're back in the office. The home office well-equipped, ready for you, so it doesn't have to sit there and gather dust, turn it into an Airbnb, earn a neat little sum on the side. So whether you could use a little extra money to cover some bills or something a little more fun, your home might be worth more than you think. Find out how much at airbnb.ca/host.
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[00:30:32] Now for the rest of Skeptical Sunday.
[00:30:36] Right. So not a happy fourth for any of those folks. So that's the vets, and it sounds like we could do a whole podcast on vets and fireworks and other PTSD stuff, but let's talk about the pets actually. I think a lot of people can sympathize with how scared their pets are during the 4th of July. I mean, I remember having a dog and he would shake uncontrollably and he'd be yelping every time. I did feel really bad for him.
[00:30:58] David C. Smalley: Yeah, and unfortunately there's going to be a segment of the listening population that's going to look at their dog and go, "I don't see a difference. My dog's fine, whatever." Part of that's an issue because it's a little selfish thinking of, "My dog isn't affected. Who cares about your dog?" That's a problem. The other part of it is, you know, they've done things where they've like set up bears in the wild with these devices that can measure their heart rate, and they'll fly a drone near the bear and the bear will not react in the slightest. It'll just be going on about its day. You think, "Oh, he can't hear it. He doesn't see it." The heart rate spikes on these bears while the drone is near, and there's a lot of anxiety. They're not going to turn around and bite their nails, right? They're not going to chew on their claws and look all nervous. So how we exhibit nervous behavior or anxiety isn't always the way animals exhibit that behavior. So even if your dog doesn't appear to be upset by this, they very well may be. And I have a dog and she doesn't really seem to react to it. She will just lay close to me a lot of the time. She doesn't, she shake or freak out. She doesn't bark, she doesn't run around. She doesn't hide. But she does just come sit next to me when she hears it and she'll perk up and then sit back down and perk up. So I know she's bothered by it in some way and it's definitely not good for her. But I agree with you. It breaks my heart when anything frightens my dog. And every single year, the 4th of July is the day that so many pet owners either have to get out of town or try to get to some community far away from fireworks celebrations or hunker down with their dogs or they even have these little vests, thunder vests or whatever that feels like a hug to the dog to make them feel better. And a lot of people leave their dog alone, right? They will go to a fireworks display and the houses around you are popping fireworks and your dog's freaking out, you know, by themselves. And, uh, look, it's not every single animal that's affected, but come 4th of July, plenty of pet owners get out of town or take care of their animals who are traumatized every year. It happens.
[00:32:55] Jordan Harbinger: I wonder if the residential neighborhoods near Disneyland have statistically low dog ownership, or if people's pets just get used to it, or if they go crazy the whole time. It seems like it'd be really traumatizing to live near there.
[00:33:07] David C. Smalley: Yeah. Maybe. Or living really close to like a big stadium like Dodger Stadium or something like that, yeah.
[00:33:13] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:33:14] David C. Smalley: Every stadium, not just any stadium, like they all blow stuff up. Every professional sports game uses fireworks usually multiple times per hour, especially during the Super Bowl. But if you've ever been to the live event, you know what I'm talking about, if you've ever been to an actual football or basket or uh, not basketball, that would be very dangerous.
[00:33:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Indoor fireworks, everyone.
[00:33:33] David C. Smalley: Yeah. Football or baseball game, you'll see the fireworks blowing off. I mean, it's everywhere, even if it doesn't make it on TV. And the fireworks deliver an excessive amount of trauma to humans and animals, both, all for the enjoyment of others. So, veterans with PTSD and children along with our pets, not to mention wildlife experience, fear and sleep disruptions. They'll have nightmares, anxiety every time fireworks blast off. And some animals become so frightened they run away. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club, more pets go missing on July 4th weekend than any other time of the year.
[00:34:08] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, that's super sad. Can you imagine losing your dog on the 4th of July weekend? Yeah. You're having fun and all the kids are around. Your dog runs away while you're outside and God knows what happens.
[00:34:18] David C. Smalley: Yeah. And your home is where your animal is supposed to feel safe, you know? And it's sad that they think, "Well, this is no longer a good place to be. There's explosions going off," and then they end up running into more danger, not realizing it. And some animals suffer devastating health effects from stress, right? The bright flashes can cause some animals to run into roads and get hit. And in an ironic twist, the celebration of America can cause our nation's iconic mascot, the bald eagle, to even abandon their nests.
[00:34:44] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. I guess that makes sense. So a happy birthday, America.
[00:34:48] David C. Smalley: Yeah. What better way to celebrate America than destroying some of it, right? That's kind of how we do it. Should we talk about the fires?
[00:34:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Great. So we displace eagles and what, just burn a couple of American flags while we're at it to boot.
[00:35:00] David C. Smalley: It's far worse than that according to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks account for approximately 19,500 fires per year.
[00:35:11] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my God.
[00:35:13] David C. Smalley: Leading to an estimated 105 million in property damage. In 2017, a 15-year-old boy lighting up fireworks started the Eagle Creek fire that burned nearly 50,000 acres throughout Oregon and it burned for three months.
[00:35:28] Jordan Harbinger: I did not know that was started by fireworks. Wow.
[00:35:31] David C. Smalley: Yep. And I've posted links to stuff. I've included the links in the show notes so people can go read the news stories about it. And these fires aren't confined to just around the 4th of July year round, several forest fires as well as house fires start from kids and/or adults. We all know them.
[00:35:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:35:47] David C. Smalley: Playing around with fireworks and these often coincide with injuries to the people that are playing around.
[00:35:53] Jordan Harbinger: Like the girl in Torrance last year.
[00:35:55] David C. Smalley: Exactly.
[00:35:56] Jordan Harbinger: How can this keep happening year after year? You'd think that, and look, I'm not like regulate everything, but 50,000 acres is a lot, a hundred million in property damage due to 19,500 fires. It's a lot. It seems a little bit like maybe somebody should do something about this, levels of fires and damage.
[00:36:13] David C. Smalley: So here's where it gets interesting. The political and monetary reasons for fireworks are just massive. A lot of people believe fireworks are actually protected by the Second Amendment.
[00:36:25] Jordan Harbinger: The Second Amendment in fireworks? I know guns, okay, but fireworks.
[00:36:30] David C. Smalley: Gunpowder.
[00:36:31] Jordan Harbinger: Ah.
[00:36:33] David C. Smalley: So gunpowder fuels the fireworks and the American Pyrotechnics Association PAC — yes, there is a PAC for everything that's quite powerful — was really upset with Obama for trying to regulate fireworks during his administration.
[00:36:47] Jordan Harbinger: Obama.
[00:36:47] David C. Smalley: So thanks, Obama.
[00:36:49] Jordan Harbinger: The APA PAC, pissed off at Obama.
[00:36:52] David C. Smalley: So Julie Heckman, she's the APA's executive director, who, by the way, I reached out to while doing this research, but she didn't respond. She said this when she was asked about Obama's new regulations on fireworks. She said, "I've been working in the industry for a very long time, 26 years. I've never seen as many rulemaking initiatives as I have with this administration. It's been completely insane. We've got to comply with ATF, CPSC, EPA, OSHA, multiple divisions of the Department of Transportation. It's really challenging."
[00:37:24] Jordan Harbinger: Look, I have some sympathy for overregulation. I think it's a kind of a bummer in some ways, but I also have to say, first of all, ironic that a spokesperson never replied to you. It's like this is literally your job, but okay, just go ahead and be a quiet spokesperson. It's something about it being Obama too, like how dare Obama force you to be safe and accountable for manufacturing dangerous items that cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. This is literally one of the most important jobs of the government or one of the only jobs the government really should have, in my opinion. And even if you're not a fan of Obama or the current administration, not letting other people burn your house down because of something that is basically just bad for the environment, level of entertainment seems like a generally good idea.
[00:38:05] David C. Smalley: I mean, and you know, it's hard for them to list reasons why they shouldn't be regulated.
[00:38:10] Jordan Harbinger: Sure. We have to comply with workers' health and safety, and we can't just run them through underground tunnels, trucks full of gunpowder. It's ridiculous. It's insane.
[00:38:19] David C. Smalley: So, yes, to answer your question, there are regulations, but it's so spread out and it's unmanaged and it's hard to enforce. I mean—
[00:38:26] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:38:27] David C. Smalley: I know police dispatchers that are like, don't even bother calling 911, especially if you're in a big city like LA. There are so many explosions and things popping off, and you're not, you're not going to call in a noise complaint on a Saturday night at 9:00 p.m. on 4th of July or New Year's Eve, they're like, "Please hold your 1,074 in line." It's just incredible. And the cops can't run around to every boom or pop, right? So how do you manage this? How do you enforce it, right?
[00:38:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. "Please hold Jim's on the other line and he's one finger away from a free vasectomy. We'll be right with you."
[00:39:03] David C. Smalley: So recently, Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, was on Fox News, bitching about how the Biden Administration actually blocked her request for fireworks at Mount Rushmore for the third straight year. It's a very Second Amendment mentality, right? It's people see regulations around fireworks as a "Don't take away my freedom" type issue instead of, "We're trying to keep you safe and keep your neighbors safe."
[00:39:25] Jordan Harbinger: Look, I get the gun debate. I see many sides of the gun debate, but to extend it to fireworks, it just seems like a reach that is created exclusively by lobbyists. So that they can sell these things. And of course, there's got to be money involved. Nobody's planning on defending democracy and the rights of the people against the tyranny of government with bottle rockets and what were they called again? Red Indian China babies.
[00:39:49] David C. Smalley: That was engine, which a little bit worse, but—
[00:39:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, worse.
[00:39:52] David C. Smalley: But yeah, you nailed it. I mean, billions and billions of dollars, as you said in the beginning. Not to mention the black market created the illegal guys on the road, you know? Many self-proclaimed patriots are people that are basically annoyed that the ATF regulates fireworks instead of the NRA. They think it should be the NRA, and there's some connection to the NRA, but it's murky. And I found some document from the 1930s showing an NRA affiliation with fireworks production, but I don't see them contributing publicly to the APA. So, however, the APA PAC is on record contributing to Republican candidates like the Missouri Republican Sam Graves 2020 campaign. So there we go with the lobbying efforts, it's definitely part of it, and I think you're onto something there.
[00:40:37] Jordan Harbinger: Fireworks fueling politicians, it just seems like strange bedfellows, but following the money always turns up surprises pretty much every time.
[00:40:44] David C. Smalley: Right, and following fireworks money leads to China. So China manufacturers the most fireworks world—
[00:40:50] Jordan Harbinger: Wait, hold on a second. Continue.
[00:40:56] David C. Smalley: Every time I say China, is that going to be the response? So—
[00:41:04] Jordan Harbinger: Sorry. I was a little late. I was taking a sip of my water, but yeah, I'm just going to do that every time.
[00:41:08] David C. Smalley: So that country manufactures the most fireworks in the world, and the United States buys most of their fireworks from China.
[00:41:17] Jordan Harbinger: You can say from China, that's fine. I'm not going to do it every day. It's going to get old. It's going to get old. It's already old. The soundboard is really, you got to be careful with the soundboard. You can overuse that pretty easily.
[00:41:26] David C. Smalley: But sometimes you overuse it and it's not funny anymore and then you keep going and it gets funny again.
[00:41:32] Jordan Harbinger: I suppose I'm not going to test the line of that. I'm not going to test my limits on that one.
[00:41:36] Why don't we make our own fireworks? You would expect something that's supposed to be super American 4th of July to also maybe be made in the United States, but I guess you know why.
[00:41:46] David C. Smalley: So there is a company in California, in Rialto actually, which is the United States biggest manufacturer, but they do mostly big events like the Super Bowl, the Olympics, Macy's parades, things like that, we're not getting those from China. We buy everything from firecrackers to more powerful fireworks from China. The kicker is that China invented fireworks and China has extensive bands of their use most cities across their country. You know, like TikTok—
[00:42:14] Jordan Harbinger: Like it's a great distraction, right? Isn't too dangerous. Ship them to the Americans. They don't care.
[00:42:19] David C. Smalley: Right. Or what they do with TikTok, it's like it's a great distraction for you guys, but we know our limits.
[00:42:23] Jordan Harbinger: So we're going to have a different version here. So are there any solutions, good alternatives? I mean, fireworks, I'm sure we modernize them, but it seems like they haven't changed in a couple of thousand years for the most part, the basic recipe.
[00:42:34] David C. Smalley: Yeah. I mean, getting bigger, adding more pieces to it. The more impressive fireworks will be like this, firework sends this off to do this and this. Off to the, now you've got three or four things coming out of one thing. It's getting more elaborate, which means more metals, more danger, you know, more chemicals. But yes, there's a solution. There's an alternative — drones. Drone shows are incredible, and obviously, they can do more with these drones than you could ever do with fireworks. They're quieter, they're reusable. They don't spew pollutants. They don't cause fires. Plus, I don't know if you've seen one. They're incredible. There's no fumes. You've never seen a drone show?
[00:43:10] Jordan Harbinger: No. No. I got a YouTube this.
[00:43:12] David C. Smalley: I've never seen it in person. I've only watched it online. I want to go to one. You're going to watch this being like, no, that's got to be an effect. There's no way that's real. It's real. What they do is get hundreds of them and they're all controlled by computers and they know right where to go, and they avoid each other and it's just incredible. They write words in the sky. They make these 3D images and pictures and things that appear to be moving or walking. It's incredible. Now, there are no fumes or unsettling noises. The only con really is the possibility is either, A, basically a drone falling out of the sky and hurting someone or damaging something. That's very rare. And I suppose you could make an argument about the plastics used to make drones and the mining in involved and the batteries, the lithium, and all of that.
[00:43:55] Jordan Harbinger: Sure, yeah.
[00:43:56] David C. Smalley: At which point I would just say, okay, let's start pushing for regulations on making drones out of more sustainable materials or things that aren't going to be bad for the environment, things like that. But nothing's going to compare to the amount of damage and awfulness that we get with fireworks. So maybe we can look up something that doesn't require gunpowder when we want to celebrate.
[00:44:15] Jordan Harbinger: Maybe. Thanks, David.
[00:44:18] Another Skeptical Sunday in the bank. We might not get everything right and if you hear something that's way, way off, definitely let us know. But more importantly, topic suggestions for future episodes of Skeptical Sunday are always welcome. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Give us your thoughts. A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, and you can find David Smalley at @davidcsmalley on all social media platforms, at davidcsmalley.com, or better yet, on his podcast, The David C. Smalley Show. Links to all that in the show notes as well.
[00:44:52] Once again, a reminder that the Stitcher app will no longer work for any podcasts as of August 29th, 2023. So if you're using the Stitcher app, time to switch. If you're on Android, Podcast Addict is a good one, Castbox. And if you're on iOS, I suggest Overcast or Apple Podcasts. The Stitcher app is going away, folks.
[00:45:11] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and of course, Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions are our own, and yes, I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. And if you found this episode useful, please share it with somebody else who needs to hear it. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show so you can live what you listen. In the meantime, light fuse and get away, and we'll see you next time.
[00:45:46] Here's a sample of my interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. We talk about why an interest in science serves every field of expertise from law to art, what our education should ideally train us for. Here's a quick look inside.
[00:46:00] Neil deGrasse Tyson: Walt Whitman.
[00:46:01] When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
[00:46:03] When the proofs, the figures were ranged in columns before me,
[00:46:08] When I was shown the charts and diagrams to add, divide, and measure them,
[00:46:14] When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture room,
[00:46:20] How soon unaccountable, I became tired and sick,
[00:46:24] Till rising and gliding out. I wander’d off by myself,
[00:46:28] In the mystical, moist night-air, and from time to time looked up in perfect silence at the stars.
[00:46:39] It's the same curiosity you have as a kid, but I just have it as an adult. I've had it since childhood. You don't have to maintain it, you just have to make sure nothing interferes with it.
[00:46:49] So the counterpart to this would be, "Oh, sir, literate one, why ruin what something looks like by describing it with words when I can see it fully with my eyes? Your words just get in the way. I'd rather my mind float freely and gaze upon something of interest than have the writer step in between me and it, and interpose his or her own interpretation."
[00:47:13] You don't know the thoughts that you're not having. What keeps me awake is wondering what questions I don't yet know to ask, because they would only become available to me after we discover what dark matter and dark energy is.
[00:47:25] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, man.
[00:47:25] Neil deGrasse Tyson: Because think about it. The fact that we. Even know how to ask that question. That's almost half the way there, but I want to know the question that I can't know yet. What is the profound level of ignorance that will manifest after we answer the profound questions we've been smart enough to pose thus far?
[00:47:52] Jordan Harbinger: For more, including how science denial has gained a global foothold, what it'll take for the US to get to Mars before China, and why it's dangerous for people to claim the Earth is flat, check out episode 327 of The Jordan Harbinger Show with Neil deGrasse Tyson.
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