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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 22.2 > Think Again

Think Again

Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas by Steven Poole

In the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, tucked in among the many internal combustion engine-driven automobiles that virtually defined the 20th century as the era of fossil fuels, is a small cadre of electric vehicles. Not the experimental designs from the 1980s, early prototypes of the 1990s, functional models of the 2000s, and the über elegant Teslas of the 2010s, but electric vehicles designed and built over a century ago. By 1900 more than 30,000 were registered in the United States, and they stood poised to replace the horse-andbuggy as the primary means of vehicular transportation in the world’s biggest cities. They were also quieter and less polluting than their gasoline-powered competitors, and taxi services were adopting the first EVs in Paris, Berlin, and New York. Then came the discovery and refinement of cheap oil. Henry Ford’s innovative assembly line process reduced the price of gas-powered Model T’s to half that of EVs. That, when coupled to the 30-mile limit of car batteries and the extensive roads and gasoline fueling infrastructure, doomed the electric car. Imagine where we’d be now with a century’s worth of EV R&D?

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About Skeptic

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE DANGER ARTICLES: Why We Should Be Concerned About Artificial Superintelligence; Is Artificial Intelligence an Existential Threat?; Artificial Intelligence: Simulation, Not Synthesis; The Rise of the Alt-Right and the Politics of Polarization in America; Delusions of the Imagination: Debunking an Early 19th Century Medical Quack Device — The “Tractor”; Area 51: What is Really Going on There?; Is Race a Useful Concept?; The Three Shades of Atheism; COLUMNS: pH Mythology: Separating pHacts from pHiction; Are You An Unconscious Racist? REVIEWS of: Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas; How Men Age: What Evolution Reveals About Male Health and Mortality; Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science; Big Con: Great Hoaxes, Frauds, Grifts, and and Swindles in American History by Nate Hendley; Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff; Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow JUNIOR SKEPTIC: Chemtrails
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