AI: King or Queen for a Day

People that do not know about or understand the skeptical movement sometimes get a warped perspective of what kind of people skeptics are. Some wrongly confuse us with cynics. Some think golden crownwe spend all day and night with our noses pressed in boring old books and some others assume we are so obsessed with being correct and dismantling reality that we somehow miss out on all the beauty,  fun and fantasy of day dreams, mysteries and possibilities. The adversaries of skeptics think we try to suck the wonder out of the world, that we are somehow missing out on and squashing all the fun in life. My opinion is that view of us is utter rubbish. I can not speak for all of you but I for one spend a large part of my days and nights engulfed in a rich world of fantasy and imagination playing the game of, what if.

Artists and scientists and all creative-minded critical thinkers are tip-toeing along a precipice  with reality on one side and possibility on the other. It is part of the learning process and part of how the next great discovery in science or the next masterpiece in art is conceived. Imagination leads our minds into uncharted territory. Imagination is a roadway towards discovery.

So to break up the monotony of what might be a boring workday afternoon, I invite you to join me in a skeptically themed what if thought experiment.

What if suddenly you have been named King or Queen of the WORLD (for one day). The golden crown has been passed to you. You have the power to permanently change TWO laws of the land and these changes will stay in effect for eternity. What would you change and why?

I btw would outlaw flip-flops and or socks in sandals and then do something about the whole silly religion thing. ;)

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 3pm ET.

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. First change- Get rid of the “KotW for one day” limit, and change it to “Ruler for life”!

    Second change- Change that pesky rule that I can change only two laws, to free reign to change what I damn well please.

  2. I’d get rid of ban’s on Gay Marriage. I’m straight but come on. Those laws are ridiculous.

    Secondly I’d put a a lot more emphasis on science teaching in schools. Maybe we could stamp out religion all together that way.


  3. I would make mentioning religion in a political context punishable by life in exile to an isolated island with limited resources. The inhabitants may live their lives as they please, but may not communicate or trade with any other nation, ever again. Political discussions of ethical issues must be argued upon empirical evidence or reality based rhetoric; appeals to god as a reason for legislation to be banished.

    Also I would make it mandatory for politicians to defer to scientific consensus as a greater authority than they before discussing policy.

  4. First, I would bring back that Christian’s versus Lions game as the national sport.

    Next, I would convert the White House half into a homeless shelter and half into a Mexican restaurant.

    Then I would abdecate my throne and put Rebecca in charge as she is much smarter than me.

  5. 1. Naps. Mandatory naps. I think everyone would be much happier and smarter if they could just get naps.

    2. Hmm…I am having a hard time making this make sense. But I want professionals. And I want professionals to defer to other professionals. I know that it is really cool to hate on professional politicians but really? I want more of them. And I want those professionals to be secure enough to defer to other professionals, like scientists, when the question is about science, or philosophers, or hair stylists, whatever the situation calls for. And I want professional journalists to turn to professional doctors for medical questions. And I want a personal professional cabana boy.

    I don’t think this is all too much to ask.

  6. 1) Complete, fair, accessible, quality, science-based health care for all people everywhere. I care about lots of social issues but I figure everyone of every persuasion needs health care.

    2) Excellent education for all, including science, arts, everything. Teach every child that there *is* wonder and beauty in the way the world really works and give them the drive and the tools to go out into it and make it even better.

  7. @Amy: I, of course, would make flips mandatory as long as there is no snow on the ground. I will have to think about the second law. Something about the proper color of wine, I should think.

  8. Don’t hate on the flip-flops. Well hate on the name, they’re called jandals! Jandals are great beachwear or needing to nip out to the mailbox but don’t want to stand in the potentially dog poo-laden grass in your bare feet-wear.

    If I was Queen of the world I would wipe out third world debt then for my much more controversial second law I would get rid of private schools. Maybe just temporarily.

    It just breaks my heart when you see teachers and parents struggling with funds for regular public schools while other parents take their money elsewhere. Imagine what those schools could do with that money!

    And don’t get me started on Catholic schools. They have a stranglehold on the education system don’t they? There is no evidence that they provide a better education in any way * but people think they do and they give up their money and own religious feelings in order to get their kids into a catholic school.

    *From an article from

  9. @Amy:

    Stick with the imaginary rules!

    Sounds like the argument made for most religious teachings…

    Ok, I’ll play nice:

    New Rule #1: If you have a belief, you must have evidence to back it up. I mean REAL evidence, not what some book claims, not what some other person claims, and not your “gut feeling” on the subject.

    If you choose not to follow this rule, the penalty is a hard smack to the back of your head at the earliest convenience by the nearest person. The “smacker” gets a cookie for complying to the law.

    New Rule #2: More naked boobies. Any time the bearer of breasts want to bare ’em she is free to do so. No one else can force the viewing of another’s breasts, unless they ask nicely.

    Anyone who complains about having to view uncovered breasts shall be given a cookie…

    …Made of shit and broken glass. The cookie’s consumption by the complainer shall be compulsory.

    I HAVE SPOKEN!!!1!!

  10. 1-If you make a scientific claim, you must have evidence to back it up, under penalty of public humiliation-because I’m tired of going round and round with those who say “Well, X said it, therefore it must be true!”

    2-Legalize prostitution-male and female. Make it a respectable proffession, with benefits, and quality control. Because there’s some stuff out there that I’d like to hit, but realistically it’s way out of my league.

  11. 1- I would require that EVERY religion be taught in school starting in kindergarden and be continued until high school graduation. Why? So that children aren’t indoctrinated into one religion or another and by seeing what is good and bad, right and wrong, similar and dissimilar among all religions, they can make a rational choice about what they want to believe.

    2 – Every product sold using any kind of media must be approved by the FTC (or whatever agency approves media things in your country) and can not even hint at being able to do anything that can’t be proved through scientific means.

  12. Rule 1: Don’t be a dick (stolen shamelessly from Will Wheaton, but it is a really good rule for life)

    Rule 2: To claim something is true you must have irrefutable proof. (that will take care of religion and CAM).

  13. @loudlyquiet: I’m going to have to go with you on the professionals thing. If you’re in charge of something, anything from an ice cream store to a nuclear power plant, you have to know what you’re doing.

    @kimberlychapman: I am also going to have to go with this, if I can blend education and healthcare. Two things no one should be without for any reason.

  14. @kimberlychapman: Ditto

    Outright banning anything is only going to make those true believers go underground. Remember prohibition?

    The only way to fight ignorance is to teach.

    So while kimberlychapman spends her one day doing what I would do, I get to do the 3rd and 4th best thing.

    3) Mandatory and immediate death penalty on a third conviction. Stop wasting resources on career criminals. On their second conviction if it’s a crime against a child.

    4) Set up an international database of available cabana boys and the independent middle-aged women (or men I suppose) who need them.

  15. I would not outlaw flip flops, in fact I would make them MANDATORY!…I love flip flops :)

    I would want to outlaw passive aggression but lets face it, that’s what the internet is.

    I would spend the day being pampered and catching up on all of the blogs I miss while at work.
    1) No one is allowed to be late for anything ever again…min 3 month jail time if this law is broken
    2) No wars are allowed ever again. If the heads of state/government have problems then they must fight it out for themselves

  16. I’m going to have to go, shamelessly, with two that have already been said:

    Rule #1: Don’t be a dick (I would add asshat, douchebag, or callous bastard). But you have the right to be *One Bad Motherfucker*

    Rule #2: @MiddleMan: said it so much better than I could. More boobies, please!

    It’s good to be the king.

  17. 1. Institute a mandatory two-year minimum gap between graduating high school and starting college. Real-world experience really helps give more context to future studies, and it takes a bit of the pressure off that last year of high school.

    2. Impose harsh penalties for media reporting of “both sides” of science. Presenting all the information (or links thereto) for the reader’s perusal is one thing; presenting opinionated know-nothings as equivalent to trained professional researchers will be a capital crime.

  18. As Queen for the Day I would 1) start funding for mandatory retirement accounts and do away with Social Security. To do this I would repeal the bailout bill that Obama instated.
    2) I would instate the Fair tax plan universally.

  19. I only need one new rule:

    Worldwide, compulsory, intensive skepticism/reason/logic training throughout all of childhood education.

    Everything else we all want to see happen will eventually follow. Everything.

    (Danarra, your avatar freaks me out. Every time I see it I think: “You know, that neanderthal is kinda cute. If I were alive 40K years ago…. would I? I think I might. Is that wrong? I shouldn’t be thinking about this.”.)

  20. 1. Stop making drugs a crime. Pot gets to be legal and users of other drugs go to medical treatment facilities to help cure them of the addiction.
    2. You have to take a class in critical thinking to pass high school. Everyone is exposed to evidence based thought and taught how to do cold readings.

  21. @ Magnus – He is cute, isn’t he? I have a thing for people who remind me of evolution. Back when I was dating men, one of my most serious boyfriends was nicknamed “Monkey Boy”. If I happen to run into him again, I’ll send him your way…

  22. 1) A universal quality-of-life package that would include healthcare, education, retirement and civil rights for all;

    2) Require all the fundies to move to Texas, then require it secede from the union. This would be known as the “Rational Thinkers” package.

  23. Rule 1. If you or the organization you represent earn or are given money, all public claims must be substantiated and supported by empirical evidence. No more false product advertising or unprovable claims about damnation.

    Rule 2. Other than the Constitution and its amendments, all legislation at every governmental level expires after ten years, unless ratified by a simple majority of the legislative body that passed the law.

  24. @Amy: Well let’s see, there’s an Ugg store right by work, so I can drop by there and grab as many as I can carry. So I’ll do that after work. Okay. Um, does Jetblue have a cheap flight from JFK to LAX? Oh, and I’ll have to rent a car I guess. Man, this is getting expensive real fast!

  25. 1) Legalize victimless crimes such as prostitution and drug use, and release everybody imprisoned for said crimes.

    2) End all government involvement in marraige, and replace it with civil unions that don’t discriminate based on gender. If 2 people want to get married (or 3 or 4 people want to get married, I don’t really care) they can do so without the government placing restrictions on them. For any of the legal priveledges currently allowed to married couples, one would have to get a seperate civil union.

  26. 1. Love each other, or I’ll smack ya upside the head.

    2. Change science education standards to get rid of boring standardized tests and make the curriculum more experiment-based.


  27. 1. Outlaw smoking. No good comes of it, but only lots of bad.

    2. Implement a fair democratic system to leave behind me where just about everything is voted on by all the people (no more politicians voting on things without the direct input of the people), and those citizens who can demonstrate rational thinking abilities get extra votes.

  28. @Zoltan: 1. Outlaw smoking. No good comes of it, but only lots of bad.


    Yeah. ‘Cause banning all those other drugs has been a rocking success. Basically, they all went away, and there have been no negative consequences that I’m aware of.

    On the other hand, I, like you, live on mars.

    My rule change: basic science research gets a 100x bump, funding to provide open source, open standard, open access, creative commons licensed science.

    2. Legalize recreational drug use.

  29. I’m a professional policy analyst so this is an interesting question for me. The issue for me is how much notice do I get? With 6 months, a team of hand-picked advisers and a metric assload of data, I could probably come up with some pretty good laws.

    Failing that, I doubt anyone could do a particularly good job. Many of the suggestions above contradict each other suggesting that not even sceptics can do a particularly good job. Most of the suggestions seem very Western-focused and a lot of them involve creating expensive new entitlements without explain where the money is going to come from to pay for them. There’s nothing noble in making a promise you can’t keep.

    The best I could do is go meta and try to come up with laws that would improve the lawmaking process worldwide. The best way I can think of to do that is to improve contestability of countries, basically make it easier for new countries to form, and old ones to die.

    Something about making it easier to move to a new country, granting sub-national regions secession rights and/or granting protection to new small countries being created in neutral territory (i.e the ocean). I predict measures like this would improve the quality of life for pretty much all people, but I’m not sure what path policy would take to get there.

  30. I agree with those who used rational thought as a blanket, but more specifically I’d want

    1. Equal rights and laws applied fairly for all individuals

    2. Honest and respectful education is everyone’s birthright, and severe punishment for those who break this law or attempt to subvert it with violence or willful ignorance.

  31. Rule#1: Equal rights for homosexual marriages. And punishment to those that claim it will destroy society. The punishment? Wearing permanent bell bottoms for life and scooping up dog poop.

    Rule #2: Make it illegal for anyone to be Sarah Palin. :P

  32. 1. Existing rape laws would be enforced much more, especially in the military.

    2. It would be much harder to exploit children on reality tv shows, so parents can’t parade their kids around for money.

  33. Abolish Theocracies (and demi-theocracies) and corporate personhood.

    @zoltan: man, you got it spectacularly wrong on both accounts. Do you really want to have a nationwide vote on EVERY issue this country faces? Direct democracy on the nationwide scale is entirely unfeasable. This is not to say we can’t improve our system, but that is a terrible idea.

    As for tobacco, you and too many others conflate ‘bad’ with “should be illegal’ without realizing that education and societal pressure is a way better regulator of behavior than law when it comes to personal choice. Now, if cigarettes claimed to cure fibromyalgia we’d have another issue.

  34. There is no doubt in my mind that I should not be allowed, under any circumstances to be made “King of the World” I have just enough scruples to not ask for the position, but not enough to refuse it if I was offered it.

    If I was able to change any two laws and have them apply to everyone everywhere and no one would be able to repeal them

    A) No one would be allowed to campaign for any elected office…. EVER. If you can’t be judged by your actions, you don’t deserve the office. (This is for the whole world too)

    B) Elections mean one person, ONE vote, not Vote with my money, then vote by creating political advertising, then vote with my lobbyist, then vote at the ballot box. Since there is not campaign finance because there are no campaigns (see A above) then outlaw paid lobbyists. Non-profit organizations are the only groups (besides the citizens themselves) who can lobby the government for any reason. If it’s not worth pro-bono time, then it’s not worth ANY time.

    Of course the government (everyone’s government) is so screwed up that these two laws don’t go NEARLY far enough to fix anything, but it’s a good start.

    If I was made King for a day, one day wouldn’t be enough. I wouldn’t really get any work done because my day would be filled with executions.

    All of the above is irrelevant if my first law could be that I am declared king for life :)

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