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March 22, 2006, 12:20 PM ET

Life's Mysteries, Still Unsolved

Perhaps you lie awake at night, wondering: How did people come to use the thumb as the universal hitchhiking beacon? Is sushi in Japan eaten with hands and not chopsticks? If God invented the universe, why did He give us only a little corner of it?

Or perhaps, as an educator, you lie awake at night wondering where your students, your peers, and your fellow Americans go with their burning questions. To the library? To the academy? No, dear reader, they go to the Web.

Yahoo has released a beta version of Yahoo Answers. You can type the Big Questions into a box while other Yahoo users provide their half-informed, uninformed, and downright ignorant responses. Some people don't even bother to answer the questions.

For example, "lilmutt25" recently asked, bad spelling and all, "Can earthquakes be prediced?"

Those equally clueless came to her rescue. They can, but "only a few seconds before the actual fenomenum takes place," replied "Darckrider," whose difficulties in spelling apparently extend to his own name. Others told lilmutt25 to look for predictors of imminent tremors in the clouds or in the nervous habits of the family dog.

"Thedestro737" wrote that earthquakes can't be prevented, but quickly acknowledged that he could not support or refute his statement using reliable sources, "like from discoverychannel.com or something."

Of course, many questions on Yahoo Answers don't bother with the hard sciences, the facts of history, or the mysteries of philosophy. These questions deal with the universal mysteries of...well, we'll call them gender studies, such as this one:

"Women only....What do you like to do the best when it comes to sex? Please go into detail?"

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