SGU Episode 100

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SGU Episode 100
19th June 2007
100th episode 300.gif
SGU 99 SGU 101
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
B: Bob Novella
R: Rebecca Watson
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein
P: Perry DeAngelis


Quote of the Week
The amount of years that she will live longer than us because of the diet is directly proportional to the horror of her life.
Perry DeAngelis
Links
Download Podcast
Forum Topic


Introduction

You're listening to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, your escape to reality.

S: Hello and welcome to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. Today is Tuesday June 19th 2007 and this is your host Steven Novella, president of the New England Skeptical Society. Joining me this evening are Bob Novella -

B: Hey everybody.

S: Rebecca Watson -

R: Hello everyone.

S: Perry DeAngelis -

P: Hey.

S: Jay Novella -

J: Hi guys.

S: and Evan Bernstein.

E: Happy Juneteenth everyone.

S: How is everyone this evening.

J: Great, how you doing Steve?

E/P/etc: Fine

SGU Reaches its 100th Episode (0.42)

S: Especially tonight, because as you all know, this is a completely arbitrarily special podcast in that this is our 100th episode.

Various: Yay.

R: I feel like we're turning into Blossom - I feel like every episode is a "very special episode" of the Skeptics' Guide.

S: "Tonight, a very special episode."

R: Jay is going to get into drugs.

E: Look out Simpsons, we only have about 300 more to catch you.

B: Yeah, but we can go into syndication now.

E: Yeah.

J: Oh that's right, according to TV we could actually start our syndication after this recording.

R: And then comes the money.

(laughter)

P: Finally the big dough.

J: We have officially made more recordings than the original Star Trek.

B: Ha.

S: Yeah, we passed that.

R: That's sad.

B: ..27.. (mumbling)

J: That's really ridiculous when you think about it.

R: It's a lot of episodes.

S: Now some of our listeners sent in little audio recordings of them congratulating us on our 100th episode.

E: Cool.

S: Making this milestone.

J: You asked people on the board, Steve.

S: I did ask for it, yeah. I mean it wasn't spontaneous.

(laughter)

R: It wasn't a huge groundswell of love and support.

J: "I think I'll send in an audio recording."

R: About that ticker-tape parade, are you saying that was all set up too?

S: I'm still holding out for that. So thanks to all of our listeners who sent in audio clips and we're going to play a selection of them for you.

Hey, this is Will from Ontario, also on the message boards as Havermayer, I'm a big big fan of the show, listening since around episode 48 or so. And you guys have helped encourage me to found a skeptic society at my own university, so I may do battle with the forces of woo. So keep up the good work and let's hope for another 100 episodes.

Congratulations from Hershey Pennsylvania on 100 excellent episodes of the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, to Dr. Novella, all the rogues and everybody's who's appeared on the show. It's the best 1 hour programming anywhere. Keep up the good work and good luck and if there's any way to email a 2-pound bar of thank you chocolate over the internet, I would have done it, but I guess technology isn't there yet. Thanks a lot and keep it up.

This is James from Edmonton Alberta Canada, wishing the SGU congratulations on reaching 100 incredible episodes. I'm a few months away from completing a doctoral degree in physics and after all the exams and all the papers, after all the late night hours toiling away in the lab, it's your weekly podcast which has provided me with the tools that I treasure most. Nothing has been or will be more valuable to my education than what you have offered: namely the know-how for proper application of rational and critical thought to all arenas of life, the understanding of the logical fallacies that people make every day and in every way, and have found appreciation for the fallibility of human reason. This knowledge should be the birthright of every person on the planet so I thank you sincerely for having shared it with me. Once again, congratulations.

Hey guys, this is Rudism[?] from your forum. I just want to say congratulations on your 100th and here's hoping for 100 more to come, at least as long as Perry stays on the panel. Otherwise I'll have no more reason to live.

Greetings from London to Dr Novella and his skeptical rogues. This is Jared, a fellow Connecticut native, frequent commentary as 'ex-patriot' on Rebecca's blog and a faithful SGU listener. I want to take the opportunity to congratulate you all on your 100th episode. Yours is my favorite podcast each week and I'd like to thank you for fighting the good fight against the evil forces of pseudoscience. I'd also like to thank you for giving me solid grounds from which to argue whenever a friend or family member tries to convince me that homoeopathy, chiropractic or astrology has any validity in what we like to call "real life." Keep up the great work and here's to another 100 episodes. Cheers.

Hi this is RMZ[?] wishing the skeptical rogues well deserved congratulations for their 100th podcast and taking a quick second to talk about both what the Skeptics' Guide as well as the NESS have meant to me. I knew about the NESS because I knew Steve in med school and it wasn't long after he graduated that I was given my first copy of the NESS newsletter. Years later, when I should have been working, I went online and saw they had put up their first podcast. I downloaded it, listened to it and was hooked. And now 100 episodes later, I'm grateful to the entire set of skeptical rogues for showing me that there's this whole class of people out there who aren't even necessarily scientists who want to approach problems and questions through logical reasoning and critical thinking. So from the early days of the newsletter through the website to the fantastic recent addition of Rebecca, you guys have really evolved and let's look forward to another 100 fantastic episodes.

This is GiggiRock wishing you guys a happy 100th episode and a big thanks for making my weeks a little brighter and my mind a little bit sharper and for making skepticism a whole lot funnier. I wish you guys the best, even Perry.

Hello, my name is Travis. I go by chionactis in the forums and I'm just sending you this message to congratulate you on your 100th episode of the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. It is a fantastic podcast, I very much enjoy it. You guys are a great combination of personalities and it's really refreshing to hear people actually do research to effectively discredit these pseudoscientific claims that can often cause harm. I look forward to many future episodes.

Hey, this is Mike from SGUfans.net. Just wanted to congratulate the panel for achieving the 100th episode milestone. From the very first time I listened to an episode I was hooked. I was very new to the world of skepticism and the panel on the Skeptics' Guide have been my mentors ever since. I can honestly say that because of the SGU I look at the world around me very differently now, and I've made a few friends in the process. Rebecca - you've made me realize that even hippies can be good people. You've brought an attitude to the show that was needed. Perry - what can I say? There should be way more people like you on this planet, and way less birds. Evan - you've shown me that one needs the most when faced with a puzzling situation is to use their common sense. You know, they should make an International Evan Day. Bob - every time you speak I learn something new. The government should invest billions and billions in people like you. Jay, buddy - bring on the bacon! Without you I would never have known what the hucklebuck was, and for that I thank you. Steve - Dr. Novella - is your doctorate in everything? Because sometimes it just seems that there's nothing you don't know. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into this awesome show. It doesn't go unnoticed. You have no idea how much everyone really appreciates it. Again, congratulations guys.

P: Wasn't that nice?

(laughter)

P: Thank you very much everybody. That was very very very kind of all of you.

R: Yes, thank you everyone.

S: It's good to get some positive feedback.

E: Oh yeah. Thanks.

J: We usually don't hear the voices of our listeners.

E: No, podcasting is one-way, Jay.

R: Wait you're saying they don't call you?

J: You know, unless I'm taking 3 or 4 xanax, I don't hear their voices when we do the show.

B: I thought you took the pills to stop you hearing voices.

P: I hear quite a few of them Jay in the chat room on the SGU fan site.

News Items

Updates of Prior Stories (8.04)

S: A couple of our listeners have asked that we include some follow-ups to previous stories that we have talked about. And we do do that from time to time but I thought since this is the 100th episode, I would look back and try to get some follow-up on some of the stories that we've told over the last couple of years. We've actually done several updates on Buddha boy and I wanted to find out the latest on him. This is the 16-year-old who is not eating or drinking.

P: Is he still in the ditch?

S: Well, he's missing again, that's the update?

E: Is he on a milk carton somewhere?

S: Buddha Boy is missing again.

R: Did you check McDonalds?

S: He comes and goes. He's under a tree, in a ditch, he goes missing for weeks on end.

R: He's like Bat Boy.

J: He's roaming the world like Caine from Kung Ru, right, is that what -

(laughter)

J: Steve, does he disappear every day, like at teatime or something like that?

(laughter)

S: He just disappears, they don't know where he is.

J: What's the first thing he says when he arrives again somewhere.

E: Namaste.

J: "I'm back. I have not eaten or drank anything, I promise."

E: As he burps and picks something from his teeth.

S: Right. I also found, just for some further update, that Kent Hovind is still in jail.

All: Yay, woo hoo.

P: That's a plus.

S: Neal Adams still doesn't have a clue. [1][2]

(laughter)

J: Aw, poor Neal, he tries really hard.

S: And Ed Warren is still dead.

B: Aw come on, what are you saying.

P: I wonder if he's been communicating with Lorraine.

J: Of course he is.

P: Or anybody else for that matter.

R: Now there's a follow-up I'd like to see.

S: He didn't send me any cards, no phone calls.

E: Nobody channeled him for you Steve?

S: No channeling. And seriously I tried to find follow-up on a lot of the other pieces, like remember the Bosnian pyramid?

Various: Yes.

S: There's nothing on that, nothing's happened.

E: You saying it was a pyramid scheme.

S: Yes, it was a pyramid scam.

B: It's good that stuff like that just kind of fades away.

S: Yeah, a lot of it does, I search on the stories and the articles that come up would date from the original news stories that we talked about on the podcast, really nothing's up there -

E: Yeah, remember James Cameron finding the tomb of Jesus?

S: I searched on that. There's a really nice website now on the lost tomb of Jesus, just promoting the show, and all of the claims that Cameron and the other producers of that show made, but there was nothing new scholarly published on it that I could find. Which also brings up the point that we do ask our listeners, since you guys are many more people than we are, if you do come across any updates to any of the stories that we discuss, send them to us because we'll definitely want to do the follow-up on the show. So hopefully with many more eyes and ears we'll pick up on stuff.

P: We get a lot of leads from emails.

S: We do. And we appreciate it, we do. And on the boards as well.

P: And on the boards.

S: And I cull them for items and I do pick up a lot of items from that.

Psychic Arrested for Fraud (10.55)

S: Rebecca, you sent me an item that was kind of an update about the whole discussion of sending psychics to prison.

R: Yeah, that spawned a pretty big discussion both on the podcast and on the boards, people trying to figure out whether or not we should outlaw psychics. Just on Tuesday, this past Tuesday, a fortune teller was sent to jail in Maryland for bilking customers out of nearly $257,000. She basically got it all out of sad desperate middle-aged women.

S: Mmm Hmm.

R: They threw the book at her and the best quote that she could offer was "I promise in Jesus' name I'm not going to do this again. I know it sounds like I'm using Jesus. I am ashamed."

J: Oh, my God, that's the best thing she could come up with?

R: Take that as you will.

J: Oh my God.

S: That's pretty lame.

R: I find it interesting though. She's being sent away on fraud charges I guess. It's funny that we can send her away because she took money from them, but it seems like that's the only way to really get psychics is when they're taking actual money and property, but not necessarily when they're doing great amounts of psychological harm to people.

S: Right.

R: Like what Sylvia Brown does to people - parents of missing children, for instance.

S: Yeah, it seems that if there's a fee for service, that's considered entertainment, but if part of the fortune telling involves a scam to get large amounts of cash and property from people, then that's over the line to fraud. It seems that that's the line that's been drawn now. The Montgomery Assistant State Attorney, Carol Crawford, was quoted as saying "This is beyond fortune telling for entertainment purposes."

P: Right.

S: And she compared her to a leech who was draining money off of vulnerable middle aged women.

P: That's because the legal system is set up to deal with frauds and thieves. It's not set up to deal with people who commit psychological damage.

R: Well if you look at it, there are laws against, for instance, therapists using their relationship with patients in an inappropriate way -

S: Yeah.

R: - to take advantage of them.

S: But that falls under professional ethics and malpractice, but there is no professional ethics for psychics.

E: That's an oxymoron.

S: It's just fraud. You're over the line to fraud or you're not. And if you're not over the line to fraud, then everything else is fine.

J: You also have to imagine that she was turned in too. It wasn't like someone was policing this.

P: Isn't the definition of being a professional, being paid for service?

S: That is one definition, but the definition I was using was a professional meaning you are a member of a profession, and not all jobs are a profession. A profession implies that there is a certain recognized relationship with society where the profession is given certain privileges and rights in exchange for ethical guidelines and other guarantees of quality of service.

J: Like a doctor, a lawyer, a police officer.

S: Yeah, and implies there are ethical guidelines that can be enforced. But psychics are not professionals in that they are not given a privileged status for exchange for being held to ethical guidelines.

J: I think, would you guys consider this a precedent? Has this ever happened before?

S: Oh yeah, this is old news.

P: Many times.

S: And this is usually, the cases I've heard about are very similar to this where hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars was involved in a long term con. It basically was a con game where being a psychic or giving some kind of psychic service was just the mechanism of the con. And really they were convicted for being a con artist and for fraud, not for giving fortunes. So that's I think the difference.

P: Jay, I remember Sergeant Friday and Officer Gannon busting fortune tellers on Dragnet in the '60s.

J: Yeah.

R: You're talking about TV now, right? Okay.

P: Just saying it goes back a long way. It's certainly not a precedent, that's all I'm saying.

S: That is true, that was the "bunco squad."

E: "Bunco squad."

P: That's right, "bunco," that's exactly right.

R: It seems like more often than not when this con comes under the context of being a psychic, it's just like in this story where the so-called psychic told the women that they had a curse on them that needed to be relieved, only through her, and which would require a long-term plan where they kept having to pay and pay and pay and she basically freaked them out into thinking that if they didn't pay, they would have this awful curse looming over them. So it seems like it's like this by-the-book psychic scam that you just see over and over again.

J: What was the curse? That every month they're going to bleed? What are we talking about?

(laughter)

R: Are you really trying to get us back into that?

E: We got in trouble for that too, didn't we?

S: Let's not go there again. They're cursed to tell bad jokes forever.

J: I caught that curse a long time ago.

60 Years of Flying Saucers (16.00)

60 Years of Flying Saucers

Nanoparticle Drug Delivery

Dino Bigbird Discovered

Questions and Emails ()

Home Buying Pseudoscience ()

I have been house hunting lately and have bumped into some pseudoscience during that time. I was wondering if you guys could cut through the BS for me.

1) My real estate agent insists that it is a bad idea to buy a house near power lines since they cause cancer and therefore the value is reduced. I believe her that the value is reduced, but not because the threat is real, but because so many people have this mistaken belief.

2) A home inspector that I know told me that UFFI (Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation) was used as an insulation in the 70s. There was a brief health scare that this insulation caused health problems and now any house that ever had the insulation, even if it was removed at great cost, has had its value greatly reduced. And apparently there was no scientific basis behind the scare.

A link to info about UFFI: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/yohoyohe/inaiqu/inaiqu_008.cfm' target='_blank' class='podcast_link'>http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/yohoyohe/inaiqu/inaiqu_008.cfm

Thanks for your great show, it's by far the best podcast of the 10 or so I listen to every week.

Jonathan Abrams Ottawa, Canada

Skeptical article on power lines: http://www.csicop.org/sb/9509/rothman.html UFFI: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/yohoyohe/inaiqu/inaiqu_008.cfm' target='_blank' class='podcast_link'>http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/yohoyohe/inaiqu/inaiqu_008.cfm http://www.epa.gov/iaq/formalde.html http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml82/82005.html

Magneto and Son ()

Found this video of magnetic father and son in Taiwan. Any suggestions on how they pull this off? (Or put it on, as it were)

videoholicsanonymous.blogspot.com/2007/06/amazing-magnetic-child.html

Brandon Adams Long Beach, CA

Acupuncture Brain Surgery ()

Thanks for the great podcast, here are a some topics i thought might be interesting to research and discuss for the show...

1. I saw a show with Leanord Nemoy (can't remember the name) he showed a video of a woman in China having brain surgery with supposedly only acupuncture to numb the pain, she was fully awake during the procedure.

2. the war on drugs is an interesting topic, specifically is the research true that the netherlands has lower addiction rates than the u.s. (these statistics are all over the internet by advocates for the decriminalization of drugs in the u.s. - is it the government's right to intervene in people's choice to use drugs if they are not putting anyone else in danger -"plan columbia: cashing in on the drug war failure" was an interesting movie that stated that the u.s.government is supposedly giving money to the columbian military even though it is one of the leading smugglers of drugs out of its own country. - america has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prison population; most non-violent drug offenders (penn and teller's bullshit has an episode about the drug war)

3.the "holding back of the electric car" i know you discussed this before but the movie "who killed the electric car" says that the electric car was not given money by the government to succeed because pressure by the oil companies was put on the government to sustain the popularity of gasoline fueled cars. the movie also states that the hydrogen fuel cell cars were given government money because they knew the technology wouldn't become public or affordable for a long, long time.

4.the alleged danger of PVC, aspartame, flouride, and aluminum

5. pagan roots of christianity (more specific examples)

6. is premium gas really better than regular for some engines, and is water added to gasoline to extend it in warmer months.

7. do women cheat as much, less, or more than men? ( evolutionary theories as to why or why not)

sorry about the length, let me know if this is helpful.

Brad Carlson Illinois, USA

Science or Fiction ()

Archaeologists have discovered the first known example of money, copper coins more than 8000 years old. Question #2 Physicists announced the discovery of a new elementary particle, in the same category as protons and neutrons known as baryons. Question #3 Neuroscientists have discovered that two independent brain networks share ultimate behavioral control.


Skeptical Puzzle ()

This Week's Puzzle

I notably lurk on the fringes of physics I rely on people's ignorance of water's specific capacity I was the world's only teacher of my practice from 1977-1984 I don't spend much time doing what I do I keep my momentum, yet try to stay uneven And if those dollars are burning a hole in your pocket, I can teach you to attain virtually any goal

Who am I?


Last Week's Puzzle

Franklin D. Roosevelt Mark Twain Herbert Hoover J. Paul Getty Napoleon Bonaparte Rudolph Giuliani

What un-skeptical trait do all of these famous people have in common?

Answer: Triskaidekaphobia Winner: Cosmic Vagabond

Skeptical Quote of the Week ()

"The amount of years that she will live longer than us because of the diet is directly proportional to the horror of her life."

Perry John DeAngelis commenting on Rebecca Watson's vegetarian diet: 1963 - Present; a skeptical philosopher of some note

Announcements ()

S: The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is produced by the New England Skeptical Society in association with the James Randi Educational Foundation. For more information on this and other episodes, please visit our website at www.theskepticsguide.org. Please send us your questions, suggestions, and other feedback; you can use the "Contact Us" page on our website, or you can send us an email to info@theskepticsguide.org'. 'Theorem' is produced by Kineto and is used with permission.


References

  1. SGU_Episode_51
  2. Post-dating this podcast, Neurologica blog
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