SGU Episode 102

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SGU Episode 102
3rd July 2007
SGU 1 SGU 300
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
B: Bob Novella
R: Rebecca Watson
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein
P: Perry DeAngelis
JR: James Randi
Quote of the Week
The primary tool of science is skepticism, whose light shrivels unquestioning faith.
Mike Huben
Download Podcast
Forum Topic


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

This Day in Skepticism ()

News Items

Barry L. Beyerstein 1947-2007 ()

Herbal Link to Liver Failure ()

Echinacea Meta-analysis ()

Study: 1 in 6 Juries Get the Verdict Wrong ()

Floods Are Judgment on Society, Say Bishops ()

Questions and Emails ()

HIV and Condoms ()

Hello my skeptic warriors,

I am Christopher from Chicago Illinois. Well close enough at least. Anyways, I have been listening since this May and finally caught up with all your podcast's. I am sure you get enough thanks, but, thank you for your show. It really does bring hope into my life, as I am sure it brings hope to all your other listeners.

I do not have a microphone so an email will have to do.


There are two parts to this question.

I hear from my only friend that latex condoms has little tiny holes that the HIV virus can travel through. Therefore, he chooses not to ever have sex, ever! This frustrates me since I took the time to look up this information on the internet and pretty much found nothing. The only thing I found that said condoms do not protect was religious websites.

Also, even if you have unprotected sex with someone that is HIV positive, is it true that it is not a for sure thing that you will get HIV. I am sure the risks are extremely high, but as I hear Penn and Teller say on their abstinence episode, it exposes you to a 1 and 500 risk. Is that true or pretty close? My good friend common sense tells me that they are close.

One more thing you do not need to read off but if you must...this friend of mine works in a hospital as a computer technician, but he ignorantly will not talk with real doctors about this matter. He has a few views I disagree with. He believes in ghosts from personal experiences when he as 7...and he thinks the whole field of psychology is, for lack of a better word, crap. I feel there is hope with him, but I need some better proof that this myth is bunk. Then I will work on his waking dreams he has told me about, er I mean his ghostly experiences.

I really hope you can answer my question (on or off the show). As I know, you have young listeners that listen to this show. I do not want the school's ignorance only, er I mean abstinence only education to scare people out of having sex. Which I fear is happening in some or most our schools these days. Sex is a wonderful and beautiful experience. Sadly control freaks want to scare us out of doing such, "sinful" things.

Am I right to think, that using condoms properly greatly reduces your changes of getting an STD, but most importantly, that the evil HIV that cannot pass through the holes of latex condoms?

Thanks guys, peace,

Christopher...NOT Chris!

My links I found that were good enough for me: ondoms.html

From Steve's reply to Christopher: Here is a review of the evidence by the CDC:

Chiropractic and Colic ()

My sister, after dealing with a crying and screaming baby for several long days and nights, decided to take the baby girl to a chiropractor.

I'm not a medical expert, but I've read enough to be skeptical, so I questioned her about it. We had a long discussion, but here's the main point I don't entirely understand:

My sister says all the nerves coming off the spine control different parts of the body, so if a nerve is pinched and causing pain somewhere, a chiro can "unpinch" that nerve and relieve the pain.

I know some chiros claim that they can affect, say, things like asthma by manipulating the part of the spine connected to the lungs, which I'm fairly certain is nonsense.

However, if the baby does have a pinched nerve (the type of nerve that can cause pain if pinched), can the chiro actually unpinch that nerve and kill the pain (which may or may not be causing the baby to cry)?

My sister claims this is true because her husband suffered a brain injury a few years ago, and during his recovery they stiumlated various parts of his spine to see if he could feel in other parts of his body.

I'm just trying to wrap my head around all of this, and I'd like to know what, if anything, a chiro can offer in this instance.

Also, I was concerned about a chiro handling a two-month old, but my sister claims he's very gentle. I'm still not convinced it's a good idea, though.

Thanks for the great podcast, Adam Finley Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy and us ()

This link: tells us that the Solar System actually came from the Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy, currently orbiting and being eaten by the Milky Way. I've researched on the Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy and found out that it is true that the galaxy is currently interacting with the MilkyWay, and it is true that it is actually raining down stars in the area where Solar System is now, which I found surprising and very interesting:

What I don't buy is the conclusion taken that the Solar System was actually a son of this galaxy and not the Milky Way, apparently explaining why our System is not aligned with the Milky Way, and the Milky Way is seen sideways to us in the sky.

I then reached a paragraph at the end that concludes that this interaction between the two galaxies is raising the 'energy levels' of the Milky Way, causing the Sun to burn hotter. Ahh, the Plot thickens. Parry is now probably liking this guy.

It seems to me that this is the result of one more attempt to explain away Global Warming as not caused by human action, now that the latest IPCC report has left less room for the Global Warming Skeptics (I think Parry is one of them) to maneuver.

I definitely do not have enough astronomical knowledge to argument with most of the stuff these guys are saying, but it looks like crap to me. I would love to hear your take on this, maybe an astronomer guest could also shed more light in the subject and tell us more about the very interesting story about the SagDEG and our other close neighbors.

Late congratulations on the 100th episode, I'm holding my breath for the 1000th, 17.3 years from now.

Petrucio Brazil

Bad Astronomy Blog entry on this topic:

Sickesz Followup ()

Dear Skeptics,

Thank you for a good podcast and in the latest edition drawing my attention to a case that happened in my old country the Netherlands (I have been living in Israel for nearly 10 years). The case of Sickesz vs. the Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij is indeed a terrible miscreant of Dutch justice. I very much hope the VtdK will appeal to the supreme court.

I have blogged about this at:

Cheers, Anne Frid de Vries

Name That Logical Fallacy ()

Hello guys!

Thank you for a very entertaining podcast. I tune in every week only because of its entertainment value. And you are doing a great job....

To assume the role of arbiters as to whether it is science or pseudo-science, on almost everything under the sun... it is simply arrogance...

You are using very simplistic arguments, which you call "logical reasoning", when in many cases things are much more complex...

You are acting as if you know everything... every subject matter. Come on guys a little humility...

The fact that you do not grasp certain concepts does not make them wrong and candidates to ridicule... Couldn't this be a measure of your own intrinsic limitations? Just a question...

Best regards,

Athanasios Zacharakopoulos

Athens, Greece

Science or Fiction ()

Skeptical Puzzle ()

This Week's Puzzle:

In 1967, a famous building was attacked. The attackers attempted to use supernatural abilities to drive out its evil spirits, and to disfigure and displace the building with its occupants inside. The attack failed.

Name the building.

Last Week's puzzle:

Identify the 6th number in this sequence:


Answer: .408 (highest batting average of baseball hitters since 1900) Winner: Kanuck

Skeptical Quote of the Week ()

The primary tool of science is skepticism, whose light shrivels unquestioning faith.

Mike Huben, an American educator of some note.

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 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'. 'Theorem' is produced by Kineto and is used with permission.


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