SGU Episode 257

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SGU Episode 257
14th June 2010
SGU 256 SGU 258
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein

Quote of the Week
Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.
Sir Winston Churchill
Download Podcast
Forum Topic


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 Monday, June 14th, 2010 and this is your host Steven Novella. Joining me this week are Bob Novella–

B: Hey everybody.

S: Jay Novella–

J: Hey guys.

S: and Evan Bernstein.

E: Hey everyone. How are you doing tonight?

B: Okay.

J: Quite well.

E: Good.

S: No Rebecca tonight because we are on the lead up to TAM recording schedule. We going to have a little bit of a weird recording schedule the next few weeks and Rebecca was not available tonight and she has no internet access.

J: That's because her and Sid bought a house.

S: That's right.

J: She hasn't been able to get internet and cable, I guess, to the house yet.

E: Yeah. But it's a big secret. Don't tell anyone, folks.

S: They're moving into a new flat. Is it still a flat if it's a house?

B: No. Wait wait, no, a flat's an apartment, isn't it?

S: Are they moving into a house house, or is it like a condo or what is it?

J: I think it's a house house.

S: But no cable yet.

J: Bob, if she has a house, that means she has a basement which means she could run a haunt in her house.

B: Not necessarily. Florida houses don't have basements but that's because of the water table.

J: Well, no. If she's in England she has a root cellar.

B: Yeah, right.

J: Which is even creepier.

This Day in Skepticism (1:19)

E: Well, on this day in 1648 Margaret Jones was hanged in Boston for witchcraft. The first such execution for the Massachusetts colony.

S: How many people were killed?

E: Yeah, they didn't stop with Margaret. It was 20 people.

S: Were executed.

E: We executed for witchcraft.

J: Wow. And we got off lucky. Didn't–in Europe wasn't it a much bigger phenomenon in Europe?

S: A conservative number is around 60,000 deaths directly attributable to the witch hunts.

J: Wow.

S: Depending on how you count it. There were 20 people executed in Salem. 19 hung and that one guy, Giles Corey was crushed to death cause he refused to enter a plea.

News Items

Hayabusa Returns (2:02)

Einstein's Brain (9:22)

NPR: Einstein's Brain Unlocks Some Mysteries Of The Mind

Largest Radio Telescope Array (27:49)

Amityville Horror House for Sale (34:11)

Rogue's Gallery: Amityville Horror House for Sale

Who's That Noisy? (38:46)

Questions and Emails

Soy (41:02)

Steve - You made the offhand comment that there are "serious concerns" that soy milk is producing an estrogen type hormonal effect. I am a vegan bodybuilder who drinks a quart of soy milk everyday. I am concerned your offhand comment will scare people away from switching to a healthier milk alternative with no saturated fat. I've looked in the past when people have made these claims, and all I can find is that there may be some very mild effect, but nothing that rises to the level of your "serious concern" comment. If there was, there would be serious estrogen related issues throughout Asian countries. Since you felt it necessary to scare people away from soy by telling them about the "serious concerns" science has with soy milk, I hope you will provide the research on you next show that proves soy milk causes serious estrogen like effects. I do love the show, and I thank everyone for the time and effort you guys put into it every week. Michael Wilson Prescott, AZ

Cursed Cell Phone Number (45:50)

The cursed cell phone number Thought you guys might like this story of truly stupid superstitious thinking that misses the glaringly obvious.

Telegraph: Mobile phone number suspended after three users die in 10 years

Danforth France Glendale, CA

Magic Bee Juice (50:27)

One of the branches of the company I work for in Japan has started selling Propolis as a means to make more money in a bad economy. This branch has repeatedly tried to get me to buy some of this magic bee juice. Many of my Japanese co-workers have taken the bait. They are putting bee juice in their drinks and swallowing magic bee juice pills. When I ask them if they feel any better, they all say they aren’t sure. Hmm… I think the company I work for has a snake oill division. Do you know of any scientific evidence that shows any benefit to taking Propolis? All the information I found say that Propolis may contain lead and other garbage bees pick up while flying around the city. Thank you for your time. David Gardner Osaka, Japan

Name That Logical Fallacy: Personality Tests (54:41)

Steve, I'm trying to figure out the difference between the Incorrect Cause fallacy and the Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc fallacy? Skepticwiki is telling me that Post Hoc is a type of Incorrect Cause Fallacy, but I'm just not getting the difference. They seem to be one and the same. Any help would be appreciated. I'm trying to complete a 5x5 recording we did a few months ago and I'm recording a missing part which was about the "Incorrect Cause" fallacy. The topic of the 5x5 was Chemtrails and it seems to me that the Post Hoc fallacy would work better here. Mike Lacelle Canada

Science or Fiction (1:00:07)

  • Item number one: NIST scientists have developed a "dark laser" that is endothermic - it takes heat away from an object on which it is focused.
  • Item number two: A new analysis suggests that many comets, including well-known comets like Halley's and Hale Bopp, originated from other solar systems.
  • Item number three: Scientists report a 5-fold increase in the growth of rice plants from manipulating the genetics of a fungus that grows on its roots.

Skeptical Quote of the Week (1:14:40)

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.

Sir Winston Churchill


NECSS Con (1:18:11)

S: The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is produced by the New England Skeptical Society in association with the James Randi Educational Foundation and For more information on this and other episodes, please visit our website at For questions, suggestions, and other feedback, please use the "Contact Us" form on the website, or send an email to If you enjoyed this episode, then please help us spread the word by voting for us on Digg, or leaving us a review on iTunes. You can find links to these sites and others through our homepage. 'Theorem' is produced by Kineto, and is used with permission.


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