SGU Episode 110

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SGU Episode 110
28th August 2007

Transcript Verified Transcript Verified

Perry 2.jpg
SGU 109 SGU 111
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
R: Rebecca Watson
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein
Guests
ML: Mike Lacelle
F: Fernanda
Quote of the Week
Thinking critically is a chore. It does not come naturally or easily. And if the fruits of such efforts are not carefully displayed to young minds, then they will not harvest them. Every school child must be implanted with the wonder of the atom, not the thrall of magic.
Perry DeAngelis
Links
Download Podcast
Show Notes
Forum Topic


Introduction[edit]

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 August 28th 2007 and this is your host Steven Novella, president of the New England Skeptical Society. Joining me this evening are Bob Novella...

B: Hello.

S: Rebecca Watson...

R: Hi everyone.

S: Jay Novella...

J: Hi guys.

S: And Evan Bernstein.

E: Hey folks.

S: How is everyone this evening?

B: Crappy.

E: Recovering.

S: Recovering. Yeah, so.

R: I think we've had better nights.

Perry DeAngelis Remembered (0:41)[edit]

S: This is our first show after the passing of our good friend Perry. As most listeners probably know by now, from our website and also last week's episode and also the word's been getting around in multiple other venues, Perry DeAngelis, one of the rogues, one of the members of our podcast, passed away on August 19th, which of course was a very big blow to all of us, both personally and professionally as part of—he was a big part of the podcast. Definitely lent a unique voice and was a good complement to everyone else on the show. We were very pleased, however—you know in a bittersweet sort of way, to receive the tremendous feedback from all of Perry's fans and a lot of our listeners.

B: That was amazing.

S: That was. We've had literally hundreds of comments and emails and posts on our forums—everyone giving their reflections and their thoughts about Perry, many extremely heartfelt. First I want to say thank you to everyone who sent in their condolences to us. We definitely passed them on to his family and they greatly appreciated that. It also helped them, I think, to understand and appreciate what Perry meant to his fans and to quite a lot of people.

B: Yeah, Steve, I'm not sure exactly how much his family understood or appreciated exactly what he was doing.

S: Yeah.

B: I mean, you saw him more than the rest of us did. How aware was his family of this weekly podcast that Perry was doing? Was it really even on the radar for them?

S: Not very much for his parents. His sister, who is also a friend of ours, obviously knew what it was and listened to it. But a lot of the older generation basically just knew of it really only tangentially and didn't really understand what a big part it played in Perry's life.

B: And other people's lives.

S: Now, we've had a lot of questions, of course, about exactly what happened, and Perry always told me that I could basically tell everybody anything that they wanted to know about his medical condition, about what happened, and I have permission from his wife, of course, to not only access his medical information but to discuss it. I think it does help the part of the process of understanding and accepting what happened to Perry and actually helps in the grieving process to understand just, factually, what happened. The quick summary is that Perry—actually Perry was a pretty healthy guy up until about 8 or 9 years ago, even though Perry was big his whole life and did have some complications from that, he did have Type 2 diabetes, but 9 years ago he was a completely healthy, totally active guy without really any physical limitations. But then he started to get some really serious medical problems that we didn't know where they were coming from. He had two very serious illnesses that put him in the hospital for a long time, that were even potentially life-threatening. One time he had, the first really serious illness he had was pericarditis, which is inflammation around the heart, and that led to fluid building up in the sack that surrounds the heart, the pericardium, basically squeezing in on the heart and keeping it from functioning.

B: It was actually named after him, was it?

S: (laughs) Right, Perry-carditis, yeah; he thought that was amusing. That was treated, these acute things were treated, but eventually it was discovered that Perry had a very serious chronic disease called scleroderma. Scleroderma is still a bit mysterious. It's a connective tissue disease. It's sort of an autoimmune disease, but not really. There may be some inflammatory component but it doesn't respond to immunosuppressive therapy like other autoimmune diseases might. It's basically untreatable. It's a proliferation of the connective tissue, the fibroblasts. Those are the cells that lay in wait and then they might heal a cut, for example, by forming scar tissue. So essentially, what happens is that scar tissue diffusely forms out of control in all the tissue. It was evident in Perry's skin as, over the last 8 years his fingers were somewhat curled up and he couldn't—didn't really have a lot of use of his fingers because of the scleroderma of his skin. But it also happened on the inside; it was infecting his kidneys, his heart, his lungs, his esophagus. Thinking back, Perry really was progressively ill over the last 8 years. We always sort of knew that the scleroderma was there, that it was a progressive disease, it was incurable, but as he started to develop more and more shortness of breath and inability to really engage in a lot of physical activity, we were looking for other treatable things that might be contributing to it that we could do something about. In the final analysis, the underlying problem was the scleroderma, and it had caused too much damage to his heart and lungs. And then, last week it just finally caught up with him. In a way... again, it's one of those things where I think down deep, we kind of knew was inevitable; we saw it coming, but nothing really prepares you for this kind of thing happening. And we never gave up the hope that there would—that Perry would be stable for a little while longer; that there would be something that we could treat that would improve his function, that we would have him around—

E: Or spontaneous remission or some kind.

S: Yeah, you know—

J: We were all actually surprised to find out it was actually the scleroderma. I mean when you told me, Steve, I was shocked. I always assumed that it was weight related.

B: I was surprised too. I was actually—it cheered me up a little bit, because for days prior to hearing about that, that detail, I was pretty down in that I felt like it was, his death was a preventable thing that I should have been on his case more about losing weight and wishing that he had taken his weight more seriously for the past 5 years or so and that if he had just done that, he would have had much more time. But when I found that he really had no choice, it was really not much he could have done—I mean, his quality of life could have been better the past handful of years if he had lost weight, but there really wasn't—there was nothing he could have done to prevent that from happening. It was kind of reflected in the way he lived. Jay, didn't you say that when he kind of realized what was going on, that he really just tried to enjoy life more and do more of the things that he really enjoyed and stayed away from the things that were—the parts of life that are annoying, that he just had more fun when he saw that; was that accurate?

J: Well, Steve would know better than I, but I remember having conversations with Perry where he would basically say he's living his life the way he wants to. It was kind of the subtext was 'cos he knew that he didn't have a lot of time and he was doing everything in his power to just make himself happy.

R: And one of the big things that made him happy was doing this podcast, which I think is important to note is that that he kept at this for as long as he could.

S: He did. This was very important to him. He really cared about it a great deal. This was, I think—it gave his life a tremendous amount of meaning. Perry never let me forget that it was his idea to form the New England Skeptical Society, that—

B: It was, I remember.

S: It was. It was his inspiration. And through that fact he sort of took credit for everything that followed. Including the Skeptics' Guide—

B: (laughs)

S: I let him have that. Yes, if not for you, who knows what would have happened this last—whatever it's been, 11 now—years of skeptical activism may never have occurred at all. It may never have occurred to me to do this. It would be interesting to know, to think of what I would be doing.

B: Steve, why don't you go into even a little more detail of how it actually came about. He was—we were going through the Skeptical Inquirer and in the back of the magazine they list local skeptical organizations, and of course Perry was looking at this and he went right to Connecticut and he said "Wait, there's no skeptical organizations in Connecticut." And that's how I remember it came up.

S: Yeah, and then he said, "we should form a skeptical organization."

J: Right.

S: "We should."

J: And this was 1995?

S: Yeah. That's right.

B: Was it '95? Woah.

E: '95.

S: And that was it. We soon became—we went from the Connecticut Skeptical Society to the New England Skeptical Society, because there was no skeptical organization in New England. Yeah, and Perry was really tireless and relentless. He really worked on this since then, since the beginning he never lacked giving his own time to this.

J: Steve, why don't you give a quick explanation of, like, the first few years and what you guys were doing, what the organization was about.

S: For several years we really—when we started we had no clue, as you might imagine. None of us had ever run a non-profit organization before; we didn't know what the landscape was in the skeptical community, so we did the things we thought we should do. We held local meetings, and the first few meetings we didn't even know what we were doing; what we should do at the meetings, we just thought we should have them. And then we slowly settled into the kind of activities that a local skeptical group does: we had lectures, we did investigations, we -

B: We wrote articles, did the newsletter.

S: We wrote articles. The newsletter was sort of the focus back then, this was pre-podcasting.

B: Right.

S: The website was really an afterthought, kinda just attachment; it wasn't really the focus of what we were doing. The newsletter and the local—

B: Nah. And I did the website by the way. Woo-hoo!

S: That's right.

B: Lame HTML.

R: And I saw a really great picture of Perry where he's dressed like a wizard of some sort and he's standing in front of Jack—

S: Yeah.

R: Laying down on a table. Can you describe what happened there?

S: That was, we had a Psychic Unfair, where we ran it like a psychic fair but we basically exposed a lot of different things that happen, and Perry did a psychic surgery. He did it pretty good. As good as any of the fakes do it. Of course Perry had to get the guru costume and made a very tremendous theatrical—

E: It was about showmanship.

S: Perry was all about the theatrics.

B: We have to get that picture out there, Steve.

S: We have a good picture of that; we'll definitely put some pictures up in the notes for this episode. So that's what we did for a lot of years and it was, in a way, really like earning our skeptical bones, as it were; we kind of did the grunt work of just writing a lot of articles, doing as many investigations as we could, giving a lot of lectures. Last week's podcast, some people asked me what was that from. And they also asked me what's Perry's background and training. Well, first, that was a seminar that New England Skeptical Society was invited to give as part of a continuing education for science teachers, for public school science teachers in Connecticut. I believe that was through Southern Connecticut State University.

B: Yeah.

S: It was a day-long, like 8 hours of us giving lectures, and that piece that we had last week was one of Perry's parts of the lecture. And we may make other parts of that available. That's what that was from. Perry's background, actually—Perry did not have an academic background but he just had a life-long interest and love affair with both science and also just the truth, just the no-nonsense what is the bottom line, what is the truth, and he relished sifting through the BS and the nonsense to try to get at what was really going on.

B: Steve, a quick memory just popped into my head: we were at my parents' house and my parents had this little chalk board display on the island in the kitchen. I remember Perry wrote in chalk on this little board, he wrote "question everything." And then, of course, I wanted to add underneath "Except this."

(laughter)

S: Right. Yes, I mean he was a basically self-taught skeptic and then he began to read the skeptical literature. Of course, we've had countless, countless conversations dissecting everything that we can get our hands on. Pretty much like the rest of us, we're just self-taught skeptics; it's just from doing it, living it for 12 years. As anyone who listens to the podcast on a regular basis could tell, Perry got very good at it, dissecting things and seeing where the BS was, and definitely became very adept at skeptical analysis. But that's it; no formal training. I don't know that there is any formal training in skepticism, you know. There are pieces of it that we put together.

B: Right.

S: But there's no academic program of scientific skepticism; it's just knowing science, knowing logic, knowing self-deception, knowing about human psychology.

R: A well functioning BS detector, which Perry had.

S: Yes. A functional BS detector, right. We've had a great many emails and messages from our listeners. I wanted to read a couple of them. This one came in recently. It's a bit long, but it's very touching and I think is—represents a lot of what the emails said. Some of the common themes that kept cropping up in the messages about Perry's passing were one that a lot of people were shocked at how emotionally they took Perry's loss, and they didn't realize how attached they had grown to him just from listening to him on the show. Of course, what is, i think, very touching and very revealing of a couple of things—one is just, generically, the podcasting format is very intimate. A lot of people have commented about how they have felt that Perry and the rest of us really are like their friends that they invite into their car, their home, or whatever, once a week to listen to.

B: Yes, somebody had a nice quote; they said that it's like they're listening in on a friend's conversation and they're the quiet one. They're the one that's not talking.

S: A lot of people made that observation. The other thing is that Perry in particular, his personality came across so well on the podcast, that a lot of the observations people made about Perry, to those of us who knew him in person and for a long time were very, very true. The listeners generally "got" Perry very well. So it kind of showed us that yeah, you know, Perry was able to convey what he really thought and felt about things and how he operated just from being himself on the show—that this wasn't—the show was not scripted, it is very spontaneous and it is very genuine and Perry—what you heard of Perry on this show was him. That's how Perry is.

E: Absolutely.

S: So I want to read this one email. This one is from Gabrielle Dietrich and she wrote:

To my dearest rogues, know that you do not grieve alone for this fan grieves with you. I heard the news yesterday, a day which I will never forget. I looked at the title of podcast 109 and all I could say was "no." I didn't want the title to be true; I didn't want to believe the news. I didn't want to be told it was true but I pushed play anyway. When I heard Steve confirm my worst fears, the tears burst forth from the pit of my being and poured out of me; I couldn't breathe. And I couldn't believe what I had heard. Perry's passing had to be a lie. This all had to be a lie. I lay down on my couch and cried with my fiance holding me 'til I couldn't cry any more. I got up and put on my best black shirt and mourned Perry's loss. I still feel like I need to do something in his honor. Perry was one of my heroes. All the rogues are my heroes and Rebecca is my shero. Your podcast opened my eyes to the lies I'd lived my life believing.


I had just finished a course in massage therapy and was convinced that alternative medicine held all the answers. I was sold on essential oils and the super healing powers they possessed. I knew that aliens existed and that most conspiracies had some truth to them. I knew that Sylvia Brown was an amazing woman who could talk to the dead and that "Crossing Over" with John Edward was amazingly real and impossible to fake. I knew without a doubt that coral calcium was a wonder drug that would cure all known diseases. I knew all those things and I knew that I wanted to become a homeopathic naturopathic physician. This all thankfully changed when I tuned into your podcast. I started listening to it because I was hoping to find something that would make me laugh with its complete avoidance of reality. In my world pre-SGU, skeptics were just talking heads who made some bogus claim and doubted everything. In my post-SGU life, I am a skeptic. I have you all to thank for who I am today. Thank you every one of you, and thank you as well, Perry.

One of the greatest moments of my life is when one of the rogues read my quote on the podcast, and in the end of my review I proclaimed "I take my news from the well-informed group well over my local news channels." I made that post on iTunes trying to thank you all for saving me from a path down the wrong road. I'd always planned on writing again, letting you all know you saved me from my misplaced plans for a career in bogus healthcare, but I didn't plan on telling you at a time such as this. I was awaiting Perry's triumphant return to SGU podcast with barely contained patience. I just knew he would be back and all would be right in the world. I lost a friend yesterday, or rather I discovered my loss yesterday. Perry may have been just a host, a rogue, a voice coming out of the speaker to some listeners but to me he was a close friend who I shared an hour with once a week talking science and news. At 24 years old I didn't think I would be losing any of my friends for a long time to come. Fate is a cruel mistress and she played us all a very sad hand. I cannot think of Perry being gone without tears wanting to spill and I hope that this reaches all of the rogues in good health if not in good spirits. Thank you for all that you do and all that you have done, your work has saved me, it has changed me for the better. And lastly, it allowed me to get to know one of the greatest men of our time, Perry DeAngelis. May the SGU continue to prove monkey superiority, may the rogues continue to be my weekly companions, and may your bacon always be healthy, all 40 pounds of it."

J: It's up to 40 pounds now?

R: Thank you, Gabe.

S/B: Yeah, thank you.

S: It was very touching, and of course, it is exactly emails like that that helped us get through what was a very difficult week.

J: We're not even through it. It's not even close—

S: We're not even close to being through it, but surviving the first week was certainly the roughest, and it enabled us to sit down once again, all in front of our computers and do what is for all of us a very difficult show, and of course, to press on into the future. We greatly appreciate everyone who took the time to write us their feelings.

E: That's an incredible email—

S: Yeah.

E: —that we received. There are others like it. Very similar.

S: That was the most dramatic. That, and I chose to read that one because that is exactly what Perry always said he wanted to do: to take somebody who was going down the wrong path and turn them towards skepticism, "toward the light." That email is a vindication of everything Perry set out to do 12 years ago in forming the New England Skeptical Society and, of course, later doing the Skeptics' Guide podcast.

J: To think that we actually do have an effect, you know—it's one thing to do the show and say "we're preaching to the choir." The hard part is to be able to reach out and touch people and actually make a difference in their lives and I almost can't believe it, that we can do that. It really is, in the end, it is just a bunch of friends chatting to each other.

E: Yeah, we used to call it dinner-table conversation—we go out to dinner, and this is it. We would have podcast shows over the dinner table. It wasn't a podcast at the time.

R: If only you guys had all carried around recorders with you.

B: Maybe we cursed a little more, but that's okay.

S: Yeah.

R: No, it's just that Steve didn't edit it out during dinner.

S/E/J: Right.

S: I had no edit button back then!

R: But yeah, speaking as a godless heathen, it's really great to see what an impact that Perry had on people, because in my world-view he's gone, but there's this part of him that's going to live for a very long time in the impact he had on others. People can continue to hear him for years to come. There's something really cool about that.

S: Yeah, that's one of those sentiments that is so over-used that it's become a cliche and it's almost been spoiled and watered down, but it's actually literally true, that Perry does "live on" in all of us, certainly he is still inside my head. I mean, there are even—it's been very difficult in the last week or so not to be thinking to myself constantly what Perry would say or how he would respond to a certain situation.

J: Yeah, like what would he think of this whole week, you know?

S: I would love to talk to him about what he would think about everything that has happened, but he still definitely had an impact on all of us. A lot of us observed that Perry was always larger than life—his personality, his charisma. Again, that came through on the show and that's sort of the impact that he had on all of us. It is very nice to hear that he had the same impact on so many other people through the podcast. Certainly, there is a hundred or so episodes of Perry that we can always go back and listen to, that will exist into the foreseeable future, preserved, and that's a great thing. I'm so glad that we did this in the last couple of years for that reason, but also, perhaps less concretely, but Perry's impact on all the people who have listened to him and the influence he has had on their way of thinking is something else that will live on. And I agree, Rebecca, if your world-view is materialistic, that what more could you have than that, right?

S: Well, we're actually going to bring on with us this evening Mike Lacelle who runs the SGUfans.net to give a little bit of the fan's perspective on Perry, so let's bring him in now. We are now joined by Mike Lacelle from SGUfans.net. Mike, thanks for joining us.

ML: Thank you.

All: Hey Mike, hi Mike.

S: So, Mike is, I guess, by definition our nunmber one fan, since he runs our fan site. Mike has been very supportive over the last week, again helping us get through this, helping us every step of the way. Mike, you set up on the fan site the Perry DeAngelis Memorial Fund, which again, we greatly appreciate that. And you also took it upon your own initiative to register perrydeangelis.org[1] which will, we're still sort of thinking about exactly we're going to use that but this could be a permanent site to enshrine, if you will, on the web all things Perry DeAngelis, and we can link to that from the fan site and from our own site. So just very quickly, a lot of people have asked us, "I want to do something, I want to make a donation or do something in honor of Perry, what can I do?" so Mike set up, on the fan site, a link to donate to the Perry DeAngelis Memorial Fund. This money is going to the New England Skeptical Society, which is a non-profit organization, so this is all tax-deductible. The money will be used in some fashion to commemorate Perry and his dedication to skepticism. There's no question in my mind this is exactly what Perry would want us to do. And we're in the brainstorming and taking suggestion phase in terms of the details of how we're going to use it, but it's going to be something like either an annual lecture or an annual meeting for the SGU that will be the Perry DeAngelis Memorial whatever, podcast or lecture or meeting. The alternative suggestions have been to set up a scholarship for young skeptics—and some groups do this where they may have an essay contest and the winner of the essay contest then gets a certain amount of money as a scholarship towards their higher education.

R: Or also there's been a suggestion that we just have a big fight with a monkey and an ostrich.

(laughter)

J: Like a cage match?

R: Yeah, the monkey gets a knife.

S: The Perry DeAngelis Memorial Cage Match between a monkey and a bird.

E: We can't take bets on it, though.

S: That's true, we can't.

R: No, that would be—

E: Illegal

J: I like the scholarship; I think that would have a lot of meaning.

B: Yeah.

R: Well, Mike is in touch with the fans. What do you think, Mike?

ML: I think it's pretty all over the board with those suggestions. Some people have told me that the scholarship idea is a good idea; the lecture series is a good idea. I've talked to a few people that knew Perry from the chat room and they say pretty much anything that would carry on Perry's memory in that sense would be great.

S: Mmm-hmm.

R: So yeah, the ongoing cage match I think.

ML: Yeah, the cage match.

S: Alright, that's Rebecca's vote, the cage match.

J: Hey Mike, when you first started listening to the show, did Perry stick out?

ML: Yeah. When I first first started listening to this show, the way I saw Perry was the grumpy guy. The guy who sort of had one too many encounters with those types of people—pseudoscience and all that. He's just there to say "this is all BS." But after listening to a few shows, he grows more and more on you and you can see where he's coming from, but yeah, the first impression would have to be that, that he was the grumpy guy!

S: Yeah, Perry was always the lovable curmudgeon.

All: (laughter), yeah.

R: It just takes a while for the lovable part to make itself apparent.

E: (laughs)

S: Someone said that Perry was the id of our show, that he—

E: Yeah.

B: Wow. That's awesome.

S: —would say exactly what everyone was thinking and wanted to say but he had the balls to actually say it.

E: Good observation.

S: Is that also the kind of impression that you got, Mike?

ML: That's exactly it. Yeah. He would say what I was thinking. It was like, "this is BS. Let's just move on."

S: Yeah. "Let's just cut to the chase and call it what it is." Yeah.

J: Yeah, Perry had one of those personalities where he could say it; he really could call it like he sees it, but his charisma was able to soften it somehow, even though I don't think Perry came off friendly, either. But he just, it was delivered with so much charisma that you just kind of sat back and nodded when he would do his thing.

S: Yeah.

J: And I always respected the fact that Perry always felt that he not just wanted to but he felt obligated to communicate that way because that was important to him. Even to the very end I'll disagree with him right now—the whole global warming thing, and he really didn't—he really stuck to his guns, even against scientific evidence!

(laughter)

S: Yeah, obviously there are things about which even good skeptics can disagree. Perry could be stubborn at times as well.

R: Tell me about it.

S: There's no question. But you're right, and even some of his close friends and others have observed that Perry had this strange charisma, it was hard to put your finger on. Even when he was being irascible, even when you disagreed with him, even when he was being—

E: He was charming.

S: —stubborn, it was always charm. Right? You couldn't get mad or stay mad at him.

R: You could get mad at him; let's be honest! You could get mad at him! (laughs) Staying mad, though, yeah, that's another thing.

B: Yeah, it wouldn't last.

S: But not—he said things to me and to the people close to him that if someone else said it, the emotional response would have been ten times as bad. I mean, like, I tolerate things from Perry—

B: Oh, Steve!

S: —I would not tolerate from anyone else.

B: Right. Steve, think of the emails we've gotten from him where he—his emails of course would be—he would not forward emails, he would not have the attachment the previous email, so every email he sent was completely out of context; it would be a comment. Sometimes you wouldn't get your email for an hour, maybe a day later and you have no clue what he's referring to, and you're trying to think "what's he referring to?" so you sort everything by date and you try to see what he's referring to here, but of course a lot of times it was absolutely clear exactly what he was referring to and some of the things he would come across, some of the things he would say in his emails were like "oh my God! I can't.." At first you're like "I can't believe he said that!" and you think if anyone else did that, the reaction would be completely different, but it was Perry. It was Perry and he had carte blanche; he could do that.

S: Yeah.

B: Like nobody else could do that.

S: Mike, you got to know Perry in the chat room quite a bit.

ML: Yeah.

S: Yeah, I think Perry more than any of us frequented our chat room and made a connection with the fans that were in there.

ML: He did, yeah, he made a lot of friends in there. Yeah, he was in there at all hours of the day and night. He would chat with everyone, it was awesome.

E: Perry was not a good sleeper, especially those last 8, 9 years.

S: Yeah.

E: He had trouble sleeping the night through, so he would get a couple hours of sleep but then he would be up from 2 to 6.

S: Go in the chartroom and talk to people in Australia.

(laughter)

E: Right. How is your afternoon going in Australia?

S: We were sent an audio—a clip from another listener who frequents the chat room. This one's from Candace who actually got to know Perry quite well. So let's listen to her clip right now:

"Hello, this is Candy from Eureka, California. Perry offered an alternative point of view to the mainstream of the SGU panel. His popularity was not due only to his charisma but to his courage as a skeptic. His skepticism was genuine and he was not just some ditto-ing yes-man. Perry was not intellectually lazy and was willing to truly put all of his preconceived notions aside to analyze things critically. It was this authenticity that I admired most in Perry. Many of you already know this Perry. But some of us were lucky enough to have known him outside of the podcast. Some of my fondest memories are of late-night chats where you could catch Perry singing very badly to country music or listen to him curse his television when watching baseball. He never slowed his pace to change or alter himself for anyone's ego, whether he was teasing you about your Mac or needing a haircut or a Transylvanian-sounding accent. He was always straight with people and never pandered to anyone when honesty was what was needed. Perry was loved and will truly be missed. Ciao, babe."

S: Well, thank you Candace, that was very nice. You mentioned the Yankees—whenever it was baseball season and we were recording a podcast, it would be frequently interrupted by Perry shouting in the background at his TV set.

(laughter)

S: You know—

E: True! It's true, all of a sudden we'd be talking about something, and all of a sudden it would be "Damn! A-Rod! How can you strike out! Son-of-a-gun! Blah blah!"

J: You'd never know that Perry enjoyed baseball by listening to him watch a game.

E: Yeah.

J: But he did.

E: He really did, and I actually had the pleasure of going to a couple of baseball games with Perry. I remember specifically at a time in which I was personally really down in the dumps and some really bad things were happening in my life right particularly there. The next morning Perry shows up at my door and says "come on, get in the car with me, we're heading to Yankee Stadium, we're going to see a baseball game."

B: Awesome.

E: And we did, and we just palled around the whole day, saw the game; it was just really a great time and I'll never ever forget it, but that's the kind of friend he really was. When you were his friend, a good friend of his, he treated you with a lot of respect and he really went out of his way to make you feel good and to try to cheer you up when you were feeling down. Perry was excellent at that.

J: Yeah, that's cool that he did that for you, Evan.

R: You know, I just opened up my email and just did a search for all the Perry emails because we were talking about how he would send these random things with no context at all attached. So, can I just read a few random ones?

S: Yeah.

B: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

J: Yeah.

R: For instance, one I click on says—all this is "well sure, but I told you so." Which is pretty much all he ever said. Here's one where he sent us yet another article on global warming and he writes "kicking and screaming I will drag you all into the light on this issue." Here's a particularly good one, I don't know what it was in response to, but I'm sure he didn't mean it. He says "why are our listeners so palpably stupid?"

(laughter)

E: Now wait a minute.

R: And then another one says—I won't say the actual word 'cos it's a curse word, but it just says "F-ing hippie loser."

(laughter)

R: I assume so, he sent it to all of us but I think we can assume that it was directed at me.

S: Yep, that was Perry.

E: That was it. You knew what you got with Perry.

S: So Mike, again, thanks for coming on and representing all of Perry's fans, and for continuing to help with the fan site. It's really been a great addition to our show.

ML: Aw, thank you for letting me come on and talk about Perry. It's really helped.

R/B: Thanks Mike.

J: I want everyone to know, Mike actually did come down to Perry's wake and spent a few days here and Mike, we want to thank you very much for coming; it meant a lot to us, and it was, it's hard to put into words but we know you went out of your way and we know that you actually really did get to know Perry and really cared and it was very cool that you did that. Perry would have—Perry actually would have put his arm around you and said "thanks pal" or something like that.

S: "You drove all the way down from Canada, you dumb Canuck!"

(laughter)

E: "You came down for this?"

R: Yeah, that really did mean a lot.

E: It was great to see you, Mike, and thank you so much.

ML: It's good to see you guys too.

S: Take care. Another Perry fan and listener of the Skeptics' Guide asked to join us to share her thoughts about Perry. This is Fernanda. Fernanda, welcome to the Skeptics' Guide.

F: Thank you very much.

J/E/B/R: Hey Fernanda. Hi.

S: You're one of our Brazilian listeners, is that right?

F: Yeah, I'm from South America; born and raised in Brazil.

S: And you spent a lot of time with Perry on the chat room?

F: Yeah, both Perry and I have trouble sleeping, so we—and New York is like one hour, you guys are one hour ahead of us.

E: Yeah.

F: So we were pretty much on at the same time and we'd just talk politics and skepticism and joked around.

J: We wanted to bring you on just so you could share some of your thoughts and memories about Perry and some of the conversations you've had with him. I know that he really did enjoy chatting with you and he mentioned you to us several times.

F: We'd talk politics a lot; I was like his South American insider. I studied international relations and sometimes it's hard to filter what is being said by the media and what's really going on here, so I tried to give him my perspective and also filter what the media here says about it. The many different countries, for example, Chávez and Brazilian politics is very leftist and, Perry was a Republican so we differed about that. I'm very liberal. I think he called me his liberal friend.

S: Mmm hmm.

E: He did.

J: Wow, he actually said that?

E: His South American liberal friend. He told me a lot. He often spoke about speaking to you in the chat room. He wanted to learn, basically. This was an experience for him to speak to someone in another part of the world to get their take on things. Perry was a good listener.

R: That's the funny thing, is that Perry's like—he's the curmudgeon and everything and yet he was the one who was always in the chat room talking to people.

B: Yeah.

R: It's kind of a funny dichotomy that I don't think anybody really expected.

S: Perry had a lot of dichotomies like that, like you wouldn't expect him to be extremely tolerant but in fact Perry was a very very tolerant person in terms of other people's personal choices. He didn't care what people did or what people believed; he didn't have any really judgmentalism about people's personal choices. If you were an idiot he was very judgmental about that; he did not suffer fools well, but in terms of how you lived your life, he could not care at all. One thing that I think reflects that that I don't think many of our listeners know is that Perry's wife is a Jehovah's Witness. Wrap your mind around that.

B/E/J: Yeah.

B: That took some wrapping.

S: That was kind of a shock to all of us when he let that bomb drop.

F: That's one of the things that I could really relate to Perry because—and I think it's a problem with skepticism as well, just because you have a strong opinion does not mean you don't tolerate the other people's opinions. Your opinion is based on evidence; it's based on a lot of learning, a lot of reading, a lot of consulting other people, but that does not mean that you will not accept another person have a complete different point of view. And Perry was like that, and I'm like that in my life and I think sometimes your friends or people you talk to can have this impression of you that just because your opinions are strong you won't tolerate anything else and it's nothing like that. Perry was an amazing listener.

S: Yeah.

F: And he was one of the very few people—I'm 21 years old... yeah, so it's very hard for people to take me seriously. Plus I'm a woman and in South America and a little in the United States, it's very hard for you to take a young woman seriously. I just felt very respected in that sense by Perry.

S: Do you find that Rebecca?

R: No, not at all.

(laughter)

R: Oh, wait, about Perry, or not being respected in general?

S: Not being taken seriously as a young woman.

R: Yeah, no, it's always hard and it's kind of like low-hanging fruit.

S: Yeah.

R: Somebody wants to insult me, they're going to insult me because of my gender, because of my age, call me a "slut," whatever, so yeah.

S: All true but irrelevant.

(laughter)

R: All true, 100% true, which Perry would gladly point out.

S: That's right.

R: But with love. That's the thing though.

B: And a wink.

J: You were his favorite hippie.

R: Yeah, I hope so.

F: It's an affectionate way of calling it—like he used to call me Mexican. Of course he knew I wasn't a Mexican.

E/J/B/S: Oh my God, oh Perry. (laughter) Oh come on.

F: It's just affectionate, yeah.

S: Yeah. Perry definitely showed his affection by tweaking you, by making fun of you.

E: Oh yeah.

S: If he bothered to make fun of you, to Perry that was showing a certain amount of respect. We had mutual friends, we knew people that Perry did not like or didn't respect, and he didn't make fun of them. They were just below the radar, he just completely ignored people.

E: Didn't give them the time of day.

S: Did not give them the time of day if he did not think that they were worthy of his respect, so you should actually take Perry's chiding as a compliment.

J: Perry didn't do it like, "I'm pretending to ignore this person;" Like, there would be people who are in our larger circle of friends and Perry would literally be like, not even know their name.

(laughter)

E: Yeah. "Oh what's this guy who wore the green shirt? That guy."

S: Yeah.

B: "That's your dad, Perry."

(laughter)

J: "Oh yeah, that guy, yeah."

F: And it's funny because of the Internet—I live so far from you guys in a complete different country and complete different culture but by the learning of the common language, now the international language English, and the advent of the Internet, I am now mourning the loss of a friend, really.

S: Yeah.

F: Because it's a person I spend a lot of time with, talking about personal beliefs and sharing knowledge and sharing information and it's funny how technology has brought people so much closer.

S: Yeah. Absolutely. Even in like the last couple years, Perry didn't get around much, but we still had a virtual meeting with Perry almost every day. We were with Perry even when we couldn't be with him physically, whether it was on the podcast or—we would sometimes have social gatherings and gaming or whatever over Skype, over the Internet, and the Internet and the virtual connections that we could make are just as intimate, just as meaningful in many ways as meeting face to face.

F: Yeah, and I think it's a shame that we never, Perry and I never really sat down to talk about this because I don't really think he understood how much he touched people's lives. We have to thank you, really, for bringing skepticism into our lives and connecting skeptics all over the world and we really appreciate the effort and the energy you guys put into making the podcast every week.

S: It's our pleasure. And you bring up that skeptics all over the world and we have gotten emails responses about Perry literally from all over the world. It does show, I think, how close really the skeptical community is and how vibrant it's becoming, and also—sometimes it's like a cliche now, but skeptics sometimes get a bad rap as maybe being a bit cold, but it's totally not true and we all know it. The warm, genuine, sincere, really heartfelt response we've gotten from so many people, it's hard for us to express how much that has meant to all of us.

F: Yeah, so thank you for the opportunity, yeah, to express our sentiments.

S: Thank you, Fernanda, for spending some time with us tonight, and sharing your thoughts. We appreciate it.

R: Thanks Fernanda.

F: You're welcome.

J: We'll see you in the chat room.

S: Yeah, we'll see you in the chat room.

F: Bye. Take care. Good night.

All: Bye.

S: A few of our fans have asked, concerned, if we plan to continue the Skeptics' Guide after Perry. The answer is: of course. I mean Perry obviously would not have wanted his passing to end something that he cared about so much, and of course we all still are very dedicated to this, so the SGU will definitely press on. It will never be the same without Perry; we will always feel his loss for as long as we do this show. In his honor, more than anything else, it will definitely press on. And in fact, we are going to do more of a, the rest of the show is going to return to our more regular format. We're going to go into some news items. We'll do Science or Fiction, and end with a skeptical puzzle and a quote. So first, some news items.

News Items[edit]

Jerry Andrus Passed Away on 8/26 (45:20)[edit]

First some news items. Unfortunately there's another bit of sad news for the skeptical movement: another skeptic, Jerry Andrus, passed away on August 26th. Rebecca, you wrote about his passing on your blog this week.

R: Yeah, Jerry was a huge skeptic, pretty much all his life, I think, a good friend of Randi's. A lot of our listeners might have met Jerry at one of The Amazing Meetings. I think he was at every single one, usually set up with a table of just the most amazing optical illusions you've seen. He would build these great big pieces where you could actually stand in them and get your picture taken, and just really cool stuff. It's another huge loss. It's not been a good week for skepticism.

S: Yeah, we met Jerry this January at the TAM. His demonstrations were tremendous, his optical illusions; it was one of the favorite booths for people to stop by. I want to read one quote off his website, which I think represents his slice of skepticism, what he did. He wrote: "I can fool you because you're human. You have a wonderful human mind that works no different from my human mind. Usually when we're fooled, the mind hasn't made a mistake. It's come to wrong conclusion for the right reason." [2]

B: I clipped out that exact quote, Steve; I'm looking at it right now. I was gonna say it. That was great.

S: It's great. That represents illusions and a lot of what magic is, is fooling people to coming to the wrong conclusion but—by exploiting the way the mind and the brain works.

R: The good thing is that Jerry lived a really long life where he made such a huge impact in the magic world and the critical thinking world that he's another person whose—his impact is going to continue for a very long time, I think. He's going to have a—there's a documentary that has been in production for quite a while on Jerry's life. I haven't heard recently what's been going on with it, but I know that they were filming at TAM this year. Hopefully they've got enough footage that they can go forward with that and we'll be seeing that premiere, I don't know, hopefully soon.

HIV Denial paper published in PLoS Medicine (47:50)[edit]

S: The next news item is a bit of good news that we had in the last week. Tara Smith, who does the Aetiology blog on infectious disease; a physician who's also a skeptic; we had her on our show about a year and a half ago to talk about HIV denial. (see episode 28) She and I wrote a paper and submitted it together in the Public Library of Science Medicine, and it was just published last week, so the name of the paper is HIV Denial in the Internet Age, and it's been quite well received. It's certainly made the rounds. The journal PLoS Medicine did a press release, so it got a lot of play and the HIV denying community has been responding as well. So we definitely got their attention. Their response is generally as lame and intellectually dishonest as their beliefs. I was not surprised to see that some even made some rather sexist swipes at Tara. It was really—some real personal attacks at her, which is, you know—that's the level that we're dealing with intellectually.

R: Oh yeah, it's not like they have real arguments to make 'cos they've been proven wrong again and again. Maybe you could describe briefly what the paper involves.

S: Yeah, I blogged about it[3], I'll have the link to that, but very briefly, we didn't go after the specific scientific evidences for HIV causing AIDS or the specific arguments that the deniers use to say that HIV is not the cause of AIDS, because that's been done very well by others in other venues. What the paper was about was the intellectual strategies used by HIV deniers to perpetrate and propagate their beliefs. So what logical fallacies did they commit, the kind of conspiracy theories that they weave, etc. It was actually written initially to put it into the context of other kinds of denial, like denying evolution, but we had to sort of pare the paper down and focus really on the HIV denial part. So, and Tara and I are already talking about expanding this into other projects dealing with the issue of denial and denialism. But take a read of the paper; I think in the end it was a nice paper, and again I'm happy to see that it was well-received and that it definitely perked up the attention of the deniers.

R: Cool. Congratulations.

Jesus in the Fence (50:16)[edit]

S: Quickly, another news item. Rebecca, you sent this one. There was a Jesus sighting in a fence.[4]

R: Yeah, very exciting. Jesus spotted in a fence. Actually, out in California, a woman was doing some meditating in her sister's backyard and she saw a vision of Jesus in a knot in the wood of a fence. It's okay, though; she was a skeptic about it; she did seek out evidence to back this up, and so she called her sister over to ask her what she saw and her sister also agreed that it was in fact the son of God. So.

S: There you go.

E: That's it.

R: I guess those of you who—

E: Iron-clad.

R: —if you need to make a pilgrimage somewhere to worship Jesus, you should book tickets now.

S: There will be people there, I guarantee it.

R: I'm sure.

E: And if you're feeling any doubt, bring a relative along so they can assure you of your beliefs.

R: Right, right. "Excuse me Uncle Jim, is that the son of God?" "Why yes it is." Just like that.

S: Looking at the picture, I don't even see what they're talking about.

R: It's really difficult to see.

J: I see it but he has no nose.

R: Yeah, actually, that's funny, that's what—I was having a contest on the blog for people to Photoshop the picture and one person used the Flying-Spaghetti-Monster-got-my-nose joke, which was pretty funny. Someone else thought it look just like Pac-Man. I mean, it's really even one of the more absurd—

S: Yeah.

R: —sightings I've seen.

S: You've really got to use your imagination. That's a weak pareidolia.

R: Very weak.

E: Weak is right. I can't make this out to be anything.

S: Yeah, not even pareidolia.

E: Really. It looks like a smear of some kind of dirt, maybe.

J: He's facing to the right; he's got a beard; that horizontal line in the center is his eyebrow.

R: Oh, like a unibrow.

E: Yeah.

R: I was thinking that's like a cyclops, sort of like from the X-Men. Sort of visor thing.

B?: "By your command."

E: Jesus, not Abraham, not Moses. Nope. Jesus. Okay.

S: It's a pathetic example of a pathetic genre of idiocy. That's what it is.

E: It's worth a laugh though, I mean really. On a week where we can really use a laugh.

S: It's a little bit light-hearted.

Ben Stein is an Idiot (52:33)[edit]

S: Yeah. The next news item is about Ben Stein. This is one of those really disappointing things. Ben Stein who—

E: Oh yeah.

S: —to me, always was kind of a nerdy academic who somehow managed to exploit his nerdy academic persona and actually get on a movie; he was in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and he had that kind of funny game show—

E: Oh Yeah.

S: Win Ben Stein's Money on Comedy Central. It turns out the guy is a nut-job. He's going to host a documentary movie that's coming out in February of '08 called Stein Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, and what it is is basically an apology for intelligent design. He says on his blog, Ben Stein's Introductory Blog:

America is not America without freedom. In every turning point in our history, freedom has been the key goal we are seeking: the Mayflower coming here, the Revolution, the Civil War, Word War II, the Cold War. Tens of millions came here from foreign oppression and made a life here. Why? For freedom. Human beings are supposed to live in a state of freedom. Freedom is not conferred by the state: as our founders said, and as Martin Luther King repeated, freedom is God-given. A huge part of this freedom is freedom of inquiry. Freedom of inquiry is basic to human advancement. There would be no modern medicine, no antibiotics, no brain surgery, no Internet, no air conditioning, no modern travel, no highways, no knowledge of the human body without the freedom of inquiry.[5]

Of course, what he's saying is that evolution and "Darwinists" are against freedom, that we are being oppressive, that we are oppressing the free inquiry of intelligent design. This is the whining oppression argument—

E: It's old.

S: —that the Discovery Institute and the intelligent designers have been making for a long time. There's really nothing new here. He writes "this includes the ability to inquire whether a higher power, a being greater than man, is involved with how the universe operates. This has always been basic to science." Always, he writes, for emphasis.

E: You know, he might be good at economics, politics and so forth, and that is his primary background—

S: Yeah.

E: —those fields, but, when it comes to this, science.

S: Stick to economics, Ben; we'll do the science.

(sighs)

J: It's so sophomoric, like "yeah, you're conducting science, pal."

R: At least he's being truthful in advertising when he says "no intelligence allowed."

S: Right, that's right, I thought that was ironic too.

E: (laughs)

B: I went through the website and to go along with the whole school schtick, he's got some links here: class officers, the faculty, the expelled. For "class officers" he's got Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. And he's got an out of context quote for each of them. I guess they couldn't find much for Eugenie Scott because all they have for her is as "class treasurer," they've a quote from her: "intelligent design is ultimately a science stopper." Wow, how intolerable that is. And the faculty—the faculty link is interesting because the president, principal, office of diversity and admissions is the same person: Mr Charles Darwin.

S: Yeah.

J: The "expelled" I found most interesting, it had, with Xs through their pictures, they had of course Ben Stein, and then Bono, Galileo Galilei and Albert—

R: Bono?

B: —yeah, I'm not sure what was going on with that, and Albert Einstein. And then the funny thing is that they've got quotes from all of these and for Albert Einstein they have "I want to know God's thoughts, the rest are details."

R: (groans)

B: Which I thought was interesting that they pulled that quote from him which is kind of apocryphal; at least according to some websites, that's an apocryphal quote, but he didn't even believe.

R: Yeah.

S: Well, Einstein did not believe in a personal god. He might have been a Deist.

B: Right, which is a direct quote.

S: Yeah, he might have been a Deist. Another thing is it's irrelevant that Newton and Einstein, whatever, even if they believed that there was a god and certainly before a couple hundred years ago, all scientists were creationists and believed in god because that was all there was, that was the only game in town. But it's irrelevant. The fact is their methods were true to science.

E: That's true.

S: Even if they thought they were discovering the mind of god, it doesn't matter; they were still operating within the paradigm of science. The problem with intelligent design is not that it imagines that there's an intelligent designer, it's that it's not science; they have not proposed a testable hypothesis. It's crap. That's the problem with it. It's not being oppressed; it's not being discriminated against; it's being correctly and fairly characterized as utter worthless nonsense. All of their arguments are terrible. That's why it does not belong in the science classroom. It's not science, period.

B: I am looking forward, though, to downloading the pirated version of the movie from the web. Check it out.

S: Ugh, it's terrible.

J: I was always under the impression that he was a very intelligent guy.

S: Well, it depends on how you define—

E: I would say that he is a bit intelligent—

S: He may be intelligent in some ways, but even if you are generally an intelligent person, you may have some academic area of expertise; it doesn't make you an automatic expert in everything, and obviously he does not have an adequate understanding of the scientific method to understand why intelligent design is not science. Or he does but he has a religious belief which is giving him this blind spot in this area. People have a remarkable ability to compartmentalize their knowledge.

R: As we've seen again and again, it's the really intelligent people who believe in the wacky crap that we have to fear the most; they're the ones who are doing the most damage, unfortunately.

S: Right.

R: Yeah, it happens just over and over and over again. It's really not good.

Science or Fiction (58:25)[edit]

(jingle)

It's time for Science or Fiction

S: Each week I come up with three science news items or facts, two genuine and one fictitious, and then I challenge my panel of skeptics to tell me which one is the fake. We have a theme for this week. The theme is "the sexes". It's about differences between men and women.

R: Sexy.

S: Ready?

Various: Mmm hmm. Yeah. Yes.

E: I heard "sex".

S: Here we go. Item number one: a survey reveals that women, on average, are significantly more satisfied with their jobs than men. Item number two: a new study shows that men will chose romance over career success more often than women. And item number three: survey shows that married men do indeed do less housework than live-in boyfriends. Jay, you go first.

J: Okay. "Survey reveals that women, on average, are more satisfied with their jobs than men." Uh, quick scan of all the men and women that I know and how do I gauge them liking their jobs—I probably agree with that. I know I would stay with someone that I love over work but I don't know, okay, that's interesting. And a survey shows that married men do less housework than live-in boyfriends. That is a fact and every man knows it. That's probably not true though. I think I'm going to go with the first one as the fake. The first one meaning the survey about the women liking their jobs more than men.

S: Okay. Evan?

E: Ohhhhhhh. Goodness. That last one, "survey shows that married men do less housework than live-in boyfriends". Something's not striking me correctly about that. I don't think that one is right. So I'll say that one is fiction.

S: Okay. Rebecca?

R: Um, yeah, I have lived with multiple boyfriends in the past, not all at once, and never gotten married and the reason is because live-in boyfriends do more housework than married men. So I'm thinking... oh wait, wait.

S: That means you think that's true.

R: Oh yes, that would be true. Hold on.

E: Mmm hmm.

R: Hmmmm.

S: I know it's confusing.

(laughter)

R: Anything with a negative in it always throws me off.

S: I'm going to start having ones that have like triple negatives you've got to sort through.

(laughter)

R: Oh, well darn, because I thought the other two were true too. Okay. So I am definitely more satisfied with my job than most men I know and I think men are big wussy cry-babies who would pick love over career.

J: What? What the hell's that supposed to mean?

(laughter)

E: She just called you a wussy cry-baby, Jay.

R: Yeah, wussy cry-babies like Jay.

E: Are you going to stand for that?

J: I'm not a cry-baby. I might be a wuss but I'm not a cry-baby.

R: Aw Jay baby, why don't you go watch Bridget Jones' Diary again.

J: You're going to put me down because I enjoyed watching that movie?

(laughter)

R: Wow, I was kidding.

E: Some things should not be revealed on a podcast.

R: Okay, you know what, then? I'm going to go against my own initial thought. I'm going to say that married men do more housework than live-in boyfriends.

S: Okay, so you're with Evan that that one is the fake.

E: There we go.

R: Yeah.

S: Bob?

B: I'm not buying that women on average are significantly more satisfied with their jobs than men. I think that is fiction.

S: Okay, so we got Bob and Jay think that "women are more satisfied with their jobs than men" is fiction, and Evan and Rebecca think that live-in boyfriends do more housework than—

R: No, wait, I want to change my—

B: What?

R: I change my mind again. Can I change? You haven't said yet. Can I change?

S: No, you took your finger off the piece.

(laughter)

E: I love chess.

S: Rebecca and Evan say that the "survey shows that married men do less housework than live-in boyfriends" is fiction. Everyone agrees, therefore, that a new study shows that men will chose romance over career success more often than women. You all think that one is true.

E: I hope that's fiction.

S: And that one is science. That one is true.

E: Yey!

S: You all got that one correct. This was...

R: Well, that's the one I was going to change it to so I guess it's just as well.

S: Okay, good. So this is a new study[6] that's coming out in a future issue—the upcoming issue of Gender Issues, and it concludes, after doing a survey, that men may be more willing than women to sacrifice achievement goals for a romantic relationship. However this was a study of—and this may have something to do with the results—this was a study of undergraduate students, 80 men and 157 women aged 16-25. So the conclusions really can only apply to that age group. But in that population, the men did—overall both men and women prioritized romance—romantic relationships very high. They also ranked achievement very high, but men more than women prioritized romantic relationships above career success. The article was interpreted as surprising, as if that went against commonly held beliefs or impressions. What's interesting is my wife is a college counselor and she says that men come—the boy students, the male students come in to see her totally devastated when their girlfriend breaks up with them. The girls weather that much better than the men.

J: Of course.

S: It actually accords to her subjective experience.

J: Because women are heart-breakers; I mean, we know that. Look at Rebecca.

S/E: Yeah, right, yeah.

S: Jay and Bob: you both think that a survey reveals that women on average are significantly more satisfied with their jobs than men; you think that one is fiction.

B: Correctly, I might add.

S: And that one is in fact fiction.

R: Ah.

S: So you both got that one correct.

J: Yey Bob!

S: This was from an article "Job Satisfaction in America: Trends in Socio-Demographic Correlates."[7] The study showed a number of things in terms of different ages, socio-economic status, races, and—however the lots of interesting differences I'll mention a couple in a second, but there was no significant difference between men and women. Women were slightly—had a slight lead on men in terms of indicating that they were very satisfied; 52% for women, 49% for men. But they also had a higher rate of being very dissatisfied; 5% to 4%, so they basically concluded that's a wash, so it's basically no significant difference between the two. One thing that's not surprising is that the more skilled jobs, more academic jobs, more jobs that require post-graduate level degrees, that were creative, that involve teaching; those jobs had the highest satisfaction. The lowest satisfaction were among those jobs that were basically mindless manual labor. Not a big surprise. This means that a survey shows that married men do less housework than live-in boyfriends is in fact science, that is true.

R: I should have gone with my first feeling.

S: Yeah.

E: Yeah, we should have, yeah.

S: Yeah, you should have.

R: Never second-guess.

E: Except when you have to.

R: Yeah.

E: That goes without saying.

S: This was a study[8] done by sociologist Shannon Davis at the George Mason University—studied more than 17,000 people in 28 countries. So that's a pretty extensive survey. Found that married men report doing less housework than men who are live-in boyfriends. And the conclusion, just to cut to the conclusion that they drew from this data is that they say "our research suggests that couples across many countries are influenced by similar factors when deciding how to divide the housework. It's the way the society has defined what being married means, the institution itself that affects behavior." And they basically said that "marriage as an institution seems to have a traditionalizing effect on couples, even couples who see men and women as equal."

J: Mawwiage

S: That's very interesting.

Skeptical Puzzle (1:07:03)[edit]

S: Well Evan, we're actually now—we have a puzzle from three weeks ago that we don't know the answer to.

E: Yeah, episode 107; we have to pick it up from there. So here is the puzzle from that week:

I sure hate this delusional person

Though hate may be a word too strong
As I learn more, my opinion does worsen
Perhaps I won't re-write this song
Micro-set scams were just some of his wares
He claims he is spiritual at heart
A dozen or so of these blessings are shared
Jesus could only hope to master their art
From his website I read, as they humbly plead
That they can lay hands and cure you of ills
Just join them and pray, for you will see one day
You've found their holy mountains and hills
For it was their king that taught them these things
They are simply swine to this pearl thrower
A doctor, a reverend, and a knight, so he sings

But it was yoga that made him a knower.

E: Name the person.

S: And the answer is?

E: Dr. George King, our dear friend from the Aetherius Society, an organization founded by Dr. George King in London in 1955 as the result of what King claimed were contacts with advanced extra-terrestrial intelligences. Its guiding principle is service to humanity, though the manipulation of subtle energies through prayer, healing and other technology-based means. Its teachings combine the spiritual teachings of yoga with other received through yoga mediumship of Dr. King in the channeling of advanced extra-terrestrial beings. It has been characterized by some observers as a type of UFO religion.

S: Sounds like a hodgepodge of new age wackiness.

E: It is wacky, boy, I mean, you go to that website for the Aetherius Society and it is, excuse the phrase, kook central basically.

J: Wooo woooooo.

E: They've got quite a few stories on there. And congratulations to Cethis, C-e-t-h-i-s, for being the first to post the correct answer.

S: Wow, he got that; I'm impressed.

E: He did, yes. He did. He figured out the couple anagrams in there and put two and two together.

S: And came up with five.

E: And made it happen.

S: Evan, do you have a puzzle for this week?

E: I do. (clears throat) I have another poem.

S: Oh boy.

E: In which, so—

S: Is it a limerick? You owe us a limerick; don't forget that.

E: So bear with me. I know I owe you a limerick—

R: Yeah, we're looking for a limerick.

E: I wrote this—I wrote this one actually—maybe even prior to the last puzzle; I'm just getting around to using it now, so bear with me.

S: Okay.

E: Limerick in the future. So here we go, this week's puzzle:

Being set on the idea

Of getting to this place
He concocted a theory that would be a
Controversy in science's face

He says our whole conception
Of pre-history is wrong
He insists his arguments are not a deception
Rather a pursuit that is life-long

Three points in a row with one offset
Is apparently the key
To unlocking a secret that is a threat
To how we understand our history

He believes the past is misunderstood
That history has been systematically slaughtered
But if we tried to go see his revisionist history

All our heads would be under water.

E: So. Whom am I rhyming about this week, and it's not Dr. George King, so you can eliminate that from your list. So good luck everyone.

R: That only leaves six billion people.

S: All right. thank you, Evan.

R: Thanks.

Skeptical Quote of the Week (1:10:50)[edit]

S: I'm going to do the skeptical quote this week, but Jay has volunteered to take it up starting next week. So Jay, you've got some big shoes to fill. Here's the quote for this week to close out our Perry Memorial Show.

Thinking critically is a chore. It does not come naturally or easily. And if the fruits of such efforts are not carefully displayed to young minds, then they will not harvest them. Every schoolchild must be implanted with the wonder of the atom, not the thrall of magic.

That is a quote from Perry DeAngelis, 1963-2007, a skeptical philosopher and activist and a good friend of some considerable note.

E: Hear hear.

B: Excellent.

R: Good one.

S: Perry, we will all miss you. Well, goodnight everyone.

All: Goodnight.

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[edit]

  1. Transcriber's note: Now a German holiday spam site.
  2. Jerryandrus.org
  3. Neurologica Blog: HIV Denial on the Internet
  4. Transcriber's Note: Original story gone, can only find secondary sources.
  5. Quoted at Science Blogs: The Fall of Ben Stein (original blog now spam site)
  6. SpringerLink: College Students’ Life Priorities: The Influence of Gender and Gender-linked Personality Traits
  7. University of Chicago: Job Satisfaction in America (pdf)
  8. Sage Journals: Effects of Union Type on Division of Household Labor
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