SGU Episode 118

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SGU Episode 118
October 24th 2007
SGU 117 SGU 119
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
R: Rebecca Watson
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein

Quote of the Week
“The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.”
Albert Einstein
Download Podcast
Show Notes
Forum Topic


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

News Items ()[edit]

National Acupuncture Propaganda Day ()[edit]


Vaccines and Autism Article in SI ()[edit]


Ben Stein on Bill O'Reilly ()[edit]


Watson Followup ()[edit]


The Dangers of Pseudoscience ()[edit]


Questions and E-mails ()[edit]

Bee Honey ()[edit]

Hi there,

On this week's show, the meme got started that bees make honey out of pollen; it was repeated by several of you.

Bees do NOT make honey out of pollen. They make it out of nectar. Pollen is largely protein. Nectar is basically sugar water which is converted into honey by evaporation and the action of bee enzymes. Pollen is used as a proteinaceous food.

Cheers, Bill Jefferys
Moretown, VT

Flu Vaccine Followup ()[edit]

Hi Everyone,

First, let me say I absolutely love your show. I do have two questions about recent episodes though:

1) Two weeks ago, in your discussion about the physicists who predicted that Time will end, you characterized their argument roughly as: If Time would end, the world would look like such and such. The world does look like such and such, therefore, Time will end. But this is clearly invalid! If A implies B, there is no reason to believe that B implies A. I don't know that this even counts a a fallacy, although plenty of people make it (even Penn on an episode of BS).

2) Last episode you discussed some common myths about vaccination. I'm not sure if the following is common, but it was how I justified not getting vaccinated. (My Mom is in the anti vaccination crowd, and I don't much like needles, although I am coming around.) The idea is this: By vaccinating the general population, we loose the ability to fight off diseases on our own (without the vaccine). As the flu mutates and becomes more and more deadly, we are in greater danger of dying if we do catch the flu, simply because our bodies haven't had the chance to fight off weaker incarnations of the disease. What I'm thinking here is similar to the fear that if smallpox were released today, everyone would die because nobody has a natural resistance to it.

Closely related is the reasoning that creating these medicines and vaccines causes the bugs to mutate into worse strains (ala the over use of antibiotics has caused bacteria to become resistant). Is there any reason to believe either of these? Or should I just get over my fear of needles?

Oscar. Levin
Connecticut, USA

Interview with Joe Nickell ()[edit]


    Joe returns to the SGU to discuss his two new books; The Relics of the Christ, and Adventures in Paranormal Investigation

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Question #1: The Chinese National Space Administration today launched a rocket that will carry a satellite into low lunar orbit and is a prelude their planned lunar landings. Question #2: Spectroscopic analysis has revealed a surprisingly high concentration of gold in the outermost 'A' ring of Saturn's rings. Question #3: Physicists have created a super-heavy isotope of aluminum previously thought to be impossible.

Skeptical Puzzle ()[edit]

This Week's Puzzle:

Perhaps its performed by folks in an arena
Or perhaps by a person saying hello
Perhaps its a style of filaments on Christina
Or practiced by those who disturb the status quo
It claims it will cure us of our Alopecia
Along with a hundred other things, but I doubt that its so

What is it?

Last Week's puzzle:

If I take 11 people, 4 bodies, a fiend, and a disc, along with 4 qualities and I put them in between a vehicle and a building, what do I have?

Answer: Tarot Cards Major Arcana
Winner: Jedi Kangeroo

Quote of the Week ()[edit]

“The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.” - Albert Einstein

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


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