SGU Episode 176

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SGU Episode 176
December 3rd 2008
(brief caption for the episode icon)

SGU 175                      SGU 177

Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella

B: Bob Novella

R: Rebecca Watson

J: Jay Novella

E: Evan Bernstein

Quote of the Week

'Instead of calling it worthless Chinese energy piece of crap, I'm gonna keep it simple and call it chi. Live with it.'

Mark Crislip

Download Podcast
Show Notes
Forum Discussion


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

News Items ()[edit]

Early Earth ()[edit]

Missing Turtle Link ()[edit]

Search for the Ivory-Billed ()[edit]

Power from Sound ()[edit]

Questions and E-mails ()[edit]

Question #1 DNA From Hair ()[edit]

Steven mentioned that, for the Mammoth DNA sequencing, scientist must have found in-tact follicles, because 'that's where the DNA is.' A few hours earlier, I had been listening to the 'NPR: On Science' podcast, where someone involved the the research was interviewed. He said something like 'Unlike what shows like CSI claim, you don't need the follicles to get DNA. We used the shafts of the hair.' (paraphrased, but that was the gist, including the mention of CSI in particular).

Erik Harris (from the message board)

Question #2 Magic Water ()[edit]

Hey guys,

My partner works at Whole Foods. She buys into a lot of the dubious stuff they sell there, but the other day she ran into something that was too much even for her. Thought you might find this interesting:

It's water. They write positive messages on the bottle, which gets infused into the water (through quantum mechanics), and results in your body being filled with the positive energy. That's SCIENCE!

Drew Spencer
Tucson, AZ

Question #3 Starting a Skeptical Society ()[edit]

I suddenly find myself leading the creation of a skeptical society at my university but I've never been in one before nor do I know anyone who ever has. What does a skeptical society do at their meetings?

Justin Spicer

Question #4 SGU’s Carbon Footprint ()[edit]

I am a huge fan of the show and all the places it has led me such as Skepchick and Bad Astronomy. Thanks for providing such high-quality information and entertainment.

I have heard discussed frequently on your show how the preponderance of science leads us to believe that global warming is real, is caused by humans, and will cause great hardship to most lifeforms on this planet including humans. Yet also on your show I hear mention of trips with some excitement to various places in the world including now Australia. As you also know airliners are a tremendous source of green house gasses which most likely includes the water vapor they emit when at altitude.

So what is the personal responsibility of people who recognize this threat to our ecosystem? Aren't we who recognize the dangers of global warming ethically obligated to curtail our own carbon footprints? I would think that highly optional energy uses such as intercontinental pleasure travel would be an excellent place to start.

David Wiley

Name That Logical Fallacy ()[edit]

  • Name That Logical Fallacy

Intentionality is the “aboutness” or meaning of a mental state, the ability of a mental state to refer to something outside of itself. Ink on paper has no meaning unless it is conferred by a mind, which wrote it or read it. Matter may have intentionality only secondarily (”derived intentionality”). The problem of intentionality is believed by many philosophers of the mind to be the most serious challenge to materialism. “Meaning” is imparted to matter by a mind; matter isn’t the source of meaning. Therefore matter (brain tissue) can’t be the entire cause of the mind.

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Item #1: DNA analysis of gut bacteria reveals that obese individuals are more likely to possess bacteria that allow for more efficient extraction of calories from food. Item #2: Researchers find that an acidic diet leads to bone loss and osteoporosis, while an alkali diet has the opposite effect. Item #3: Scientists have found that the giant pea pod plant, despite being rooted in the ground, is able to move slowly over time, eventually covering several yards.

Quote of the Week ()[edit]

'Instead of calling it worthless Chinese energy piece of crap, I'm gonna keep it simple and call it chi. Live with it.' - Mark Crislip

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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