SGU Episode 251

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SGU Episode 251
May 5th 2010
Time-machine.jpg
SGU 250 SGU 252
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
R: Rebecca Watson
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein


Quote of the Week
For a scientist must indeed be freely imaginative and yet skeptical, creative and yet a critic. There is a sense in which he must be free, but another in which his thought must be very precisely regimented; there is poetry in science, but also a lot of bookkeeping.
Sir Peter B. Medawar
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Show Notes
Forum Topic


Introduction[edit]

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

News Items ()[edit]

5 Years of SGU ()[edit]

  • SGU celebrates 5th year anniversary

Zettabytes ()[edit]

Prayer and Critical Thinking ()[edit]

Oil Spill Conspiracy ()[edit]

Life on Mars - Not ()[edit]

How to Build a Time Machine ()[edit]

Man Claims No Food or Water for 70 years ()[edit]

Who's That Noisy ()[edit]

  • Answer to Last Week: Ray Comfort

Your Questions and E-mails ()[edit]

Question #1 - Corrections ()[edit]

Iran is Persion, not Arabic

Question #2 - Croatian Girl Follow Up ()[edit]

Hi, I'm probably only and therefore biggest fan of Skeptics guide here in Croatia so when hearing you mentioning a case of 12 year old girl waking up from coma and speaking fluent German, naturally I wanted to clarify some things (because I actually find this case interesting). Not for its mystical side as preferred in the media but as a medical case. This news broke out in newspapers 24sata which can be compared to English newspaper The Sun - obviously not quality journalism. But surprisingly they actually interviewed doctors from Split hospital that were assigned to the case. It's actually a 13 years old girl which was hospitalized for blood poisoning. Soon after she was hospitalized she went into coma (my guess is she went into a septic shock). Now it's not clear how long was she in the coma but she woke up about 2 weeks ago speaking only German. It is true she learned German in primary school for 2 or 3 years. Croatian is Slavic language but it shares probably around 10% of words with German. Mostly because Croatia was part of the Habsburg monarchy (1526–1804) and Austro-Hungarian monarchy afterwards. Now the interesting part is that after she woke up from the coma she could speak German a lot more fluently than before and not a word in Croatian. My guess is that Sepsis caused a brain damage in left temporal lobe. Probably mostly in Broca's Area, thus disabling her in speaking Croatian but not damaging her knowledge of German language. At that point her brain probably switched to best alternative and her passive knowledge of German sprang to life. Without possibility to fall back to Croatian vocabulary there is no dilemma in which words to choose and how to use them so her German must have sounded a lot better to doctors and her parents. In my opinion the most unsettling thing about this story is not mystical nonsense around it but a quote from a neuropsychiatrist that was connected to this case. He said “This case is medically unexplainable” - only a day after the whole incident. Seems to me that people like him should not be even remotely connected to science. If he is capable of abandoning any rational explanation only a day after girl woke up. I could understand if he spent 50 years researching on that particular case and/or related cases and then states he can’t explain it. But his reckless statement made this story a mockery of journalism and his career instead of interesting medical case what it probably is. What do you think about the whole case and possible explanations? Could Human brain adapt so quickly to make my explanation possible? Best regards, Ivan Osman PS: sorry for my awful English.

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Item # 1: New research shows that those caring for a spouse with dementia are six times more likely to develop dementia themselves. Item # 2: German scientists have developed a 'nano'coating 0.1 micrometers thick that can render ordinary glass virtually bullet proof against small arms. Item # 3: Scientists have produced mammoth hemoglobin from recovered DNA and find that it has unique cold-tolerant properties.

Quote of the Week ()[edit]

For a scientist must indeed be freely imaginative and yet skeptical, creative and yet a critic. There is a sense in which he must be free, but another in which his thought must be very precisely regimented; there is poetry in science, but also a lot of bookkeeping. — Sir Peter B. Medawar

S: The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is produced by the New England Skeptical Society in association with the James Randi Educational Foundation and skepchick.org. For more information on this and other episodes, please visit our website at www.theskepticsguide.org. For questions, suggestions and other feedback, please use the 'contact us' form on the website, or send an email to 'info @ theSkepticsGuide.org'. If you enjoyed this episode, then please help us to 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.

References[edit]


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