SGU Episode 292

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SGU Episode 292
February 16th 2011
(brief caption for the episode icon)

SGU 291                      SGU 293

Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella

B: Bob Novella

R: Rebecca Watson

J: Jay Novella

E: Evan Bernstein

Quote of the Week

'Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone.'

Ayn Rand

Download Podcast
Show Notes
Forum Discussion


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

This Day in Skepticism ()[edit]

  • February 19: Narconon Day: This holiday celebrates the 1966 creation of Narconon, which seeks to cure drug addiction by administering Scientology's Purification Rundown and various 'training routines'.

News Items ()[edit]

Jovians in the Outer Solar System ()[edit]

Haunted Theme Park Ride ()[edit]

Heidi the Cross-eyed Psychic Opossum ()[edit]

Who's That Noisy ()[edit]

  • Answer to last week: a goat

Questions and E-mails ()[edit]

Question #1 - Product Reviews ()[edit]

Hello skeptics. I have been buying appliances for my new apartment and reading a lot of reviews online. I've been driving myself crazy worrying about negative product reviews and suddenly it dawned on me: the reviews are self selected, not a true reflection of the product. Product reviews are pretty low on the list of things we 'need to get the word out' about but I thought it was pretty interesting that critical thinking really help out. This is just one more reason kids should be taught these skills. I have been a long time listener and wanted to thank you all for the great information you share every week. Alex Ruhl Largo Florida

Name That Logical Fallacy ()[edit]

  • Name That Logical Fallacy

Dear Dr. Novella, I found your blog when tying in various questions in a search engine. I haven't read very much, but what I gathered is that you don't believe in 'alternative' medicine (ex: reiki, using herbs, etc...) It's not cool of anyone to try to convince someone of any belief, but I just want to know why? In my opinion, there is so much proof on why various healing methods that are 'unfounded' work. Will they work for everyone? No. But you won't know until you try. But you the biggest reason why TCM and many other ways of healing work? It's because of power of belief and intention. We (humans) don't realize we are capable of so much. We don't realize that we really do have powers, and magic is real. I personally am not a big fan of conventional medicine. But it does have its place. Auras, energy fields, chakras are real. And no, not because, 'well, she said so, therefore it must be true.' I read your post on organic farming. I could go on. And if you interested, let me know. But I will say this: not that there is anything wrong with science proving something true, but why do we need science to validate something? Do we really need science to prove that eating seasonal/local/organic when you can makes sense? Do we really need science to prove that what you does have an effect on you? You mean this isn't common sense, intuitive? Reason and logic has its place. But so does intuition. Intuition will save your life. Heathre Heathre, Thanks for writing. You may also want to look at my other blog, science-based medicine - which has many articles that cover your questions. ( You make many claims that are unsubstantiated. But let me address one point - does science have to validate a claim that makes sense? The answer is clearly yes. History is strewn with ideas that were intuitive and made sense at the time, but were also hopelessly wrong. Intuition will lead you astray. There is nothing magical about science - it is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate the results. So - which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough, using careful observation, being systematic, or using consistent logic? What I find is that the promoters of so-called alternative medicine cherry pick data, use bad logic, and rely on weak and unreliable evidence. They do this because they wish to promote a world view and ideology, and to promote methods that have not passed the test of careful observation. I disagree with that approach. There are many points that can be made to support my position, but I suggest you spend some time reading articles on SBM if you are interested. Regards, Steve Novella Dear Dr. Novella, Thank you for writing me back, and quickly too. Intuition is always accurate. If it's ever wrong, it wasn't intuition. I really recommend, The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker, and Divine Guidance by Doreen Virtue. I personally don't like using the term alternative when talking about 'alternative' medicine. Because in and of itself, it's not alternative. It's a valid option along side other valid options. Regardless of what your view is, what side your on, whatever topic it may be, if someone is using false evidence, lies etc... they just make them self and their cause look bad. Ex: the extremely hardcore anti-choicers. I'm pro-choice, but if I used lies and BS, then I just look dumb. I know people, who have healed, or may not be 100% cured, but have had some disease, and used many ways from herbs, crystals, food, this, that, etc... and no longer have what they had. We are ultimately are own healer. If you get sick, you can get well. You are responsible for you own life. I will check out your SBM. 'So - which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough, using careful observation, being systematic, or using consistent logic?' What I disagree with, is that science has to validate everything. That if science doesn't prove its true, it's unfounded until proven. Because life has to be 100% factual, as opposed to just common sense. I'm not hardcore anti-science, and there's nothing wrong with it proving something true. But it makes perfect sense, why a local organic (truly organic, not something with just a label) seasonal peach would taste and be more nutritionally dense than one not like that. Plus, organic is real, imperfect. Conventional is uniform. Humans are not uniform. But here's the thing. Every single person, myself included, projects. What you say about 'alternative' medicine, I can say the same about conventional. Conventional medicine, lies all the time. 'pill for every ill'. People go on 60 medications, and they still suffer. Pharmaceutical companies have no problem taking anyone's money. I do believe there are pills and medicines out there made with good intentions. But most, are not. They want every person, healthy and sick, to be poppin. Conventional medicene, treats the symptom, not the underlying cause. Conventional medicine, doesn't believe in using the mind. Pills, have horrible side effects, that make people worse than before.

Interview with Kevin Folta ()[edit]

  • Kevin M. Folta Ph.D., Associate Professor Horticultural Sciences Department and the Graduate Program in Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology University of Florida

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Item #1: Biologists have discovered the existence of a new animal phylum, bringing the total to 36. Item #2: A recent review of research in sub-Saharan women indicates that intravaginal lavage with soap is associated with a significant reduction in risk of HIV contraction. Item #3: According to new research, the number of adult Americans who demonstrate a basic level of scientific literacy has increased over the last 20 years from 10% to 28%.

Skeptical Quote of the Week ()[edit]

'Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone.' Ayn Rand

Voice-over: The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is produced by SGU Productions, dedicated to promoting science and critical thinking. For more information on this and other episodes, please visit our website at You can also check out our other podcast, The SGU 5x5, as well as find links to our blogs and the SGU forums. 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 leaving us a review on iTunes, Zune, or your portal of choice. 'Theorem' is performed by Kineto, and used with permission.


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