SGU Episode 413

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SGU Episode 413
15th June 2013
SGU 412 SGU 414
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
R: Rebecca Watson
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein

Quote of the Week
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Show Notes
Forum Topic


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 June 11th 2013 and this is your host, Steven novella joining me this week are Rebecca Watson.

R: hello everyone.

S: Jay Novella.

J: Hey Guys.

S: And Evan Bernstein.

E: Uh let's see, we are 1234 we are missing 1

S: We are short 1 rogue and 1 Novella this week. Yep, Bob is doing somethin' I dunno he's not available tonight.


E: The mystery.

R: OK I guess that'll have to do then.

J: We have a Novella down!

R: It's like being without a limb. I mean a less important limb.

J: yeah, but still.

R: No. I'm kidding. I'm kidding, Bob. Just kidding, Bob doesn't listen to the show.

S: That's true, you could say anything you want about Bob because he doesn't listen to the show.

E: Oh. ANything we want? Oh!

J: Whenever I bust Bob's balls about it, he goes, "I lived it."

S: I listen to every show three times.

E: (laughs) yes you do, you are well versed in this.

R: Yes you do, and look at your crumbling sanity.


E: Your fragical, delicate hold on existance.

R: Fragical?

S: Three times.

J: But they're all, one time is recording it, one time is editing it.

S: And then I listen back later.

J: Just to get a sense, yeah.

R: To screw it up.

S: Yeah, for quality control, you know. Someone's got to steer the ship.

J: I listen. Wait whoa I listen.

E: Captain, captain!

This Day in Skepticism (1:26)[edit]

June 15 1667: The first human blood transfusion is administered by Dr. Jean-Baptiste Denys.

R: So hey how long ago do you think the first human blood transfusion happened?

to Brock June 15th 1667 Way Dr. Jean-Baptiste Denys to do it wasn't human to human in get what you want but he did was he bled a boy with leeches 20 times and then back up with 12 ounces of sheep blood banks yeah I did not as bad as you say cuz cuz it was only 12 ounces the boy surprised and they didn't record kind of horrific reaction organ failure blood coursing Sherita negative reality destroyed it as a foreign body but it just wasn't enough to kill him and the same thing happened with the second patient at he gave more sheep blood to a man bit later than his third patient was a baron who he gave two transfusions and then on the third transfusion the guy died I was already 86 transfusions but Jesus put on trial for is to use a turkey did the guy's wife what are you so excited Kia give up medicine and in 1670 blood transfusions were banned in France and David mean that way until Karl Landsteiner discovered the four blood groups in 1902 that point I realize why you can't give sheeps blood to a human and expect it to be fine. it to you antibodies using milk as the blood white vs red that's all Cowan goats milk in 1884 Celia business salt water fuse replaced milk with a black substitute that's good to get your volume up at it's amazing how late all this happened 1901 you before you realize that 1667 it took was at 230 years for into the vagina tear out the blood Creek yes it was 1628 by the way the British tradition William Harvey that the blood circulates initially at that didn't realize the blood does the heart pumped blood through the body beast floating in the heart that was the explosion that sort of propelled exploded like a cylinder engine Hannah dummies what is the app blood in your animals patient dying people done here Directions. Blood exploded between the heart and that was the explosion tattoo Blakes lota like a cylinder engine right now accelerated physical therapy citrus fair dummies explosions what is her thick is it is the average people putting blood and other animals platitude patient or dying people see if these things work done we wouldn't be here you know as horrific as it sounds the answer to level up more ethics today are medical practices research in of course it does probably in a lot of ways slows down progress getting ashes what is good and people took chances like this in the past a roast you know we would still be the dark ages I'll have what she's doing better at 60 don't think it doesn't Peters me because of me all these advances to research on on animals although the aminal rights activist went on a great b*** putting go to probably was not a way to figure out how to do blood transfusions Merkel at all the kinks for humans to it and then there's a lot of critical process that was made thanks to poor people who were kind of experimented on a gangster knowledge of consent for prisoners Hannah before humans have basic rights in a lot of that was inspired by the Nazis a lot of the modern medical ethics actually was a reaction to a kind of stuff happening in the bed everything else is just a test affect they didn't exist anymore was a great thing for the world.

News Items[edit]

Vaccine Refusal (6:26)[edit]

S: So Jay, you're going to tell us about parents refusing to vaccinate their kids speaking about medical ethics.

J: Yeah Jun 6th this year 2013 The Oregon Senate voted on Senate bill 132 that will require all parents to receive information about vaccines either from a doctor order online video before they can opt out. Before the bill parents refuse getting your check a child immunity mouth Siri go imitated activated I get immunization before the bill parents could refuse getting your child in eyes on religious crabs by signing a form which was really easy or Bayside Medical grants for immunization would be considered dangerous are necessary and I have never heard of that for another kid you to talk on that if you know anything about Steve Winwood when would it be dangerous to get vaccinated if you're in a compromised free samples blood cancer can you going to be able to mount a of a response medical reasons why you wouldn't it be nice if we don't like to meet people for activities sick fighting of infection you want to give me one more chance okay so there's Jersey Jimmy circumstances were someone shouldn't get a vaccine truck show at Rikers to bait a bill passed 16 to 13 fit in the bills now heading offer for further approval of past 10 years exclamation exemptions of has grown to 6.4 percent of the Oregon kindergarteners and this is the highest rate in United States real quick the basic principle of vaccines is to raise a herd immunity of diseases high enough where the disease can take a foothold in a population so as an example even if 100% of people got vaccinated a small percentage of those people are immune to one or more of the vaccines meaning that didn't build any kind of resistance to

S: They're non responses probably not misleading to take me to the vaccine booster non responders

J: Right a resume build up immunity to whatever disease vaccine is trying to help to under these ideals circumstances 100 percent of people get vaccinated 1989 people have almost 20 chance of passing the disease in this is because there so few people that the chances of passing along your cat low but now its growing tired of people walking out of vaccinations herd immunity is below the waterline diseases are in up swing like whooping cough, measles and chickenpox in particular what is the address doing my research topic acre to meters much bigger question that arises here and it that is the Federal Reserve local government be able to require certain types of health care or sure you take ativan for the mat take a date require anything to say to require a lot of things did you use our laws that protect citizens from other citizens and this is a perfect example of that Senator Doug Whitsit of Promise Falls said he personally believe vaccinations is the right thing to do but who are we to tell parents of children that they must vaccinate. Where do we get that right alright so much is the job of government to make decisions that simultaneously respect the safety in rights of the individual while maintaining to see if you write the message I'm sorry to point out to you senator which it its hard being in a position of power because you're there to make difficult decisions like these only logical thing to do is choose to take the most beneficial rock for for the most people visit

S: the argument falls flat on his face feet demonstrably the government demonstrably has the right to take kids away from parents if those parents are guilty of abuse or neglect not even active abuse. just neglect so is that right of the government to intervene on the benefit of a child if their parents are not filling their minimal duties as parent is well established in law and I think generally accepted nobody would reasonably argue that parents have the right to abuse and neglect their children The only only real question is not does the government have the right but is refusal to vaccinate children a form of the collector medical neglect to end it and is a justified remedy got that situation mandatory vaccinations in the in the US where is mandatory vaccinations but only to enter public school which is a pretty minimal requirement agony UK there is no such a mandatory vaccinations in the US in a year ep want to teach your kids to public school you either have to be to get vaccinated were you need to get an exemption rules effects does exemptions, how easy or difficult is it to get an exemption from being vaccinated shoes fishing USB religious freedoms an individual freedoms definitely highly valued question that exemptions to reduce herd immunity to reduce the compliance with vaccines, a successful vaccination program does work better if you don't like any exceptions in states that do allow religious exemptions should be as difficult as possible and you should just be check this box, you don't have to justify anyway why you don't want to vaccinate your kid then that's if it's that easy just checking a box of having to justified that's not mandatory right mandatory in name only here there any other threshold you have to receive some sort of instruction about the safety and efficacy of vaccines to make sure that you're making an informed decision on behalf of your children a pretty minimalistic requirement also. In other states with that being implemented Jay fan to be to reduce vaccine refusal rate by 25 percent so it's not completely efficacious but it does reduced vaccine refusal rates, so that's good because you know how to get to store dead magical herd immunity

J: this is like paying taxes. It sucks for some people probably for most of us something that we know no enjoys going to get a vaccination for the moment that happens whenever but its for the benefit of everyone we're part of a society

S: It's also for the benefit of you, it's not like taxes in that the individual get vaccinated benefits the risk vs benefit is in the favour of the individual its not a sacrifice you're making for society or for the community for the for the greater good it's actually beneficial to you to get back seat protector so if you want to sit in a classroom a 20 other kids summer moon may not medically be able to get vaccinated they have a right to be in a classroom too, they have a right not to die from vaccine preventable communicable diseases and you can take away the right because you refuse to get vaccinated if you really feel that strongly better than find some other way to get your education you you don't have a right to the public restroom. I think that I'm just like a people if you want to drive to get drivers license you want to go to public school you gotta get vaccinated it that's it reasonable to have such requirements for receiving some kind of Public Service or good

E: better if you are able to convince people to come to this conclusion on the Rhone rather than it seem like its being forced upon them

J: the education route is absolutely a hundred percent the best way to go to a man to fish type deal but in these circumstances right now Steve we have we have people getting sick and we are people dying

S: yeah I think we have for you in the u.s. we have very high vaccination complience, we have pockets, there are community that are below immunity levels because of anti vaccine propaganda

R: speaking of, I think I mentioned this on a previous episode the Australian should check to check out the documentary Jabbed that showed up on your TV um weeks ago its it's the perfect way to convince people who are on the fence about vaccines that vaccines are necessary.

Seeing Ultraviolet (14:56)[edit]

Alright thanks Jay, let's move on. Let me tell you a story about it and engineer who to Charlie was the name we here

Who had eye surgery to remove uh oh and bad lands a cataract and had a fake Lynch put in gas and since the surgery zoom in and making noises bionic man no but he claim to the future he could see in the ultraviolet spectrum oh wow oh how to interpret that so those are all good questions also see into the future can I take to the future Russian class question shut them actually there are no dumb questions only dumb people stores where is Lake ok to leave it out of the key under is this really real or not gonna believe it like yeah I know the truth it's interesting and then a lot of biological questions. Why would that be? can our photoreceptors see in the ultraviolet? Why would that be a latent ability? Why would our brain be able to interpret does sick so I look into a pretty deeply and after doing research is my conclusion is this is real this guy is legitimate. this is the moment so what color is its will the person you're right you're in that we are brains are not wired to see new colours that we've never seen before its just that ultra violet light will stimulate the color receptors in the retina the cones

in little interpreting someway

exactly so some people reports just seeing an extension of the violet spectrum still looks violet to them and other people reporting make a whitish blue because whatever just depends on how their receptors of being stimulated by the UV light that you might wonder why this happened to Pine removing is cataract and putting in a fake plants because the lens filters out ultraviolet light

ash course

so when you remove it the filter is gone and some brands of the Ficklin just don't filter out do you feel like early start as much the last time you be like true and then suddenly you can see that let you read your receptors will respond enough to that UV light that affect your vision so he being an engineer alica keys is his name and he didn't like a prism and to create a light spectrum like a rainbow any shows like how far to the ultraviolet end of the spectrum she could see it farther than you can see high heels most people see this line swear I see to I can see all the way over to hear you're still had your friend is who has a name on a transmitter create a single frequency of light show in different frequencies to see if you can perceive them um any claims he can and things that are like you and I would see is black some things that you and I was like he sees is having a violet clover Sheen to them only case I found reported there another cases of people who on having their lens removed suddenly see ultraviolet light including, this is a historical case, Claude Monet

Oh cool

He had cataracts when he got older and he complaint to lose friends set colors look muddy to him and that was very impressed tremendous a parent for an artist and so it actually he was the age of 82 he allowed one of the lenses to be removed and that restored the full color vision to that eye and also he started to see colors that he never saw before that was reflected in his paintings on there is a painting of water lilies which normally are just white that he painted with a blueish hue that his house somebody might see it if they have a little bit of UV sensitivity sounds like a pretty convincing historical case and there have been a number of papers published on it you looking at the fact that yes to lens filter regulating yes color cones can respond to UV light so it all is plausible true when I first read it tonight and on a Vista sexually is true that there are some people live we be talking like this before the show who have tetrachromacy for different kinds of cones and you have much more vivid a pallet of colors that they could see

J: oh wow that is awesome

that's cool closer to birds

yeah birds have true tetrachromacy, the see into the unltraviolget spectram so in fact there are they were bird species that we thought I make a male and a female look identical because of humans but if you add the ultraviolet spectrum the males have a sprite ultraviolet tripe something um it safe to take them they have no actually no trouble telling the sexes apart Western dental Brea violet Street youtube I want to be able to see that you guys get surgery to see any ot about spectrum

(need to redo the following, it's terrible)

if the surgery were really reliable are going to take out your lenses and put in a better lenses that wonderful value to freakin focus again so I don't worry glasses and to which ventricle drive to you lie to you could see me VI was considered a me not to know now my eyes are good so I'm going to leave the way they are in a couple more years of you want it yeah I know if you don't really like my glasses and then if I became a cyborg cyberguys posers in Oakland A's out of my glasses oh I like about being hot to you what does hipster glasses yeah George being a bandana over here I always so I get to you right now I'm being over yeah where does Joe Rizza Ford glasses and painters pants I know you got me

Ape Feet (21:46)[edit]

S: Alright evan, tell us about people with ape feet.

E: I will do just that.

R: you mean all people?

I now how is going to type something else in here for a moment Valle heard of Bigfoot real name of this story is exactly like a Bigfoot news story because involves a primate and prom in to feet but there is no distinction difference this one's face inside it was real okay strip game today imagine you're a day trip to sign it turns into experience were you the visitor becomes part of a scientific experiment and it was for 390 300 almost 400 people visit earth to the Boston Museum of Science participated in a scientific study involving their feet professor Jeremy DeSilva from Boston University ask the museum visitors to walk barefoot and he observed how they walkedk professor DeSilva would have the visitors walk over a special mechanize carpet that was able to analyse a component of their feet in a pint studying the data turns out that one in 13 or 8 percent of the participants have flexible ape-like feet are human ancestors would use there bare feet to wrap around the trunk trees allowed for a better grip and wild mature tose vaults dirty or more rigid feet for stability a fraction of a still have what's called midtarsal break witch bends the foot in the very model the results showed differences in foot bone structure similar to those seen in fossils, a member of the human lineage for about 2 million years ago a human road called Australopithecus sediva suggest that this distant cousin of ours also had this same ability in the foot

R: cool

S: yeah they're not really like ape like like modern Apes me don't have the toe going out to the side just have this one little flexibility in the middle in middle of the foot essentially

R: See I had the opposite reaction to ape-like just like a complete so what because of course our feet are like apes, we're apes. Just saying. It's not a very descriptive adjectives

J: So Evan, can they actually do anything that we can't do as people with normal feet

S: Normal, yeah they're abnormal!

E: Us normals, the 92 percent of us who are normal well uh

S: Jay, you have to embrace foot diversity

E: they say that with people with this mid foot break have flatter feet ultimately I guess that's kind of the you what does that midtarsal break is there an end with if you were able to come to loosen up a ligament which have grown rigid sturdier along the foot you could yeah there could be some bending in the centre of the foot that were not

S: It would be interesting to study the biomechanics of this foot vs the more typical foot if there are advantages and disadvantages in different situations like barefoot running or shoed running or swimming or whatever or climbing the notion is that it gives you a little bit more flexibility if your if you're climbing something you need to feed your feet a grip on

E: to grip

J: How cool

R: Is there a way that we can figure out if which kind of feets we have?

J: Well Rebecca, let me ask you a question you're walking through your kitchen and you reach for banana do you reach with your arm or your foot?


R: I can actually do that I can pick things up with my feet a lot.

S: Yeah.

R: Though it's more with my toes.

E: That's a toe function, there's not a bend in the middle of the foot.

R: Trust me I'm very lazy and so when I drop things including bananas I don't bend over.

Yeah I mean I've done that but I'm talking like with articulation, you scratch your face with your foot, you know.

E: Or brush your teeth with a toothbrush with your foot.

R: But they do have those, I'm assuming that that pad they use is similar to the one, you know when you go to running stores and they'll fit you for your perfect sneaker and they'll have a pad that you can walk on that will measure your gait and how you land on your foot and stuff.

E: A quote from a paleo-anthropologist from the Max Plank institute of evolutionary anthropology name is Tracy Kivil said "the research of implications for how we interpret the fossil record and the evolution of these features. It's good to understand the normal variation among humans before we go and figure out what it means in the fossil record."

S: so I predict that creations will use that in order to argue that fossil hominids are not transitional they're just humans with ape-like feet.

that's right.

So this is actually evidence against evolution for the creationists

even though it's evidence for evolution but they'll make it into evidence against.

J: alright so I want robotic eye lenses and ape-like feet Superman I'm half way to a superhero at that point.

E: you are, we're building you better stronger faster.

R: I don't know, you're half evolved and half devolved.

S: Jay I would take a prehensile tail that would be cool

E: Or a third eye.

J: So long as I can sit normally and lie back yeah I don't have to sleep on my stomach

S: You've got to tuck it down there in your crack

J: that would be really really useful that I could totally see that being awesome

R: Nobody wants to hear about your crack, monkey crack.

S: What mutation would you want to have Evan, so we've got prehensile feet, the ability to see ultraviolet light, a prehensile tail...

E: You mean my third eye suggestion doesn't count because nothing has three eyes?

S: Oh yeah it's lame. It's lame.

E: Lame!?

R: I'd want to shoot laser beams out of my eyes to kill my enemies.

S: Laser beams out of your eyes?

J: We'd have to kill you, we'd have to put you down Rebecca if you had that power, that's too dangerous.

R: Or a unicorn horn.

S: Or how about full organ redundancy, a second heart, you know.

R: Why bother with that, just go with the ability to regenerate.

S: Now you're getting crazy.

R: That way you're not lugging around organs you don't need all the time.

E: Wolverine. But also what if I were to spread my arms and have these...

S: Wings?

E: Flaps of skin, yeah, and go gliding around and stuff.

J: You would need something huge like it would be bigger than a hang-glider type wing, you would be like a flying squirrel type deal Ev.

R: Yeah you would also need like thinner bones and stuff.

S: Yeah.

Elizabeth I a Man? (28:35)[edit]

S: Alright Rebecca,

R: Yes?

S: was Elizabeth the first actually a man?

R: Nope!

S: But I read it somewhere that she was a man.

R: next! "Is this proof the Virgin Queen was an imposter in drag? Shocking new theory about Elizabeth the First unearth in historic manuscripts

E: It's like you're reading that from the mail online or something.

R: Says the daily mail. In any other than any other newspaper that would be the most embarrassing article they've ever published but for the Daily Mail it was just Friday.

E: the Daily Mail to win a Pulitzer for that one.

R: so yeah it was a long article by Daily Mail standards too.

E: It was goot it was like it saved me the effort that have to go by the book yeah

R: yeah exactly so this entire article is there only because Steve Barry is a writer of like historic crime fiction, not historic but like like Dan Brown he writes, he's a Dan Brown want to be. You see his books at the airport in that rack and you consider buying them until you season who's on the cover of GQ and you get that instead. So she's reading this book and that's why this dumb piece of horse shit is in the newspaper. So what historic manuscripts have been unearthed proving that Elizabeth I was actually a man? Well none are actually mentioned in the article about the novel written this year by Steve Barry, or the story by Bram Stoker that he wrote in 1910 that was never earthed in the first place so it can't really be unearthed. He wrote a book called Famous Imposters, it's available in full online and has been for quite some tome by I think or whatever.

S: Bram Stoker of Dracula fame.

R: Yes, Bram Stoker who wrote Drakula. He wrote this book Famous Imposters, that was proportedly non-fiction, about imposters. And deep into the book he writes this one story abotu Elizabeth I based on rumour and conjecture. But he, Bram Stoker believed to believe it, so why not, let's take it as fact. And the Daily Mail article actually, if you go and you read the Daily Mail article, you don't really need to read Bram Stoker's article because they're pretty much cut-and-paste, it's the exact same thing.

E: Oh good, save me more time.

R: Yeah. So let me break down for you the sory. The story is that when Elizabeth I was a 10 year old child or so she was sent to the countryside to avoid the plague or any other illnesses but she ended up getting sick after all and her caretakers were very concerned she got very very ill and then she died.

S: They gave her a transfusion from a goat

R: THey gave her a transfusuion. Uh... no. That had not been invented yet so she died and Henry the 8th was on his way out of countryside to visit her and so her caretakers where terrified that he was going to put them to a grizzly death like not just, they wouldn't just be hanged, their guts would be pulled out and they'd be drawn and quartered, the whole deal, just a terrifying horrible death because that's what happens to people who let royalty die or something.

E: Yeah.

R: So they replace Elizabeth with a boy. They can't find any girls in the village that look anything like Elizabeth, so instead they find this boy who is a distant cousin who is also a redhead and they dress him up like Elizabeth, they present him Henry the 8th in low lighting and Henry the 8th, being the world's worst father, which I can accept, and also terminally stupid apparently, says OK great, let's head home. And so for the next five decades, a boy continues to pretend to be Elizabeth I through her reighn.

E: That's where Monty Python came up with that whole idea of that "Mother, Father" skit.

R: Yeah it sounds like a funny play or a terrible book. So here's the evidence in favour of this argument that she's actually a man. Number 1 Elizabeth never married and remained a virgin several points here. Number one, so what. Number two, she was molested by her step father Thomas Semour when she was a teenager which I think would explain any reticence to marry in the future.

S: And yiou'd think he would have figured it out if it were a boy in drag.

R: You'd think.

S: Like M-butterfly.

R: And his molestation of her was made so well known that he was put to death for it, and for later plotting to sort of marry her after his wife died. So yeah, there was that. And also, why is it more plausible that a man went for 40 years without having sex than a woman? Like that doesn't actually solve the mystery of why Elizabeth would not be interested. And in fact don't you think that there'd be a lot more going on around the castle, a lot more rumour to keep quiet if maids are getting felt up and stuff? Uh yeah. So it's... no. Shut up.

S: I think the best reason offered is that Elizabeth was just too smart to be a woman.

R: Yeah that's number three on my list. Number three, she was too smart, too strong. This isn't just a funny conspiracy theory, this is also deeply sexist.

S: Absolutely. She was described as not having the mental weakness typical of women.

R: Right.

J: Didn't they watch Shakespear in love? She's a woman.

R: Did anyone watch Shakespeare in love?

J: Yeah, three times.

E: That's alright.

R: Evidence number two. She wore wigs and a lot of makeup.

E: Didn't everybody who was royalty.

R: First of all she was a queen and she does what she wants. Second of all she apparently had smallpox at one point which contributed to her baldness like her hair was falling out, not like cueball bald but her hair was falling out and her skin was all messed up on her face so yeah she wore a ton of makeup. You would too if you were all jacked up.

E: Very small pox.

R: So yeah. The other bit of evidence was that she once told her troops, I have the heart of a man, not a woman. And I'm not afraid of anything.

E: Smoking gun.

R: Obviously she was just doing a tongue-in-cheek... no, it's a metaphor. It's a metaphor based on the exact same sexism that says that a woman can't rule a nation without the help of a man, like she can't be smart, and she can't be strong enough. There are a lot of other holes in this stupid, stupid story. For startes, no one got put to death for failing to save a sick kid in the 16th century even if the kid is royalty. Elizabeth wasn't even that special as far as roylatly goes.

S: Yeah at the time she was not letgiamised, she was not the next in line for the throne, it's only in retrospect that you would impose this story on her.

R: And also in the real world no way woudl a random ten year old boy be able to pretend to be the most famous and the most watched woman in all of Britain while he was going through puberty. She had maids that would report on her menstuation to report that she was healthy and that she was capable of concieving.

S: But Bram Stoker Rebecca, I mean he wrote Dracula.

R: That's true, and that was 100% fact. So.

S: That was based on a legend.

R: The thing is it could be a fun conspiracy theory if you like that DaVinci code sort of stuff but let's not pretend that it's real because it really is deeply sexist, the fact that one of the greatest monarchs that England ever had could not possibly have been a woman, like we have to invent this ridiculous back story to explain how she was actually a man. Come on. BS.

Special Report: Follow Up on Don McLeroy (37:58)[edit]

S: Well a few weeks ago we talked to Don McLeroy who is the former chairman of the Texas State Board of Education and he was the one who presided over the recent kjerfufle about the science textbook standards. A very interesting interview. After the interview I engaged with him in an email blog discussion to see if we could take it any further. And now that's sort of played itself out I want to report on what the bottom line of that discussion was

R: Did you convert him?

E: Did he convert you?

S: No and no. A little disappointing, I thought that, I was hoping to get him to engage a little more directly with my points just to see if I could at least back him into a corner but he just kept reverting to his original points. So his, what it came down to in terms of his position, and you know I always find these exchanges instructive, if nothing else I wrap my head around exactly the logic that they're using to defend their position. So Don McLeroy's position as to the weaknesses of evolution, why he does not feel the evidence for evolution is convincing, he's following this logic: biology is really complicated so the evidence for evolution would have to be proportional to the complexity of life, of biology and it isn't.

E: By his standards.

S: Yeah, by his standards, by his subjective estimation it isn't proportional to that complexity, therefore the evidence is weak. For example, he says oh look at this chart of the biochemical pathways in the body, there's so many of them, it's this massive chart, we've only figured out a few of them, and of all the history of life on earth, that evolutionists claim would be the case, we've only fleshed out a portion of them and we'd need thousands and thousands of times more evidence to build a convincing story. Or look at the complexity of the cell, the cell is so vastly complex and yet we don't have a lot of direct evidence for how a modern cell evolved. So there's a couple of massive porblems with his position. One is factual, one is logical. The factual problem is that there is a lot more evidence for all of the things he's talking about than he is acknowleging. I confronted him directly on that. He basically, his method for figuring out how much there is, how much evidence there is is to count the evidence offered in popular writings about evolution. And in fact in our blog exchange he did that, he said over the last three or four blog posts and all of the comment there's only 8 pieces of evidence were offered in favour of all the complexity for evolution, which of course is not fair. He also miscounted, I mean he was counting as one "piece" of evidence a link that I provided to a review article that literally had over 100 references, I deliberately linked to a rewview article because it's a reasonable sumary of the evidence and he counted that as one piece of evidence. In the comments I used an analogy that everybody seemed to liek so I'll repeat it. I said that's exactly what Gimli did in the third Lord of the Rings movie when Legolas jumps on the Olipaunt and kills all the warriros on it and takes down the huge beast all by himself and at the end of this amazing feat of millitary prowess, single handedly taking down that entire creature and all of the guardians on it, Gimli says "that still only counts as one".

R: Argumentum ad dwarfum.

S: Yeah, the Gimli...

R: The Gimli gambit.

E: Oh, very good.

S: Gimli gambit, yet. So he pulled that. I think he didn't read the reference, you know.

E: Or see the movie.

S: So there were a couple in there like that. But anyway, also I said, we had this long discussion about whether or not it's appropriate to use popular writing to estimate the quality and depth of the evidence. And I strongly argued that you can't. I mean you have to have some familiarity with the techical literature. Like look, here's a reference with 100 technical articles in it talking about just the evolution of biochemical pathways in prokaryotes. And here's another one that has 100 references in it, looking at eukaryotes. Why don't you start there and then you start counting up the evidence there. And he never gave up that point, he said that it's reasonable to use popular writings to estimate the quality of the evidence and I proved that he was wrong I think. I said I was analyzing your logic I wasn't setting out the summarize the evidence for evolution, but I said OK, but here it is, here's a quick summary of some of the lines of evidence for evolution and some references to large amounts of evidence. And his response was, I don't have time to look through all of your evidence.

E: Hey Steve, how much do you think his background as an engineer plays into this particular stance that he has in regards to this particular point.

S: I don't think it has to do with the fact that he's trained as an engineer or he's a practising dentist. It's motivated reasoning, you know. He has his conclusion, although he's trying to give, in my opinion, to give the appearance of due diligence without the substance of due diligence. So relying upon popular writings? No no, it's not adequate. He asked for evidence, I gave it to him, and he basically said, I don't have time to look through all that evidence.

E: Ran away basically.

S: But whatever, maybe you could say that he wasn't willing to confront that head-on, but I planted the seed, maybe he'll look through it at some point, who knows. And I mean it's just massive, the amount of evidence is just massive. I mean the amount of evidence is just massive. But there's is a deeper problem with his argument. Not only is it factually incorrect, he's grossly underestimating the volume of evidence for various lines of evidence for evolution, he's looking at the evidence in the wrong way. He's saying that the evidence, the amount of evidence has to be proportional to the complexity of life on earth and the alleged history of life on earth rather than saying, looking at evolutionary theory in terms of how well has it made predictions about the evidence that we have. That is a much better way of judging whether or not evolutionary theory and the different components of evolutionary theory such as common descent for example, whether or not that's likely to be true. How useful is it as a theory and how well does it make predictions bout future evidence? I and many other people have convincingly argued, remarkably well, thank you. The evolutionary theory has been stunningly, stunningly successful in predicting the future evidence. I gave, as one of my favourite examples, bird evolution. So in Darwin's time, that was a massive gap in the record, right. SO we had birds as a kind, birds as a group of life, probably their closest related other group is reptiles, so at the time you could argue about whether, what group within reptiles would be most closely related to birds. Evolution didn't demand that birds evolved from dinosaurs but if evolution and common descent were true, we absolutely would need to find connections between birds and some group of reptiles. If evolution were not true or common descent were not true, that would not be necessary and what would the odds be that we would find that? I mean it's hard to really calculate those odds but I think that people take for granted the exquisitely evolutionary pattern of the fossil record that we find. I think it's so much taken for granted that people don't realise how powerful it is as evidence for evolution, the power of the predictive value of the evolutionary theory and common descent. So in the last 150 years we found primitive birds, essentially small dinosaurs with feathers. Feathered dinosaurs, this entire adaptive radiation of feathered dinosaurs, of primitive birds, of primitive feathers, in a proper temporal sequence and a reasonable geographic sequence, so not just randomly scattered around time and geography, they're in locations and times that's an exquisitely evolutionary patter and something like that was required if evolution were true, but not if evolution were not true. The probability of finding that pattern of fossils in the record just by random chance alone is I think is minuscule, it's so small that it pretty much rules out any other alternate hypothesis.

R: Except for planted by Satan.

S: Well unless you have, so I was about to say, some contrived theory that basically says that the evidence looks as if it were evolution and you can try that in some way, but then Occam's Razor deals with those alternatives. Evolution and common descent is certainly the simplest and most elegant explanation for why the fossil record is what it is. And then you take the evidence for the evolution of birds, multiply that by a couple of thousand and that's what we're really talking about, in terms of all the evidence for everything, I mean pretty much name any major group and we have a pretty good fossil record of a temporal sequence. There are still some gaps, like bats, there is a pretty big gap between mammals and bats for example. But for many, many, many things, we have a, you know, pick it. Pigs. Dragon flies. Whatever, there is evidence for a reasonable sequence at least filling in the connections that we would expect to be there.

E: You know I think that Don's kind of clever in that he really doesn't deny that evidence, he just says that it doesn't add up in that there's not enough of it.

S: Yeah but that's a denialist strategy. You can always say "that's not enough." It's easy, it's cheap. It's not really a meaningful scientific or logical analysis.

E: It's like a form of moving the goal posts.

S: It is, absolutely. It's absolutely it is moving the goal post, but it's just denialism, it's just, "that's not enough evidence, I want more evidence." Well how much? How are you deciding how much evidence is enough? And again, it's just looking at it the wrong way, that was I think one of the key insights that I got out of the exchange. Anyone who's interested I suggest that you go to Neurologica blog, read the entire exchange, there were I think five total blog posts including responses from Don McLeroy and I think very revealing in terms of the motivated reasoning and the denialism on display.

E: When he wrote to you, in part of his last exchange with you, he said the following, "Of course our major disagreement is that I am a theist and I am an atheist, I wonder how much that colours our view of the sufficiency of the evidence for evolution." What did you feel about that, when he wrote that?

S: That is a typical false equivalency argument, that is typical of the creationists. They say, OK evolution and creation are just different ways of viewing the world, different ways of viewing the evidence, and they're as biased as we are. So it is, in a way I think, emblematic of how weak a position creationism is in today compared to 100, 150 years ago when they were actually trying to dethrone evolution or stop it from being taught at all. Now they're sort of content to say, alright creationism isn't science, creationism is just a belief system but so is evolution, trying to drag evolution down to the level of creation with these false equivalency arguments but of course they are not valid because evolution is an actual science that makes predictions and could have been falsified and has multiple independent lines of evidence in support of it and creationism isn't even a scientific theory so there's no equivalency there whatsoever.

Who's That Noisy? (49:54)[edit]

  • Answer to last week: Anne Sullivan

S: Alright Evan, it's time for Who's That Noisy?

E: I'll play for you last week's Who's That Noisy as a reminder and we'll talk a little bit about it.

We found that she could feel the vibration of spoken words.

E: That was the voice of Anne Sullivan best known for being the instructor and companion of Helen Keller. Helen Keller of course is a very famous figure: American author, political activist, lecturer. She was the first deaf/blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. And her story, if you've seen any versions either on television or Broadway play "Miracle Worker" explains the story of Anne Sullivan being able to help Helen Keller come out of a life of being incapable of speaking or understanding things and, with her own disabilities, because Anne Sullivan herself was blind, was able to show her, basically teach her what things look like, sounded like and felt like in the world. And really uncovered this really sort of brilliant person that was underneath unfortunately this broken body.

S: So who's our lucky winner this week?

E: This week's winner goes by the name of iPuppy.

S: iPuppy?

J: iPuppy.

E: iPuppy, isn't that cute? Like an Apple product or something. But in any case, iPuppy you are the winner this week, you are now in the final drawing at the end of the year we're going to draw the winners for the year and that final grand prize winner will join us for a round of Science or Fiction.

S: And what have you got for this week?

E: Alright for this week, another classic Who's That Noisy which I'm giong to play for you right now.

I won't stand here and watch you murder your patients just because you can't be bothered to read the latest science.

E: Alright you can join our forums at and leave us your response there or you can send us an email, wtn which stands for who's that noisy, and I wish you all the finest, greatest most wonderful amount of luck every bestowed on any human in the history of the planet.

J: Oh my god is there a cherry on top of that?

E: Good luck everyone.

J: And make sure the address is .org not .com we had someone email me today complaining that the email didn't go through.

S: Ah it was user error, huh? Alright thanks Ev.

Questions and Emails[edit]

Living on Sunshine (52:31)[edit]

S: One email this week, htis one comes from Neil from Canada, very imprecise but Neil from Canda writes:

Seattle woman attempts to live on sunlight water Thought you guys might find this interesting. It will be interesting if she admits failure or fakes it.

And he links to a news item detailing the shenanegans of a woman who is attempting to live entirely on sunshine.

R: Breatharian.

S: A breatharian yeah so this is following the advice of the website

R: Proof that we'll never be able to get rid of all pseudo-science and irrationality because breatharians can continue somehow to spread their "philosophy", the stupidest, most dangerous like immediately deadly thing and they continue to do it.

S: Her name is Nevanna Shine, I wonder if the Shine is a pseudonym.

J: The website tells you, go outside right before sunset and you increment the amount of time that you stare into the sun, so you've got to start doing it for 10 seconds and you add 10 seconds every day and you keep looking at it and then... you know it's just like with these ritualistic things that they ask you to do until you build up, you know I just read it like you're building up this internal battery.

S: Yeah.

J: And then eventually you won't have to eat. Every time I read stuff like this, it's like, give me the person and give me three days and we'll figure out who's hungry and who's not.

R: These are the people that Randi had to stop testing for the million dollars because somebody was going to die at some point.

S: Yeah.

R: It was such obvious nonsense, they were either going to cheat or they were going to kill themselves and he didn't want that on his conscience.

E: Didn't he catch one of them sneaking out to get Burger King and he confronted them on the way back to the hotel.

J: And the guy said he was goig to smell them.

R: The guy said he was just going to breathe in the vapours, yeah.


S: So apparently Shine has already lost 20 pounds since she started her experiment, now the difference here is that she's videotaping herself to prove that she's not cheating.

J: Yeah because it's...

E: OK, that's she's not cheating any time she's in front of a camera.

S: That's what Neil was referring to when he said it'll be interesting to see if she admits failure or fakes it. She seems sincere but that doesn't mean anything, I mean she's gullible. And reading the justification for this philosophy is again, it screams scientific illiteracy. First, the notion that the sun energy is getting in through your retina somehow to your brain. OK that's seeing first of all, but again they have this vague concept of energy, it's just energy is getting into your body somehow. Staring into the setting sun, first of all is an irrelevant effect on how much soar energy is impinging your body or light is getting into your brain, it's just silly. And also they claim that we eat food for energy so just cut out the middle man and get the energy directly from the sun ignoring the fact that we also eat food for nutrients, not just for energy, but for vitamins and minerals, so called micronutrients that are necessary for the biochemistry of our body to function so it's not just for energy even plants don't rely 100% on sunshine, they also need water and they need to fix carbon dioxide and they need to get nutrients from the soil so maybe she should eat fertilizer you know, breath carbon dioxide.

R: You telling her to eat shit and die, is basically what you're...


J: But why would we have to learn to absorb sunshine?

S: Yeah.

J: You know I don't understand why they think, why is there some kind of process for learning how to do this.

S: Well she thinks that once your body is starved enough it's just going to magically find another way to get energy. It's going to invent chlorophyll and just start producing chlorophyll I guess.

E: Yeah did you see that quote where she said, "I have the feeling that my body has reached the point where it's used up all the stored fats, uit's now looking around for what next to consume."

S: Yeah, your body. That's what it's going to consume.

R: It's just opening up all the cupboards, looking for the nutrients. I'm sure it'll find them eventaully.

S: Right but it will be interesting to see what she does when she is starving todeath. At what point is she going to say, OK I think I'm going to eat now.

R: There are people who have died from this.

S: Or is she going to try to fake it, is she going to try to hide it? Or is she going to be one... according to four people have died doing this, tried to live just on sunlight, I don't know if it's accurate but she could become another breatharian statistic.

J: You need water much more than you need food.

S: Yeah, she is drinking water, but Jay that's just to flush the toxins out of her body, you know.

E: Aaah.

J: But the idea is, after not eating for a while there's a lot of bad things that happen. I think in a number of days you would feel so disoriented, so wrong. I mean I'm restricting calories right now just to lose some weight for the summer, it's like my yearly maintenance, I always do it this time of year. And I'm cutting out like a very moderate percentage of my calories and I am utterly miserable.

R: You're just a wimp though.

E: How does your body not just take over at a certain point and override what you will is and really seek out the food and you just subconciously go and put something into your mouth.

S: Yeah the desire to eat must get pretty overwhelming.

J: And then you can't just binge after not eating for a while too. You have to reacclimate yourself to eating. It's a very scary and medically dangerous thing to do yourself.

E: Do you reckon she's hooking herself up to an IV or something off the camera?

S: It would be easier to just eat off-camera. If she's going off-camera right? It would just be easier to eat.

E: But if she's being sincere about the whole think which we think that she might really be, maybe she's doing somethign like that, not counting it as eating, calling it a fluid or something and justifying it that way.

J: How long has she lasted so far?

S: 32 days and she's lost 20 pounds.

J: So 32 days and she's claiming that she hasn't passed one calorie in, right?

S: Just water.

J: I think she's lying.

E: I guess... do your bowels shut down at some point.

J: Yeah, you're done. Evan you're digestive tract shuts down.

R: I remember reading a blog from a breatharian years ago...

E: Soooooo hungry....

R: It was pretty funny actually, it was more... so he was describing that this was his lifestyle, he doesn't need food to live he just needs sunlight. But, he said, in order to maintain good social relations with the people around him and his family, he was expected to go out and eat and have dinner with his family and stuff and they would ask questions or harnague him if he didn't just eat a little bit. So he was doing that but in his head he was living entirely off sunlight and those times that he was eating were just few and far between but I got the feeling that was actually every night of the week he was eating. You know, just because he believed in it so much he definitely believed that he was living off sunlight, he just forgot all those times he was actually eating food.

S: Yeah that's like the yogic flyers who were jumping really high and thinking that they're levitating.

J: Did they do it on matresses where there's more bounce? Hey to all you breatharians out there, do not move to Seattle because you're going to die.

S: Yeah, somebody pointed that out, Seattle is not a great place to live off the sunshine.

Science or Fiction (1:00:34)[edit]

S: Alright well let's move on to science or fiction. Each week I come up with three science news items or facts, two genuine and one fictitious and I challenge my panel of expert skeptics to tell me which one they think is the fake. We have a theme this week, because I know you guys love themes. This is about compliance, people doing what they're supposed to do.

R: OK.

S: You'll undertand when I read them. Item #1: A new study finds that only 5% of people properly wash their hands after using the bathroom. Item #2: Researchers find that 35% of designated drivers still drank alcohol, most to the point of impairing their driving. Item #3: Despite being mandatory in some hospitals, less than 50% of health care workers received a flu vaccine in 2012.

R: Ugh.

E: Oh boy.

S: Alright Evan, go first.

E: Well these are all very disturbing.

R: Ugh!

E: Each in their own way, right? I mean yeech it's even hard to read these. 5% of people properly wash their hands after using the bathroom. Properly wash their hands, I imagine by properly meaning soap and warm or hot water as opposed to cold water no soap and long enough certainly with the soap you have to sing happy birthday or something like that without paying the drop fee for doing so to the happy birthday Nazis out there.

S: Yawol!

E: Yawol! I don't know, 5% is awfully small. Awfully small. Something's not right there. 35% of designated drivers still drank alcohol most to the point of impairing their driving, wow. I believe the 35% drank the alcohol but I would have though maybe would have been maybe half a beer or something, something that doesn't get their blood alcohol level up to illegal limits. And the last one, less than 50% of healthcare workers received the flu vaccine. Wow, that's really unfortunate if that one's true. I can see there being a big part of the population non-compliant in a sense with the flu vaccine. Well, I'm going to say that I think it's the 5% of people properly washing their hands. I think maybe there was a time that it was as low as 5% but with recent, maybe in the last generation or so, more education instructing people how to wash hands, there's commercials on television now promoting kids, make sure you wash your hands. I know they do a lot at school because Rachel brings home pieces of paper with reminders for kids to wash their hands and stuff so I think that one's too low. I'll say the washing hands one is fiction.

S: OK, Rebecca.

R: OK that's funny because when you first asked the questions I was 100% definitely going to say that 5% of people washing their hands is fiction because it's disgusting but Evan actually talked me out of it because of the word properly. You mentioned the whole singing happy birthday thing, I heard the ABCs but same difference. Yeah now I can believe it. But when you first asked it my head was like only 5% of people washed their hands after using the bathroom which would be horrific and hopefully wrong. Like I feel like I would notice if only 5% of people, like when you're in a public rest room, you know you occasionally see that one person walk out of the stall and right out hte door and you're like "what the F?" but it doesn't happen often as 95% but the properly thing, yeah I can believe that only 5% actually do wash their hands for long enough and yeah I believe that. I can also believe that 35% of designated drivers still drank alcohol because people are stupid murderers. I can totally buy that because people don't realise, they think they can have a beer or two and it doesn't occur to them that that is the whole point of being the designated driver, I can believe that. Less than 50% of health care works receiving, you're saying that less than 50% of health care workers revived their flu vaccine in 2012 that is suspect to me only because I thought that it was mandatory for the most part, for most health care workers like in hospitals and stuff. I don't know about doctors' offices but yeah, I thought it was a mandatory thing and if that's the case then it should be much, much higher than 50%.

S: And Jay.

J: OK the one about 5% of people properly washing their hands after using the bathroom, I totally agree with that. I think the thing that people, I think what people are doing is not washign their hands long enough. It's really easy to not keep your hands under the water and in the suds long enough, it's just very common I see people at work that barely wet their hands with the water and not even use soap so that one is science as far as I'm concerned. Researchers find that 35% of the designated drivers are drunk or not completely sober. Yeah I could see what Rebecca's saying too, I could see the designated drivers, a portion of them are having one drink like "alright I'll have a drink early and I'll be fine by the time we leave" type of deal. But this last one about 50% of hospital workers even in a mandatory situation are not getting the flu vaccine, god is that true, could that possibly be true? 50%? I think it would be more like 5% don't get it. I mean they're there. They see the people. They see the sickness. And then what would the reason be? Laziness? I don't know. 50% that's such a high percentage, this is the reason I think this one might be it because it's such a phenomenally high percentage. This either like really it or really not it. Alright I'll take the one about the designated drivers just so there's and even spread here.

E: Wow.

R: I like that.

S: OK. That is an even spread so I guess I'll take these in order.

E: Uh oh (laughs).

S: A new study finds that only 5% of people properly wash their hands after using the bathroom. Evan thinks this one is the fiction and this one is... science.

R: Gross!

E: Well that's unfortunate.

S: And Rebecca got it, it is the "properly".

R: Well Evan got it, I just...

S: Evan spelled it out but Rebecca saw the significance of that. And it is, you described it very well Evan. Using soap and doing it for a long enough period of time was what was considered properly. 15-20 seconds. So only 5% of people used soap and washed their hands from 15-20 seconds. That's what the CDC says is necessary to effectively kill germs. The average person washed their hands for only 6 seconds. 15% of men didn't wash their hands at all compared to 7% of women.

J: Oh man.

S: When they did wash their hands only 50% of men compared to 70% of women. People were less likely to wash their hands if the sink was dirty. Hand washing was more prevalent earlier in the day.

R: What?

S: As people get later and later in the day they get lazier about washing their hands.

J: Yeah so now the rest of us flubs have to touch that fricking door knob.

S: Yeah.

J: Why don't they make it so that all you have to do is kick the door to open it.

R: They do!

S: Everything needs to be hands-free.

R: Haven't you seen those doors? A lot of bars have them now, it's like there's a little metal thing at the bottom of the door, you can just hook your foot under and open it up.

E: Or use your butt and back into it. Or take the paper towel that you dried your hands with and use that to grab the handle with.

S: But people were more likely to wash their hands if a sign encouraging them to do so was present. Do you know what I bet would be even more effective than a sign saying wash your hands?

R: An attendant staring at you?

S: An attendant of just a picture of a pair of eyes would probably be more effective. There is research looking at that, people are more compliant with stuff, they're more honest with just a picture of eyes posted.

E: (laughs) that's bizarre.

S: They have to put the Purell (?) type stuff up in the bathrooms. That's more effective.

E: For killing the germs, it doesn't remove the dirt though.

S: Take a squirt and rub it into your hands. You've got to rub it until it evaporates, it kind of forces you to do it.

R: I never feel clean after using that though. I don't like it.

E: That's right, I don't either. I need to remove a layer of skin right, in order to feel kind of clean.

J: Yeah I don't like that stuff either.

S: It's great though.

E: It's handy, no pun intended. Ah, pun intended. In a pinch or something, but.

R: Isn't it making us super bacteria though, Steve?

S: No no no, it's not like an antibiotic. It's just antiseptic, it just kills the bacteria. So no, it's not, the Purell stuff is not leading to bacterial resistance. Having like antibacterial soap, maybe but not Purell, not the alcohol. That's more effective, it's easier, compliance is higher, you can do it much quicker. Alright well let's go on to number two. Researchers find that 35% of designated drivers still drank alcohol, most to the point of impairing their driving. Jay you think this one is the fiction, the rest of you think this one is science and this one is... science.

J: Oh man, Steve!

R: Hooray but also boo for society!

S: Yeah. So in a study that was recently performed, a University of Florida study, they found that 35% of designated drivers had significant alcohol levels greater than .02 which in some countries is actually the legal limit. In the United States the legal limit is .08 but generally speaking the recommended level in terms of not being impaired is less than .05 and according to the AMA they recommend .05 and some countries use a .02 cut-off. So in this study the 35% were at .02 or greater. Half of those were at .05 or greater.

E: 20% of those were at .18, toasted out of their minds.

R: Yeah like you are the worst designated driver on the planet. What do you think that means, designated driver, like you were picked because you drive the best when you're drunk? Is that what you thought it was? I hate people, I hate people so much sometimes.

S: So the researchers recommend that if you're the designated driver you shouldn't drink at all.

R: Yeah, no shit.

E: What a concept.

S: People do grossly underestimate the effect that alcohol has on their blood alcohol level. They don't realise how fast your level gets up to an impaired level, yep.

E: That's because they can take it, they're not like other people, I know my limits yeah.

R: They can hold their drink.

E: Just one more. And another thing...

S: This all means that despite being mandatory in some hospitals, less than 50% of health care workers received a flu vaccine in 2012. That one is the fiction.

R: Yeah.

S: So here's the information, it does depend on whether or nto getting the flu vaccine is mandatory or not. Overall, so the CDC reports that the overall rate of flu vaccine uptake among healthcare workers in the 2011-2012 season was, what do you think?

R: 80%

J: 85-90%

S: 65%.

E: 65% I guess. Cool I was right on.

S: But in hospitals where it was mandatory it was like 98.7%.

R: How is it not mandatory everywhere?

S: Yeah well that's the trend now just to make it mandatory. And this was based on recent research which found that in those hospitals with those systems where they make it mandatory it resulted in very very few employees basically deciding to quit rather than get vaccinated. Most of the vaccine refusers were part-time workers, most of them eventually relented and got vaccinated, and very few, a tiny percent, like .002% decided to quit because of the mandatory vaccination so it's not a problem basically for the employer, but it does raise the compliance rate way up to like 98-99%. So this is interesting based upon our recent discussion. For healthcare workers, the responsibility to get vaccinated is even greater than just the general population.

R: Yeah because they're working around immunocompromised people on a regular basis, like you could kill somebody.

S: There's a professional responsibility in addition to just being a good citizen.

R: Yeah.

S: Absolutely.

E: So how do you take yours, Steve? What do they do do they give you the traditional needle, the gun? How do they do it?

S: Just a needle. It's just a tiny tiny little needle. It's so thin you barely feel it, stick it in the arm. You can get the nasal one, but...

J: Just a little cut.

R: Nasal?

E: Aerosol.

S: Just a little cut. Yeah but it's a live virus the nasal one so not everybody can get it and it's not as effective so you're better off just getting the injection.

R: I just go to CVS.

E: take the shot

Occ the Skeptical Caveman production (1:14:08)[edit]

J: So Steve, we have this Occ the Skeptical Caveman production happening.

S: Yeah, how's pre-production coming on that, Jay?

J: It's going really well, I'm working night and day on this and I just sent out an email to the people that emailed me volunteering and it's not too late to volunteer if you are local enough to come and want to be at the shoot and help us you can do that very easily just send us an email with the subject line: Occ. And you can send that to and I'm going to respond to you and we'll chit chat and I'll find something for you to do. I also have some people donating time to build props and I have people filling all the spaces up pretty quickly but I definitely would still enjoy having some more people join us and we're still looking for some actors as well so if you're interested just shoot me an email. And also if you want to help the production and you can't by coming in person you can still donate and also just send us an email.

Skeptical Quote of the Week (1:15:08)[edit]

J: Also Steve...

S: Yeah?

J: I have a phenominal quote.

S: Let's hear it.

J: But first. Last week I forgot to yell the name.

S: You did.

J: And doesn't that make you upset?

R: Yes.

S: It was conspicuoulsly absent.

R: We got all those angry emails from people.

E: Uh. It was almost unbearable.

S: It was a little experiment. 0 people noticed that you didn't.

R: 0 people.

E: Jay noticed.

J: I know. So I mean if people don't like it, if people don't want me to do this, I'm doing this to inspire people and if there's no inspiration happening, I can stop, I could just stop.

S: There's perspiration.

J: Yeah I could just stop doing it.

R: Less spittle I think.

J: I was going to yell out the name of last week's quote, the author of the quote last week. I won't unless people email me just to let me know, hey, you know.

R: Beg you, beg you to continue.

J: No I just want to know if anyone's actually listening. Did you ever see WKRP in Cincinnati and it was like, the guy had like the late shift on the radio station (this is like an old TV show) and he was like alright, he was on the air and he was like "alright I'll give $10 to the first person who calls in" and nobody calls in.


J: So this week's quote is a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the quote is:

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.

J: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!

S: I like the first part of that quote better than the second part. I mean it's all fine, thinking critically I think we can all agree with that. When the public school system decides that it's their job to teach character and morality to students, it starts to feel sometimes a little bit dangerously close to propaganda. You know, it's usually fine though sometimes my daughters come home with stuff that's like, it just has this little flavour of 1984 to it you know.

E: Yeah I know what you're saying.

R: Like what, what do they come home with?

S: It's like recycling stuff, you know? And recycling OK it's fine, but there's not a lot of evidence to support a lot of recycling that happens but it sort of, sometimes it creeps over the edge into feel-good propaganda.

R: I guess Dare. I just remember Dare. That was a pretty horrible propaganda thing that I got.

S: What was that?

R: Did you not get that when you guys were in school?

S: It sounds familiar but I can't remember...

R: It's the anti-drug stuff where it's like if your dad smokes a joint you've got to turn him in to the authorities.


S: Yeah, oh yeah have you guys seen those billboards, if you see something say something?

R: Yeah.

J: Yeah, I like that.

E: Yeah. Yep, yep.

S: That also was a little bit...

E: That's Big Brother.

R: Yeah.

J: No I like the anti-bully one, is that what you're talking about?

R: No this is like a terrorism thing.

E: No no no this is the one where if you see a knapsack on a bus or something you're supposed to tell someone about it.

J: Oh well after people die from random explosions I can see backlash like that.

S: No it is common sense, but you just get this, I don't know...

E: I don't know how many people are dying from explosions from backpacks, I mean really it's not many.

S: Yeah but it's like you're going to turn kids into Narks and how effective is that going to be?

J: Well in defence of the quote I think he's saying that education builds character.

E: Well OK.

S: That is a charitable way to look at it.

J: And this quote was sent in by a listener named Maiji.

S: Maiji!

E: Maiji, Magi.

S: OK, thanks Jay.


TAM (1:18:29)[edit]

S: And just a quick reminder that there is still time to sign up for The Amazing Meeting, July 11th to 14th in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is a huge awesome skeptical meeting. The SGU will be there, we will be giving workshops, we'll be doing a live show on stage, there will be an SGU dinner Friday night, and SGU sponsored poker tournament Saturday night. We'll have a table, we will be there to listen to and chat with our listeners. The speakers this year are fairly impressive. We have Susan Blackmore, Barbara Dresher, Jerry Coin, Sinal Edamaruku remember from killi killi fame? Two Massimos, you get two Massimos for the price of one, Pigliuchi and Polidoro. And many others. It's going to be an awesome conference this year, I hope to see a lot of our listeners there.

S: Well thank you all fro joinging me this week.

R: Thank you, Steve.

J: Thank you and good night, Steve.

E: Thank you. Good night everyone.

S: And until next week, this is your Skeptics' Guide to the Universe.

S: 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, where you will find the show notes as well as links to our blogs, videos, online forum, and other content. You can send us feedback or questions to Also, please consider supporting the SGU by visiting the store page on our website, where you will find merchandise, premium content, and subscription information. Our listeners are what make SGU possible.


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