SGU Episode 446

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SGU Episode 446
February 1 2014
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SGU 445                      SGU 447

Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella

B: Bob Novella

R: Rebecca Watson

J: Jay Novella

E: Evan Bernstein

Quote of the Week

Sometimes it happens that a man's intellectual horizon becomes smaller and smaller, and as the radius approaches zero it concentrates on one point. And then that becomes his point of view.

David Hilbert

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Show Notes
Forum Discussion


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

This Day in Skepticism (2:21)[edit]

S: All right, well, Rebecca, tell us what's special about today.

R: Today is the birthday of Lydia Maria Adams DeWitt! Hurray!

S: Of course it is.

E: Happy birthday.

R: February 1st, 1859. DeWitt did, she was a doctor. She earned her Doctor of Medicine in 1898.

S: That's impressive.

R: Yeah, her Bachelor of Science in 1899, at the University of Michigan, both of them. And she did some very important research in pathology, and particularly, she studied the pathology of tuberculosis, and helped work on chemotherapy for tuberculosis.

She was excluded from the University of Michigan Faculty Research Club because she was a woman. And so she founded and headed up the Women's Research Club, which she started in 1902, and which I believe still exists today. It exists as a way to help women in the sciences at University of Michigan.

The other fun fact about DeWitt is that she was featured in the very first edition of the biographical catalogue American Men of Science, for her work in microscopic anatomy

(Bob chuckles)

R: and neuroanatomy.

B: Awesome. Okay!

E: Okay.

R: So yeah, the first edition of American Men of Science, but for some reason, it took American Men of Science until the 1970's to change their name to American Men and Women of Science. But, yeah.

S: Yep

R: So, happy birthday, Lydia Maria Addams DeWitt.

S: Yeah, cool. You know, the work she did in tuberculosis didn't lead directly to a cure. I mean, obviously that didn't come 'till antibiotics a lot later. But it did sort of set the stage for later developments.

R: Yep

S: TB was, you know, that's one of those things that's not really on the radar very much in public consciousness, right?

E: Okay

S: You guys ever worry about TB?

J: Never.

E: Oh yeah, in hospitals, they

S: In hospitals, yeah.

E: Yeah

S: In hospitals.

E: Yep

S: But outside of hospitals, I never hear people, nobody asks me about this. It doesn't seem like it's one of those things. But before antibiotics, there were entire hospitals dedicated to warehousing people with TB. It was a major, major illness, you know?

R: Um hmm

S: And still is a problem. It's starting to work its way back because of multiple antibiotic resistant strains.

J: What does it, Steve, what are the symptoms? What does it do to you, and can it kill you?

S: Yeah, it gives you a chronic pneumonia, essentially. So people tend, will have this chronic cough that never seems to go away. And it's a wasting disease. It used to be called "Consumption."

B: Yeah

R: And

S: 'Cause people would get really

R: It's not to be what people suspected vampires were, ages ago, because you would just sort of waste away to nothing. And so it was thought that magical powers were somehow draining the blood and the health from otherwise perfectly healthy people.

S: There could be other complications. It could infect other organ systems as well.

Special Report (5:28)[edit]

News Items[edit]

No Black Holes? ()[edit]

Giant Stones in Egypt ()[edit]

Who's That Noisy ()[edit]

  • Answer to last week: first voice recording

Questions and Emails[edit]

Question #1: Mithras ()[edit]

I was recently surprised to learn that my understanding of Mithras debunking the originality of Jesus was fundamentally incorrect. According to, at least, the New Atheist claim that Mithras predates Jesus is incorrect. I now see that this article is under review as being biased toward Christian apologists. Wherever the truth lies on this particular issue, the article got me thinking: are there any common atheist (or skeptic) talking points that are fundamentally incorrect, or perhaps presented more simplistically than an honest discussion of the truth aught to be? Thanks, big fan of the show,Ryan CiuffetelliGoshen, New York

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Item #1: A team of physicists report that they have, for the first time, created a magnetic monopole in a laboratory. Item #2: Researchers find that some children who were born blind can still have significant development of vision following corrective surgery even as old as 15 years. Item #3: A new study finds that antioxidants speed the progression of lung cancer in mice.

Skeptical Quote of the Week ()[edit]

'Sometimes it happens that a man's intellectual horizon becomes smaller and smaller, and as the radius approaches zero it concentrates on one point. And then that becomes his point of view.' — David Hilbert

Announcements ()[edit]

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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