SGU Episode 476

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SGU Episode 476
August 23rd 2014
SGU 475 SGU 477
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
R: Rebecca Watson
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein

Quote of the Week
The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.
Henri-Louis Bergson
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Show Notes
Forum Topic


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

This Day in Skepticism ()[edit]

  • August 23, 1305: William Wallace is executed.

News Items[edit]

Robot Swarm ()[edit]

Epigenetics ()[edit]

Black Hole Universe ()[edit]

Man on the Moon ()[edit]

Big Pharma Suicide ()[edit]

Who's That Noisy ()[edit]

  • Answer to last week: Psychic Twins

Questions and Emails[edit]

Question #1: Groupthink ()[edit]

I saw an interesting article on Ars Technika discussing the way people take polarised positions based on climate change based on cultural identity rather than it being an issue of scientific literacy.If this is the case, it would help to better explain some of the problems we see with people taking such extreme sides, often without taking an interest in the evidence, even some self identified Skeptics supporting the skeptical position as a knee jerk response rather having used critical thinking; I'm thinking particularly of the many very polarised knee jerk responses we see in comments on SGTTU's Facebook posts. (By the way, I'm sure you've taken to posting occasional purposeful misrepresentations of some stories to test us, to check that we're checking sources etc. – where do I claim my $5 for spotting this. ;) )Yet another in the pot of various cognitive biases, perhaps, for us to remember when considering our own positions? I don't think this is anything fundamentally new, we were aware of both tribal/group think and biasing responses through the way the questions are asked, but it's great to see more research into this, don't you think?Anyway, keep up the fab work, and here's the article below.Warm RegardsJulie BrandonDerby, East Midlands, England, UK, West Europe, Earth, The Solar System, Outer Spiral Arm, Milky Way Galaxy, Local Cluster, The Observable Universe, The Universe, The Metaverse, RealityRelated:

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Item #1: The smallest pterosaur had a wingspan of 250 mm or 10 inches ( Nemicolopterus) while the largest had a wingspan of 11 meters or 36 feet and weighed 550 pounds (Quetzalcoatlus northropi). Item #2: When first described, Pterodactylus was thought to be an aquatic creature that used its wings for flippers, a theory that remained popular for many decades. Item #3: Unlike birds, pterosaurs had solid bones, allowing them to run on all four limbs. Item #4: Pterosaurs were covered in hair, indicating that they were likely warm blooded.

Skeptical Quote of the Week ()[edit]

'The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”Henri-Louis Bergson

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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