SGU Episode 51

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SGU Episode 51
July 12th 2006
SGU 50 SGU 52
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
R: Rebecca Watson
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein

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Show Notes


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

News Items ()[edit]

Space Shuttle Mission ()[edit]


    Cool video of shuttle launch

Asteroid Near Miss ()[edit]


Psychedelic mushrooms ()[edit]


Kevin Barrett and 9/11 conspiracies ()[edit]


Questions and E-mails ()[edit]

More on Supplement Regulation ()[edit]

What nonsense.

I do not disagree with the conclusion that most people do not understand the science (or lack there of) behind herbal supplements, I do not find the argument compelling. And while I am relatively new to your show and generally belive it is thoughtful, logical and expouses an approach to problems we should all support, as soon as an issue involves the shows leaderships profession and their ability to impose control over others, logic flies out the window and protection of personal privilege leaps to the fore.

The argument presented, cut to its essentials is, only us guys 'the experts' can really understand what is going on here and we should be allowed to control what you do, what you can have when you can have it etc.

This argument, which experts in all fields make all the time, while it contains clear elements of truth, is enormously self serving and elitist and dispointly often wrong.

Much as you could supply for most other fileds examples of how regulation is protectionist and leads to outcomes not in the best interest of its consumers, I can provide on request many examples, of how regulation in medicine, assures protection the ecconomic position of the status quo, rather than good outcomes for patients.

As a former Chief Scientist (PhD) of a major corporation and as a General Manager responsible for turning around failling businesses, in each case the key was to force one's self to see the data and hear the arguments clearly. Almost always the failing businesses I took over were in part a result of previous executives overly focused on their own expertise and looking inward at the 'in place experts'. Rather than being to hear from
outside 'the world is not as it appears'.

While it is one of the most difficult things to do, I strongly suggest that one apply the same degree of skeptism to your own expertise and that of your profession and colegues you do to the rest of the world.

Thank you fo

Peak Oil ()[edit]

Dear Guys (and Rebecca)

Great show! The perfect mix of hard facts, debunking and humour. Long may you podcast.
I realise that the following topic may be outside the scope of The Sceptics Guide.. but Im seriously worried and you guys may be able to give me a straight answer that I can trust. Should I believe this statement?

Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon. This is not the wacky proclamation of a doomsday cult, apocalypse bible prophecy sect, or conspiracy theory society. Rather, it is the scientific conclusion of the best paid, most widely-respected geologists, physicists, and investment bankers in the world. These are rational, professional, conservative individuals who are absolutely terrified by a phenomenon known as global
'Peak Oil.'

This comes from a web site called

I also just finished reading The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler.
You can read a synopsis of his book here

Whatdoyathink? Should I move to New Zealand? Are you coming too?

All the best

Mark Kelly

Interview with Neal Adams ()[edit]


    Neal Adams is a famous comic book artist who is known for his illustrations Batman and the X-men; who believes he has revolutionized modern science, if only he can get those stubborn scientists to listen to him. We explore Neal's ideas of a growing earth.

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Question #1: Recently published study indicates that educational toys are more effective than preschool in promoting later academic achievement in young children. Question #2: Scientists have discovered that some wooly mammoths were actually blonde. Question #3: Paleontologists down under have recently discovered fossil evidence of a carnivorous long-fanged kangeroo.

Skeptical Puzzle ()[edit]

Last Week's puzzle:

Name the medical pseudoscience that, although now thoroughly disproved and rejected by mainstream science, at its inception was on the correct side of a major scientific debate of the time.

Answer: Phrenology
Alternate answer: Homeopathy

New Puzzle:

When is a boomerang a type of dinnerware?

Neal Adams Follow-Up ()[edit]

Neal Adams and Steven Novella discussionOngoing discussion between Neal Adams and Steven Novella<br
Neal Adams writes:


There were no questions raised in your afterward that I would not be delighted to respond to ....If I was given the chance..
If you wanted to stick to the Geology , or the physics or Paleoentology , or engineering , that would be fine .
This whole thing usually comes as a surprise to most folks and You will recall that I tried to warn you that a short time like your podcast could hardly be enough time to cover all this . In the end you fellows made a ' cartoon'of it without realizing it because we . for logical reasons hopped from area to area. Too quickly to keep up with it all, Because this theory, as I said, lays over science like a new matrix, and each area first must be understood , then seen to link and be supported by all others . This is not common in todays approach to science, mores the pity.
The cartoon resulted! ......'This fellow is saying all science is wrong. He's nuts.'
Of course that is not what is happening at all.
Showing how an Earth could grow led inexorably to all the rest though one may not think so , on first blush.
I start with a simple premise , Instead of the continents being joined on one side of the Earth, which made no sense from the get-go.......UM.......why? You see.........?

1. the planets on one side would create a shift in the center of Earth's gravity , Pangea-ward of 4 kilometers .......which would sink the center of Pangea and raise the middle of the Pacific Above sea level.
2. The upper contintal plates match all around the world.
3. Teracarnasaurus lived only between 89 and 93 million years ago. This large dinosaur Has been found in France and Southern Africa . Impossible , because at that time Pangea had been broken in half and the top island was at the North Pole and the bottom half was at the South Pole ....Between the two a gigantic sea , that we call the Tethys Sea, 2000 miles wide , A long commute for the Teracarnasaurus. In fact , Impos

S: The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is produced by the New England Skeptical Society. For information on this and other podcasts, please visit our website at Please send us your questions, suggestions, and other feedback; you can use the 'contact us' page on our website, or you can send us an email to 'info @'. 'Theorem' is produced by Kineto and is used with permission.


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