SGU Episode 551

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SGU Episode 551
January 30th 2016
Marvin minsky 2-1.jpg
SGU 550 SGU 552
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein
C: Cara Santa Maria
SB: SciBabe
Quote of the Week
What's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all?
Carl Sagan, Demon Haunted World
Download Podcast
Show Notes
Forum Topic


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

What's the Word (1:14)[edit]

S: Well, it's interesting, Cara, that you're getting more and more into science fiction because your What's the Word segment this week kinda has a science fiction theme!

C: It is true. So, I was digging around online, looking for a new word, and there's so many great words to choose from, but I stumbled upon this io9 post from 2011 by Jeff Pratcher. And he detailed a bunch of words that you think probably come from science, but are actually from science fiction.

B: Ooh!

C: And I was blown away

E: Cool!

C: when I was looking at these words, because, like, no way! Some of you, like, hardcore science fiction nerds are gonna know this.

S: Yeah

C: The first one is “robotics.”

S: Yeah, that's kind of a famous, every nerd knows that.

B: RUR? Is that from that Czech play?

C: No

E: No

B: Oh, that's where “robot” came from.

S: That's where “robot -” “robotics” is from Azimov.

C: It's from Azimov,

B: Oh, awesome!

C: from his story, “Liar,” from 1941. And he also named a person, being a roboticist, and the adjective robotic. And that's really cool, 'cause this is one of those words that actually found its way into the scientific community, and is obviously used all the time.

S: Yeah

C: Here's another good one: Genetic engineering.

B: Really!

S: Yeah, that one I wouldn't have guessed.

C: Right?

E: Definitely not.

C: So, the same year as Asimov's story with robotics in it was published, genetic engineer was coined by Jack Williamson in Dragon's Island.

E: I think those, one of those terms that would have come about anyways if somebody hadn't used it, maybe, in science fiction. I think it eventually caught on.

S: Well, another version of it, you know, genetic tweaker. (Rogues laugh) Genetic tinker.

E: A tinkerer, yeah.

S: Yeah, you like tinkerer?

E: I like those.

S: Yeah

C: And then, here's some fun ones: We talked about this just a few weeks ago on the show: Zero gravity, and also zero G. Both of those words started in sci-fi.

B: Oh, wow, okay. I could see that.

E: Putting zero and gravity together, who knew?

C: Yeah, early, early. 1938 for zero gravity, and then zero G came from Arthur C. Clarke in 1952, from Islands in the Sky.

E: Cool.

C: Here's another fun one: Deep space.

(Bob laughs)

C: Isn't that weird?

B: No way!

C: Scientists didn't use that term before sci-fi. Yeah, 1934. So a lot of these were really early.

S: It wasn't Deep Space 9 from Star Trek?

(Bob chuckles)

E: Aw!

C: 1934 Star Trek?

S: Yeah

C: A lot of these are the kinds of sci-fi that I really identify with. I love kind of the mid-century and earlier sci-fi. Also, ion drive,

B: Yeah, yeah.

C: is a sci-fi term. And, ooh, here's a good one: Pressure suit. And then I love this one. Actually, there's two here: The terms virus and worm used specifically with regards to computer programs. Both came from science fiction.

E: That's interesting.

B: Yeah, we really shouldn't be surprised at any of these, 'cause it just makes perfect sense, 'cause science fiction covers science that's yet to be, and a lot of that science comes about a lot more quickly than you think. So it just makes perfect sense.

S: Sure

E: Yeah

C: But I'm about to blow your mind, Bob. The number one on this count down: Gas giant.

B: Oh, really? Really? I would think …

E: Yeah, I wouldn't have guessed that.

B: Ah!

C: Yeah, the first known use

B: That's a bit of surprise, sure.

C: is a story by James Blish called Solar Plexis.

B: I've heard of that. I always loved that title, Solar Plexis.

C: Yep, pretty interesting.

E: Solar Plexis.

B: Yeah, that's really cool.

C: Yeah, I talked a lot about how technology is often, I don't know, spearheaded through science fiction. You know, you'll see a cool gadget, or a cool toy, or a cool innovation in a science fiction movie, and then it'll inspire people to work on it, and produce it in real life. But it's pretty interesting that these dreamers, these writers, came up with terms that really described nature,

S: Yeah

C: they described the universe in such a good way that they found themselves into the common lexicon of scientists. Love it!

S: There's another one that may be coming about in the future. And we can think about this as any other examples of this. What science fiction terms may become science fact in the future? But the X-Prize has a trichorder prize. They're giving away money for people who develop a trichorder , which is basically a multi-functional medical diagnostic device. So I wonder if the word trichorder will become a mainstream term for that kind of device.

C: Could be.

B: Of course it will, of course it will.

(Steve and Evan laugh)

C: And what about “tractor beam?”

S: Tractor beam?

C: They talk about that right now.

S: Yeah

C: People are working on tractor beams.

E: The term “warp drive,” we've talked about sort of, in a loose sense.

S: Warp drive.

B: We'll never have a reason to use that!

E: Originated in science fiction.

S: I don't know, we might have a warp drive.

B: We're gonna warp space-time? Believe me,

S: Not this century.

B: Pretty optimistic! If we got the mass of Jupiter to play around with, sure.

E: Or that new planet out there.

S: Sometimes, even from fantasy, like, invisibility cloak, right? How many times have you read about that?

B: Oh my god!

C: Yeah

B: Too many times. Anything even remotely related to invisibility. “An invisibility cloak, just like in Harry Potter!”

S: (Chuckles) Just like it!

B: (Laughing) Just like it!


B: They gotta suck people in. They gotta put that in a title, so, anything in popular culture that they can grab onto, it's like, “I got it! I'm gonna use this!”

E: Of course.

C: And it is, like, the oldest trick in the book. I know this, working as a science journalist, any time that you can – I remember doing a story about simulating nature, right, with these supercomputers, and it's like, every article was, (Mocking voice) “Are we living in the Matrix?”

S: Oh yeah.

B: Holodeck, right after holodeck.

C: (Laughing) Yeah

E: Yeah

S: Which are two other terms which may find their way into scientific parlance.

C: Yeah, that's true, actually.

S: Holodeck, and the matrix.

B: Sure

C: Or the velt, you remember, didn't they call it the velt in that Bradburry story?

E: Oh gosh

C: That was the

E: You got me there.

C: Yeah, so there's a Ray Bradburry story that I loved called The Velt, where the kids would play in a nursery, and all the walls were made out of screens. And it would transport them to the African Savannah, and then it becomes real, and they get eaten by lions, but, sorry, spoilers.

S: Spoiler alert!

B: I can't wait for that. We're gonna see that. We're so damn close to something like

C: Yeah, we're really close!

E: Holo technology?

B: So cool, I want to be in Hawaii today, on the beach. BAM! There you are.

C: And it doesn't even have to be holograms.

S: No

C: With high-res enough screens

B: Sure

C: and -

B: Wall paper!

C: you don't even need screens! You just need the VR headset.

B: Well, yeah, there you go. You don't need the ...

C: And headphones.

B: any of the hardware,

E: And a Samsung

B: when it's VR, just, BAM, right in your eyes.

C: And then if they have smellovision, like you can hear the waves, see the waves, and it smells like the beach, it'd be amazing.

B: Or the orgasmatron.


C: Gross.

B: That's from a science fiction movie! Come on! What was the name of that? Oh come on …

E: Oh, it was Woody Allen.

S: Woody Allen, yeah.

B: Yeah, of course, yeah.

S: Sleeper.

B: Yes, good, good.

C: Yeah, I guess it's not as surprising as you think. Whenever I first read it, I was like, blown away. The gas giants one still gets me.

S: The gas giant, 'cause that seems like it's just a technical term, you know, a gas giant.

C: Right?

S: Yeah. Okay, well, let's go on to some news items.

News Items[edit]

The Viability of Conspiracies (8:31)[edit]

The Aliens are Dead (20:04)[edit]

Marvin Minsky (27:47)[edit]

Probiotics Hype (33:15)[edit]

Questions and Emails (42:52)[edit]

Question #1: Fake Skeptic Scam I was wondering if the skeptical community has noticed that some Scammers, psychics and similar frauds are making up fake websites where their claims are 'skeptically' questioned, but found to be completely true! I found this one when researching the Medical Medium (Anthony William): It's even named Scam, in a way that people might think it is legitimate, but it is just packed with 5 or so articles where a (possibly fake) skeptic says they investigated the Medical Medium, but found all his claims to be true. Seems like there is another front of misinformation to manage, especially as I often recommend to people to search for any miracle cure, but then add 'Scam' or 'fake' to it, to get the other side of the story. Regards, Tim Nolan

(Commercial at 46:00)

Interview (47:14)[edit]

S: All right, well, we have a great interview coming up with the SciBabe. So let's go to that now.

(Interview music)

S: Well, we are being joined now by Yvette D'Ontremont, or otherwise known as the SciBabe. Yvette, welcome to the Skeptic's Guide.

SB: Thank you for having me.

S: I've been meaning to have you on for quite a while, actually. I'm glad we hooked up this week. You were previously known as the Science Babe, but then you rebranded yourself the SciBabe. And, I don't know if it correlates with that, or if you just had a renewed interest, but it definitely, your presence online has exploded in the last six months or so. What do you attribute that to?

SB: Well, it started on a random Friday night. I had been posting a lot on a bunch of different skeptic blogs, and I thought, maybe there's a place for me in this. And it kind of started with ribbing the Food Babe, of course, online. I had been working at a pesticide lab, and I had seen a lot of misinformation about pesticides. I'm an analytical chemist by trade. I have a background in chemistry and forensic science.

And before I started working at this pesticide lab, I of course, just like everyone seems to have been, I was a bit of a skeptic about – I know, I'm using the term wrong – I was a bit of a skeptic about GMO's, and about Monsanto. I thought they were the devil, and they were poisoning me. And then I started working at this lab, and I realized they're really heavily regulated, they're hard to get onto the market, they go through a ton of research, and I kept seeing it in pop culture and all over the internet that there's no research in them.

And I'm like, “Yes,” I basically just lick the vials, say, “It's probably not gonna kill your kids,” and just, you know, passed them on to the market. You know, I started writing it like that online, and people thought it was funny. I'm like, “Oh, maybe I should blog about it.”

So I started up a page kind of as a bit of a satire of the Food Babe, and I was really shocked at how fast it started taking off. I was getting about a thousand new followers a week, which I thought was really fast. And I hadn't done any professional writing yet. It was just a blog, and I was doing about one blog entry a week.

And then an editor at Gawker reached out to me and said, “Would you like to take a swing at the Food Babe at Gawker?” And I was like, “Don't mind if I do.” And that article took off like crazy. It got, within the first six hours that it was out, it got a million hits.

E: Wow.

J: Woah!

E: Impressive.

SB: It was nuts. And I was flying back, and it was my first big talk. I was so nervous about it. I was speaking at the American Atheist convention in Memphis, and I was flying back. I had a layover in Houston. And by the time I landed in Houston, it had a million hits, and I'm sitting at the airport, crying, 'cause a million people have never read anything that I've written.

It's my professional piece, and I got back to LA, and we're sitting there, hitting “refresh” on my Facebook page, and every minute, we had another hundred followers. It was nutty. And the next two weeks were just crazy, watching the traffic. And, I mean, since then, I've done a lot of other things, and I've had to write about things other than the Food Babe, obviously, 'cause there are a lot of other things in pseudoscience that we tackle at the page.

And the big thing that I try to do is try to show people how to recognize reputable proof. And while I was writing – before the Food Babe, I was working with a lit. agent to try to write and sell a book. And the book that I wrote was SciBabe's Ten Rules to BS Detection that I just turned in the manuscript for. So that's been the work I've been

B: Excellent

SB: So that's been the work I've been doing, and that's the talk that I tend to give when people are like, “Can you come give a talk at our place of business?” So that's the big thing I do, is say, “Here's how you can tell, in everyday life, when you're wandering the internet, or when you're at a store, if you see some weird, overblown marketing claim, if something is for real, or if it's just BS.”

S: So, give us some examples of your BS detection kit.

SB: Okay, so my favorite rule that I have in there is I call it the Star Wars rule. We're amongst friends, we're all kind of nerds here. The Star Wars rule: If they tell you something is better because it's from a place far, far away and long, long ago, it's probably BS.

(Bob chuckles)

SB: And the way this rule became a thing, and I just posted this on my Facebook page recently, they try to say that there is the most powerful antibiotic on the planet, and it's from medieval Europe. And the reason that it's good for you is because they made it in medieval Europe from a time and place when they got all

E: Yeah, right?

SB: sort of plagues and infections. What's wrong with this picture?

S: Yeah

SB: Come on, come on. They died! Of all these infections! So that's really bad marketing, right? And I mean, some people are gonna see that on the internet, and they're gonna go, “Oh! They used this during the time of the plague in some far off place. Of course it's good for me!” No! No, no, no! Put your skeptic caps on! This is bad for you!

And what worries me is that somebody who's trying to make a healthy decision for their family is gonna fall for this. And they're not gullible, they're looking for something healthy, and they're gonna make a really horrible decision that's gonna affect their health. So I figure, put these rules that are kind of funny and kind of catchy out there, and they're gonna get people to think twice before they make a horrible decision.

S: So, one thing I've definitely noticed in your writing (which I love, by the way, and we do post it on our own Facebook page quite a lot, actually), is that you're definitely going for a certain style. And I'm talking to you, it seems like that's just your personality. It's not necessarily a put-on style. But how much of it is conscious? How much are you, 'cause there's always a little bit of vulgarity in there, and a lot of popular references, which, we're all good with that. But how much of that is deliberate, and how much is that just you being you?

SB: I like to say there's a hair's width of difference. I know I go home at the end of the day, and I'm like, “Oh! I've been -” I say I go home, but I do this from home. The sense of humor, it all – I can't turn it off. Trying to get me to stop swearing is like, I'm trying to think of a way to phrase this. It's like, I have to white-knuckle through it when I'm told I can't swear before a talk. But I think, I mean, I went to Catholic school, and I started swearing when I was eleven.

S: Yeah

SB: So that was, it's just always been there. But combining it with science has been something a little different, a little goofy. And it's, I've been surprised to see how much it's resonated with people because I was an analytical chemist. I worked in a laboratory. And I do know that this didn't always resonate with chemists who just wanted to get on with their jobs, and were tired of somebody cracking jokes all the time.

So, time and a place, but it's been really wonderful to see my personality resonating with people – at least on paper. So, I'm sure that my ADHD little brain isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I'm glad that it's reaching people who are looking to find some science nerdae, and I think I'm not sure if it's the science that's resonating with people or if it's the humor, but I'm glad that they're at least getting some science with their laughter, 'cause something I've noticed is when people get home at the end of the day, they're not reading academic papers, they're watching Southpark, they're Penn and Teller's Bullshit.

So I'm like, “If people are getting something that's making them think, and they're getting it through a medium with something that makes them laugh, if I can make them laugh, they're gonna get some science.

S: Yeah, it reminds me of, I was talking to an old, cranky professor, and he was complaining that, “These kids today, they don't want to be taught, they want to be entertained.”

SB: Ooh

S: It's like, yeah, that's the reality. Just suck it up, you know? I think that's partly our culture is that we live in a multimedia culture, a fast-paced culture. Information, we talked about this recently on the show, that information transfer is very efficient. And, yeah, you can't give a slow, plodding lecture any more. People can't consume information that way. You have to keep up with the way people are consuming information.

SB: Yeah, exactly, and I mean, I could sit there and complain about it, or I can meet people where they are.

S: Yeah

SB: So, let's meet people where they are. We can make it funny. We can throw a joke in there every paragraph, and it will keep people reading because they want to get to the next joke, and along the way, they're getting this misinformation debunked, and they're gonna make better decisions because of it.

And I'm like, “This is wonderful,” and I feel like I've finally found my little niche in the universe. And I just hope people don't get tired of it. So, as long as people are still reading, I'm gonna keep throwing some good science out there.

S: Yeah, it's nice when just doing what you naturally do finds an audience.

SB: Yes, exactly.

S: I think it's kind of what we fell into at the SGU. It's like, we're just doing what we do

SB: Yes, exactly.

S: People seem to like it, so we'll keep doing it, you know.

SB: And the funny thing is, I had blogs before this, just talking about my stupid life that nobody cared about before except my friends. But when I started doing funny writing about science, suddenly people cared about it, because, I think people always wanted to know how the universe works. People always wanted to know what was real, and what wasn't.

And I think people are always, like, here's the thing: The alternative health people always wanted to know what was real about their health. Like, that's why they're online Googling “vaccines,” and Googling “GMO's.” They want to know, “What's safe to put into my body?” They're desperately looking for what's true, and what's not. They're desperate, and they're vulnerable, and they're online hunting for whatever's fact and what isn't. And we have to find a way to get through to them.

And I think humor is just a great tool, it's another tool at our arsenal. It like, I know some people, I'm not quite their style, and that's totally fine, and I know that. I'm not changing for anyone though. But the good thing is we have a lot of different communicators out there that are gonna hit different people, and it's great.

S: Yeah, you can't be all things to all people, right?

SB: Exactly.

S: That's why I - do what works for you, and that's probably where you're gonna be at your best in any case.

B: Yeah, that's kind of our general attitude of skepticism in general, Steve, right?

S: Yeah

B: 'Cause that's come up many times. Like, “No, a skeptic should be this way, a skeptic should behave and believe this.” It's like, “Well, no. Find your niche, and have fun at it, 'cause you're gonna stick with it if you enjoy it.”

S: Right

B: If you don't enjoy it, if you're forcing, you're just not gonna last.

C: Well, and it also takes all types, right? Like you just said, Yvette. There are certain people who need to get skeptical information who respond very well to one person's approach, and then there are other people who respond very well to somebody else's approach. It takes all types to cover the gamut.

SB: Oh, yeah, and it's, I occasionally get somebody commentating on my page. “I don't like what you're doing.” I'm like, “Okay,

S: Yeah

SB: bye!” You know, what am I gonna say to that? I have a good following, it's always increasing. And I have a hard time keeping up with the requests for my writing on different websites. I'm like, “Yes, sir, I'm going to change what I'm doing for just you.”

S: Yeah

SB: That's not how it's gonna work. And like, I understand that I'm not the right source of information for everyone, and the funny thing is it can, occasionally, I'll have somebody say, “Could you take out the swears, so that I can show this to my child?”

S: Yeah, we get that too.

SB: I'm like, “No, that's not,” and I understand that somebody might not want their kids to read my writing. I'm like, “That's fine! Don't let your kids see it then!” (Laughs) “That's not my responsibility.”

S: So also, part of your persona is that you're sort of unapologetically sexy if I could just use that term.

SB: It's a weird thing to use.

S: Well, I'm trying to summarize quickly, but part of your, you know, you definitely are

SB: The “Babe” thing.

S: very free, I think, to use that as part of your persona. You think that's fair?

SB: Yeah, it's a, I'm a flirt.

S: Yeah

SB: I won't back away from that.

S: So, do you get any pushback about that?

SB: I have a couple times. And some people, no, the “Babe” thing started as kind of a satire of the FoodBabe. And I mean, I don't think I post a lot of pictures going, “Here's my body, come look at it.” I mean, I use it as kind of a, “I'm going to science, and I'm going to write the way I want to, and I'm not gonna apologize.” And I'm gonna woman the way that I want to.

S: Yeah

SB: And I'm not going to apologize. And I have gotten some pushback. And a lot of people, at least in the science and skeptic community, did notice, when Jerry Coyne, who I respect quite a bit, wrote a blog entry saying that I was being – I think the word he used was, “salatious,” in

S: Ooh.

SB: my website.

S: Salatious

E: Uh-huh.

S: Yeah

(Bob chuckles)

SB: And that was

E: (Laughs) Cara's favorite Star Wars character.

SB: And it was just, it was so, it was a little hurtful, I have to admit, especially because I respect Jerry so much. And I continue to respect the good work he does. And I've referred people to his book, Why Evolution is True, and I continue to do so, if they have questions about evolution. And you know what? I still look at that and go, “You know, science the way you want to science, skeptic the way you want to skeptic.”

S: Yeah

SB: And I hope that, at some point, to look at his words and think, “You know what? Maybe I was wrong.” Because the day before he posted that blog entry, he used my debunking video on homeopathy on his blog.

S: Yeah

SB: So, I really hope that he'll take a second look at that, because he used me and another science blogger who I respect very much, who is anything but salatious. She's very respectful, if anything. And it was kind of, we were all kind of mortified when we saw ourselves being portrayed as “salatious,” to sell science, because I don't think that I use sex to sell it. I think I use humor, and a lot of F-bombs.

S: Right, right right.

SB: But it seemed a little, it seems odd that people look at that as how I portray myself, because I think I dress demurely when I'm doing public speeches, and all that good stuff. So I think that's not quite the mark, but, flirting, maybe, salatious, no.

S: I remember that conversation very well, with Jerry Coyne's blog article. And there were more than one person pointed out, 'cause it did seem like he was saying, like, women, science communicators, can't look attractive without being accused of using sex to sell, whatever, their brand. And more than one person pointed out the double standard. Like, “Really? Do you think that Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn't look a little GQ? And

SB: Yeah

S: you're telling me that he's not workin' it'?” But no one's accusing him of being attractive

E: Yeah

S: as a way of enhancing his science communication, or reach, or whatever, which I thought, yeah, I hadn't thought about it, but when they pointed out, like, yeah, it's absolutely true. You're just putting your best foot forward. It shouldn't be any kind of negativity about it all, I think.

SB: But it's, you know, there's always gonna be that line of, where's the line between attractive and looking sexy? When is a woman not gonna step foot in the public sphere without somebody questioning, “Is she too sexy?” And I mean, I've never done a talk without being covered to my knees, I'm pretty sure.

S: Do you think that there's hope against the FoodBabe for the world? Or is the message just too easily appealing?

SB: Well, I think that the FoodBabes of the world are always gonna be there. They're never gonna just disappear. We're always gonna, I mean, one of 'em's gonna get out of pop culture circulation, and then the next one's gonna come right up. Rachel Parent is turning eighteen any day now, and she's gonna launch her own business. It's gonna happen. And she's the “Kid's right to know” person. She started activism at age twelve, and she already has a Ted Talk. And wait for it, she's gonna be Vani Hari the second. And wait for it, I'm also

E: Oh, great

SB: gonna write about her eventually, but

S: Yeah

SB: I'm not gonna write about her while she's a kid. They're always, always gonna be there. And the best that we can hope for, because they're always gonna have their own little conventions, and they're always gonna have conventions that only they speak at. And they're always gonna be able to be very insular. The best we can hope for is to not let them on CNN, not let them on to mainstream

S: Right

SB: networks. So, right now, we have the best we can possibly hope for with Vani Hari, because we can't get rid of her million followers. They're always gonna follow her. The people that just keep seeking out alternative health, we can try to convince them. Some people might not be convinced. They want to be convinced. So, we can keep them out of the mainstream by really, really going hard in mainstream publications, and saying, “Look, this is how it is,” and not give the false balance that “some scientists are speaking out.” No, all scientists say this is BS, or a vast majority of scientists say this is BS.

And really, make it clear that this is not an acceptable way to treat your illnesses, an acceptable way to present health claims, by following someone like this. So, I think that if we just keep on communicating to truth, and keep on not giving them a pulpit, we're eventually gonna keep relegating them out to alternative health circles, and they're gonna keep coming back, but we can keep pushing them down.

S: Yeah, I agree. It's an endless struggle. The best we can do is marginalize them. In a way, at times, I've thought, when I'm being optimistic, like, the FoodBabe is a good thing in that there's always, as you say, there's always gonna be somebody in that slot. It might as well be somebody as stupid as her, (SciBabe laughs) who says things that are so easy to knock down, it's shooting fish in a barrel with her. Imagine if somebody like, clever, filled that niche.

B: Ooh, that's a scary thought.

S: Yeah, it might be a little bit tricky. We still would be able to take them down, but we'd have our work cut out for us.

SB: I actually think that the Merckelas of the world are a little smarter than the Vadi Hari's of the world, 'cause Vani, she shot a little too high. She thought she would take over mainstream. She underestimated how smart her opponents were. She thought, “No one's ever gonna catch on to this!”

S: Yeah

SB: So, Merckela just decided, “No, no, no, I'm gonna stay off to the side. I'm gonna keep on doing everything on the side. I'm just gonna have my website, occasionally show up on the Dr. Oz show. Vani wanted a television show. She wanted everything, and she thought nobody would ever figure it out. Oops.

S: That's interesting perspective, yeah. What's next on your agenda? Where are you taking your science communication. Are you happy where you are now?

SB: Right now, I'm working on launching a podcast. It's taking a little to get it off the ground, but launching a podcast, it's going to be SciLife with a cohost comic Laura Bancroft. And other than that, just trying to keep on doing some good writing. My book is coming out probably end of this year-ish. I don't have a publication date on that yet, but that's, those are the two biggies in my life. Keep on doing some good writing.

S: Awesome.

SB: So, thank you so much for having me on.

S: Yeah, thanks for coming on the show, it's great to have you. And we look forward to seeing you at NECSS. You are one of the speakers at NECSS, so …

SB: I look forward to seeing you guys as well.

(Commercial at 1:06:46)

Science or Fiction (1:08:19)[edit]

Item #1: The virus has spread from continent to continent hitching a ride on mosquitoes that in turn were spread by shipping.. Item #2: Although the virus is primarily spread through mosquitoes, there is evidence for possible transmission through donated blood, sexual contact, and from mother to infant. Item #3: The virus was first isolated from a rhesus monkey in the Zika forest in Uganda.

Richard Dawkins Disinvited From NECSS (1:23:47)[edit]

Skeptical Quote of the Week (1:24:54)[edit]

What's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? Carl Sagan, Demon Haunted World

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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