SGU Episode 567

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SGU Episode 567
May 21st 2016
SGU 566 SGU 568
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein
C: Cara Santa Maria
BN: Bill Nye
Quote of the Week
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
Charles Darwin
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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 Skeptic's Guide to the Universe. Today is Saturday, May thth, 2016; and this is your host, Steven Novella. Joining me this week are Bob Novella,

Forgotten Superheroes of Science (2:03)[edit]

  • Cecilia Helena-Payne Gaposshkin

S: Okay, Bob, you're gonna start us off with a Forgotten Superhero of Science.

B: For this week's Superheroes of Science, I'm gonna cover Cecilia Helena-Payne Gaposshkin – thank you Danny for telling me how to pronounce that. She's 1900 to 1979. She was a British-American astronomer and astrophysicist who was the first person to realize that stars (or the Sun) and then stars, and then the universe consists predominantly of hydrogen – very first one.

Payne spent her career at Harvard. She initially, for a little bit, she had no official position, was making very little money. She was very discouraged that she almost left because of that. But eventually the new positions came, the new titles came, and she started doing very well, and she eventually became the first woman to head a department at Harvard – pretty impressive.

But she's really mostly well known for hydrogen, her work with hydrogen. Her early work supported the common wisdom of the time that elements that are found in the Earth matched the Sun in terms of their ratios; but she found that hydrogen and helium far and away were in abundance in the Sun, and no one had really noticed that beforehand.

S: Helium was discovered in the Sun, right? I mean, we didn't know of helium prior to – we maybe knew it needed to exist, but the first place we saw helium if I recall correctly was in the Sun, hence the name, right? Helios, helium.

B: Yeah

S: Right

B: But still, scientists at the time thought that the elemental ratios were all over the place. But she was the first to realize that it was just primarily hydrogen. She she'd mentioned that in her thesis, and then she was going through her dissertation, and astronomer Henry Norris Russel famously tried to deter her from presenting that conclusion. And he did that mainly because – like I said – it was commonly believed at the time that the ratios were similar, and he just didn't buy into it.

But the weird thing was that four years later, he was doing similar research using different methodologies, and he came to the same conclusion that she did. And what did he do? Well, he wrote a paper of course. He briefly mentioned her. I don't think he really spent the time on her that he should have, considering she came up with this first.

And then, of course, for many years, or even decades, he got the lion's share of the credit for that discovery, even after her work had been accepted. So, bastard.

BN: How did she do it?

B: Sorry?

BN: How did she determine helium was in the Sun? With a spectroscope coming through the telescope lens kind of situation, looking for interference lines, or some exciting thing?

B: That's what I assume.

S: It was spectroscopy?

BN: (Macho voice) That's what I do, spectroscopy. Yep.

J: I'm curious about the idea that they can look at light coming from the Sun, and saying, “That's helium, right?”

BN: Just by the color, the bands of excitement. You know the Quantum Leap that we're all in favor of?

J: You mean the TV show?

BN: Uh, no, it's related to the TV show. But this where the electrons fall from one energy level to another, and you look for that specific pattern, and it gives you an indication of what gas you're looking at. It's very cool. Very cool.

J: So how does that relate to lighting your farts on fire?

BN: Of course, that's a great question. (Audience laughs) And what I like about it is we're venerating this woman who was unsung, for her scientific contribution, and you come in with the adolescent (Audience and Cara laugh) boy thing. It's great. It's really important.

J: But we were just talking about this backstage. What are you doin' Bill?

BN: Anyway, I'm sure you were. (More laughter) But that is where the electrons are falling from one level to another to produce blue. And the Sun, it's a lot closer to what, green or yellow. Yeah, that helium thing. So, of course they're related. One's a chemical reaction, the other's fusion. No, wait, they're not that related. But I just wondered how she did it in 19-oh-something.

C: Yeah

BN: This would be about the contemporary with Edwin Hubble

E: Yeah

BN: and those big telescopes being built, and stuff. That was pretty cool.

B: So eventually, history figures this stuff out, and now it's commonly accepted and known that she was the one that figured this out.

BN: So let's give her a hand! (Audience applauds) Cecilia! Nicely done!

B: So, remember Cecilia Helena-Payne Gaposshkin, mention her to your friends, perhaps when discussing Beta-plus decay of the di-proton deuterium.

S: Yeah

C: Like you do.

B: When it comes up.

C: Yep

S: All the time, all the time.

Dumbest Thing of the Week (6:40)[edit]

S: We're gonna do a Dumbest Thing of the Week. We don't do these often enough I think. Prince Charles, always a good place to go to when you're looking for something dumb. Recently said that he has a farm apparently, he got a farm. He said that he uses homeopathy in his animals in order to cut back on his antibiotic use.

E: Well, that will do it. (Audience and Steve laugh) It certainly will!

BN: Or does he do both?

S: Yeah, well

E: Yeah

S: he uses antibiotics. He's not eliminating antibiotics, he's just reducing it.

C: By watering them down.

(Steve and Evan chuckle)

S: So good subjective outcome that you can – it's like, “Oh yeah, I feel a little better. It didn't cure me of anything.”

J: I'm curious in his process though. How does he determine how much less antibiotics to give them. Like, “Okay, I'm gonna give them this homeopathic bucket of water,” right? The medicine is in the bucket. Then he's like, “Now, I'm gonna cut the dosage of the antibiotics down by,” what? How is he getting to the conclusion that ...

S: Yeah, it's probably just subjective validation. We don't know that he is actually decreasing his antibiotic use. And even if he is, I'm sure there's a lot of wriggle room, judgment calls with farmers. Like, “Does this cow need antibiotics or not?” So it's just all biased subjective validation, right?

C: He probably

S: Is there a study that shows that it's actually effective? Of course not, 'cause homeopathy doesn't do anything.

C: He probably gives them homeopathic whatevers until they get sick, and then he calls in his rich person vet, and then they give them real antibiotics. I think that's what probably happens.

J: And in case you don't know, Prince Charles is full of woo.

S: Yeah, he likes homeopathy, he has his own line of snake oil, the Prince Dutchie's Original Snake Oil or something. And he's been a strong advocate for alternative medicine, homeopathy, and his own products in the UK for a long time, which is

E: There is a royal homeopath, I believe.

S: Yeah

C: Is it actually called “snake oil?”

S: No.

(Audience and Cara laugh)

E: Goodness, no!

C: This is bold.

B: Hilarious!

S: I'm paraphrasing.

E: Prince Charles' Magical Slurry. That's what it's called.

BN: In Ireland, they wouldn't have snake oil.

E: That's right!

S: That's right.

E: Saint Patrick! Drove all the snakes out of Ireland.

B: Nice.

BN: How does that – seriously, what is the other term? Does anybody know what ...

S: What's another term for snake oil? Tincture? I don't know. What would be the other. Wise potion?

C: But Tincture's a real thing.

S: Yeah, it's just an archaic term.

C: Yeah

S: Bullshit? I don't know.


BN: That was good, yeah. Sure, yeah. But it's just charming that this very influential royal political figure is into pseudoscience.

S: Charming, yeah.

E: And he promotes it endlessly.

S: Oh, he had a hand in removing Edzart Earnstrum from his position. This is an actual scientist and researcher who was actually holding alternative medicine to a standard of evidence. Prince Charles didn't like that. So it cut short his career, which is unfortunate.

News Items[edit]

Failure Is an Option (9:31)[edit]

Poorly Designed Carpet (24:00)[edit]

What's the Word (25:28)[edit]

  • Group animal names

S: Cara

C: Yes

S: Cara, it's What's the Word time. What's the word?

C: All right. So, the word this week is gonna be a fun one, and that is ... I really wanted to talk about some names for different aggregates of animals, and where they all come from. So you guys know that a group of crows is of course a murder.

BN: Of course! That is a fun one.

C: Yeah, it's a fun one. A group of geese?

S: A gaggle.

C: A gaggle. That one's pretty straight forward.

E: Yeah

C: But did you know that a group of kittens is a kindle?

B: That's awesome.

E: A kindle?

BN: Yeah, a kindle of kittens.

C: And there're a few of these that they make good sense. A group of rhinoceroses is a crash. I like that.

J: Yep

C: It makes sense. A group of giraffes, a tower. And porcupines aggregate in a prickle. It's perfect. I like those. They work.

J: A prickle of porcupines.

C: Prickle of porcupines. But there are a few here that are not quite so intuitive. Bears come in a group called a sloth, while many sloths make up a bed.

J: So you could say a bed of bears?

C: No no.

S: No, a sloth of bears, and a bed of sloths.

C: A bed of sloths.

J: What the hell? Who the heck

C: Who's idea was this! It's a terrible idea. If you have a lot of ferrets running around, they're hanging out in a business.

BN and S: A business of ferrets!

B: I like that.

C: A business of ferrets.

B: I like that one.

C: Buffalo group into an obstinacy.

BN: An obstinacy of buffalo? What is

C: An obstinacy of buffalo.

BN: No kidding, and not to wrench into the monkey works, but are bison different from buffalo in this usage?

C: Yes, North American buffalo group into herds. Of course, they're not real buffalo, they're bison.

BN: They're bison.

C: That's why there's a distinction.

BN: So it's a herd of bison,

C: A herd of bison.

BN: an obstinancy ...

C: of buffalo.

BN: of buffalo.

C: Exactly. Pigs are in a drift, a drove, or a team, but swine are in a sounder.

BN: A sounder of swine.

C: And you get a passel of hogs.

J: A hassel?

C: A passel.

E: A passel, wha?

C: All of which are the same species by the way, let's remember that. But of course, if you have a group of boar, a group of boars together is called a singular!

J: A what?!

S: A singular of boars.

C: What is happening?

J: Maybe because they kind of have a ground based flocking or something? I don't know.

C: Sure

E: Cara, who gets to determine these?

C: Yeah, so first of all, I want to thank a good friend of mine; he's also a wildlife reporter named Jason Goldman. He did a great article that got a lot of these words together in one place. But then I wanted to know where does this stuff come from? And does it matter? Is it important?

The truth is, it comes from a lot of different places, and we could do a whole episode on the origins of every single one; but one thing seems to be clear: It's that the tradition of naming groups of animals and even actually groups of people, groups of professions, and, by the way, groups of animal poop, scat – there's a whole lot of names for different kinds of animal droppings.

It dates back to the middle ages in England, and it has to do with hunting. These terms are actually called, “terms of venery.” And they were borrowed from the French. And in a handbook from the era that's just brilliant and beautiful, and teaches you a lot, is called the “Book of Saint Albins.” It was published in 1498, and it has a section called, “The Companies of Beasties and Fallies.”

J: Oh, awesome!

E: “Beasties,” I like that.

J: That sounds like that's a Harry Potter book,

C: I know!

J: doesn't it?


C: And it includes a list of one hundred sixty-four different terms of venery. And that's where a lot of these came from.

BN: So we're venerating, we're celebrating the animal.

C: Exactly, and at the time, it was important that gentlemen have a large vocabulary. You wouldn't want to embarrass yourself at the dinner table.

BN: No, not when there's an obstinacy of

C: No! Of course! Of course!

J: You know that whoever, one or more people who did this naming, they had a ton of fun doing it.

C: Of course!

J: Because you know, you have a pod of whales, that's adorable.

C: It's adorable. It's true.

BN: But it was also done to be exclusive to the upper classes, would not use “herds” for words.

C: I wouldn't be surprised. I think a lot of it had to do with – yeah – the gentleman's hunting table, being out in the field, being able to prove your intelligence, prove who well

S: Erudition?

C: Erudition, because you know these very important and very

J: Oh, they came up with it

C: distinguished terms.

J: so a few of them that memorize 'em could be the cool guys in the room.

C: Yeah, and the truth of the matter is if you compare these middle-English dictionaries to modern English, there were just so many more words in use back then.

J: Yep

C: The vocabulary was so, so much larger, and there were a lot of regional differences, and it was a matter of import, we don't have.

J: (Old British accent) I was hunting in my bed of bears.

S: Sloth of bears.

J: (Old British accent) Sloth of bears. (Normal accent) Sorry. I'm not the cool guy any more.

S: You're not (Unintelligible 30:05) Jay.

C: He's trying.

BN: You get a clean shot.

J: (Accent) Very well! Top drawer!

BN: So, Cara, may I just ask because I believe I know this one is a lot of fun. What's the group of monkeys?

C: A barrel.

BN: Yeah, a barrel

C: A barrel of monkeys.

B: All right, that's awesome.

C: That's actually ...

BN: More fun than! It's based on middle-english usage.

C: And by the way, this is where the term “flight of stairs” came from. A group of stairs together is a flight. A lot of the words that we use now, the weird grouping

B: Wow!

C: terms that we use came from this book. It's interesting, right?

J: I still don't like the whole idea of a pant and pants. (Cara giggles) So, one leg is called a “pant,” right?

C: What about underwear?

J: I don't know, I just, I don't like the word “pants;” it's stupid. It's plural, I guess because you have two, but it's still one garment.

C: No.

J: Anyway, back to the thing. I like a shiver of sharks.

C: A shiver of sharks is also a really good one, yeah.

B: It applies to people. I read somewhere that a bunch of boys is called a gang of boys, which just seems so appropriate.

C: Of course. Some of them work, and some of them were ridiculous, and that's why I love it so much.

S: It is ridiculous.

(Commercial at 31:09)

More News Items[edit]

Prosecuting Climate Change Denial (32:35)[edit]

S: We're gonna talk about climate change. The news item here is that the attorney general of this state, of New York (where we currently are), a gentleman by the name of Erik Schneiderman – this is now, I believe, a year or so ago – issued a subpoena to Exxon Mobil asking for their records on anything to do with their research or communication or activity or any communication around climate change.

The idea here is that Exxon-Mobil as a company was deliberately misleading their investors and the public about the effect of their business on the environment, and therefore that it constituted fraud. Specifically, they included the argument that by doing so, they were overvaluing their company to their investors. And that's something that specifically they have, is against the law in New York and so the AG has standing to do that.

Actually, Exxon-Mobil has complied with that subpoena, and turned over ten thousand pages of documents to the New York AG.

BN: I have a question,

S: Yeah

BN: seriously, is this from 1977?

S: How far back do the records go

BN: Yeah

S: you mean?

BN: Because I remember – or rather, I've seen – the article in the New York Times when it was just Exxon. It was before they merged, like, it goes back that far, some of it.

S: Yeah, it goes back far, yeah. But recently, sparking this news item again, the attorney general of the Virgin Islands - who was Claude Walker – he also submitted a subpoena to Exxon-Mobil, again, claiming that they deliberately lied about global warming, the effect of using their product. But he's using a different law, because states have different laws, right? So these are not federal actions, these are state actions.

And their actually using their anti-racketeering law, claiming that Exxon-Mobil is engaged in, like, a criminal organization type of racketeering. Exxon-Mobil is fighting that subpoena. And they absolutely requested (I think) thirty years or forty years of records, and Exxon is saying – I think that there's a little bit of over-reach, and Exxon-Mobil has some legitimate points to make.

They were saying, “Oh, we're only obligated to keep five years of records,” and whatever. So there's a lot of wrangling about some of the legal details, which I don't really want to get into. What I'm interested in though, is talking about a little bit, is just the big idea here, essentially legally going after corporations for lying about the science behind climate change.

Obviously, there's been a reaction among those who don't accept the reality of climate change; and of course they're claiming that a predictable types of things, that this has a chilling effect on scientific inquiry and debate and discussion, and it's a suppression of free speech, et cetera, which I think they're off base on that. I disagree with that. But the argument is very interesting. I think the analogy to draw here is with the tobacco industry, right?

B: Sure, that's the classic

S: The tobacco industry was caught red-handed, with basically, they found the smoking gun of them knowingly lying about the link between using their product

J: Wait, they've got a gun you can smoke?

S: (Chuckles) They're smoke- yeah. Their product and cancer that they knew about it, and that they engaged in a campaign to muddy the science, and mislead the public about that connection, and they were ultimately held responsible to the tune of billions of dollars for lying about the effects of their product. That seems to be pretty coherent analogy to the current – if we can demonstrate that Exxon-Mobil, (whether they were as Exxon or Mobil or whatever) that they had scientific information that they distorted, suppressed; we know that they had front groups that they were funding whose purpose was to argue against the science of global warming.

J: Like lobbying?

S: Yeah, like lobby groups, or front groups, you know, like what looks like a grassroots organization, but they're funding it, and it has a very specific mission, which just is to confuse the public about the science of global warming.

C: And it's not just about having the information. There's also, I think, a general concern that Exxon-Mobil had information, and then utilized it within their own company's long-term plans, that there's this idea that not only do the Exxon-Mobil executives understand what fossil fuels are doing to climate change, but they are thinking about the future of the world as a world that's dealing with the effects of climate change, and they're working in strategies for mitigating that within their own company policy, which is insane!

J: Yeah

C: It's absolutely insane.

J: That's malfeasance.

C: Minimally.

BN: This was the question I have about all that I have about all deniers: How much have they fooled themselves? And I think there were, when you watch the footage of the cigarette executives from years ago, there's, to me, it looks like they really kind of didn't believe there was a connection between cancer and cigarettes, at some level; that they've embraced the idea

S: Yeah

BN: at the point that they ...

S: They rationalized it.

BN: They rationalize it, live with the conflict. The interesting thing though to me though, Steve is these are – this company's being sued for overvaluing itself, right? That's cool.

S: It's interesting.

BN: It's complicated.

C: It's smart.

S: 'Cause essentially, part of the argument was that their value of their company was based on the notion that they could extract all of the oil and coal or whatever on their land, and burn it. And they're saying, “What if we decide that we can't do that?” Then their company isn't as valuable.

E: Right

S: And they knew that that might be a problem because we can't put all of that CO2 into the atmosphere.

BN: And they knew this in 1977.

S: They knew this decades ago.

BN: Yeah, yeah

S: Yeah

BN: So, I was asked by a very notorious climate denier – Mark Moreno – did, I think that was fair for executives to be sued like this and get in sort of hot water. And I said, “Send it to the courts!” If it's a reasonable argument, then the courts will decide. It's not up to me. Although we all have opinions about court cases and so on.

He was asked a leading question from a journalistic standpoint. Absolutely incorrect style of question, and I did my best to deal with it. It's up to the courts, Mr. Moreno, not up to me!

J: What it really boils down to, what are the current laws?

BN: Yeah, right. Yeah. What are the laws? And how is it in New York state if you deceive your ...

E: Stockholders

BN: Stockholders, yeah.

C: It's gonna be tough to have, if this becomes a jury decision, to find a jury that doesn't have any emotional

E: You're right

C: feeling

E: Who doesn't have Exxon in their portfolio in some way?

C: I do have a question. I wonder, I know that it's important to understand just for – because I'm interested how many of these executives, maybe they know, or have they convinced themselves that they don't know? It does seem like there's a difference, right, between malfeasance and buying into your own game.

But at the end of the day, when palm readers swindle somebody out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they go to prison for it, does it matter if they believe they're doing the right thing? Or if they overtly

S: No

C: know they're not doing

S: No

C: anything?

S: I think it has to not matter

C: It has to not matter.

S: because what's important is: Are you doing due diligence? Are you following the standard? Right? To say it matters means that your beliefs are paramount. They're supreme. As long as you believe something is right, you can do it. No, you have to follow the law, even if you don't necessarily agree with it. If ninety-seven percent of scientists say you're wrong, I'm sorry, but you have to go with that. You know what I mean? Especially if you're a large corporation, you can't just decide what you want the science to be, because even if you really believe it.

That's like saying a pharmaceutical company says, “Well, they believe their drug works.” Who cares!

C: But there is a

S: They have to prove it works! I don't care what they believe. They have to prove it works to an accepted, transparent standard. That's what matters.

C: And that's where I think we start to see some problems. You know, we start to see that the scientific method is less rigorous as it is applied, not that the scientific method is less rigorous, but that our legal system is not based in science. And often times, we start to see a disconnect because we do have a rich history of individuals who are finding themselves within the judicial system, and intention has to do with their outcomes, you know?

First degree murder is very different from second degree murder; it's very different from manslaughter; and we actually treat those individuals differently. And I worry that if these executives can make the case that even if there were internal memos, they didn't believe them, that they will get a lighter sentence, and that concerns me.

S: That may mitigate some individual guilt, because it is true that the legal system does take into account intention, state of mind, et cetera. It doesn't always matter in some context, but it does in others, like you were saying. But again, I don't want to get too deep into the weeds legally, because we have no lawyers up here.

C: Truth.

S: I do say I think your position, Bill, “We'll let the legal system work it out,” is perfectly reasonable. But it is funny, I have read a lot of the reaction to this, and a lot comments, a lot of, obviously, focused at you because you made that one, what I thought was very innocent comment, Bill.

BN: I said, “I can understand where someone was trying to sue.”

S: Yeah, and we'll see what happens.

BN: We'll see what happens.

S: Essentially, we'll see what happens. And like, yeah, we'll see what happens. Let the lawyers sort it out. But I do like to try to understand what the other side is saying. When I wrote about this, I was left with this comment. This is a comment left on my blog.

BN: If you're listening on the podcast, he just put up a slide with a lot of words.

S: I'm gonna read it. (Cara laughs) I'm gonna read it.

J: Thanks Bill.

S: I'm gonna read it.

Should climate scientists who conspire to evade

J: Wait, Steve, set it up.

S: I'm gonna say it at the end! I know what I'm doing! (Audience, Bob, and Cara laugh)

C: Brotherly love.

S: This is a comment on my blog. That's the set up so far. I'll let you know who said it at the end.

Should climate scientists who conspire to evade FOIA requests – Freedom of Information Act requests – to rig peer review, to destroy data rather than share it with skeptics, and to use tricks to hide the decline, be criminally prosecuted? Should climate scientists who massage data and misrepresent the temperature record for the past eighteen years in order to secure government funding for their fraudulent research be criminally prosecuted? Should scientists at NOA be criminally prosecuted for refusing to turn over documents and data to congressional committee that has subpoenaed them? I have to objection to criminalization of the AGW debate. Much of the climate science “profession”

Scare quotes

belongs in prison.

C: Wow!

S: That's what the other side is saying. It's just interesting to see that. This was the

BN: I would ask the other side, what happens if they're all not prosecuted because there was nothing to these emails that used nouns like “trick”

S: Yeah

BN: to solve mathematical problems,

S: Right, right

BN: and show that there was absolutely nothing to it! Now what?

S: Oh yeah, there has been multiple independent investigations. So my point was, well, they were investigated! These scientists

BN: Yeah

S: who were, they had the investigation, and they were found that they didn't do anything wrong. And all we're saying is it's fine now for these investigations to happen at the other end. And all we're talking about is doing the investigation.

Now, the author of this comment was a gentleman by the name of Michael Egnore. People recognize that name?

E: Yeah

S: He's the neurosurgeon who blogs for the Discotute – Discovery Institute. He's a creationist, obviously, and an avid global warming denier.

BN: Oh, obviously, obviously, yeah.

S: Yeah, yeah.

J: I prank phone called him about seven years ago, remember that?


E: Oh yeah!

J: Totally, totally got him!

S: Did we ever play that?

J: We did.

S: Yeah yeah, okay. That was funny. So he clearly reads my blog. He occasionally comments. I knew he was gonna take my bait on this one. I knew he was gonna comment. When I was writing this, 'cause this is right in, this is what gets him most agitated, is any kind of notion doing anything to silence open debate.

Of course, that's what deniers always want, right? They want their fringe, minority opinion to be treated as if equal to the consensus of scientific opinion. Creationists just want an open debate. They just want to talk about it!

J: You know, part of the problem here too, as an interesting side note. Steve and I were recently sued, and just the request for information on this scale could cost tens of thousands of hours

S: Yeah

J: to collect, collate, and do everything that you need to do. I had to go through years of my email, to collect all my emails.

S: Yeah, it's definitely no joke.

J: It's a big deal.

S: Yeah

J: But the thing is, it's frivolous, and that's why

S: You're talking about the action against the scientists

J: Right, right

S: Which the FOIA requests, yeah.

J: And we've seen threatened scientists get crushed just by legal requests

C: Yeah, Kevin Folto's – just FOIA requests, there's not even any legal proceedings.

J: Yep.

BN: The other side says that they feel persecuted.

S: Yes

BN: That was one of Moreno's big things.

S: Right

BN: But he said, “Is it appropriate for professors to lose their funding?” And I said, “In the case of the couple people you're talking about, yes.” (Steve laughs) “If you work for a university, and you're in the science department, and you insist that the Earth is six thousand years old, you don't get a gig in the geology department just 'cause you're a nice, or you want one

J: Or you really believe it, like Steve was saying. Like, it doesn't matter!

C: That matters more I think!

BN: So, that climate change is this debate shows (here in 2016) shows to me that the deniers have been so successful

S: Yeah

BN: that they've worked so hard to introduce doubt, and they've done it. And voters, it's below their top ten concerns.

E: Yep.

S: They have a narrative; and they're very successful at talking within their narrative, like this, like Egnore is doing here. In my opinion, he's a propaganda agent for the Discovery Institute, for the anti-global warming and creationism movement.

BN: Why does creationists

S: He's got the narrative right there.

BN: You guys, you're probably experts in this. Why is creationism and climate change denial, why are they so closely linked? Or tied?

C: Because God wouldn't allow nature to do this.

BN: Wouldn't allow us to kill ourselves.

C: Well, yeah, exactly. He wouldn't allow us to kill ourselves, and he has prescribed how the climate is changing. So this would be, the fact that human beings through decisions that they make could be affecting change at that global level, I think is heretical. It flies in the face of creationist dogma.

BN: Where there's a guy looking out for you, has a plan for your life,

C: Sure

BN: and so on.

C: And you can do whatever the fuck you want.

S: Yeah, that may be part of it.

J: I think it's part of their psychology.

C: I see it a lot.

S: It's complicated.

C: I see it a lot, when you get down to that core part of the argument.

BN: 'Cause it's a little bit surprising.

S: Yeah

BN: To me, I mean, politically, they've come together on the conservative side. They're like minded in a way. But which candidates do they support? But denying geology, just, I wouldn't have time right away denying climate change.

J: Yeah

E: Yeah

S: Yeah, it's interesting.

BN: But there it is.

Lost Mayan City Is Neither (48:03)[edit]

(Commercial at 57:03)

Why is Space Three Dimensional (58:51)[edit]

Science or Fiction (1:10:09)[edit]

(Science or Fiction music)
It's time for Science or Fiction

Skeptical Quote of the Week (1:25:26)[edit]

S: And until next week, this is your Skeptic's 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.

Today I Learned:[edit]


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