SGU Episode 57

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SGU Episode 57
August 23rd 2006
SGU 56 SGU 58
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
R: Rebecca Watson
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein

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

News Items ()[edit]

Water Tree mystery solved ()[edit]


Mystery animal in Maine ()[edit]


Creationism Update ()[edit]

  • Creationists Attempt to Link Darwin to Hitler

    Evolution Strangely Missing from Government Science Grants

Pluto Blues IAU votes on definition of Planet ()[edit]


Questions and E-mails ()[edit]

Follow up on Acupuncture ()[edit]

First I wanted to thank you guys for such an excellent job with the podcast. I discovered it a few month ago and I'm in love (I think my husband is getting jealous - I'm spending a lot more time listening to my MP3 player catching up on the episodes I've missed) Your podcast is such a breath of fresh air.

I am an MD/PhD student, and as medical students we are taught not to challenge patients ideas about their heath, but to work with them and incorporate their believes into the 'standard' medical care. The idea is to make sure they do not abandon you as their doctor all together for an alternative practitioner. As much as it hurts my skeptical sensibilities, I can't entirely disagree with this approach, nor can I come up with a better alternative. So, health professionals are left to perpetuate all kinds of unscientific nonsense or to loose your patient, thus jeopardizing their health. Today I run across an article about acupuncture: (this is the InfoPOEMs summary with a link to an actual article)

I have a number of concerns about the subject. Most of all I am worried about health professionals (rather than patients or acupuncturist who don't give science much credit anyway) walking away form reading such articles with 'acupuncture works' message and going on to tell their patients about it. On a different note, it is not wise to ignore the evidence if it is there. Assuming the study design is valid (at least I could not see anything glaringly wrong with it), I am trying to think of why it would show the results it did show. Fibromyalgia is an unusual disease, and as far as I know one of the theories about its etiology is diminished blood flow the areas of pain (which is somehow psychologically mediated). The supporting evidence for that would be the fact that both antidepressants and exercise help. Do you think it is possible that putting a needle in would increase the blood flo

Interview with Larry Sarner ()[edit]

  • Larry Sarner is dedicated to fighting anti-scientific medical practices. His efforts have focused on Therapeutic Touch, Attachment Therapy, Naturopathy, and the anti-flouridation movement. He is a member of the National Council Against Health Fraud and is an official with the Advocates for Children in Therapy.

    Author of Attachment Therapy On Trial: The Torture and Death of Candace Newmaker

    Pro-fluoridation website

    Articles by Sarner:

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Question #1: South American Indians were able to smelt platinum long before the technology was available to reach platinum's melting point of 1768.9 C - a temperature unattainable until the nineteenth century. Question #2: Although corn was cultivated in the Americas, it was developed from a grass known only to exist in Asia. Question #3: The sides of the Giza pyramids deviate from a N-S alignment by 3/60 of a degree (3 minutes of arc).

Skeptical Puzzle ()[edit]

New Puzzle:

A man, a chemist, a pastor by trade
In search of a cure he thought he had made

For the prevention and cure of scurvy, he wrote
His newest discovery he had hoped to gloat

The public's belief in this product was fast
Dermatitis and rheumatism would be things of the past.

As time passed on, and the ills still remained
The product itself would garnish new fame

Still the pharmacies sold it, it would become a tradition
People bought it by the hundreds, the thousands, and millions

For that man long ago we must give our thanks,
While he tinkered with elements, currents, and plants

And though he did not rid the world of rickets or piles
To billions of people, we attribute their smiles.

Who was he and what was his discovery?

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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