SGU Episode 58

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SGU Episode 58
August 30th 2006
SGU 57 SGU 59
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
R: Rebecca Watson
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein

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Show Notes
Forum Topic


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

News Items ()[edit]

Pope to accept ID? ()[edit]


Hitler and Stalin possessed by the Devil ()[edit]

Pluto no longer a planet ()[edit]


Madonna and magic water ()[edit]

Primates were prey for raptors ()[edit]

Questions and E-mails ()[edit]

Archeological Conspiracies ()[edit]

I got into a discussion with my brother on the subject of strange archaeological finds. He made the statement that there are so many of these stories around that some 'must be true'. At this point my critical thinking alarm went off and I told him that making a blanket statement like that was to be close minded to the possibility that these things have plausible explanations or are outright hoaxes. He seems to subscribe to the 'evil scientists concealing the truth' theory.

Is there any good solid evidence of any of these stories being true? (i.e. modern artifacts found in solid rock, etc. ).


Chris Hampton
USA, Atlanta, GA

Gullible article on 'out of place artifacts'

Deployed Skeptic ()[edit]

To all
Love the show, not much in the way of entertainment in Afghanistan so there is lots of time to think and listen to the 50 podcasts I stuck on my ipod. I think I am the first ever listener of your show during a mid-air refuel of a C-17. Add that one to your stats. :) Keep up the good work and I look forward to future episodes (if I can ever download them).
Captain M Forman
Special Operations

Abiogenesis pseudoscience? ()[edit]


On the last podcast you all were discussing the hypothesis for an abiogenic origin for petroleum. After a really good overview (from Perry, was it?) Rebecca mentioned that pseudoscience can invade any field, and that was the general consensus. I would quibble that abiogenic-originated petroleum is not a psedoscience.

It may very well be wrong, but what is pseudoscience about that? It's based on the very real evidence that some of the molecules in petroleum can be created without a biological component to the process. As one of you stated, it looks like the available and observable evidence would not support the amount of petroleum we see, and that largely the hypothesis doesn't fit as well as the hypothesis (hence now probably theory) for the biological origin of petroleum.

I suppose that conspiracy theories have surrounded it, so it trips the 'pseudoscience trigger' in you, but a perfectly reasonable hypothesis that does not require anything magical that happens to be disproven, is not pseudoscience. In fact, it's the best kind of science, it's a hypothesis that is testable (or at least disprovable through observation).

Matt Dick

Interview with Kimball Atwood, MD ()[edit]

  • Kimball C. Atwood IV, MD is an anesthesiologist and clinical assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, and an Associate Editor of the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine. He has been active in exposing the pseudoscientific practices and philosophies of naturopathy. He is also an advisor to Naturowatch, a website with scientific information about naturopathy ( He is also the Chairman of the Committee on the Quality of Medical Practice of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

    Articles by Dr. Atwood
    Naturopathy: A Critical Appraisal:
    On Considering Alternative Medicine:

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Question #1: Oxford physicists propose resurrecting the ether to explain current mysteries about the structure of the cosmos Question #2: Scientists have bred a strain of permanently happy mice to use in depression research. Question #3: Researchers at the University of Montreal claim to have found the 'God spot' - the single location in the human brain responsible for religious belief.

Skeptical Puzzle ()[edit]

Last week's 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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