SGU Episode 623

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SGU Episode 623
June 17th 2017
Jebel Irhoud skull.jpg
SGU 622 SGU 624
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein
C: Cara Santa Maria

Quote of the Week
People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.
Blaise Pascal
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Show Notes
Forum Topic


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

Forgotten Superheroes of Science ()[edit]

  • Beatrice Shilling: Beatrice Shilling 1909-90 was the engineer who fixed the carburetor on the Spitfire's Merlin Engines allowing them to dive without fear of stalling during aerial combat

News Items[edit]

Deep Brain Stimulation ()[edit]

Fasting Exercise ()[edit]

The Sixth Extinction ()[edit]

Earliest Modern Human ()[edit]

Stars Born in Pairs ()[edit]

Who's That Noisy ()[edit]

  • Answer to last week: Neural Network

What's The Word ()[edit]

  • Volatile

Questions and E-mails[edit]

Question #1: CRISPR ()[edit]

Sorry if you've already talked about this in your latest show (I just saw that a new one came out and I didn't have time to listen to it yet). Last week in science or fiction there was an item about >1500 off-target mutations in CRISPR-Cas9 treated mice. Science Friday podcast also covered this ( at t-26:55). tl;dl: It seems this finding is controversial: the statistics are shaky, and so is the editing technique used. On top of that, the article is a Letter-to-the-Editor, which does not go through peer-review. So maybe not all is lost with CRISPR-Cas9, and even if there are more off-target mutations than previously thought, CRISPR remains a revolutionary gene-editing tool as compared to other techniques like zinc-finger nucleases. I'm sure Bob is relieved to hear this. Cheers, Marc Züst

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Item #1: Vienna has a population of 1.8 million, which is the same as its population in 1900, and represents over one quarter of the entire population of Austria. Item #2: Both the snow globe and the Pez dispenser were invented and first sold in Vienna. Item #3: Schönbrunn palace, the summer home of the Hapsburgs, was modest by European standards, containing 74 rooms. Item #4: In the old markets of Vienna it was common to find monkey grooming services, to pay to have a monkey remove lice and fleas from your head.

Skeptical Quote of the Week ()[edit]

"People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive." - Blaise Pascal

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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