SGU Episode 649

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SGU Episode 649
December 16th 2017
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SGU 648                      SGU 650

Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella

Quote of the Week

A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice. Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or refute it.

Sir Karl Raimund Popper, Austrian-British philosopher

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Show Notes
Forum Discussion


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

Forgotten Superheroes of Science ()[edit]

News Items[edit]






(laughs) (laughter) (applause) [inaudible]

Space Policy Directive 1 ()[edit]

Group Perception ()[edit]

Ticks, Dinosaurs, and Amber ()[edit]

Antarctic Extremophiles ()[edit]

Water Cloak ()[edit]

Who's That Noisy? ()[edit]

New Noisy ()[edit]


Questions/Emails/Corrections/Follow-ups ()[edit]

Question #1: Earthing ()[edit]

I recently watched this short film on grounding or earthing, a seemingly miraculous technique for dealing with chronic pain caused by inflammation. Part of my skepticism about this field stems from the simple fact that if this information was as important as is claimed in the movie, it would probably be more widely known. The other part of my skepticism is about the way I came to see the movie (a post on Facebook by a pretty woo-woo friend of mine, who used to be my yoga instructor). But the film produces some pretty convincing evidence: testimonials from medical doctors and physicists, and 20 scientific studies which have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals. I'll be looking into this further on my own, but I'm curious: could there be something to this, or is it another convenient solution that tries to explain away too many unrelated problems? Thanks for reading,

– Evelyn McLean Los Angeles, CA

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Answer Item
Fiction Plant electricity
Science Hydrogen-boron fusion
CO2 into a mineral
Host Result
Steve swept
Rogue Guess
Plant electricity
Plant electricity
Plant electricity
Plant electricity

Voiceover: It's time for Science or Fiction.

Item #1: Scientists report a breakthrough with hydrogen-boron fusion using lasers and predict a working prototype within 10 years.[6]
Item #2: Engineers at Wageningen University have developed a system by which they can harvest electricity directly from plants, and bioengineered a tree that, when mature, several together can produce enough electricity to power a small home.[7]
Item #3: Researchers demonstrate a method they claim can be used to convert 850 million tons of atmospheric CO2 into a mineral each year, using seawater and scrap metal, and producing hydrogen as a side product. [8]

Bob’s Response[edit]

Jay’s Response[edit]

Evan’s Response[edit]

Cara’s Response[edit]

Steve Explains Item #1[edit]

Steve Explains Item #2[edit]

Steve Explains Item #3[edit]

Skeptical Quote of the Week ()[edit]

A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice. Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it or refute it.
Sir Karl Raimund Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher

Signoff/Announcements ()[edit]

S: —and until next week, this is your Skeptics' 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]

  • Fact/Description, possibly with an article reference[9]
  • Fact/Description
  • Fact/Description



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