SGU Episode 775

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SGU Episode 775
May 16 th 2020
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SGU 774                      SGU 776

Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella

GP: Gerald Posner

Quote of the Week

You might use a simple model and find weird behavior and ignore it. But you shouldn’t ignore it, because that very weirdness is significant.

Dr. Robert May, physicist and ecologist

Download Podcast
Show Notes
Forum Discussion


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

COVID-19 Update ()[edit]

News Items[edit]






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

Do Facemasks Work? ()[edit]

Carbon Dioxide and the Pandemic ()[edit]

Distrust of Expertise Online ()[edit]

Closest Black Hole to Earth ()[edit]

Who's That Noisy? ()[edit]

New Noisy ()[edit]

[Cackling animal has taken someone's phone]

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

Email #1: R-Naught ()[edit]

Dear Steve, Bob-1, Bob-2, Evan, and Cara, [Insert standard I love the show and all of you text here.] There has been a lot of talk about R-Naught these days, and I'm still confused. I've watched multiple videos and read multiple articles, and I still can't wrap my head around the subtleties. Wikipedia, for example, says R0 is the expected number of cases directly generated by one case in a population where all individuals are susceptible to infection in the absence of "any deliberate intervention in disease." That part makes sense. But then it says R0 is not a biological constant for a pathogen, as it is also affected by other factors such as environmental conditions and the behavior of the infected population, which seems to me to contradict the previous statement. Does it include interventions or not? I also hear talk of getting R0 below 1 to stop the spread, which also seems to go against the idea of "in absence of interventions" part of the definition. Is the R0 of measles 18 or less than 1 because we are mostly vaccinated? If R0 can change based on population behavior, wouldn't you have to list the assumptions for the number to be meaningful? Anyway, I think you get what I'm getting at. Love all of you and stay healthy! Best, Bryan Schiffner, Colorado

Interview with Gerald Posner ()[edit]

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Answer Item
Fiction Multitasking
Science Random leaders
Gamer addiction
Host Result
Rogue Guess

Voiceover: It's time for Science or Fiction.

Item #1: Researchers find that multitasking in the office leads to greater satisfaction and decreased depression.[5]
Item #2: A new study finds that choosing leaders partly at random reduces abuse of power.[6]
Item #3: A study of teen video gamers finds that 10% display pathological video game addiction.[7]

_Rogue_ Response[edit]

_Rogue_ Response[edit]

_Rogue_ Response[edit]

_Rogue_ Response[edit]

_Host_ Explains Item #_n_[edit]

_Host_ Explains Item #_n_[edit]

_Host_ Explains Item #_n_[edit]

_Host_ Explains Item #_n_[edit]

Skeptical Quote of the Week ()[edit]

You might use a simple model and find weird behavior and ignore it. But you shouldn’t ignore it, because that very weirdness is significant.
Dr. Robert May, physicist and ecologist (1936-2020)

Signoff/Announcements ()[edit]

S: —and until next week, this is your Skeptics' Guide to the Universe.

S: Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is produced by SGU Productions, dedicated to promoting science and critical thinking. For more information, visit us at Send your questions to And, if you would like to support the show and all the work that we do, go to and consider becoming a patron and becoming part of the SGU community. Our listeners and supporters are what make SGU possible.

Today I Learned[edit]

  • Fact/Description, possibly with an article reference[8]
  • Fact/Description
  • Fact/Description



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