SGU Episode 81

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SGU Episode 81
February 7th 2007
SGU 80 SGU 82
Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
R: Rebecca Watson
B: Bob Novella
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein

Quote of the Week
“Everything has a natural explanation. The moon is not a god, but a great rock, and the sun a hot rock.”
Download Podcast
Show Notes
Forum Topic


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

News Items ()[edit]

Enviga Lawsuit ()[edit]


Iranian AIDS Cure ()[edit]


    Gambian President says he can personally cure AIDS

Creationists Nonsense in Kenya ()[edit]


Questions and E-mails ()[edit]

Follow up on Global Warming ()[edit]

Hello All,

I consider myself an amateur skeptic and really enjoy your podcast. Ive been listening for a couple months now and haven't really disagreed with you so far. Until now...and its so bad that I must give you my two cents.

Im not sure what your intentions were with having Spencer Weart discuss the critical nature of global warming, but being the skeptics you are, I'm very surprised nobody questioned his statements. After listening to him speak, it's no wonder there are so many denialists out there. As is the case with the usual rantings on global warming, Mr. Weart did not provide one shred of scientific evidence (by any stretch of the word) to demonstrate the 'catastrophic' human effect on global warming.

At the beginning of his diatribe, he inferred that the earth is obviously warming up because he was just up in New York and cherry trees were blossoming. Do you really consider this evidence? I grew up in Upstate New York where the ground was normally covered in snow from November till April, yet even back in the '70s and 80's, we'd have an off-year with warmer temperatures and very little snow. Now I live in Colorado where the temperatures have been much colder than normal and we have a hell of a lot more snow than usual. If Mr. Weart traveled out here, would the unusually severe winter change his mind about global warming? Probably not, because the global warming movement also asserts that some places will actually cool down. How does human-induced global warming cause such differing conditions in both places? Both are variations that have occurred many times in the past, even before global warming became popular.

Mr. Weart also referred to a study that someone did 20 or 30 years ago. What? If he is a scientist and has solid evidence, why can't he be more specific about the study, or at least narrow down the year.

Mr. Weart reflects the typical arguments of the catastophic global warming movement and, surprisingly,

Youngest Skeptic ()[edit]

Hi guys,

I was listing to your show (Podcast # 77) and you asked if there were any 10-year old skeptics. I am 11 years old, 12 in May and I wanted to let you guys know that there was a 10-year old skeptic out there.

Daniel Cohen

Martin Gardner Lives ()[edit]

Greetings Steve and Gang,

Thanks for the useful and entertaining podcast.

Steve's comment that Martin Gardner was a deist may come as a surprise to Martin if you ask him. Mr. Gardner certainly still is, because HE is! So, referring to Martin in a past tense is rather premature. Randi recently gave readers of Swift the opportunity to send Martin cards on his birthday. By the way, Martin's book The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener has a chapter Why I Am not an Atheist.

Of course it isn't news to any of you that Martin is as important to the skeptical movement and skeptical literature than anyone else has ever been. It's gratifying that others like Michael Shermer, Randi, etc. have come along. For a long time, the movement was Martin's, and we are a better world for his prolific pen. Your comments on this podcast on cults reminded me of several of Martin's essays and books on cults-- Urantia, Scientology, Christian Science, etc.

Another topic you mentioned briefly on the last podcast was on quantum mechanics, and Martin wrote about this in an essay titled Parapsychology and Quantum Mechanics in the book Science and the Paranormal: Probing the Existence of the Supernatural 1981, George Abell and Barry Singer, Editors.

So, long live Martin Gardner and his legacy, including The Skeptics Guide to the Universe!

Jay DeLong
Olympia, WA

TAM5 Interviews Part III ()[edit]

TAM5 Interviews Part IIIThe Amazing Meeting InterviewsL
Phil Plait - the Bad Astronomer
Mythbusters Adam Savage and Tory Belleci

Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Question #1: Harvard scientists have successfully turned a light beam into matter and then back into light again with the exact same properties at a different location. Question #2: Study finds that children who sleep more are less likely to be overweight. Question #3: A new study demonstrates that playing video games for 2 or more hours a day worsens visual acuity.

Skeptical Puzzle ()[edit]

This Week's Puzzle

Explain the following sequence:
10, 1, 5, 25, 50

Last Week's Puzzle

I came into being in the mid 19th century in Iowa
But I was only discovered a year later in New York
My fathers name was George
But the man who found me was my first cousin, once removed
I am larger than any person that has ever lived
Yet millions of people believe that others like me once flourished
People from far and wide would visit me
Theyd line up by the hundreds to get a glance at my visage
I was no great thinker, some thought I had rocks in my head
But I was gentle, firm, and thought provoking
I traveled the country and displayed my uniqueness to the masses
Though my star shone brightly, it faded quite fast
And a year or so later, I was little more than a joke
But before I was through, I had carved out my place in history
And solidified myself as one of the best known fakes of all time

Who am I?

Answer: The Cardiff Giant
Winner: David Tyler

Quote of the Week ()[edit]

“Everything has a natural explanation. The moon is not a god, but a great rock, and the sun a hot rock.” - Anaxagoras

S: The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is produced by the New England Skeptical Society in association with the James Randi Educational Foundation. For more information on this and other episodes, 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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