SGU Episode 822

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SGU Episode 822
April 10th 2021
(brief caption for the episode icon)

SGU 821                      SGU 823

Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella

Quote of the Week



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

S: Hello and welcome to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. Today is Wednesday, April 7th 2021, and this is your host, Steven Novella. Joining me this week are Bob Novella...

B: Hey, everybody!

S: Cara Santa Maria...

C: Howdy.

S: Jay Novella...

J: Hey guys.

S: ...and Evan Bernstein.

E: Good evening folks!

There's a little confusion about last week's episode at that noisy, definitely cromie one. That was good. I heard very good things. About you, Bob. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I've got emails. Like people really, really like the way you handled the whole thing and I agree. Oh, good. I said that's not easy to just slip into that role. They can go so well done. It definitely takes some extra work for sure. And and my God, like my big takeaway is that Kara completely can do it. Like pretend to be me that guy. We have a little bit of experience with each other. Yeah.

COVID-19 Update ()[edit]

So quick update, I spoke three weeks ago, I guess. Three weeks ago about the concern, that there was blood clots occurring in people getting the AstraZeneca vaccine covid-19 to make sure there's no confusion the AstraZeneca AstraZeneca vaccine is being given me Europe. It's not one of the approved vaccines or the United States there was case reports of blood clots. As and the week or two weeks following in the vaccine, the initial review of the data by the World, Health Organization by the UK, by the European medicines agency concluded that the, these were not above the background rate and there was no, no proof that there was a link to the vaccine. However, there was one concerning aspect and that was a few cases in young people, mostly women, Enos

It's a blood clot. In the vein, one of the veins of drains blood from the brain, this is a potentially serious, what cut and they were. So it's been three weeks. This data has been followed closely by Fusion from. We don't know to, there's probably a link to the vaccine. Yes, it is. The numbers are still very low in terms of absolute numbers and difficulty has been the, there's a pretty wide range of uncertainty in terms of with the background rate is and it's possible. The background rate is higher during the pandemic because covid causes to, yeah, and so that's what took so long and now the saying, okay there's been enough cases that I think

I say that there could be an association here, no but it seems to be limited to people under 55 and mostly, when older people the thing is that the again the risk is extremely low. They say that our world bodies. Look at every case it comes down to around one and a hundred thousand risk of getting the blood clot. Just listen. And so are due to the vaccine. The vaccine would still save many more lives than Because by the side effect. So you might know, well, they just give the other vaccines but the problem is that this vaccine is necessary for the effective strategy of getting everybody on Deck sir. He's quickly as possible so it would delay vaccination in order to think Tiffany took this out of the rotation also. It doesn't The cold chain distribution. And so it's cheaper and really convenient, especially for the poor countries. So this was a huge part of the strategy to vaccinate or countries. So it's be huge to take it completely out of circulation. And Europe is surging. Now with these variants with these newer Barons, who really things are turning out. So it's not just terrible timing. So what are they going to do? It's not really clear some countries have resumed giving the vaccine others have continued to pause it and others have I said, all right, we're going to just not give it to people under 55, which seems like a reasonable compromise that I even then it's numbers risky. For older people, definitely, you should, you should give it to people, over 55, preferentially to minimize, whatever was, there is from it. It's just, it's like one of those things where there's probably, like, If This Were a drug, it would either get a black bubble. We call a black box warning wouldn't necessarily be taken off the market. If it was like, the only drug in that was fulfilling a particular need and it was saving.

Our lives and it was harming. What we like in the United States with the FDA, which was put up black It's warning on it, like be very concerned in this population. Keep a close eye on them, but you know, if there's multiple options example, well we just not going to use this will just use the other option but we just that's just not on the table in the middle of a worsening pandemic. And so maybe eventually this will get replaced by the other vaccines. But for now, if you playing the numbers game, it's still going to save more lives than it will cost. If you're you said, yeah, I mean, but it's hard. That's right. Steve Of that. After this first round, like that's kind of the world gets vaccinated that we're going to have to get revaccinated. We're going to have to get boosters and it's probably going to be a completely different. I've seen anyway, because yes, it will have been the new variants will have been real be reformulated. It'll be reformulated, they'll be more data with all the vaccines. Some of the vaccines may be taken out of rotation, sun will be changed to minimize risk, whatever it will be better will be version 2.0. We're kind of forced now to do version 1.0 because, you know,

Because killing so many people these vaccines work. You know it's just the numbers are just still in favor of using it while we even while we're working out the Kinks. But of course that's a hard sell to the public and you know a lot of people just not turning upward, they're canceling their appointments for the vaccine which is which is a contributing to this next wave that we're getting. Which is unfortunate unfortunate, especially if let's say you know an older man? Has a vaccine appointment and you know here's the rhetoric or sees the stuff circulating online and just is like well better safe than sorry. I just won't do it. It's like no that's not very safe than sorry. That's better. Sorry. Save. Yeah, that's the thing it. But we are not wired as it were to properly assess active versus passive risk. We are much more willing. This is the trolley experiment, right? We're much more willing to allow bad things to happen through inaction and directly caused them through action. Even

It's the same outcome. In fact, we're willing to let more harm come by. If you in action to avoid lesser harm through direct action now and then that piggybacks on the what's it called the appeal to Nature fallacy. That this idea that oh, well Nature's just going to take its course and that's somehow better. Yeah, they have a disease is better than die from vaccine if you're still sad, exactly the dead only know, one thing better to be alive. And the odds of the death are so much higher because even if you just consider the two-week period but forget about calculating all the downstream like how you know your risk over the next year and the risk of giving it to somebody else and the risk of new variant occurring and the risk of allowing the pandemic to continue to simmer for another six weeks or whatever. Like if you calculate it all out, it could be orders of magnitude more harm. Not doing the vaccine that doing but still it's just not in US.

And of course we are consuming so much misinformation online you know Steve I came across this really interesting study about it came out of McGill University which is you know really famous of really well respected University in Canada and they were looking at kind of why some Canadians or vaccine hesitant. Where's this coming from, you know, like conspiracy theories you know, bad medical and you know Miss advice.

Researchers from what's going on here. It's weird because when you look at the news and Canada it's really balanced. It's actually very bipartisan, right? Like everybody's like, let's get vaccinated. It doesn't seem to be polarized are the way it is in our political Arena. And so researchers like what's going on, they looked at the top 200,000, most active Canadian Twitter users and they found that. Where are they getting most of their information? But on pump America. Yeah. So they are, they tend to be Canadians who are active on social media tend to get more u.s. news based Outlets than they tend to get local news. And so, because of that, there's sort of a mismatch between what they're learning and Canadians are very active on social media. Apparently, one into Canadian, so half of Canadians are ends on Instagram, five out of six are on Facebook and two out of five are on Twitter. Canadians are very active on social media.

And they're getting fed a lot of American news. So, even Our local news is for be balanced and even though they're not seeing the polarization, they're they're getting the rhetoric, the highly politicized rhetoric, the conspiratorial stuff, the anti science and pseudoscience, and it's crossing over the border. And we've long known that it, you know, American misinformation spreads around the world. The internet doesn't have borders. But, you know, we would hope that there would be that buffering, effect of local news and I guess the more active Canadians are on social media. They're getting this more than even their, you know, listening to their own politicians. Ian's and listening to their own anchors music or so that's a bummer, right? It's a bummer. We're like invading. Yeah, the character also did you see that the the information with the dirty dozen and you know that 65% of that anti-vaccine, this information is coming from 12 individual people 65%. Some of these names might be familiar to you. Joseph Mercola operative, Kennedy jr. Jr. Show.

We Tenpenny these are all anti-vaccine Heavy, Hitters Christian and Northrop. So yeah, those are the 12 biggest misinformation sources. 12, people are generating 65% of the anti-vaccine content on Facebook and Twitter. Unbelievable. So, and it's one of these things where we sit around and we twiddle our thumbs, and we talked about how this is such an intractable problem. And how do we communicate more effectively? And what do we do to buffer misinformation? And how do we have people's bullshit detectors? Dialled up to 11 and it's like the frustrating thing is, like, if only we could just take

Take their Mike. Come down back down to like, dip, Merkel letter, shut up. And I know that that's the first amendment issue and I know that that opens up a lot of really actually important and ethical, you know, conversations. But it is frustrating. When you see the dude over there in the corner, who's spouting everything off and it's like, just stop listening to it. Yeah, well, you know, there's a lot of talk, I'm going to preface this by saying, I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment free speech. And against, if you have to be very careful with the same, before we nibble anything away from it. It but social media and this kind of spreading of really horrific misinformation demonstrable. Misinformation online is really challenging. The notion of how sustainable are modern society is with the ability, to see how easy it is to massively spread, harmful demonstrable misinformation. And so, you know, if we have to, I think, we think the balance here and, and maybe there needs to

Be consequences for saying things that are wrong and harmful my mom. She's going to say something or you may, you know whatever. But if somebody is perpetually pushing harmful rhetoric that directly leads to loss of life. Yeah, maybe that person should go on trial, right? As somebody said, the First Amendment not a suicide pact and so we have. Yeah, we that is We think that's because that should not be the case. It's again, just might be that we're going to produce going to progressively and perpetually lose the fight against misinformation the way the rules are right now. So we got to change something. Is anyone talking about taking action doing something or trying something? Or is it just like things are happening that people are? I mean, you got to remember to these social media platforms, are private company. Well, the public um,

But their companies, right? And so, there are moral and ethical conversations being had at these corporate levels. And, of course, there's pressure, we see political pressure as well, and you're already seeing. We've talked about it before on the show. Twitter, if you see an article and you just go to reshare it without opening. It would be like, are you sure you don't. Ya, this first and like, shame you and I think we're starting to see labels on Facebook. Obviously, it's not enough, obviously like we need something more robust but I it's not like this isn't Being worked. I don't want a worked out but grappled with. Yeah, I think that's the low-hanging fruit. And I would like to see how far we can go with that. Just remind yourself or just people that you should be skeptical about this. Or this is unfair, if I'd or eyewitnesses or unreliable, or whatever, anything like, that makes them in the moment, more skeptical and better, able to evaluate information. And so it's like we have to build

In these guardrails even if they are just soft, you know. Yeah, finders studies bear that out. Yeah, I'm talking about this before to like it makes somebody less likely to Click Share and if you're less likely to click share, then Downstream, you're less likely to get something shipped to you. Sure. That's right. And some people might scream social engineering but the thing is we are social engineering, our country. We're doing it to create q and non-believers. Think about it, other countries are doing it as well. Let's be honest about what these social media platforms are engineered to do keep you there. Keep clicking, go down the rabbit hole, get exposed to more advertisers. This, these platforms are engineered out the ass, this is not just like passive information. Flowing again for fear. This is a big business, right? So that if at the very least, these business models need to be held accountable for destroying the fabric of society, you know?

What you doing? You okay, congratulations, you've managed to convince a million people of the most absurd, and vile conspiracy theory imaginable, and it's actually destabilize our government good going guys, its idiocracy is our reality. I mean, that's what, that's what I mean. It's so it's obviously so dramatic and now we're getting warnings. Are you sure you want to share this? I mean let's do some dramatic ship people. Yeah I wish but

The sad thing is, it's in the hands of the You know, Bezos and the exact gerberg, and it's, you know, it's in the hands of these like sadly. These very, very, very powerful corporations that when it comes down to its people, its people who are holding those reins. Yeah. And do we want those guys to be in charge of these big decisions about society and our future and instability of our democracy? Of course not but they kind of in some ways already default. They are in charge and if we don't want that to be the case, we have to make big decisions collectively. Actively as a society to be too, little too late. Probably there's no easy answer here. And you don't know Magic on without outside, of course. I mean, you know that it's like we want more privacy. We're going to give up convenience, we are going to give our dado. Like there's always a downside. What do we call it? It's that thermostatic homeostasis. Yeah, we're not going to fix this.

News Items[edit]

Yawning Lions ()[edit]

Jay tell me about lions. Have been my favorite animal.

There's something about their looks. But anyway, have you guys ever noticed that lion a lot? Like, scroll through your memory of lions? They typically do it was laying in the cutting and ripping other animals. Slow motion, back Geo, female line they've adapted. So they spend between 16 to 20 hours a day resting and sleeping. You know, this is obviously, so they can save energy and makes them and all that, right? But, you know, Lions you on a lot, they do the good pictures of lions and you can you'll see pictures of them. Yawning, that's how often they do it. So this is not exactly what you think, so because it seems to go hand in hand. The fact they sleep a lot, but a team of researchers has found out something pretty interesting. So, elisabetta Elizabet apology, who is a research scientist mythologist at the University of Pisa Italy? If you didn't know, notice that Lions you on a lot as well, she was studying other animals and had sea lions near her and just was looking at them. And notice it, you know, these guys are yawning lot. So she got curious and started to study them and then formalize, the legit study that About four months, you know, there's different reasons, why creatures yawn, right? There's lots of lots of different animals that Ian and there's lots of different things that people suspect or research that has shown or didn't show some reasons behind it. But Lions, it's pretty, it's pretty serious because it is also connected to a lot of other behaviors that they have third and there's there's a pattern to Lions yawning and it's really cool. Listen to this palagi had previously studied Mates and yawning primates in particular, so she was already well versed in it. So what ended up happening was a group of researchers. Monitored 19 lions at a private game reserve. And they discovered that if lion saw a member of their pride yawn, they were approximately a hundred and thirty nine times more likely to yawn themselves within three minutes that's contagious for them to. Yes but it goes beyond just yawning.

Also if a lion caught a yawn right? So caught Leandra, another life. They were 11 times more likely to mirror the bodily movements of the lion that they saw you on compared to compared to align. That didn't catch the how about that as far as I know, humans, don't do that. What will yawn along with somebody else? But we don't like get up and move our body the way that there are bodies, the Lions do this. So, let's just this visualize this, imagine if If you are watching lions and one of them yards and another one yacht, then the first line gets up and does something. And then the second line gets up and does the same thing that's that's what they observed, the researchers believe that it could help maintain the Prides social cohesion. So it is a social element. This would be beneficial in keeping all the members of the pride in sync with each other, right? So if some of the lines are noticing something and they get their bodies up and they're getting ready for maybe,

Bad or they're just being very protective, the other line. Would be more likely to do that as the result of them yawning and copying each other, right? So it's like a behavioral way of copying each other. And keep in mind here, lions live cooperatively, they hunt together, they manage their offspring together. So, they are very much a society in a very, very tightly packed where they live in, pretty much do everything together. So the coordinated, yawning, and movements would increase the likelihood of two lions interacting with each other. And also Other liens that are all, you know, multiple lines that their behavior would be similar. And this is goes into a little more detail where this has something to do with pride having a collective vigilance under, like I said before, the right circumstances, they would need to act as one and they commonly do, if you pay attention, and I've watched tons of things. There's only, there's a lot of videos of lions, saving other lines there, because they're aware of where the pride is, they know when one of them is missing or far enough away,

I've been interested in yawning, I always read about it. Hate, somebody figured out what yawning me is. You don't suffer another artist but I have read quite a few things where it does have some type of social elevator so it isn't just I'm tired you yawned, you catch my yawn and now you feel a little more tired. It's not just that there's other things going on here again you know ongoing research nothing is 100% Rusev literally, just observing their behavior when we don't know. No genetics or any of that stuff at this point, but it is incredibly interesting. It makes me wonder and Steve. I'm interested. If you, if you're wondering, has anything like, how active role mirror neurons play and it whether lines even have them which I don't see why I think wouldn't. But I don't know if they do and how active a role mirror neurons. Play in that scenario, it's pretty overblown, the mirror neuron thing. But I feel like yawning is one of those places where it's been like established. Yeah, I think we're still

Activate socially react at absorbing the culture showing language. You bind specifically? Yeah I mean I don't see why they wouldn't but because they're you know pretty sophisticated but it would be interesting to look at that behavior. Somehow you do that experimental lion probably couldn't ever but I feel this has definitely been found in primates and dogs. Anybody else you on about eight Times during that job you're so mean but I did it so funny that because yawning did evolve is this social clearly acute. At least that's how we, you know what the evidence seems to point to that. You know we think of it as a way to communicate to our kin that we're safe that were settled that we can like roll. Little bit yet, socially yawning when somebody else is speaking, or when you're engaging in social interaction is considered rude. Yeah. Kind of fascinating. Yes, I'm boring me. Yeah. Like if I'm doing therapy and I feel a yawn coming on, I have an existential crisis in my head. I try to swallow it is so hard and I feel like they can still tell but I still feel like it's a way less rude. My gaping and it has nothing to do with being bored. It's usually because I'm really comfortable you take notes character. You have like a notepad or yeah I do I do. They're just like kind of lift it up.

It was just your head like a big full screen ahead. Yeah, to yawn in such a way that at least behind my ass Ask. Yeah, there's evidence that yawning is more of a waking up signal that. I'm sleeping because it stretches the tendons and it might be really activating. In fact, people rightly do more with their waking up. Yeah. Messaging. That goes right. Exactly. I don't think it has anything to do with these before, but it has the first symbol for that.

Clearly more calm, because I'm still yawning. Yeah.

Air DNA ()[edit]

All right Cara. So we've talked before, about scientists being able to sample water for DNA and tell them, here's everything that lives in this Lake but now they can do it from the air. This would be cool. Okay, so it's called edn. A environmental DNA and I feel like we've even Steve we've done stories about that honest to you. Right. Yeah. So so you know just as a refresher of that, we know that there's DNA pretty much everywhere and ecologists have started to only somewhat recently because we now have the tools to do on the go sequencing and to do collection and we can use PCR and all of these amazing tools and nanopore sequencing in order to do this stuff in the field. But let's say we're tracking a an endangered species and we want to know what it's habits or

Researchers now, can, you know, they'll take samples of water. We see this a lot with aquatic species, for example, to take samples of water, they can see the fragments of DNA that are in it, and they can say, okay, this organism, you know, used this water, it passed through here, that seems to be the most common usage right now. We have seen some examples of it happening in soil, although it's not as common. There's been a little bit of work in there and also things like snow and rain, but he's researchers appeared, a life and environment. I meant they published an article about a DNA, but specifically, they looked at the ability to capture DNA in hair. This is remarkable. So, and they did a pretty controlled experiment. They put some naked mole rats in like a device. A cage. And the cool thing is we love this about how science is evolving. In this way to be more aware and focused on Public Communication. You can watch a video abstract of this peer-reviewed study, which is, or

European study, which is a full text available on. So if you find the study in prj, you can read the entire thing and you can click on a video abstract, the author's, tell the story of their research and there's like, photos and stuff. So it's really accessible, I love it. And so you get to see the setup, you get to see the little rig with the naked, roll mole, rats walking around, inside the hoses and everything. So, it's like a sealed cage with naked mole rats. And they're in there, they're living in their breathing and then they basically vacuumed out the air, and then they were able to To analyze and they talk you through all the steps of the use but kind of classic lab, you know, steps in order to understand what's going on. From a DNA perspective, what DNA can we find with in here, they also were able to sample the environmental air around it and they found DNA from the naked mole rats, both within the cage and for around the cage. So it shows just how kind of pervasive and how much this DNA actually does sort of leave the

All these two things by coughing or sneezing even through your dander. And when I say you, I mean, the mole rats in this case, but of course, it's in their dander. So when they shake their little bodies and when they rub up against things, all of these actions released DNA into the air. So they were, they did not know if they would be able to detect it in any sort of meaningful quantity and they didn't know, if it would need to be, like, hermetically sealed to be able to do so, but they found. No, not only is there any DNA within the cage? But we found it in the environmental are outside of It, we fought it in filters. Basically almost like the same things like HEPA filters and if we get caught up in there and they were able to sequence it but you know what else they found in all of their samples. Human DNA. Yeah, you know why? We shed to? And, and so they found obviously this opens up a really important new way to track, for example, endangered species to learn about organisms in their, in their habitats, you know, kind of insitute without having to remove them bother. The stress them out by capturing them and taking samples, but also, we need to be careful. Awful. Because of course, these samples are so readily contaminated. So we either need to work with. Like basically some really intense clean room clothing in order to prevent cross contamination, or we need to expect that human contamination, will be in there and kind of extract that out of the data so that we can see what organisms are living there. But how cool in the past? This has been demonstrated one time before or not one time, but there's a body of Around it lands but they always thought it's because plans for early release their DNA and spores and so like, obviously plants, put out these spores, we might be able to sample. The air around them and find the DNA from the scores. They didn't know where we were, and especially not with mammals. But this study is really cool proof of concept that says, hey, maybe now we can go out into the environment. We can fac you map the air within a Borough within you know, an area and we can Potentially detect those species were existing there. Is that? Yeah, that's awesome. I especially love the implications for cryptozoology. It's like know, there were no dinosaurs in luck, you can't have large, you know, swimming reptiles and not leaving any traces of DNA. What about care? What of bacterial DNA. They must have found that mean we've all got our bacterial clouds. Oh, I'm sure they did.

I think we've gotten so sophisticated with sampling technology now that I think you can match against these big databases, and if you look at, you know, if of the because remember bacteria have different DNA than because they are prokaryotes, right? So they have the single naked strand of DNA and eukaryotes have more complex DNA. And also there's mitochondrial DNA and so I'm not sure I would have to dig deeper to see if they looked at mitochondrial or if they looked at nuclear DNA but I think that it's relatively easy to differentiate.

Oxygenation Events ()[edit]

So we talked recently Bob you talk about the great oxygenation event or the great. Yeah. Generation Josh Ephesians and you were talking about the future oxygen levels in the atmosphere. There's a new study which tweaks our understanding of the history of oxygen in our atmosphere? It's pretty cool. Yeah. And it answers some questions about it. Always raises more and a good opportunity to review.

The broad brush Strokes of history of Art. The atmosphere of Earth. So as many of you probably know the Earth formed the current Earth. Won't go 4.5 billion years ago when a mars-sized object, hit the proto-earth forming Earth, 2.0 and the maple, right? That's when the clock starts ticking on this right now, the geological, even the Earth again. So, at that point, the things were hot, but they eventually cooled down there was liquid water on the surface. We had a mostly nitrogen atmosphere. Probably other stuff in there as well. And but no oxygen right there was basically no oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere during this first phase but what science is called stage 1, terms of the oxygenation of your establishment, then came stage 2, which is what we're going to be talking about new information stage 2. You have starting around 3.5 billion years ago, but definitely by 2.9 billion years ago. We have

Urea. And they would be grieving carbon dioxide. Combining it with water and making carbohydrates, and which is energy, food, and O2, and oxygen. So oxygen is essentially being liberated from water and carbon dioxide and being free. Oxygen is being released into the atmosphere. Now, this free oxygen did not immediately start building up because we have a planet oxygen. Like is like The most reactive element on the periodic table. It would were, it will react with most of the other elements, right? Inform oxygen species. So a lot of this oxygen starts immediately. Not only dissolving in the water in the oceans but also combining with any iron in the ocean beds. So we have like this great rush to fication of entering of geologically. We this is how we know that the atmosphere was really contain. Oxygen was that think layers start to see increasing levels of rust you know and so but but during this time oxygen levels Rose, only a little bit up to about three to five percent, that's stage two. Then it was pretty stable for about a billion years and

The. This is the pouring. Billions I do is just jumping from terms of fossil evidence for the was a ton happening at the cellular level of pollution. But at the fossilization point of view, there was a pretty much a stable three to five percent oxygen in the atmosphere between 2.45 and and 1.85 billion years ago. That's a so even though it's not being it's not building up in the atmosphere, it's building up in the oxygen sinks. And then once the oceanic oxygen tanks were full, then the land oxygen sings started to fill up. You should leave me a combining basically, with minerals on the land, once all the oxygen sinks in the world. Basically, full like anything that oxygen had access to was already oxidized.

Then the auction started to build up in the atmosphere. This is Phase 4 where you can see the action levels shoot up and they Peak at over 30 percent oxygen. Yeah. And they start to decrease down to the current level of about 21 percent. So, currently our aperture for 21, So remember, whether there was 30% auction, the option, that's when the dinosaurs were around Chinese accent. Yeah. Because the oxygen, get it to their fires everywhere. Let's go back to that stage Tuesday area. So, scientists used to think that during that stage 2, when cyanobacteria are cranking out oxygen, that pretty much was a one-time event, right? That once that started happening, it was happening but it turns out that that probably was not, they stable unidirectional event. So,

Here's the other thing, that's very interesting that happened. So when oxygen started to build up in the atmosphere, even only to 3.5 3 to 5% that displaced carbon dioxide and methane, carbon dioxide carbon dioxide is only point zero. Four percent methane is a trace amount. The only other significant gas New Hampshire's Argyle. It's rough point nine percent so it's 70% Nitrogen, 21%, oxygen .9% Oregon, 0.04 percent carbon dioxide Trace methane and other gases so the carbon dioxide and methane levels went down and what did that do? Bob, cool cover nitrite and methane goes down and it gets cooler. Yeah, so you got that was Snowball Earth. So that point, so at much for lunch Theatre one lot. Yeah. Punch the Earth to into a glaciation event with the entire Earth was a giant Glacier including the oceans.

This caused a mass extinction of cyanobacteria so oxygen levels prominent and then once that happened, the volcanic outgassing of CO2, increase the temperature and the Earth thought cyanobacteria, re-emerged created oxygen killed themselves. Off again, knock down the CO2 plunge, the earth into another snowball Earth. They were for for snowball Earth. Situation events and they think that they all coincide with this oscillation of oxygen production and then Extinction from cyanobacteria. And then once the cyanobacteria levels were decreased enough, CO2 levels were able to build back up if they remember their metabolizing CO2 to reduce oxygen. So the state they were also going to driving down the CO2 levels driving down the greenhouse gases. So there were these. So but basically what they discovered was that The oxygenation events didn't really stabilized until after these four glaciation events were done. So the this better aligns the cyanobacteria producing oxygen with these glaciation snowball, Earth events and then the Earth did not permanently emerge from its snowball State. Until this this oscillation is process stabilized from that point forward. That's kind of when you have

Permanent oxygenation. The boring billion years were, you have to get this steady buildup of oxygen in the minerals until the sinks were full? And then in the atmosphere and then the build-up of oxygen in the atmosphere, coincides with the Cambrian explosion and the explosion of multicellular life, which probably required higher oxygen levels to get enough oxygen into the deep tissue, right? If you're a single celled, Critter breathing, oxygen, Oxygen, 3% by 55. If you're a So they're creature. We've got a transport oxygen around your body. You might need more 3%. So these things coincide as well. It's very interesting, right? So the restore Trooper sort of clicking into Focus, the chemistry of the earth, including the app is fear and the land and the ocean and the Sea beds as well as with the chemistry of the atmosphere, as well as life as well as the climate. And it's kind of All interacting and creating this one coherent picture of what was going on, although we still don't really know what was going on. In terms of Life, who just have, like, really these tiny little Windows into what wife is doing throughout this whole period. Think we know that there are some Nats of cyanobacteria and things like that, but you don't know a lot because this is all pre hard parts, right? So, there isn't a Exquisite fossil record prior to the Cambrian explosion.

It was not so much an explosion of Life although it was but it was more the innovation of fossilized ssible hearts. And so it was sort of a flipping on of paleontology of the fossilized ssible, hard part and like something to live like literally like turning on the light. It's not like the life wasn't there. We just turned on the light and now we could suddenly see all the life that was evolving but they must have been evolving for hundreds of notes Here. You know, just in the dark. So we don't really know a lot about. So pretty cool, I liked it's a good story. Like you got I'd like to have this at least a general picture of stuff. Like, what does the universe look like? But there's the history of the earth life but that's the history of the evolution of life on the earth. Look like just a big thing of these broad brushstrokes of basically paying where are we in space and time? Kind of things. Very cool. My grade. Well, everyone.

Take a quick break from our show to talk about one of our sponsors this week pompous socks. I love my Bamba so much. They've literally rethought every single detail of the sock that you wear to make it way more comfortable, they hold up their sturdy and my favorite, they give back to the most vulnerable members of our community, for every pair of bomba socks, you buy, they will donate a pair to someone in. Need, we're talking over 40 million, pairs of socks and Counting. And, you know, one of the places where they give back, Is for individuals experiencing homelessness something. As simple as you know that we take for granted like a pair of clean new socks, that is an important dignity in somebody's life and you can help out by buying some office today. Like Cara said we all wear them, we love them, we think you should at least give them a try. You have nothing to lose your fear. Really going to appreciate it right Bob. Absolutely Jake. Give a parent when you buy a pair and get 20% off your first purchase that / Skeptics. That's Bo. / Skeptics for 20% off. Your first purchase promised on cam / Skeptics. All right guys, let's get back to the show. All right.

Infection Proof Implants ()[edit]

Bob tell me about making infection proof implants. Yeah, goodnight, yeah, this is another cool Advance against the bacterial, Bad Boys, in medical devices that can kill and they still killed thousands of people. Every year worldwide, it's still nasty and our researchers are now taking inspiration from insect wing. Evolution to create surfaces that repeal or just kill bacteria after they land on it. So this is from an international interdisciplinary team.

Researchers they published a recently in the journal Applied Physics reviews and it's called bactericidal services and emerging 21st century, Ultra Precision, manufacturing and materials puzzle. It's kind of like wtfast in here. It's got the materials and you've got this research puzzle. So I love when the researchers, leverage evolutionary Rd, right research and development to help them make better products, you know, because Evolution has been doing it for quite a long time and a lot of cases. And in this case they're inspired by And fly and cicada Wing. So, for example, not, I was thinking about it and it kind of makes sense that I imagine that would be tremendous selective pressure to protect insect wings from things like bacterial infections, right? Because they're just so delicate. I mean, it's like the, the epitome of something that is delegated, something like a dragonfly wings. But yeah, that means you get an infection or any damage. Even if it was to One Wing I mean you are toast, right? So it makes sense that they'd have some robust defense.

Add. So after 406 In years of insect flight Evolution, they've developed a fantastic way of dealing with bacteria. The structure on the top part of the wing itself. For many of these species is essentially deadly to bacteria, you don't even need chemicals, although some wings are more complex and have layers of machito. The material that that's that hurts bacteria and also chemicals as well, so it's kind of like even more powerful, I guess. So if you if you look real close though, it's Of these some of these Wings you see, Tiny Nano pillars on them. And I don't, depending on the species they could be longer, they could be shorter than me Point here. So what, when a bacterium rests on it? You can imagine, you know, it's stretches and pulls the bacterial membrane or just flat-out. Just punctures it. Killing the bacteria and preventing bacterial biofilms reforming, these biofilms are especially nasty because, you know, biofilm on an implant can form, you know,

The a barrier that can prevent your immune system or even antibiotics, even powerful antibiotics from getting rid of it. And that could mean that the doctor will come to you and say, well, you've got an infection, nothing we could do to can get rid of this infection. So yeah, we're going to pull this implant out of your body so we can actually get rid of the infection so we could treat it like not funny. You imagine that now surfaces, like, this aren't do, we decide this isn't just a new discovery. Oh, wow. Look at these cicada wings but they're really cool. You've known for years that that

Many natural services. His sleeves and and other types of wings are actually inimical to bacteria and for varied for varied reasons, as well. But leveraging that information using that information into, you know, into creating commercial product to take advantage of it, it has not been really happening hardly at all and it turns out because it creating such an exquisitely, engineered surface at scale, is a tremendous scientific challenge is not easy at all. And but this challenge now potentially maybe yielding to applied physics and at least these new these new recent Precision Engineering techniques are fascinating, they're really have had breakthroughs over the years. Some of them have really cool science, fiction sounding names like some processes called one is twinning. Another one is dislocation. Nucleation another one was high pressure phase transformation. Look them up. Those are those are cool techniques that they've developed basically to increase the plasticity of

Dolls. So in this specific case of the researchers plan on using lasers to create Nano features on these medical devices that would have a similar effect to the Nano pillars. And then once the their plan, once they've developed as, you know, they're doing 3D models. And once they are happy with it, they plan on making a prototype and then that would then be tested. So there's a Oliver Pierce from Milton Keynes University Hospital in England. Said that the end goal is a prosthesis that I can implant with clinical evidence that it Kills bacteria and reduces the infection rate and turns out. You really wouldn't have to kill, you know, many different types of bacteria for these types of insertable medical devices. Most infections on them are basically either a staphylococcus or a Streptococcus. If you can develop these engineered surface that are tailored to just those two types of than you would be really good shape because those are the ones that predominate on medical implants and they estimate that. If you could you could deal with those two then you could reduce.

Plant infections by 90%. So yes, that, that would that would be huge because implants are implants your safe. Don't be afraid of getting these implants. If the doctor says, you need one, they're very safe. Not many people get the you get infections but percentage-wise though. Because there's so many implants the world over that that the absolute number of people that get these infections is still big to big number and it's quite a drain on health care services. So if they could reduce that by 90 percent, that would be a boon. Save a lot of Lives. So let's hope they really can make this work to be, be really dramatic.

Aliens, Friend for Foe ()[edit]

All right, Evan, this is something that we've discussed previously and I thought about a lot. What's the probability of space aliens being friendly or threaten 441? I mean, if you research science programs like Star Trek and Star Wars, you can get a pretty good sense of that. But, uh, but but if you'd rather go the scientific route. Yeah. And there was a really neat piece today that came out in Aaron's face Magazine online. That's airspace mag calm and was written by Dirk schulze couch at the. Yeah, that's a great name. Professor at the Technical University of Berlin. Germany course, Adjunct professor at Arizona State University and Washington State University, he's published eight books in nearly 200 scientific papers related, astrobiology, and planetary habitability habitability. So kind of knows a few things about this. These writing a multi-part series of articles for air and space magazine. This is the first part that came out really neat. Is asking the question about Advanced extraterrestrial life-forms. Us would eat, he's be threatening or friendly, right? And that by Steve said, this is something we've actually talked about quite a bit on the show. But the professor frames the question in this context, what a technologically, sophisticated species, share some common behavioral patterns with humans such as social structure, predatory Roots, I don't know that we've actually talked about that angle of this on the show and he comes out right off the bat saying that he believes that that would be the case right off the bat, boom. I heard that in effect with his statement. He's also asking a question as to how we could Possibly no suction answer like this until it actually happens in that it's too late you get but but what are some of the best predictions that we can make about the likely social structure of an alien race and back it with evidence rooted in science about me up. Here are his key points. Okay. He says that any intelligent alien species likely have predatory Roots because the evolutionary trait of intelligence is promoted if you have to hunt for your food, So, predators must hunt, they're going to stay alive, keep it. She's going to some of the most effective ways of successful hunting is to coordinate, the efforts with others in your species. Lots of evidence for that right here. On our planet packs of wolves packs. Of other mammals that hunt. Igloo chimpanzees, dolphins, do it lions were talking about lions. Earlyer, spotted hyenas break here? Yeah, and even Birds avian social, Predators includes Harris's, hawk nerves. What? Your birds and kookaburra species. And of course, humans Ron example that cooperation is required and relies on a certain level of communication among the individuals in the group, but hunting only gets you so far. Those species would have to find ways for more stable and long-term methods of capturing and consuming energy on agriculture, that's agriculture with agriculture, compared to Hunter's, you need a higher degree of communication and more sophisticated communication to create your crops your grasses and other things that lead to them. And those are just Of the steps sort of, on the way we can get to a place where we use currently reside masonry Metallurgy. Seafaring more sophisticated tools are Machinery, are lighter than air ships, nuclear reactors, the Silicon chip and podcasting, you know, these are the absolute peaks of human Endeavors and communication and complex. Socialization allows for these advancements to take, hold in the society and he says, a social structure, is the key ingredient that allows for this advances to To fine-tune balancing act because we are sort of in this constant conflict with our aggressive tendencies that we've had, you know, since Days of our early Evolution, but if we're too aggressive, we have a much, more challenging time achieving these levels. Stable socialization that are required to give. We've got to and he brings up our hominid. Ancestor. Has a example ardipithecus ramidus. Social system for million years Ago in which the females chose their own Partners, which led them to have reduced levels of aggression. And we're stable, social Arrangements being that Outsiders were more tolerated Innovations. Like the use of new tools were more easily accepted by the community. And these are the things we know that human history is filled with examples of violence, barbarism savagery, plenty of examples of those. But when you look at it over,

Long period of time. He says the stability, the social stability was still allowed to take root because it was there were more dotted with these things rather than moving in and totally collapsing the system. Over time it works. So the collaboration prevails over the come over competition. And without that cooperation, complex societies would be. So, he makes that this, the argument, you can make the same argument for technologically advanced aliens. Even if their specifics Social structure would look very different or if you something maybe a hard time identifying, that, that should be the case. So that's pretty neat way of looking at it. And I don't know that we really talked about in any depth along those lines. Yeah, I mean, the question I think is what are the Developmental Pathways to a technological, like an advanced technological civilization? Does it have to be through some period Competition predation Etc or can't even if eventually needs to settle down into cooperation or it doesn't or kanak ticket? Completely different path. Of course we have an end of one that's are always our problem. We don't know of any other examples we have to then speculate is there too much. Human bias. You think totals patch tool is total. The thing is we don't know what that bias is, right? Okay, one data point. So of mental masturbation. Even if you grew up in the culture of one nation and you can even know there was a world outside that Nation, you wouldn't even know what defined your culture, because you would have nothing to compare it to. You wouldn't even know that you are, people were whatever that they tended to be more collectivist or more individuals because you wouldn't even know that. That's a thing that varies. It's just you are just what you are. So we don't even know how what it means to be human and we won't

Till we have something paracelsus to, right? And then we'll be Priced like, oh, I didn't realize that intelligent beings could vary in that way. This is part of what I like about science fiction. When they try to explore these. Yeah, they try to imagine an alien species that alien and thinking, that's the hardest thing. Gosh is very few. Yeah, most sci-fi aliens are humans, right? You know, not just physically, even if they're not physically human, they're mentally human and making aliens that are Are not mentally human. It's when it's done, well, in science. Fiction is fantastic, right? That's why I loved her rival. Yeah, yes, that's how it would be. You know, I'm watching, I'm watching Enterprise, the complete series. Now, first time I've ever watched a whole thing and I'm loving it, I'm loving it, but it's like, oh my God, another alien with a still weird nose or forehead but otherwise identical. It's a good. So it's so frustrating and when you know we've

22:08 Mine whatsoever. I think it's a bit of a false dichotomy of the most common answer. Might not be Friend or Foe, but in different it might they might be not actively hostile but not necessarily recognize her respect our rights and needs of indifference to also be threatening, even if it's not aggression as we think of that. So they would look at us look at the technology that we've developed. And Really kind of brush it off. Potentially one who died in its. We're are personifying these aliens by necessity. It's like, who knows what, how they might think about us and what they, their morality their ethics, you know? Yeah. It might be doing things that they don't think are wrong, but we would, you know, it's just hard to imagine. So they there's so many assumptions in the question itself that I just found this becomes.

I'm curious to see where he goes with this because it's part of a series of papers that he's going to be her series of articles, that is going to be releasing in the coming. So I'm interested to follow them.

Who's That Noisy? ()[edit]

  • Answer to last week’s Noisy: _brief_description_perhaps_with_link_

Jay. It's who's that noisy time? All right, guys, last week I played this noisy.

Wait, that's not Mario. Is that Mario? That is well you know what? It has such an unbelievable similarity to old-school like Nintendo stuff. So that's we, that is like the, we background music. Oh, it's a, we you're right, you're right, you're right. That's why I'm equating with Mario because I played a lot of Mario we but that's not really what the hard part of this noisy was because the Jack you know because if you play any of these video games, definitely recognize that Melody. But so what is creating that sound? That's the real question. That's good. Ones and zeros and you want before I get into this whole thing. I got to tell you, it took people years to stop emailing me at. Who's that noisy to stop emailing Evan when I took over that side, right? Hey, Evan last week, I would say most people address the email, the Cara. Wow. Okay. But that was paying homage to I do but that's amazing. I know that makes me so happy. I'm sure it does. Thanks a lot guys. Thanks anyway, I'll get on with this. Okay, so Adam Hepburn, he writes. Hey J. Hey Kara. Hey Jer Assante a novella guessed correctly. The

Too noisy. So now you say that this is me talking. Now you say that Adam we don't know you could dispute. I got 25 like there's a paper trail box or anything so I'm hoping for the hat trick for episode 8 21, I have an idea. I have no idea what the song is, but I'm guessing that the melody was generated using a dot matrix printer, okay. First off, shame on you for not knowing that the melody is that Matrix printer not a bad, guess that's not what it happens to be. Let's move on Joshua Lister named Joshua writes in and he says this week's who's that noisy? Sounds like the WE theme played on floppy disk drives. Yeah, so you guys have probably heard songs played on floppy drives, right? There's different ways. They don't sound that good. Now, there's so much so he said we're like, dude, scratching their work right yet. That's all correct care. Very, very observant of you teach pick up on that who wants but and with no, and with sound effects, I compliment total.

This is again not a bad guess just wasn't. Wasn't the correct thing that's creating it, but it's similar. So then we have a listener named Devin Vaughn tough kurchuk, not bad suffrage. I know that's correct. Tell by the way it's me he says hi Devon, Bonhoeffer. Good to hear Jen. I think this week's noisy is the Me theme played on a otamatone guys, ever hear of a otamatone the wedding. Well here's what an otamatone. Actually sounds like I've got this view. Okay. So the reason why I picked this thing this incredibly weird musical instrument is this thing is bizarre okay it looks kind of like a saxophone but nowhere near as complicated. It's made out of plastic. It's basically this has that been to it. It's like someone at the bottom where the horn The saxophone is, there's like, Rubber looking mouth, right? Looks like a cartoon mouth, that's like a line and you can open that mouth and change the Timbre of the sound that comes out of the mouth. And then the stem part that you hold with your other hand. That's where you play the know. It just basically pressing down a slider that changes depending on where you put, you know, you put your finger on the slider, right? But the cool part about this instrument is that you can open the mouth and change the way it sounds. Which I found, interesting. So anyway, look it up, it's weird. And probably comes from Japan. I suspect anyway. That was incorrect, but very fun. Look at another listener. Named John tantor Road ends at high longtime listener. First-time guesser is it the me channel Theme played on a 3D printer. So you see the theme Here guys? Everyone knows they're all dancing around it. It's not a 3D printer but it very well could have been but there is a correct answer and that answer comes from Joseph.

No. See and he says, who's that noisy? This noisy is the Wii Shop Channel Theme played on stepper motors, such as from an old printer. So if you look up a stepper motor, it looks like it looks like a square box more flat, not perfect square. And I don't even know what you call that we call that shape. Take a square and you cut it in half. What do you left with a rectangle, right? No, that's right. You just kind of have until you cut it, cut it, cut it straight. Kind of straight some rectangles. It's a square tank. So okay, yeah, I know. But when you look at it, so get this, it's spurting, whatever. Listen here, I'm talking over here. All right, so

It's like one of those. It has like a gear on it and then it has an arm coming out and that's what turns your printer. That's what turns, the paper turns the wheels in your printer. But it turns out that if you rotate that engine, that's electric motor faster or slower. It makes different sounds and people are now making music with these things and I'm sure it's not true but let me replay to you now that you know what it is. Is there stepper Motors?

You hear your printer in there. Yeah, I love it. I love creative things like that. So, good job. Good job. On that one, Joseph. Great guests. You were the first to get it, right? Lots of people did though it again. This original sound, was ended by a list of events early in. Thank you for that, that.

New Noisy ()[edit]

I'm going to play a new noisy for you this week.

Yeah. So this that's an old recording and I would like you to identify what it is and it's was sent in by a listener named Octavio and I have Bo is in Mexico City. Very cool. Thank you. I'll tab you for sending that at very, very fun noisy. So if you think as you know what it is, or if you have any cool noise, he's or you just want to say hi, you can email me at And at the Skeptics Guide dot-org. So Steve yesterday, waiting to do that, all we care, I have so many things to announce, okay? So if you go to the Skeptics Guide, dot-org forward slash shop or just click the link on our website, you'll be taken to the sju store. So I wanted to let everybody know we have a bunch of great t-shirts in here. We also have a tote bag and a mug that took the tote bag in the mug are going to go away. Very He soon also I have two new t-shirts coming into the store, I'll let you know when they drop but they're both SGU themed and they're both a lot of fun. Next thing I'd like to say is that we have next is coming up, you can go to any CSS dot-org and this will be happening, August 6th and 7th. So be the Friday night and all day Saturday August. So if you'd like to join us, go to any CSS, dot-org. It's going to be great. See you there, so Number 18, which is a Thursday in You will be having very next Extravaganza. So yeah, as you know, our tour guide, cut short. This is the continuation of that tour but we will be updating the show quite a bit between now and then making it better coming up for bits. So you can find this link on the website, of course, just going to Skeptics guy dot org for / events and we also have a private show which is I've ever 19th, you'll see a link for it there as well. So please do join us. All right. Thanks and Evan. You have something coming up. Yeah I do. So as you know I'm the co-host of another podcast called which came first before A game podcast. We are putting together an online virtual conference as well, which is coming up starting on May 7th, and it's called the board game design conference in which we're inviting professionals to come and speak to talk about the design process of gaming. But it's so much more than that. You don't have to be part of a company that designs games in order to have an interest in this, they're going to be talking about a lot of different aspects of board game. What goes into making working the psychology of the board?

Education, however, leads to more game and so many other things. It's for both the player and the designer and burn inviting everyone to join us. It's one price, it takes place over the course of three weekends, total of 12 presentations that you can see. And it's only 2995 we would love for you to join us. Go to board game design to purchase your ticket and read up on the great presenters that we're going to have all the topics that we're going to be talking about. And of course, I'll be there along with Celeste and all of our hosts. The Higher way. We hope to see you. There sounds like fun. All right, we have a great interview coming up.

Name That Logical Fallacy[edit]

Were just going to do a quick name that logical fallacy and then go on to interview. This is a letter that come from Steve Hopkinson. He writes. Hi robes. I was listening to another podcast in which we proposed Federal ban on menthol cigarettes was being discussed. The guest was professor of law, who was arguing against it for several reasons. So again, the professor's, arguing against the band,

And then Stephen continues. What are the questions that the host asked him was if you've realized that intentionally or not this position, put him in League with the tech companies putting aside whether or not I agree with the professor. I think there's an obvious fallacy in that question, but I can't put my finger on it, which one specifically he thinks it might be at hominem logical fallacy. So what do you guys? This is actually, you should be an easy. You guys, think about that saying that? Yes, you so he's against the ban against

With the tobacco companies. In other words a your position is the same as the position that they have poisoning. The well, absolutely absolutely textbook case of poisoning the well yeah. So which is you know again lumper splitter kind of thing. I'd it's kind of in the same category as ad hominem where you're arguing against the person making the argument rather than the argument itself. But in this case you're just you're just trying to taint the argument or the person making the argument by associating it It with something unsavory the most common manifestation of this may be the argument at his laram which is basically saying Hitler. Thought that too. You know, we're having a dog is a vegetarian, Hitler was a vegetarian. So yeah, we're just, yeah, so means nothing, but just a way of tainting. The argument tainting, the position or tainting the person by associating with something that everyone Chris likes hers unsavory or generally thought of it in a negative way. So

Poisoning the well, that's a logical fallacy. Okay.

Interview with Iszi Lawrence ()[edit]

  • []

So we have an interview coming up with Izzy. Lawrence, we're going to talk about Pirates. It's an awesomely fun. So take a listen now.

Joining us now is Izzy. Lawrence is he welcome back to this? Got this guy, I should be welcoming, you shouldn't. I should be getting to the universe. That sounds familiar, the podcast every week and science or fiction. It's a quite an effort though because that every single week, they get me to ring up got a recorded every week. There's No easier way to do it. You're so consistent though. It's amazing. Thank you. I do try. I have to tell you we got one email a couple of years ago from a listener. Who's like who's that person on your podcast doing a fake British accent? Oh darling. I mean you're listening officially I've introduced BBC podcast because I do radio fall shows. And so you know I I've had to go thank you for downloading this podcast from the BBC. I've done all of that. So you guys were first so you've got officially, you know, that level of cred. Absolutely. Fred. So the reason why we're having you on the show this week mainly because you're awesome and we need to have you on every now and then but the reason we're having you on now was because I was watching Netflix because you know, that's what you do in a pandemic and I was watching The Lost Pirate Kingdom, which they they're using the talking head interviews.

I'll bring one of the Talking Heads. Was you? He's my hometown. I know that talking. Yeah. Yes, it was. It was me. I am I am my trade. You see, I started doing stand-up comedy and I've really gone into doing history as part of that. And as a result, I've become effectively a British BBC history presenter. So whenever you'll find making documentaries, you have these experts who come in and they refused to say, what they think without having a lots of caveats in Given the information we have at. So probably not whereas an idiot like me will come along and say I've read some books and I've seen some primary sources so this definitely happened this way. And as a results, I'm quite popular because I'm prepared to not risk, my academic career by people misconstruing, what I mean. Well, there's a very important role. I know you're being said, my tongue in cheek, but for science, communicators who have enough of a background in the area to understand enough of what the experts are saying.

And we could say in an interesting way to the public. Whereas as you say, the experts often don't necessarily have these entirely separate skill of public speaking or for science. Communication is a tricky thing to do because I also present a podcast called terrible lizards which is about dinosaurs which I present alongside dr. Dave home and he's, you know, an academic of paleontologists, proper his named dinosaurs and that sort of thing. And even he when I'm speaking to him and we're chatting on a podcast Just refuses to be pinned down on certain facts and I was like, no tell me this way. Tell me what you really think. This is my think there's Bart's and everything has this caveat of the science can always change because that's the thing that you guys know is the science always changes. Well so does history people's opinions about certain people always changes and it's often to do with the politics and I think every historian wants to kill their father so you have to have a different opinion of the people who came before. Yeah. Do you feel

There's a lot of that, like, opinions evolving just to have something new to say. Rather than saying other pretty much historians feathers right for the last 300 years. Well, yes. So I mean there is I mean the big change is I think in all almost all science really but in pee in archaeology and paleontology and is just an in particular archaeology. Actually it is the database and it is the fact that everybody stuff is now online. So you have historians able to get different sources from all over the world and look at them, you can even get somebody to 3D print you Initial process, you know from across where previously you would have had to fly out to see it, you know? And the how cheap information is now compared to just even the time investment of going to investigate something. You know, if there's a Roman Mosaic in Greece that you want to go and have a look at, you know, now you can see, you know, really detailed photographs of the, you know, the objects that you're investigating and that is changing everything and the datasets, you know, you are able to process so much more. Formation so much faster than ever before. And that's the really exciting thing about, you know, the IT world people think. Oh, it's all about, you know, genetics and is all about being able to like CT scan mummies and that's the thing. It's not. It's about collecting all the information together and museums and universities across the planet working together, and coming up with new theories. So yeah, there is the idea that we got to write something new, but there is genuinely a lot more information for you to find that new thing.

To get hold of, I can't imagine doing what we do any of it without the internet. Oh my God. Going to a going to a library. What is that? How would you know, stuff? How did they know stuff before they could look it up? It was a yeah. It seems to be an absolute nightmare. You know the idea of well, dr. Dave home, who I do podcast with? He was sort of telling me when he was doing his part of his PhD at Bristol University. Part of it was having to sort of You know, do get a data set. I think is looking at like, you know, the length of jewels Are Spinosaurus or something. Usually we have and and it's literally, he had like, you know, 5,000 data entry points or something that was going into this and it would take a week to process, you know, do a runner, you know, multivariate statistical, analysis, on something would take a week, the computer, get through it. And this is like 2005. And now, you know, you can do it in an hour, so let's let's have it to Pirates. Yes, we do.

Don't talk about Pirates. As far as I was really surprised. I have to say after watching the documentary how much pirate lore is actually sorta true. Yeah. Right. You know, I was, I assume that like, the Treasure Island did Walt Disney pirate thing was complete nonsense and I watch Black Sails, which is awesome series or sure you've seen it and I'm like, yeah okay. This is like all based upon Treasure Island and it's all fiction. And then I watch this documentary holy shit half of this was real and a lot more of it is real than the historians. Want you to think because it seems so silly as well. So, you know, even very basic things, like, you know, there's this everybody says, oh, the Pirates didn't really go our, but a lot of them were from West country. You go down to Cornwall, to this day, you, I've done. You know, I've performed shows in, Devon and Cornwall and they do Olga instead of saying, yes, they go, are, are you go right? You know,

Okay. Sounds like Pirates. And that is why you have the pirate accent the way you do. Yes. It was popularized in the 1950s and that's where it sort of comes from the joke. But that is based on fact, a lot of people like Blackbeard came from the West country. But there, I think the single most amazing fact that I learned was that the first real Caribbean? Pirate was Captain hornigold. How is that possibly true? It's a, is this like what? What's that? What's that word? It's a nominative determinism end up doing what you are. What your name says. My favorite non nominative determinism person is Professor brain, who was like heads of the magazine Journal brain. This is in like 1910 1920 to me like that and he was replaced by dr. Head, who replaced brain as the head of brain at the journal? Write my God. It was, it's a beautiful.

Right. No thanks. If you told me. Captain, hornigold. I would think that's what a stupid Disney name. It couldn't they come up with something more realistic than that, but it's freaking real, but not only that, not only is it, you know, horny, golden awesome name. But I didn't realize just how important of a character or person he was in the hole in the whole scheme of the golden age of pirates. I mean this is the guy. I mean it was basically his idea to go from, you know, Jamaica to NASA and set up. This pirate came to me, he's like the grandfather of father, of the These Golden Age Pirates. I mean, this guy is critical, he was amount of necessity. I mean, this is the thing they needed a place to sort of hang out and saw was notoriously underfunded and it was easy to take over. You just put enough men in there. There's nothing that the governor could do because you just got loads of pirates. And then it was just like, okay, well, be good kids, what are they gonna do? Yeah, exactly. But I think the reason he was just popular was he was just a very good captain and got a

Respect from his men and he was able to basically Commander ship and people did what you suggested, which is, you know, it's lovely but he wasn't, you know, he's, you know, I think Jennings nearly took over at several different times it would those different? Yeah. Fighting among different Pirates and who was the most popular? Who could command the respect of the men? I mean, that's the really surprising thing is, you know, all of this nonsense, they get in Pirates of the Caribbean about parley and the pirate code.

Code is a real thing. Which is incredibly the modern. I mean, if you're into a welfare state at all. I mean, these guys got pensions, if you got injured, you were getting compensation, you got free healthcare, you know, you've got, you know, a right to vote. What's amazing, is that very few people realize, the big misconception that you get is how white all the crews are, they weren't? I mean, black right. Shit was about sixty percent African. And when I say African African currently, and it is just that it is it Is that thing that every single person that shit will devote about what happens now. Admittedly Blackbeard is pirate. So, we ended up selling a lot of his crew, but in theory, they were free men and they could vote. You know, they should have voted him out when they had a chance, really. But he was a very successful pirate. I remember, I remember being very disappointed with black because I was gaining a lot of respect for him that I hadn't had. Just just at how, you know, he was, he was knowledgeable and educated and seem like a cool guy, you know, besides the torturing

Murders and stuff but but then when he did that I was like, oh man, you know, a little disappointed. But yeah, but she had syphilis and he kind of went demented at the end there, right? Is true that I mean, how plausible is that mean that you think it's pretty well established? He had syphilis and if you get tertiary syphilis you can get a kind of crazy Dimension, you know. And it's a how well establishes that it's not established. We just simply don't know how ill he was all we know is that he held up a town for a week and risk, everything just so he could get his hands on me. Mercury, which was the supposed to cure. So I don't know if it'd gone into his brain, it's certainly giving him physical discomfort. But the look, The reason why he got syphilis isn't just because he's a party animal, it was partly because that is there's a reason for it which is he had a wife in each island and each Town effectively. So he always had a defense witness. So if he's ever brought up you know, in front of the courts, he had a woman there, pleading how she needed him to look after her and everything else, so I needed to marry several different times. So you have that ability.

Escape the police as it were even though I'm using the word police incorrectly that, but you know what I mean to escape the law authorities. Yeah. It was another very interesting historical fact that came out of this was that I mean the British Empire basically created the oh my God yes absolutely well to be fair it wasn't really the British Empire. I played Spain Having particular blames plane for just not allowing the royal family to breed outside of the royal family, because the whole reason, the Spanish war of succession happened was because Charles the seconds dad married his niece and Charles II. It's a famously disabled man. I mean it's really quite tragic. The poor thing he had to eat, but he could barely eat his tongue. So large you can close his mouth. He couldn't sleep on his back because he died at a very young age. He's completely

Able to breed and this left a massive crisis in Spain where they didn't have a new leader. And the next in line to be leader was also the Holy Roman Emperor. And that would mean you'd have a sort of super state in Europe, which is very Catholic and the Dutch and the British and a bit of France actually would have been crammed in between of this and they're quite Protestant countries. Frances, understand this time that you can see the antagonism happening and they're all trying to establish - colonies. Where so you have this massive war for which Britain gets a load of privateers to attack as many Spanish vessels and stop them getting their gold from the new world and then all these privateers just given letters of Marque. So you keep some of the booty just go ahead and Tackle these final ships once the Spanish war end. You have all of these privateers and who just don't have a job anymore and the British don't do anything about it. They say we can't be a pirate anymore. Go back to doing what you're doing. In the meantime, there's no jobs on my land.

Because all of those have done for free by slaves. There's no like, you know, ability to go back to England because that costs money the Navy doesn't want you anymore. So what do you do? I mean these men were absolutely desperate for work and desperate for some sort of employment. So of course they go and Rob ships, didn't some of them? Like they've had like 12 14, 15 years of plundering these Spanish ships. I mean, didn't some of them say? Alright, I got enough booty here. I'm good. I don't need to do this anymore. Why? Or did they make so little That they just blew it on prostitutes and Boos. I mean, well, I think you've got you've got well, when the British Navy Merchants so they're basically they're not being there. Being paid a wage at that point and it is the British who are sort of controlling the ship's. So when they're attacking the Spanish, they're doing so and perhaps the British government, the British government is getting some money and when they're Pirates so they can divide it up between so you know, being in the merchant

Easy was pretty brutal. I mean you were the lowest of the low you British officers were of a different class to the, you know, the navi work is people like Ben, hornigold people like Edward Teach or Satchel is Blackbeard easier but people are, you know, who Charles Vane as well? They would have been whipped, they would have been given very meager rations, very meager wages and, you know, they were lucky, and lot of them have been press-ganged into it as well. So a lot of them wouldn't have wanted ever go to sea. But there, you know, we're basically forced to when they were back in England. They were got them drunk and they were just, I think being slipped. The king's Shilling is what it's called. And then you you basically get taken on a boat and then you are a sailor and if you muck up and you've refused to work, well, they do. They'll whip you all their kill who you will do something absolutely atrocious to you and that's in the official, you know, that's on the good shops. So you don't really have much of a choice. Oh yeah. These men were desperate for money. They didn't. It's not like when they were plundering the Spanish, they were allowed to keep. Yeah. So, as a pirate, they had

A better life more money, right? They had a job less likely to be less likely to get keelhauled. Had it. So it had a good man Island despite the fact that they have a reputation for being chaotic and Lawless, they actually conditions are more civilized on a pirate ship than on a British naval ship of the time. Would you agree with that? I think full your average sailor. Yes. For the officers. Possibly not. And also they had to do things which meant Like on a British naval ship, there would be medical offices and there would be a correct, you know, Doling out of the Grog and a correct, you know, everybody would have got fed in order for the ship to work. It was much more efficient, you would have been whereas on a pirate ship, if things were going wrong, if the captain was drunk, who knows what would have happened? I mean, you could have been, you know, you're basically dependent on how good the people are around you. So there is that and the Grog would

Ben because the drug is necessary because as you know you can't keep water fresh you've got to mix it with rum and so you know and this is really sparingly given out on a British vessel in order to make sure that the crew was sober. That's not so much. So I mean you have like you know Blackbeard at the height of his Reign. His best ship gets run. Aground, just on a sandbank presumably because they were all to, you know, drunk I've a lot of historians do say that this was a Tactical move by Blackbeard because he was going to get his Kings. Pardon and he knew what he was doing. I don't think so. I don't think he would, just basically wasted his best vessel for a tactical. Reason that made sense later on, right? We're right. But yeah, so they were, they were less disciplined. Hmm. But there was more egalitarian, more democratic much more. So to what extent? I mean, again Black Sails kind of push this theme and I didn't know how reasonable was to what extent did they really?

Bait democracy? Yeah, good question. North America. You know, well a North America. I don't it's the answer that. I don't think I think certainly the word got out about them and they were very romanticized and as a result that may have influenced. The thing is, these ideas have been around a long time. You have to remember this is what 60 70 years. After you know, back in Britain, we chop the head of the king and there's this sort of weird time where people are gathering in See houses like, oh, well, we could vote and decide how we do look at this ballot. Isn't this fun way? And do you know if we have the ballot to us? Other people watching that seems like a more fair you know, arguments and all isn't this a nice idea? Should we have a lord protector of England for a decade and so all of these ideas were already there. It's just that the necessity of it in the Pirates, you know, basically because you can pay people until you got the treasure until you got the booty, you can physically give anybody any money. So they had a higher stake in.

The outcome is a bit like you know, I don't know if you watch like, you know, ice fishing and all the rest of it, you know, I can't remember what it's called, the school like killer crabs or whatever it is that American show in the Bering Strait and you had these guys. Well, you know, if that boat goes down none of the fisherman, you know, get any money. But, you know, depending on the cash, depends on how much money on paid and in a similar way depending on the catch. If we can get hold of these vessels of we risk our lives together, then we all get paid.

And even though the captain, Head of the ship captain didn't initially by the ship well, not unless he stayed Bonnet, but most captains just stole their ships and therefore they didn't have that stake in them at the beginning. And so it's much more of a corporation instead of, you know, top down top down thing. You know there's no big money invested but there is mass of money invested in the ship, like the Widow. But once you know Sam Bellamy gets hold of it, it's not really his, it's everybody who's taken, right? So the situation really required Kind of model. Yeah, and I think it's because you're looking at people who come from the lower classes in general, because they are X navvies, everything else, the way that the working class is because there is no welfare state at this point in England, or in Britain. The same way you are reliant on each other, a lot more, in general. If you're growing up it's a sort of naturally. It's what people feels natural to people and the idea of voting

What we do a drawing? Lots and that's the thing feels more natural. Certainly at the beginning and then it's about which man, ultimately you respect for your leader? It feels more tribal I suppose. Rather than let us write the Constitution of the United States of America, without know what America is going to do in the next, you know, 50 years. So yeah, it's it's born out of necessity rather than idealism I would suggest.

But it's rather lovely that you do have like, you know, and Bonnie there's a woman that's an equal vote to, you know, if they had been on the same ship to Black Caesar who have got an equal vote to Blackbeard, you know, all of this it's just it's incredibly forward-thinking in some respect But ultimately they are trying to rob people. So yeah, they're not good guys. What is it? Has been a ton of hair. Okay, From the show more often because what's your, what are you working on next? So I am, I've got, I'm writing kids book. So that's my main thing. I write history books, the kids, most of the quite English Centric. So I've got one called the Unstoppable Letty Peg, which is about the suffragette movement in the uk-based. All on facts, my character that he Peg joins the suffragette bodyguard to all trained in Jiu-Jitsu, which they did back in 1910, Believe It or Not. Wow, that's a fun filled a book that would Bloomsbury. You can get that. I've got another one coming out in September. Amber. And that's all about second. World war which has Americans in it because the American women came over and they helped us fly or Spitfires. So you have a load. This is before the Wasps, right? They came over and they joined the a TA. And so I've got a book called Billy Swift takes flight, which is out in September. You can pre-order it and that is all about the second world war. And, yeah, I'm working on my podcast. So if you like history, I do several history podcasts and the main ones.

The British museum member cast the said listed list and of course if you like dinosaurs like parrots yeah listen to terrible lizards but as an awful lot there just go to is is said I thought that's actually the most impressive thing about you is that you have a four-letter URL. Yeah. Right that is amazing. I'm so Google Apple but nobody can actually spell my name. Yeah but yeah I got that one. I was 15. You know I bought And I thought nice. That's quite what I was. But my name like this now and that is the probably the best bit of investment I've ever made, but never mind. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much for having me and yes goodbye from the Skeptics Guide Pirates.

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Science or Fiction ()[edit]

Answer Item
Host Result
Rogue Guess

Voiceover: It's time for Science or Fiction.

Each week I come up with three sides. Three sides. One is I have a theme this week. The theme is in vertebrates. Invertebrates inflammable, invertebrates, ready? Yes. Item number one. 97% of all animal species are in vertebrates. I remember to the longest worm in the world was measured at 55. Of meters, a hundred eighty feet and I number three of the invertebrates only insects undergo metamorphosis Bob go first, right? This is totally not revenge for last week. Did I make you go first, you made him lose. I did make you go first so good. Yeah, I understand. Oh, crap. I'm taking my sweet soft. See 97% of all animal species are invertebrates.

Okay, shit. Let's go to the longest worm in the world, was 55 meters. That's just too crazy to be false. Yeah, I don't think you'd make that up. That's I. Wow. Hundred eighty. Wow. All right, let's see. Maybe three is better of the invertebrates only insects undergo metamorphosis. So, how would you describe metamorphosis is that allowed question for this one? I mean, there's a very specific technical. This it's like you know, caterpillars becoming butterflies. Okay, that's how you like one of the true evolutionary puzzles. How the hell is that don't evolve, right? I mean, that's just more PSI. You only hear about that though. What the hell am I say that one? I think. Yeah. Said the metamorphosis is friction whatever. Okay. Alright, 97% of all animal species are invertebrates. I think that is science. That sounds correct. Spineless bastards.

The longest worm in the world was measured at 55 meters. Oh my God, that's disgusting. That one is crazy. You could feed a family one minute before. The were meet you, Bob your reverse here and little what I'm gonna go with Bob, I'm gonna say that invertebrates are not the only animals that go under metamorphosis, okay? It doesn't say only animals is only vertebrates of the invertebrates, only insects Undergo metamorphosis. Oh, oh wait wait. Now I'm going to still say it's now. Okay, evan I think I'm going to agree with Jay and Bob here. Bob and J I should say that longest worm at 55 meters, that's incredible. I mean, but we, I mean, there are worms in our bodies and stuff can get pretty long. So you know, but out in nature and you know, who knows where

Way deep in the ocean and stuff perhaps. So yeah, that one seems remarkable but again I'm convinced by by Bob's and J's lack of specificity with the one about metamorphosis so I'll join them fiction and Cara GWT bees. Yeah, I think, you know, worms, we think of, as we look at earthworms and that's like our template for a worm but it's True there parasitic worms. They can be curled at the con mic pack intestines, pack stomach's of a big organisms and think about it. There's probably worms in Wales and stuff. The probably big. The invertebrate thing is, the 97% is pretty bananas, but I still think it's probably true. You know, when I think about metamorphosis it's funny because yes of course like caterpillars to butterflies is the first thing that come to mind but the second thing that comes to mind is tadpoles to frogs and of course those are chordates, those are vertebrates. But if they if a lot of him,

Vivian's can do it. I bet you there are other invertebrates like his, we think of, insects a lot. But there are like Like mollusks Crustaceans, like shellfish. Like you know, a lot of those things are invertebrates to, and I wonder if some of them undergo metamorphosis. Yeah, and we're just not aware of it because we don't we don't look at their life cycles very often so I don't know. I'm gonna, I'm gonna go with the guys on that too. All right. So you guys are all in agreement, so I guess we'll take these in order. 97% of all animal species are in vertebrates. You guys all think this one is science. And this one is Science. A lot of a lot of invertebrates out there. We think it's one of those things where like we give a lot of attention to invertebrates. Like if you think of like if I told you to think of an animal I think 99% of the time people think of a vertebrate you know backbone by us. Yeah. They would actually probably think of a mammal probably even yeah. Right mr. A burger thing but you know, birds mammals reptiles fish.

Fabian's and there are six categories of in vertebrates and 97% of all individual species are invertebrates. Most of the animals are invertebrates by far and is that because of so many insects, that's the biggest group. And beetles is like the seasons. Oh my gosh, dwarf all others. Yeah. So yeah, that that one is that was number two. The longest worm in the world was measured at 55 meters, or 100 feet. A feat. You guys all think this want to science. So if this one is science, what the worm, which worm do you think is a, is 50, the Mongolian death worm, of course, probably parasitic one that jumps out of the sand, like, and doom or yeah. Or it's like a jungle or, you know, like a rain forest dwelling worm. I don't know, but I bet you it's parasitic parasitic the gnaeus long DC - I knew it funky place.

Let's it's a ribbing worm. It's a ribbon tastes like a bootlace. It stop one of the longest animals. Yeah, this one's gives you know this is pretty gnarly. It does secretes a mucus that is highly toxic toxic mucus? Yeah it's like that weird to thing you remember the to? Yeah, those two when you handle on it so you can see as pungent smells like iron or sewage like I had Crush. Yeah.

Undergo metamorphosis. That is the fiction Karis. Correct. Frogs tadpoles are deprived. So yeah. So there are vertebrate species fish and amphibians To the only groups of vertebrates that undergo, anything like that amorphous of the invertebrates as far as I could. Tell in, promote from Reading multiple sources. Only the insects undergo a complete metamorphosis. Yeah, but most Crustaceans, sit darian's, kind of terms. And tunicates undergo partial that a more persistent or Hemi metabolites. So, there's Holo metabolite is When it's four stages. And it's pretty much a complete change of the body, anatomy. And how many metabolize had a pillar, three stages and it's less complete and then a metabolize no metamorphosis. So it's actually not that evolutionarily mysterious Bob. Because you think about really it's just it's just a different stages of growth. So like a maggot turning into a fly, is the same exact process as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. It's just

Really, yeah, once you get those stages or set up so the the Holo metabolite is egg. Pupa Chrysalis, adult, Hemi metabolite is egg Pupa adults. There's no Chrysalis and the transformation is usually less dramatic but it's, it's essentially any rapid dramatic change in body. Anatomy usually accompanied by a growth spurt. So yeah, that means the caterpillar to butterfly is the iconic. Example of it. But you know, like the crown-of-thorns sea star starts out as a blob and then turns into a sea star with spikes on all of its arms that's consent. That was attending the tablet. That's partially incomplete metamorphosis. Well, they have any ideas and how it might have appeared earlier in its evolutionary history. So, I don't know what, you know what, the evolutionary history of it is but the issue it's it's simply sequential development.

Will stages that have become fairly discrete and then once you have them they could evolve more and more differences. What happens is you end the pupil stage you have what are called imaginal discs is ever hear that term. Yeah, Magill this. So this is essentially like clusters of genes and proteins that will make the adult and they're just sort of dormant in the The pupa stage and then when the pupil goes into its chrysalis and the imaginal disc basically grow in adults out of the material, you know? So the pupa is typically the eating phase and the adult is the mating freeze. You know? You don't. That's interesting. Yeah, put it. Yeah. This is a pupa, like the caterpillars eat. And they turn into a butterfly. The butterfly is made and I you know, they lay eggs and I yeah they don't they don't eat Jay, what are you going to enter your me?

In Phase 3, more years you have to lay your eggs and die. Yeah he's still in his eating face. It's a good phase where I'm from it's called The Meatball Faith. Meatball. Always a good job guys. You know you're in vertebrates you at least a little bit. Yeah well enough to pass the test yep yeah I like to hit areas of knowledge where I think that are that I think are under represented you know for sure we can start biases. We tend to have yes like mammalian biases. Charismatic megafauna biases and Charismatic megafauna. I will be hitting these themes every now and then.

Skeptical Quote of the Week ()[edit]

Evan, give us a quote.

'If history and science have taught us anything, it is that passion and desire are not the same as truth. The human mind evolved to believe in the gods. It did not evolve to believe in biology.' — Edward O. Wilson

Not a dumb guy? No, not at all. Yeah, this pesky and Oceans hand away only become a species of pure logic. That sounds dangerous. Then we could every seven years, we can go crazy and have some fun because that's about it because it's far away.

Is that what you're doing? Is definitely a double geek points for that. Yeah, all right. Well, thank you all for joining me this week, right? Chairman thanks, Steve. We will be doing a live stream on Friday, you know, we doing at most Friday's only like holidays and stuff. It may take off, but we will be doing our Friday. So we'll see you all there 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[6]
  • Fact/Description
  • Fact/Description




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