SGU Episode 853

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SGU Episode 853
November 13th 2021
853 new rocket.jpg
(brief caption for the episode icon)

SGU 852                      SGU 854

Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
B: Bob Novella
C: Cara Santa Maria
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein
Quote of the Week

When people see a story as an external object, then someone challenging the story is just making an intellectual argument. But when believers identify with a story, someone challenging the story is a personal threat. And since our brains are notoriously bad at distinguishing between our psychological identity and our physical body, the personal threat doesn’t feel like an insult—it feels like danger.

Tim Urban, writer/illustrator

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Show Notes
Forum Topic


Voice-over: 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, November 10th, 2021, and this is your host, Stephen Novella.

17.60 18.92 S: Joining me this week are Bob Novella.

18.92 19.92 B: Hey, everybody.

19.92 20.92 S: Cara Santa Maria.

20.92 21.92 C: Howdy.

21.92 22.92 S: Jay Novella.

22.92 23.92 J: Hey, guys.

23.92 24.92 S: And Evan Bernstein.

24.92 25.92 E: Good evening, everyone.

25.92 28.32 S: Wow, the year is almost over, November 10th.

28.32 29.32 E: Jesus, man.

29.32 30.32 E: Stop it.

30.32 31.32 E: Stop.

31.32 32.32 E: Okay.

32.32 34.96 E: So why does the perception of years going by quicker as you get older occur?

34.96 37.48 E: What is our brain doing to us?

37.48 38.48 B: It definitely seems to be the case.

38.48 41.80 B: It's such a tiny percentage of all the other years in your head.

41.80 42.80 J: I don't know.

42.80 43.80 J: I think our brain changes.

43.80 49.36 J: I bet you that whatever part of our brain senses time or keeps track of time is just changing as we get older.

49.36 54.76 E: Is it trying to tell us to kind of make the most out of the remaining time we do have, maybe, subconsciously?

54.76 55.76 E: You know, it's funny.

55.76 57.56 J: Like, we're at the end of 2021.

57.56 62.44 J: I remember in 2020, we were going, oh, man, what's 2021 going to be like?

62.44 64.16 J: Like, it was the big mystery year.

64.16 65.16 J: And you know what, guys?

65.16 66.40 J: It's, you know, look at where we're at.

66.40 70.64 J: The virus situation is actually slowly but steadily getting better.

70.64 74.20 J: New medications are coming out that could really minimize the dangers.

74.20 77.36 J: It's, you know, it's not as bad as we thought it was going to be.

COVID-19 Update (1:17)[edit]

  • New Antivirals

77.36 80.44 S: Well, speaking of which, that's actually the COVID update I was going to give this week.

80.44 83.08 S: I wrote about this on Science-Based Medicine.

83.08 93.28 S: Two medicines have been announced that are actually effective antiviral treatments for COVID-19, for coronavirus, within a day of each other, which I don't think was a coincidence.

93.28 104.68 S: I suspect that Merck announced the UK approved, Malnupiravir, and then a day later Pfizer announced Paxilivit, their antiviral drug.

104.68 109.60 S: And so I think probably, like, when Merck made their announcement, Pfizer was like, dang, we got to get this thing out.

109.60 110.60 S: Oh, right.

110.60 115.68 S: Went down to their press office or whatever, kicked somebody in the butt and said, get that announcement out.

115.68 116.68 S: We're close enough.

116.68 118.76 S: So, these are antiviral drugs.

118.76 123.40 S: This is the first, these are the first treatments that are direct antivirals, right?

123.40 132.88 S: So prior to this, we had preventive treatments, which is basically, you know, social stuff plus the vaccine, which is, I think, you know, obviously the big prevention.

132.88 135.76 S: And then for treatments, we had mostly supportive care.

135.76 140.00 S: We had immunoglobulin therapy, and that was it.

140.00 143.12 S: Hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin are fake treatments, right?

143.12 146.04 S: They don't work or they're experimental at best.

146.04 148.52 S: I think the hydroxychloroquine is done.

148.52 151.52 S: You can make an argument that there's still some room to do some research for ivermectin.

151.52 156.84 S: You know, they were plausible in terms of mechanistically, but they just turned out that didn't work.

156.84 160.08 S: You know, the benefit was there was no benefit and excessive risk.

160.08 162.88 S: But now we have two drugs that seem to be highly effective.

162.88 180.80 S: The Pfizer drug, Paxilivud, the phase 2-3 study that they published showed that the risk, if you give somebody treatment when they're in the mild to moderate phase before they're hospitalized, it decreased the risk of getting hospitalized by 89%.

180.80 181.80 B: Damn.

181.80 185.40 S: And nobody in the treatment group died.

185.40 187.52 S: So it was essentially a hundred percent decrease.

187.52 189.10 S: Now that's the relative risk.

189.10 192.02 S: The absolute risk is still impressive.

192.02 202.40 S: So in the placebo group, 7% of the people in the study got admitted to the hospital and in the treatment group it was 0.8%.

202.40 205.70 S: So it goes down to almost nothing.

205.70 212.76 S: And again, there were seven deaths in the placebo group and zero deaths in the treatment group.

212.76 213.76 S: That would make a huge difference.

213.76 218.36 S: Can you imagine like, you know, almost eliminating the hospitalizations, you know, by 89%.

218.36 220.40 E: Oh my gosh, take the pressure off like that?

220.40 221.68 S: It would take so much pressure off.

221.68 222.68 C: Oh my gosh.

222.68 223.68 C: How valuable is this drug?

223.68 226.68 C: Well, it's not COVID down to more of the level of a cold.

226.68 227.68 C: Or the flu, yeah.

227.68 232.44 C: Or even the flu than what it is right now, which is pretty dang scary.

232.44 235.08 B: Yeah, but are people going to take the drug?

235.08 236.36 B: Are people going to take the drug?

236.36 237.36 C: Sure, why wouldn't they?

237.36 239.04 C: Yeah, if they're sick.

239.04 240.32 B: Are you listening to yourselves?

240.32 241.32 B: Why would they take this medicine?

241.32 255.72 J: Well, I thought I could see if they're in the hospital and they're in really, really bad shape and they don't want to take, you know, you can't take the virus, I mean the vaccine at that point anyway, I don't see why they wouldn't try an antiviral.

255.72 258.24 J: Right, as opposed to what?

258.24 259.84 B: Some will, some won't.

259.84 278.64 C: Right, but Bob, I think the idea here is that if you're going, if you're seeking medical intervention anyway, you're right, some people may not seek medical intervention, but if you're sick and you don't feel well and you go to the local clinic, you go to your PCP, you go even to the ER, these places will likely now prescribe this antiviral.

278.64 287.80 S: For some reason, for some reason, some people think it's better to take a drug once you get sick rather than take a vaccine to prevent from getting sick, right?

287.80 296.92 S: So the people who right now would rather take ivermectin than a vaccine, now they could take drugs that actually work, you know, that are actually safe and effective.

296.92 310.80 S: So the data on the Merck one was also very, very good, but it reduced the hospitalizations by 50% from 14 to 7% and the deaths were decreased from 8 to 0, also no deaths in the treatment group.

310.80 311.80 S: So still highly effective.

311.80 321.26 S: You can't really do a direct comparison between the two studies because the baseline was different and the methods were different, etc., but they're both about, you know, roughly the same in terms of their effectiveness.

321.26 325.52 E: Is there a reason why someone would be prescribed one versus the other?

325.52 330.92 S: One's approved in the UK and the other one is seeking approval in the US.

330.92 332.76 S: I think that's the only difference at this point.

332.76 333.76 S: I see.

333.76 356.84 S: So yeah, the UK approved it for clinical trials, so they're still going to be studying it, but you'll be able to get it through a trial and then the FDA is currently reviewing it for an emergency use authorization and then it'll be six months, nine months before they can do approval just because that's how long the red tape takes, but they just like with the vaccines, there'll be an emergency use authorization first.

356.84 362.08 B: Yeah, and then that will bring in the people who say that it's not FDA approved, blah, blah, blah.

362.08 363.48 B: So how many, what's the course like?

363.48 368.04 B: Is it one pill and one and done or do you got two a day for a week or whatever?

368.04 369.04 S: What's the deal?

369.04 370.36 S: It's a few days of medication.

370.36 371.36 S: A few days?

371.36 372.36 B: Oh, it's like an antibiotic.

372.36 374.68 S: Yeah, it's like an antibiotic course.

374.68 375.68 S: It's a short course.

375.68 376.68 B: Well, even less.

376.68 377.68 B: Yeah, short course.

377.68 382.68 B: So would it be available just in the hospital or could you like have it home, you know, in your bathroom like, oh, I'm not feeling too good.

382.68 383.68 B: I'm just going to take one.

383.68 385.84 S: No, it'll probably, you can get prescribed.

385.84 389.56 S: You don't have to be in a hospital, but your clinic or your primary care doctor can prescribe

389.56 391.56 B: it. Okay.

391.56 393.24 S: Yeah, so it's not over the top of the over the counter.

393.24 394.60 S: You can't just keep it in your medicine.

394.60 397.00 S: It's going to have to be prescribed as needed.

397.00 409.68 C: But Bob, remember that there's a very good likelihood that COVID's here today, that it's going to be endemic, that this is going to happen season after season and with a solid vaccine and with solid treatments available, antiviral treatment.

409.68 413.18 C: Again, this brings this back like the flu.

413.18 425.72 C: It brings it to something that even though it will kill people, it will probably always kill people who don't have access, who have poor health care, who are, you know, struggling and falling through the cracks of the system.

425.72 428.44 C: But it will save a lot more lives.

428.44 429.44 C: And that's exciting.

429.44 430.44 B: Yeah, it's great.

430.44 433.40 B: I mean, you know, we lost our chance to make it not endemic.

433.40 437.04 B: So this is great news to, you know, to minimize it.

437.04 438.32 S: This could be a real game changer.

438.32 443.16 S: This could dramatically change the lethality, the severity of this illness, bring it down.

443.16 444.16 S: It's like HIV.

444.16 447.52 S: We didn't get rid of HIV, but it's totally manageable now.

447.52 449.04 C: In a lot of ways, it's like the flu.

449.04 454.94 C: I mean, I hate to make the flu comparison because we were very like a lot of people dangerously made a flu comparison early on.

454.94 458.54 C: But in, you know, wealthier nations, people have access to things like Tamiflu.

458.54 466.02 C: They can take antivirals when they are very, very sick with the flu to prevent the severe dehydration and all of the things that can come along with it.

466.02 470.44 C: But you know, people still get sick and die from the flu when they don't have access to that kind of stuff.

470.44 485.72 C: But you know, when you hear your, you know, at the beginning when the deniers were kind of saying like, people don't die from the flu, that's because they have the privileged perspective of a flu vaccine, Tamiflu, you know, all the medications that we have available.

485.72 486.72 S: She was.

486.72 487.72 B: To help us, David.

487.72 495.88 B: Do these COVID now antivirals, do they sound better than the flu, the flu antivirals, Tamiflu and everything?

495.88 496.88 B: What do you mean better?

496.88 497.88 S: Those are good, right?

497.88 504.04 S: They're pretty good, but you know, it's I haven't seen a direct comparison, but these numbers sound pretty impressive.

504.04 506.32 E: I like that the deaths dropped to zero.

506.32 507.32 S: That's for sure.

507.32 508.32 S: Yeah, small numbers.

508.32 509.32 S: Absolutely.

509.32 513.20 S: But we would need we're going to need a lot more data to put hard numbers on it.

513.20 517.96 S: But the almost 90 percent reduction in hospitalization and death is a home run.

517.96 525.12 S: You know, it's as like as good as we could have expected and similar, you know, inefficacy to the vaccines, you know, in terms of their prevention.

525.12 528.92 S: So there's now this come between the vaccines and these antivirals.

528.92 534.28 S: This is a manageable illness, even if it becomes endemic and we don't fully get rid of it.

534.28 536.16 S: And it's like the flu is going to have to live with it.

536.16 537.20 S: We can live with it.

537.20 538.68 S: You know, you have with those two things.

538.68 543.28 S: But again, of course, it means we need high compliance with the vaccine, which we're getting there.

543.28 544.28 S: We're like we're pushing 90 percent.

544.28 545.28 S: Yeah, we're getting there.

545.28 546.28 S: Wait, what?

546.28 550.48 S: Not of the population of eligible people.

550.48 552.28 S: And now the now kids are coming on board.

552.28 553.28 S: Right.

553.28 554.76 S: They're eligible now for the vaccines.

554.76 556.12 S: So we're going to get there.

556.12 559.16 S: We're going to get to a fairly high level of vaccination.

559.16 561.70 S: The mandates haven't really even kicked in yet.

561.70 562.70 S: Hopefully they will.

562.70 564.38 S: And then, you know, that's what I'm waiting for.

564.38 568.12 S: But yeah, I mean, I just you know, hopefully the politics will settle down.

568.12 571.04 S: It'll just be like just take the freaking vaccine.

571.04 572.96 S: Everyone knows that the these drugs are available.

572.96 580.56 S: If you get sick, get tested, you go to your doctor, you get a course of whatever of Pax Levitt keeps you out of the hospital.

580.56 582.04 S: Hospitals aren't overwhelmed.

582.04 585.84 S: We're not tracking deaths every week like we've been doing for the last two years.

585.84 589.72 C: Things go ration care anymore, like just the horrible things.

589.72 594.96 S: Hopefully things can go back to normal between those two things.

594.96 597.80 S: This hopefully will be turning a corner.

597.80 598.80 S: We'll see.

598.80 601.68 S: You know, again, you always have to take this as it comes.

601.68 611.64 S: You know, hopefully I'm hoping that six months from now we'll look back at this period of time and go, yeah, that really was when things went back to normal, when those antivirals

611.64 613.64 C: were back. Yeah.

613.64 615.64 C: I just want to stop wearing a mask everywhere all the time.

615.64 618.44 C: I can't wait until that's the big change.

618.44 623.12 J: Steve, the Washington Post discussed a study.

623.12 632.72 J: This was in the news today, said that unvaccinated Texans are 40 times more likely to die of COVID than those fully vaccinated in 2021.

632.72 633.72 J: Forty times.

633.72 634.72 J: Yeah, sure.

634.72 646.60 J: Now just think about the amount of time today, not in the beginning when it was, you know, crazy lines for the vaccine, but today it'll take you probably 20 minutes to get a vaccine.

646.60 652.60 J: And that 20 minutes could reduce your chances of dying of COVID by 40 times.

652.60 653.60 J: Unbelievable.

653.60 655.36 S: No, it's huge.

655.36 659.98 S: If you know the data and you believe the data, it's a no brainer.

659.98 663.72 S: The people who are getting vaccinated don't believe that data.

663.72 665.00 S: They believe other data.

665.00 674.66 S: They're living in an alternate universe, an alternate information ecosystem where they think that the vaccine is going to make you sterile, you know, or whatever crazy crap that they think.

674.66 680.14 S: So that's why they're, you know, yeah, you say, why would anybody not get the vaccine with those numbers?

680.14 681.14 S: Because they don't believe them.

681.14 682.68 S: They believe other crazy shit.

682.68 683.68 B: Right.

683.68 684.68 C: That's why.

684.68 691.04 C: Yeah, because trust in the actual institutions that are promoting this have been dismantled in the minds of those people.

691.04 692.04 S: Deliberately and systematically.

692.04 693.04 S: Absolutely.

693.04 694.04 S: Yeah.

694.04 696.72 B: So their experts are a consensus of medical professionals.

696.72 699.40 B: Their experts are conspiracy whack jobs.

699.40 700.40 B: Basically.

700.40 702.80 C: They have the internet though.

702.80 704.80 C: Authoritarian conspiracy whack jobs.

704.80 706.92 S: And cherry picked people on the fringe.

706.92 707.92 S: You know, the outliers.

707.92 709.84 S: There's always going to be expert outliers.

709.84 714.88 S: If you're willing to cherry pick those fringe outliers, you can find an expert who will support any position.

714.88 715.88 S: Oh, sure.

715.88 716.88 S: Doesn't matter what it is.

716.88 717.88 S: All right.

717.88 719.68 S: Let's move on to some news items.

News Items[edit]

Moon Return Delayed (11:59)[edit]

719.68 724.68 S: Jay, you're going to give us an update on NASA's plan to return to the moon.

724.68 725.68 J: Yeah.

725.68 728.52 J: So this is actually not, this is not unexpected.

728.52 731.12 J: I totally, everybody easily predicted this.

731.12 735.36 J: NASA has finally decided to delay the 2024 moon landing mission.

735.36 737.40 J: Oh wait, they're not going to make that date?

737.40 738.40 J: Damn.

738.40 739.40 J: I know, right Bob?

739.40 741.68 J: Like the first time I heard it, I was like, nope.

741.68 745.64 J: Like there was no chance that they were doing 2024.

745.64 749.02 J: So now it's sometime 2025 or later.

749.02 750.16 J: So let me give you some details.

750.16 760.88 J: The Artemis mission was originally planned for 2024, but you know, the reasons are that several development issues, delays in development issues, forced them to delay the mission.

760.88 764.64 J: So as an example, the spacesuits, yep, we talked about this.

764.64 766.20 J: There's still a big problem.

766.20 767.20 J: Yeah, yes we did.

767.20 769.36 J: Yeah, I talked about them a few months ago.

769.36 775.32 J: The landing vehicles, you know, and you'll understand why when I say that, but that is also a problem.

775.32 781.40 J: A lot of the delays are the result of a lawsuit filed by one Jeff Bezos.

781.40 782.40 J: Just fricking guy.

782.40 783.40 C: What?

783.40 786.40 C: He's like, he's butthurt that SpaceX got the contract.

786.40 787.48 C: Totally.

787.48 794.92 J: So his space company, Blue Origin sued when they were not awarded this moon lander contract with NASA.

794.92 795.92 J: They, oh, we didn't get it.

795.92 797.88 J: So they sued, then they went again, they tried again.

797.88 799.88 J: So the contract was won by SpaceX.

799.88 803.32 J: Of course, well, SpaceX happens to be the current people that are kicking ass.

803.32 805.76 J: So of course, why wouldn't you give it to SpaceX?

805.76 809.40 J: And this led to a solid seventh month delay in the overall moon timeline.

809.40 811.24 J: Thanks a lot, Jeff.

811.24 820.66 J: So as a fan of humans in space, I'd like to thank Jeff Bezos and his penis shaped rocket for literally slowing down the project because of his stupid ego.

820.66 827.16 C: It's a little ironic that you're being so angry at Jeff Bezos and so loving towards Elon Musk right now.

827.16 831.80 C: To be fair, Jay.

831.80 837.24 J: I am a man that is oriented around justice and success.

837.24 839.46 J: SpaceX is clearly the better company here.

839.46 842.56 J: And NASA, you know, clearly has the ability to see that.

842.56 844.00 J: And there's a reason why they pick them.

844.00 845.32 J: You know, that's all I'm saying.

845.32 847.36 C: It's one thing to compare company to company.

847.36 849.12 C: It's another thing to compare man to man.

849.12 850.64 C: We have to be careful with that.

850.64 854.92 J: But the bottom line is, you know, SpaceX won Jeff Bezos didn't.

854.92 856.72 J: Well, let's move on.

856.72 860.72 J: NASA said that the overall mission is still making significant progress.

860.72 866.48 J: They're still, you know, kicking ass, creating technology, you know, checking off things off their checklist.

866.48 870.40 J: Their plan is to still have an uncrewed mission in February of 2022.

870.40 874.76 J: This is what the NASA people told us at Nexus this year, you know, in August.

874.76 876.10 J: So it's still good.

876.10 879.04 J: This will be at the this is going to be the Artemis one mission.

879.04 884.44 J: The Artemis two mission will be a crude mission that will do a flyby of the moon in 2024.

884.44 885.44 J: That'll be pretty cool.

885.44 892.28 J: You know, we're going to have people that are going to be going to fly around, you know, orbit around the moon and come home and tell us all about it.

892.28 904.16 J: And at some point, SpaceX has to perform a successful uncrewed landing on the moon to make sure that their Starship rocket can perform and their rocket will be modified to land on the moon for this particular mission.

904.16 910.28 B: That'd be funny if we fly around the moon and the far side of the moon has a Chinese city built in there.

910.28 912.16 B: I know, right?

912.16 913.16 E: Funny.

913.16 916.24 C: Funny, like weird, right?

916.24 917.24 C: Not funny, like, ha ha.

917.24 918.24 C: Unexpected.

918.24 920.52 E: Like, oh, strange.

920.52 924.32 J: So of course, the budget money in this situation is king, right?

924.32 934.60 J: When it comes to projects like this, NASA has said that because of these delays, they will need just under, oh, you know, three billion more dollars to reach the moon landing goal.

934.60 939.16 J: And, you know, look, if the government's going to spend money, like giving it to NASA to me is never a problem.

939.16 946.88 J: So part of the impetus here is because China has an excellent space program and NASA and the US government, the government wants to get back before China does it.

946.88 947.88 J: Basically, that's it.

947.88 950.24 J: They want to get there before China can pull it off.

950.24 957.02 J: So just as a point of reference, humans have not been to the moon since the 1972 American Apollo 17 mission.

957.02 959.24 J: That was a hell of a long time ago.

959.24 965.60 J: China has a space station, a crewed space station that's supposed to be happening in 2022.

965.60 969.08 J: I know that they've been ferrying pieces up there.

969.08 972.76 J: So that's going to be functional within the next year.

972.76 977.92 J: Current information also is letting us know that China could have a manned moon mission by 2029.

977.92 981.96 J: So I could totally see why NASA wants to get there before them.

981.96 988.68 J: And just as a reminder, China has had several successful lunar rover missions and really exciting one was the one that went to the far side of the moon.

988.68 994.08 J: You know, wow, it's funny to think that nobody had had did done that until very recently.

994.08 995.08 J: So that's cool.

995.08 996.08 J: I'm a fan either way.

996.08 998.72 J: You know, when people leave the earth, I think it's cool.

998.72 1001.48 J: Guys, I'm looking forward to humans returning to the moon.

1001.48 1004.92 J: And this time, you know, we're going to have a woman, a person of color.

1004.92 1009.96 J: It's going to be, you know, much cooler moon missions, I think, than that have ever been done before.

1009.96 1022.96 J: NASA also, to our absolute love and amazement, they intend to have a persistent habitat on the moon that's going to conduct research that is supposed to be preparing for the crewed Mars mission sometime in the late 2030s.

1022.96 1024.56 J: I believe it when I see it.

1024.56 1030.92 J: The fact that they created a that we're going to have a moon base and they're not calling

1030.92 1031.92 E: it moon base alpha.

1031.92 1040.30 J: The fact that they called it like CR 729 F or something like that. Yeah, Evan, it's like numbers and letters.

1040.30 1042.16 J: They didn't even call it something.

1042.16 1044.64 C: That's because everybody's just going to call it moon base alpha.

1044.64 1050.32 E: Well, maybe they're going to have a contest like they did for Bodie McBoatface.

1050.32 1051.32 E: Have people decide.

1051.32 1053.92 C: That always ends the way they want it to.

1053.92 1056.04 J: Look, I want to make this perfectly clear.

1056.04 1058.12 J: I want it to be called moon base alpha.

1058.12 1063.76 J: And I want I want green blinking lights on that freaking space, you know, on that habitat.

1063.76 1064.76 J: That's it.

1064.76 1067.56 J: That's what it needs to be in order for my science fiction dreams to come true.

1067.56 1069.08 E: Will it be in a lava tube?

1069.08 1070.08 J: That's fine.

1070.08 1071.08 J: Lava tube, not lava tube.

1071.08 1076.52 J: I just need I need a habitat named named that with green blinking lights and everything is going to be good.

1076.52 1077.96 B: Those are easy things to actually do.

1077.96 1078.96 J: Very easy.

1078.96 1079.96 C: That's it.

1079.96 1080.96 C: All right.

1080.96 1082.52 C: I'm not going to touch this one.

1082.52 1084.40 C: I'm not going to open up the whole.

1084.40 1085.40 J: I know what you want to say.

1085.40 1086.40 J: Why are we going?

1086.40 1089.60 J: Will people on the moon be able to get therapy?

1089.60 1090.60 J: Blah, blah, blah.

1090.60 1091.60 J: You know what I mean?

1091.60 1097.08 C: No, that's what I'm going to say.

1097.08 1098.08 E: Save it.

1098.08 1103.44 E: Save it for the shows next week and we can talk about it then.

1103.44 1104.44 C: Oh my goodness.

1104.44 1105.44 C: I know what I was going to say.

1105.44 1106.44 S: All right.

1106.44 1107.44 S: Thanks, Jay.

Brain Stimulation Treatment (18:27)[edit]

1107.44 1116.16 S: But this one, I'm going to do one on brain stimulation as a potential treatment for different mental health disorders.

1116.16 1118.36 S: So brain stimulation is nothing new.

1118.36 1125.68 S: We have deep brain stimulation for a number of things, neurological and psychological seizures, et cetera, movement disorders.

1125.68 1131.20 S: The technology has been advancing steadily over the last 20 years or so.

1131.20 1140.68 S: And as we learn more about how the brain works, that also improves our ability to do things with it, with deep brain stimulation.

1140.68 1143.08 S: So this is a pretty interesting study.

1143.08 1147.40 S: What they were looking at is a phenomenon known as cognitive control.

1147.40 1149.16 S: What do you guys think that is?

1149.16 1151.72 B: Being able to control how squishy your brain is.

1151.72 1153.64 B: Well, what's cognition?

1153.64 1154.64 B: Thinking, processing.

1154.64 1155.64 B: And controlling your...

1155.64 1160.52 S: Yeah, you control what you're thinking about, what you're focusing your attention on.

1160.52 1165.08 S: So for example, people with anxiety may focus on the thing they're anxious about.

1165.08 1168.16 S: Jay, I know you complain about this to me all the time.

1168.16 1170.16 S: Your brain starts going and you can't stop it.

1170.16 1172.70 S: You can't get it off the anxious thoughts.

1172.70 1178.80 S: Or if you have depression, you may be focused on negative thoughts and you just can't get off of it.

1178.80 1184.16 C: The phrase I often use in therapy is like, do your thoughts have you or do you have your thoughts?

1184.16 1185.36 C: Or like, do your feelings have you or do you?

1185.36 1189.72 C: Because we want to have our feelings, but it becomes difficult when our feelings have us.

1189.72 1193.36 C: Like, we feel like we can no longer regain control.

1193.36 1194.36 S: Right.

1194.36 1206.28 S: And so the neuroscientific approach to that is not to think of it as, well, that's your personality or that's just you and like, you have conscious control over it and you're doing it.

1206.28 1209.48 S: It's like, no, your brain is a machine and it's glitching.

1209.48 1210.48 S: Right.

1210.48 1217.76 S: And that actually turns out to be a very pragmatic, you know, practical approach to a lot of these problems.

1217.76 1220.12 S: See, what we call the neuropsychological correlates.

1220.12 1229.60 S: And in this case, they said, well, maybe the problem is in, you know, the parts of the brain that are involved with cognitive control.

1229.60 1234.60 S: And maybe we could treat that by essentially giving it a kick in the ass.

1234.60 1243.56 S: In other words, let's just give it a nudge, you know, and see if we could get, if that helps the person break out of their thought rut.

1243.56 1245.12 S: So a little mini reboot?

1245.12 1248.04 S: Well, that's, there's nothing mini about a reboot.

1248.04 1255.80 S: There are treatments that are actually, that are an analogy to a reboot of the brain that's done more pharmacologically.

1255.80 1257.20 S: That's a completely different approach.

1257.20 1261.00 C: I wouldn't use it like ECT, would you call ECT a reboot?

1261.00 1262.00 S: Yeah.

1262.00 1265.08 S: ECT is kind of a more, that's more of a reboot kind of approach.

1265.08 1266.08 C: Yeah.

1266.08 1267.08 C: What's ECT?

1267.08 1268.08 S: Pretty intense.

1268.08 1269.08 S: Electro-vulso therapy.

1269.08 1270.08 S: It's amazing.

1270.08 1279.04 S: You know, as an aside, since you bring it up, I just saw a patient the other day before and after ECT and it was so effective in them.

1279.04 1280.04 S: It was night and day.

1280.04 1281.04 S: Wow.

1281.04 1282.04 S: I mean, it really can be.

1282.04 1283.04 S: When it works, it really, really works.

1283.04 1284.04 B: When it works, I mean.

1284.04 1285.04 B: Also, yeah.

1285.04 1286.80 B: Also, I wouldn't call it ECT a reboot.

1286.80 1289.24 B: I'd call it more of like kicking the computer case.

1289.24 1290.24 C: No, it's.

1290.24 1293.28 C: It's a gross reboot, but it works.

1293.28 1295.00 C: I mean, it works when it works.

1295.00 1296.56 B: You're not shutting, you're not shutting down.

1296.56 1297.56 B: Yes, you are.

1297.56 1298.56 S: I mean, when I say reboot, you're shutting down.

1298.56 1299.56 S: You are.

1299.56 1300.56 S: You're wrong.

1300.56 1301.56 S: You're wrong.

1301.56 1302.72 S: You are, you are doing that.

1302.72 1305.32 S: You are shutting them down for like a day.

1305.32 1306.32 S: Electrically, you just.

1306.32 1307.64 S: What does that mean?

1307.64 1309.24 S: It means they're like, they lose the day.

1309.24 1312.58 S: Like they're not, their brain's not functioning that day when you give them the ECT.

1312.58 1313.72 B: So they're in a coma.

1313.72 1314.72 B: They're like in a deep coma.

1314.72 1315.72 S: Well, they seize.

1315.72 1316.72 S: Huh?

1316.72 1319.64 S: Yeah, they have a seizure.

1319.64 1320.64 C: You're inducing a seizure.

1320.64 1321.64 C: Yeah.

1321.64 1322.64 C: So it's like a restart.

1322.64 1323.64 C: Right.

1323.64 1328.72 C: It's like a hard restart, not like turning your computer off and letting it sit off for 20 minutes before you start it again.

1328.72 1329.72 B: A hard restart.

1329.72 1330.72 B: All right.

1330.72 1331.72 B: It's just a bit semantics.

1331.72 1332.72 B: I mean, it's.

1332.72 1333.72 B: All right, keep going.

1333.72 1344.92 S: And there's also pharmacological reboots where you use, you know, you use drugs to put somebody in a drug induced coma and then bring them out of it to see if that will alter their brain function too.

1344.92 1350.28 S: So that's being studied for things like certain kinds of chronic neuropathic pain, for example.

1350.28 1351.28 B: Wow.

1351.28 1352.28 B: But anyway.

1352.28 1354.40 B: Yeah, but how long lasting is this, these so-called reboots?

1354.40 1356.04 B: How long, I mean, is it works for a day?

1356.04 1357.04 B: Does it work for a week?

1357.04 1358.04 B: Is it permanent?

1358.04 1359.84 B: I can't imagine that it would like get fixed problem.

1359.84 1360.84 S: Probably months.

1360.84 1361.84 S: No, that's not bad.

1361.84 1362.84 S: It's not bad.

1362.84 1370.44 S: It's not, it's a, it's a, you know, the most invasive treatment and it's only for the most refractory patients.

1370.44 1373.92 S: Anyway, this is a much more targeted treatment.

1373.92 1376.12 S: This is a deep brain stimulation.

1376.12 1377.12 S: Targeting what?

1377.12 1378.12 B: A wire.

1378.12 1379.72 B: Oh, not like a magnetic field?

1379.72 1380.72 B: No, it's a wire.

1380.72 1381.72 S: That's hoping you were going there.

1381.72 1382.72 C: It's an electrode, right?

1382.72 1383.72 S: Tiny electrode.

1383.72 1384.72 S: No.

1384.72 1389.92 S: They're stimulating the internal capsule on both sides of the brain, specifically the dorsal parts of it.

1389.92 1396.48 S: And that's just the pathway to the parts of the brain that are involved with cognitive control.

1396.48 1402.48 S: And by stimulating it, it's kind of like giving the brain a little nudge, right?

1402.48 1407.24 S: And they, they used two, two treatment situations.

1407.24 1413.56 S: One was essentially random, just like randomly stimulating the internal capsules.

1413.56 1430.14 S: And the other one used an artificially intelligent algorithm to read the brain activity from a separate, you know, strip of electrodes on the brain and try to infer from the EEG when the person was mentally stuck.

1430.14 1431.14 S: This is during a tad.

1431.14 1433.00 S: This is not freewheeling about their day.

1433.00 1437.76 S: This is during a task that is designed to create conflict.

1437.76 1443.48 S: When the subjects were stuck on the task, that's when they would get the stimulation.

1443.48 1450.52 S: And in both treatment groups did better than no treatment, right, than no stimulation.

1450.52 1461.08 S: But the closed loop artificially intelligent driven stimulation, like prodding them when they're stuck, did significantly better than the random stimulation one.

1461.08 1462.08 S: Interesting.

1462.08 1466.36 C: Did it, can I just ask, sorry, this is a random aside, but did it have any motor effects on them?

1466.36 1469.36 C: I would be worried about that if they were zapping the internal capsule.

1469.36 1470.36 S: Yeah, yeah.

1470.36 1473.88 S: So I know I agree, but it didn't note any.

1473.88 1474.88 S: Oh, interesting.

1474.88 1475.88 S: Okay.

1475.88 1476.88 S: Yeah.

1476.88 1477.88 S: Yeah.

1477.88 1480.00 S: It's not like they physically twitch when they get, when they get shocked.

1480.00 1483.84 S: They were probably, it sounds like they were, they were targeting the more sensory pathways.

1483.84 1484.84 S: Gotcha.

1484.84 1485.84 S: Yeah.

1485.84 1488.84 S: So that's, you know, that's, this is pretty interesting.

1488.84 1511.12 S: This is still fairly crude, but when you think about it, you know, if we're using AI to read brain states and then provide, you know, either spatially and temporarily targeted electrical stimulation to the brain in order to alter its function, even something as, you know, a high function such as cognitive control, that's pretty amazing.

1511.12 1512.12 S: Yeah.

1512.12 1523.44 S: We're hacking the brain, you know, again, even at a basic level, you know, we're doing it legitimately, you know, as part of a therapeutic intervention here.

1523.44 1527.12 S: And this, you know, this has a lot of promise, this approach.

1527.12 1529.42 E: Any risks with this approach, Steve?

1529.42 1530.42 E: It's invasive.

1530.42 1531.42 E: So what, infection?

1531.42 1532.42 E: Yeah.

1532.42 1533.42 C: Yeah, always.

1533.42 1535.04 C: There's an electrode in this person's brain.

1535.04 1542.00 S: So although we've been doing this safely for years, again, this technology is advancing and it's pretty well established now.

1542.00 1546.04 B: How long does it stay where it needs to stay before it moves too far?

1546.04 1547.04 S: Yeah.

1547.04 1549.16 S: That's a good question.

1549.16 1558.84 S: There's always the risk that it'll, you know, there'll be fibrous tissue which will degrade the connection and that it could migrate a little bit because remember, the brain's pulsating.

1558.84 1559.84 S: Right.

1559.84 1567.96 C: But in DBS for Parkinson's patients, tell me if I'm wrong, Steve, but I think the bigger risk is that the actual implanted remote kind of dies.

1567.96 1568.96 C: Yeah.

1568.96 1569.96 C: Like that happens sooner.

1569.96 1585.40 C: Like it seems like the electrode implants are a lot more stable, but the power supply to them that's like usually in somebody's chest or like their, you know, their shoulder area that that has to be replaced or serviced or whatever.

1585.40 1586.40 S: Yeah.

1586.40 1587.40 S: Although that can be done.

1587.40 1593.56 S: So it's not like a limiting factor, but yeah, at this point, you know, you think about like there's three components to this.

1593.56 1601.68 S: There's the brain machine interface, there's the software, and then there's just the technology of the electrodes and all that stuff, the batteries, the powering.

1601.68 1606.40 S: Right now, that last thing, the electrodes and the battery and the powering, that's the limiting factor.

1606.40 1607.40 S: Yeah.

1607.40 1609.16 S: And it's getting better all the time.

1609.16 1610.16 S: Yeah.

1610.16 1614.28 S: But that's the thing that really I'd love to see significantly improve.

1614.28 1619.68 S: The AI is way beyond what we need it to be to accomplish what we're trying to do with it.

1619.68 1629.56 S: And we, you know, we also need the electrodes themselves, that connection to improve, but we already have electrodes that are very like microfiber electrodes that work really well.

1629.56 1632.96 C: Yeah, they're soft, they're flexible, like it's pretty cool.

1632.96 1633.96 S: It's coming along.

1633.96 1634.96 S: It's coming along.

1634.96 1645.20 S: So I'm really hoping within like 20 years or so, like with 20 years of it, like, you know, you think about where solar panels were 20 years ago, they were terrible compared to what we have today.

1645.20 1646.20 S: And there was no breakthrough.

1646.20 1648.36 S: It was just 20 years of steady incremental advance.

1648.36 1650.64 S: I think that's kind of where we are with this technology.

1650.64 1655.84 S: And I think in 10, 20 years, you know, it's going to be pretty significant.

1655.84 1667.32 S: And the bottom line is there's no theoretical limit using this kind of technology to our ability to hack the brain, to alter whatever functions we want, because the brain is a machine.

1667.32 1668.80 S: It's just a sophisticated machine.

1668.80 1678.68 C: There's two things that come up for me, Steve, that I think maybe I want to ask or I want to highlight or I think it's important to kind of point out and question.

1678.68 1689.66 C: The first one is that people who are listening, very often you'll hear us debunking like headbands and like these like consumer marketed products to hack the brain.

1689.66 1709.64 C: And I think it's important to sort of highlight the difference between this very clinical research where there are implants and there's, you know, usually like you're hooked up to these wires and there's like a computer thing and there's versus this like slick looking head set like headband that you put on and then you're supposed to like wear it while you read and you're going to be able to focus better.

1709.64 1717.48 S: Yeah, there's always the fake consumer level knockoffs, you know, and I wouldn't use knockoff brain hacking.

1717.48 1718.96 S: I just wouldn't recommend that.

1718.96 1719.96 S: I agree.

1719.96 1729.12 S: There's always going to be that layer, though, because anybody could produce, you know, a device that does nothing, make whatever they want, you know, claim whatever they want for it.

1729.12 1731.88 S: The industry is really so poorly regulated.

1731.88 1739.56 C: And the technology isn't there yet for us to have what they are marketing does what it does.

1739.56 1740.56 C: It doesn't do what it does.

1740.56 1741.56 B: We're not there yet.

1741.56 1742.56 B: Yeah.

1742.56 1752.96 B: But what if you go what if you extend that, though, the other side of the coin is, you know, externally manipulating the brain using technology like magnetic fields, which we know can be used to do things.

1752.96 1758.20 B: So can that can that type of technology replicate any of this stuff that you're talking about, Steve, with the electrodes?

1758.20 1761.28 S: Yeah, theoretically, it depends what you're doing.

1761.28 1768.16 S: Not reading the brain activity that you need electrodes for that at this point in time, but stimulating different parts of the brain at brain.

1768.16 1769.16 S: Absolutely.

1769.16 1777.52 S: It's not as precise as having a wire next to brain tissue, but it is one of those transcranial magnetic stimulation.

1777.52 1778.52 S: It is a treatment.

1778.52 1779.88 S: Yeah, it does work.

1779.88 1781.88 S: But again, these devices are huge.

1781.88 1782.88 S: You know, they're not the good word.

1782.88 1783.88 S: They're not huge.

1783.88 1785.82 S: The slick little headbands or anything.

1785.82 1786.82 B: That's fine with me.

1786.82 1787.82 B: I'll go sit in a chair.

1787.82 1788.82 B: Make this smart for two days.

1788.82 1793.16 C: Well, and that's the thing, we don't we don't that doesn't make you smarter.

1793.16 1795.44 C: Like, and I think that's the important thing to remember.

1795.44 1796.44 E: Of course not now.

1796.44 1797.44 E: Superpowers.

1797.44 1798.44 C: Not now.

1798.44 1799.52 C: TDCS is another example, right?

1799.52 1803.88 C: Transcranial direct current stimulation is another example of this, you know, quote unquote, brain hack.

1803.88 1826.20 C: And one of the things that was sort of eye opening for me, I remember years ago, going and visiting labs, I did a story for like the Al Jazeera show I worked on where we talked about TDCS, both in the laboratory, and also sort of in the hacking, like, covert community of people who are doing just that, like trying to do some DIY brain hacking, and sort of the safety implications.

1826.20 1828.30 C: I mean, there's so much to talk about.

1828.30 1833.64 C: And I remember, when you look at the literature, it's like, we're testing it for cognitive control.

1833.64 1834.64 C: We're testing it for depression.

1834.64 1837.16 C: We're testing it for mathematical capabilities.

1837.16 1839.48 C: And you're like, this sounds like snake oil.

1839.48 1841.60 C: Like how could it possibly do all of this?

1841.60 1846.92 C: And I remember speaking to a researcher, and he said something that was effective for me.

1846.92 1848.68 C: And Steve, I'm interested to hear your take on it.

1848.68 1854.34 C: He was saying, it's because you're thinking about it from a categorical perspective that's not quite right.

1854.34 1856.10 C: Of course, it sounds like snake oil.

1856.10 1860.18 C: If you're trying to say, for example, this pill cures all these different things.

1860.18 1865.24 C: But if what we're talking about is drug, drug can work on your heart.

1865.24 1867.20 C: Drug can work on your brain.

1867.20 1868.20 C: Drug can help with cholesterol.

1868.20 1869.20 C: Like, it's a whole new platform.

1869.20 1870.20 C: Yes.

1870.20 1871.20 C: I agree with that.

1871.20 1872.20 C: It's a whole new approach.

1872.20 1873.20 C: Yeah.

1873.20 1875.72 C: And so it really depends on where are the electrodes?

1875.72 1876.72 C: Where are the leads?

1876.72 1878.24 C: How have you mapped the brain?

1878.24 1881.32 C: And what is the task that you're doing while you're stimulating?

1881.32 1884.08 C: Like all those things kind of come into play.

1884.08 1886.20 S: I've actually independently used that same analogy.

1886.20 1887.54 S: Oh, I love that.

1887.54 1890.72 S: It's like saying, yeah, like how could drugs do so many different things?

1890.72 1891.72 S: Because there's lots of different drugs.

1891.72 1892.72 C: Because they're all different.

1892.72 1893.72 S: Yeah.

1893.72 1903.40 S: So these are all different treatments targeting different parts of the brain, some with increasing function or decreasing function or whatever, in different disease states, in different patterns, et cetera.

1903.40 1915.96 S: And again, the other thing is the thing that really grips me is that with pharmacology, there's a theoretical limit about how precise we can get because the brain is kind of biologically messy, biochemically.

1915.96 1916.96 S: Yeah.

1916.96 1917.96 C: The blood-brain barriers.

1917.96 1920.96 C: It's going to bind to anything that looks like that.

1920.96 1921.96 S: Yeah.

1921.96 1922.96 S: Exactly.

1922.96 1926.40 S: But with electromagnetic hacking of the brain, there's no theoretical limit.

1926.40 1928.48 S: It's all a technological limit.

1928.48 1930.60 S: But there's no biological limit.

1930.60 1935.88 S: And we'll get to the point, at some point, we'll be able to make the brain do whatever we want to do without limit.

1935.88 1936.88 B: Yeah.

1936.88 1942.52 B: I mean, imagine like a self-replicating little device that can basically hitch a ride on every neuron in your head.

1942.52 1944.52 C: I mean- No.

1944.52 1945.52 C: I don't want that.

1945.52 1946.52 B: That sounds so scary.

1946.52 1950.60 B: I won't be the first guy with that, but I might be the fifth.

1950.60 1958.28 C: Knowing that there would be a potential then for somebody else to seize control of that joystick is something I- Well, that's the scary part.

1958.28 1959.84 B: Just keep your firmware up to date.

1959.84 1960.84 B: That's all.

1960.84 1967.60 S: Well, everyone, we're going to take a quick break from our show to talk about one of our sponsors this week, Bombas Socks.

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2026.84 2028.80 S: All right, guys, let's get back to the show.

Carbon to Rock (33:49)[edit]

2028.80 2032.28 S: All right, Bob, tell us what Iceland is doing with carbon capture.

2032.28 2033.84 B: Yeah, it's pretty slick.

2033.84 2044.76 B: Company in Iceland called Climeworks has built the first large-scale direct air capture plant to pull CO2 out of the atmosphere and store it permanently in rock deep underground.

2044.76 2045.76 B: How cool is that?

2045.76 2047.88 B: Pull it out, turn it into a rock.

2047.88 2049.80 B: So let's go over the details, see what you guys think.

2049.80 2051.72 B: I'm curious to get your takes on this.

2051.72 2061.40 B: So first, I need to mention that a recent UN report on climate change made it clear that it's not only critical to reduce carbon emissions dramatically, right?

2061.40 2062.48 B: That's what we mostly hear about, right?

2062.48 2064.88 B: We got to reduce emissions and by a lot.

2064.88 2070.16 B: But also, we also need to remove historical carbon emissions as well.

2070.16 2072.64 B: Both of them are critical, not just one.

2072.64 2077.32 B: So now this can be done with DACs or direct air capture technology.

2077.32 2085.04 B: A DAC is essentially a type of carbon capture and storage tech and they call that CCS, carbon capture and storage.

2085.04 2093.76 B: But CCS typically grabs carbon from things like say the worst industrial smokestacks before it actually becomes part of our atmosphere.

2093.76 2101.84 B: Direct air capture technology filters out CO2 that's already been there and probably been up there for quite a long time.

2101.84 2109.38 B: So this plant near Reykjavik, Iceland is called Orca, which is derived from an Icelandic word for energy.

2109.38 2113.90 B: So it's built by a company called Climeworks and costs about 10 to 15 million.

2113.90 2121.48 B: And I don't know what they, I assume maybe it was United States dollars in this article.

2121.48 2131.78 B: But the, so it costs that much, 10 to 15 million USD to build and it's able to suck 4,000 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere per year, 4,000 tons.

2131.78 2135.64 B: Now that's not a gargantuan amount, but this is the first of its kind.

2135.64 2144.64 B: And we now have an example of this technology working at a large scale and pumping it underground where it's inaccessible.

2144.64 2147.60 B: So now speaking of working though, so how does this work?

2147.60 2153.12 B: So okay, so Climeworks DAC machines, they drive in air using these big fans.

2153.12 2161.68 B: So the air goes in through the fan and it goes through filters that grab the CO2 and it basically saturates the filters with the CO2.

2161.68 2178.52 B: So when the filter is completely saturated, the fan, one of the fans or whatever shuts down temporarily shuts down and then heat, they take heat from a local geothermal plant and they use that heat to raise the temperature of the filters and which releases the concentrated CO2.

2178.52 2179.52 B: Okay.

2179.52 2180.52 C: So what?

2180.52 2183.12 B: Yes, that's where the next, where the next piece comes.

2183.12 2188.72 B: So it goes through pipes and I think it goes actually for like a couple of kilometers away.

2188.72 2192.16 B: And that's where the Icelandic company Carbifix steps in.

2192.16 2205.28 B: So they take that concentrated CO2 and they mix it with water and then they take that mixture and they pump it under great pressure into the basalt rock 800 to 2000 meters underground.

2205.28 2215.80 B: And so now this mixture reacts with the basaltic rocks deep underground, recreating what is essentially a natural mineralization process, but it's on steroids.

2215.80 2221.48 B: When this happens in nature, it could take hundreds, literally hundreds of millennia for this to happen.

2221.48 2229.08 B: Their process though, they claim converts the water and CO2 into stone, essentially deep underground within just a couple of years.

2229.08 2238.68 B: Now so I don't know exactly what, I guess, I guess the, during the two years it's essentially, you know, high pressure water and CO2.

2238.68 2244.60 C: Well water and CO2 together make carbonic acid and it's like pretty brutal.

2244.60 2245.60 B: Sure.

2245.60 2254.60 B: But within this basaltic rock, it goes through the porous rock and slowly becomes mineralized over two years to become essentially rock itself.

2254.60 2260.52 C: Okay, but they're able to just like capture this or produce this acid safely and pump it down safely?

2260.52 2264.80 B: They don't release too many details because this is clearly their secret sauce.

2264.80 2266.96 B: But yes, this is what they do.

2266.96 2277.12 B: So what they claim, some of the things they do say publicly though, that this is safer than any other known method to perform this process and it's incredibly stable, right?

2277.12 2280.16 B: Because you're thinking, all right, we're pumping all this stuff underground.

2280.16 2281.16 B: Give me a worst case scenario.

2281.16 2282.92 B: What, you know, what if it gets released?

2282.92 2284.06 B: That would not be good.

2284.06 2292.16 B: But to re-release the carbon back into the atmosphere would basically require a tremendous amount of heat, something on the scale of a volcanic eruption.

2292.16 2295.80 B: So how viable is this plant then in terms of building more of them, right?

2295.80 2297.96 B: Because having just one, so what?

2297.96 2305.60 B: The key for this type of DAC technology is to have a lot of them and hopefully ones that are even, you know, galed up even well beyond that.

2305.60 2310.20 S: So Bob, you said this was able to capture 4,000 tons?

2310.20 2311.20 S: Yes.

2311.20 2316.96 S: Yeah, so the worldwide emission of carbon is 43 billion.

2316.96 2319.76 B: They want 3 billion tons a year taken out.

2319.76 2320.76 B: I'm getting to that point.

2320.76 2321.76 S: Yes.

2321.76 2322.76 S: Okay.

2322.76 2323.76 S: Just to scale it for people.

2323.76 2326.76 B: That's exactly, I'm going to, that's yep.

2326.76 2327.76 S: That's 10, what's that?

2327.76 2331.42 S: No, that's six, yes.

2331.42 2332.56 B: Six orders of magnitude.

2332.56 2335.24 B: So how viable is this plant then in terms of building more of them, right?

2335.24 2340.04 B: Because just one isn't going to cut it with, you know, with the amount that they're pulling out.

2340.04 2342.60 B: They're going to need a lot more or a lot more that are bigger.

2342.60 2347.64 B: So it seems that Climeworks has done, really done a ton of work though for some of these questions.

2347.64 2350.64 B: So first of all, the Orca design is optimized for scalability.

2350.64 2355.30 B: It can be easily made bigger or smaller depending on how many of these collector units that you put together.

2355.30 2358.72 B: So that's been in the design from the beginning.

2358.72 2361.60 B: You could also construct them almost anywhere as long as you have a few things.

2361.60 2364.64 B: You need a renewable energy source to power it, right?

2364.64 2373.36 B: Because that's one of the key things about this is that we're using renewable energy where geological, you know, geologic storage is available.

2373.36 2375.96 B: So that's also because you need a place to put it, right?

2375.96 2377.16 B: It's got to be under the ground.

2377.16 2383.32 B: So it's got to be part of the geological aspects of, you know, whatever, wherever you are in the world.

2383.32 2384.32 B: So, okay.

2384.32 2386.14 B: So the other major consideration is efficiency, right?

2386.14 2397.68 B: Because it doesn't make much sense to pull X amount of carbon from the atmosphere if the process puts back, you know, X plus one, you know, then you took out, you know, you don't want to end up where, so that clearly would not make any sense.

2397.68 2409.64 B: So to answer this question, Climeworks used an independent third party to assess the entire life cycle of an orca plant, including, and this was kind of impressive, including recycling the plant at the end of its life.

2409.64 2416.48 B: And they concluded that the plant is 90% efficient, meaning that carbon re-emission would be less than 10%.

2416.48 2417.64 B: So that's pretty good.

2417.64 2419.40 B: That's really good, I think.

2419.40 2424.44 B: So this sounds pretty promising to me, but the problems are the usual ones, right?

2424.44 2430.32 B: See for one, this technology, especially if you scale it up, is very, very expensive.

2430.32 2445.68 B: And also there's a real world impact is another huge problem, which of course is related to the money as well, because 4,000 tons of CO2 removed per year from orca, it's a lot from one perspective, but it's also the proverbial raindrop in a hurricane.

2445.68 2454.06 B: Climate models tend to imply that we need to remove about six orders of magnitude more per year by 2050 than orca can do.

2454.06 2459.52 B: So that's a few billion tons a year that we need to be removing every year.

2459.52 2462.16 B: And this does 4,000 tons.

2462.16 2464.60 B: So that would take a million orcas, right?

2464.60 2473.52 B: If we had a million orcas, that would do it, or we would need only 100,000 of them if each of them were 10 times bigger than orca is.

2473.52 2476.04 B: So that's clearly a problem.

2476.04 2479.30 B: We would need many of these to make a dent.

2479.30 2488.48 B: Maybe it would play a role, but I mean, we really need to be moving a lot more than even orca can do, a beefy orca can do, and lots of them.

2488.48 2499.36 B: So the question is, is that going to turn off a lot of people and is it going to really just kill this in a lot of ways or at the very least prevent it from having any noticeable impact?

2499.36 2503.48 B: And of course, the biggest problem as I see it is the ever annoying lack of political will.

2503.48 2510.44 B: I just don't think countries will do what needs to be done about this until Disney World is already underwater.

2510.44 2513.04 B: And it's just going to be like, oh, wow, this is really serious.

2513.04 2514.04 B: We've got to do something.

2514.04 2515.04 B: Sorry.

2515.04 2516.60 B: Yeah, you should have done that about a generation ago.

2516.60 2522.90 B: And we're just approaching that point where it's never too late to do something because you can always make it less worse than it would have been.

2522.90 2528.12 B: But come on, that's why I like seeing technology like this and to get people into it and interested.

2528.12 2536.76 B: And maybe we can create 100,000 of these that can effectively pull out of the atmosphere the stuff that we need to pull out.

2536.76 2538.44 B: But we'll see what happens.

2538.44 2541.36 C: Yeah, I mean, 100,000, it's a lot.

2541.36 2542.36 C: That sounds doable.

2542.36 2543.36 C: That sounds doable.

2543.36 2544.36 B: That sounds doable.

2544.36 2553.60 B: So, you know, or maybe we can find a way to make it, you know, 100 times better, you know, 100 times better than orca, then that would only be 1000 of them.

2553.60 2554.60 B: Right.

2554.60 2556.12 B: Then we would only need 1000 of them.

2556.12 2558.48 B: So that way, that way, 10,000.

2558.48 2559.48 C: Yes, 10,000.

2559.48 2560.48 C: Right.

2560.48 2562.28 C: But like, do they need to be in a specific area?

2562.28 2563.64 C: They're not like windmills, right?

2563.64 2565.16 C: Like they can be anywhere.

2565.16 2576.32 B: Like I said, you just need to have, you know, you need the geology to pump it in there and you need a renewable energy source to and geothermal in Iceland is, you know, is wonderful.

2576.32 2577.44 B: So they use a lot of that.

2577.44 2584.12 B: So that's part of the reason why it's so awesome is that it's not, you know, you don't want to be pumping more carbon into the atmosphere while you take it out.

2584.12 2585.28 B: You want to minimize that.

2585.28 2588.84 B: And that's why renewables are obviously key to this whole concept.

2588.84 2591.88 S: Yeah, I mean, it's just I think the scale is the killer.

2591.88 2592.88 S: Yeah, it could be the killer.

2592.88 2593.88 S: Yeah.

2593.88 2595.88 S: Plus also, you're making rocks.

2595.88 2602.56 S: I mean, it's just you're spending money to pull carbon out of the air, which is not nothing that's not valuable.

2602.56 2608.44 S: But whoever's doing that isn't getting anything out of it unless somebody is paying them just to do it.

2608.44 2612.72 S: What if you were pulling carbon out of the air and making and doing something with it?

2612.72 2628.80 B: Yes, I was thinking biofuel out of it or doing something out of it, replacement for cement, increase the incentive so that even, you know, even if you know that you could still do some good but also have a nice benefit to, you know, to help pay, you know, you could sell something, you could sell the rocks.

2628.80 2637.36 S: But the other way to look at this is that how much money are we going to invest and what are we going to get out of it in terms of mitigation of carbon in the atmosphere?

2637.36 2641.08 S: Would we be better off building wind turbines with that money or solar panels?

2641.08 2642.08 S: Right.

2642.08 2643.08 S: It's an opportunity cost.

2643.08 2644.08 B: It's an opportunity cost.

2644.08 2645.08 C: Right.

2645.08 2650.84 C: But it's sort of like you said at the beginning, Bob, it's not enough to just reduce fossil fuel usage.

2650.84 2651.84 C: We've got to pull it out.

2651.84 2653.80 C: Yeah, we have to take the carbon back out.

2653.80 2655.64 S: But we've got to reduce it first.

2655.64 2656.64 C: Yeah.

2656.64 2658.24 C: Or do them both at the same damn time.

2658.24 2659.24 B: We can do both.

2659.24 2660.24 B: We can do both.

2660.24 2661.24 B: Yes.

2661.24 2664.00 B: And, and, and yeah, like the UN said, we got to do both.

2664.00 2665.24 B: Both are critical.

2665.24 2667.36 B: You can't just reduce emissions dramatically.

2667.36 2668.36 B: You got to pull it out.

2668.36 2679.96 B: And so maybe it's better to just pull out what we can, you know, even if it's woefully inadequate, take out something because that will, that will ultimately reduce the temperature increase even if it's a tenth of a degree.

2679.96 2680.96 B: Yeah.

Astronaut Brain Damage (44:42)[edit]

2680.96 2686.64 S: All right, everyone, we got some more bad news about the rigors of space travel.

2686.64 2696.52 E: As if we needed more downsides to recognize that people and outer space aren't the best match in nature.

2696.52 2697.52 E: Yeah.

2697.52 2704.96 E: I read about this particular news item over at ZME Science, which is one of my favorite go to sources for science news.

2704.96 2708.08 E: The article was written by TB Puiu.

2708.08 2720.68 E: And he brings to our attention a research letter published in JAMA Neurology online titled changes in blood biomarkers, brain injury and degeneration following long duration spaceflight.

2720.68 2724.44 E: So you can tell by the title, not, not good.

2724.44 2728.56 E: It's it's available at JAMA Network online for those who want to read it.

2728.56 2735.86 E: The opening paragraph contains this long duration spaceflight has a widespread effect on human physiology.

2735.86 2744.68 E: The past decade first revealed eyeball alterations and then neuroimaging studies hinted at potentially detrimental effects on the brain.

2744.68 2751.72 E: Expansion of cerebrospinal fluid spaces occurs at the cost of the gray and white matter compartment.

2751.72 2760.08 E: A neurobiological integrity assessment of the brain's tissues after prolonged exposure to microgravity has never been conducted to our knowledge.

2760.08 2768.76 E: Therefore we investigated the longitudinal course of blood based biomarkers representing the brain parenchyma in long duration spaceflight.

2768.76 2771.28 E: So they're basically hinting at what they're going to tell you there.

2771.28 2786.44 E: And yep, the researchers at the University of Gothenburg and Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, they analyzed blood samples taken from five Russian cosmonauts before and then after they completed their six month mission on the space station.

2786.44 2796.32 E: The post mission blood samples were taken one day after return, one week and then three weeks after they safely landed back on Earth.

2796.32 2800.92 E: And they used a technology called molecule array testing, which is neat.

2800.92 2807.04 E: It's a technique sensitive enough to detect proteins at the femtogram per milliliter level.

2807.04 2808.76 E: There you go, Bob.

2808.76 2809.76 E: Femtogram.

2809.76 2815.92 E: They studied the concentration at each time point of five blood based brain biomarkers.

2815.92 2817.60 E: Here they are.

2817.60 2830.84 E: Different light, you know that one, NFL, glial fibrillary acidic protein or GFAP, total tau and the amyloid beta proteins, alpha beta 40 and alpha beta 42.

2830.84 2833.36 C: Well, you can get all that stuff in blood.

2833.36 2838.18 E: Steve, how important are those biomarkers in measuring brain health, would you say?

2838.18 2840.12 S: It's hard to say just to be a blanket.

2840.12 2844.08 S: Similarly, there are so many biomarkers and, you know, they.

2844.08 2848.64 S: The thing about the brain is we don't have access to most of them.

2848.64 2855.92 S: Yeah, but I'm telling you every week I see a study this, but you know, but blood biomarker indicates risk of Alzheimer's disease or whatever.

2855.92 2858.12 S: It doesn't mean it's clinically useful.

2858.12 2862.66 S: It's just something that's cropping up in research.

2862.66 2864.76 S: So it's just really hard to know, to be honest with you.

2864.76 2872.08 C: Right, because we're looking at things that are free floating in the bloodstream, in the somatic, like outside of the brain.

2872.08 2884.76 C: So basically they're taking a blood sample from somebody's arm and saying these different things that are these different molecules, proteins, whatever, that are free floating are giving us some indirect measurement of brain health when most of the stuff in the brain is bound up in the brain.

2884.76 2890.44 E: So therefore it's questionable as to how well you can really measure the health.

2890.44 2891.44 C: Think about it.

2891.44 2897.96 C: When you go to the doctor, do they take a bunch of like when they do a complete blood panel on you or you get your physical, do they give you a lot of insight into your brain

2897.96 2899.96 S: health? These are not used.

2899.96 2900.96 S: These are not used routinely.

2900.96 2902.60 C: Yeah, these are not clinical.

2902.60 2903.60 C: They're research markers.

2903.60 2904.60 C: They're not clinical markers.

2904.60 2905.60 S: Yeah, exactly.

2905.60 2912.00 E: They claim though that high levels of the biomarkers are associated with physical damage to the brain's connecting fibers, the axons, right?

2912.00 2920.96 E: The trends of the biomarkers suggest that different types of functional tissue in the brain are affected by the microgravity and that's what was reported in that journal.

2920.96 2925.08 E: They consider this to be minor brain damage.

2925.08 2929.72 E: You know, again, I'm not really sure how to categorize that.

2929.72 2933.72 E: There's the cutoff between minor and moderate.

2933.72 2936.86 E: But they claim it's undeniably connected to the space flight.

2936.86 2939.34 E: But they don't know yet what might be causing it.

2939.34 2946.82 E: They think it's possibly stressors due to launch, landing, the weightlessness itself and changes in brain fluid.

2946.82 2950.88 E: They said that they are possible explanations that can't be ruled out.

2950.88 2964.84 C: I've long wondered about this idea of like when you're pushing a lot of Gs and you turn your head ever so slightly, how easy is it to have, you know, head in motion injuries, to have axonal injury when you're going that fast and then you move your head?

2964.84 2971.56 E: Yeah, I can't say that we exactly evolved to be able to sustain such stresses on our body by any stretch.

2971.56 2976.56 C: Yeah, our brains didn't evolve in motion or at least not in motion at those speeds.

2976.56 2978.96 S: Well, it's all about acceleration, not speed.

2978.96 2979.96 S: Yeah, exactly.

2979.96 2980.96 E: Yeah, right.

2980.96 2981.96 E: Yeah.

2981.96 3001.72 E: And then the next, the macro discussion about humans in space, space flight, you know, when you start talking about things like how we're going to get people to Mars, you know, it just continues to add up sort of the list of things that we need to be concerned with and try to mitigate if we can, you know, because you're dealing with, well, I mean, the list is long.

3001.72 3005.28 E: It's the radiation, you know, altered gravity fields.

3005.28 3025.24 E: There's the psychological aspects of isolation and confinement, plus the actual physical things that we know happen like vestibular dysfunction, weight loss, upward fluid shift, anemia, yep, muscle atrophy, bone loss, and so many other things, you know, the list is expanding.

3025.24 3028.60 E: So, you know, I don't know.

3028.60 3030.60 E: Maybe robots is the answer, you know, unmanned.

3030.60 3032.92 E: Here, here, Evan, I'm with you on that.

3032.92 3034.92 C: You guys remember that scene in WALL-E?

3034.92 3035.92 C: WALL-E.

3035.92 3037.92 C: Do you guys remember how like the- I remember WALL-E, sure.

3037.92 3044.32 C: Yeah, like the first half of the movie, there's no dialogue, and then the second half when they're finally in the space, the spaceship or whatever.

3044.32 3056.72 C: I just remember there was like an educational video that all of the people are watching and it's like, due to your extended period in space, bone loss may have occurred and they show like the weird x-ray and their bones are all shrunk.

3056.72 3057.72 C: I was like, Jesus.

3057.72 3059.76 C: But that's, you know, it's a thing.

3059.76 3061.24 S: Yeah, but you know what?

3061.24 3066.32 S: If we're a space station, you can deal with all of this with just artificial gravity.

3066.32 3069.12 S: You just got to spin that space station.

3069.12 3072.44 S: And you know, I mean, that's a problem for spaceships.

3072.44 3074.56 S: Yeah, it's an engineering problem.

3074.56 3075.56 S: It's a huge engineering problem.

3075.56 3086.40 S: But for a space station, there's already, you know, again, that company Voyager who has a design for a space station that would be rotating and producing artificial gravity.

3086.40 3090.86 S: Yeah, I mean, that's, most of the problem is gravity.

3090.86 3092.60 S: That's most of the problem.

3092.60 3094.64 S: And radiation, but there's shielding.

3094.64 3095.64 S: Radiation's the other problem.

3095.64 3096.64 S: Yeah, absolutely.

3096.64 3101.72 E: As we record this, four astronauts are on their way to the International Space Station right now.

3101.72 3104.16 E: The SpaceX did launch about, what, 20 minutes ago.

3104.16 3105.16 E: Oh, cool.

3105.16 3106.16 E: Oh, really?

3106.16 3107.16 E: I'm recording this.

3107.16 3108.16 J: Yep.

3108.16 3109.16 J: See, Cara, SpaceX.

3109.16 3110.16 J: SpaceX, not Blue Origin.

3110.16 3111.16 J: No, I know.

3111.16 3112.16 C: I know.

3112.16 3113.16 E: Take that, Jeff.

3113.16 3119.16 C: The world, Elon Musk has made it clear to the world that he won those contracts.

3119.16 3125.24 C: No, but it's cool because they are getting there safely and that is really exciting, but scary.

3125.24 3126.24 S: Yeah.

Who's That Noisy? (52:05)[edit]

3126.24 3127.44 S: All right, Jade, who's that noisy time?

3127.44 3128.44 J: All right, guys.

3128.44 3129.68 J: Last week, I played this noisy.

3129.68 3134.68 C: I know what it is.

3134.68 3141.68 C: I know what it is.

3141.68 3147.96 E: Yeah, I know what it is too, but Cara, you go first.

3147.96 3153.36 C: It's a dolphin party in which the dolphins realize that funny noise when you let air

3153.36 3157.44 E: slowly out of the balloon. Well, air out of the balloon was going to be mine.

3157.44 3158.44 J: Yeah.

3158.44 3163.60 J: All right, well, because it's a somewhat funny noise, I got a lot of people writing in funny ideas.

3163.60 3165.40 J: Let me get through what I got here.

3165.40 3167.28 J: William Steele wrote in, said, hi, Jay.

3167.28 3173.92 J: My guess for this week's noisy is a bird, I'll say a parrot, imitating a noisemaker party favor.

3173.92 3177.08 J: You know the kind that roll out when you blow into them?

3177.08 3179.04 J: You know, like a big long tongue.

3179.04 3180.60 J: Yeah, I got it.

3180.60 3183.16 J: That's funny, but that's not it, buddy.

3183.16 3184.64 J: Let's go on to the next one.

3184.64 3187.64 J: Richard Smith, he said, who's that noisy?

3187.64 3195.44 J: Well, I'm tempted to say this week's noisy is two people playing Canadian Smarties boxes back before they had glued down the end flaps.

3195.44 3196.44 J: I think that's hilarious.

3196.44 3197.44 J: What?

3197.44 3202.60 E: Yeah, remember you had the, you'd blow into the box, it would make some sort of weird whistling

3202.60 3208.04 J: noise. He said, it's far more likely to be a pair of white cheeked gibbons singing.

3208.04 3210.48 J: Not a bad guess, but not correct.

3210.48 3213.26 J: These are not white cheeked gibbons.

3213.26 3216.84 J: Another guest here by Tara DeVries, long time listener, first time guesser.

3216.84 3223.12 J: I think the noisy from this episode sounds like air being released in small bursts from an inflated latex balloon.

3223.12 3224.12 J: Cara.

3224.12 3225.12 J: Right.

3225.12 3231.02 J: So there's, she goes on to describe how your hands would do that.

3231.02 3232.84 J: And every kid did that growing up.

3232.84 3235.24 J: That was a very fun thing to do.

3235.24 3236.24 J: I still think it's fun.

3236.24 3237.92 J: I got another guest here from Jim Kelly.

3237.92 3244.46 J: Jim says, hi Jay, I think this week's noisy is a small group of baby elephants engaging in general frivolity.

3244.46 3245.46 J: That's not correct.

3245.46 3248.68 C: Hey guys, we have a winner.

3248.68 3250.60 J: And guess who the winner is.

3250.60 3251.60 J: Visto Tudor.

3251.60 3252.60 J: You got it.

3252.60 3254.18 J: He won this week.

3254.18 3256.48 J: He beat the next person by four minutes.

3256.48 3257.48 J: Isn't that right?

3257.48 3258.48 J: Meat leg.

3258.48 3259.48 J: Remember meat leg?

3259.48 3260.48 B: Oh my God.

3260.48 3261.48 B: Of course I remember.

3261.48 3262.48 J: What happened to meat leg?

3262.48 3264.52 J: He's out there living the best life I hope.

3264.52 3265.52 J: Come back meat leg.

3265.52 3266.52 E: Oh yeah.

3266.52 3267.72 E: Send us an email meat leg.

3267.72 3273.80 J: So Visto, my friend, he said, I have heard this noise at the zoo, but damn it, I didn't look what animal it was.

3273.80 3275.92 J: It's the, it's in the African section.

3275.92 3276.92 J: I love that.

3276.92 3281.16 J: He goes, I'm guessing it's a lemur screaming on the sexy boy.

3281.16 3282.44 J: And lemurese of course.

3282.44 3283.44 J: Yes.

3283.44 3284.44 J: Yes, indeed.

3284.44 3287.48 J: These are, these are the Indri lemur.

3287.48 3288.48 J: It's two of them.

3288.48 3289.48 J: Yep.

3289.48 3290.48 J: Cool.

3290.48 3293.48 J: So they, they, they have like these incredible calls that they do.

3293.48 3294.48 J: You know, they're black and white.

3294.48 3296.98 J: They're, they have piercing green eyes.

3296.98 3303.48 J: They like to perch very high up in the rainforest canopy and they're, they're from, you know, experts and people say they're tough to spot.

3303.48 3310.36 J: I have a fun fact for you that another listener wrote in that these, this is the only animal in addition to humans that sing in various rhythms.

3310.36 3311.60 J: I think that was interesting.

3311.60 3313.08 J: So listen again real quick.

3313.08 3314.08 J: These are lemurs.

3314.08 3315.08 None Pretty cute.

3315.08 3316.08 None Pretty cute.

3316.08 3317.08 C: You lemurs.

3317.08 3328.80 E: Isn't a lemur that character in Madagascar, the Sasha Baron Cohen character.

3328.80 3329.80 E: I like to move it.

3329.80 3330.80 E: Move it.

3330.80 3333.00 C: It's a lot of different lemur species.

3333.00 3334.60 E: Oh so my memory's good there.

3334.60 3335.60 C: Okay.

3335.60 3336.60 C: Was that a ring-tailed lemur?

3336.60 3337.60 C: I never saw it.

3337.60 3338.60 C: You didn't see Madagascar?

3338.60 3339.60 C: Mm-mm.

3339.60 3342.20 C: But ring-tailed lemurs are like the ones that most people think of when they think of lemurs.

New Noisy (55:42)[edit]

[constant electronic droning sound with MIDI-like tones playing a melody]

3342.20 3344.10 J: Guys, I've got new noisy for you this week.

3344.10 3345.10 J: Are you ready?

3345.10 3347.60 J: This was sent in by a listener named Marco.

3347.60 3349.40 J: And I like Marco because he said.

3349.40 3353.92 J: This is the first two words that he said in his email to me.

3353.92 3354.92 J: Hello, Jayduardo.

3354.92 3359.26 J: Look he had me at the second word.

3359.26 3375.46 J: So here is his noisy.

3375.46 3376.46 E: Wonderful sound.

3376.46 3381.90 E: Yeah, that's the introduction music to E.T. the Atari game, you know, the ones they buried in the desert.

3381.90 3382.90 E: I remember.

3382.90 3383.90 E: I watched the whole doc about that.

3383.90 3384.90 E: It sounds so unbelievably 8-bit.

3384.90 3385.90 J: I know.

3385.90 3386.90 J: It's a great doc.

3386.90 3387.90 J: I know.

3387.90 3393.18 J: I know how noisy he is or please, if you've heard something cool and you know, you do, you are hearing things cool.

3393.18 3399.50 J: You just got to remember to think of me and email me that sound at WTN at the skeptics guide dot org.

J: So if you think you know what this week's Noisy is or, please, if you've heard something cool

Announcements (56:39)[edit]

3399.50 3400.50 J: All right.

3400.50 3408.10 J: So, guys, it's been months and months and months that I've been telling everybody, everybody about the Denver extravaganza that got sold out.

3408.10 3409.98 J: We have two private shows.

3409.98 3419.26 J: I increased the audience size on both of them because they got to the point where they got sold out and I just didn't want to turn anybody away because so many people got turned away from the extravaganza.

3419.26 3425.10 J: So there are some seats left at the Denver private show and at the Fort Collins private show.

3425.10 3429.06 J: Both of these events happening in Colorado, in the United States.

3429.06 3437.94 J: If you hear this before or on the 19th, right, the 19th, it's not too late.

3437.94 3442.74 J: If you're listening to this at some point during the day on the 19th, you could still make it to one of these shows.

3442.74 3447.02 J: Go to the skeptics guide dot org forward slash events for details.

3447.02 3448.42 J: Steve, one more announcement.

3448.42 3450.30 J: Guys, we have a new swag store.

3450.30 3451.30 J: Super excited.

3451.30 3453.60 J: We finally got onto a platform that works.

3453.60 3456.42 J: You go to shop dot the skeptics guide dot org.

3456.42 3458.54 J: I've got a lot of options in there.

3458.54 3462.14 J: Please, you know, feel free to email me at info at the skeptics guide.

3462.14 3468.62 J: If there's something you would like to see in there and if, you know, I get a lot of people asking for the same things, I will absolutely do it.

3468.62 3469.70 J: Thank you so much, guys.

3469.70 3470.70 J: Have a great week.

3470.70 3478.38 S: One other quick announcement, this is for our friends down under November 20th to 21st, 2021.

3478.38 3485.14 S: This year is the Australian and New Zealand Skeptics Joint Annual Convention Skepticon 2021.

3485.14 3488.62 S: Go to skepticon dot org dot au.

3488.62 3492.82 S: The dot au is important and you will see all the details.

3492.82 3498.02 S: Well, everyone, we're going to take a quick break from our show to talk about one of our sponsors this week, KiwiCo.

3498.02 3506.06 C: KiwiCo creates super cool hands on projects designed to expose kids of all ages to concepts in science, technology, engineering, art and math.

3506.06 3514.50 C: And this year, KiwiCo wants to invite you and your family to make the holidays a little less prepackaged and a little more hands on, all while learning a thing or two along the

3514.50 3526.68 E: way. Kids can discover the engineering and mechanics behind everyday objects, the science and chemistry of cooking, brand new art and design techniques and so much more all through seriously fun hands on projects.

3526.68 3533.06 E: Each crate is designed by experts and tested by kids, and each line caters to different age groups.

3533.06 3537.74 E: Each monthly box comes with kid friendly illustrated step by step instructions as well.

3537.74 3544.02 J: KiwiCo has a lot of holiday based crates that could be a lot of fun to do with your kids during the holidays.

3544.02 3547.78 J: As an example, they have a reindeer one, which is like a little pop up machine.

3547.78 3550.30 J: As you turn the crank, the reindeer go up and down.

3550.30 3556.94 J: They have a Christmas village, like an advent calendar type of Christmas village, like a Santa's light up workshop that you could build.

3556.94 3560.50 J: A lot of these holiday based crates will really help the family get into the spirit.

3560.50 3564.14 B: This holiday, don't just teach kids how to buy, teach them how to build.

3564.14 3570.66 B: Give them a gift of a hands on holiday with a KiwiCo subscription and celebrate a love for hands on learning all year long.

3570.66 3576.60 B: Get 50% off your first month plus free shipping on any crate line with the code skeptics.

3576.60 3582.58 B: That's 50% off your first month at promo code skeptics.

3582.58 3585.06 S: All right guys, let's get back to the show.

Questions/Emails/Corrections/Follow-ups (59:45)[edit]

_consider_using_block_quotes_for_emails_read_aloud_in_this_segment_ with_reduced_spacing_for_long_chunks –

Email(s) #1: Organic Farming[edit]

3585.06 3589.08 S: All right, we have one question, which is really many questions.

3589.08 3599.18 S: Many people emailed us in response to our discussion about Sri Lanka and their decision to go 100% organic.

3599.18 3609.46 S: The gist of many of these emails was that we didn't really give any background as to why we are so negative about organic farming.

3609.46 3610.46 C: These must be new listeners.

3610.46 3613.46 S: They meant in that episode.

3613.46 3625.50 S: Yeah, but I mean, the impression I got was these were all newer listeners that were not aware of the fact that we've done multiple deep dives on this.

3625.50 3632.10 S: But because there were so many, I figured, okay, well, maybe we need to update this a little bit and make sure that we're all on the same page.

3632.10 3641.38 S: And we often do hit topics we've discussed before without doing a complete retread of the whole huge, massive topic.

3641.38 3642.38 S: You know what I mean?

3642.38 3644.72 S: There's a little bit of a cumulative nature to this.

3644.72 3653.54 S: But it's always a balancing act between we want to encapsulate what we've discussed before without retreading it too much and without bogging down the show.

3653.54 3662.62 S: But the number of emails indicated to me that maybe we should just give a quick review of the entire issue of organic farming.

3662.62 3668.26 S: Now my position is that organic farming is a complete scam.

3668.26 3671.78 S: I don't think that there honestly, I don't think there's anything legitimate there.

3671.78 3674.98 S: Its origin was in pure pseudoscience.

3674.98 3677.18 S: You have to plant under the full moon or whatever.

3677.18 3679.14 S: It really was just-

3679.14 3680.14 E: Astrology based.

3680.14 3687.02 S: Yeah, it was kind of like astrology based farming. And then it evolved into the appeal to nature fallacy.

3687.02 3691.86 S: That was also there, but that became the marketing core of it.

3691.86 3695.86 S: And then what I mean by that is that organic farming is entirely about method.

3695.86 3697.50 S: It's not about the produce.

3697.50 3700.50 S: You can't tell that an apple is an organic apple.

3700.50 3703.50 S: You just have to be told this apple was farmed organically.

3703.50 3704.50 S: Right?

3704.50 3705.50 C: That's it.

3705.50 3708.90 C: Sometimes I can tell because they rot within two days of me getting them.

3708.90 3712.58 C: Yeah, well- Or they cost 20% more.

3712.58 3714.58 C: But even then- But yeah, they cost more.

3714.58 3716.06 C: My bill is higher at checkout.

3716.06 3718.02 S: Yeah, you know because you're paying more for it.

3718.02 3722.62 S: But I'm just saying, it's because it's labeled organic and you're being charged more for it.

3722.62 3727.26 S: But if somebody moved them to the non-organic section, you wouldn't really be able to tell.

3727.26 3731.90 C: Same as the idea of conventionally grown versus GM.

3731.90 3733.90 C: There's nothing- Mm-hmm.

3733.90 3736.98 C: We can, under the microscope, there's no way to know.

3736.98 3737.98 C: Yeah.

3737.98 3738.98 C: It's the same food.

3738.98 3739.98 E: Right.

3739.98 3741.58 E: Double blind to taste test and figure it out, right.

3741.58 3749.02 S: So you have to, you couldn't- So taste tests do not tell the difference between organic and non-organic and conventionally grown.

3749.02 3750.02 S: Nope.

3750.02 3755.62 S: But in any case, in the US there's a specific USDA regulation about what it takes to be labeled organic.

3755.62 3757.82 S: It's all about the method of the farming.

3757.82 3760.38 S: It's nothing to do with the produce itself.

3760.38 3764.52 S: And it's just, everything has to be quote unquote natural.

3764.52 3767.02 S: It's not based upon the most sustainable methods.

3767.02 3769.38 S: It's not based upon the most science-based methods.

3769.38 3775.02 S: It's only based upon things that are arbitrarily determined to be quote unquote natural.

3775.02 3776.02 S: That's what I mean.

3776.02 3777.54 S: So it's not really outcome-based or science-based.

3777.54 3780.66 S: It is this ideology, appeal to nature based.

3780.66 3783.66 S: For example, they don't allow irradiation of food.

3783.66 3784.66 S: Why?

3784.66 3785.90 S: Because it's not natural.

3785.90 3790.18 S: And does it, does it any evidence that it harms the food or does anything bad to it?

3790.18 3791.18 S: No.

3791.18 3794.78 S: What it does do is prolong the shelf life of food, reducing waste.

3794.78 3798.02 S: And that's a good thing, but we can't, you can't do that if you want the organic label.

3798.02 3801.10 S: And of course they exclude all genetically modified organisms.

3801.10 3803.30 S: Is that because there's any evidence that they're bad?

3803.30 3804.30 S: No.

3804.30 3806.38 S: It's because it doesn't fit their brand.

3806.38 3816.66 S: And they have definitely, definitely augmented their brand by being the non-GMO brand and tying very closely to fear of GMOs.

3816.66 3827.10 C: They also require no synthetic pesticides or herbicides, which mean then that they are required to use non-synthetic pesticides and herbicides.

3827.10 3828.10 S: Yeah.

3828.10 3831.74 S: Well, they do use fewer pesticides overall.

3831.74 3838.38 S: That is true, but they can use quote unquote natural pesticides and some of which are actually fairly toxic.

3838.38 3839.38 C: Yeah.

3839.38 3840.38 S: Like copper.

3840.38 3841.38 S: Yeah.

3841.38 3842.38 S: They're not better.

3842.38 3843.38 S: They're just natural.

3843.38 3844.38 S: They're just natural.

3844.38 3845.98 S: And they're not using the best pesticides.

3845.98 3848.14 S: They're using the ones that are arbitrarily natural.

3848.14 3849.14 C: Exactly.

3849.14 3853.42 C: So they're using ones that don't work as well, which means that their yields aren't often as good.

3853.42 3854.42 C: And they use more of it.

3854.42 3855.42 S: They have to do more applications.

3855.42 3856.42 C: Then they have to use more.

3856.42 3857.42 C: Yeah.

3857.42 3858.42 S: Absolutely.

3858.42 3859.42 S: So that's what it is.

3859.42 3861.54 S: It's not, again, not evidence-based, not science-based.

3861.54 3865.34 S: It's ideology appeal to nature-based, which is not a good thing.

3865.34 3870.30 S: But nevertheless, regardless of the origins and the philosophy, does it work?

3870.30 3874.54 S: Well, the answer to that is pretty clearly no as well.

3874.54 3883.26 S: So there's been 50, 60 years now of studies looking at the health effects of organic versus non-organic or traditional farming methods, and there's no difference.

3883.26 3887.82 S: There's no health benefit to consuming organic produce.

3887.82 3888.82 S: They've been blinded.

3888.82 3901.94 S: Taste tests, whenever you compare apples to apples, pun intended, whenever you're looking at the same cultivar, but just one farmed organically and one farmed with mainstream farming techniques, not limited to organic techniques, you can't tell the difference.

3901.94 3913.90 S: Now, of course, if you're comparing like a tomato that is optimized for the store shelf and was shipped across the country versus an heirloom tomato grown locally, there's going to be a difference.

3913.90 3916.98 S: But that has nothing to do with organic farming.

3916.98 3935.26 S: If that local heirloom tomato was farmed using artificial fertilizer, it still would taste better than an organically grown tomato that was used of a cultivar that is optimized for shelf appeal and shelf life and not for taste and nutrition.

3935.26 3938.98 S: So the farming method itself is there's no advantage to it in terms of nutrition.

3938.98 3941.54 S: There's no advantage to it in terms of health.

3941.54 3945.02 S: And so then the final thing is, well, it's better for the environment, right?

3945.02 3953.58 S: And that's, I think, the most common argument that I get today, although when people get surveyed, they always say it's more healthy, it clearly isn't.

3953.58 3961.06 S: But when you get into an argument with people and you sort of point out, well, here's the evidence, you know, it's not more healthy, it's not better tasting, they say, well, it's better for the environment.

3961.06 3962.06 S: Actually, it isn't.

3962.06 3965.02 S: It is worse for the environment.

3965.02 3974.10 S: And you know, many people may feel shocked with that because the organic branding has successfully positioned themselves as the quote unquote sustainable option.

3974.10 3975.56 S: But it really isn't.

3975.56 3983.22 S: The biggest problem with organic farming is that it uses about 20 percent more land for the same production.

3983.22 3988.62 S: And the land use is the single most harmful thing about to the environment of farming.

3988.62 3989.62 C: Of course.

3989.62 3990.62 C: Yeah.

3990.62 3991.62 C: It's it's it's why we have deforestation.

3991.62 3992.62 C: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

3992.62 3993.62 S: Exactly.

3993.62 3999.00 S: And of course, the more you try to scale organic farming right now, it's like two percent worldwide or something like that.

3999.00 4001.18 S: The more you try to scale it, the worse it gets.

4001.18 4004.82 S: And it introduces problems at scale that don't don't exist now.

4004.82 4014.38 S: For example, we've mentioned that half of about a little bit more than half of our food comes from nitrogen sourced from manure.

4014.38 4019.82 S: And but the other half is from, you know, artificial fertilizer like the Haber-Bosch process.

4019.82 4023.70 S: So if you went 100 percent organic, where would all that come from?

4023.70 4030.84 S: The other thing is, is that a lot of the nitrogen in the maneuver in the manure comes from food that would comes from artificial fertilizer, too.

4030.84 4040.82 S: So if you look at the whole nitrogen cycle, we're putting a lot of that nitrogen back into the system through the artificial fertilizer.

4040.82 4045.80 S: And the whole system could not work with just with just organic fertilizer.

4045.80 4046.80 S: It wouldn't work.

4046.80 4050.58 S: So you introduce new problems when you try to scale up.

4050.58 4052.06 S: The numbers just don't add up.

4052.06 4053.06 S: It wouldn't work.

4053.06 4057.02 C: And what about just basic yield, like just feeding all the mouths on the planet?

4057.02 4058.02 S: That's what I'm saying.

4058.02 4059.02 S: Yeah.

4059.02 4060.94 S: And what do people say when you point that out?

4060.94 4065.66 S: A lot of disingenuous things, which I think are like they're just scrambling for justifiably.

4065.66 4069.98 S: Well, you know, we'll just increase efficiency, we'll decrease waste.

4069.98 4071.42 S: Like 30 percent of food is wasted.

4071.42 4073.94 S: It's like, OK, do that first.

4073.94 4075.02 S: Go ahead.

4075.02 4080.26 S: You get rid of that 30 percent of food waste and then talk to me about, you know, shifting some farming over to organic.

4080.26 4081.26 C: Right.

4081.26 4082.82 C: Those are two very different categories of action.

4082.82 4083.82 C: Right.

4083.82 4088.68 S: But the thing is, if that's so if that's so easy, then do it now.

4088.68 4089.68 S: Do it.

4089.68 4090.90 S: I know it would help.

4090.90 4094.34 S: Tell me what we need to do to get rid of food waste, because there's just a certain.

4094.34 4104.62 S: Meanwhile, their methods increase food waste because they issue things that will increase shelf life like GMOs and irradiation.

4104.62 4109.06 S: So actually doing they would worsen the food waste problem.

4109.06 4118.34 S: The other thing that biotech is trying to do is trying to improve the taste and nutrition of produce that was optimized for the store shelf.

4118.34 4119.34 S: Right.

4119.34 4120.34 S: Right.

4120.34 4122.78 S: Trying to make the basically get the advantages of both worlds.

4122.78 4131.26 S: You get the taste and nutrition of heirloom cultivars, but with the hardiness and the shipability of the grocery store cultivars.

4131.26 4137.18 C: And hardy once it's picked, but also hardy while it's on the vine, resistant to pests, resistant to drought.

4137.18 4138.78 C: Those things matter.

4138.78 4139.78 S: Absolutely.

4139.78 4144.62 S: So then they say, OK, so the food waste thing is just a, you know, just hand waving.

4144.62 4149.34 S: It's like if there was any some magical way we could reduce food waste, we just go ahead and do it.

4149.34 4150.34 C: Right.

4150.34 4151.34 C: That's like a red herring.

4151.34 4152.34 S: Yes, a red herring.

4152.34 4153.34 S: Totally.

4153.34 4156.76 S: They say, OK, well, we'll get rid of meat because that's hugely wasteful in the system.

4156.76 4158.06 S: We went over these numbers before.

4158.06 4160.06 S: It's actually not that wasteful.

4160.06 4161.06 S: It is.

4161.06 4170.38 S: I mean, the efficient we could get some 20 percent or so efficiency out of switching over from from more from the bodies to more vegetable calories.

4170.38 4177.70 S: But but actually, you know, meat is is actually a very efficient way of getting some non-food calories into our food system.

4177.70 4178.70 S: Right.

4178.70 4186.42 S: Because a lot of the calories in in cattle, for example, comes from from grazing, for example, or eating things that are not suitable for human consumption.

4186.42 4191.06 S: And only a very small amount of it is actually suitable for human consumption or or.

4191.06 4192.06 S: Right.

4192.06 4196.18 S: Or it's using up using up farmland that would be could be producing food for human consumption.

4196.18 4202.12 S: But in any case, that doesn't work either, because they say we're going to fertilize all of our food with manure.

4202.12 4204.30 S: And in order to make that work, we're going to get rid of all the calves.

4204.30 4208.94 C: I'm going to say because that's a like that's a red herring to this.

4208.94 4209.94 C: Yeah.

4209.94 4210.94 C: Yeah.

4210.94 4215.62 C: But it actually is necessary for organic farming because where are you going to get your fertilizer?

4215.62 4216.62 S: Yeah, exactly.

4216.62 4217.62 S: They're good.

4217.62 4218.70 S: They're not thinking about the system.

4218.70 4221.10 S: It's like this manure doesn't come out of nowhere.

4221.10 4224.62 S: It comes out of those all those cows that you say we shouldn't have.

4224.62 4232.18 C: I see this all the time with one of my best friends who is one of these like diehard believers in organic kind of culture and lifestyle.

4232.18 4240.42 C: And it's so frustrating because I feel like the arguments always break down when I try to get her to look outside of like her neighborhood.

4240.42 4245.90 C: Like I'm like, it's such a and she'll she'll say things like, I admit that it's a privilege to be able to eat this way.

4245.90 4249.22 C: And I'm like, then what about the rest of the world?

4249.22 4252.02 S: And she thought, well, let's talk about the rest of the world.

4252.02 4253.02 S: You can't.

4253.02 4254.02 C: Yeah, exactly.

4254.02 4255.02 S: Yeah.

4255.02 4257.98 S: The more you try to scale it up, the harder it gets, the more ridiculous it gets.

4257.98 4263.58 S: But here's the other thing is when someone you point that out, it's like the nitrogen balance thing doesn't work.

4263.58 4266.70 S: You know, the waste thing is a red herring argument.

4266.70 4268.58 S: The environment is worse for the environment.

4268.58 4270.10 S: There's no real advantage to it.

4270.10 4273.74 S: It just sounds good, you know, to certain people.

4273.74 4277.90 S: But at the end of the day, they say, well, there's too many people.

4277.90 4281.46 S: And if we had if we had population control, then we could farm organically.

4281.46 4283.86 S: It's like, OK, that's that's wrong on two levels.

4283.86 4293.10 S: One is that no matter what the population and no matter how much farmland we need, it's still always going to be a bad thing to use 20 percent more land.

4293.10 4294.94 S: It's still going to be less efficient.

4294.94 4304.06 S: Yeah, it's still that could be natural ecosystems if we were using more efficient farming, if we were optimizing our calorie production per acre of land.

4304.06 4307.02 S: That's always going to be the best thing for the environment at any level.

4307.02 4309.66 S: So that's again, it's another red herring argument.

4309.66 4316.54 S: But the other thing is, it's like and how exactly are we going to get to this lower population that you say that we need?

4316.54 4327.62 S: If you want to go organic farming first, it certainly sounds like you want to starve half the world to get to your sustainable system.

4327.62 4335.78 S: And like while they won't come right out and say it, I mean, you know, some people are like shocked that they never thought through the implications of what they were saying or they just don't believe it.

4335.78 4340.06 S: And other people are like, well, you know, like, I'm not going to say it out.

4340.06 4346.22 S: Yeah, like the population, they'll say something like, well, the worst thing we do for the environment is the population.

4346.22 4347.78 S: So you're saying you want to starve half the planet.

4347.78 4349.34 S: I mean, that's basically what it comes down to.

4349.34 4353.06 C: You know how lucky you are to be born where you were born.

4353.06 4354.06 C: Yeah.

4354.06 4358.22 C: And to have the privileges that you were given that you didn't work for any of them.

4358.22 4360.60 C: This was all just like a roll of the dice.

4360.60 4364.02 C: And it's so scary how many people just don't think that.

4364.02 4366.82 C: And they just think, oh, I deserved all of this.

4366.82 4369.90 C: I was, you know, I was supposed to be born in a rich nation.

4369.90 4375.50 S: Well, they they just know it's like the movie Titanic when someone's like, of course.

4375.50 4376.50 E: Yes.

4376.50 4379.30 S: And half the people on this ship are going to drown.

4379.30 4381.26 S: And the guy says, not the better half.

4381.26 4382.66 S: You know, that's right.

4382.66 4384.54 S: It's like half the planet's going to starve.

4384.54 4388.70 S: You know, they're thinking at some level to get but not the half I'm in.

4388.70 4391.10 C: You know, that's not the worst that's going to start.

4391.10 4393.58 C: And they're also like, I don't know.

4393.58 4399.46 C: And I don't have to see it because what they don't realize is that this is not a hypothetical.

4399.46 4400.98 C: People are starving.

4400.98 4401.98 C: Yeah.

4401.98 4403.98 C: And they are not bearing witness to it.

4403.98 4404.98 S: Right.

4404.98 4409.98 S: And then they get the other sort of non seconds like, well, that's because of food distribution, not because of we're not making enough food.

4409.98 4412.62 S: Like, yeah, no one said we're not making enough food right now.

4412.62 4415.86 S: But we're going to have 10 billion people, you know, in not too many decades.

4415.86 4416.86 S: Pretty fast.

4416.86 4425.78 S: And the point is, if there won't be enough food, if we try to go all organic and the whole agricultural system collapses because you don't know what you're doing.

4425.78 4434.66 S: So but the final piece here is that the best solutions we got on the table are all GMO.

4434.66 4437.50 S: And they're the ones that organic farming are trying to destroy.

4437.50 4439.20 S: They're trying to nip them in the bud.

4439.20 4445.66 S: So if you're worried about the effect of fertilizer runoff on the environment, I'm worried about that, too.

4445.66 4449.58 S: And that's a huge problem that we need to address with your best practices.

4449.58 4455.50 S: But also, what if we could make wheat and corn and some staple crops that fix their own nitrogen?

4455.50 4456.50 S: Yes, baby.

4456.50 4460.82 S: You don't have to fertilize them with, you know, with nitrogen fertilizer.

4460.82 4466.58 S: That's only organic, only GMO is going to achieve that.

4466.58 4471.98 S: And that is a game changer that's beyond anything else in this equation.

4471.98 4485.98 S: Or we could, you know, they're working on ways of improving the efficiency of photosynthesis, which could, again, boost yield by another 20 percent or, you know, again, having increasing yield by reducing loss to drought or to pests, et cetera.

4485.98 4490.62 S: There are, you know, some GMO varieties reduce the use of pesticide.

4490.62 4500.26 S: So there is so much potential in genetic modification as a scientific tool to improve our farming.

4500.26 4502.38 S: And they're taking it off the table.

4502.38 4504.18 S: They are taking it off the entry.

4504.18 4509.14 C: It's like the best way to get to an organic view of farming.

4509.14 4512.78 C: Yet by its definition, it can never be organic.

4512.78 4513.78 C: Right.

4513.78 4515.58 C: So change the definition.

4515.58 4516.58 C: Yeah.

4516.58 4527.82 C: And that's one of those interesting things that, like, again, you know, to talk about sort of my personal experience with my friend, I don't think I've completely converted her to being pro GM, but she's not anti GM anymore.

4527.82 4534.98 C: And one of the things that I notice is that when we have these kinds of deep discussions, she's always like, well, let's put that on the shelf.

4534.98 4542.22 C: Let's put the GM question on the shelf, because I agree, like some of these, you know, scientific advancements are really important.

4542.22 4561.70 C: And I'm like, that's so interesting that I've been able to find some common ground there faster and easier than common ground with regards to, you know, her frustrations with monocropping, for example, or her frustrations with some of the, like you said, the more like legitimate concerns about agribusiness.

4561.70 4571.12 S: Yeah, but it's like there are legitimate concerns about, you know, the how modern medicine functions in terms of insurance companies, whatever.

4571.12 4574.30 S: But alternative medicine is an answer to none of that.

4574.30 4575.30 C: Exactly.

4575.30 4576.30 S: That doesn't solve the problem.

4576.30 4579.64 S: That is just pseudoscience exploiting the problems.

4579.64 4583.26 S: And the same thing, like, yes, there are challenges and problems with modern farming.

4583.26 4589.02 S: We're trying to squeeze a lot of calories out of all the available land, basically, on the planet.

4589.02 4593.88 S: Yeah, and we're pushing the planet to its limits in order to do that.

4593.88 4596.78 S: But organic farming is an answer to none of those problems.

4596.78 4597.78 S: Exactly.

4597.78 4605.42 S: It's just shifting to an inefficient method that doesn't have any practical or pragmatic advantage at all.

4605.42 4608.98 S: It's just a marketing scam, totally.

4608.98 4611.26 S: And that, you know, that's why I'm against it.

4611.26 4618.18 S: You know, and the other thing is it sucks all the oxygen out of the room of sustainable farming by pretending that that's what it is.

4618.18 4621.90 S: It's like, no, we need to optimize the sustainability of our farming.

4621.90 4623.14 S: Of course we do.

4623.14 4624.14 S: Everyone agrees with that.

4624.14 4627.42 S: The other thing is, you know, like the pro-organic people saying they're killing the soil.

4627.42 4629.06 S: It's going to be dead in a few years.

4629.06 4632.10 S: And I've been hearing that for 50 years.

4632.10 4633.46 S: You can go back to the 1950s.

4633.46 4634.46 S: They were saying the same thing.

4634.46 4641.10 S: So we've been killing the soil for the last 70 years, 100 years, and it's still sustainable, right?

4641.10 4643.78 S: And the other thing, why would farmers kill their own soil?

4643.78 4646.78 S: You know, that's their livelihood.

4646.78 4652.18 C: And that's what I was saying the last time we talked, when it's like, have you ever talked to a farmer?

4652.18 4653.18 C: Talk to a farmer.

4653.18 4654.18 C: And ask them why.

4654.18 4662.26 C: They literally, I have people in my life who literally think that the reason farmers buy Monsanto seeds is because Monsanto is holding a gun to their head.

4662.26 4663.26 C: Right.

4663.26 4665.26 C: And I'm like, no, they buy Monsanto seeds because they're good.

4665.26 4666.26 C: Because they make money.

4666.26 4667.26 C: Because they get good yields.

4667.26 4668.26 C: Yeah.

4668.26 4671.74 C: And they use Roundup because they like the outcome of using Roundup.

4671.74 4673.30 C: Nobody's forcing them to do that.

4673.30 4676.26 S: Yeah, because otherwise they'd have to hire a whole bunch of labor.

4676.26 4678.38 S: And that's not good for the soil.

4678.38 4684.26 S: Tilling, if you want no-till farming, which is good for the soil because it keeps the carbon in the soil, it's good for the environment.

4684.26 4685.94 S: It's good for the global warming issue.

4685.94 4686.94 C: And you need pesticides.

4686.94 4687.94 C: You need pesticides.

4687.94 4688.94 S: Absolutely.

4688.94 4689.94 S: Yeah.

4689.94 4690.94 C: Herbicides, absolutely.

4690.94 4691.94 C: Or sorry, yeah, herbicides.

4691.94 4692.94 S: Sorry, misspoke.

4692.94 4693.94 S: You're right.

4693.94 4694.94 S: You need herbicides.

4694.94 4695.94 C: Herbicides actually are under the umbrella of pesticides.

4695.94 4696.94 S: Oh, they are.

4696.94 4697.94 S: It sounds weird.

4697.94 4698.94 S: Herbicides, fungicides, insecticides.

4698.94 4699.94 S: Yeah, herbs are pests by the nomenclature.

4699.94 4700.94 S: Gotcha.

4700.94 4701.94 S: That makes sense.

4701.94 4702.94 S: Yeah.

4702.94 4703.94 S: Okay.

4703.94 4704.94 S: Yeah.

4704.94 4707.90 S: So in any case, you have to think about the whole system.

4707.90 4717.04 S: You can't extrapolate from these tiny boutique services and think that you're going to magically feed the world and it's all going to work out.

4717.04 4720.68 S: And when you do these kind of systems approaches, you realize that, no, I understand.

4720.68 4722.22 S: Organic farming is unworkable.

4722.22 4723.56 S: It's a dead end.

4723.56 4731.28 S: It's a boutique luxury for people with disposable income and never experienced a food insecurity.

4731.28 4732.28 S: That's what it's for.

4732.28 4733.28 S: Right.

Science or Fiction (1:18:52)[edit]

Answer Item
Fiction Eyewitness identification consistency
Science Human neurons differ from mammals'
Sun-like stars engulfing systems
Host Result
Steve win
Rogue Guess
Sun-like stars engulfing systems
Eyewitness identification consistency
Eyewitness identification consistency
Eyewitness identification consistency

Voice-over: It's time for Science or Fiction.

Item #1: MIT scientists find that human neurons differ from all other mammalian neurons tested, having a significantly lower density of ion channels.[5]
Item #2: A new analysis suggests that as many as 35% of sun-like stars may engulf and consume their planetary system.[6]
Item #3: A new study finds that eyewitness identification can have greater accuracy with multiple testing to demonstrate consistency.[7]

Evan's Response[edit]

Jay's Response[edit]

Bob's Response[edit]

Cara's Response[edit]

Steve Explains Item #1[edit]

Steve Explains Item #3[edit]

Steve Explains Item #2[edit]

4733.28 4737.88 S: All right, guys, let's go on with science or fiction.

4737.88 4747.20 C: It's time for science or fiction.

4747.20 4750.50 S: Each week I come up with three science news items or facts, two real and one fake.

4750.50 4754.94 S: And then I challenge my panel of skeptics to tell me which one is the fake.

4754.94 4756.42 S: Three regular news items this week.

4756.42 4757.54 S: Is everyone ready?

4757.54 4768.94 S: Item number one, MIT scientists find that human neurons differ from all other mammalian neurons tested having a significantly lower density of ion channels.

4768.94 4778.96 S: Item number two, a new analysis suggests that as many as 35% of sun-like stars may engulf and consume their planetary system.

4778.96 4786.88 S: And item number three, a new study finds that eyewitness identification can have greater accuracy with multiple testing to demonstrate consistency.

4786.88 4788.80 S: Evan, go first.

4788.80 4802.38 E: First one about the scientists have found that human neurons differ from all other mammalian neurons tested, all other ones that they tested, with a significantly lower density of ion channels.

4802.38 4803.38 E: Okay.

4803.38 4809.00 E: I was following everything on that except the ion channels part, which I don't quite know.

4809.00 4815.64 S: So ion channels are proteins on the surface of all cells, but they're specialized in neurons.

4815.64 4818.80 S: That's basically how neurons conduct electricity, right?

4818.80 4819.84 S: That's how they function.

4819.84 4827.08 E: So therefore, why would the human ones be different from all the other mammals that they've tested?

4827.08 4828.92 E: Does it have to do with our diet?

4828.92 4834.56 E: Does it have to do with brain function or something?

4834.56 4835.56 E: Our connectome?

4835.56 4836.56 E: Wow.

4836.56 4839.16 E: I like that, Bob.

4839.16 4841.16 E: So that's really interesting.

4841.16 4844.96 E: I can't think of a good reason why that would be off the top of my head.

4844.96 4854.04 E: The next one about the analysis suggesting as much as, or as many as, 35% of sun-like stars may engulf and consume their planetary system.

4854.04 4855.04 E: Okay.

4855.04 4858.28 E: So sun-like stars, we have kind of this medium-sized star.

4858.28 4864.36 E: When our star goes into its expansion mode, I don't think it's going to consume our entire planetary system.

4864.36 4865.52 E: Let me clarify that.

4865.52 4866.88 S: That's not when it goes nova.

4866.88 4869.56 S: That's early on in its life.

4869.56 4870.82 S: You know what I'm saying?

4870.82 4872.24 S: It's not when it goes-

4872.24 4874.56 E: During its initial formation. Wow.

4874.56 4877.28 S: Sun-like stars don't know- I would say early on in its life.

4877.28 4880.40 S: So it doesn't have a planetary system because it's eaten it already.

4880.40 4882.88 E: May engulf and consume their planetary system.

4882.88 4888.00 B: So before they become planets, like the accretion disk or-

4888.00 4890.20 S: Not necessarily. It could be after they become planet.

4890.20 4895.60 S: But if you looked at all the sun-like stars out there, 35% of them have already eaten up their planets.

4895.60 4899.16 E: Well, I mean, a lot of gravity going on there.

4899.16 4908.98 E: So I don't see why this one wouldn't be science per se, just based on what you're writing here, Steve.

4908.98 4912.08 E: It doesn't seem implausible to me in some way.

4912.08 4916.64 E: I suppose you could mess with the percentage and say it was 95, not 35.

4916.64 4920.12 E: The last one about the eyewitness identification, this is the interesting one.

4920.12 4921.12 E: All right.

4921.12 4928.96 E: Eyewitness identification can have greater accuracy with multiple testing to demonstrate consistency.

4928.96 4935.32 E: Eyewitness identification can have greater accuracy with multiple testing to demonstrate consistency.

4935.32 4937.40 E: I love how the first person always has to do that.

4937.40 4941.52 E: They have to be like, wait, what are you even saying?

4941.52 4952.96 E: Meaning that you look at the same thing, the person looks at the same thing under multiple testing conditions and it remains consistent throughout.

4952.96 4954.44 E: I'm a little lost there.

4954.44 4961.52 S: So basically you're just adding internal consistency as a criteria for determining how accurate someone's eyewitness testimony is.

4961.52 4962.52 E: Internal consistency.

4962.52 4963.52 C: Okay.

4963.52 4969.48 C: Like this cop asked them the question, then that other cop asked them the question, and then on this other day they asked them a question and they said the same thing all three times?

4969.48 4972.64 S: Yeah, but it's not just testimony, it's eyewitness identification.

4972.64 4974.92 S: It's specifically that, yes, that's the guy I saw.

4974.92 4975.92 S: Gotcha.

4975.92 4982.04 S: They say, you see the picture a week later, they say, yeah, that's their identification is internally consistent.

4982.04 4983.04 E: Right.

4983.04 4990.44 E: And we've talked a lot on the show about how in a lot of cases eyewitness identification can lead you astray in so many ways.

4990.44 4995.84 E: So I would imagine there is greater, there is maybe only room for improvement.

4995.84 5006.28 E: So yes, you would by sort of definition, because you're starting with a low bar to begin with, have greater accuracy if you were to introduce that sort of consistency.

5006.28 5008.44 E: It's not like it would get worse.

5008.44 5011.24 E: And it's already probably pretty bad to begin with just on its base.

5011.24 5013.52 E: So I think that one's going to be right.

5013.52 5018.32 E: Therefore, I don't, I don't understand the mammalian one.

5018.32 5019.72 E: I got to put my nickel down.

5019.72 5025.04 E: I'll say the one about sun like stars engulfing and consuming the planet system.

5025.04 5027.08 E: I don't have a good feel for that one.

5027.08 5028.08 S: Okay, Jay.

5028.08 5040.60 J: All right, so the first one here about the MIT scientists saying that the human neurons are different than other mammals with a different density of ion channels.

5040.60 5044.04 J: Steve, did you tell Evan what the implication of that is?

5044.04 5045.04 J: He did not.

5045.04 5046.04 C: Yeah.

5046.04 5048.96 C: Well, no, but he, no, but he told him what an ion channel does.

5048.96 5049.96 C: Right.

5049.96 5051.56 E: I asked what the ion channels were.

5051.56 5052.56 J: All right.

5052.56 5054.88 J: That one, you know, I don't know that much to base it on.

5054.88 5057.12 J: Let me just go on to the second one.

5057.12 5062.84 J: So we have this analysis that says that 35 percent of some like stars may have engulfed and consumed their planetary system.

5062.84 5066.16 J: So engulf the entire system or a portion of the system?

5066.16 5069.08 S: Yeah, it's basically the whole thing.

5069.08 5072.26 S: But obviously that doesn't mean every last little asteroid and rock.

5072.26 5075.12 S: But essentially they've consumed their planets.

5075.12 5076.12 J: All right.

5076.12 5077.12 J: That's interesting.

5077.12 5080.24 J: Yeah, I mean, I could that that seems reasonable.

5080.24 5088.04 J: You know, you're thinking about the formation of the star and the planets are probably forming along with that disk, that disk movement.

5088.04 5089.04 J: I could see that.

5089.04 5095.20 J: I mean, you know, I could see it both ways so easily that it could be low or really high.

5095.20 5097.92 J: But I don't see any reason to think that that's not true.

5097.92 5106.80 J: And the last one about the eyewitness identification thing, whenever I hear eyewitness identification can be anything, had greater accuracy with multiple testing.

5106.80 5108.36 J: I just don't think so.

5108.36 5115.84 J: I think that eyewitness identification, anything to do with eyewitnesses is going to be very low consistency, no matter what they do.

5115.84 5117.32 J: And I think that was a fake, Steve.

5117.32 5118.32 S: OK, Bob.

5118.32 5123.60 B: Yeah, I've got a little bit of a problem with the first two, but a bigger problem with the third one.

5123.60 5126.04 B: And I don't need to talk about the neurons.

5126.04 5128.28 B: I just wouldn't think that would be true.

5128.28 5131.00 B: But it's not like outrageous.

5131.00 5133.60 B: The more annoying is this is the star one.

5133.60 5135.00 B: How do we know?

5135.00 5136.84 B: How do we know that it ate its planets?

5136.84 5140.16 B: What's, you know, there's nothing left.

5140.16 5141.40 B: Did they leave a goodbye letter?

5141.40 5142.88 B: I don't know.

5142.88 5157.72 B: Maybe they did a study and determined that, you know, with the Jupiter's migrating in, it could often, you know, completely expel or maybe they found that it could knock out planets that make them fall into the sun.

5157.72 5159.24 B: I guess that's possible.

5159.24 5162.60 B: So I'm not liking it, but I can kind of make sense of it.

5162.60 5165.60 B: But the biggest problem, though, is this eyewitness identification.

5165.60 5167.40 B: I mean, who cares about consistency?

5167.40 5175.36 B: If you pick, if you pick the wrong person the first time and you pick the same wrong person the second, third and fourth time, so what?

5175.36 5177.08 B: You're consistent, you're consistently wrong.

5177.08 5178.72 B: It doesn't mean you're more accurate.

5178.72 5181.24 B: So that one to me doesn't make sense.

5181.24 5182.24 B: So I'm going to say that's fiction.

5182.24 5183.24 C: Okay.

5183.24 5184.24 C: And Cara.

5184.24 5194.92 C: Yeah, I mean, I'm struggling with the first and the last one so that the ion channel density and the eyewitness testimony, the ion channel, like a lower density of ion channel sounds interesting to me.

5194.92 5195.92 C: And I can't imagine why.

5195.92 5202.68 C: But I do think that the human brain is has certain components that are fundamentally different.

5202.68 5209.60 C: I think that it's yes, there is an argument to say that like our brain is just like the brain of a chimpanzee, except not.

5209.60 5217.96 C: And except that we have a larger frontal cortex, except that we have a little bit more wrinkliness, except that we have like more neuron density or, you know, whatever the case may be.

5217.96 5227.80 C: But like, compared to all other mammals that we have a lower density of ion channels, which what does that reduce neurotransmission?

5227.80 5231.16 C: Like it's weird, unless it's like an efficiency issue.

5231.16 5235.74 C: I can't imagine why that would be science.

5235.74 5238.12 C: The sun one sure it's science.

5238.12 5239.12 C: I don't know.

5239.12 5250.24 C: But then the last one, I also can't imagine why that would be science for number one, the reason that Bob said the reasons that Jay said, the idea that we know that memory changes every time we access it.

5250.24 5255.16 C: So in some ways, that's sort of like a point for Evan on this one.

5255.16 5265.12 C: Like if each time you ask me a question about an eyewitness, am I going to now integrate a bunch of new information and change it?

5265.12 5268.76 C: But see, that would make me think yeah, that it would be less accurate.

5268.76 5281.88 C: I think it would be less accurate the more times I have to perform a memory that that sort of task that identification task, because now we're corrupting everything with more information.

5281.88 5288.32 C: So yeah, I guess I have to say that that one's the fiction, although I'm really curious about number about the ion channels.

5288.32 5292.88 S: All right, well, we'll start with that one since everyone agrees that that one is science.

5292.88 5301.14 S: MIT scientists find that human neurons differ from all other mammalian neurons tested having a significantly lower density of ion channels.

5301.14 5307.64 S: You guys all think this one is science and this one is science.

5307.64 5308.64 S: Nice.

5308.64 5309.64 J: You're so far.

5309.64 5310.64 J: It is weird.

5310.64 5324.96 S: It was unexpected because it's been with mammalian, you know, brain research, it's been pretty well established that the ion channel density remains constant even through a very large range of neuron size, right?

5324.96 5330.56 S: So if the big neurons have the same ion density as the small neurons, that's a pretty constant.

5330.56 5340.12 S: And then when they compared it to humans, they wait a minute, humans have a lower ion density than these 10 mammalian species that we just tested, you know, across different, you know, different clades.

5340.12 5342.12 S: Did they look at other primates?

5342.12 5343.12 C: Yeah, so absolutely.

5343.12 5346.00 S: And so the question is why?

5346.00 5357.24 S: And actually, Cara, you mentioned the reason that they think this is the case, and that's efficiency, because it's more efficient.

5357.24 5362.16 S: And when you're trying to, again, when you scale up, you run into new problems, right?

5362.16 5373.36 S: So this is a strange connection to the farming thing is that when you try to, you can't just make the brain bigger and think it's going to be a bigger version of a smaller brain.

5373.36 5378.28 S: You start to get into new problems like it's using a lot of energy.

5378.28 5393.34 S: And so the lower ion channel density may be a way of optimizing the efficiency of the brain so that it has enough energy to do all the other stuff it's trying to do because it is, you know, a massive organ that is very energy hungry.

5393.34 5395.28 C: It's like the EV problem.

5395.28 5397.76 C: It's like we're going to get bigger batteries.

5397.76 5400.60 C: We got to have these batteries be more energy efficient.

5400.60 5401.60 C: Right.

5401.60 5402.60 C: I love that.

5402.60 5403.60 C: That's cool.

5403.60 5404.60 B: So I was right, Evan.

5404.60 5405.60 B: I said connectome.

5405.60 5406.60 E: It ultimately is because of the size of the connectome.

5406.60 5407.60 B: You did, and you were.

5407.60 5408.60 S: Yeah.

5408.60 5409.60 S: I learned something new today.

5409.60 5410.60 S: The key word was efficiency.

5410.60 5411.60 S: That's what they think it's for.

5411.60 5412.60 S: Cool.

5412.60 5413.60 S: But it was a surprising result.

5413.60 5414.60 S: It was, yeah.

5414.60 5415.60 S: Yeah, different than everyone.

5415.60 5416.60 S: That was cool as Bob's word.

5416.60 5417.60 E: Thank you, Evan.

5417.60 5418.60 S: Let's jump to number three.

5418.60 5423.84 S: A new study finds that eyewitness identification can have greater accuracy with multiple testing to demonstrate consistency.

5423.84 5425.16 S: No, half of the way.

5425.16 5436.20 S: What do you guys think if with, but what if they're using that, the consistency to weed out the bad eyewitnesses and the ones you're left with are the ones that are accurate?

5436.20 5437.20 S: But how do you know that we did them out?

5437.20 5438.68 C: But no eyewitnesses are accurate.

5438.68 5439.68 C: Like that's the thing.

5439.68 5441.40 C: Like none of us are really all that accurate.

5441.40 5443.36 S: That doesn't mean we're always wrong.

5443.36 5445.52 S: Most people are accurate in what they report.

5445.52 5450.00 C: Yeah, but I don't think the way to show that that person is accurate is internal consistency.

5450.00 5451.00 S: Right.

5451.00 5452.00 S: All right.

5452.00 5453.00 S: Well, let's see.

5453.00 5455.04 S: This one is the fiction.

5455.04 5458.44 S: Yeah, because you guys are correct.

5458.44 5468.76 S: The primary reason is in fact the recommendation that was just made by a group of psychologists writing a paper about this saying you should only ever test them once.

5468.76 5481.12 S: Because once you've done that, you have now contaminated them for any future eyewitness identification is now contaminated by the first one that you did.

5481.12 5483.68 S: Because let's say you do a lineup and there's six people in the lineup.

5483.68 5496.84 S: One of them is one of the suspects and whether they, they can't pick them out, but they've seen the person now and now if at any point in the future they're asked to identify that

5496.84 5498.84 C: person. There's a familiarity.

5498.84 5499.84 C: Yes.

5499.84 5502.48 C: It's like Bob, it's like what you said.

5502.48 5504.24 C: It's they're just wrong every time.

5504.24 5505.52 C: That doesn't really help anybody.

5505.52 5506.64 S: But it's worse.

5506.64 5507.64 S: It's worse.

5507.64 5509.96 S: It actually makes them worse over time because it's content.

5509.96 5510.96 C: Yeah.

5510.96 5511.96 S: Testing.

5511.96 5512.96 S: It's a contamination.

5512.96 5513.96 S: Yeah.

5513.96 5515.72 S: So they're like, just do it once.

5515.72 5522.80 S: And if you get what you get and if you can't take multiple bites at that apple because you're now you're just creating the outcome you want.

5522.80 5527.76 S: You're not actually testing their ability to identify somebody.

5527.76 5529.60 C: It's the same problem with interrogations.

5529.60 5533.68 C: Like the longer you do it, the more questions you ask, the more you feed them.

5533.68 5534.68 S: Absolutely.

5534.68 5535.68 S: It's such a science.

5535.68 5537.92 S: I mean, you have to be so careful.

5537.92 5540.32 B: And you know, it's all about contamination.

5540.32 5541.88 S: It's all about contamination.

5541.88 5542.88 S: Absolutely.

5542.88 5547.04 S: Anyone in any investigatorial profession needs to be a skeptic.

5547.04 5548.04 S: That's the bottom line.

5548.04 5555.68 S: And if you're not, it's so easy to be led down, you know, confirmation bias and again, witness contamination, leading testimony.

5555.68 5558.16 B: You should write down your memory and then that's it.

5558.16 5559.16 B: It's not.

5559.16 5560.16 B: Right.

5560.16 5561.16 B: That's it.

5561.16 5562.16 B: You're done.

5562.16 5564.04 B: Don't think what you think about it afterwards is irrelevant.

5564.04 5569.28 B: The best you're going to get, the most high res picture you're going to get is what you stay is what you wrote down.

5569.28 5570.28 B: And that's it.

5570.28 5571.28 S: The first thing.

5571.28 5576.12 C: And the only real questions that should be asked are questions that elicit more detail.

5576.12 5577.56 B: Can you tell me more about that?

5577.56 5579.52 B: And even yeah, but then it gets even murkier.

5579.52 5585.36 B: The more detail you try to pull out of them, the more likely they are to be confabulating and shit.

5585.36 5586.36 S: They're allowed.

5586.36 5587.56 S: They're allowed in the United States.

5587.56 5591.44 S: Police officers are allowed to use all kinds of shady techniques to try to get testimony.

5591.44 5594.96 C: They're allowed to be like, we have the blood being tested right now.

5594.96 5598.16 C: And when it comes back positive, you're going to not get the same deal.

5598.16 5600.60 C: It's like, totally allowed to lie to them.

5600.60 5609.04 S: OK, anyway, so that all that means that a new analysis suggests that as many as 35 percent of sun like stars may engulf and consume their planetary system.

5609.04 5610.40 S: Bob, you hit upon a quick question.

5610.40 5611.40 S: How do they know?

5611.40 5612.40 S: Right.

5612.40 5614.24 S: What do you think the answer is now that you know that this is true?

5614.24 5615.24 S: It's the goodbye.

5615.24 5616.24 S: The goodbye card that they wrote.

5616.24 5617.24 S: It's the note.

5617.24 5618.24 B: Yeah, the note.

5618.24 5622.72 B: So, I mean, the chemical signature of the of the planet of the sun.

5622.72 5623.72 B: You got it.

5623.72 5624.72 S: Yeah.

5624.72 5625.72 S: Here's the title of the article.

5625.72 5629.60 S: Chemical evidence for planetary ingestion in a quarter of sun like stars.

5629.60 5630.60 S: Nice.

5630.60 5631.60 S: Nice.

5631.60 5632.60 S: So, yeah, it was 20 to 35 percent.

5632.60 5634.08 S: I said as that's why I said as much as 35.

5634.08 5643.52 S: But it was 20 to 35 percent probability that a sun like star will actually that the planets will fall into the star early on in the in the star's life.

5643.52 5649.72 S: And that a configuration of planets that is stable over billions of years may be uncommon.

5649.72 5652.26 S: You know, you know, the stability of our solar system.

5652.26 5653.76 S: We don't know how typical it is.

5653.76 5655.28 S: Again, there's a certain percentage.

5655.28 5669.68 S: I think the percentage now is 10 percent have the hot Jupiters where a large Jovian planet from the outer solar system migrates in, gets close to the star and, of course, along the way knocks the other planets out of their orbits.

5669.68 5676.96 S: So you only like the Jovian planets close up to the star, clearly not going to be any Earth like planets and that kind of system.

5676.96 5680.16 B: But this is a moon, maybe a moon orbiting 20.

5680.16 5681.16 S: Yeah.

5681.16 5682.92 S: That's still pretty hot.

5682.92 5683.92 S: That's very close.

5683.92 5684.92 S: Just a.

5684.92 5685.92 S: And that.

5685.92 5690.08 S: But now in a quarter or so of sun like stars, the planets may be just gone.

5690.08 5694.32 S: So the other chemical they were looking at actually binary systems.

5694.32 5697.96 S: You know, so there's, you know, systems around two stars.

5697.96 5701.68 B: Oh, the difference, the difference between the two, they looked at the.

5701.68 5702.68 S: Yeah.

5702.68 5703.68 S: In in homogeneities.

5703.68 5704.68 S: Yes.

5704.68 5713.68 S: And they and they found that it was so there was different hypotheses about what was, you know, causing the inhomogeneities.

5713.68 5726.00 S: And it was that was it was it problems with the protostellar gas clouds or is because one star consumed planets and their results support the conclusion that the one of the stars ate the planets.

5726.00 5728.52 S: And that's what changed their chemical composition.

5728.52 5733.42 S: And given that that's true, that suggests that that may happen a lot, you know, not just.

5733.42 5734.42 B: Yeah.

5734.42 5744.48 B: Because if it was one star, then it's like, well, you know, maybe that's that's just the way the star was because the star would be have a similar chemical makeup to the planets because you all came from the same cloud, right?

5744.48 5746.44 B: You're all from the same condensing cloud.

5746.44 5751.84 B: But the two stars, one would eat the planets and then it would create that inhomogeneity.

5751.84 5752.84 B: So that makes sense.

5752.84 5753.84 S: So.

5753.84 5754.84 S: Yeah.

5754.84 5764.08 S: So they said this opens the possibility of using this chemical analysis of these stars to identify which ones are most likely to host planets.

5764.08 5765.08 S: Yeah.

5765.08 5766.08 S: Right.

5766.08 5767.60 S: That star has not eaten its planet.

5767.60 5769.40 S: So let's look there for planets.

5769.40 5770.40 E: That one has all right.

5770.40 5772.64 E: The one you can skip by another hint.

5772.64 5773.64 B: Still hungry.

5773.64 5774.64 B: I like it.

5774.64 5775.64 S: Yeah.

5775.64 5776.64 S: Yeah.

5776.64 5777.64 S: Pretty cool.

5777.64 5778.64 S: All right.

5778.64 5779.64 S: Good job, guys.

5779.64 5780.64 S: Evan, you were in the pole position.

5780.64 5781.64 S: That's, you know, that could be challenging.

5781.64 5782.64 S: Yeah.

5782.64 5783.64 S: Good.

5783.64 5784.64 E: Vanguard, you know.

Skeptical Quote of the Week (1:36:24)[edit]

When people see a story as an external object, then someone challenging the story is just making an intellectual argument. But when believers identify with a story, someone challenging the story is a personal threat. And since our brains are notoriously bad at distinguishing between our psychological identity and our physical body, the personal threat doesn’t feel like an insult—it feels like danger.
– Tim Urban, writer/illustrator and editor of Wait But Why website

5784.64 5785.64 E: All right, Evan, give us a quote.

5785.64 5790.92 E: Quote this week was supplied by listener Gary Ehrichardt from Asheville, North Carolina.

5790.92 5791.92 E: Thank you so much.

5791.92 5802.60 E: He writes, he wrote to us and said, I've been reading one of the epic, extremely entertaining and extremely informative long form blog posts on Tim Urban's blog, Wait, But Why?

5802.60 5806.16 E: And came across this quote I thought you'd enjoy.

5806.16 5813.84 E: When people see a story as an external object, then someone challenging the story is just making an intellectual argument.

5813.84 5820.12 E: But when believers identify with a story, someone challenging the story is a personal threat.

5820.12 5830.26 E: And since our brains are notoriously bad at distinguishing between our psychological identity and our physical body, the personal threat doesn't feel like an insult.

5830.26 5831.26 E: It feels like danger.

5831.26 5832.26 E: That's funny.

5832.26 5833.52 C: We use that word a lot.

5833.52 5840.28 C: Like it's threatening to somebody's sense of self or threatening to their ideology, threatening to their membership in a certain group.

5840.28 5841.28 C: Yeah, their tribe.

5841.28 5842.60 S: Yeah, no, that's absolutely correct.

5842.60 5844.08 S: And there's research to bear this out.

5844.08 5853.96 S: The more somebody identifies either personally or their tribe with a position, the more they dig in their heels and get defensive and defend and will be irrational.

5853.96 5856.00 S: That's kind of what I was saying about the organic thing, too.

5856.00 5867.32 S: Like if you think that organic farming is the way to rescue your nation from imperial colonial whatever, then you're invested in it to a degree that goes beyond scientific evidence or logic or reason.

5867.32 5871.72 S: And of course, anyone who's like citing studies is a shill for big agriculture.

5871.72 5872.72 S: You know what I mean?

5872.72 5876.12 S: It's just you lose all rationality at that point.

Signoff/Announcements ()[edit]

5876.12 5877.68 S: All right, guys.

5877.68 5879.44 S: Thank you all for joining me this week.

5879.44 5880.44 S: Sure, man.

5880.44 5881.44 S: Thanks, Steve.

5881.44 5882.44 S: See you.

5882.44 5883.44 S: See you, December.

5883.44 5887.32 S: Next week's episode, the next episode I think is the one we recorded for DragonCon.

5887.32 5888.32 S: Right.

5888.32 5889.32 S: Oh, DragonCon.

5889.32 5892.40 S: And we'll be recording shows while we're on the road next week.

5892.40 5897.56 S: So the show after that will be one of the live shows that we record in Colorado.

5897.56 5902.76 S: So we're not going to be back into our normal schedule for three weeks.

5902.76 5903.76 S: Right.

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

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


Today I Learned[edit]

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




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