SGU Episode 859

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SGU Episode 859
December 25th 2021

ESA's plan to 3D-print a lunar base

SGU 858                      SGU 860

Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella

B: Bob Novella

C: Cara Santa Maria

J: Jay Novella

E: Evan Bernstein


GH: George Hrab

Quote of the Week

Science has never been defined by the infallibility or superhuman perfection. It has always been about healthy skepticism, about putting every hypothesis to the test.

Ben Orlin, author & illustrator

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Show Notes
Forum Discussion

Introduction, Live from Fort Collins, "guest" Rogue George[edit]

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. (applause) Today is Saturday, November 20th, 2021, and this is your host, Steven Novella. (applause) Joining me this week are Bob Novella...

B: Hey, everybody! (applause)

S: Cara Santa Maria...

C: Howdy. (applause)

S: Jay Novella...

J: Hey guys. (applause)

S: ...and Evan Bernstein.

E: I love Fort Collins! (applause)

S: And we have a special guest on this episode, George Hrab. George, welcome back.

GH: Hi, Joan Collins. (applause) Am I still in the special guest zone? Am I still, am I special guest-zoned? I keep sending flowers, I keep going on dates with you guys, and I'm still in the special guest zone.

S: So what's between in every episode and the special guest? What's in between?

GH: I don't know.

J: An honorary rogue.

GH: A new, I don't know if I'm that, but maybe, yeah.

C: A regular? A regular guest?

GH: A regular guest.

C: A regular contributor?

GH: Or unleaded guest, maybe.

C: Uninvited guest? (laughter)

GH: Uninvited guest. Most accurate.

E: A crasher.

S: Yeah, George is frequently on this show, and more recently because we're doing the extravaganza together and we're on these trips, so obviously he's here. And I wanted to say that we are live from Fort Collins, Colorado. (applause) So we're still in Colorado in podcast time. We're still out of breath. We haven't made it yet to the altitude, but we're getting there. How are you guys liking Colorado? We haven't seen a lot of it.

C: Oh, you're asking us.

S: Yeah, I'm asking you guys.

B: I love it. It's beautiful.

S: Yeah, it's gorgeous, right?

B: So gorgeous.

C: This is your first time here.

S: It's my first time in Colorado.

B: Mine too.

E: Not mine. I used to live here. I lived here for one year when I was about 12 years old. So yeah, I've gotten to see much of Colorado in my one year here. We went practically everywhere, which was great. It's good to be back.

J: I'm itchy when I'm here.

C: What do you mean?

J: Is anybody that lives here itchy because it's so dry?

E: It's the dryness.

C: Oh, like physically itchy?

E: Absolutely.

GH: I'm scratching.

S: George, have you ever been to Colorado before?

GH: I've never been to Colorado before, but it's lovely. I think Fort Collins is so much nicer than Denver. It's no contest. (applause) So on the way here, we somehow missed three exits. What happened, Jay? We haven't even talked about what happened. Jay was driving the van and what happened?

J: Steve and I were in a heated discussion.

GH: For 50 miles.

J: Yeah, for the entire ride.

B: There was no heat in that van. I don't know what the heating was. I was cold.

J: But yeah, it's so funny because I'm freakishly looking at my phone to make sure we're on track. And then right at the inflection point when we were, it was a straight shot all the way up from Denver. Steve and I got to a point where it got a little like we were like this. We were fighting. It's okay. And I missed it, man.

GH: All of a sudden, we run a highway, we pull a U-turn. Now normally when you pull a U-turn on a highway, you go back to the previous exit because that's the one you've missed. So we go back to the previous exit, we keep driving. We go, we pass another exit, we keep driving. We pass a third exit. We're like, how many exits did you miss?

E: That was some discussion. It was the fourth exit we finally turned.

J: That's weird because there were more exits, I guess, on that side.

GH: Oh, sure. That's how roads work. That's how highways work. It's just, sorry, you can't go to that side of the state. It's just, it's awesome.

Special Segment: End of civilization disruptions (3:47)[edit]

( there's a portion of this segment that needs a [link needed?] tag )

S: So we were talking on the last show we recorded, the one before Thanksgiving about Russia blowing up a satellite and the implications of that, the Kessler syndrome where it might flood low Earth orbit with debris. So we lose basically the ability to have satellites. So this morning we're chatting. What would that really do? What would it do? What would the effect on our lives be if we had no satellites?

GH: Like all of a sudden, like within a week.

S: Within a relatively short period of time.

GH: How much would that affect us?

S: The answer is a lot. It would affect us a lot. But we expanded the conversation to, we thought we always like to start our live shows with a light and funny conversation. So we thought we'd talk about the end of civilization. Just from a lighthearted perspective. How fragile is our modern civilization, our modern society? Could something like a CME, which is a coronal mass ejection, another way that we could wipe out our satellite infrastructure and more, our grids could go down.

GH: Explain what that is real quick, just so if you don't know what a CME is.

J: Coronal mass ejection.

B: It's a bundle of energy that's emitted from the Sun that is quite gargantuan that it could encompass the Earth and beyond. And if we get hit with it, it basically would just overload and fry circuits everywhere if it was of sufficient level, which is inevitable actually. It's like getting hit by an asteroid. Is it going to happen? It's like when it's going to happen. So this will happen.

S: And it's going to happen on a timescale of decades, not millennia. We're getting hit with them all the time. It's just a matter of how strong they are.

E: Didn't we dodge one in 2012? We missed one by about a week.

S: Yeah, it just missed the Earth.

B: So it's quite scary actually.

S: At one point we did a deep dive on the question of what actually would a CME do? And the answer is nobody knows. We really don't know because we've never had this level of infrastructure when we got hit by a really powerful CME. There have been moderate ones that knocked out local grids like Canada got hit.

E: Quebec, 1989.

J: So visually the aurora borealis, all the auroras are going to light up like Christmas trees.

S: It would be like that, but down to Florida. Depending on how big it is. We have seen CMEs that missed the Earth, but they were big enough that if they hit the Earth they would have fried everything. So anyway, it's going to happen. It's going to happen.

GH: We were asking what would be worse? Would the Kessler thing, would no satellites be worse or would the CME be worse? And Steve, right away you said-

S: I think Kessler would be worse.

GH: -Kessler's worse

S: Because it could take a hundred years before we could occupy low Earth orbit again.

J: So you're saying if we scattered low Earth orbit with debris.

S: It can get so bad that it's done for decades.

B: Generations, generations. No communication satellites.

S: No GPS.

B: No weather prediction. I mean, we would be so isolated and society would change. Absolutely.

C: So you're talking like the difference between a Fukushima and a Chernobyl. In one of them you can just rebuild and in the other you can't go back there for a while. You can't, low Earth orbit is cluttered. We can't put satellites back.

S: CME is one and done. But the big thing about the CME is that it could take 10 to 20 years to rebuild the infrastructure. We don't have the giant transformers that would get [inaudible].

GH: That's like turning off the Earth's electricity like that. I mean, that to me feels like you can't, it's really hard to come back from that.

J: Well, I mean, that could be pandemonium craziness.

C: Well, it would be. We saw what happened in Texas over winter. We've all been there when there has been a blackout, a brownout or something and people die. And people die.

GH: We were saying about toilet paper, because there was this slight, people were pooping at home more and that totally messed up toilet paper distribution. That one factor because people were taking two more craps at home than they had been a month previous that messed up the entire delicate balance of the toilet paper infrastructure. We did learn one cool thing because we were wondering if cell phones use satellites. And we were like, okay, because they must be using, they go to the tower and the tower goes to the satellite to other towers. And it turns out, no, they don't. They go tower to tower to tower. So we would still have cell phones which is huge.

S: Maybe not with the CME, but with the Kessler, we would still have our smartphones, which although, because think about that. Think about no cell phones. That means our entire infrastructure of money transfer would go down. We'd be back to using coins and cash.

GH: Leather pelt.

B: Steve, I think it comes down to a couple of things because I think with the CME, I mean, with the CME, I think we could see a tremendous amount of deaths. I mean, scores of millions, if not a billion people, because no electricity means a lot of crazy, horrible things.

GH: Every person in the hospital that's on a respirator or any kind of-

B: Right. But the Kessler-

C: It would be heat. Those basic things.

B: But the Kessler syndrome effect would be, I mean, you'd still have everything you have on it. You just can't communicate. You can't use so many things that weren't-

C: So it would be like it was several years ago.

S: Well, it would be like going back about 30 or 40 years.

C: But the problem is it would be instant.

S: Yes.

C: And we have systems in place that-

S: Because you get dependent on your technology.

C: Yeah.

S: Right.

C: But ultimately, we're not.

J: So how long would it take us to harden the grid?

S: I mean, hardening the grid, I don't think there's anything in the infrastructure plan on that, to be honest with you.

B: The military's got lots of hardened electronics.

S: Hardened is relative. What that means is that they're engineered so that they can withstand things like a CME or the military does it because you get the same effect from a nuclear weapon. So if we have nuclear bombs going off, it gives the electromagnetic pulse, which has the same effect. It induces a current, which is such a current that it would fry. It would literally melt the electronics. That's what happened. So it's not like you can repair it. It's melted. You've got to replace it. And so hardening it means you engineer it in such a way that that wouldn't happen.

J: You insulate it so that energy can't-

S: It's insulated.

B: But what if you're in a Faraday cage, though? How impervious is the Faraday cage?

S: Well, if it's perfect, it's completely impervious. But you can't have all of your electronic equipment in a Faraday cage.

B: No, we can't have critical components, critical infrastructure in Faraday.

C: But also then you can't use them.

S: Right.

C: They're unusable while they're in the cage.

S: For example, the grid. The grid is basically wires. Those wires would have induced current. You can't put them in a Faraday cage.

B: No, no, no.

GH: And if you fry capacitors, there's no backup supply of capacitors and insulators.

E: We don't have a ton just of them.

GH: Transformers, you've got to build all this stuff anew.

S: So the biggest transformers, if they got fried, we don't have a back catalog of them. They could take years to build. And it could take decades to replace them.

J: That's if the factory wasn't fried to the back.

S: That's if one goes down. If the world's down, then what are we, back to horse and buggy at that? No. So one thing I think the pandemic brought to light, although I don't know that we really absorbed this lesson collectively, is how fragile the system is. As George was saying, we're pooping at home slightly more, and then there's no toilet paper in the store. That's literally what happened.

C: Well, really what happened is that we were panicked that we would have to be pooping at home.

GH: But imagine the panic.

S: But, Cara, that's really not true.

C: Really?

S: That's really not true. It was not due to hoarding and demand. It was literally due to the supply chain. There's like 80%, 90% of it.

C: Only?

S: 80%, 90% was the supply chain. You have a commercial toilet paper supply line and a domestic toilet paper supply line.

J: One of them is cardboard.

S: And then the demand shifted. Demand shifted.

C: To domestic.

S: And it completely, the same thing was true of food. So what percentage of the, an average American, what percentage of our calories do we get from outside the home, restaurants or whatever? What do you think?

C: Or work or... yeah.

J: You mean not the stuff we buy at a store and bring home?

GH: 30%, 40%.

S: It's a little bit more than 50%. About half. About half is food we bought and brought into our home and prepared in the home. The other half is at a restaurant or whatever. During the pandemic, the at-home food went to 70%. So it went from 50-50 to 70-30. And that also screwed our supply lines. Now we're having inflation and backlogs because people are buying more stuff and fewer experiences. So we're going to movies less and buying TVs more. And that totally blog jammed our supply line. And that's from a pandemic, which was disruptive, but nothing like a CME or a Kessler syndrome. It would be 100 times worse.

J: So really, there's no other way to look at it. We would be totaled.

S: There's no question that we'd be totaled. The question is how far would we fall and how long would it take to come back?

GH: I'm just wondering how long before leather and football pads for that whole, not Blade Runner, but the Road Warrior scenario. Are we talking months? Are we talking years before roving gangs of, bring me the gas, that kind of thing?

J: I love that character. I think it's scary to think how much of our human knowledge is stored. This might sound ridiculous, but just even on YouTube. And if we have a CME, will that fry hard drives, will that make it so all that data is gone?

S: If it's powerful enough, it's all about the strength of the CME.

J: So we need, we're watching, what should we call it? The Isaac Asimov series.

S: Foundation.

J: We need a foundation. We should have a backup.

S: Well, that's why we have things like the seed vault. There are actually preparations for that. So one question is what do we do about it? It's interesting the notion of how will people respond? How will people respond in a serious collapse? CME wipes out the grid. Nobody has any power. What do we do? How do people react? The initial response is for people to be neighborly, to be people to help each other out. We're all in this together. Let's get through it. The longer you go, though, without services, the more road warrior it gets. And then at the two, three month point when people have exhausted their supplies and FEMA doesn't have enough to go around and it really starts to get desperate, it completely flips. So the question is could we recover before we get to the, before that window where things really go off the cliff? And who knows? We'll know when it happens, is the question. So how can we prep, not to use the word prep and suddenly you're a prepper. But how can we prepare to mitigate that to some extent?

J: Buy more toilet paper?

S: Well, that's part of it. So FEMA, who's our disaster preparedness organization, FEMA's recommendation that is that you have everything you need in your home so that you could survive independently with enough food for everybody for three days. That's their recommendation.

J: Just three days?

S: I know.

E: Three days?

J: I thought you were going to say three months.

S: No, it's three days. The reason that that's their recommendation is because that's based on the premise that it will take them three days to stand up their support. But they rarely are able to do that is the thing. So the criticism is like the three days is a pipe dream.

C: I think that's also based on the most likely scenario. So I have a disaster kit in my home. For me, I live alone because I live in earthquake country. And so if there is an earthquake and I can't get out of my house or the water gets shut off or I don't have electricity, I'll be okay. And the idea is that within three days, yes, there may be shelters available. Or in a tornado situation, in a whatever, this is not FEMA's CME recommendation. For when civilization collapses, three days of food will be fine. The zombie apocalypse is different than what most of us should have to think about.

S: That is their regional, temporary, so for the Northeast, it would be a major nor'easter where we get snowed in for three days, which literally happened not that many years ago. It literally snowed in for three days.

C: And here will be tornadoes.

S: Or tornadoes or earthquake or the local grid goes down.

B: And they're talking about a once in a decade scenario. We're talking about a once in a millennia.

C: These aren't even, but the sad thing is these aren't once in a decade anymore either. I have a wildfire scare every season now. There's a legitimate risk that my house will burn down every season. That's just becoming the norm.

J: When you run a scenario like this through your head. And this happens all the time. There's so many things that we could, the pandemic was like a perfect example of it. It just blows my mind to watch the U.S. government, because this is the country I live in, so I'll pick our government, just watch them sit around and do absolutely nothing. It's as if there wasn't a pandemic. It's as if, a coronal mass ejection isn't going to happen. We could, we should be slowly solving these problems.

S: I know.

C: I think that a lot more is happening than you're giving credit to.

J: But why do you feel that way? I have no indication of that.

C: Sorry. Specifically, you don't think that our government is doing any pandemic preparedness?

J: Well, I'm sure that we're stockpiling PPE.

S: We have strategic stockpiles of food, fuel. We do.

J: Is that new? Is that new because of the pandemic?

C: And FEMA is a massive department that works very hard. They just don't have enough resources.

S: They have barely enough resources for a hurricane. But yeah, if there anything bigger than that, they would be instantly involved.

J: I hear you. I'm happy to change my mind. But if we carved out 10% of the military budget and said, we're just going to spend that money on hardening our grid or making FEMA more powerful or-

S: We famously collectively do not prepare enough for bad things.

B: But even after a bad thing just happened.

C: The scary thing is we had a good pandemic plan and we had leadership that was not interested in following our plan.

GH: There's more important things like, critical race theory. I mean, way more important.

C: We need to be fighting against the real boogeyman.

S: On an individual level, what should we do? My approach is I don't consider myself a prepper, but I like to rather than having three days of food in my house, I like to have three weeks of food in my house. If everybody did that, that would actually be a really good thing because you would be decompressing the system for everybody if the system gets stressed out. And it's not that hard. It's not that hard.

C: That does assume that you have a house that you can afford to do that. The problem is the-

E: People in the cities are going to have major problems.

C: The haves should do that, but the have nots need the kind of support.

S: Absolutely. That's exactly it. I don't want to be a burden on people who can't afford to do that. But it's actually not that expensive either because the kind of food you're going to be storing, first of all, you'll eat it. I'm not saying getting {{w|MREs. I'm just saying just have more dried goods in your home, whatever, and use it.

J: Cycle through it.

S: You cycle through it. You're just stretching your backlog so that it's not you're out of food in three days. You could actually survive. You may not be happy about it, but you could survive for a few weeks. And again, it helps everybody because now you're not online looking for bread because you've got your dried beans in your pantry.

B: And Steve, did you eat those? Have you eaten those MREs? I had some. It was pretty horrible.

S: They're horrible.

E: I've had some that have been pretty good.

B: I guess I didn't taste everything, but the things that I ate were pretty bad. But I guess in the apocalypse, I'd be drooling for it.

E: You will not be choosy in that scenario.

B: Look at that juicy rat. That looks good.

GH: It's so not worth it. It's so not worth it. I'm going to do it. What Steve is saying is basically I'm a prepper. He's a prepper. She's a prepper. You're a prepper. Wouldn't you like to be a prepper? (laughter)

S: That's it. You nailed it, George.

GH: That was so worth the wait.

C: It was.

S: We live in this bubble of the assumption that the infrastructure that we have is going to chug along without disruption. We throw a hissy fit when there's the slightest hiccup. But it's just inevitable that something much bigger is going to happen. We know it is, and we're not prepared for it.

B: We're way too short-sighted. We're never going to be ready for it.

S: We don't have the political will to prepare for it. When Ebola hit, the worst Ebola outbreak, the reason why that was the worst Ebola outbreak was because we weren't ready for it, even though we knew it was coming. We're like, oh, there's a fire. Let's build a firehouse. That's what literally, now it's like, all right, next time we'll be ready, because now we know.

E: We are reactive society instead of proactive society.

S: Yeah, we were sort of more ready for the next one, but still nowhere where we need to be. The pandemic showed that we weren't where we need to be. Anyway-

B: People are going to say, oh, we had a pandemic in 1918, and now in 2020. Oh, we've got another century. We're good. But no, it could be in four years or even sooner.

S: We know it's going to be soon.

B: What if it's man-made? Don't even start me on that one.

E: A lot of scenarios.

S: Yeah. I think, yeah, as a society, we need to do better. We're not the only ones to think about this. There are people who are talking about, the pandemic showed how fragile this system is, how our food system is, et cetera, et cetera. There are real plans to make, what's the word they use, more resilient. We want to make these supply lines more resilient. So it's just a matter of political will.

C: Yeah, it's a matter of putting our money where our mouth is, because people are working on this. They're working hard on it, and they're literal heroes that kept us out of the worst of it. The problem it wasn't better is because we're not funding them.

E: You can also function at the state level too. You don't have to rely on the federal system. You should also be contacting people in more close to home, local, state level.

S: But they are dependent on federal funding.

E: I get that. Yes. Let them take the money and then allow the states to do the prep work for the people.

S: And then at the individual level, just make sure you always have toilet paper and dry tissues.

J: Everything you need to know, you'll find in zombie movies. Just watch zombie movies, you'll see it.

S: All right. Let's shift gears a little bit.

News Items[edit]

Nuclear on the Moon (21:41)[edit]

S: Jay.

J: Oh, I'm starting? Okay.

S: Yeah, we're going to shift to the Moon. And you're going to tell us about building nuclear power on the Moon.

J: Yeah, so NASA and the Idaho National Laboratory, they put out a RFP request for a proposal on a fission surface power system. That's what they call it. So this is pretty cool. So they're forecasting the electrical needs of other planet mission, and the Moon is going to be the first place that they do it. And they want the power source to not depend on solar energy because as we all know, even if you're on the Moon, you're not going to get sunlight all the time. And also, you can't generate the kind of energy that a fission reactor could with solar yet. I don't even know if that's possible.

S: Well, if I can. So the solar sounds like a no brainer on the moon because you have lots of sunlight and everything, but it's really problematic for a couple of reasons. If you're on the poles, it's probably a good idea, but everywhere else on the moon, you go 28 days with no light. So where was it? 14.

J: So right now, the power wall lasts about three days.

S: Yeah, but you go a long time. It's on a 24 hour period. Yeah, so it would be 14 days. It would be half, right?

B: I think that's right. And then the regolith gets everywhere, so that could also-

S: It's worse than sand.

E: Don't go there, please.

B: That could mess with it.

C: How can you not?

B: I mean, people are saying that's a classic problem with solar on the Moon.

S: Not just the regolith, but also micrometeorites, and also the Sun is actually too harsh. It could actually overheat the panels. So solar energy, we could make it work, but it's really problematic. It's really hard on the Moon. And then when you get farther from the Earth, obviously, the inverse square law, right? So the solar irradiance gets less and less and less. On Mars, a solar panel on Mars is about half, about 50% as effective as it is on the Earth. On Jupiter, 4%. 4%. Asteroid belts, so if you're a belter, it's only about 10%, about 10%. So it drops off massively. So really, solar power is not going to be-

B: You would need huge solar arrays to be working.

S: Yeah, a good energy source. And of course, there's no wind on the Moon.

B: Geothermal?

S: Yeah, there's no geothermal on the Moon. There's no hydroelectric on the Moon. So-

B: Nuclear.

E: Nuclear.

J: All right, so to continue. So if we want to have a sustained human presence on Mars or on the Moon or whatever, we have to build infrastructure. And of course, power is a dramatic part of that infrastructure. And you got to think, we think about getting electricity on our own planet. There's quite a bit of stuff that has to occur in order to get powered. Imagine having to do that on the Moon. So they want to build the fission surface power system so it can be flown into outer space. It's going to be one thing. They know how heavy they want it. I'm going to tell you all the stats on the thing. They know the size of it that they want. It has to be able to come down with the lunar lander. One version of it I read, they were going to do the lowering thing, like some type of crane thing. And then they want to be able to move it on the Moon where they need it, which I think is really cool. Okay, we're going to start here. And then five years later, they're like, well, we're actually going to be moving over here. And the thing can go with them, which is pretty cool.

S: They can have the Jawas put on one of their crawlers.

J: So they don't want any assembly happening on the Moon. It's just got to be done. And here is what the stats are pretty cool. They're saying that it has to be a uranium fueled reactor core. It has to have a thermal management system. This is to ensure that the reactor is constantly cooled. Keeping in mind that on the Moon, it gets up to what, 250, 300 degrees direct sunlight. It gets crazy hot and then it gets crazy cold. Hopefully they're going to pick one of those intermediary zones so the temperature is more stable and all that. But still, the thing has to be cooled. It has to be able to convert nuclear power into some form of usable energy because that doesn't just, they'll create the energy, with the heat, but they have to have a way to process it there. There isn't going to be another thing. It's all self-contained. They want them to develop a distribution system that will provide no less than 40 kilowatts of uninterrupted electric power for 10 years. That's pretty cool.

S: 40 kilowatts?

J: Yeah, I know. Well, it was 10. They said 10 kilowatts two years ago and they upped it to 40.

S: That's tiny, actually.

B: Well, I looked into that. I looked at Kilopower. NASA did a project called Kilopower, which was creating uranium-235 nuclear reactors and they were going to be one kilowatt up to 10 kilowatts and they could last 10 to 15 years. A 10 kilowatt system could do, say, three households. If you had four of those, you could do like a Mars base, I mean a Moon base.

J: Well, these can be, they're built to be put in a race. It's not going to just be one. They'll put in a modular.

B: So my take on this Jay I think this most recent news item was that they were going for something far bigger than, say, 10 kilowatt units. Did they mention megawatt scale or is it all kilowatt scale?

J: They said 40, but again, they want them small enough that they can be moved, so they are planning on building an array of them.

B: This to me seems more midterm, whereas this kilopower project that they finished a couple years ago was more near term. By the late 2020s, I think they'll be ready. They've already done a demo model in 2018. They did a small scale and it worked. It was efficient. It was safe. I think in the near term, we're good with this, but in the more midterm, I think they're trying to scale it up for even bigger outposts or even on spaceships.

S: Did either of you come across the question of why can't we just adapt nuclear submarine technology? ight? We already have small modular nuclear reactors that run submarines. Why wouldn't that work?

J: The director of, it wasn't NASA, it was the other company, they said we have a ton of information about reactors because we've dealt with them, they know about miniaturization, they know a lot of the stuff. He said we have all the info we need to build it and it's going to work.

S: They just need to adapt it to the Moon.

J: They're not even really that worried. They just want a company to actually just, hey, please build this for me. I don't think they're that worried about inventing new technology. They want it by the end of the decade. They want the blueprints in February. They want the write up in February. That's how? How could it, I don't know, whatever. Don't get me started. It doeasn't seem like a lot of time.

S: It's already a proven technology, it's just a matter of make it, design it for these parameters.

J: This seems like a very short amount of time.

B: But that's kind of like what Kilopower is. It's taking a Uranium 235 core that's as big as a paper towel, paper towel cardboard. That's this big. It takes the thermal energy, the thermal power and pipes it through a sterling engine to come out with electrical power. It seems like a really, really cool design.

J: The other thing, apparently this is a big deal. I'm not 100% sure, but they said they want it to be able to turn itself on and off without human interaction. Maybe like today's reactors, a lot of people have to be in there, Homer Simpsons, you know. And that's it. They said that they want it up there by the end of the decade. That actually jives pretty well with the Artemis program. But we're living in a cool time because it's happening. We're actually talking about putting people on the Moon. Basically most of us are going to be able to see people on the moon persistently. There's just going to be people on the Moon. That's it.

S: That would be cool.

B: But not in 2024.

J: And if they see the coronal mass ejection and it hits the Earth and doesn't hit them, that's like that horrifying image of a meteor going through the Earth and the astronauts are like, well.

B: There's a guy on the Moon and he's looking at the Earth and it's basically exploding.

S: Or the lights are going out across the Earth. Yeah. Right. Now longer term though, just one last thing, is the moon's surface has a lot of Helium-3. Because it gets it from the solar wind. We don't get it because we have an atmosphere. But the lunar surface collects Helium-3. There is a theoretical fusion cycle based upon Helium-3, which is supposed to be safer and better. There's a lot of advantages. So the future may be mining Helium-3 for fusion reactors, not just on the Moon, but even bringing it back to Earth. That could be the major lunar industry, mining Helium-3. But we have to perfect the whole fusion energy thing first, which is a non-trivial problem.

What Launched Video Games (29:38)[edit]

S: Bob, you're going to tell us about the-

B: Boy.

S: What launched video games?

B: So this was an interesting dive that I took here in the history of video games. How many people have heard of Pong? Pong.

C: Oh, Pong.

B: P-O-N-G.

S: Most of the audience.

B: They understood me. How many people have heard of Computer Space? Not really.

S: Three people.

B: The game. The game? Good for you. That's great. Computer Space was the first arcade video game. It was the first commercial video game ever. And almost nobody-

J: Well, what was it? What was the game?

B: This game was, all right. So this game was, imagine it was a starscape. God, I'm getting out of breath. What's going on here?

J: You're in Denver, man.

E: Fort Collins.

B: Oxygen! So imagine a starscape and you've got like two UFO type ships and one rocket and they're firing pixels at each other. So you're the rocket. So you got to kind of destroy them more than they destroy you.

C: I feel like you're thinking of Galaga.

J: We played that.

B: No, no, no.

E: This is in the 1960s. And I think if you watch the Netflix series, what, Game Over? Is that the? They talk a lot about this game in that.

B: Well, this was released in 1971. So 50 years ago last month.

C: That's 50 years ago.

B: So over 50 years ago. And it was like a futuristic console and they put it in arcades. And back then when I say they put it in arcade, I mean an arcade that was jukeboxes and ping pong and stuff like that. That's it. This was like the first one in an arcade. And now when you think of an arcade, you think it's mostly video games, right? 80, 90, even 100% video games. So how did it do? How do you think it did? It did okay, but it didn't do great. And if you look at the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times, this should have been a no brainer slam dunk because the Apollo missions were still happening. Apollo missions. You had 2001 Space Odyssey just a few years before that. You had Star Trek. You had Lost in Space.

S: Maybe it just wasn't that fun.

E: It was limiting.

B: Well, let's see. Let's see, Steve, why?

C: So was pong.

B: It should have done, it should have done.

E: One player versus two players.

B: It should have done very, very, very well. But the reaction was kind of meh. It didn't do horrific, but it didn't do what they expected. The developers were really thinking this should do really, really well. And it just really didn't. So within a year, the developers kind of created their own company. Let's see. What was the company they created? It was Mzadi J Tari, no Atari. They created Atari and they quickly released Pong. And Pong showed the whole world what a good video game that basically that video games have a future. And that's where it really took off.

C: So what was the difference? What really was the special sauce?

B: Let's see, shall we? Let's dig in and see what happened.

S: So we played Pong. That was our first video game. I remember that initial Atari site with the, it was simple as hell.

C: Was it a joystick?

S: There were just two knobs and you move your paddle up and down one dimension with the paddle and the little pixel ball would go back and forth. So it was awesome. We loved it.

E: Hours of entertainment.

B: Oh my God, yes. So if you ask Nolan Bushnell, he asked the developer, this is a guy that developed Computer Space and had a hand in Pong. Ask him why, why did computer space fail? And he would say this over the years, this is what he says. He's like, it was too complex for bar goers. He doesn't have a very high opinion of bar. Did he think they were all drunk and trying to play drunk? I don't know, but that's what he says. It was too complex and nobody wanted to read instructions. So that's kind of like the common wisdom. That's what people say happened. But according to, I love this guy's name, Professor Noah Wardrip-Fruin, he writes a lot about the computer gaming industry. He's like, he said, that's total baloney. That's total baloney. That's not really why. So to understand that, we got to look into video game history. So guys, where do you think video games were in the sixties? What was happening with video games in the sixties? If you wanted to go play a video game, where would you go?

E: You go to the military.

B: Nope, nope. Universities, go to universities, go to MIT, go to Stanford. That was really the birthplace of video games. And it was actually probably the first time that you could have a video game that was played on multiple sites on different campuses. So that was like the real birthplace as far as I could tell.

J: You could play it at the hippocampus?

B: Nice. All right.

J: I'm just trying to wake everybody up here.

B: So way back in 1962, if you went to MIT, you would probably find kids or students playing Space War. Now, Space War was similar to Computer Space. Space War was two ships in a star background firing at each other. Very simple.

J: That is totally Atari, by the way. Remember those early Atari games?

B: Yes, but these were even more, this is even, this is 62, this is even more primitive. And that game, Space War, this is version 1.0. It was boring. The gameplay was horrible. And they very quickly realized, there's not enough here. We need to do something. So what they did is they added a star in the middle of the screen with a variable gravity. So the closer you got to the star, the more the gravity intensified. So that enhanced the gameplay. So you could do interesting things. If you hit the star at a certain angle, you can whip around it and then start firing at your opponent.

E: Gravitational assist.

B: Right. So the students loved this shit. They went crazy. They would wait hours. They would go there and they would wait for hours to play this very primitive, but really, I mean, this was the tour de force technically. In 62, this was super high tech. Kids loved it. Not kids. These were college students. Absolutely. Absolutely loved this stuff. And Stanford also. And Space War was kind of replicated in other universities. They would tweak it and give it another galaxy game or some goofy, goofy name. And it was incredibly popular. So it wasn't the complexity. It seems that this is what the professor, Fruin, Wardrip, Wardrip Fruin is saying, that it wasn't the complexity or the instructions. The problem was it was the gameplay. It was the gameplay of this computer space. It was something was wrong with it. It didn't have gravity. And the reason why it didn't have gravity was because these students were playing on pretty sophisticated computers for the time. They were very, very sophisticated. The first games that were mass produced, though, they weren't as sophisticated. So they couldn't do those gravity calculations. So they pulled it out. And so the gameplay suffered because of that.

C: But Pong didn't have that either.

B: Pong's a totally different piece.

C: Yeah, but the whole point here is that Pong was way more successful than Computer Space.

GH: Pong had correct physics, though, and geometry. The Pong would react correctly.

C: Oh, and computer space didn't.

B: Yeah, it didn't have gravity. And it kind of like you were always kind of moving. But it was just the gameplay was not there because they didn't have the gravity. Pong was a different beast. And that was a fun game to play. Whereas computer space, to me, I never played it. But it seems, yes, I'd be bored in five seconds from that game.

E: You would wait too long for something to happen.

C: Tell me if I'm wrong, though. Because maybe I'm not getting this because this was not my era. But if you're, let's say, a bar goer and you're about to play this game, and it is to, OK, whatever, the complicated thing. But is this the first time you've ever played a video game? So yeah, it should be really simple. Because not only are you learning how to play this game, you're learning about the concept of playing video games. So I don't think it's one or the other. It's probably both of those things that made Pong so much more successful than the very first iteration. Because yeah, if you did have to sit down and go, what am I? Have you ever been at a party and people are like, let's sit down and we're going to play Parcheesi. And you're like, I've never played that before. OK, there's not that many rules. You know, it's like you don't want to learn a new game at a party. You want to play a game you already know how to play. It's way more fun.

B: Yeah, but you would think something so new, like a video game, I would think people would be drawn to it. Yeah, you need a minimum level of game.

C: Certain types of people would be drawn to it.

B: Like who?

C: College students. Boys.

B: Professor Wardrip would disagree with you on that. He's like the gameplay and even like this guy. Let me end with my quote, my final quote here from Professor Noah Wardrip. He said: "Without gravity, computer space was using a design that the creators of Space War already knew didn't work." Bushnell's story of the gameplay being too complicated for the public is still one of the most often repeated, but as a former Atari employee, Jerry Jessup told the New York Times about Computer Space. He said the gameplay was horrible.

C: Well, and that would be important. It's kind of like the E.T. game. There's all these things where it's like it just wasn't fun. People just didn't like it.

B: That's the bottom line. Even if it's a new revolutionary technology, it's like it's still got to be fun or forget it. They won't care. I don't care. Even though I'm drunk, I don't care at this game because this is not fun. Even in the 80s.

S: Pong was fun.

B: Pong was fun.

S: Sometimes it's hard to predict, right?

B: Yes, it is.

S: Can we say exactly why Pong was fun and the other one wasn't?

B: No, absolutely not.

B: But it was.

C: There is an intuitiveness to Pong. You can just get it. You don't need it explained to you.

S: It was cool. You just get to the angles.

B: That's part of the gameplay. That's part of the gameplay.

E: It was a much faster pace than the other games.

B: But also don't forget, Computer Space though did leave a legacy. Subsequent games did take some aspects of the design and the technology and replicate it but even deeper, a deeper level that you can't see super officially. So it did have a legacy. It wasn't just like this utter failure. It was a very good legacy but nobody knows it. Not what two people here remember. Ever even heard of this.

C: But I think that's what I was attached to. Not like it's too complex or the public's too stupid to catch on. It's more like, it's like Apple, right? The reason the product sells so well is you don't need to read about how to use it. You just use it. It's intuitive.

J: I was going to tell you like today's games, even though there's a ton of complexity in today's games, meaning like the games themselves could be complicated. The interface, which is the controller, whether you're on a mouse or you're using a controller, the developers are constantly trying to make that super intuitive and super easy.

E: And they all have tutorials.

C: And it's also based on a legacy of gameplay. I don't play those games. So it's really like when I, if I were to sit down, I'd be like, this is really too complicated. I don't want to learn all this stuff. But if you've been gaming and that's been your culture, it's just an additive and additive.

S: Yeah. If you know WSAD then you're good for many, many games.

C: And I don't know what that means.

S: If you don't know what that means.

B: But that said, that said, Steve, I don't think that applies to this game.

S: No, that's not.

C: No, because that's the first one.

S: It's not.

B: It wasn't too complicated.

S: It's applicable to what she's saying about today's games. Sometimes like when I sit on the keyboard, I instinctively put my fingers on the WASD.

E: Yeah, that's right.

S: They just go there. It's just ingrained. But so the next question is what was it about Space Invaders? Because that was the next inflection point. That just went crazy.

J: I think I have an idea. I thought about this.

B: Is there a consensus on that?

J: Space Invaders had the music, the heartbeat thing, and then it got faster. And that intensity, it's like the clock ticking. That intensity.

C: It's like a slot machine. It keeps you there.

J: Look, it's all about dopamine dump. If you can create something that makes someone have some type, build an expectation and then fulfill the expectation. You're releasing dopamine.

C: They won't walk away. They'll put it in another quarter. Or nickel? Back then.

B: Quarter, quarter.

C: Even back then?

Assholes More Likely to be Wrong (40:39)[edit]

( add a link to the appropriate text in this segment to the "how much should you talk" news item from 2022 )

S: All right, George. You're going to tell us why assholes are wrong. Are more wrong than non-assholes. (laughter)

C: I like it.

E: Everyone has one.

S: George is our asshole expert.

GH: So I came across this article and it's more I think I wanted to open up a little bit of a conversation about this because it's not necessarily a study that was done, but just sort of a thought process. So there's a philosopher named Aaron James and his definition of asshole is this, which I thought was really good. "It's someone who allows himself to enjoy special advantages in social relations out of an entrenched sense of entitlement that immunizes him against the complaints of other people." I thought that was pretty spot on.

C: That's the guy who just like cuts everybody else off in line and doesn't give a shit.

GH: Or interrupts. (laughter)

B: Oh touche.

GH: But either way.

C: You had to.

S: Wait, George. Why does the definition assume male?

GH: Yeah, it uses him just for I think for ease of reading. But yeah, I almost went to that.

S: Because guys are more assholes than women?

C: Maybe because this philosopher is an asshole.

GH: But the article started talking about that it's this idea that people who have that trait, that sort of immunity from social norms or social sense, tend to be more wrong. And it purely comes down to a statistical error or statistical probability that everyone can have good ideas and bad ideas. And whether or not you're an asshole doesn't necessarily immunize you from good ideas or bad ideas. Being self-aware makes you share your ideas less frequently. Whereas the asshole shares everything. So whether it's a good idea or a bad idea, the asshole doesn't care. The asshole's just like, I'm going to spout my opinion. Here's my opinion, my opinion. And so purely from statistics, it's not what that person thinks, but what that person says. And they are more likely, just again, purely by mathematically, their opinions are going to be more wrong because there's more of them being spouted out. Because the person who's more self-aware won't share an idea until they really think it's a good one or a concept that's a really good one. So they will then spout that. And so they will mostly be quiet and then ninja-like have an opinion that comes out that will be kind of spot on. So it comes down to sort of, yeah, it doesn't matter what you think, but what you say. And assholes tend to say stuff more often. I thought that was really cool.

S: They're more willing to express ideas that they have low confidence in and which are more likely to be wrong.

E: I don't think the words express and asshole should go together. That's just my opinion. (laughter)

C: They go perfectly together.

J: George, did they talk about what we could do to fight back against this?

GH: Not really. Again, it was just this kind of positing of, is this true? And I think from my experience, that tends to kind of be true. And then of course, my first thing was to start self-examining, like how often am I sharing my- Okay, it's like, here we are, people that podcast, we've got 900 hours, or a 1000 hours of content of us just spouting our opinions. How assholey are we?

B: George, I think it's like a self-awareness thing. If you're self-aware, it reminds me of a subreddit where the name of the subreddit is Am I the Asshole? And people just say, all right, here's what happened. And this is what I did. Am I the asshole here? And a lot of times, if you could ask that question, that's a great first step. But maybe I am the asshole here. Let me think about this.

J: That subreddit is filled with assholes because they're all saying, no, you're not the asshole. You ever read it? It's just a self-form.

C: I love that subreddit. I think it's, there's a lot of assholes on it.

J: It's fun because the stories are all very unique.

C: But sometimes there are people who aren't assholes.

GH: Do you find in that subreddit that more people are not the asshole in the situation they present or they are? If you had to gauge percentage wise.

C: They are the, I think more are the asshole.

B: I haven't read it extensively, but I'd say, I'd say Jay, have you probably read it more than me, right?

J: Yeah. I mean, not extensively, but I mean the ones that I read, most of the time the person wasn't the asshole.

C: Oh, really?

J: Yeah.

S: But sometimes they were.

B: Sure. Sometimes people like the comments like, dude, you are totally the asshole here.

J: Yeah.

GH: Well, it's sort of like the mark when you're playing poker. They say, if you don't know who the sucker is, it's you. So it's sort of that same idea. If you're in conversation and you don't know who the asshole is, guess what?

C: Do you feel like his explanation sort of lets the asshole off the hook a little bit? I feel like it downplays their responsibility.

GH: I don't know if it's, I don't know if it's saying responsibility. I think it's just saying this is kind of what happens. It wasn't a judgmental thing of like, and therefore we should allow them to spout because they're cool. I think it's just this happens and maybe be more wary that the person that's going to be spouting opinion upon opinion upon opinion will tend to be more wrong and we should be aware of that, which I think we sort of are aware. There's the know it all. I mean, that's another word for asshole on some level.

C: But sometimes that person knows it all.

GH: Absolutely. But that doesn't mean they're going to be wrong any more wrong than they're right. But they've diluted their opinion presentation to the point where-

C: But I think that's where the analogy breaks down. It assumes that everybody has an equal chance of being right and wrong.

S: It does assume that.

C: That's simply not true.

S: It does assume that.

C: Some people are wrong much more often and some people are right much more often.

S: That's true, Cara, but this is, again, this is a philosophical thought experiment. It's a premise. If we assume an equal range of correct and wrong, so if the left is wrong and the right is correct, everyone is a cross. The only difference is your willingness to express opinions about which you have a low confidence that creates a confirmation bias kind of perceptual illusion that assholes are wrong more when it's really just that they're more willing to express wrong opinions. That was an express assumption. That's a premise of the philosophical thought experiment. Just to show you, it's good because there's a couple layers there. One is what we talk about all the time with psychological experiments is that what you're observing may not be what you think you're observing. You're not observing how right or wrong they are. You're observing how willing they are to express low confidence opinions, at least in this thought experiment.

J: So do assholes lack self-awareness?

GH: It's like a filter.

S: This is, I think, a much bigger conversation that this doesn't really address, but we could riff about it. I think, again, the answer is there's a lot of reasons why people who are willing to express low confidence opinions, assholes, if we're using that as a short answer to that.

J: You just pointed at me. (laughter)

S: People like that. I think one is narcissism. We all know that's a personality.

C: Yeah, I feel like that's what it was leaving out.

S: Certainly, that's one type of person who it's all about them. They're just willing. Their ideas are always the most interesting to them or whatever.

C: There's a person who's not very self-aware and there's a person who literally thinks what they say matters more than other people. That's two different categories.

GH: There's the other scale too. There's the person that's very inwardly unconfident who then overcompensates by saying, I'm so self-aware and I'm so unconfident of what I'm going to do. I'm going to just barrel through and yeah, I'm super confident. Wheras you know they're so overcompensating for some larger issue.

C: The penis-shaped rockets.

E: Do they think they're fooling anyone in that process though?

C: Some people, yeah.

S: That's an interesting... You asked a very interesting question. Are people who are doing transparently anti-social or terrible things aware that they are? If you often think, how could this person not be aware of how-

B: That's coming across?

S: -insane what they just said. That guy Tversky, that you mentioned last night, in his book about this, he wrote, actually the scientific literature shows they're perfectly aware of it. They are aware of it, but it's actually-

J: They don't feel bad about it?

S: No, it's not that. It's just-

E: They don't care.

S: It's the lesser of two social evils. You will tell a transparent lie to save face. Even when you know it's transparent, they know it's transparent, but it still is an avoidant of an awkward situation.

C: That's a different scenario because there's also just a level of psychopathy that exists. I think that's people with no remorse and people who will do things simply to get ahead and really don't have moral issues with it.

E: Crush people no matter what the cost.

C: We could probably amend this definition of an asshole and the real, real asshole in the room.

S: It's obviously multi-factor.

J: Do you guys think that this is mostly you're born with it or is it mostly learned behavior?

S: I think it's both. There's social norms.

C: There is a psychopathy brain. People who study this can see patterns in neural architecture, but the interesting thing is that they say that criminality as related to psychopathy often is behavioral. You might have this psychopathy brain, but if you're nurtured and you have a lot of loving interactions and a lot of good social support, you may be unaware of things and make decisions and people in your life are like, oh yeah, you're completely out of step with. But they might not commit crimes, but individuals who might commit violent crimes or have a sort of lack of remorse for criminal behavior, that tends to be because of poverty, because of earlier abuse, because of a lack of social support, things like that.

J: I had this happen to me. I wonder how many people in this room this happens to. Sometimes whatever I'm talking, I'm not joking, this is dead serious. Sometimes I'm talking and I have this flag go up where I'm like, I think I'm talking too much or I think I'm being a little weird right now. I got to dial it back a little bit. Sometimes I get really excited.

E: The inner Jays.

S: That's a good flag to have.

J: I'm wondering if those people, like Steve said, from what I heard you just say, that happens, they feel that, but they're like, I don't care.

S: Sometimes. I think some people don't have the flag. Some people power through the flags and people say, okay, I'm probably being weird here, but it's better than whatever the alternatives are trying to avoid. So, again, there's multiple, which could be, so here.

GH: Or it's a badge of honor too, of like, I'm going to power through this and I don't care what people think because that makes me more valuable.

S: The last thing for this I want to point out is that we are all so far committing the fundamental attribution error, which is we're trying to 100% explain this behavior based entirely on internal factors. Is it this personality trait? Is it that personality trait? We underestimate, grossly underestimate the degree to which people behave because of external factors.

C: True.

S: They're situational. Yes, we're all assholes in certain situations or whatever. So just keep that in mind. It's not all about the internal factors.

C: I think we're committing that error because the assumption, the premise of this is that some people are just assholes in every situation.

J: And that is true.

C: It is true.

J: We're certain of that. Without a doubt.

Vaccine Detox (51:29)[edit]

S: All right, Evan.

E: Yes.

S: I understand that I had my booster recently.

E: Yes, you did.

S: Yeah, the third dose. How can I detox from that? (laughter)

C: Oh, god.

J: Wait, so you accidentally... This isn't a situation where like, I accidentally got vaccinated. Now I got to detox.

S: Well, I had to get vaccinated. I had to get vaccinated for work, but I wanted all those toxins out of me.

J: Now I want to know more, oh, my God.

E: So we're here at the new phase of not accepting the vaccine. Okay. I have to get the vaccine. Fine. I'll play your game. But I'll show you I'm going to detoxify myself and get this vaccine out of my body. All right. Let me start with this though. Here's a study, recent study from the Institute of Strategic Dialogue. And actually this news item that I'm about to talk about has to do with TikTok. Okay? We're familiar. I hope people at least know what TikTok is. I don't use it, but TikTok. From the Institute of Strategic Dialogue, a study, number of videos that they found espousing bad advice about vaccinations, anti-vaccine stuff, 124 videos. Number of views of those 124 videos on TikTok, 20 million views. Number of likes, 1.6 million. Number of shares, 339,000. Okay. So TikTok can take something, a few things, just a few amount of videos and make it sort of this entire platform wide phenomenon in a sense. All right. But back to the question, COVID-19 and detoxing. All right. So there was a video that was posted recently. Her name is Dr. Carrie Mandej, I think. I'm sorry, M-A-D-E-J, however you pronounce that. All right. She's a DO, which is a doctor of osteopath. And she has outlined in this video the ingredients for a bath she said will detox the vax for people who were given the COVID-19 vaccine.

C: A bath?

E: No, yes, a bath. Yep. Yep. A detox bath. So, and here is what she says about it. Here's her suggestion. Here's her detox formula. Baking soda and Epsom salts, because that will provide a radiation detox to remove radiation activated by the vaccine. (Jay laughs) Also bentonite clay as part of the concoction, it will add a major pull of poison because toxins can be removed from the body with these kinds of therapies. And then she recommends adding one cup of Borax.

C: Oh, God.

J: That's not good.

E: Which is a cleaning agent, which has been banned as a food additive by the FDA to take nanotechnologies out of you.

B: Out of you? Why would you want?

C: Nanotech, oh, like the, oh, like the, yeah, the tracker.

E: Right.

J: Borax is the kryptonite of nanites? (laughter)

C: Because those first three things are in like most bath products. So like, I guess we're all half detoxed already.

J: Yeah, I guess so.

C: We take baths.

B: I didn't know we had nanotechnologies like that. That's awesome.

E: Why didn't they tell us that? It would have gotten all, it would have gotten much sooner. So there's several problems here. (laughter) First of all, the concept of detoxing in the first place, let alone, leave even COVID-19 out of it for this moment. What is detoxing?

J: Taking poisons out of your body? I don't know.

E: You ask, ask people who promote the idea of detoxing or who give suggestions, what is the, they cannot define it. They cannot come up with a standard definition, which is why there are, guess what? No good scientific studies about it in which that they, that they can point to. Sure they can point you to something like the goop website, or some other crank website, which will have someone espousing something totally unscientific. So there's no basis in fact for detoxing in the first place. So that's the first.

C: Unless you're literally talking about like drug rehab.

S: Oh, that's different.

C: Exactly. Detoxing from use.

S: That's medical.

C: Yeah, exactly. It's the only real.

S: We use that term in medicine. We're talking about, yeah, you're addicted to opiates and we need to remove them. It's not rehab.

C: It's before you get to.

S: You're acutely, you're an alcoholic and your blood alcohol level is massive and we need to get your alcohol level to zero. That's detox.

C: It's drying out.

E: That's detoxing in the concept though of vaccinations actually isn't new. This has actually been around for a while and it goes back to how bad vaccines are you because it causes autism. And since that whole wave hit us in the late 1990s and early 2000s, there have been suggestions by these anti-vaxxers, detox the vaccines out of your children so that they will, to prevent the autism from taking hold.

S: And specifically Evan, using chelation therapy to remove the mercury.

E: Yep. Chelation therapy.

S: It's the mercury, right?

E: Yep. Metal poisoning, right?

C: Naturopaths love chelation therapy. Have you noticed that? They have to get it in their gut and then they need to use these metals to neutralize the fungus and then they need chelation therapy to get the metals. It's such a common hoax that they-

S: Because it's a procedure you could charge a lot of money for.

C: And it's almost never ending.

GH: Then you have the mouse eat the metals and then a cat eats the mouse.

C: Yes.

GH: The dog eats the cat and the lion eats the dog.

E: I don't know why she swallowed the flag, right? This doctor is a very interesting person. All right, so I looked her up and did a little research on her and some things came up. Let's see. How vaccine technocrats intend to engineer new personality traits through the 5G network and smart devices that link to your social credit system.

B: Obviously.

E: Yep. There's something called liquefied computing systems inside the coronavirus vaccine.

B: Wow.

S: Liquefied computing?

J: Liquefied computing. (laughs)

B: That sounds cool, but it doesn't exist.

E: Her overall philosophy of medicine is that she is practicing the truth in Jesus through medicine.

C: Oh, god.

E: I didn't know Jesus was so technologically advanced.

J: What the fuck is liquefied computing? (laughter) Seriously.

E: It's a liquefied computing system. Look, it's even in quotes right there.

J: Oh my God. Could you imagine having a brain that spits shit out like that? (laughter)

GH: What an asshole.

J: What an asshole. (laughter) Exactly.

E: Back to TikTok for a second. TikTok. Unfortunately, one of the major problems with TikTok is the rate at which these things can go viral. They seem to go... Again, I'm not a TikTok user, but from what I've read and from what I've been told, when you search for something or something pops up and you go and you look for the second video on that, that's it. You're going to get bombarded with whatever it is that subject matter is. Much, much faster than the other social media platforms.

B: Really?

C: Well, it's also TikTok videos are really short.

E: They are. You get the quicker faster stuff.

C: You go into a hole and you look and look and look and look.

E: You can get more and more of them. But they bombard you much faster. Apparently, their algorithms are very good in that regard that they target you much faster than say the other social media platforms out there. Now TikTok seems to acknowledge that this is a problem. That video was taken down. But you know what wasn't taken down? The audio that has been clipped from it, from that video and repurposed in other videos using other images of say reputable scientists or images of actual doctors and nurses with the same audio from the video. And then that gets passed around and so on and so on.

J: Evan, YouTube has a way of detecting familiar audio. That's not that hard of a technology. They just are choosing not to do it.

E: This is called apparently sounds, which is the soundtrack for these videos. It's considered a feature in TikTok because I guess this is how the TikTok culture works is that, hey, whatever Beyonce did this, said something funny or had a cool little riff here. Now I'm going to take that audio and I'm going to now apply it to all sorts of different cats dancing.

GH: Well, they do lip syncing. You do lip syncing stuff.

E: Lip syncing among that as well. So it's apparently a feature to take audio from certain videos and then apply it to other things. So that is being utilized by the anti-vaxxers to help spread this misinformation. Very dangerous.

S: Right. So it's actually part of the platform. All the more reason why they should absolutely be able to identify it.

J: Yeah.

E: Yes.

C: If they want to.

E: Yes. And they say that they are successful to a degree, but they apparently can't...

J: They can do it. That is complete nonsense.

C: But it also just goes to show that if you want to spread around a dangerous idea, the next platform, the next way you're going to figure out the best way to utilize it. You're going to go... There are people who do this for a living. It's like, okay, how do we market on TikTok? It's a different way that you market on TikTok than you do on Instagram, than you do on Facebook, than you do on Twitter. Yeah. It doesn't matter what the platform is. Someone's going to figure out how to use it and use it to their advantage.

E: Absolutely.

J: But I hold the platform way more responsible.

C: Oh, they should be held more responsible than they are held. I don't hold them fully responsible though.

J: Yeah. I agree.

GH: Can I say one thing before we do the next bit? I saw this speaking of TikTok. It wasn't a TikTok, but I saw this little meme today and this made me smile. There was a water fountain that had the sign that basically said, water for you. You want to have some water? But it said H2O and then the number four and you.So H2O4U. And someone else put a sign saying, please do not drink the uranium dioxide peroxide. (laughter)

E: Know your chemistry folks.

B: I love it.

GH: I thought that was awesome. I thought that was so funny. But yes, I'm ready.

Special Segment: Would you rather? (1:01:25)[edit]

S: All right, George, we've been holding onto this bit for a while, but we really wanted to get to it on this show. You have a couple of these psychology cards that Cara provided and you're going to ask us some of the questions on these cards.

GH: Yeah. A fun way I think to do this would be to just get your initial reaction and then we can explain. We'll just go right down the line, starting with Cara. We'll just go straight down the line, A or B, whatever it is.

S: Just quick reaction.

GH: Quick reaction and then we can kind of go back and explain. So the very first question is, would you rather never read another book or never watch another movie?

C: Never watch another movie.

S: Book.

J: Book.

GH: Never read another book.

E: Book.

B: Book. I'm more of an audio book dude.

S: Does that mean not listen to books?

B: Not in my mind, really.

J: Bob, just answer the question.

C: Bob always tries to hack would you rather. Always.

GH: Totally hacks. Totally hacks it.

C: Wow.

S: Can I read the book in Braille, George? Is that okay?

GH: Can someone read the book to me? Is that possible?

C: You guys are all willing to give up books?

S: Well, because you can read articles. You can read stuff.

E: There's other ways to consume the information.

C: But not literature.

S: I know.

J: Cara, never seeing Star Wars again, that's not on the menu.

C: I'm perfectly okay with that. I'm filled with my Star Wars quota.

GH: I wonder how much it would extend to magazines and stuff. But yeah, it did say book.

S: It did say book. It did say book.

C: So then I can still watch TV. I just can't watch movies.

B: What about a novella? Is that considered a book?

C: Yes, a novella is a book. It's a little book.

B: Not a short story. Not a little book. Short story.

GH: I want you to really take a second and think about this, okay? Like really, really think about this. Because you're going to have, most of you are going to have the answer that comes to it. But I want you to really think about it. Would you rather explore space or the ocean?

S: I mean, it depends. (laughter) I hate to say that.

GH: I know.

S: If I had a FTL ship and could go to other solar systems than space, but if I'm stuck in this solar system in the ocean.

J: Yeah, that's a good...

GH: Yeah, I would say the way we are now.

C: Yeah, with the technology you have.

S: The technology we have now, definitely the ocean.

GH: Jay?

J: I would absolutely abstain from doing both. (laughter)

C: Yeah, that's fair.

GH: You just want to watch Star Wars. That's all you want.

J: I want to be on the surface of the planet where I can breathe.

C: That's fair.

J: I'm serious. I have no interest.

S: Relatively anyway.

GH: Not you personally. I'm not saying you have to throw money towards one. Let's say you have unlimited funds. You can throw a billion dollars towards space exploration or a billion dollars towards ocean exploration.

J: Space.

C: Ocean.

S: That's a different question.

C: I still say ocean. You say space.

GH: You say space, Steve?

S: I mean, they're both really important. (laughter)

E: Wow, you stumped Steve.

GH: Evan, what do you got?

E: Ocean.

GH: Why?

E: Oh, because, look, we have one planet. We have to know as much as we can know about it. If that means having to sacrifice what's happening in freaking 23 million light years away, so be it.

GH: Okay. Bob?

B: Space. I mean, we have one solar system. (laughter)

GH: What do you think the returns would be on your billion dollar investment in terms of discovery or societal wealth? Let's say a trillion dollars. A trillion dollars in space exploration versus a trillion dollars in ocean exploration, which is going to have a bigger net positive on society?

S: Ocean.

C: Ocean.

S: The ROI is going to be better.

J: Ocean.

GH: Ocean.

J: You would detox the ocean.

C: It's understanding our impact on the environment.

J: Using liquid computer systems. (laughter) We make the ocean a liquid computer. That's what I spend my trillion on.

GH: Love it.

J: Jeff Bezos can suck it. (laughter)

GH: All right. Here's a fun one. What's the thing that you like that creeps other people out? Let's start with Bob.

B: Zombies.

S: Good answer.

B: I could keep going. I mean, zombies is one.

GH: Zombies is top. All right. All right. Evan?

E: Pineapple on pizza.

GH: Very controversial.

E: It does creep some people out.

GH: It's true. Jay?

J: Bob. (laughter)


J: I like to put relish. Basically, it's like a chopped up pickle. I like to put that in cottage cheese.

C: Eww.

B: Cottage cheese?

GH: Okay. It's good. At least it's another food. I didn't know where this was going. You chop up the food. [inaudible]

J: There's not many people that know about this. It has like a what? There's something wrong, but I like it.

GH: Do you call it something special? What do you call it?

J: I don't. I just been doing it since I was a kid.

GH: Can we have a name for that at some point?

J: All right.

E: J-Sauce.

GH: J-Juice? J-Sauce?

J: I want to call it Picklage.

GH: Picklage. All right.

E: Pass on that.

GH: Steve, what do you got?

S: I'll give you two answers because I have a food answer. My food answer is I really like pizza bagels on cinnamon raisin bagels. They're better than you think.

GH: Wow. That's kind of the pineapple thing.

S: Give it a try.

GH: It's sort of the sweet sour, yeah.

S: But non-food related is dead bodies.

GH: You like dead bodies.

S: Well, I like anatomy. I've always been fascinated by it. There's a famous story of me coming into the house with a half decomposed muskrat because I wanted to show everybody how cool it was.

GH: Okay.

S: And my mother totally freaking out. So that is the definition, I think, of that question.

GH: Cara?

C: Yeah, I mean, I think similar to Steve, like if you were... Well, my house has a lot of like skulls and taxidermy and stuff, but if you were to look at my Instagram reels, it's puppies, dead bodies, pathology videos and pimple popping videos.

B: That's gross.

E: No thanks.

C: Some people get it, some people don't.

J: I remember watching one. I don't like it. I don't like it. I think it's wrong.

C: I know a lot of people don't. I don't know if you can handle either, but especially like, let's say, blackheads. None of you get it. You get it.

J: I will never forget this video.

C: It's so satisfying.

J: This guy had like... It was like a big one. It was bad. And you could hear people talking like, what are you getting? They literally cut the guy. And then the stuff comes out and a girl that's in the way background goes, you could smell it. And I was like, I am never watching this crap again.

C: You got a bad one for like a starter video.

J: Ask Steve. Remember I asked Steve, what was that? He's like, it's pus. It smells.

C: Yeah, of course.Of course.

J: Yeah, stay away from that.

S: It's dead cells.

C: So, you know, it's a thing. Some people, there's a whole...

S: Is that an ASMR thing for you or just like you like the release of the eruption of pus from the...

C: I think... Actually, and sorry to get like super... I actually don't like the super like pussy ones. It's like a blackhead popping video is way more satisfying to me. It's just like something...

S: Do you ever have a dream?

C: Coming out of a thing.

S: That you're doing it and like stuff just keeps coming and coming and coming.

C: I've never had that dream. (laughter)

E: That wasn't a dream.

C: But they are definitely like, I don't know. It's like, I don't know. Yeah.

GH: There's your isolated sound bit. Steve's saying, ever have the dream where you're coming and coming and coming? (laughter) That's my new ringtone.

S: That's going to be on TikTok. That's the new audio on TikTok.

GH: Would you rather have a rewind button or a pause button on your life?

J: On reality?

GH: On reality. Rewind or pause?

C: Pause.

GH: Why, Cara?

C: I'm not a big ruminator. I think some people tend towards more like depressive symptomatology, some towards anxiety, some towards both, some towards neither. Obviously, I see patients a lot and I read about a lot of this stuff, so I've sampled a lot of people's proclivities. I'm not a very anxious person and I don't think about the past very often. I'm not constantly going, I wish I would have said this or I wish that would have gone differently. It's just not my personality. I would love to have more quality time in the times when things matter. Being able to say, this is a moment I want to have last longer, I would love to be able to do that. But going back and replaying things that already happened is just not that interesting to me.

GH: Steve?

S: I could think of fantastic users for both of them. I think I'd have to go with the rewind button. Even just for that one moment in your life where you're like, I really wish I could take those last three seconds back. Car accident level things, that kind of stuff. You drop something really expensive and as it's about to shatter, you're like, I wish it was two seconds ago. I think I would miss not having the rewind button more than the pause button.

J: Details matter. How long could you rewind? You asked the question.

GH: I think it's a significant rewind. I don't know if we're talking years, but I would say you could probably go within a day easily, a couple hours.

J: I mean rewind, just for saving lives alone. I would have saved my friend Michael Ordocelli's life. I found out he died about four hours after he died. All I had to do was call him up and say, don't ride your goddamn motorcycle. You know what I mean? On a personal level, but you know, if you see the thing is you could turn yourself into a goddamn mystic and then people would listen to you and your rewind power would actually change the world. And of course, George, we have to change the world. So I would totally pick rewind.

GH: But then it's like, then we get into this whole sort of Twilight Zone thing of like, then it's your responsibility. And then is your life like, you just got to be walking around everywhere looking for accidents.

J: I would become a superhero called Mr. Rewind.

E: Dr. Rewind.

S: But only after you won a few lotteries, right?

J: I put a lot of padding in there, boys.

GH: Evan, what do you think?

E: There's a lot more, less potential unintended consequences with a pause. But with that said, mainly the reason Steve said it's the rewind. You need that for those moments in which something really severe happened or occurred that you just have to get corrected. And for that reason, I'm tending towards the rewind button, but with all the responsibility that goes hand in hand with that.

GH: Okay. Roberto?

B: It's a no brainer. It's got to be the rewind. It's mainly, I mean, but it's two things. Yeah, I'll save lives. Yeah, I'll do that. But I'm also going to get stinking rich. I mean, I see Powerball, $350, $600 million. I would so win that.

J: You're right, Bob.

B: And then the next time it was 300 million, I'd win that too. And I'd feel awful.

C: And no one would ever catch on.

S: You could do it twice and get away with it.

B: Absolutely.

J: The rewind power would let you become godlike. You would be able to change the world in a profound way.

S: It's like a movie about the video game.

E: Yeah, it's the unintended consequences. You can't see the change you made, how is that then alter the future?

C: Well, also-

S: You'll never know. Don't worry about it.

B: It's only a day. We won't know.

C: How does it affect your personal growth? And I think this is the thing that's missing is that sometimes bad shit happens in the world. I don't think it happens for a reason. I don't believe that. But I think that you grow from it. You learn from it. Things change because of it. And I think sometimes we need the good and the bad shit in our lives in order to develop.

GH: Star Trek 5, baby. Star Trek 5. I need my cane. I need my cane and I want my cane.

J: We're not talking about finding and doing all the bad things that happen. You're looking at it from a very gross perspective.

C: Don't you think you would abuse this power?

J: Absolutely.

E: That is the point. Yeah. You have to have the responsibility.

B: And I'm ready to abuse it.

C: Just owns it.

S: So anyway, what I find most interesting is that Cara gave... Cara framed this question entirely psychologically, the psychologist. Evan, the accountant, framed this as risk aversion. And Bob J and I sort of the science technophiles, it's all pragmatic. 100% pragmatic.

J: George, what's your answer?

GH: Well, I love... I mean, there's a couple of movies that have used that idea of stopping time. And just like the practical jokes you could do would be really great. Just like from that...

C: That would be hilarious.

GH: The pure thing. Or I mean, to really... As someone who likes to observe things, to be able to observe a frozen moment in absolute detail would be...

E: If you have to rewind it, just rewind it, play it, stop, rewind.

GH: Yeah. But I mean, whether it's a waterfall or whether it's a rock concert or whether it's a... Who knows? Like a building's explosion or something, to be able to pause and walk through that and really get a sense of how it works and what's going on.

S: All right. Let me throw one more thing at you though. With a rewind button, think of the scientific experiments you can do.

GH: Absolutely.

S: You can literally alter a variable, alter a variable, see how it turns out. It could do perfect.

GH: That's true.

C: You could probably do a lot of cool shit if you could freeze time too.

S: Yeah. I say both are massively useful.

C: So like a lot of cool science by freezing time. Maybe it's more like cosmology, but...

GH: What's interesting though is that in a way, we sort of can do this, which is the coolest thing. We have the ability to freeze time. We have the ability to rewind by using devices and machines and stuff.

S: To some extent.

GH To some extent, yeah. It's not a fully immersive thing, but we're probably getting closer and closer to the equivalent of a pause button in terms of virtual reality, in terms of enhanced reality and a rewind thing or whatever. I'm reminded of the Rick and Morty episode with the pause button or the rewind, the life overdue.

B: Yes, the redo.

GH: The redo button.

B: Oh my god.

GH: I don't know how many fans there are, but that was a brilliant episode.

B: Wow. That ending.

E: You know what else life needs is a volume control. Just turn some people down.

GH: Mute. That'd be good. That'd be good.

C: I agree.

J: George, before you go on-

S: One more quick one more.

GH: Yeah.

J: Let's do it. I want the audience to quickly... I want to see the audience's answers. So if you would like the rewind button, raise your hand.

S: Let's do the clap.

GH: If you just real clap together, my hand comes down. So yeah. So what's the first one?

C: Rewind.

GH: So rewind, clap (audience claps) or pause, clap (audience claps).

B: Wow.

E: That's rewind.

GH: A little more rewind.

S: More balancing.

GH: And the rewind is fiction. (laughter) So one more. Do you want to witness from a safe place, and you can witness all of the grandeur of this, totally safe, the start of the universe or the end of the universe?

J: Start. I would argue that you can't see the end of the universe.

C: You have to just suspend disbelief and say that you can.

E: Come on.

C: It's baked into the premise of the question.

J: I like the beginning. It's better.

B: It's got to be the start because the end is boring.

S: It's the end to nothing.

B: Oh, look at the heat death of the universe. Big deal. Nothing's happening by definition.

E: How could you see the end? There's no light left. So you really couldn't.

C: Again. Again.

GH: You're watching this externally from some godlike kind of...

J: You could stop time and you can watch.

C: I think the beginning, because it answers questions we literally don't know the answers to. We don't know how the beginning of the universe started. We have a lot of good ideas about how the universe might end. And so...

GH: That's true.

C: We might actually gain knowledge that's completely out of like... It's like either we're going to confirm or reject hypotheses or we might actually have a spark of inspiration. And that sounds more...

B: But I mean, depending. If you see an end of the universe, that's not like the heat death. Say it's the big rip scenario. That would be very important to know because that means that our universe is not quite what we think right now.

C: But would it be more important to know than the beginning of the universe?

S: Yeah, I sure you don't want to know about the psychological impact of [inaudible] this.

C: No. At this point...

S: The beginning or the end of the universe?

C: At this point, you are all alone and literally nothing else exists. You're pretty fucked. You're pretty well fucked psychologically.

GH: I mean, I think the show in the beginning is much more interesting, but there is a certain poetic beauty to seeing that final tick just like stop and kind of like be in that moment of...

B: Entropy maxima.

C: There's also sadness.

GH: Absolutely.

C: There's a joy and a sadness.

GH: It's like a perfect sadness, which in its own way is like unachievable except at the very end.

J: Yeah, but George, the explosion...

GH: Oh, I know. It's a better show. It's a better show.

C: See, George answers like an artist.

E: Maybe the end is better because if you had the rewind button, you could go back and you can't do that at the beginning because there is nothing to rewind to.

B: Who knows? You don't know, right?

C: We can combine the cards.

B: What happened before the Big Bang? That's a big question.

J: All right. That was the questions?

S: That's it. Now we're moving on to Science or Fiction.

Science or Fiction (1:17:54)[edit]

Answer Item
Fiction Labopa
Science Tommyknockers
Slide-Rock Bolter
Host Result
Steve clever
Rogue Guess
Slide-Rock Bolter
Slide-Rock Bolter
Theme: Cryptozoology of the Rocky Mountains

Item #1: Tommyknockers are short green men in miner’s clothing thought responsible for making knocking noises to alert miners of impending cave-ins, or perhaps to cause them.[5]
Item #2: The Slide-Rock Bolter is a lumberjack legend of a monstrous whale that lives high in the mountains of Colorado, believed to slide down steep mountain sides, gulping up unsuspecting tourists along the way.[6]
Item #3: The Labopa are believed to be living rock fairies that feast on small animals, pets, and even children, and are thought to have been inspired by misidentified local petroglyphs.[7]

Voice-over: It's time for Science or Fiction.

S: All right. Each week, I come up with three science news items or facts, two real, one fake, and then I challenge my panel of skeptical experts to tell me which one is the fake. We have a theme this week. The theme is not Fort Collins. Sorry.

E: Raft Breweries.

S: The theme is-

GH: Joan Collins.

S: Cryptozoology of the Rocky Mountains.

C: Oh, god.

S: Okay.

J: Okay.

S: All right?

C: Very specific.

S: Item #1: Tommyknockers are short green men in miners' clothing thought responsible for making knocking noises to alert miners of impending cave-ins or perhaps to cause them. Item #2: The Slide-Rock Bolter is a lumberjack legend of a monstrous whale that lives high in the mountains of Colorado believed to slide down steep mountain sides gulping up unsuspecting tourists along the way.

B: A whale.

C: A whale?

S: A whale.

C: A mountain whale.

S: Mountain whale.

C: Land shark.

S: Item #3: The Labopa are believed to be living rock fairies that feast on small animals, pets, and even children and are thought to have been inspired by misidentified local petroglyphs. Okay. We're going to go in the opposite direction this time, we're from Bob versus George. You're going to go first this time.

George's Response[edit]

GH: Oh, my goodness.

S: If you need to look at the screen.

GH: Tommyknockers is a Stephen King story, I believe.

B: Yeah.

C: Yeah.

GH: Oh, my gosh. Miners' clothing, little green men in miners' clothing. I'm going to say that's science. (laughter) The whale, the mountain, mountain.

S: That's real, they exist.

E: In the context of the game.

GH: In the context of this particular game, that's going to, yeah. The whale seems odd and now a lot of these sort of stories tend to be incongruous, but that seems really incongruous, a whale coming down the mountain doing the thing. And the rock fairies, I would think would make sense. I'm going to just say that the whale, the second one, is the fiction fiction. Super fiction.

S: Okay. Cara?

Cara's Response[edit]

C: I'm liking the Labopa, living rock fairies that feast on small animals, pets, and even children thought to have been inspired by misidentified local petroglyphs. So this is obviously ancient. The idea here is that, yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, this is, I don't know. I buy this one. It might just be very good scripting on Steve's part. The Sliderock Bolter is ludicrous. The lumberjack legend of a whale that lives in the mountains who slides down, I guess that's Sliderock Bolter though. He gulps up unsuspecting tourists and then bolts away maybe? And Tommyknockers, I'm trying to remember that freaking book. They're like apparitions, I think, making knocking noises to alert miners. The Tommy knockers are coming of cave-ins. I don't know why, I think you went with the Sliderock Bolter. I'm going to say the Tommyknockers are fiction. I think maybe there's something else. I don't know. It's one of the-

S: Okay.

J: Did you make up the one that isn't correct?

S: I'm not telling you.

C: Oh, he's never doing it.

S: Go ahead, Jay.

Jay's Response[edit]

J: Because I would think that your brain would come up with the word Labopa. So I am going to say that that one is the fiction, the one that you made up.

C: Oh, no sweep. Nice.

S: Okay. I like being spread out.

C: Yeah, no sweep.

S: Go ahead, Evan.

Evan's Response[edit]

E: Can I poll the audience?

S: No.

E: Can you stop me?

S: Yes.

E: All right. First one's about miners. The second one's about tourists and the third one's about animals. Well, okay. Miners, tourists, animals. Miners yes, animals yes, tourists? That doesn't make sense. Fiction. (Jay laughs)

S: All right. And Bob.

Bob's Response[edit]

B: The whale one is just ridiculous. So I think that's science.

E: That's the tourist one.

B: You want us to think you want us to pick that one.

J: I'm suspecting tourists.

B: Tommyknockers is fiction.

E: Right?

C: We did this last night too.

B: And I blew it last night.

S: We have George and Bob are Tommyknockers.

C: No.

S: No, no. Cara and Bob are Tommyknockers. George and Evan are the-

C: Whales.

S: Whales. And Jay's alone with Labopa. All right. So now-

J: (sings La Bamba tune) La-la-la-la la bopa!

C: I went there too.

S: George. Can you poll the audience?

GH: I'll do it.

Audience's Response[edit]

S: Who thinks that the Tommyknockers are the fiction? If that's the fiction, then clap. (few claps) If you think that the slide rock bolter is the fiction, clap (a lot of claps). And if you think that Labopa is the fiction, clap (few claps). All right. So clearly the slide rock bolter was the audience favorite as the fiction.

C: Really? I thought they sounded the exact same.

GH: It was close. It was pretty close.

S: No, no, no. It was definitely.

C: Oh, okay.

S: All right. So I guess I'll take this in order since we're all spread apart.

Steve Explains Item #1[edit]

S: So Tommyknockers are short green men in miners' clothing thought responsible for making knocking noises to alert miners of impending cave-ins or perhaps cause them. Cara and Bob think that this is the fiction and this one is science. This is an actual crypto.

C: Is that what they are in the Stephen King book too?

B: No. No.

S: No. I think he's used the name.

C: That sucks.

S: Yes?

'Audience: There's a brewery called Tommy knockers.

S: A what?

C: A brewery?

GH: A brewery.

E: A brewery called Tommyknockers.

S: It's a cool name, Tommyknockers is cool. Do you know where the legend comes from? From actual miners in the Rocky Mountains, but because a lot of, there were a lot of Cornish miners that were hired because they were experts. They were brought over to bootstrap the mining industry here and they brought this legend over with them of the Tommyknockers. All right. So we'll go to number two.

Steve Explains Item #2[edit]

S: The Slide Rock Bolter is a lumberjack legend of a monstrous whale that lives high up in the mountains of Colorado believed to slide down steep mountain sides gulping up unsuspecting tourists along the way. George and Evan think this one is a fiction. The minority of the audience think this one is the fiction and this one is science.

E: Oh, tourists.

S: Yes. A monstrous mountain whale that gulps up people as it slides down the mountain. Not sure how this originated. It was more from landslides or whatever, but yep.

J: They left out the keyword a bunch of drunk lumberjacks.

S: Or maybe, yeah, or to explain why tourists go missing because they sometimes go missing for other reasons.

C: Why a whale?

S: I know, because it's.

E: Either they fell off the cliff or a whale ate them.

J: So did you make up the last one?

Steve Explains Item #3[edit]

S: So all this means that the Labopa are believed to be living rock fairies that feast on small animals, pets, and even children and are thought to be inspired by misidentified local petroglyphs is the fiction.

B: Nice.

S: I completely made this up.

B: Good one.

S: I did, however, source a couple of pieces of it. Labopa is the end of a much larger word that is some South American cryptozoology. And there are lots of fairies and even rock fairy legends here and there. But I put it all together.

GH: Are there fairies in North America though? Because that sounds to me like more of a European.

S: Yeah, it is.

GH: There's not many North American fairies. Yeah, shoot. I should have thought.

S: But again, but they get imported. So it's hard to say. The Tommykcnockers are totally imported.

E: Lucrative trade.

S: Totally.

J: So everybody that voted with me stand up and take a bow. I won by myself. You're not making a big deal out of it.

S: Good solo win.

C: Yay, Jay. (applause)

GH: Nicely done.

J: I'm sure that you made the word Labopa.

S: I mostly did. I just quite shorting it.

J: It just sounds like something Steve would make up. Labopa.

S: Labopa.

Skeptical Quote of the Week (1:25:47)[edit]

Science has never been defined by infallibility or superhuman perfection. It has always been about healthy skepticism, about putting every hypothesis to the test.
Ben Orlin, American author & illustrator

S: All right. Evan, give us a quote.

E: "Science has never been defined by the infallibility or superhuman perfection. It has always been about healthy skepticism, about putting every hypothesis to the test." Ben Orlin, author of Math with Bad Drawings.

S: Math with Bad Drawings.

C: Oh, I've had him on my show. I like that guy. Yeah, he's fun. He was fun.

S: All right. Well, listen, it's been a lot of fun to be in Fort Collins, in Colorado. Thanks for having us here. Guys, thanks for joining us on the show this week.

J: You go it Steve.

C: Thanks Steve.

E: Thank you so much, Steve.


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

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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