Podcast #55 - August 9th, 2006
Interview with Steve Salerno; News Items: Happy Birthday James Randi, Archimedes Palimpsest; Your E-mails and Questions: Science and Falsifiability, Skeptics track record, FDA; Science or Fiction; Skeptical Puzzle
- Happy Birthday James Randi www.randi.org/
James Randi turned 78 on August 7th
- Archimedes Palimpsest www.exploratorium.edu/archimedes/webcast.html
Questions and E-mails
- Falsifiable claims Is it possible to logically prove that if a statement about the existence of something is non-falsifiable then the existence of such a thing is also not physically possible?
Another Item: Science hasn't established a strong basis for every single action of every single person in the universe in every single moment. We all have to act before having a complete chain of reasoning based on perfect premises. This is tragic in the case of politicians. Obviously, it is best to have as much reasoning as possible prior to acting. Do any of The Skeptics Guide hosts think that they have a rational ultimate basis for any of their beliefs or actions? If so, I'd love to hear it.
- FDA During several shows you've discussed the need to regulate supplements. The problem seems to be that people use these in response to exaggerated claims by the manufacturers. But people often choose to buy items based on hype. That is their choice. People also do research, talk to their doctor, and listen to skeptics when making a buying decision. Note the popularity of reviews, consumer reports, etc. This is also their
The problem with regulation is not just that you restrict choice to the 'right' choices, but that you actually kill lots more people. Not being able to use a drug that can save your life is the worst side effect of regulation.
For documentation on the extent of this problem read the well researched article at
- Mike Spalding
- Skeptics Track Record I have been avidly listening to your podcast for the past few months, and it makes my time on the gym treadmill fly past. I am curious if there has there been anything that has occurred in the past thirty to forty years that a skeptic in circa 1966 would have found hard to believe, but has turned out to be fact or at least generally accepted as scientifically true.
Please do a segment on 'weather control.' It appears to be a growing topic of concern in the alternative late night AM radio crowd.
BTW: I reside near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and I witnessed the media circus that was the 'Dover' creation-science case. Locally, people fell into two distinct camps: 1) they were embarrassed that the Dover School District was making our corner of the country appear to be a back woods land of rednecks, or 2) could not fathom why it was at all a big event, or incorrect to teach creation-science in the school.
I think the majority of the pro-creation-science folks have their hearts in the right place, but simply do not understand the dividing line between what is science, and ought to be taught in the public school, and what is religion and ought to be taught at bible study or CCD.
Maintain your high quality standards. Best of Luck
Nigel St. Whitehall
Partial list of topics the skeptical community was 'skeptical' of circa 1966:
Homeopathy, Chiropractic, UFO's, alien abductions, ESP, Atlantis, the Bermuda Triangle, Pyramidology, hollow earth, velikovsky, Dianetics, perpetual motion machines, Lysenkoism.
- Interview with Steve Salerno Steve Salerno is the author of SHAM: How the Self Help Movement Made America Helpless:
This is Steve's second appearance on the Skeptics Guide. He is here to give us an update on the self help movement.
Article by Steve Salerno:
Science or Fiction [ Show Answers ]
- Question #1 Science New study confirms previous study showing that infants as young as 6 months old have a basic understanding of arithmetic.
- Question #2 Fiction New study demonstrates that some plants can induce specific mutations in order to direct their own evolution in response to environmental stress
- Question #3 Science Medical researchers have developed a method to allow patients to breath through their abdomens.
- Puzzle Last Week's puzzle:
You have just made a cup of coffee but haven't put the milk in yet. The doorbell rings so it may take a couple of minutes before you can drink it. If you like your coffee hot, is it better to add the milk before answering the door or after you return.
Answer: Pour the milk in first. The rate of heat transfer is proportional to the difference in temperature. So the hot coffee will lose heat quicker than the slightly cooled coffee after pouring in the milk.
He was born in the late 1800's in the eastern region of the Austro-Hungarian empire (Ukraine). After fighting in WWI he studied medicine in Vienna. By age 21, he began a private practice as an 'analytic psychiatrist' and was considered a pioneer in the study of human sexuality.
During his research, he believed he had discovered a 'unique energetic life force'. He claimed it was present in all of nature, and was a death defying entity. He attempted to apply his 'life force' theory to research in medical endeavors such as cancer treatment, although he was largely ignored and often criticized by the mainstream scientific community - criticism he took as personal attacks.
He immigrated to the United States just as World War II was beginning. His advocacy of the alleged therapeutic benefits of his life force based inventions (such as a life force detector) caused him legal trouble with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He died on at the age of 60 in a US Federal Penitentiary. He was jailed for criminal contempt because he refused to obey an injunction against selling quack medical devices.
Who was he, and what was the name of the life force he claimed to have discovered?