Podcast #63 - October 4th, 2006
Interview with Michael Shermer - Author of Why Darwin Matters; News Items: Skepchick-dude Calendars, Sexual arousal, Harry Potter; Your E-mails and Questions: Autism, Skepticism and sensitivity; Name That Logical Fallacy; Randi Speaks: Business Astrology; Science or Fiction; Skeptical Puzzle
- 2007 Skepchick Calendar 2007 Skepchick and Skepdude Calendars now available
- Female arousal study Study finds women arouse as quickly as men
- Harry Potter ban Woman pushes for ban on Harry Potter, warns of more school shootings
Questions and E-mails
- Cure for Autism Hello skeptical comrades,
I am an avid listener of about three months and I love the show, great job. I have a question concerning autism. My mother teaches at an elementary school and has dealt with many kinds on children. This year she has a student who supposedly has been cured of autism. Supposedly it was due to the purifying of his body of harmful metals. Here is a link to a site with the story:
I am not all that convinced that it is true as my mom still thinks he posses autistic flags. However, I am not totally dismissing it as when I was young, and very sick, my mother took me off my medications as they were causing me to be very sick and weakening my immune system. She then gave me garlic pills and they were able to help me regain some of my immunity. So, is it possible to cure autism in this way? Or any way at all?
Las Vegas, Nevada
Article by Dr. Novella on Vaccines and Autism
- Bite your tongue Hi Guys (and Rebecca),
Love the show - keep up the great work!
My question is this: I'm working on my PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota and am addicted to science. I come from a small town, and thought you guys might have some advice about how to deal with family members who believe in pseudoscience. My mother is the worst (I'm ashamed to admit she's purchased magnetic insoles for her shoes, and is now taking classes in reflexology). I find it very difficult to bite my tongue, but cannot find a way to discuss the claims without sounding condescending or disrespecting. It makes her happy and I don't want to crush her - as long as she's not scamming people, is there any harm to smiling and letting her talk about her newest psuedoscience craze?
Thanks so much,
- Girl Excreting Glass Dr. Novella,
I learned of this article from a 'alternative' podcast regarding a young girl from Nepal who is allegedly excreting glass pieces from her forehead. (Not all skeptics exclusively listen to just their side of the science/paranormal divide.) I suspect a fraud. It does remind me of the recent tales of people in the United States who are alleged to emit pieces of thread from their skin. What could be next? People who perspire petrol? I thought you might find it of interest.
Please keep up the excellent work. Your show is a real pleasure to listen to each week.
Name That Logical Fallacy
- Logical Fallacies I came across this message on the web a while back. I suppose it is some kind of inspirational message, although it doesn't work very well for me. I thought you might like to use it in one of your 'Name That Logical Fallacy' segments, since it seems to be a pretty typical example of the shoddy reasoning used by a lot of people. One of my (Christian) friends actually thought it was very insightful, which is why I find it interesting: it's something that seems reasonable from a distance, but that perception disappears when you look at the details.
'Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark, and a large group of professionals built the Titanic.'
- Interview with Michael Shermer Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, the Director of the Skeptics Society, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, the host of the Skeptics Lecture Series at Caltech, and the co-host and producer of the 13-hour Fox Family television series, Exploring the Unknown. He is the author of In Darwin's Shadow, about the life and science of the co-discoverer of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace. He also wrote The Borderlands of Science, about the fuzzy land between science and pseudoscience, and Denying History, on Holocaust denial and other forms of historical distortion. His book How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God, presents his theory on the origins of religion and why people believe in God. He is also the author of Why People Believe Weird Things, a book that was widely and positively reviewed and landed on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list as well as the New Sciences science books bestseller list in England. Dr. Shermer is also the author of Teach Your Child Science and co-authored Teach Your Child Math and Mathemagics.
He is with us to talk about his latest book, Why Darwin Matters.
Dr. Shermer received his B.A. in psychology from Pepperdine University, M.A. in experimental psychology from California State Univesity, Fullerton, and his Ph.D. in the history of science from Claremont Graduate School. Since his creation of the Skeptics Society, Skeptic magazine, and the Skeptics Lecture Series at Caltech, he has appeared on such shows as 20/20, Dateline, Charlie Rose, Tom Snyder, Donahue, Oprah, Sally, Lezza, Unsolved Mysteries, and other shows as a skeptic of weird and extraordinary claims, as well as on documentaries aired on A & E, Discovery, and The Learning Channel
The Skeptics Society: www.skeptic.com
- James Randi The Uncompromising Observations of a Veteran Skeptic
Each week James Randi gives a skeptical commentary in his own unique style.
This week's topic: Business Astrology
Science or Fiction [ Show Answers ]
- Question #1 Science Researchers are developing a 'protective' virus that they claim with prevent or treat any strain of the flu.
- Question #2 Science As if it did not have enough uses, new research now shows that aspirin is an effective treatment for cancer.
- Question #3 Fiction New study published in the Journal of Nutrition finds that chocolate chip cookies are as effective as prescription drugs in treating major depression.
- Puzzle Last week's Puzzle:
A ash-bark perpetual motion machine was conceived a very long time ago.
Who proposed it?
(Hint: the answer lies within the statement itself.)
Quote of the Week
- Quote 'Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.'