Podcast #68 - November 8th, 2006
News Items: Kent Hovind Convicted, UFO Mocumentary, Bigfoot in Academia, Learn while you Sleep, Dolphin Legs; Your E-mails and Questions: Edgar Cayce, Quantum Love, Distribution of Pseudoscience, Workplace Skepticism; Science or Fiction; Skeptical Puzzle
- Kent Hovind Convicted of tax fraud www.pensacolanewsjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061102/NEWS01/611020330/1006
- UFO Mocumentary www.mediasyndicate.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=5315&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0
- Bigfoot scientist www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/11/04/america/NA_GEN_US_Professor_Bigfoot.php
- Learn While you Sleep www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=17732&ch=biotech
- Dolphin with Leg Dolphin with Leg
Questions and E-mails
- Edgar Cayce Steve,
I actually have two issues to email you about but Ill do it in two separate emails. Im emailing you from Cochrane, AB, Canada.
I listen to your podcast weekly, I am an active skeptic as you are.
Anyhow, I am wondering about this Edgar Cayce fellow. So many people point to him as being a true psychic, and the anecdotal claims seem impressive. He even seems to have not benefited financially from his abilities, which is also an interesting wrinkle.
That said, I dont believe it, I am just wondering who, if anyone, has completed any comprehensive skeptical review of Edgar Cayces abilities/prophecies etc.?
Whats your opinion on it?
Thanks and keep up the good work.
Bart G. Farkas
Cochrane, AB, Canada
Skeptical info on Cayce
- Quantum Love Hi,
I have just discovered podcasts and namely your podcast and love the humour, sarcasm and education, I am certainly learning ways to analyze what I see and hear. So thanks. I apologize ahead of time for my easily picked apart questions, I am not practiced enough at analyzing my own questions to tighten them up, so I am a little nervous sending this in as I am sure it will get ridiculed... but whatever, I am curious.
As for for my question, 2 in fact.
1) I find that when I tell my girlfriend (from watching one too many documentaries) that love is nothing more than a series of hormones released, yada yada yada, that I don't get as much loving attention as when I keep it as this mystical wonderful thing. How do you, as skeptics, balance your science and skeptic backgrounds with the world around you that is full of things like Christmas Holidays, Love, Romance and all that jazz? Do you take it home with you, or leave it at work? Are their things that you keep mystical and don't challenge or is everything fair game?
2) On your last episode, you had an interview with a very nice english chap, who had done some joint expirements with a woman and the woman got different results then he did. She explained her varying results as the result of the intention of the observer, that the observer predetermined the outcome, which sounds fairly hoaky, I agree. Now, jump over to quantum mechnanics, and I am not suggesting that this at proves the woman wasn't out of her tree, but what are your views on the expirements (now even written in books that i can understand with pretty pictures) that have behavior of electrons being influenced by the observer? (i.e electrons being shot through slots and either behaving like a wave or a particle dependent on the observer). In fact if you just covered the topic I would be excited!!!
I do enjoy the show, keep it up.
Some references to what I am referring:
Anyways... here goes.
- Distribution of Pseudoscience Hi there,
I've been listening to the podcast for about 15 episodes now, and I want to let you know that you're doing a great job. The issues are interesting and informative, the panel members are great at debunking the stuff that gets published in the mass and fringe media, and it's an entertaining show. I'm just a bit in the dark on the Rebecca-Jay animosity, but I guess not all topics need to be analysed on air ;-)
As an Irish person who has lived in the US, UK and now Germany, I would particularly like to hear your thoughts on how cultural influences dictate credulous belief patterns. A particular example is the Intelligent Design debate, which seems to be a purely American phenomenon. Here in Europe the creationists are regarded as slightly barmy, but it seems that a large proportion of the US population takes it seriously. This is not to say that Europeans are more skeptical - I know plenty of Germans who believe in ghosts and other such nonsense, it's just different nonsense.
It would interest to me to know if anyone has taken the trouble to map out the regional patterns followed by various religions and superstitions. I would expect that global acceptance of, say, quantum mechanics is more *uniformly* distributed throughout the globe than that of ouija boards, tarot cards, voodoo, ID etc. No doubt something to do with repeatability...
A sober analysis of this data might convince some otherwise credulous people that their beliefs have rather shaky foundations?
I'd love to hear your thoughts, keep up the good work.
- Workplace Skepticism Good day all,
I am a huge fan of your show, and feel that I am slowly obtaining a PhD in Scepticism. After listening to each episode I discuss what I have learned with all my friends and family so, even though you may only have 8 000 or so people downloading your podcasts, your information does get out to at least 4 or 5 times that many people.
First, for your amusement, here is a link to a supposed secret covenant that doctors like you, Steve, supposedly belong to. It is hilarious, but does make me wonder what these imbeciles can possibly come up with next.
Now to my question.
On a recent episode you discussed how to deal with family members and friends that are either non-sceptics, or firmly believe in a pseudo-science. Thank you for dealing with this issue; your information was very valuable.
Would it be possible for you to share your feelings about scepticism and dealing with scepticism within the workplace, and any experiences that you may have had?
I work at a reputable book publisher, and one of my tasks is to evaluate new manuscripts that we receive. Sometimes, a superior will pass a manuscript on to me and ask for my opinion, and this puts me in a difficult situation when the manuscript I am supposed to evaluate concerns something pseudo-scientific. At the moment, I am researching the possibility of doing a book with a radio clairvoyant (who is, according to one of the directors at my company, 'very accurate') and also have to evaluate a book on health which supposedly goes against everything 'them nasty doctors tell you' (the link I sent you is from this 'well-researched' manuscript).
Obviously, there is a market for books like this, or else no one would even consider evaluating them. My question is: How can a sceptic remain sceptical within the workplace, and not offend his/her co-workers and superiors? Is it better to keep quiet, take off your sceptic's hat and 'dumb myself down', or should I give an honest opinion and say that I feel that we would be doing humanity a disservice if we were to publish such material?
Thank you very much for your show, and I hope that it will continue for many years to come. I will not send a marriage proposal to Rebecca, but I would like to tell her that I wish that there were more women like her in this world.
David Schroder (pronounced Shrowda)
Pretoria, South Africa
Science or Fiction [ Show Answers ]
- Question #1 Science Researchers have restored sight to blind mice by transplanting stem cells into their eyes.
- Question #2 Science Vaccination with embryonic stem cells has been shown to protect against lung cancer in mice.
- Question #3 Science Stem cells have been successfully used to reduce the effects of dwarfism by allowing for longer arm and leg bone growth.
- Question #4 Fiction Researchers are using autologous stem cell transplants to repair the damage of heart attacks and reduce heart failure.
- Puzzle This Week's puzzle
Perhaps it was Socrates
Or Plato, his pupil
One of their theories
Appeared to be a scruple
Perhaps it was Hippocrates
Or maybe by Homer
It may have looked like philosophy
But it was a misnomer
More believers would follow
Tolerant and exacting
Such a theory, so shallow
They must have been acting
To the 21st century
This belief still is held
In the face of integrity
It flies un-repelled
What is it?
Quote of the Week
- Quote 'For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.'
- Carl Sagan