Podcast #74 - December 20th, 2006
News Items: Carl Sagan, Sylvia Browne Update, IQ and Vegetarians; Your E-mails and Questions: Santa Claus, Facilitated Communication; Randi Speaks; Science or Fiction; Skeptical Puzzle;
- Remembering Carl Sagan Today is the 10 year anniversary of Carl Sagan's death.
- Some recent Sylvia Browne gaffes: www.break.com/index/sylvia_brown_worlds_worst_psychic.html
- Study shows vegetarians have higher IQ's news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6180753.stm
Questions and E-mails
- Santa Claus Hi,
With the upcoming holiday season, I'm running into a problem at home. The more I think about it, the more I do not want my child to 'believe' in Santa Claus. She is only a year and a half old, so it is not a big issue this year, but it will be next year. When I mentioned to my wife that I would like Skyla (my daughter) to know the truth about Santa, she started crying and bringing up all those wonderful memories of her parents lying to her. What is the reasonable thing to do here? Is there a middle ground we can take? Any suggestions.
By the way, 'The skeptics guide to the universe' is by far my favorite podcast of all. Keep up the good work.
Arno van Werven
Dania, Florida, USA
Hello! Thank-you for your show! SGU is by far my favorite podcast.I take great satisifaction in overpowering a station labeled as 'RELIGUS' on my car radio's LCD display with my i-pod's FM transmitter while listening to your show.
My question is as follows: Both my wife and I are skeptics and extremely agnostic. However, we do enjoy celebrating the holidays in a very secular sense; i.e. setting up a tree, exchanging gifts, playing holiday music, lighting the menorah etc.
We have 4 wonderful children who we have lead on to believe in Santa Claus. Being skeptical by nature I admittedly have mixed feelings about this. Our rational is that it was fun for us to believe as kids ourselves. For myself I might also argue that learning of the non-existance of SC began my road from religiousity/gulibility to skepticism.
I am not really out to have my mind changed but would LOVE to hear some skeptical opinions on the subject of Santa Claus and kids.
Thanks and keep up the good work!
Michael Bukowski-Thall DVM
- Facilitated Communication Dear Dr. Novella,
First of all I have to thank-you for the amazingly prompt reply to my last e-mail, suffice it to say - you made my day! The podcasts are still fantastic, keep up the good work. I do have a question considering autism or more specifically 'facilitated communication' as I recently saw a CNN special about said topic and I was surprised to see no skeptical rebuttal at all which confused me as I remember reading a debunking on the SWIFT commentary. What's the deal here? Or more specifically my question is - is facilitated communication real or not? I think this would make a good topic for your show. Warmest Regards,
American Psychological Association position paper on FC: www.apa.org/about/division/cpmscientific.html#4
Martin Gardener article on FC: www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2843/is_1_25/ai_68966515
- 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: Special Expertise
Science or Fiction [ Show Answers ]
- Question #1 Fiction Study finds that women who eat dairy are 5 times as likely to miscarry as women on a vegan diet.
- Question #2 Science Scientists successfully test a vaccine against obesity in rats.
- Question #3 Science Scientists study the effects of antimatter as a cancer fighting tool.
- Puzzle Last Week's puzzle
If I have 3 items that are multicolored, 5 that are black and white, and 2 that are red, black and white, what do I have?
Answer: An original deck of Rorschach cards
This Week's puzzle
He was born in a creek
And he died in a different creek
As a boy, he'd appear to make furniture tip over and instruments rise
off the ground
As a young man, he took his abilities about and abroad
His slate of feats stunned the US crowds, and European heads of states
He often spoke with his wife, especially when she wasn't around
He drew the applause and accolades of scientists such as Alfred Russell
And he drew jeers and accusations form the likes of Charles Darwin
He stood trial, he was found guilty of fraud, yet he escaped prison
He was once a millionaire, but he died broken and penniless
His death bed confession spoke volumes beyond his paupers grave
He was in fact, a fake.
Who was he?
Quote of the Week
- Quote 'The method of science, as stodgy and grumpy as it may seem, is far more important than the findings of science.'
- Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World
'In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.'
- Carl Sagan, 1987 CSICOP Keynote Address