Episode #46

News Items

    Interview with Phil Plait

    • http://www.badastronomy.comDr. Phil Plait is a PhD Astronomer who works at the physics and astronomy department at Sonoma State University in CA. He runs the Bad Astronomy website and blog, debunking pseusodscience in his field of astronomy. He has taken on astrology, believers in the moon landing hoax, and the face on Mars. He is the author of the book Bad Astronomy.

    Altruism and Evolution

    • Great show. Absolutely one of my favorite podcasts! My wife eagerly awaits my lobbing the ‘science or fiction’ her way after each show.Speaking of the fact or fiction segment, I have a question about the altruism gene discovery as studied in the multicellular organism Volvox. You defined altrusim as ‘you do something which sacrifices your own Darwinian fitness in order for your relatives to survive.’ I was viewing this gene as somehow increasing fitness, such as by increasing the overall percentage of like genes passed on to future generations since the individuals in a simple multicellular organism are highly related. So while you don’t reproduce, your overall fitness is still higher than had you ‘gone it alone.’ Otherwise the altruism gene would be selected against, right? An analogous, though far more complex, situation might be the ‘altruism’ of non reproducing individuals in social insect species.Please set me straight if I’m looking at this incorrectly.Thanks!Marty Steitz Minnesota, US
    • I am not sure what to think of you guys standing on one side of a fence of unknowns and firmly stating that anyone on the other side of this set of unknowns are the conspiracy theorists. The fact is that when we don’t have nearly all the facts in the 911 attacks, and there are so many unanswered questions and so much speculation, it is kind of irresponsible as skeptics to simply state that anyone who believes there may very well have been more to these events than meets the eye are the conspiracy theorists. Anyone who draws a polarized conclusion on a set of undefined and unresolved data is not a true skeptic. In my opinion the only conclusion that can logically be drawn here by any good skeptic is no conclusion at all. As much as you guys would like to knock the people who raise these important questions about what we DON’T know, the same could be said about anyone who decides to conclude that the truth of what happened can only be found in the simple explanations given by talking heads, and the limited images and stories fed by the media and the government. I am not suggesting that there was a conspiracy, and most people who you consider conspiracy theorists are not doing that either. We are simply not willing to roll over and forget that there are key reasons to suspect that there was more going on than meets the eye through said media and official ‘explanations’, and there are too many unanswered questions that the people of this country deserve to have answers to. Sure, there are quacks and freaks who are convinced of conspiracy, but the main portion of people like myself who believe there is more going on than what we were told are simply continuing to ask the questions. Here are just a few of the key issues that have yet remained unresolved, and point to the idea that there is much more information that we don’t have: -Security tapes at several gas stations and hotels in the area surrounding the Pentagon which would have contained footage of either the plane or the crash or both were confiscated within an hour after the crash. According to some sources they have been destroyed. Regardless, they have not been released. Why? -All transcripts and recordings of the air traffic controllers with the planes that morning were destroyed. Why? -There was no investigation planned by the Bush administration following the attacks, and it wasn’t until certain groups barked loud enough that an investigation was launched. However, this 911 commission was orchestrated by the administration, rather than being independent, and most importantly, commenced with a closed-session meeting between the commissioners and Bush and Cheney. This meeting was top secret, and we will probably never know what it was they discussed. Holding a closed-session meeting like that prior to what was supposed to be an independent investigation renders that investigation far from independent or unbiased. Now before your band of merry debunkers start jumping on me, let me reiterate that I am not saying there was a conspiracy. I am just saying there are a lot of unanswered questions. There are thousands of people who feel this way, probably millions. We are just as skeptical by not trusting the official story as you are by not trusting in alternative hypotheses. At this time, with the information we have now, to rest on any conclusion would be irresponsible. Michael Orticelli
    • I was just listening to your podcast on the subject. You should try and get a person that understands basic physics on your show. All of your hosts are completely clueless of reality.>>>then in a follow up e-mail:Just so you know that I’m not a Johnny come lately when it comes to the subject of 9/11. You may find my essay on the subject interesting. By all means input the names into the SSDI and the September 11th Victims’ Compensation fund. (the rat hole is deeper than you can ever imagine) Wing TV – Connect The Dots The specific problems surrounding the Pentagon are as follows; A passenger jet can not be flown six feet off the ground at high speeds. Ground effect doesn’t allow this to happen. (jet take off and landings are nose up) Also the overpass (cloverleaf) is in the way of a jet/missile. http://mouv4x8.club.fr/11Sept01/A0024_Pentagon_near_the_fly_over_point_Notice_height.html There is no vertical stabilizer mark on the pre-collapse wall. If you look at the impact area from the WTC you will clearly see what I mean. (like object will create like holes) I’ve convinced the radio talk show host ‘Lionel’ of the inconsistencies (physical law violations) and have been on his show twice. http://911verses.com/underground/2006-03-31_Lionel_Interviews_Victor_Thorn_and_Lisa_Guliani.MP3 http://911verses.com/underground/2006-04-01_Lionel_Interviews_Victor_Thorn_Lisa_Guliani_and_Vincent_Sammartino.MP3 Analytically yours, Vincent Sammartino Here are some more good skeptical links of 9/11 hoax theories:Wake turbulence: http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/may2006/220506flight77.htmSkeptical article:http://www.thenewamerican.com/artman/publish/article_1253.shtmlflight 77 phone calls: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A14365-2001Sep11Salon’s ask the pilot re 77: http://dir.salon.com/story/tech/col/smith/2005/01/13/askthepilot119/index.html?pn=3http://911conspiracysmasher.blogspot.com/Photo evidence:http://www.criticalthrash.com/terror.htmlhttp://www.rense.com/general32/phot.htm

    Science or Fiction

    • Item #1 Science

      This week military surgeons are testing a system for remote mobile robotic ‘telesurgery.’

    • Item #2 Fiction

      New study suggests that phantom limb pain is psychosomatic.

    • Item #3 Science

      Drinking caffeine makes us more susceptible to persuasion.

    Skeptical Quote of the Week.