Episode #60

News Items

    Persistent Vegetative State

    • Hi All,Firstly, let me congratulate you on an excellent podcast. I discovered The Skeptic’s Guide only about a month ago and have been slowly listening back to all episodes. It’s interesting to hear the audio quality improve vs. time, but I still haven’t quite worked out at which point Thomas Dolby’s people got in touch, forcing you to switch over to your current funky bass riffing theme tune! But I thoroughly enjoy the show, a great blend of interesting issues, intelligent debate and humour. Thank you!Anyway, I am writing to draw this article to your attention, printed in today’s Guardian newspaper.www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,,1867596,00.htmlIt’s about a patient diagnosed as being in a vegetative state, who was then able to ‘communicate’ with her doctors via her brain waves– when asked to think about ‘tennis’ the part of her brain responsible for limb movement began to fire, when asked to think of her home, another section responsible for location mapping was triggered.How do you think this incident will change our understanding of this neurological condition? Do you think that if this technique had been applied in the Schiavo case, the outcome could have been different?All the bestNiall Shakeshaft Helsinki, FinlandHello again,Sorry for spamming you, but it seems you can’t move these days without seeing an article on this condition. Would be fascinated to hear your opinions on the previous article I sent you and also now (again in the Guardian), this one–www.guardian.co.uk/medicine/story/0,,1870279,00.htmlI think this is again interesting in relation to last year’s Schiavo case, but I am sure that both stories are more nuanced than the mass media is portraying. Would be great to hear a skeptical and expert discussion of this.CheersNiall
    • How assured can we be about mathematics when applying it to the real, physical world? My issue is that most mathematical proposals are unfalsifiable, like the big bang theory, string theory, and all these others that fall outside the realm of science. Also the fact that we use negative numbers, when no such thing as a negative observed in the physical world. Why is it that mathematician’s are more concerned with an equation being beautiful and perfect, rather than precise? I don’t think you’ll be able to some up the entire universe in an equation smaller than an inch (a term used often within math) although unbreakable and rightfully so, could it be that math or its practitioners are flawed in someway?Your fan Elias LuNa, monkey vs. bird enthusiast, and a Rebecca marriage applicant.Bronx, New York
    • Hey guys,I discovered your podcast a couple weeks ago and I must say that I am hooked. It is good to have a show that expresses my opinions on a great majority of issues. Thanks and keep it up!My question is about experiences people have had with the recently deceased. Today my psychology professor was talking about the domains of science and as an example of things that were outside the realm of science she gave us an anecdote. She told us about an experience her mother and grandmother had. Her uncle was serving in a combat theater during World War II. One night her grandmother had a dream about my professors uncle(her son)walking up to her and saying good-bye and that he was going to a better place. The next morning my professor’s grandmother related the dream to my professor’s mother. Three hours later they found out that my professor’s uncle had died in combat. My professor went on to say that there are a lot of anecdotes like this, coming from believable people. She also said that there was no way to investigate this phenomena because the results were not repeatable.My question for you guys is ‘do you agree with my professor that this type of phenomena can not be investigated by the tools of science?’ Must we just sit back and let one of the most important questions in humanity let go unanswered?Thank you,Jeff MatzkeMinneapolis, Minnesota
    • I seen this and it really made me laugh to think that people can believe the craziest of things, at first I assumed it was a joke but as you read on it seems that this is a serious site the article is atwww.revisionism.nl/Moon/The-Mad-Revisionist.htmGregg CarsonNorthern Ireland

    Science or Fiction

    • Item #1 Science

      New study shows that fathers secrete a hormone that delays the sexual maturity of their daughters.

    • Item #2 Fiction

      New archaeological evidence from Gibraltar demonstrates cohabitation between Neandertals and Cro Magnon man.

    • Item #3 Science

      New study suggests that bicyclists who wear helmets are at greater accident risk.

    Skeptical Quote of the Week.