Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Inside the Amateur Scientist Studio, Skeptoid, Point of Inquiry,

Inside the Amateur Scientist Studio

Brian Thompson did a polished interview of Norm Allen Director of African Americans for Humanism.  I believe Allen was also interviewed by Point of Inquiry on March 14, 2008.  I do find it fascinating why the African American culture in the United States is allegedly more religious and perhaps more superstitious than the society as a whole.  Allen seemed to believe it went back to the church being the center of black culture dating back to slavery, and I do believe it is a fair assessment.  However, the church has been the center of a lot of white culture, and many immigrant waves as well.  Perhaps it is the sense of community that the institution of the church bestows upon its congregates that reinforces the church in black culture that white/non-black society does not need.  I also wonder what the religious strength is among another large minority groups in the United States such as hispanics and how that compares to blacks white, and the society as a whole.  What is the religious fervor of black culture in Canada or Britain.  It was a short interview.  I would have easily enjoyed at least another ten or fifteen minutes of it.  Brian is becoming very adept at doing more than just dick jokes.  

Skeptoid

Moving to another Brian, Brian Dunning focused this week's episode on more medical myths.  I love these rapid fire Skeptoids, so full of juicy bits of goodness.  Two I found particularly interesting. The eight glasses of water a day myth is the first one.  I cannot believe how common it is at the place I work for people to be trying to suck down as much water as their systems can handle during the course of the day.  Eight glasses of water is a lot but what all healthy people know, or is it?  I've read that it is a misrepresentation of an old study, and told many people, but nobody listens.  sigh.  Maybe they will listen to Dunning, he has a podcast and sounds authoritative. The other medical myth that struck me was the notion that eating before bedtime will cause you to gain weight.  I've had this argument er-r discussion with co-workers, friends, as well as with someone who let's just say wrote the last blog entry, sleeps near me at night, and name begins with an "H."  It never made sense to me.  It is the same number of calories in as well as calories out over the course of a day that matters, when it happens should be irrelevant.  This appears to be the case.  Vindication.  Savor it I shall. (Until a new study comes out the other way, darn that never ending science.) Dunning was in proper form on this one, I recommend this episode to be played at work just loud enough for your co-workes and perhaps spouse to hear.

Point of Inquiry.  

D.J. Grothe interviewed Mark Blumberg Professor at the University of Iowa on his book "Freaks of Nature."  A lively discussion ensued with Blumberg's opining that generic determinism (what the majority of evolutionary biologist he says follow) is a magical way of thinking as much as creationism.  Blumberg seemed to posit that "freaks" of nature whether people with missing limbs or people with gender ambiguity are not freaks at all of but natural variations that are to be expected and then adapted to against the environmental pressures.  He seem to be pointing that the genes are the same, but how they are expressed and used are different.  I must be candid.  I did not follow his logic all the way.  My question is how does this implicate evolution unless this alternate expression and use of a gene is able to be passed on and expressed again in the same form in the child as in the parent .  I probably have this entirely messed up, and the answer may be his book.  This is far from my area of understanding, but I seem to be missing a piece of the argument.

The other interesting thing I learned is that host, Grothe, has a fondness for freak shows, and carnies in general.  Who knew?  A word of advice to Grothe.  The annual York Fair, in York, Pennsylvania every year has "good" old exploitive freak shows.  He'd enjoy them presumably while snacking on a deep fried Twinkie or Oreo.


All in all I thought it was an interesting batch of skeptical listening for the day.  Out of the above shows probably the most interesting to listen was the interview of Allen on Amateur Scientist, but the most fun was Skeptoid.  Plan your listening accordingly.

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