Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe episode 236

This week's episode of the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe found the entire gang of Rogues on the show without a mini-Rogue or guest Rogue, or even Dr. Phil Plait.  Rebecca sounded awake and alert for the entire episode, so either she is learning to adjust to her new life in London, or the "wake-up" pills are starting to work.

As normal the show started off with news items starting with Bob covering a news item on what to do when you have massive numbers of human corpses laying around after a natural disaster.  Succinctly put, if the deceased are not deceased from a plague, then you do not have to do anything immediately.  Turns out dead bodies lying around are not that much of a health hazard unless they are rotting in a source of drinking water.  Granted they stink, and it is depressing for the living, but immediately placing the dead in mass graves is not necessary for physical health reasons.  Not tossing bodies in mass graves will lead to a more accurate death count, and make it easier for the dead to be properly identified for legal and family purposes.

Watson covered a story in the British Press by the Sunday Times and picked up by the BBC and other  new outlets that blonde girls are programed to be warrior princesses, and Lucy Lawless was all wrong to be Xena it should have been her little blonde pal to kick all that syndicated television butt.  But wait the Times actually got it all wrong, and all the small study from the University of California showed was that confident people might be more aggressive.  That is a rather large mistake for a journalist to make, and nobody know exactly what happened, but I suspect it was an error in translating from Californian to English English.  Probably a misunderstanding about a totally rad test with some chicks and dudes in it, was misconstrued to be blondes are warrior princesses.  What a simple error.

Finally, the show covered the story of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter taking pictures of what appear to be tree growing out of Martian sand dunes.  Turns out they are merely bushes, so it is not a big deal.  No.  What they truly appear to be are lines left in the dunes after the freezing and thawing of carbon dioxide ice between the seasons.  This lead to an interesting discussion of how cool it would be if life was found on Mars, and how similar it might be to life on Earth.

Correactology which seems to be a new alternative medical modality popping up in the neighbor to the north, Canada.  Jay lead the investigation in the new field of woo, and it turns out to be something similar to acupuncture without the puncture.  The "doctor" adjusts your feet, and then apparently snaps his/her fingers around you a few times, and after a bunch of treatments you apparently get better.  Jay called a Correactolgist in Canada and received a typical confusing line of jargon mixed with jibiberish that made no scientific sense.  The "doctor" seemed to imply this system adjusted the patients DNA?  I dunno.  I kept snickering to take in all the details.  It seems to me we need a Canadian volunteer to go deep undercover to partake in Correactology goodness  and report back.  Volunteers?

Then the show discussed an email from a listener who wants Steve to basically take back his statement that Ayn Rand (pronounced: Anne Rand alt pronunciation: Raymond Luxury Yacht) had a cult.  Dr. Novella countered with nah-huh.  No.  He went into more detail.  At first it struck me as odd that the show apparently received a far amount of feedback stating that Rand was not a cult figure.  I just thought she was especially after reading Michael Shermer's book Why People believe Weird things, and a few other articles from time to time.  The more I thought it through though, I could see some Rand followers greatly enjoying a show such as the SGU with all its rational thought.  After all how many times can you read "Atlas Shrugged."  I tried to twice, and never came close to finishing it.  Still, Rand as set out in Shermer's book had people take her word based on her philosophical rationalist materialist world view as the word.  I think Dr. Novella was correct in saying nah-huh.

The interview this week was with Jon Rosenberg of Goats.com, which covers the web comic of the same name.  I must admit.  I have never read Goats.  My wife who knows nearly all things of pop culture and is younger and hipper than me never heard of it.  I enjoyed the interview not because I have enjoyed his work, or that it was comic that it did not believe in an expanding Earth, but it was interesting hearing the story of someone who began working in the new internet medium earlier on starting in the ancient time of 1997.  I plan to read some of Goats just to see what it is all about, but I am not much of a comic guy so I am a terrible judge of these matters.  It was interesting hearing of an artist making a living on a comic strip, not by selling the strip, but by the merchandizing and then turning his comic on the web into a book.  It was a well done interview by the entire Rogue crew.

I enjoyed this episode a great deal.  The entire gang seemed to be firing on all eight cylinders, and the interview was an enjoyable change of pace.

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