Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, The Skeptic Zone, and Point of Inquiry

The Rogues were without Rebecca this week as she is without internet or cable in her new house.  We here at SkepReview congratulate the Rodriguez's on their new home.

The male Rogues were a bit loose this week on the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, and Dr. Novella was firing on all cylinders with funny quips and jokes.  The show as of late sometimes seems to be missing a light element, which was not an issue with this episode.  It was good hear them all enjoying themselves.

With no guest interview or guest Rogues it was all news stories and listener feedback this week.  The Rogues covered the return of the Japanese astroid probe Hayabusa, which is the first craft to land on and return to Earth from an asteroid.  The probe had a difficult journey with various functions including engines, and the asteroid dust retrieval system acting as flaky as my '03 Saab.  Unfortunately for the Japanese trading it in on an even worse Jetta was not an option, so while the probe returned to Earth it was not clear if it actually was able to collect any asteroid samples.

Jay then shared the harrowing tale of the journey of Eistein's brain, and how a pathologist stole the great scientist's brain and was sacked for it.  The brain eventually was returned to Einstein's granddaughter in the 1980's who must have thought "ew-w-w" upon receiving it.  She handed it over to Princeton for safekeeping.

The Dutch and other European states have begun using a massive radio telescope, which sounds a lot like the Allen telescope in that it is made up of multiple smaller dishes.  The gang discussed that the Amityville Horror house is up for sale, and waxed about the story of the bogus haunting, and whether a famous haunted house is worth more or less than a non-haunted house.

Jay discussed the now well known cursed Bulgarian phone number that the Bulgarian telephone service has stopped giving to customers after three people died within a few years of each other who had the number.  Dr. Novella explained a crack he made earlier to Dr. Pamela Gay about soy milk having possible dubious adverse health effects.  He explained that there have been concerns about soy milk causing people to increase their estrogen production.  Dr. Novella explained that the only possible at risk groups might be men who wish to have children and infants who consume soy based formulas.  What I found most interesting was that the emailer was a vegan bodybuilder.  I do not know how common it is to be a vegan bodybuilder, but this sounds like just the sort of person with whom I could never get along.  I am a omnivorous dog walking couch potato.

The last email was from a person who works in Japan and was asking about the efficacy of drinking bee juice for health.  No.  It is a squished bee based beverage.  Not overly surprising, there is nothing to bee juice, but if you want some real health I've got about a thousand cases of Monavie somebody in a yellow minivan with a big Monavie logo stenciled in the rear window I drive near almost every morning on the way to work would love to sell to you.  (a-hem)

It was an enjoyable light hearted episode.

In Australia the good folks who will be hosting the Rogues while in Australia on the Skeptic Zone had a pleasant little episode.  Kylie Sturgess interviewed Dr. Janis Bennion, Sean the Blogonaut and his friends discussed the Mind, Body, Spirit Conference, and there was a  Think Tank in a proper restaurant with a bus announcement!  It has been a bit since the show has featured a bus announcement.  Last week's airport jet sounds were nice, but just did not pack the same charm.

Dr. Bennion was on the episode to discuss her very new Ladies Who Do Skepticism with their motto "Screw You Skepchicks: Rebecca Go Home."  I kid.  I kid.  Bennion did not even hint or I do not think really discussed Skepchicks, Rebecca Watson, at all.  For some reason it was the first thing to pop into my head listening to the interview on my drive to Philadelphia.  The organization was quite new, and had only two meetups at the time of the interview.  Bennion sounds like a Sturgess in the making as Bennion is active with both the Greater Manchester Skeptics, the Mersey Side Skeptics, and her new website for Ladies Who Do Skepticism, and a podcast Just Skeptics.  I have listened to a couple episodes of Just Skeptics, and it is rough but shows a lot of promise.

Sean the Blogonaut and some friends discussed their impressions of the latest Mind, Body, Spirit conference.  They suspect the catch all term "quantum" is being replace by "Neuro."  There appeared to be a lot less emphasis on ancient wisdom, and a lot more on bogus technology to explain the quackery de jour.  The sound quality was a bit iffy, but it was a nice break between Sturgess and the Think Tank.

Eran Segev, Joan Benhamu, Dr. Dunlop, and Richard Saunders sat around the restaurant table and discussed various topics of the day.  The most interesting topic for me was the homeopath discussion, and the further ongoing story of the woman who took only homeopathic remedies instead of real medicine to not treat her rectal cancer.  The inquest is being performed at the behest of her sisters, who take homeopathic nostrums and think it is just dandy.  They are just questioning the fitness of their deceased sister's homeopath.  Bizarre.  It reminds me of the people who learn a faith healer is a fraud, but their faith healer is the real deal, or astrologer, or animal communicator, etc.  As I have mentioned there was a bus announcement, and also announced was the, as of this publishing, tickets for TAM Australia are on sale.

It was quite an enjoyable Skeptic Zone.  The Think Tank was in roaring fun form.  Sean the Blogonaut section could have used some better sound quality and a bit tighter editing, but otherwise it was a good episode.

On Point of Inquiry Chris Mooney interview Bill McKibben on his new book Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet.  I believe McKibben was interviewed on Science Talk a few weeks ago regarding his latest work.  The long and short of McKibben's thesis is that unless we do some drastic changes on how we live, how we power our activities, and look upon economic activity as a growth activity right now in a few years we're all fucked screwed.  This is not something to say will be our grandchildren's problem or even our kids.  The ice caps are 40% gone, the permafrost is melting at an accelerating rate releasing a lot of methane, and the atmosphere is 5% moister.  It is rather depressing since I do not see anything changing soon.  While McKibben seemed to think if we drastically changed things now others would surely follow, I am not so sure on this score.  Therefore, if McKibben is correct then yep our world is going to be a lot rougher by the time I am in my eighties or so.

It was a nice father's day weekend of podcast listening.


  1. Thanks for that! I'm really pleased that Sean got to contribute, it's not often that we have people send things in and very cool that it might set a trend! :)

    "Sturgess in the making" - I'd _never_ presume! *blush* - UK Ladies going International for the win!! :)

  2. A brief and important clarification.

    Ladies Who Do Skepticism is a meet-up group, who's primary aim is to build a network for women in skepticism. Skepchic is an awesome blog, with excellent spin-offs from Rebecca and the others. I thoroughly recommend it, but would like to point out that we focused on other resources in the interview only because those resources have been involved in the meet-up side of things and been helpful with feedback, etc. This communication is exactly what we are interested in as a group, and therefore, what was discussed.

    You'd have to live under a strange sort rock to be listening to The Skeptic Zone and yet not have heard of the Skepchics before!

    For the record, rather than "screw you skepchicks", I prefer "all skeptical women welcome, and support and advice from well known female skeptics warmly and gratefully received". Not everything is about back-biting and division. Sorry to disappoint.

    I understand though, that this would be much less inflammatory, so would not really help you out with this blog. It also will not lead to any kind of skeptical girl-on-girl mud-fight. Again, sorry to disappoint.

    As for "Sturgess in the making", huge compliment, thank you.

  3. Just a weird joke. I thought I was clear. Sorry for any confusion.

  4. I will personally hit Nigel with a fish for you, if you like, Janis! :)

  5. Fish slapping dance, eh?! Very British.
    ... and no, that's quite alright.
    Thanks for the clarification, Nigel.

    It's just that it seems that women in the skeptical community should have better things to do than dealing with being pitted against each other, and it seems to happen a fair bit.

    Aside from that, thanks for the mention.


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