The SGU Cutting Room Floor - Episode #477
In preparation for our two SGU recordings at Dragon Con 2014, we had to record episode #477 earlier than normal, almost a week ahead of our usual schedule. Because so much science and skeptic news occurs every day, it means we sometimes miss on some very interesting items which might have otherwise made it to the show, had we recorded on our regular schedule. Here’s a small sample of some of the items we might have otherwise covered:
One of our listeners emailed us, asking our opinion on the subject of “the soul”. Does it exist? How could we know if it exists? Is there ANY plausibility of the concept we call “the soul”? You might be surprised as to how this discussion between the five of us would have gone. The listener included a link to a website called spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com and this article. Here is a sample from the article:
Before we explore the evidence, it’s helpful to remember that we do not need hard PROOF in order to be justified in believing in something. If the weatherman says there is a 70% chance of showers, I don’t need proof that it’s going to rain before I am justified in bringing an umbrella with me. I don’t have to be certain that a meteor isn’t going to fall on my head before I go outside.
An electronic cigarette, also known as personal vaporizer among other names, is a battery-powered vaporizer which simulates tobacco smoking. It produces an aerosol resembling smoke by using a heating element (an atomizer) that vaporizes the e-liquid. Are they “safe”? Time will tell as the data continues to accumulate over time. In the meantime, people should be skeptical in how they evaluate the articles they read. Last week’s article from Nature.com asks the question:
Evidence is in short supply on both sides. Even when studies do appear, they are often furiously debated. And it is not just researchers who are attempting to catch up with the products now pouring out of Chinese factories: conventional tobacco companies are pushing into the nascent industry, and regulators are scrambling to work out what to do.
Another listener asked us our opinion of The GAPS Nutritional System. GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome, developed by a British neurologist who obtained her degrees while studying in Russia. Her medical philosophy is simple; all disease comes from the gut, and therefore, can all be treated in the gut. One source of all disease is a red flag that this person MIGHT be a quack. Harriet Hall from Science Based Medicine looked in to it for the benefit of us all. From Dr. Hall’s blog post:
The GAPS diet reflects serious gaps in Dr. Campbell-McBride’s reasoning and in her understanding of science. There is no published evidence to support it. The early introductory stages may not provide adequate nutrition; the full diet is probably healthy but is onerous. It seems very unlikely that it could accomplish all that is claimed. Without testing, there is no way to know whether it benefits or harms patients.
The “first australopith”, namely the Taung Child, is back in the news. From the article published by The University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg:
By subjecting the skull of the first australopith discovered to the latest technologies in the Wits University Microfocus X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) facility, researchers are now casting doubt on theories that Australopithecus africanus shows the same cranial adaptations found in modern human infants and toddlers – in effect disproving current support for the idea that this early hominin shows infant brain development in the prefrontal region similar to that of modern humans.
The original paper by the researchers can be found here.