Author Topic: Episode #603  (Read 2009 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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Episode #603
« on: January 28, 2017, 02:23:39 PM »
Movie Review: Hidden Figures; News Items: Restricting Science Communication, Fish Scales, Another Bogus Acupuncture Study, Video Games and Violence; Who’s That Noisy; What’s the Word: Atom; Science or Fiction
Steven Novella
Host, The Skeptics Guide
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Offline 2397

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Re: Episode #603
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2017, 12:22:25 PM »
There being a lot of tiny organisms going extinct is one thing. I think that an important part of why we're not noticing the mass extinction event that we are, is that wherever we live, certainly in cities, we've already completed the transformation and gotten rid of the natural environment. The parks aren't natural, either. Nor are the farms, which take up several times more land than our homes do.

And humans don't seem to be able to comprehend how big of a number 7.4 billion is. Passing 1 billion was already extreme. Imagine there being 1 billion of any other great ape, what kind of territory and impact that would entail. Apparently we can't, because human overpopulation keeps being laughed at as if that has nothing to do with it.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #603
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2017, 05:29:02 PM »
Kudos to the rogues, and especially to Cara, for discussing the disaster that is Trump.

Naming a kid Atom: I feel sorry for kids whose parents saddle them with cutesy or "witty" names. A name is what a kid has to live with at least until s/he is old enough to go to court and change it legally, and even then it's a pain in the ass. Name your kids something they can live with, folks. I am so glad I got the name Daniel. Nice solid name, not too common but not weird. And very appropriate for a cat lover like me.

The rogues (or at least one) seemed to think it was a terrible thing that sailors took tortoises on board ships so they'd have meat later in the voyage. The extinction of any species is certainly tragic, but taking tortoises is no worse than any other form of hunting, and IMO less reprehensible than slaughtering trainloads of cows, pigs, and chickens so that Americans can eat food that is less healthy than what their parents did and give themselves heart disease into the bargain. Nobody who eats meat has a right to criticize sailors for eating tortoise. We have plenty of alternatives. They did not.
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline fuzzyMarmot

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Re: Episode #603
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2017, 05:43:42 PM »
I second Daniel's kudos about the segment regarding science communication and Trump. Especially after the executive order regarding immigration, I think most rational people are now be ready to move on from the "well, let's see how this plays out" position.

Also, kudos for the great movie review. It is wonderful to see a celebration of science (and especially women of color in science) achieve such critical and commercial success!

Offline 2397

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Re: Episode #603
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2017, 06:23:32 PM »
The rogues (or at least one) seemed to think it was a terrible thing that sailors took tortoises on board ships so they'd have meat later in the voyage. The extinction of any species is certainly tragic, but taking tortoises is no worse than any other form of hunting, and IMO less reprehensible than slaughtering trainloads of cows, pigs, and chickens so that Americans can eat food that is less healthy than what their parents did and give themselves heart disease into the bargain. Nobody who eats meat has a right to criticize sailors for eating tortoise. We have plenty of alternatives. They did not.

I agree that we have more alternatives today, but the specific treatment of the animals matter a great deal. We can do a lot better than trapping and starving an animal for months, and we can kill them very efficiently. I don't think people need to give up meat for the sake of the treatment of the animals (there are other reasons), if we make sure animal welfare is as high as possible. Until we can produce it all without the animals, and it's a win-win-win economically, ethically and environmentally to grow the meat directly.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2017, 06:29:44 PM by 2397 »

Offline Tassie Dave

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Re: Episode #603
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2017, 06:35:15 PM »
You only need to look at Australian wildlife extinctions since European settlement to see how bad this Human caused mass extinction event is.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_extinct_animals_of_Australia

My own small state has lost several large species and we could lose our most iconic. The Tasmanian Devil is on the endangered list because of facial cancer.

The rogues mentioned the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine) and how it has been claimed to have been sighted many times since the last recorded one in the 1930s.
I do think it could have survived for a few decades after that. Most of the southwest of Tasmania is thick rainforest that is hard country to explore.

But with the searches that have gone on since the 70s and the building of roads into that area since, I think we would have found them, or evidence, by now, if they were still around.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #603
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2017, 06:41:27 PM »
The rogues (or at least one) seemed to think it was a terrible thing that sailors took tortoises on board ships so they'd have meat later in the voyage. The extinction of any species is certainly tragic, but taking tortoises is no worse than any other form of hunting, and IMO less reprehensible than slaughtering trainloads of cows, pigs, and chickens so that Americans can eat food that is less healthy than what their parents did and give themselves heart disease into the bargain. Nobody who eats meat has a right to criticize sailors for eating tortoise. We have plenty of alternatives. They did not.

I agree that we have more alternatives today, but the specific treatment of the animals matter a great deal. We can do a lot better than trapping and starving an animal for months, and we can kill them very efficiently. I don't think people need to give up meat for the sake of the treatment of the animals, if we make sure animal welfare is as high as possible. Until we can produce it all without the animals, and it's a win-win-win economically, ethically and environmentally to grow the meat directly.

I guess if you feel that being murdered for food, by people who don't actually need that food for optimal health, is not the height of cruelty, then by your lights you are right. My question is always, if you were taken from your mother at birth, raised in filthy overcrowded conditions, and then killed for food as soon as you reached optimal growth (by creatures who didn't actually need to eat you for optimal health, but merely liked the flavor) would you feel you had been treated well? A quick and painless death hardly makes killing humane.

I'm not going to convince anyone to stop eating meat. But I will say that if you do eat meat, you've got no moral grounds to criticize people who really had no alternative. The damage done to the environment by the commercial meat industry is incontrovertible. The inefficiency of commercial meat production is incontrovertible. And although there are people here who will dispute it, I say that eating the amount of meat that the average American eats, is far less healthy than a vegetarian diet. If you eat meat, you do it because you like it. Those sailors ate tortoise because in the absence of fresh vegetables at sea, they needed it. For a meat-eater within reach of a grocery store in America to criticize those sailors is the height of hypocrisy.
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline Tassie Dave

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Re: Episode #603
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2017, 06:52:38 PM »
and you have to remember that those sailors had no concept of extinction and how fragile those animal's existence was.
To them animals were a resource placed on this earth by their god, for their use.

As sad as it is, a giant tortoise was just many easy meals, that was low maintenance and easy to keep fresh.

Offline seamas

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Re: Episode #603
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2017, 10:59:53 PM »
and you have to remember that those sailors had no concept of extinction and how fragile those animal's existence was.
To them animals were a resource placed on this earth by their god, for their use.

As sad as it is, a giant tortoise was just many easy meals, that was low maintenance and easy to keep fresh.

Comes in it's own soup bowl too.

Offline clavicorn

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Re: Episode #603
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2017, 11:21:15 PM »
Don't pull your punches on Trump! If your mission is to promote science and combat anti-scientific thinking, he should be your number one priority. Dedicate your entire show to attacking him if necessary!

Offline Tassie Dave

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Re: Episode #603
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2017, 12:11:10 AM »
he should be your number one priority. Dedicate your entire show to attacking him if necessary!

Please don't. Can we have somewhere that is Trump free or at least Trump lite. One (or at worst 2) segment(s) a month will do.

I know it is easy for me to ignore him (and I do), from the opposite side of the world, but there is other stuff happening in the world. Good and bad.



 


Online lonely moa

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Re: Episode #603
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2017, 03:34:39 AM »
Cara: " The Sixth Extinction", Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin, 1995.

A really good read, but you might have been in short pants when it came out.  Not a new idea, really.
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Offline 2397

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Re: Episode #603
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2017, 03:38:04 AM »
I guess if you feel that being murdered for food, by people who don't actually need that food for optimal health, is not the height of cruelty, then by your lights you are right. My question is always, if you were taken from your mother at birth, raised in filthy overcrowded conditions, and then killed for food as soon as you reached optimal growth (by creatures who didn't actually need to eat you for optimal health, but merely liked the flavor) would you feel you had been treated well? A quick and painless death hardly makes killing humane.

I'm not going to convince anyone to stop eating meat. But I will say that if you do eat meat, you've got no moral grounds to criticize people who really had no alternative. The damage done to the environment by the commercial meat industry is incontrovertible. The inefficiency of commercial meat production is incontrovertible. And although there are people here who will dispute it, I say that eating the amount of meat that the average American eats, is far less healthy than a vegetarian diet. If you eat meat, you do it because you like it. Those sailors ate tortoise because in the absence of fresh vegetables at sea, they needed it. For a meat-eater within reach of a grocery store in America to criticize those sailors is the height of hypocrisy.

Environmentally it's pretty bad. Though there are also major differences between different types of meat. Cow/beef being to my memory the worst, but looking it up now apparently lamb is the worst, in particular on this figure. Pork being far better, chicken far better still.

And yes, the amount of meat people eat matters, same as how many children they have. Or pets, many of which have to have meat. But people don't need to have children or pets.

To your question, as I said the treatment matters, including how much space they have. I see major difference between fur produced on animals in tiny cages, and wool from sheep in roomy fields. I might be biased on the sheep, because I can see them here free to roam half of the year, and I don't see how they're treated in winter (or when they're in the mountains, unless I happen to hike through, but I figure they have no worse time there). If I was going to be raised for food, and somehow also knew that, I'd prefer having a higher quality of life to not. And whatever the reason for my death, I'd prefer it to be quick and painless. But I'd probably instigate a rebellion if I thought I could escape and have a better life elsewhere.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2017, 03:48:33 AM by 2397 »

Offline gebobs

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Re: Episode #603
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2017, 02:41:19 PM »
There being a lot of tiny organisms going extinct is one thing. I think that an important part of why we're not noticing the mass extinction event that we are, is that wherever we live, certainly in cities, we've already completed the transformation and gotten rid of the natural environment. The parks aren't natural, either. Nor are the farms, which take up several times more land than our homes do.

And humans don't seem to be able to comprehend how big of a number 7.4 billion is. Passing 1 billion was already extreme. Imagine there being 1 billion of any other great ape, what kind of territory and impact that would entail. Apparently we can't, because human overpopulation keeps being laughed at as if that has nothing to do with it.

Definitely. And this is why I think we should be wary of the carrot of the virtually unlimited and clean energy. If and when we ever do have fusion reactors in the trunks of our cars or something else along the lines discussed in Science or Fiction that would be great for reducing carbon emissions but maybe not so great for Earth in general. That would only enable more population than would be sustainable with our current energy supply.

7.5 billion humans with our oversized consumption of resources is too many IMHO. By comparison, there are only a few hundred thousand elephants and a mere two thousand or so tigers.

That 7.5 billion is not sustainable in the long run. It will get much higher before it levels off. In the meantime, millions of species will be gone. It frightens me to think what civilization will be going through after we're gone. Human population is eventually going to be corrected, but not in a nice way. It's going to be brutal. And the world left to the survivors is going to be a lot less friendly.

Offline clavicorn

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Re: Episode #603
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2017, 08:54:53 PM »
[Trump] should be your number one priority. Dedicate your entire show to attacking him if necessary!

Please don't. Can we have somewhere that is Trump free or at least Trump lite. One (or at worst 2) segment(s) a month will do.

I know it is easy for me to ignore him (and I do), from the opposite side of the world, but there is other stuff happening in the world. Good and bad.

Of course there is, but acupuncture and homeopathy studies are low-hanging fruit and pale in importance in comparison to the damage that Trump is doing. Trying to cure colic with acupuncture may be dumb, but it's also relatively harmless.

Trump is an inconvenient truth, as it were. Better get used to it.