Author Topic: Episode #703  (Read 2652 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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Episode #703
« on: December 29, 2018, 11:21:58 AM »
2018 Year End Review; Best and Worst of 2018; SGUs Visit to the CIA; Science News of the Year; Skeptical Hero and Jackass of the year; In Memoriam; Science or Fiction
Steven Novella
Host, The Skeptics Guide
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Offline GodHead

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Re: Episode #703
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2018, 01:42:36 PM »
Lol. I am so glad Jay piped up with the actual meaning behind Auld Lang Syne.

I couldn't even imagine who could listen to the lyrics and think it meant what Evan and Cara were describing.

Offline JohnM

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Re: Episode #703
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2018, 04:37:06 PM »
So I thought that CIA bit was interesting. While I can see why they take the visit to have conversations with them to see how they use data etc I think it's a big mistake if they assist in any podcasts - even if it's a purely technical basis.

They would lose what makes the SGU so good: their independence. Steve - who no doubt listening back to the convo with some blushes had to talk apologetically over the gush fest - he's said he's refused any interest from GMO companies because it would seem like he's being backed by them. Well the same applies here, by assisting them you're affirming their politics, you become associated with them and I doubt that it could ever be the same again.

Just to add as an edit it has been an amazing year for the SGU. I got to see them twice in 2 days - something I thought I'd never get the opportunity!
« Last Edit: December 29, 2018, 04:57:12 PM by JohnM »

Online bachfiend

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Re: Episode #703
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2018, 06:32:12 PM »
It’s not true that global warming denial is an American-only issue.  The entire Australian government (hopefully they’ll be kicked out of office next year) is in global warming denial.  Or at least pretending that Australia doesn’t need to do anything much.  The government insists Australia will meet its (inadequate) Paris pledge of reducing CO2 emissions by 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030 in a ‘canter,’ by reducing it to 26% and confining it to electricity production (which is around 1/3 of emissions).

The previous Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull (who did accept the science, but who was beholden to the denialists in his government) got rolled and retired from parliament causing a byelection in his very safe seat.  And the government candidate lost the seat against an independent female (same-sex married, deliciously - the present PM is a Christian fundamentalist who’d campaigned against same-sex marriage in the postal plebiscite) candidate, who’d campaigned on doing more about global warming.  The first time the conservatives didn’t hold the seat.

Further to the segment on the CIA.  James Clapper’s book (or memoirs) ‘Facts and Fears’ goes into more depth regarding the role of the intelligence community in policy making (they don’t - policy makers make the policies, not the intelligence advisors).  I though it was a very good and interesting read, and I recommend it.

If Deep Horizon isn’t in any danger of hitting anything in its continuing flight through the Kuiper Belt, doesn’t that mean that the IA’s definition of a planet isn’t a little bit silly?  In particular, the third stipulation that the putative planet has to have cleared its orbit.  There might be a lot of matter in the Kuiper Belt, but there’s also a lot of space.  The matter that’s there, overall, is extremely dilute.  A planet should be just a celestial body orbiting a star and large enough to be spherical, in which case Pluto is a planet.

I also think that with natural satellites orbiting planets, ‘moon’ should be restricted to those large enough to be spherical, eliminating many fragments of rock or ice as ‘moons.’  Phobos and Deimos are natural satellites of Mars, but shouldn’t be called ‘moons.’

One of the arguments for downgrading Pluto to dwarf planet was the fear that the number of solar planets would increase to unmanageable numbers, which I don’t think would happen.  Already, there are hundreds of named and unnamed moons, including around 68 orbiting Jupiter.

As an addition, one of the conservative dinosaurs, Peter Dutton, who couped against the elected prime minister, has just given an interview in which he derided Malcolm Turnbull for not putting into practice his beliefs.  He stood for nothing, which is true enough.  Much the same situation with the current Australian government.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2018, 08:11:44 PM by bachfiend »
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Offline Zec

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Re: Episode #703
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2018, 08:29:41 PM »
I'm really amused that after the CIA people literally told them "we are professional liars", they believed all the BS they got on the Osama story
including a silent helicopter. seriously, a silent helicopter.
 

Online bachfiend

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Re: Episode #703
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2018, 08:45:57 PM »
I'm really amused that after the CIA people literally told them "we are professional liars", they believed all the BS they got on the Osama story
including a silent helicopter. seriously, a silent helicopter.

A very quiet helicopter, or at least a quieter helicopter.  In the same way that a professional assassin might use a noise suppressor (not a silencer) on his gun.

Oops - I’ve just committed a faux pas.  I should have written ‘In the same way that a professional assassin might use a noise suppressor (not a silencer) on their gun.’ (See the forum for episode#700).
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Offline GodHead

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Re: Episode #703
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2018, 08:49:35 PM »
They did sound like a bunch of credulous shills. I know they're not, but that's what it sounded like. The CIA is in the business of directly and indirectly killing people. And we got pure unabashed dick sucking from the SGU (maybe slightly abashed with Steve's voiceover, but not enough for them to say no).

A bit disappointed with what a couple cheap mugs and pamphlets will get, even with such normally rational individuals. Super easy to buy off. Can you imagine what sort of reaction someone could get if they offered a real bribe to the SGU/NESS?

Would we get the same sort of reaction if the Chinese Ministry of State Security offered them a tour, glad handed them for a day, and gave them t-shirts?

Edit: I'm not a bit disappointed. I am very disappointed.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2018, 08:58:50 PM by GodHead »

Online bachfiend

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Re: Episode #703
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2018, 09:13:38 PM »
They did sound like a bunch of credulous shills. I know they're not, but that's what it sounded like. The CIA is in the business of directly and indirectly killing people. And we got pure unabashed dick sucking from the SGU (maybe slightly abashed with Steve's voiceover, but not enough for them to say no).

A bit disappointed with what a couple cheap mugs and pamphlets will get, even with such normally rational individuals. Super easy to buy off. Can you imagine what sort of reaction someone could get if they offered a real bribe to the SGU/NESS?

Would we get the same sort of reaction if the Chinese Ministry of State Security offered them a tour, glad handed them for a day, and gave them t-shirts?

Edit: I'm not a bit disappointed. I am very disappointed.

I’m an Australian.  The CIA are a very good target as fictional villains.  The Australian equivalent is ASIO, which, alas, is too incompetent to provide a similar fictional target (although their successes, by their nature, are never revealed, just their failures).  Spy novels would be very boring if they accurately depicted the largely bureaucratic nature of most intelligence work.
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Offline Zec

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Re: Episode #703
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2018, 09:14:24 PM »
to be honest I just got to hear Cara’s funny remark “that said there is still a part of me that doesn’t believe anything they told us”, and Steve’s later  addition, so good on them.

Offline CarbShark

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Re: Episode #703
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2018, 09:42:53 PM »
The main business of the CIA is to gather information.

They occasionally act on that information by killing people, much more often during an actual shooting war, but that’s far from their main business.


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Offline brilligtove

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Re: Episode #703
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2018, 11:07:48 PM »
The CIA segment was gushing with excitement. I didn't think it was gushing with credulity or support. Steve was right to footnote that bit.
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Online 2397

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Re: Episode #703
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2018, 12:24:38 AM »
The CIA also enable and commit war crimes, facing no consequences because of bipartisan support for torturers and preventing prosecution. They employ and have employed some of the most horrible individuals, equal to those who have killed and caused suffering for large numbers of people with fraud and pseudoscience. The SGU shouldn't leave that out when they bring up the topic of the CIA, just because they were invited on a PR tour.

There's no 2018 version of the CIA that's significantly different from the recent past, when those who have been willing participants in human rights violations can still be involved with the agency, or even run it.

Steve adds a clip at the end where he tries to take politics and ethics out of the equation, but he says "history" and "in the past" as if we should believe that that's all been dealt with. That you don't risk shaking hands with the worst of the worst when you meet someone from the CIA today. Nothing has been dealt with. It's been deliberately not dealt with.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2018, 12:29:51 AM by 2397 »

Online bachfiend

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Re: Episode #703
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2018, 12:30:48 AM »
The CIA also enable and commit war crimes, facing no consequences because of bipartisan support for torturers and preventing prosecution. They employ and have employed some of the most horrible individuals, equal to those who have killed and caused suffering for large numbers of people with fraud and pseudoscience. The SGU shouldn't leave that out when they bring up the topic of the CIA, just because they were invited on a PR tour.

There's no 2018 version of the CIA that's significantly different from the recent past, when those who have been willing participants in human rights violations can still be involved with the agency, or even run it.

Steve adds a clip at the end where he tries to take politics and ethics out of the equation, but he says "history" and "in the past" as if we should believe that that's all been dealt with. That you don't risk shaking hands with the worst of the worst when you meet someone from the CIA today. Nothing has been dealt. It's been deliberately not dealt with.

The CIA’s war crimes were at the behest of their political masters.  After Bush, Blair and Howard face war crime trials, then I think it would be time to go after some in the CIA, MI6 and ASIO.
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Online 2397

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Re: Episode #703
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2018, 12:40:12 AM »
"Just following orders" is not a defense when you are an active participant in war crimes.

Online bachfiend

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Re: Episode #703
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2018, 12:46:21 AM »
"Just following orders" is not a defense when you are an active participant in war crimes.

No, it’s not a defence.  But in war crime trials, the leaders giving the orders were put on trial, and often executed.  Bush, Blair and Howard should have been put on trial for being mass murderers.
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