Author Topic: Episode #721  (Read 1670 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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Episode #721
« on: May 04, 2019, 11:50:21 AM »
Live from Bethlehem with guest George Hrab; News Items: Reading the Brain, JAMA on Medical Misinformation, Thanos Apocalypse, Fake Gay Cure; Skeptical Experiences; Science or Fiction
Steven Novella
Host, The Skeptics Guide
snovella@theness.com

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #721
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2019, 07:46:42 PM »
Regardless of what the president of Marvel thinks, Thanos's intention was to save worlds, so he obviously would not kill off half the beneficial microbes in everybody's guts, or half the remaining populations of endangered species. He killed half of all people, interpreting "people" as sentient intelligent residents of technological civilizations.

I have not seen Endgame, so I have no idea what happens there.
Daniel
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Offline stands2reason

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Re: Episode #721
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2019, 10:13:41 PM »
I don't understand how the Thanos gambit is eugenics. Apparently, it is the opposite, specifically lacking any kind of selection. However, contingent on how it would be hypothetically carried out, there might be artificial selection (subconscious decisions of what to destroy, or a bioweapon designed to kill "about half" of something).

Offline stands2reason

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Re: Episode #721
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2019, 10:46:41 PM »
Probing Uranus...

Online Tassie Dave

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Re: Episode #721
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2019, 04:46:05 AM »
What Cara is calling a pudding in the UK is a Yorkshire Pudding. It is usually served with a roast as part of the main meal. Which is not what the word pudding means there (or Australasia)

Pudding here (Australia) and the UK means any type of Dessert (sweet or savoury) following the main meal of the day.

If an Aussie or Pom says "What's for pudding?", they mean "What are we having for Dessert?"

Offline fuzzyMarmot

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Re: Episode #721
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2019, 05:31:09 AM »
I don't understand how the Thanos gambit is eugenics. Apparently, it is the opposite, specifically lacking any kind of selection. However, contingent on how it would be hypothetically carried out, there might be artificial selection (subconscious decisions of what to destroy, or a bioweapon designed to kill "about half" of something).
In terms of ecology and reducing all species by 1/2, I think one of the main points discussed was that there is still selective pressure. Genotypes suited to rapid growth in low-density environments would benefit at the detriment of genotypes suited to direct competition in high-density environments.

On a side note, Mike Pesca recently did an interesting and funny take on the Thanos premise on his podcast the Gist (it is the last segment, at the 20 min mark). He highlights some of the consequences, ranging from economics to the Supreme Court to the NBA.
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/04/planet-earth-avengers-endgame-hypothetical.html

Gotta admit, though, this is all outside my wheelhouse. I don't watch superhero movies, and every time I hear "Thanos" I think people are talking about Elizabeth Holmes' company.

Offline lucek

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Re: Episode #721
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2019, 07:07:18 AM »
In this episode George asked what things did Rose have done they would never imagined they would. It's interesting that in doing so none of them mentioned talking to a United States president.
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #721
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2019, 11:37:31 AM »
I don't understand how the Thanos gambit is eugenics. Apparently, it is the opposite, specifically lacking any kind of selection. However, contingent on how it would be hypothetically carried out, there might be artificial selection (subconscious decisions of what to destroy, or a bioweapon designed to kill "about half" of something).

Excellent point: Eugenics is the intentional breeding of humans for desired traits. Thanos's action would affect the future evolution of humans and other species, but his intention was not breeding for particular traits. His intention was a random culling of the herd, and he exercised no selection process.

He might inadvertently commit genocide if a population fails to survive the culling, but without the intention to do so, it's not eugenics.
Daniel
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Offline swan

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Re: Episode #721
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2019, 02:50:13 PM »
If Thanos wants to cut the population in half he could just force all farms in the Universe to use "organic" methods: that way no planet could ever maintain a large population again. ;)

Also, since randomness can be clumpy, is there a chance that he could have accidentally wiped out just one gender of a race or species somewhere? “Oops...”

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #721
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2019, 03:16:54 PM »
If Thanos wants to cut the population in half he could just force all farms in the Universe to use "organic" methods: that way no planet could ever maintain a large population again. ;)

Also, since randomness can be clumpy, is there a chance that he could have accidentally wiped out just one gender of a race or species somewhere? “Oops...”

He wanted to reduce the population to the carrying capacity of the planet, not reduce the carrying capacity of the planet. The whole premise is very Earth-centric, though, because it's not credible that all the planets in the universe would have the same overpopulation issue at the same time.

Your second point is very true: If he kills a random half of the population on every one of a hundred trillion planets, he'll end up wiping out a few million of them. A much better solution is a controlled reduction in fertility so the population gradually declines to a sustainable level.
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

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Re: Episode #721
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2019, 05:59:30 PM »
Did the SGU just make the "If we wouldn't have done it, someone else would have." defense in regard to their CIA visits? Jeez Louise.

Offline Ah.hell

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Re: Episode #721
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2019, 12:48:25 PM »
Adding art to STEM is silly.  The whole point of STEM as a thing is that they are fields with consistently low unemployment and good wages but American kids are fairly intimidated by. 

Art is the opposite of that.  Also, is there anything actually excluded from STEAM?  Political science and law maybe?

I'm pretty sure that someone mentioned "STEAM" fields in this episode, may have been last week. 

Offline stlc8tr

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Re: Episode #721
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2019, 04:40:01 PM »
Did the SGU just make the "If we wouldn't have done it, someone else would have." defense in regard to their CIA visits? Jeez Louise.

I find the SGU's continued fanboy gushing about the CIA visit to be very off-putting.

Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Episode #721
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2019, 08:58:47 PM »
Did the SGU just make the "If we wouldn't have done it, someone else would have." defense in regard to their CIA visits? Jeez Louise.

That's not actually what Evan said. He said that if the CIA was going to approach someone for consulting on podcasting (which they were), it's better that it was SGU and not someone else.

After all, it would have been much worse if they consulted with Joe Rogan instead.
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #721
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2019, 09:05:03 PM »
Did the SGU just make the "If we wouldn't have done it, someone else would have." defense in regard to their CIA visits? Jeez Louise.

I find the SGU's continued fanboy gushing about the CIA visit to be very off-putting.

Yeah. Their argument is that they just want to promote skepticism. But what they're really doing is helping the CIA to be more effective. And if they help them develop, or even just give them some tools to to develop a podcast for the public, then they're helping them with their public relations.

All this is good if you approve of what the CIA does. Or even if you just believe that the CIA is on balance a good thing. But if you regard the CIA as the administration's dirty tricks team, if you oppose the torture of prisoners who have never been allowed the opportunity to defend themselves against the charges against them, then any help you give them is complicity in their multitudinous crimes.

The SGU's involvement with the CIA is reprehensible because the CIA is a terrorist organization.

Apparently the rogues believe that the CIA just gathers and analyses information, and information is always good to have. They are being extremely unskeptical.
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

 

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