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Posts posted by belovedleader

  1. It's funny when you guys get to talking about how the hard-working team in some young adult movies (Karate Kid, Mighty Ducks) don't win even though they worked hard. I wanted to shout oh! oh! and raise my hand because all Pixar movies actually share the opposite theme. In all Pixar movies, if you work hard and do your job well, then everything works out okay. All their movies could be re-titled (boringly) as "How to be a good toy", "How to be a good monster" or "How to be a good metaphor for a juvenile brain" (It's almost as if the writers live in some heavenly work campus where everything is great as long as you're at work and doing your job.)

  2. It's worth noting when talking about brains and stars that the number of stars in the Milky Way is 4 x 10^11 (that's scientific notation for 400 billion) but the number of neuronal connections (that's places in the brain where two neurons can exchange signals) is 1 × 10^15 (or One quadrillion). So when you look into the night sky, you can let yourself know that there are more gaps between neurons in your head than there are stars in the night sky. Whew!

  3. It could be my misunderstanding of the guest's phrasing—so ignore me if I've misinterpreted what was said—but I find it hard to believe that chewing nicotine gum or using a nicotine lozenge would cause lung cancer; especially in cases where the user had no previous smoking habits.


    I say this for two reasons. Individuals who do not smoke, but are exposed to pollution of unusual amounts can develop lung cancer, which points more toward the carcinogens in cigarettes as a higher potential cause as opposed to nicotine. In addition, smoking marijuana—again, no nicotine involved—is correlated with lung cancer. Again, it's the carcinogens in smoking that seem the likely candidate for lung cancer.


    Please note the careful use of "correlation" here as opposed to "cause." No study reliably shows what in cigarettes cause lung cancer. Most studies investigating smoking and lung cancer are statistical studies in nature and so what they show is a correlation between smoking and lung cancer. They are not descriptions of a cause. My own grandmother, for instance, smoked (lightly) for her entire adult life. She lived into her 90s. Her smoking did not cause lung cancer. So the difference between "correlates with" and "cause" is an important distinction.


    I would argue that given the cases of smoking (tobacco or marijuana) or pollution the stronger suspect for causing cancer is the carcinogens that come along with burning substances and not nicotine itself. The amount consumed also must play a role. If you smoke one cigarette, it will not cause you to get lung cancer.


    Lest I be misunderstood as advocating cigarette smoking or nicotine usage, I do not. I would also note that nicotine in high enough doses (60mg for a 150 pound adult) is lethal. What I'm really after here, since this is an episode about scientists, is that there is an important and significant difference between correlation and cause. I believe that stating that nicotine causes lung cancer is incorrect.

  4. Well, I think KYLE should wash HIS mouth out with soap, because when discussing his distaste for POOPING he says that the guest should wash her mouth out with soap, and then he suggests that the guest should LICK the soap, which is also suggestive and dirty and offended my sensibilities and SHAME on KYLE. And now I'm going to go wash my keyboard off with soap.

  5. That was a good conversation, and I like Stephanie Allynne in everything she does (especially "Take a Knee"). I'm not picking on her when I say the following; it has actually come up on the show before. People use the idea of coincidence (or the impossibility of it) to justify beliefs all the time, and it's really poor critical thinking. In Stephanie's story, she awoke from a dream having thought of a name (Angelina Wells) only to discover on the computerwebs that she shares a birthday with someone named that and it sounds quite fantastic. Except it's not. Probability dictates that with only 30 people in a room you have a 78% chance of their being matching birthdays. 60 people means 99% probability of two people sharing birthdays. Like anything probabilistic, there is always a chance of some things happening.


    The truly unlikely event is that if you are imagining that maybe you have a past life, considering that most human beings have been Chinese or African, why didn't you think of "Xiahou Sung" as your name or maybe "Elkanah Odembo?" Could it be that your brain, an exceptional machine that constantly monitors your environment notes things that you consciously forget? The answer is yes. Your brain does that all the time.


    When someone says something *just can't* be a coincidence, they often haven't crunched the numbers. Like Tig says, when someone asks you "Can you believe it!?" the answer is usually, "Yeah. I can wrap my head around that."

    • Like 1

  6. I'd like to second @tbain. This was my first time listening to the podcast and although I'll listen to a few more episodes, your show needs to consider its sources. I'm a Ph.D. candidate in cognitive science (not physics) but I knew enough to know that she was incorrect on most of the points that @tbain mentioned above. I was also irritated with the inaccurate portrayal of the differences between Newton and Einstein's theories. It should be clearly explained to any audience that both theories are mathematical models and that mathematical models can be described in terms of their accuracy in describing empirical data. Newton's models are simple and work exceptionally well when discussing certain distances. Where Newton's models begin to break down is at large distances and with very large masses. This binary concept that the public has of scientific theories being right or wrong is a huge misconception that really needs to be better explained by the scientific community and Christina, unfortunately, just didn't pul her weight here.