Listener Feedback Rides Again
A peek inside the Skeptoid inbox, ranging from the sane to the insane.
Once again we're going to dig through the Skeptoid inbox for interesting feedback. These include emails sent to me, comments posted to the online transcripts for the episodes, and also posts to Skeptalk. Anything that looks good.
Just for fun today I'd like to start with the sane feedback, and then move progressively toward the insane. Fortunately the sane people generally have something interesting and helpful to add. My episode on live frogs found encased within ancient stone discussed estivation and hibernation, two ways in which some animals can preserve their resources and minimize their oxygen or water needs. Dr. Brian Paavo is a marine biology consultant in New Zealand, and he offered the following additional information:
Water bears can stay in such a state for decades, and perhaps indefinitely. I did encounter them in my research, but decided to exclude them because we were talking about vertebrates, frogs specifically, and water bears are very, very different. Most are microscopic, some species have only a few hundred cells, and they have open circulatory systems instead of cardiovascular systems. They're extremophiles, and can even live in outer space. Show me the frog that can do that, and we'll revisit the topic. Thanks to Dr. Paavo for this very cool extra information.
So let's move on to some listeners to whom we owe a little less thanks. Dr. Johnston from Inverness, Scotland, seems to be among those who think the misshapen skulls of Peru are not modified deliberately, as has been the practice for more than 9,000 years, but rather that the explanation can only come from alien DNA:
Neanderthals were not humans. Humans are not even descended from Neanderthals. Dolphins also have large brains; does that also prove that humans must be aliens?
Other than being shaped like cucumbers.
No, nothing unusual about that at all.
Many ancient cultures have done this. In infancy, while the skull is still pliable, it would be bound with cloth or even pressed between boards to create a great variety of strange shapes. A lot of museums have large collections of these, such as the Museo Regional de Ica and the Museo Nacional de Arqueología Antropología e Historia del Perú, both in Peru, and the American Museum of Natural History, and the Peabody Museum at Harvard. None of these skulls have ever been found to have unusually large endocranial volumes, contrary to Dr. Johnston's misunderstanding. 1300cc to 1600cc is typical among the artificially deformed skulls, the same range as normal adults. They've been so extensively documented that I'm not sure what further work Johnston feels should be carried out.
At least one 3-liter skull has been found, however. It was an ancient Egyptian man who suffered from hydrocephaly. His head had not been artificially deformed and its proportions appeared fairly normal, to a layperson at first glance, anyway. However this poor fellow had a number of other skeletal deformities and was paralyzed on his left side. But so far nobody has found it necessary to classify him as an alien hybrid.
Mike from Asheville, NC had this thoughtful comment on my episode about aspartame:
I want to remind you that we're not quite to the crazy emails yet. Mike's on his way there, but he's got a little further to go still. But since Mike has uncovered all of my secrets, I'm going to quickly change the subject in an effort to distract your attention from his discoveries. Let's move on to Chris from Romania, who commented on my episode about Josef Mengele's twin experiments in South America:
Keep researching before accusing the Nazis of atrocities. So I'm revealing my intellectual laziness by not being a Holocaust denier, is that it, Chris?
Chris does, however, bring up an interesting point about the comparison of photos taken of Josef Mengele at Auschwitz with those taken of him at the Nuremberg Trials. There are notable differences. In Mengele's Nuremberg photographs, he is hazy and ill-defined, almost invisible. This is because he was not there. Mengele was never captured, and died in Brazil in 1979. This could be just more intellectual laziness on my part, so I'd better keep researching.
So now we come to today's final email, and it comes from Conrado in Spain. You can take a look at his website to learn more about him. He had to change the URL because Al-Qaeda "hijacked" his previous one, according to his home page. Conrado was concerned about my episode on the Lucifer Project, a conspiracy claim that the United States intends to crash the Cassini probe into Saturn, causing it to turn into a small sun. Here's what he had to say:
I've read this many times and I'm still unclear on what he's trying to tell me. On the one hand he's advising me that this cataclysm is at hand and I should accept Jesus to be miraculously spared; and on the other hand, he's reassuring me that God will see to it the Earth is not harmed, and the "Elite" (presumably including me) need not rush to our bunkers in any event. I guess the latter is what happened, because the October 2010 doomsday has come and gone, and we still have but one sun in the sky.
In the episode, I went into detail why Cassini's RTGs (radioisotope thermal generators) could not cause an atomic blast, and also into only a few of the many reasons why neither Saturn nor any of our other gas giants would be able to achieve sustained nuclear fusion. To counter these obstacles, the Lucifer Project conspiracy theorists have invented their own versions of various natural sciences under which these things could happen; in effect, written their own fictional novel that takes place in a fictional universe. It's too bad that Arthur C. Clarke beat them to it with 2001: A Space Odyssey, or they could have made some money.
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