Irreverent Skeptics Podcast Episode 18 – Science, Bitches!!

We’re switching the order of things up a bit. On April 19 and April 26, 2014, we did two ‘potpourri’ episodes, where we all came up with our own topics to talk about centered around a vague general subject. In the first episode… which was actually the second episode… after a quick discussion of how the internet might be able to give you PTSD, we talked about science stories we found fascinating. McElroy talked about the Higgs boson, and how it gives things mass. Bohler talked about South American civilizations and why the Ancient Aliens people are assholes. Jon talked about the concept of emergence, and how it has broad applications in many fields. And then… McElroy pretended to be a presuppositionalist apologist, and pissed Jon off immensely. Check out the full show notes!

Two notes: Yes, sadly, the Colton Burpo twitter feed turned out to be a parody. And no, the next won’t be about scary ways to die… the next show will actually be the April 19 show. You have one more episode in the meantime before we scare you to death!

YES PLEASE I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW MORE

YES PLEASE I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW MORE

On today’s show:

  • A brief discussion of the brou ha ha about Melody Hensley, feminism, PTSD, misogynists, and stuff from both sides of the argument(s).
  • McElroy: the Higgs boson and how it explains how particles have mass.
    • The Higgs boson is a particle that, according to the Standard Model, should be generated as a byproduct of the collision of certain kinds of energetic particles. We can’t actually measure or detect the Higgs itself, because it decays way too quickly, but there are certain predicted ‘daughter particles’ (that is, remnants of its decay) that would indicate it was there. Collisions at the LHC produced the expected daughter particles in ratios that gave them 2,000,000-to-1 odds of being the product of the Higgs. As of early 2013, at least two independent teams had confirmed the results.
    • The near-certain confirmation of the Higgs boson supports the idea of the Higgs field. Exactly what it is I don’t know, but the way I’ve seen it described is that it’s a field that permeates the universe (as a product of the Big Bang) that gives mass to particles. As particles with different properties move within the Higgs field, the field acts upon them to impart different masses upon them, much the same way that different wavelengths of light within a beam of white light will refract at different angles in a prism and thus separate out into different colors. The Higgs field is the prism, the particles are the wavelengths of light, and the masses are their colors. This concept is called ‘symmetry breaking’ and is part of the explanation of why seemingly similar (but slightly different) particles behave quite differently.
    • The Higgs field is the first known example of a group of fields known as scalar fields. This kind of field was previously mostly a matter of speculation – a field xinvolving particles which, unlike all known kinds of particles, are neither force-carrying particles or particles with mass. The existence of the Higgs field is evidence that other such scalar fields may exist throughout nature, and some physicists have speculated that complicated concepts like the mysterious ‘dark energy’ (which is involved in the expansion of the universe) might be explained in similar ways. Others speculate that they may be able to investigate the Higgs field and related concepts to determine the nature of the universe prior to the Big Bang, and to explain how the fundamental forces of the universe – gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces – came to be the way they are.
  • Bohler: Archaeology and South America vs. Ancient Aliens
  • JonO: Emergence! – So I’m going to talk about this now before I read a book or two on the subject and probably have to come back and amend what I say here. There was an episode of Radiolab years ago on the subject of emergence. I highly highly recommend that you listen to it. It’s one I’ve discussed with many people, to varying degrees of interest/receptivity, and a subject which I’ve never lost my interest in. So the idea of emergence is kind of “order from chaos”. You take a multiplicity of simple systems, actions and interactions, then can see a complex yet “organized” (finger quotes) system emerge from them as a whole. In the 1875 collection of works on philosophy known as The Problems of Life and Mind, the term “emergent” was coined by G.H. Lewes, who wrote:
      • from wikipedia: “Every resultant is either a sum or a difference of the co-operant forces; their sum, when their directions are the same — their difference, when their directions are contrary. Further, every resultant is clearly traceable in its components, because these are homogenous and commensurable. It is otherwise with emergents, when, instead of adding measurable motion to measurable, or things of one kind to other individuals of their kind, there is a co-operation of things of unlike kinds. The emergent is unlike its components insofar as these are incommensurable, and it cannot be reduced to their sum or their difference.”
    • Ant colonies: ants seem to act in a random manner individually, yet as a whole they create massive (sometimes many miles long and interconnected) colonies. They can tackle massive tasks as a whole and appear to be very organized. However when you watch an individual ant, it can appear to be confused (or just dumb) and acting in a very unproductive manner.
    • Biology: from wikipedia: Biology can be viewed as an emergent property of the laws of chemistry which, in turn, can be viewed as an emergent property of particle physics.
    • Psychology: Similarly, psychology could be understood as an emergent property of neurobiological dynamics, and free-market theories understand economy as an emergent feature of psychology
    • Natural emergent structures: Examples include coral reefs, bee hives, termite mounds, ice crystals/snowflakes…
  • McElroy play Jesus’ advocate!
    • I’ll give a brief intro to presuppositional apologetics, and we can do the little ‘debate’ thing as more of a demonstration than an actual debate. It’s really not much of a debating strategy anyway so much as a ‘nuclear option’ for making debate futile.
    • More info, straight from a presuppositionalist website.
    • The TL;DR is Romans 1:18-25,28-32:
      • The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
      • For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
      • Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
      • Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.


Feedback At Last!!: I want to take a moment to discuss the heaps of feedback we’ve had on irreverentskeptics.com recently. w00t w00t!! … sorta


WUTs:

John Paul II crucifix crushes man in northern Italy

A 21-year old man has died after being crushed by a crucifix erected in honour of Pope John Paul II in northern Italy.

Marco Gusmini was killed instantly and one other man taken to hospital, Italian media reported.

Part of the 30m-high (100ft) sculpture collapsed at a ceremony ahead of the Pope’s canonisation. John Paul II and his predecessor, Pope John XXIII, are due to be declared saints on Sunday.

The “Heaven Is For Real” kid has a twitter feed, and it is glorious.

@TheColtonBurpo

Although I’m suspicious of it because of tweets like these:

“Jesus smelled amazing.”

“God asked me if I wanted my human body back or to be a bird and I said human.”

“Since I came back, Dad stares right through me.”

“In heaven if you take a slice of pizza it grows back.”

“In heaven anyone can dunk.”

“I knew karate in heaven.”

“Heaven has every cereal.”

12:12 PM – 22 Apr 2014 – “I know how the world ends.” WAT

Also, Colton Burpo is now 15 years old. This seems like a person pulling a prank without realizing how old the kid is.

Mike Bohler’s quote of the day: “American traditions and the American ethic require us to be truthful, but the most important reason is that truth is the best propaganda and lies are the worst. To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful. It is as simple as that.” – Edgar R Murrow

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4 Comments

  1. I love the show, but why in the name of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is it always like 5 months between recording and publishing?!

  2. Hey folks,

    Heard your show mentioned on Scathing Atheist so tuned in on stitcher, really enjoyed the show and look forward to listening through the archives and future episodes, particularly enjoyed the science discussions.

    tc, Neil ( in Newcastle, England )

  3. Pingback: ISP #19 – Potluck Skepticism

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