Skeptics with a K: Episode #017


Homéopathes Français, Flat Earthers and the Old, Old, Very Old Man.  With testicles both large and sound, it is Skeptics with a K.

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  1. #1 by Michael on March 11, 2010 - 21:36

    Dark energy divided by the distance moved = dark force. What the fuck do you think you’re doing? The force that accelerates the earth is gravity (due to the mass of the sun (1.99 x10^30 kg). Now he is having a go at Kepler’s 2nd law. Jeez. Give it up you lot.

  2. #2 by Mike Hall on March 12, 2010 - 02:48

    But if the sun is only 32 miles in diameter wouldn’t that much mass in that much space collapse into a black hole?

  3. #3 by Edd on March 12, 2010 - 12:04

    Mike: The Sun’s Schwarzschild radius is a few km. 32 miles would be a bit larger than a typical neutron star.

    Re: dark energy, it’s not a weird force or anything. It’s bog-standard gravity, just with a weird source (rather than matter, it’s something odder). The evidence for it is strong – it likely does exist – saying it doesn’t exist is going against current widespread opinion, although it’s not 100% certain or anything yet (there are other possibilities). It’s not quite a linguistic placeholder, but admittedly not far off. All that said, it’s nutso to use it in the context the guy you’re talking about does, as you note 🙂

  4. #4 by Mike on March 12, 2010 - 12:08

    Thanks Edd, appreciate the info!

  5. #5 by @jtmahony on March 12, 2010 - 15:25

    Homeopathy is disgracefully prevalent in France. Every pharmacy sells the stuff, probably because of the Boots argument ie as long as people are willing to buy it etc etc….. I don’t think that it’s true that any old homeopath can open a pharmacy, I think you have be a registered, qualified pharmacist all the same. Having said that, they all flog the stuff shamelessly. And socially security repays 35% of homeopathic prescriptions; it used to be 80% ! And as France has a huge social security hole, cutting out these reimbursements would save a tidy sum, but: Boiron is a huge company (Big Homeopathy, anyone?) and worth a lot of jobs and revenue to the French economy…people have a hard time accepting even economic reality here, so as for science….well, let’s just say the likes of Curie, Becquerel, Descartes, Laplace, and Leverrier would be turning in their graves. There’s even an astrology\channeling channel on regular TV, you don’t even have to go as far as cable!

  6. #6 by JW on March 12, 2010 - 18:55

    Thomas Dolby didn’t invent Dolby surround – nor does he have anything to do with “Dolby”. It’s a nickname he got at school.
    His balls are large and sound though!
    great show guys!

  7. #7 by Mike on March 13, 2010 - 11:06

    Edd: Thinking about this some more, my understanding was that Dark Matter was the “weird source” of gravity (i.e. a proposed solution for the “missing mass” problem), but Dark Energy was something else?

    Is that not correct?

  8. #8 by Rupert on March 13, 2010 - 11:58

    Yes, dark matter was a suggested solution (the main suggested solution) to the problem of why there seems to be a lot more mass about than we can see.

    Dark energy was suggested to solve a different problem. Since the Big Bang, matter has been rushing apart. Physicists had expected that as time passed, things would be slowing down as gravity tried to keep everything together. It turns out that, pretty surprisingly, all the galaxies seem to be *accelerating* away from each other. Dark energy is the name given to whatever it is that is pushing the galaxies apart, so it is still fairly mysterious.

    Dark energy might be something like Einstein’s cosmological constant – something he chucked into his General Relativity equations to make them come out with the answers he expected, and then took out and called his “greatest blunder”. The constant might be real after all.

    Astrophysicists have totted up all the matter/energy in the universe to see how much of it comes in different form. It seems that only 4.6% of the universe is baryonic matter (that’s normal matter, such as us, the planets and stars), 23% is dark matter, and the remaining 72% is dark energy.

    I always liked studying Dark Energy at university – when I told people what I was doing I felt like Darth Maul.

    Anyone know how the Flat Earthers deal with the fact that gravity gets weaker the higher up you go? Their acceleration theory wouldn’t cope with that. My favourite bit in the website was when they called on Occam’s Razor in their defence. That was just laughable.

    http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/tiki/tiki-index.php?page=Occams+Razor

    In other news, the distance from the Earth to the sun varies between 91.4 million miles and 94.5 million miles.

  9. #9 by Rupert on March 13, 2010 - 12:11

    Although right now it’s 92.4 million miles away.

  10. #10 by Mike on March 13, 2010 - 12:51

    So is Edd confusing Dark Matter with Dark Energy in his comment?

  11. #11 by Rupert on March 13, 2010 - 13:03

    I think so. No offence to Edd.

  12. #12 by Dave The Drummer on April 12, 2010 - 14:58

    Radius of event horizon of Sol mass black hole (1 solar mass) = (2Gm)/c^2
    =2953.43 metres
    The black hole would be 3.7 miles across and there would be no difference* to any of the orbits of the planets as the gravity gradient is unchanged well inside the orbital radius of Mercury.
    *Apart from all the lights going out of course and the eventual extinction of all sun dependent life on the planet.
    [buys a plot by a black smoker]
    😉

  13. #13 by Marc Naimark on May 28, 2010 - 13:44

    Writing to confirm jtmahony’s wise words re homeopathy in France. You do need to be a trained, scientifically educated pharmacist to open and run a pharmacy. But they all believe, or at least promote, homeopathy, because it’s good for business. Pharmacists claim to be medical professionals, but are more like grocers, selling everything and anything to make a buck, partly because there are too many of them, despite their installation being regulated and subject to quotas. They have had it good, because many products could not be sold anywhere else (like diapers at one time, and until recently, baby formula or vitamins). They are good at resisting the inroads of retailers who want to compete in product areas such as OTC medication.

    I don’t find reflexology as prevalent as Marsh. But we do have some odd treatments I have not seen elsewhere. Mesotherapy, for example, or sophrology.

    I think the most prevalent woo in France is the deeply held belief that drafts cause the flu. They hate drafts, and will prefer to stay in a stifling smoke-filled room rather than open the window a crack. This is related to their belief that the throat is the most vulnerable spot for disease, leading to the prevalence of neckscarves in all seasons.

  14. #14 by MarcParis on May 28, 2010 - 18:04

    Hello again… re PLR grandfathering.

    This must mean that there are homeopathic treatments that have been grandfathered in, while there are presumably any number of other potential homeopathic treatments that cannot be grandfathered in.

    Can Boots demonstrate that their grandfathered sleeping pills are in fact the product they claim them to be? They could very well be a totally different product taking advantage of the grandfathering of product X.

    Because of this real risk, Boots should be required to demonstrate the content of product X, ie, prove that it’s what they claim it is. They would presumably need to demonstrate that the product contains whatever magic stuff is supposed to be in the grandfathered product X, rather than another copycat magic stuff.

(will not be published)