Skeptics with a K: Episode #020

The Skeptics with a K discuss CRIMINON, skeptical limericks and speaking German after a coma.  Plus Pet Sematary, osteopaths and free falling from 18,000 ft.


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  1. #1 by Bastard Sheep on April 23, 2010 - 08:23

    You’re partially correct, us Aussies aren’t very familiar at all with the imperial system – at least the younger of us aren’t (note: I’m 31). The imperial system is still used globally when it comes to the nautical and aeronautical forms of transport, so all speeds are in knots and altitude in feet as they are in every other country.

    If you were to ask me to demonstrate how far 15 feet is though, I wouldn’t know whether to hold up my hand with thumb and forefinger extended or whether to mark a start point and then head to the car to get to the end point.

    Ok maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I am sure you get the idea.

  2. #2 by Ian on April 23, 2010 - 11:21

    You mention a guy that fell 18,000 feet – and I thought “I know someone that did that… or at least had someone pointed out in the street that did that”… It turns out that it WAS Nicholas Alkemade – who lived just round the corner from my Mother in Law’s place in Loughborough. He seemed like a regular bloke in his 70’s – no flatter than most.

  3. #3 by Rich on April 23, 2010 - 20:32

    Great show. Thanks.

  4. #4 by Ben Stephens on April 25, 2010 - 18:34

    Hi Guys, thanks for responding to my question about osteopathy.

    I know another osteopath from a business club that I attend (quite irregularly). I’m wondering how I should approach the issue of him promoting woo. My natural inclination is to not create any kind of fuss. But, as a more general question, how should we respond to woo peddlers in our daily lives? I can’t remember you having dealt with this issue, but I imagine it’s one that a lot of people in the skeptical community have to think about.

    There’s this guy – the Health Ranger,
    To skeptics, he’s no stranger,
    He had a big fit,
    And said they were shit,
    But he’s the real danger.

  5. #5 by Scott Miles on April 27, 2010 - 11:25

    In regards to the woman who went into a coma and came out speaking German, I would first have someone educated in second language acquisition rate her ability (high beginner? low intermediate? etc.) and assess whether or not her new found ability is unusually high for someone who has studied the language as long as she has. I would wager that she has not.
    A question to ask is how well her mother was aware of her daughter’s ability to speak German before the coma. Were they conversing in German daily? Or (more likely), was her mother really not paying much attention to her daughter’s progress for some time prior to the incident? Beginners in a language can make remarkable progress in a relatively short time, and if the mother just hadn’t heard her speak for a month or so before the coma, she might have been quite unaware of how well her daughter was progressing.

  6. #6 by Paul Smout on April 27, 2010 - 17:13

    Bit upset by the lack of knowledge on John Snow lads.

    Saying he “removed a handle from a pump” is doing one of the fathers of epidemiology a disservice.

  7. #7 by Mike on April 27, 2010 - 21:34

    To be fair, John Snow wasn’t the focus of the piece; he was mentioned only in passing. His solution to the 1854 cholera outbreak was referenced simply as a touchstone, to remind people who he was. It was never meant to be a summary of the man’s career!

  8. #8 by Grim on April 29, 2010 - 11:57

    Hi Guys, loving the show, I’ve been listening for a few shows now, but this one has given me something to comment on. The mysterious figure 8 in the sky. I know what it was. You say that the sky was so clear, possibly so clear you could “see forever”. Forever could be defined as infinite. So, if while watching this “figure 8” pattern, you had turned your head to the side, you would have seen the figure for infinity. So, on a clear night, you saw forever, or infinity, if you like.

    I had a similar experience a while back. I was walking my dog one night, we were in a low spot between 2 hills. I looked up and saw an object moving across the sky, with no lights visible, and no sound. At first I thought it was a cloud, but the breeze was coming towards me, and this object was going in the opposite direction. Because of the darkness, its shape was indistinct. Bizarre, definitely – Aliens, I don’t think so – UFO, until I could figure it out, yes.

    I forgot about it for a few days, then I thought I should tell someone, but first, check my facts. I checked our weather website to get the direction of the wind, which turned out to be the exact opposite of my observations. The nearest I could figure, the wind down in the hollow where I was, had been re-directed by a couple of 4 story buildings I was passing. So it must have been a cloud being blown by a wind I couldn’t detect.

    The moral, check your facts before making assumptions, lest you be the ass.

  9. #9 by Mick on April 29, 2010 - 20:58

    You wondered about the pilot in the Alkemade case, and why he didn’t also jump. If a bomber crew had to abandon their plane the pilot would usually try to keep it steady for them. Often by the time they were clear it would be too late for him to also jump. I don’t know if this is what happened in the Alkemade case, but it did happen when my grandfather’s B-24 was shot down over Italy.

  10. #10 by Andy Wilson on May 14, 2010 - 17:40


    Hats off to your Grandfather. A heartwarming act of courage and selflessness.


  11. #11 by Matt on June 17, 2010 - 15:06

    Woh, I went to an osteopath when I was about 17 or so, before I became a skeptic, and its so odd to find out its quakery. The reason I went was because it was recommended by my Doctor! Needless to say I am relieved that I no longer go to that Doctor.

  12. #12 by Andy on July 5, 2010 - 15:03

    Fantastic ‘microwaved tea / Pet Sematary’ analogy! The tea is defo not the same! 😉 I’d thought that for years and always thought of the steak that had been through the teleport from the 1986 version of The Fly movie but think I prefer this comparison. Just recently started listening to your show so catching up on all previous episodes. Great podcast.

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