Skeptics with a K: Episode #059

Fairies, body voltage and Alice in Wonderland. Plus nicotine, geopathic stress and missing roofs. With only minor negative health effects, it’s Skeptics with a K.

  1. #1 by Wesley Harding on November 18, 2011 - 12:38

    At around the 01:01 mark, Colin mentions a smoking PDF on the British Medical Society [Association] website. Could you post a link to the document? Thanks.

  2. #2 by brainfisch on November 18, 2011 - 12:44

    Thank you for the usual excellent podcast and lots of laughs, but as a good skeptic, I have at least two objections:
    First, fairies might be small today (the tinkerbell syndrome), but in medieval times and in legend, fairies were often rather large. JRR Tolkien complained a lot about this toning down of fairy stories. Examples of large people from fayrie are the green knight (in “Sir Gawain and the green knight”) being half a giant the king of fayrie in “Sir Orfeo). So being afraid of fairies after they took your roof, was a rather sensible idea – at least compared to being afraid of the Saints of the Catholic church, who were often hermits and busy being tormented and would therefore not pose a huge threat.

    My second point is about EMF. Most of the risks of EMF that were stated on the websites are real – they are just dose-dependent. If you are in an MRI-scanner as a volunteer and a physicist plays around with the parameters (happened to me several times), you might feel a tingling sensation and twitching of your limbs due to nerve stimulation. Theoretically one could turn up the scanner until you get some major damage- but most scanners don’t permit to change parameters up to that point. Also gamma rays are electromagnetic waves (changes in the EMF) and that gamma rays can cause cancer is commonplace medical knowledge (secondary cancer rates after radiotherapy are up to 10%). So in theory, EMF might cause some major damages, just not at the level, that cell phones or even mobile phones at home use. But if some Daleks would hack into our telecommunications systems and tweak them – who knows what would happen ….

  3. #3 by Gareth on November 18, 2011 - 13:12

    Just a quick message that the most recent version of Alice in Wonderland was mentioned in the small video section near the start

  4. #4 by Heather Cawte on November 18, 2011 - 15:37

    Funnily enough…

    I listened to this yesterday afternoon, just before I listened to the podcast, and it mentions fairies and roofless houses. Start listening at around 5:40:

    Again, and as always, an excellent show!

  5. #5 by mvs on November 18, 2011 - 22:14

    There is some scientific evidence for the “gateway hypothesis” with marijuana and later use of opiates. See the article below.

  6. #6 by Colin H on November 19, 2011 - 23:37

    Hi Wesley,

    Seems I may have been mistaken about the pdf being on the BMA website. I must have followed a link from on the site somewhere.

    The pdf can be found here:

  7. #7 by Jerry on November 21, 2011 - 19:20

    Well, for reasons which are unlikely to become clear, I have a copy of “Manx Fairy Tales” with the story about St. Trinian’s church and the buggane. The hero is a tailor who, after the roof is knocked off for the first time makes a wager that he will spend the night in the church and make a pair of britches. He is chased by the buggane and takes refuge in another church where the buggane can’t follow, and wins his bet. I had a skim through the rest of the book and there’s nothing more about the roofless house legend.

  8. #8 by Adam C. on November 21, 2011 - 23:37

    Just an aside: I found a source for Buggane and other Manx myths:

  9. #9 by Finn on November 22, 2011 - 13:09

    Most Irish people will say they do not believe in fairies/little people/old ones.. but very few of us would damage a fairy fort.. i know i wouldn’t. even tho i don’t believe.. that almost cultural wariness is ingrained.

  10. #10 by Wesley Harding on November 23, 2011 - 16:22

    Cheers, Col. I’ll have a read of that, now.

  11. #11 by Wesley Harding on November 23, 2011 - 16:24

    **sparks up a fag, and settles down to read**

(will not be published)