Skeptics with a K: Episode #176


Breakfast doughnuts, Brexit, and the intent of cancer. Plus cold denial, insulting radio, and blebbing cells. Living the Dark Ages, it’s Skeptics with a K.

Donate to the Merseyside Skeptics charity walk in support of Mind at justgiving.com/mersey-skeptics.

Play
  1. #1 by Tom Williamson on June 30, 2016 - 15:41

    Great blebbage.

    And Mike is right, doughnuts are not *specifically* a breakfast. #teammike

    The latter half of this podcast was a nice distraction from the country being fucked.

  2. #2 by Mark Baker on June 30, 2016 - 15:56

    Please leave the extreme political opinions out of the comments.

  3. #3 by Mx56 on June 30, 2016 - 17:49

    Wee factual quibble with Marsh’s bit. 80% of Leave supporters did not say that immigration is a force for ill in that Ashcroft poll. 80% of people who thought that immigration was a force for ill in that poll voted Leave.

    If you look at the data tables for the poll (which are on Lord Ashcroft’s website), on page 168 you’ll see a table based on ratings from 0 (very much a force for ill) to 10 (very much a force for good), Ashcroft seems to have taken 0-4 as “Force for ill” and 6-10 as “Force for good” with 5 as “Mixed blessing”. The resulting contingency table should look something like this (knocked together myself in Excel because Ashcroft is a git and presents his data in a hideously unfriendly format) – http://imgur.com/lMB2Wse

    From that we have 62% of Leave voters thinking immigration is a force for ill vs. 17% of Remain voters. It’s not that the point you were making was wrong, just that the stats were off and that’s kind of important when we’re talking about people being insufficiently informed.

    (and for anybody who cares, the chi square test statistic from that would be a whopping 3269.80, for a p value of infinitesimally tiny size)

  4. #4 by Trebor on June 30, 2016 - 22:35

    Great ep,
    I can already see you are going to get a lot of angry post and debate over the doughnut issue.

  5. #5 by Rob on July 1, 2016 - 04:33

    But where do you guys stand on the Brexit thing?

  6. #6 by Kevin Wakley on July 1, 2016 - 12:06

    Marsh, I agree 100%.

  7. #7 by Marsh on July 1, 2016 - 12:58

    Mx56 :

    Wee factual quibble with Marsh’s bit. 80% of Leave supporters did not say that immigration is a force for ill in that Ashcroft poll. 80% of people who thought that immigration was a force for ill in that poll voted Leave.

    If you look at the data tables for the poll (which are on Lord Ashcroft’s website), on page 168 you’ll see a table based on ratings from 0 (very much a force for ill) to 10 (very much a force for good), Ashcroft seems to have taken 0-4 as “Force for ill” and 6-10 as “Force for good” with 5 as “Mixed blessing”. The resulting contingency table should look something like this (knocked together myself in Excel because Ashcroft is a git and presents his data in a hideously unfriendly format) – http://imgur.com/lMB2Wse

    From that we have 62% of Leave voters thinking immigration is a force for ill vs. 17% of Remain voters. It’s not that the point you were making was wrong, just that the stats were off and that’s kind of important when we’re talking about people being insufficiently informed.

    (and for anybody who cares, the chi square test statistic from that would be a whopping 3269.80, for a p value of infinitesimally tiny size)

    Thanks very much, the correction is much appreciated!

  8. #8 by Julian Straker-Jones on July 2, 2016 - 13:39

    One other correction regarding the Brexit vote. Several areas of Wales voted to remain, Cardiff voted 60% in favour of remaining, and the Vale of Glamorgan, Ceredigion, Monmouthshire, and Gwynedd all voted to remain too.
    The impression you gave was that all areas of Wales voted ‘Out’.
    There may be no correlation, but Cardiff has a high level of students and graduates, who are generally likely to be well informed. Also, like Liverpool and other ports, Cardiff has a high level of immigration and has done for many years.
    Torfaen voted Leave (60%), and yet it has amongst the lowest level of immigration and the highest level EU funding in the whole of Wales.
    Here are some stats from the ilivehere website taken from the 2011 census.
    Country of Birth for Torfaen (and Wales in brackets)
    United Kingdom 97.3% (94.5%)
    Rebublic of Ireland 0.3% (0.4%)
    Other EU Countries 0.7% (1.8%)
    Outside the EU 1.6% (3.3%)

    From the same source, here are figures on qualifications:
    QUALIFICATION TORFAEN CARDIFF WALES
    No Qualifications 28.9% 20.7% 25.9%
    Level 1 15% 11% 13.3%
    Level 2 16.3% 13% 15.7%
    Apprenticeship 4.3% 2.8% 3.9%
    Level 3 11.2% 15.2% 12.3%
    Level 4 20.3% 32.3% 24.5%
    Other 4% 5% 4.3%

  9. #9 by Julian Straker-Jones on July 2, 2016 - 13:46

    For the record, I’m quite happy for you to cover politics on the podcast, particularly when there’s a clear case for saying that the public is being misinformed. In the case of Brexit it would be difficult to ignore.
    Politics does impact our lives, and, as with misleading homeopathy and chiropractic advice and treatment, there is a real danger of harm to those who accept this misinformation uncritically.

  10. #10 by Graham on July 2, 2016 - 18:11

    Interesting that most people think that the Right Wing is responsible for Brexit. When Greece was contemplating this the local Left Wing groups plastered my city with posters calling for it occur and bring down the Eurozone/EU so that the Jews who controlled the banks would be brought to ruin.

  11. #11 by Karl on July 3, 2016 - 04:17

    The gag about Cameron getting the Nobel Peace Prize really cracked me up. Well done.

    I’m not against talking politics on the show, but isn’t this a case of shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted? I don’t live in the UK, but it seems like people (myself included) are only speaking out about the quality of the debate now that the remain side has lost. Perhaps you should have done this episode before the referendum and possibly changed a few minds. As it is, you’ve made me even more angry about the result and there is nothing we can do!

  12. #12 by Dorothy Mantooth on July 4, 2016 - 14:06

    I disagree with your opinion on Brexit, Marsh, but I genuinely appreciate that you at least were respectful of those of us who were pro-Leave because of our feelings about liberty and self-rule/independence, and that you listed those reasons as being understandable and valid even though you didn’t agree with them.

    I’m less appreciative of the disparaging remarks made about referenda in general, though, and surprised by them. I find it quite sad that anyone can say something like “I don’t think the people should have a say in decisions which affect their lives,” which basically sounds a lot like, “Just let your betters tell you what to do, dummy,” as if it is a correct and proper way to think instead of being deeply elitist and anti-human-rights. (I get that you were, at least at one point, referring to elected representatives making the decisions, but, aside from the fact that that was only at one point, your implication was that those elected representatives would have “better” opinions than the Great Unwashed, and would vote against the wishes of their constituency.)

    I agree with Karl, above, who said that speaking about the pros and cons would have been better before the vote. I imagine there were people who would have found your information and opinion(s) helpful. (Actually, I would be very interested in listening to a series of podcasts–like special reports–on various issues. Basically a “Here’s the subject, here’s the evidence for and against, here’s the conclusion,” type of thing.)

    Personally, although I did not/do not vote (I’m a legal permanent resident of the UK, with the right to vote, but I never registered), I would have voted for Leave regardless, because I am, again, a believer in liberty. I currently live in a very pro-Leave area, and not one of the people who spoke to me about the vote (I never asked, but I was asked more than once) offered any reason other than liberty and self-rule as their main issue. (And lest you think they were simply being discreet due to my being an obvious immigrant, I specifically mentioned in all of those discussions that the UK should have the right to control its own borders, as a way of inviting them to speak freely on the issue if they wished; they agreed with me on that, but it still ultimately came down to self-rule.)

  13. #13 by Jason Jones on July 4, 2016 - 14:40

    While I agree that everyone is completely entitled to there own opinion, and the main tenants of skepticism is the ability to asses what knowledge that we have and without hesitation re-evaluate the hypothesis given the situation and the newly acquired data…

    What I refuse to accept…with absolute veracity that the boxes of hoop shaped cakes that nearly always appear in those boxes on these tv shows are even slightly related doughnuts….

    I am also saddened that not a one of the hosts linked the terms “Breakfast and Wedding” of which I encourage completely the use of doughnuts.

    In conclusion it pronounced pædantic

  14. #14 by Chris on July 5, 2016 - 08:26

    One of the best things about this podcast are the rants. They are both lovely and entertaining.

    In our experience doughnuts have been used as after school treats, so they are not just for breakfast.

    Mostly because parents decided to go to the latest trendy doughnut shop to present at an end of school day treat for their child’s birthday. Just because they could not be bothered to bake up a decent batch of brownies, cookies or biscuits (going for all international angles here… don’t make me bring up fruitcake, something I had to both learn to like and bake because I married a Canadian).

    By the way, the trendy doughnut shop is in decline and the big thing now is fancy cupcakes. Very expensive fancy cupcakes. I would still stick to making my very tasty chocolate brownies. Fortunately my kids are mostly grown and employed (I say as one just quit her job and is moving away for graduate school).

    By the way, the other employed child is quite happy with the Brexit vote. He is employed with a freight logistics company which is more than happy to be paid to wade through the more messy morass of international trade legalities. It brings them more profit.

  15. #15 by Susan Hofstader on July 11, 2016 - 04:24

    I commend Marsh for his willingness to step into the breach and apply critical thinking to political campaigns. Unfortunately, contrary to what others have said, it is unlikely to have changed anything had he done this critique during the campaign, because the Brexit campaign–on the winning side–was about feelings, not facts. That is the story of modern political campaigns, which have embraced the fact that people tend to make important decisions with their emotional brain rather than their rational brain. That is clear from the prior commenter who thinks the Leave campaign was about “independence” and “freedom”…which Britain manifestly already had.

    Skeptics clearly belong to the “reality based community” which has been taking a beating in elections on both sides of the Atlantic (though since Americans elect the President separately from Congress, we have at least one branch of government not controlled by conservatives. On the other hand, our “conservatives” tend to be even farther removed from reality than yours.)

  16. #16 by Dorothy Mantooth on July 17, 2016 - 22:43

    Well, Susan, what a patronizing, smug little snob you are. It must be wonderful to be so superior and intelligent!

    I don’t “THINK” the Leave campaign was “about ‘independence’ and ‘freedom.'” First of all, I said “liberty,” not “freedom.” (Perhaps you should look up the difference.) Second of all, I didn’t “think” that was what the campaign was about. I didn’t :think” the campaign was about anything but the referendum itself. My decision on that referendum, had I voted, was based on my belief in liberty–something, by the way, that Britain “manifestly” did and does NOT have as long as EU laws and regulations override British law.

    That’s not a “feeling,” Susan. That is that reality you claim to be so, so much more grounded in than us dummies who apparently aren’t part of the “reality based community,” because we believe strongly in liberty. You can claim you feel Britain is independent enough because you don’t mind having EU regulations override any laws made by Parliament, and that’s fine, but you cannot claim Britain absolutely has independence and freedom.

    I love being lectured on what “reality” is by people like you, Susan, who probably wouldn’t recognize it if it slapped you in the face. I also love being smirked at by people who think they’re superior to others. Maybe you should consider the possibility that you’re not right all the time, and that maybe other people have valid points of view, too, instead of just being insulting and rude to strangers and deciding they’re stupid just because they have different opinions from you.

(will not be published)