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The Teen Skepchick Blog Show is back with episode five! And what a very special episode it is. This is the very first Teen Skepchick Book Club! This month Eddy, Olivia, and Mindy discuss the skeptical classic The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan.

We haven't definitively decided on the next book, but it looks like we're leaning toward The Golden Compass or The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search for Humanism Among Primates. Maybe help us decide in the comments?

Direct download: TSBS5.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:00 AM

Ha! You thought we forgot to do a podcast for January, didn't you? Well joke's on you, suckers! Because we didn't forget. I just didn't get it posted in time. I'm...lazy. But we're here now and that's all that matters, right? Join Ali, Eddy, Lux, and me as we discuss the role of pseudo-science in the modern world. As usual, the panel is erudite and eloquent and I'm...well...let's just leave it at that.

You Oughta Know

Lux: The Oldest Star in the Universe

Eddy: Print Your Own Meat

Ali: Neanderthal Babies! (Update: It was all a big misunderstanding. Le sigh.)

Mindy: Ten Year Old Opportunity

Next month we're going to do something different. We're going to try to premier the first TSBS book club with a discussion of Carl Sagan's The Demon Haunted World. So read up and join in on the conversation!

Direct download: TSBS4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:02 AM

We've done it again! We've recorded a THIRD episode of the Teen Skepchick Blog Show! We're on a freaking roll, and I am mad excited about it. This month, Ali, Katie, Eddy, and I discuss - what else?! - Christmas! It's a Christmas Extravaganza Bonanza! We talk about everything Christmas-y, and Katie makes everyone look like terrible people with her sweetness. It's not to be missed.

You Oughta Know

Direct download: TSBS3.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:00 PM

We have done it. We've recorded a new episode of the Teen Skepchick Blog Show. Groggy from a post-Thanksgiving haze of turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes (or maybe it was just me), Eddy, Lauren, Lux and I discussed politics and echo chambers.

Direct download: TSBS_episode_2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:30 AM

For the third year in a row, the Skepchicks sit down to talk about Christmas. This year, the topics covered include:

Why does Bug Girl hate Christmas so much?

What packages has Maria been grabbing?

Who would win in a fight: Santa or Jesus?

Should non-believers celebrate Christmas?

Like previous years, this one is loud and chatty and occasionally risque and NSFW!

Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:38 PM


In April 2010, Twitter was flooded with warnings that a large earthquake was due to hit southern California within days. The rumors moved to email where they spread from person to person, panicking those who may be affected. But eventually, the days came and went without an earthquake. The rumors were started by Luke Thomas, a man who says he has the ability to predict earthquakes -- he even claims a 70% success rate. Geologists unanimously agree that we currently have no way to predict earthquakes, so who is right? Amy Davis Roth looks into it for Curiosity Aroused.


Special thanks to Amy Davis Roth of Skepchick.org, Ray Beiersdorfer, Luke Thomas of EarthquakePrediction.com, and the Voodoo Trombone Quartet who provided today's music. Hear more at http://www.myspace.com/voodootrombonequartet or find their album on iTunes.

Speaking of iTunes, you can find and rate all our shows there, or you can visit CuriosityAroused.com. We love to hear your feedback at curiositycast@gmail.com. Thanks for listening!



Man Correctly Predicted Bay Area Quake:

http://cbs13.com/local/Luke.Thomas.Earthquake.2.490535.html

Prediction Of Large Earthquake In L.A. Spreads Via Twitter, Email:

http://blogs.laweekly.com/ladaily/city-news/quake-prediction-twitter-email/

Ray's bio:
http://www.as.ysu.edu/~geology/RAy.html

Dismal Prospects for Short-Term Earthquake Prediction
Royal Astronomical Society, 1997
"There is no known way of predicting exactly when and where an earthquake will happen - and any claims that they can be predicted are not supported by the evidence."
Geophysical Journal International 
Vol. 131 No. 3 December 1997 
Special Section 
Assessment Of Schemes For Earthquake Prediction

From Ray's notes on Berkland:
I set out to replicate Berkland’s findings [on pets leaving prior to earthquakes], and I sat in the Santa Cruz Public Library for several weeks counting the Lost Pet ads in the San Jose Mercury News microfilm collection. I confirmed that Berkland’s calculations were indeed correct; there was a significant rise in the number of missing dog and cat ads in the weeks prior to the 1989 quake. The trouble was that when I checked the number of missing pet ads for the year before, during the same time period, there was also a rise--yet an earthquake didn’t follow the rise that year. So more counting needs to be done to determine whether seasonal effects might influence this phenomenon or not, but it does appear that Berkland is on to something significant with his method.

Can animals predict earthquakes? - A search for correlations between changes in activity patterns of two fossorial rodents and subsequent seismic events 
by Robert G. Lindberg, Durward D. Skiles, and Page Hayden, Open file report no. 81-385 U.S. Geological Survey, 1981
Two Seismically Active Sites in California Showed No Covariance of Events

California Geology  Vol. 41, no. 2. California Division of Mines and Geology, Feb. 1988
No co-variation of missing dogs, cats or birds with earthquakes
Category:curiosity -- posted at: 7:13 PM

 

Recent new mother Chelsea Epperson sorts out the fact from the fiction when it comes to pregnancy sex tests, like food cravings, pee tests, picking up a key, using the Chinese calendar, or trusting companies like Intelligender.

 

http://news.oneindia.in/2010/05/26/chineselunar-calendar-method-of-predicting-babys-sex-not.html

 

Chinese Lunar Calendar method of predicting baby's sex 'not trustworthy'

 

Boy or Girl? Fact of Fiction? http://www.pregnancy-info.net/wives_tales_and_myths.html- A comprehensive look at some of the common Old Wives' Tales regarding gender predition.

 

Knowing Your Baby's Sex http://www.pregnancy-info.net/baby_gender.html - Information on the real, scientific methods of finding out your fetus' sex, including chromosomal testing.

 

The Chinese Lunar Calendar http://www.thelaboroflove.com/chart/cal.html

 

American Baby: How Soon Can You Find Out Baby's Sex? http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-baby/gender-prediction/finding-out-babys-sex/ - An accurate response to a question asked by one of the magazine's readers.

 

IntelliGender http://www.intelligender.com/home.html - An at-home urine test which professes to indicate the gender of your fetus based on color results.

 

IntelliGender Message Board http://community.babycenter.com/post/a10361395/intelligender_accuracy_claims--they_seem_to_be_so_wrong - A discussion between moms on a message board about IntelliGender results.

 

Baby-Oracle http://www.baby-oracle.com/ - Gender prediction without all that messy "science".

 

Special thanks to Chelsea Epperson, who told me she'd like to publicly give thanks to everyone who suffered quietly through her endless complaining while pregnant. Additional thanks to Quiet Company, who provided the music. You can hear more at http://www.facebook.com/quietcompany.

 

If you'd like to get your music on the show, or if you have episode ideas, or if you want to sponsor us, or if you just want to tell us a funny joke, drop us a line at curiositycast@gmail.com.

 

For more episodes of Curiosity Aroused, head to our website at curiosityaroused.com. You can also subscribe through iTunes. Thanks for listening.

 

 

Category:curiosity -- posted at: 12:10 PM

Birds: Smart? Or SCARY SMART?

 

Everybody knows parrots talk, but does Polly actually want a cracker, or has she just learned to mimic that sentence?

 

The debate over animal cognition goes way back. Darwin and Descartes had differing views on the subject, with Descartes falling on the side of disbelief.

 

Bur has science shed any light on this debate over the years?  Many studies have been done on primates, mostly on the ones most similar to humans, but what about animals that could hardly be more genetically different from us?  Descendants of the dinosaur with wings, a walnut sized brain, and opposable claws?  Parrots, despite these defiantly un-human characteristics, are one of the few types of birds and only animals to vocalize human speech. But do they mean what they say, or are they just "parroting" the words.

 

In this episode of Curiosity Aroused, Stacey Baker gives an overview of the science on avian cognition, focusing mostly on the work of Dr. Irene Pepperberg and her African Grey parrot, Alex.

 

Recent research (and videos) on New Caledonian crows:

 

http://www.physorg.com/news191141879.html

 

Watch PBS Scientific American Frontiers episodes on animal communication featuring Alex the African grey parrot:

http://www.pbs.org/saf/1201/video/watchonline.htm

 

Birds of a feather attack together:

http://www.physorg.com/news192206159.html

 

Wiki on Alex the Parrot:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_(parrot)

 

 

Special thanks to Stacey Baker of Skepchick.org for that report, and thanks to the End Times Spasm Band for the music, which comes off their awesome new album, #2. Hear more at endtimesspasmband.com.

 

If you'd like to get your music on the show, or if you have episode ideas, or if you want to sponsor us, or if you just want to tell us a funny joke, drop us a line at curiositycast@gmail.com. 

 

For more episodes of Curiosity Aroused, head to our website at curiosityaroused.com. You can also subscribe through iTunes. Thanks for listening.

Category:curiosity -- posted at: 11:24 AM

 

30 Dog Questions in 30 Minutes

 

This week's episode is sponsored by Audible. Get your free audiobook at www.audiblepodcast.com/curiositycast

 

If you'd like to sponsor a future episode, contact us at curiositycast@gmail.com

 

There are a lot of dog myths out there, and we're going to pack as many into one brief show as possible. Do dog vaccines cause dog autism? Can dogs eat chocolate? Do dogs feel bad when they poop in our shoes? Maria Walters talks to Dr. Jacquelyn Arns and behaviorist Mailey McLaughlin to get the lowdown.

 

Special thanks to Ted Willmore, who created the song in this episode: Charlie the Autistic Spaniel.

 

Daily Mail: Vaccines 'are making our dogs sick as vets cash in'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1255863/Vaccines-making-dogs-sick-vets-cash-in.html

 

Here are a few written notes from the experts on some of the questions in the show:

 

Dr. Jacquelyn Arns 

Small Animal Veterinarian

Creskill Animal Hospital, New Jersey

@drsteggy on Twitter

 

*Females should have a litter of pups before you spay*

 

Oh hell no.  I recommend spaying before they hit puberty to avoid certain types of cancers.  Having a random litter of puppies just gives the shelter more reasons to buy euthanasia solution.

 

*You can tell whether a dog is a purebred by the way it sits...*

 

I've never heard this one....though I'd say about the only thing a dog tells me by the way he sits is if he's having knee pain.

 

*...or by whether it has a spotted tongue or not*

 

The big variant on that I've heard is that if it has a spotted tongue its part Chow Chow (a breed with a whole lot of melanin that have

blue/black tongues).  After looking at a ton of dog mouths, my conclusion is that some dogs just have pigmented spots.  Even in their

mouths.

 

*Purebred dogs are healthier than mutts*

 

I usually hear the opposite, and I suppose that depends on what you actually mean by "healthy"  Purebred dogs certainly have their share of hereditary issues--that comes with a closed breeding population with a lot of homozygosity going on.  However mixed breeds are not immune to behavior issues, or skin disease, or anything else--in fact, when you do things like breed labradors to poodles, you can get a dog with hip dysplasia AND allergic skin disease.

 

*A dogs nose can show if she's sick*

 

Nope, old wive's tale, though a REALLY febrile dog will have a hot, dry nose...but also a lot of other signs suggesting he's ill before

you need to worry about the nose.

 

*Dogs have cleaner mouths than humans*

 

That depends on how you're defining that--humans have FAR BETTER oral hygeine that dogs (oh, I wish I could pass along a visual) and dogs are likely to put really disgusting things in their mouths, but dogs, by being dogs, also have fewer bacteria in their mouths  that are potentially pathologic to humans, so its not like you're going to get mono from your dog.  I personally do not kiss dogs on the lips, because I know where those lips have been, but I have been ambushed French kissed by more than one hound.

 

*Mutts are healthier*

 

See above.  Everything I've seen in pure breds I see in mutts, but I probably see a lower percentage off mutts as purebred dogs in general are more popular these days.  And those mutts carry whatever questionable DNA their parents did.

 

*Dogs eat grass to throw up because they're sick*

 

No one really knows WHY dogs eat grass--do they feel sick and eat it, or do they eat it to vomit?  No one has that answer.

 

*Dogs shouldn't eat chocolate or grapes*

 

They shouldn't though the chocolate is more of a Sure Thing--it does depend on the chocolate, and the amount.  The grape thing is harder as some dogs do go into kidney failure from eating grapes/raisins, but not all do, and the offending toxin in the fruit is still

unidentified.

 

They also shouldn't eat sugar free anything that has xylitol in it. That stuff does really horrible things to dogs.

 

*Dogs are colorblind*

 

Dogs have cone cells in their retinas, so the  can see in color, but its unlikely they see colors the same way we do--we're a very visual species, they are less so.

 

*Dogs should have bones*

 

Wow, that is a can of worms.  I'm in the no raw food camp.  Salmonella does horrible things to dogs too, and small bones cna splinter and produce really fun surgical lesions.  Larger ones can break teeth, and extracting a fractured canine tooth is No Fun for Anyone!

 

*Do dogs have as big of a carbon footprint as owning an SUV?*

As far as the carbon footprint deal--I'd think this would depend on the dog and the SUV (chihuahua vs Great Dane vs Rav4 vs H3?)--you could subject a dog to a 100 mile diet, but that would require an owner who is really dedicated as balancing a diet like that would be tricky, but it could be done.  I'd think that having your dog spayed/neutered and otherwise keeping it healthy (not allowing it to become obese) would probably lead to a greener canine.

 

*Dogs can't look up*

 

You gotta stop listening to that pubkeeper!

 

 

Mailey McLaughlin

Training & Behavior Consultant

http://www.poochprofessor.com

 

*You can't teach an old dog new tricks*

 

Oh, an oldie but a goodie. Dogs are always learning, so you can teach dogs until the day they die. Just like people. :-) The older they are, the more ingrained their habits are, so it's harder to change behaviors as they age. But they can definitely learn new stuff.

*An aggressive dog is a good watch dog*

 

An aggressive dog is an unstable dog. An unstable dog may bark at, and even bite, an intruder, but he will also not know how to distinguish a "real" intruder from a family friend, neighborhood child, or even a family member coming home late at night. Dogs do not instinctively "know" that some people are "good" and others are "bad." Good watchdogs are loyal to their "pack" and well-trained in basic obedience commands. They develop watchful behaviors as their bond with the family deepens, and they have a motivation to protect their family. Any dog can develop watchful behaviors, but if they don't have good leadership and respect for the pack, they are unlikely to "protect" anything but their own skins. 

*You should keep your head higher than your dogs*

 

This is not completely untrue. Height confers status. Dogs that are trained and respect your leadership will not get "impure thoughts" about "taking over" if they are allowed on furniture or able to be taller than the humans. But untrained and uned dogs can, and do sometimes. They can get pushy about owning furniture, and may resort to growling or biting if they are allowed off the floor. A dog who growls at its owners when on the couch or bed needs to be kept from these places and trained to respect the humans' space.

*Only male dogs hump, because they're trying to have sex*

Both males and females hump, and it doesn't matter if they are altered or not. Most humping in dogs past puberty is about social leverage or dominance, not sex. It should not be allowed to continue when done to other dogs, some of whom will correct it themselves. It should never be allowed to be done to humans. When done to people, it is a very dominant act and the dog needs some training quick.

*Are there breeds that are naturally more aggressive than others* 

Yes. Several breeds are bred to be more aggressive, some to dogs and others to people. Guarding breeds are naturally wary of strangers and do not require much of a threat to take it upon themselves to do their jobs. Individual dogs within these breeds will have temperaments ranging from highly social to highly unsocial, of course.

*A wagging tail is a sign of happiness*

 

Definitely not. The position of the tail, how it is moving, and other body language of the dog must be examined for one to know what the dog is saying. A wagging tail is like a smile: it can have many meanings, and not all are good.

 

Category:curiosity -- posted at: 3:34 PM

Just the Vax: Are Vaccines Safe? Are vaccines dangerous? Do they cause autism? How do they work? If they're not dangerous, why do so many people choose not to vaccinate? On this episode of Curiosity Aroused, Amy Davis Roth and Elyse Anders seek out a few experts to answer our questions.

Links and references: Dr Jen Newport runs the Chicago Skeptics: site.chicagoskeptics.org

Derek Bartholomaus runs Jenny McCarthy Body Count: http://www.jennymccarthybodycount.com

Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/

Centers For Disease Control Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/

Explanation of how Wakefield was found "irresponsible and dishonest": http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=3660

The Lancet's retraction of Andrew Wakefield's study: http://press.thelancet.com/wakefieldretraction.pdf

Fear holds up polio vaccinations in Nigeria - 27 Sep 08 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECCo0uYZRG8

Polio figures in Nigeria: http://www.polioeradication.org/casecount.asp

A Campaign Shows Signs of Progress Against Polio: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/world/13polio.html

Category:curiosity -- posted at: 10:09 AM