Author Archives: Pontus Böckman

TheESP – Ep. #172 – The Measles Disaster, Abortions and Lying Stones

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In this week’s episode we have some remarks about the EU Elections, before we hear about the Beringer hoax and his lying stones. The pope has outrageous views on abortions and thinks that women and unborn foetuses must suffer for God.
The measles situation is getting even worse than we could imagine with cases more than tripling in the EU. The EU elections predictably brought a new high to fake news on social media and we find yet another example that proves that religious schools is a really bad idea. We have an update on last week’s Rigvir interview with Austra, Natalie Grams is threatened by legal attack and yes, we were right – the Voynich manuscript is still a mystery.
We then end with more abortion news as we give a Really Wrong award to the Swedish Christian Democrats.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:50 Greetings

With András lost in Russia, Jelena and Pontus are left to comment on the recent EU elections.

00:04:53 This Week in Skepticism

On 31 May 1725, the first fake fossils or so called ‘lying stones’, were delivered to Professor Johann Beringer who unfortunately took the bait hook, line and sinker.

00:14:16 Pontus Pokes the Pope

Francis has outrageous views on abortions of fatally ill foetuses and insist that if God put them there we must make sure they suffer as much as possible. No cheating God on his plan to make our lives miserable!

00:18:24 Skeptical News

WORLD: An update on the terrible measles disaster that keeps getting worse and worse

SWITZERLAND: Youtube health advice – The Absence of Evidence is Evidence of Non-Sense

EUROPE: spread of fake news during EU election

SWEDEN: Religious School Teaches That Homosexuality is a Disease

LATVIA: Rigvir Fights Back!

UK: Voynich manuscript deciphered?

GERMANY: Natalie Grams Threatened by Legal Action from Homeopathy Company

UK: Voynich update – Bristol University Backtracks

00:41:09 Really Wrong

Swedish Christian Democrats leader: “Medical personnel should be allowed to refuse to do abortions”

00:43:59 Quote and Goodbye
“Common sense is like deodorant. The people who need the most never use it.”
/Anonymous, Found on the internet./

00:44:46 Outro

00:46:01 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #171 – Rigvir with Austra Muizniece

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On this Episode:

This week we welcome back Latvian activist Austra Muizniece, fearless fighter against the fake ‘cancer treatment’ Rigvir.
Shamelessly and corruptly approved in Latvia just two days before Latvia joined the EU, Rigvir has been claimed to be a cure at first for melanoma, and later for virtually any kind of cancer. Austra, herself a cancer survivor, has together with fellow skeptics lobbied for years to get Rigvir off the market as there has never been any evidence presented to support its efficacy. Litigation and harassment have been their reward, but finally now it seems like this fraudulent substance is being withdrawn from the market after 15 years of providing nothing but false hope to cancer patients.

Please also check out our event page at http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; Interview with Austra Muizniece; Farewell; Outro; Out-takes

Show notes:

00:00:06: Intro

00:00:32: Greetings

00:02:46: Interview with Austra Muizniece

00:32:39: Farewell

00:36:28: Outro

00:37:43: Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #170 – Absence of Evidence is Evidence of Nonsense

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In this week’s episode we talk about ‘kwakzalverij’, the Pope’s new Olympic ambitions (and female football team) and other papal adventures. There are steep fines coming for German vaccination dodgers and a study finds that absence of evidence is evidence on non-sense.
MedWatch gets the Carl Sagan award, there is another example of vegan parents that jeopardize the lives of their children and French authorities are stepping up the fight against homeopathy (Boiron is not happy).
We also look into whether the code of the Voynich manuscript really has been broken and how another populist right wing party tries to score points by questioning climate change.
We end with awarding a Really Right to a football player for not wanting to take advantage of how hard it really is to understand the odds of gambling.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Right; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:49 Greetings

A correction about the Heinz Oberhummer award and special greeting from Pilip Schunke, the winner of the SkepKon raffle! Plus our Patreon page now have different levels of support, check it out!

00:08:01 This Week in Skepticism

On 15 May 2009, the Dutch organization Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (VTDK) won a court case regardning to use of the word Kwacksalver (‘quack’) when describing certain so called ‘health providers’.

00:14:35 Pontus Pokes the Pope

Francis goes for the Olympics, praises Mother Teresa and makes reporting abuse mandatory – but gets it wrong.

00:21:00 Skeptical News

GERMANY: A new bill aiming to threat parents refusing vaccination for their kids with fines

SWITZERLAND: Youtube health advice – The Absence of Evidence is Evidence of Non-Sense

GERMANY: The Carl Sagan Award (1000 EUR prize) goes to MedWatch – Award ceremony at SkepKon

SWEDEN: Another child suffer from parents insisting on vegan food

FRANCE: French authorities likely to stop reimbursements for homeopathic remedies soon

UK: Voynich manuscript deciphered?

GERMANY: AfD aims for political gains by denying climate change

00:57:21 Really Right

Football player Kim Källström, for not promoting gambling

01:02:53 Radio Spot

01:04:33 Quote and Goodbye
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
/Maria Skłodowska-Curie, 7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934, Polish-born scientist and two-times Nobel laureate/

01:06:11 Outro

01:07:26 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #169 – SkepKon Raffle, MSSX, Hitler’s diaries and Papal Heresy

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In this week’s episode we announce the winner of our SkepKon raffle! We also invite you to take GapMinder’s test to see how well you know the state of the world before we catch up with Alice and Laurie from the Merseyside Skeptics who tell us all about their upcoming 10 year celebration: MSSX on 6 July. You should go!
This week 36 years ago, Stern Magazine had to admit that the Hitler diaries they had spent 19 million marks on were fake.
Pope Francis is being accused of heresy by Catholic priests and Pontus is trying to see the papal future.
In the news we report that GWUP’s skeptical Heinz Oberhummer award goes to “No Such Thing as a Fish”, that Sweden has NOT banned mandatory vaccinations and that you can already now start nominating candidates for the Flying Unicorn Awards in Portugal.
We also learn from a study by Glasgow University just how bad it is to take diet and health advice for Twitter (just don’t!).

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; Interview; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:36 Intro

00:01:00 Greetings

Check how much you know about how the world really is by taking the GapMinder test! Can you beat Pontus and András who were both 11 / 13?
Plus we announce the raffle winner of the ticket to SkepKon 19 in Augsburg 30 May-1 June!

00:09:24 Interview

Alice Howarth and Laurie Philips joins us to tell all about the MSSX celebrations in Liverpool on 6 (and 7) July! You should defenitely go!

00:19:44 This Week in Skepticism

On 6 May 1983, Stern Magazine admitted that they had spent 19 million marks on fake Hitler diaries.

00:28:08 Pontus Pokes the Pope

Francis thinks that gossiping hairdressers is something he should be bothered with, while at the same time a band of priests charge him with heresy! Plus, Pontus sees the future.

00:34:36 Skeptical News

AUSTRIA: “No Such Thing As A Fish” gets Heinz Oberhummer Award 2019

SWEDEN: Old rumors resurface, but Sweden has not banned mandatory vaccination

PORTUGAL: Nominations for the Flying Unicorn Awards 2019 now open

00:46:06 Really Wrong

Social media influencers give bad diet and fitness advice eight times out of nine

00:51:42 Quote and Goodbye
“In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.”
/ David Hume, 7 March 1711 to 25 August 1776. Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist /

00:52:35 Outro

00:53:50 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #168 – Vaccinations, Electric Cars and Greta Thunberg

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This week we first discuss the scientific method and remember Louis Pasteur, plus we anticipate Pope Francis’ upcoming Vatican revolution.
Then in the news we talk about Ukraine election results, a homeopathic remedy that got “The Mom’s Choice Award” and how 170 million children lack protection from measles. A Portuguese pilot project gets flu vaccinations a boost (pun intended), we welcome a new German speaking Skeptic Youtube channel, look at the trend of religiousness going down in Spain and how electric cars are the future even though some people want you to believe otherwise.
We close by shaming old people who get their knickers in a knot because of Greta Thunberg.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:51 Greetings

We thank our listners for correcting us when we get it wrong, just as science always needs finetuning – last week there was a study suggesting that the expansion of the universe may be faster than previously thought.

00:08:06 This Week in Skepticism

On 30 April 1878, Louis Pasteur lectured at the French Academy of Sciences in support of his germ theory of disease, in which he held that many diseases were caused by tiny organisms. Since he still met with opposition from some scientists, he called their contrary opinions “fatal to medical progress.”
Pasteur also described ways to prevent infection, and provided the skeptics with an experiment with which to test the theory themselves.

00:13:51 Pontus Pokes the Pope

Francis is chocked by the resurrection, but more importantly prepares a Vatican revolution(!)

00:19:58 Skeptical News

UKRAINE: A comedian won the presidential election

INTERNATIONAL: Boiron product praised on The Mom’s Choice Awards site

INTERNATIONAL: UNICEF: 170 million children not vaccinated against measles

PORTUGAL: Pharmacy pilot project increases flu vaccination by 32%

SWITZERLAND: Warum skeptisch sein? New YouTube channel by engineer Benjamin Cella explaining major points of critical thinking.

SPAIN: Study shows religion on its way down

GERMANY: Tesla Model 3 being worse in terms of CO2 emissions than a Mercedes C220?

00:44:05 Really Wrong

Grown people are attacking 16-year old Greta Thunberg because they cannot find any proper arguments

00:49:50 Quote and Goodbye
“Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world. Science is the highest personification of the nation because that nation will remain the first which carries the furthest the works of thought and intelligence.”
/Louis Pasteur, French biologist, microbiologist and chemist, December 27, 1822 – September 28, 1895 /

00:51:07 Outro

00:55:22 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #167 – Notre-Dame, Measles quadruples and Hungary wants to control Facebook

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This week we discuss the Notre-Dame fire before we celebrate this week’s icon, the Hungarian astronomer and skeptic Iván Almár. The Measles epidemic is getting even worse with the WHO showing a 300% global increase so far this year, Metabiota has launched a new website for tracking epidemics, Anthroposophs claim to be for vaccinations (they’re really not) and the Hungarian government wants to control Facebook.
Also, the “Finns party” switches to a new conspiracy theory when the old one is not attractive enough, the MMR vaccine does NOT cause diabetes and Brussels thinks 5G testing is using people as Guinea pigs. We learn (again) that stop eating sugar does not cure cancer and we give a shout-out to the Portuguese skeptics, ComCept, that are now on Patreon.
We close the show by saluting one of the champions of keeping the Internet a little bit saner: Snopes.com

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; News; Really Right; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:51 Greetings

We discuss the fire at Notre-Dame and ask you to support Rectraction Watch and also talk about the latest Skeptical Club in Budapest who debated how science fiction can shape society.

00:21:35 This Week in Skepticism

Iván Almár, born 21st April 1932. He is an Hungarian astronomer and prominent figure of SETI and the Hungarian skeptic movement.

00:26:32 Skeptical News

FRANCE: Good news: Measles cases go down in France

INTERNATIONAL: Bad news: The number of measles cases globally quadruple in 2019

INTERNATIONAL: Metabiota launches new epidemic tracker website

INTERNATIONAL: Are Anthroposophy enthusiasts for or against vaccinations?

HUNGARY: Facebook vs Hungarian government – who will win?

FINLAND: Right wing party switches to new conspiracy theory after old one loses attraction

UK: Diabetes claimed on Facebook post to be a side effect of MMR. It is not.

EU: Brussels puts 5G testing on hold in case it’s harmful

UK: Stopping all sugar intake won’t cure cancer

PORTUGAL: ComCept goes onto Patreon

01:01:04 Really Right

Snopes.com are Really Right for relentlessly debunking stupidity – most recently about Notre-Dame.

01:04:45 Quote and Goodbye
“Science, my lad, has been built upon many errors; but they are errors which it was good to fall into, for they led to the truth.”
/ Jules Verne, French writer pioneering science-fiction – Quote from Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864) /

01:07:28 Outro

01:08:43 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #166 – A Black Hole, Two Popes and HPV vaccination works

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This week we celebrate the first picture of a black hole, Samuel Hahnemann’s birthday and the fact that we can poke two Popes in one week. HPV vaccination is shown to really work, a Spanish Bishop sells gay ‘cure’ courses, babies cannot live on sunshine and laughter and in Hungary you better follow the vaccination schedule for your child.
Also: Fines for Jehovah’s Witnesses, Edzard Ernst goes to a SCAM conference, Norwegian government anonymizes job applications and NHS in the UK takes further steps against homeopathy.
Finally, it turns out that Scotland has some strange rules that give the church a bypass on democracy.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope(s); News; Really Wrong; ;Radio Spot; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:51 Greetings

First picture of a black hole! Pontus argues with climate change deniers after a panel debate during the Science Festival in Gothenburg; The Uncertainty Handbook needs translators

00:15:19 This Week in Skepticism

Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (German: [ˈhaːnəman]; 10 April 1755 – 2 July 1843) was a German physician, best known for creating the pseudoscientific system of alternative medicine called homeopathy.

00:24:01 Pontus Pokes the Pope(s)

Double whammy! Pope Benedict comes back for a rematch as Francis tells a student not to ask so many dumb questions

00:30:43 Skeptical News

SCOTLAND: HPV immunisation of 12 and 13-year-old girls has led to 89% decline in disease

SPAIN: Bishop in ‘gay cure’ controversy defended by church

SWEDEN: Baby almost dies from a diet of vegan food and sunshine

HUNGARY: Hungarian couple’s appeal rejected at the Constitutional Court regarding their vaccine exemption

SWEDEN: Follow up from 2 weeks ago: Jehovah’s witness who showed homophobic films gets 4000 Euro fine

FRANCE: Edzard Ernst on SCAM practice in France

NORWAY: Government wants to anonymize job applications

UK: Homeopathy prescribing set to be blacklisted under NHS England plans

00:57:19 Really Wrong

Unelected church representatives in local Scottish councils

01:03:19 Radio Spot

Laura Brennan, HPV vaccination champion

01:01:29 Quote and Goodbye
“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.”
/Charles Darwin, 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882, English naturalist, geologist and biologist/

01:04:05 Outro

01:05:20 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #165 – April fools, Rigvir Scandal and Unicorn Awards

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This week we talk about some great April Fools’ pranks, we look at the Vatican’s new child abuse law, mumps outbreak in Madrid, climate change models being validated in new observations. We get a first report on why the fake cancer cure Rigvir is being banned (look out for more Rigvir news in the future), we look at how Catholic priests are burning books in Poland, how there’s a battle between Russian homeopaths and skeptics and whether the recent Swedish CAM inquiry is good news or not. The French academies of Medicine and Pharmacy have suddenly discovered that homeopathy is not a thing, Portuguese Skeptics COMCEPT has presented this year’s Unicorn Awards and the new Italian government again demonstrates that they are anti-science.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:51 Greetings

More dodgy research on homeopathy for Dengue Fever; Elections in Ukraine; Does health matter in the European Parliament elections?; COMCEPT Manifesto; Debating Anthroposophs in Sweden; Reminder of the SkepKon raffle – Send an email to us and you can win a ticket!

  • https://edzardernst.com/2019/03/more-dodgy-research-on-homeopathy-for-dengue-fever/
  • https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-47767440
  • https://epha.org/does-health-matter-in-the-european-parliament-elections/
  • http://comcept.org/2019/03/26/manifesto-saude/

00:15:36 This Week in Skepticism

April Fools’ 2019: Internet Pranks

00:22:07 Pontus Pokes the Pope

New Vatican law against abuse – not going far enough

00:26:09 Skeptical News

SPAIN: Mumps outbreak in Madrid: Dozens of cases reported at Pontifical University of Comillas

UKRAINE: Rate of measles in Ukraine is rising again: 35K cases reported year-to-date

SWEDEN: Climate change: Average temps in the north rising faster than global temps

LATVIA / WORLD: Fake cancer drug Rigvir banned

POLAND: PONTUS: Catholic Priests in Poland Burn Harry Potter Books to Eradicate Evil

RUSSIA: Russian homeopaths strike again (twice) in virology journal — and a skeptic strikes right back

SWEDEN: Government Inquiry about CAM

FRANCE: The French Academies of Medicine and Pharmacy have just ousted homeopathy

PORTUGAL: Prémio Unicórnio Voador 2018 (Unicorn Awards)

00:59:59 Really Wrong

Italian Government to stop issuing vaccination certificates

01:03:19 Quote and Goodbye
“The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing.”
/ Oscar wilde, Irish poet and playwright /

01:04:32 Outro

01:05:47 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #164 – Annika @ SkepKon, ESC, HPV, climate change & Jehova’s witnesses in schools

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This week we welcome Annika Merkelbach from Germany back to the show to talk about the upcoming skeptical convention SkepKon, GSoW and her series of interviews on Skeptical Inquirer’s website.
We also talk about the European Skeptics Congress to be held in Ghent the end of August, plus lots of news items and topics to mention include:
The Cancer Act 1939 of the UK, the latest wrongdoings of the Vatican, an Italian politician who’s been opposing mandatory vaccination being hospitalised with chicken pox, the death of HPV vaccine campaigner Laura Brennan and how her campaign must have saved a lot of lives, plagiarism made illegal in Montenegro after a long and interesting battle with the problem, an email by a listener bringing hope in the fight against bogus claims asking for support on Indiegogo, students in Oxford petitioning for climate change to be made a core part of the national curriculum in the UK, Holm Gero Hümmler’s new book on conspiracy theories and Jehova’s witnesses being under attack by authorities in both Sweden and the US for child indoctrination and sexual abuse.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; Interview; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:51 Greetings

Programme out for Eruopean Skeptics Congress in Ghent 29 Aug – 1 Sept

00:05:30 Interview with Annika Merkelbach

We catch up with Annika Merkelbach regarding the upcoming SkepKon conference (take part in our raffel to win a ticket!) and her work with Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia and writing for the Skeptical Inquirer.

00:20:20 This Week in Skepticism

The UK Cancer Act of 1939

00:27:24 Pontus Pokes the Pope

The Vatican is still no place for women; Cardinal who covered up abuse not allowed to resign; A US Catholic diocese sued on consumer protection grounds

00:33:18 Skeptical News

ITALY: Politician Who Fought Against Mandatory Chickenpox Vaccine Contracts Chickenpox

IRELAND: HPV vaccine campaigner’s legacy will be to save thousands of live

MONTENEGRO: Plagiarism made illegal in the country along with other forms of misconduct

INTERNATIONAL: E-mail from the listener (re episode 158) Indiegogo does (at least nominally) have policies in place that can be used to appeal questionable projects

UK: Climate change petition: Oxford students campaign for better teaching on subject

GERMANY: Holm Gero Hümmler’s new book on conspiracy myths

01:00:34 Really Wrong

Jehova’s Witnesses child indoctrination in schools (+ plus US child molestation)

01:07:27 Quote and Goodbye
“An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t.”
/ Anatole France, French poet, journalist, and successful novelist /

01:09:29 Outro

01:10:44 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #162 – Canali on Mars, Pell in jail and the Daily Mail gets it right

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No shortage of interesting topics after two interview episodes in a row!

In this episode: ‘Canali’ on Mars (or rather not), we catch up on the Pope and especially Cardinal Pell, a huge study that disproves the link between vaccines and autism, Amazon and Facebook take a stand against anti-vaccers, successful Swedish fights against colloidal silver and anthroposophy, the Hungarian government stabs science in the back, Elsevier gets further pushback on their outrageous pricing models and Hungarian pharmacies will inform all customers that homeopathic preparations have not effect.
Plus, by mistake or divine intervention, The Daily Mail publishes a scientifically correct article!
Leonardo da Vinci sends us off by reminding us that even 500 years ago, some people realised how necessary it is to conduct experiments.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Right; Quote; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:50 Greetings

00:02:09 This Week in Skepticism

Astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, born 14 March 1835, believed he had discovered ‘canali‘ on Mars, which started long-lived speculations about life on Mars.

00:09:33 Pontus Pokes the Pope

Lots of developments to catch up with, mostly about sex. Also Francis makes clear that he is NOT a feminist… (shocker!)

00:18:07 Skeptical News

DENMARK: Major study shows no link between measles vaccine and autism

ICELAND: Measles epidemic reaches Iceland

INTERNATIONAL: Amazon takes down ‘Vaxxed’ from their store… but not in Europe

INTERNATIONAL: Facebook to take steps against antivaxx content

SWEDEN: Colloidal silver banned from major distributor ‘Life’ after scandal

UK / GERMANY: Millions spent on useless alternative cancer “treatment”

SWEDEN: Anthroposophical hospital “Vidarkliniken” will close down

HUNGARY: It’s a deal – the Hungarian Academy of Sciences loses control over funding research

INTERNATIONAL: University of California boycotts publishing giant Elsevier

HUNGARY: Pharmacies to inform patients about the lack of efficacy of homeopathic products upon selling them

00:48:17 Really Right

The Daily Mail (!) for bashing statin deniers

00:50:43 Quote and Goodbye
“Experiment is the interpreter of nature. Experiments never deceive. It is our judgment which sometimes deceives itself because it expects results which experiment refuses. We must consult experiment, varying the circumstances, until we have deduced general rules, for experiment alone can furnish reliable rules.”
/Leonardo da Vinci, famous Italian guy/

00:52:55 Outro

00:54:10 Out-takes