This week we interview Hungarian researcher and virologist Gábor Kemenesi. He is a research fellow at the Virological Research Group within the Szentágothai Research Centre of the University of Pécs in Hungary, specializing in zoonoses, or viral diseases that spread from animals to humans. He’s also a member of Hungary’s COVID-19 Task Force for the research of the virus and in the last few months. He has become the number one go-to expert in the field for the country’s media, working hard to educate the public, debunking myths and fighting misunderstandings along the way.
This week we start off with having a quick chat with our old buddy Michael (“Marsh”) Marshall regarding the relaunch of the UK magazine called the Skeptic.
In this week’s history segment we talk about the LHC that powered up 12 years ago this week without the world vanishing into a black hole, and then Pope Francis gets poked for several things, including his claim that gossip is worse than covid.
Speaking of covid-19, the pandemic gets a separate segment about the latest developments, before we get into the news:
The 1st randomised clinical trial of a Chinese herbal medicine for COVID-19
Medical Chamber issues statement condemning COVID-19 denier members
University of Kiel distances itself from infamous COVID-19 denier professor Sucharit Bhakdi
30% of people in Spain have doubts about covid-19 vaccine
So, are women leaders really doing better in tackling COVID-19?
Survey – Young adults tend to take food supplements as replacement for drugs
Danish advocacy group against heart disease ends program involving healer
Grapefruit seed product that has everything in it but grapefruit seed extract
Latest book of Edzard Ernst ‘Chiropractic: Not All That It’s Cracked Up to Be’ published
New study shows difference in nerve cells before birth for autistic people
The prize for being Really Wrong goes to the bigoted Bishops in Poland who wants to start Church sanctioned conversion therapy clinics, fully aware that they do not work.
Intro; Greetings; Short Interview; This Week; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes
1:15:32 QUOTE AND FAREWELL “Even the fact that competent experts must serve under politicians of mediocre intelligence and little foresight is a problem that we are stuck with, because the experts themselves cannot agree on any major world issue. A logocracy of quarreling experts might be no better than the rule of the mediocrities to which we are subject. The declining intellectual quality of political leadership is the result of the growing complexity of the world. Since no one, be he endowed with the highest wisdom, can grasp it in its entirety, it is those who are least bothered by this who strive for power.”
/ Stanisław Lem, 12 or 13 September 1921 – 27 March 2006 was a Polish writer known for his satirical, philosophical and science-fiction works /
This week we first chat about some of the great current skeptical online events, like NECSS and Skeptics in the Pub. We also enjoy the good news that the worlds largest fusion reactor is now being assembled in the South of France.
In this week in history we learn about “Lysenkoism” which Stalin decided should replace all other science. In current affairs Pope Francis has issues with Chinese infiltrators and French women who demands to be bishops.
In this week’s news:
– What’s the truth about face masks and covid-19?
– What lies behind conspiracy theories
– Misleading claims on pre-existing conditions and Covid-19 deaths go viral
– Hungarian company selling bogus ‘pro-insulin c-peptide’ product banned from advertising
– COVID conspiracy theories skyrocket in Romania and number of cases increase
– Use of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) by French cancer patients
– Update – Retraction Watch gets a response from editor-in-chief of journal that published worst paper of 2020
– Chronic back pain and spinal manipulation – is it a good treatment?
– Stonehenge’s long-lived mystery solved
The prize for being Really Wrong goes to all the German demonstrators that marched in Berlin last weekend, spreading crazy ideas and endangering the public and themselves.
Intro; Greetings; This Week; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes
1:16:34 QUOTE AND FAREWELL “Humans can be literally poisoned by false ideas and false teachings. Many people have a just horror at the thought of putting poison into tea or coffee, but seem unable to realize that, when they teach false ideas and false doctrines, they are poisoning the time-binding capacity of their fellow men and women.” / Alfred Korzybski, July 3, 1879 – March 1, 1950 was a Polish engineer, mathematician, and philosopher, most famous for creating the theory of General Semantics /
This week starts with the wonderful news that Annika is now a full time ESP member and co-host. We couldn’t be happier!
We start with a minor correction to a story from last week and then chat a bit about the latest astronomy news before we celebrate this week in history: Happy birthday to the great skeptic and parapsychology researcher Susan Blackmore! (Also see our episode #088 when we had her as a guest)
Giving the Pope more or less a pass this week, we then dive into the news:
– Covid-19 update
– Austrian Science Busters
– (Not so) scientific paper on covid and 5G is withdrawn
– Another misleading “letter from a doctor” regarding covid-19 is making the rounds
– How to engage conspiracy theorists
– Climate change CO2 sensitivity
– Heatwave in Siberia melts ice in the Arctic Ocean
– German homeopathy study criticized
– Orbán keeps winning the fight against Hungarian free press
– UK to fight obesity by banning junk food ads
The prize for being Really Wrong goes to the scientific journal “Journal of Public Health: From Theory to Practice”. They totally failed the peer review process on a study that claims there is “mathematical proof” that homeopathy is effective against covid-19.
Intro; Greetings; This Week; News; Really Wrong; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes
0:11:15 THIS WEEK IN HISTORY Susan Blackmore, was born on 29 July 1951 and is a British writer, lecturer, skeptic, broadcaster, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth. Her fields of research include memetics, parapsychology, consciousness, and she is best known for her book The Meme Machine.
1:16:22 QUOTE AND FAREWELL “Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.” / Karl Popper, Austrian-born British philosopher, academic and social commentator, 28 July 1902 – 17 September 1994 /
This week we welcome Annika back and first chat a bit about comets and astronomy and about some of the excellent online skeptical events there now is to follow, like the UK Skeptics in the Pub Online, the new Cologne events and Susan Gerbic’s About Time project.
In this week in history we hear about Carl Jung, who was born on 26 July in 1875. Just like Freud he got a lot of things terribly wrong, but his ideas still inspired a lot better psychology later on and they continue to be part of the present-day culture. Then we poke the pope and find that even though Francis appears to want to fight the sex abuse scandals, last week’s new guidelines confirm that the Church continues to get most of their priorities completely backwards.
Lots of corona in the news this week:
– The COVID19 infodemic re Western Europe
– Corona conspiracy myths in Germany
– Andrew Wakefield and other anti-vaxxers mobilising against a future corona vaccine and unfortunately it is working
– Hungarian guy gets convicted for coronavirus misinformation
– Austria’s relaxed rules on masks has bad effect on infection rates
– Google bans ads for conspiracy theories
– the PSA investigates the UK Society of Homeopaths for non-compliance
– Russia wages war on homeopathy
– Good Thinking Society helps the BBC in producing excellent documentary about fake cancers ‘cures’
– BMJ presents study on medical science communication in the age of disinformation
– Is the Russian Dyatlov mystery finally solved?
The prize for being Really Right (perhaps controversially) goes to a Swedish doctor who turned himself in for assisted death.
Segments: Intro; Greetings; This Week; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Right; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes
1:22:09 QUOTE AND FAREWELL “The impression that science is over has occurred many times in various branches of human knowledge, often because of an explosion of discoveries made by a genius or a small group of men in such a short time that average minds could hardly follow and had the unconscious desire to take breath, to get used to the unexpected things that came to be revealed. Dazzled by these new truths, they could not see beyond. Sometimes an entire century did not suffice to produce this accommodation.” / Charles Fabry, French physicist, 11 June 1867 – 11 December 1945. /
This week Europe has lost a star in the sky and we hear about how Louis Pasteur managed to create a rabies vaccine back in 1885 (NB: he wasn’t even a medical doctor). Pope Francis seizes even more control about the Vatican’s finances and appoints an “extraordinary commissioner” to raid the entity looking after St Peter’s Basilica. Apparently, someone has been cooking the books.
In the news this week:
– After a new outbreak the German authorities suggest people stay at home for vacation
– Was SARS-CoV-2 really present in Barcelona in March 2019?
– WHO stops Hydroxychloroquine tests
– WHO launches new podcast – Health in Europe
– High risk for polio outbreak in Ukraine
– Russian disinformation operations revealed
– Swedish actor from “Fargo” creates documentary TV-series promoting bogus runestone in Minnesota
– What’s happening with Facebook?
– 5G towers burning in Limassol
– Climate change denier loses bet – has to pay up
– Hungarian National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition bans most homeopathic products from claiming specific therapeutic effects
– Our friend Holm Hümmler airs a documentary about conspiracy theories
To end the episode secondary school students in Germany get today’s Really Right Award for not backing down from their “tinfoil hat” project
Segments: Intro; Greetings; This Week; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Right; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes
1:00:48 QUOTE AND FAREWELL “I am utterly convinced that Science and Peace will triumph over Ignorance and War, that nations will eventually unite not to destroy but to edify, and that the future will belong to those who have done the most for the sake of suffering humanity.” / Louis Pasteur, French biologist, microbiologist and chemist. /
This week we can’t help but mention the Polish presidential elections and Susan Gerbic’s latest interview with Pontus. We commemorate Ignaz Semmelweis on his birthday before moving on to deliberating over the future of the papacy.
In the news:
– Was the Tönnies incident with COVID19 due to a church service
– Didier Raoult doubles down on hydroxychloroquine
– Hungary’s new curriculum and history textbooks full of folk legends and misleading claims
– Measles update
– The latest and most sophisticated fake of the Loch Ness Monster
– Large wildfires in Siberia as reminder of climate change
– ARP-SAPC’s Sergio Lopez Borgonoz research grant now open for applications
This week’s Really Wrong Price goes to a Swedish elementary school for investing in bogus “protective equipment” against Wi-Fi.
Segments: Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes
1:07:38 QUOTE AND FAREWELL “To spread healthy ideas among even the lowest classes of people, to remove men from the influence of prejudice and passion, to make reason the arbiter and supreme guide of public opinion; that is the essential goal of the sciences; that is how science will contribute to the advancement of civilization, and that is what deserves protection of governments who want to insure the stability of their power.” /George Cuvier, French naturalist, widely considered the founder of comparative anatomy and paleontology, 1810/
This week we first learn about how the 1854 cholera outbreak led to advances in the knowledge about diseases and outbreaks thanks to the clever and rigorous work by the physician John Snow, now regarded as one of the founders of modern epidemiology. Pope Francis is getting closer to his vision of “a poor church for the poor”, perhaps just a little bit faster than he bargained for as the pandemic is hitting the Catholic finances. Then Andras delves into how we can begin to measure the success of covid-19 related restrictions.
In the news this week:
– Swedish Snake Oil advertisement is struck down
– Archaeologist sentenced for faking Basque finds
– Climate more sensitive to CO2 emissions than thought?
– Who killed the Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme?
– Szekesfehervar budget cuts – nonessential vaccines are first to go
– The Aspen Institute’s ‘Good10 – The Pandemic Issue’ discussing many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic
– The return of the Mayan calendar – some myths refuse to die
– University of Vienna found a way to inoculate medical students about SCAM
The prize for being Really Wrong goes to doctors in Northern Ireland that continue to obstruct abortions even after the recent legalization!
Segments: Intro; Greetings; This Week; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes
1:04:28 QUOTE AND FAREWELL “Critical thinking is the only weapon and the only defense that the human being has against the dangers of life. Because if I do not think critically, I will be subject to all influences, to all suggestions, to all errors and to all the lies that are spread, and with which I have been indoctrinated since childhood.” / Erich Seligmann Fromm, social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist. /
A bit less COVID-19-heavy episode this week with the news that May 2020 saw the highest concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere ever recorded and it was also the hottest May ever.
6 years ago, creationism as science in schools was banned in the UK and hallelujah, the Vatican is launching their new channel ‘VatiVision’ and a documentary series ‘The Great Popes’.
In the news this week:
– Nicotine replacement therapy is the new craze among possible COVID-19 treatments lacking evidence of efficacy
– The bad science story of Hydroxychloroquine that shook the world
– Millions seem to believe the Treaty of Trianon expires after 100 years
– People fall for the story of dozens of give-away TVs by Curry’s
– The German Medical Student Association issues a declaration against homeopathy
– Let’s see behind the curtain regarding the ‘Swedish Model’ once again
– Massimo Polidoro launches his Patreon page – with a twist.
This week’s Really Right price goes to Dutch anaesthesiologist Gerald Woerlee for publishing a free book ‘Anesthesia and the Soul’ that helps us understand out-of-body-experiences (OBE).
Segments: Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; COVID-19 Update; News; Really Right; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes
“I’m comfortable with the unknown — that’s the point of science. There are places out there, billions of places out there, that we know nothing about. And the fact that we know nothing about them excites me, and I want to go out and find out about them. And that’s what science is. So I think if you’re not comfortable with the unknown, then it’s difficult to be a scientist… I don’t need an answer. I don’t need answers to everything. I want to have answers to find.” /Professor Brian Cox, British physicist, presenter, author and musician/
This week Pontus and Andras try their best to keep your spirit up while talking about the saddening advent of conspiracy theories and an ever growing antivaccination sentiment.
We talk about the great and controversial scientist, the father of glaciology, Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, try to make sense of the Pope’s latest actions as part of the Vatican’s financial reform, bring you a bit of the latest analyses of the COVID-19 situation and lots of news:
– A church congregation in Frankfurt becomes a virus hotspot
– Sweden’s approach looks very different when under the microscope
– Are we loosing against the antivaccination movement?
– Homeopathy International sneakily advises people to take homeopathic products
– Italian MP calls for the arrest of Bill Gates
– Nearlf half of tweets about COVID-19 likely come from bots
– “5GBioShield” hits the market
– WHO report says 80 million children not vaccinated because of COVID-19
– Hungarian snake oil salesman under scrutiny by Competition Authority
The Romanian Ministry of Health gets this week’s Really Wrong Price for failing to provide the necessary vaccination information and immunize the public against measles.
Segments: Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; COVID-19 Update; News; Really Wrong; Quote and Farewell; Outro