Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Skeptic Seth

by Gary Niederhoff on September 26, 2016

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: Skeptic Seth

Are you skeptical? Sure, you raise an eyebrow when some Nigerian prince asks for your bank numbers, or when a breakfast cereal claims that it will turn your kid into a professional athlete overnight.

But what do you really know about the benefits of organic milk? Or the power of whitening ingredients in your toothpaste? How credible is what you read on Twitter?

Today, information overwhelms us, and the need to keep our skeptical wits about us has never been greater. We follow Seth around as he faces the daily onslaught of hype and hokum.

It’s Skeptic Check, our monthly look at critical thinking … but don’t take our word for it!

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Daniel Armistead / Whitening Toothpaste
Part 2: Steven Novella / Health Gimmicks
Part 3: UFO caller
Part 4: Guy Harrison / Unreliable Memory
Part 5: Andrew Maynard / Fearing Technology
Part 6: Peter Adams / Trustworthy Information
Part 7: Guy Harrison / Ghostbuster

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Big Picture Science – Sex Post Facto

by Gary Niederhoff on September 18, 2016

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Big Picture Science – Sex Post Facto

Birds do it, bees do it, but humans may not do it for much longer. At least not for having children. Relying on sex to reproduce could be supplanted by making babies in the lab, where parents-to-be can select genomes that will ensure ideal physical and behavioral traits.

Men hoping to be fathers should act sooner rather than later. These same advancements in biotechnology could allow women to fertilize their own eggs, making the need for male sperm obsolete.

Meanwhile, some animals already reproduce asexually. Find out how female African bees can opt to shut out male bees intent on expanding the hive.

Will engineering our offspring have a down side? Sex creates vital genetic diversity, as demonstrated by evolution of wild animals in urban areas. Find out how birds, rodents and insects use sex in the city to adapt and thrive.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Menno Schilthuizen / Sex in the City
Part 2: Matthew Webster / Asexual Bees(exual)
Part 3: Hank Greely / The End of Sex
Part 4: Hank Greely / Easy PGD

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Big Picture Science – The Evolution of Evolution

September 12, 2016

Big Picture Science – The Evolution of Evolution Darwinian evolution is adaptive and slow … millennia can go by before a species changes very much. But with the tools of genetic engineering we can now make radical changes in just one generation. By removing genes or inserting new ones, we can give an organism radically […]

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Big Picture Science – Asteroids!

September 4, 2016

Big Picture Science – Asteroids! Everyone knows that a big rock did in the dinosaurs, but smaller asteroids are millions of times more common and can also make a violent impact. Yet unlike the bigger asteroids, we’re not tracking them. Find out what we’d need to keep an eye on the size of space rocks […]

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Big Picture Science – DIY Diagnosis

August 29, 2016

Big Picture Science – DIY Diagnosis Got aches and pains? Critters in the Cretaceous would have been sympathetic. A new study reveals that painful arthritis plagued a duck-billed dinosaur. Scientists impressively diagnosed the animal’s condition without a house call by examining its 70 million-year old bones. The technology we use for health diagnoses are becoming […]

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Big Picture Science – They Know Who You Are

August 22, 2016

Big Picture Science – They Know Who You Are You’re a private person. But as long as you’re on-line and have skin and hair, you’re shedding little bits of data and DNA everywhere you go. Find out how that personal information – whether or not it’s used against you – is no longer solely your […]

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Big Picture Science – Are We Over the Moon?

August 15, 2016

Big Picture Science – Are We Over the Moon? When astronaut Gene Cernan stepped off the moon in 1972, he didn’t think he’d be the last human ever to touch its surface. But no one’s been back. Hear astronaut Cernan’s reaction to being the last man on the moon, the reasons why President Kennedy launched […]

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Big Picture Science – Skeptic Check: After the Hereafter

August 8, 2016

Big Picture Science – After the Hereafter There are few enduring truths, but one is that no one gets out of life alive. What’s less certain is what comes next. Does everything stop with death, or are we transported to another plane of existence? First-hand accounts of people who claim to have visited heaven are […]

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Big Picture Science – On Defense

August 1, 2016

Big Picture Science – On Defense The military is a dangerous calling. But technology can help out, so researchers are constantly trying to make soldiers safer. Writer Mary Roach investigates how scientists studying so-called human factors are protecting troops from such aggressive foes as heat, noise, and fatigue. She also learns how bad odors were […]

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Big Picture Science – Musical Universe

July 25, 2016

Big Picture Science – Musical Universe In space, no one can hear you scream, but, using the right instruments, scientists can pick up all types of cosmic vibrations – the sort we can turn into sound. After a decade of listening, LIGO, a billion-dollar physics experiment, has detected gravitational waves caused by the collision of […]

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