Episode 121: “Dreams from My Real Father”

On this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Ashlyn, Lauren, Gem, and Laura talk about yet another conspiracy film, and Gem closes out the episode with an Alex Jones–themed quiz.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a podcast that delves into issues of science, critical thinking, and secular humanism.

Links: No more religious exemptions: Montreal is taxing churches (CTV Montreal News ) | Montreal churches fear stricter taxation after visits from inspectors (Montreal Gazette) | Dreams from My Real Father (Wikipedia) | Barack Obama (Wikipedia) | Frank Marshall Davis (Wikipedia) | Alex Jones (radio host) (Wikipedia)

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Episode 117: Trump

On this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem, Ashlyn, Laura, Lauren, and Brendan discuss a few of the many myths and conspiracy theories endorsed by Donald Trump, and Brendan points out that a simple fact check isn’t enough.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism that is produced by the Winnipeg Skeptics.

Note: For further context on Trump, fact-checking, border control, and claims of journalistic objectivity, Gem recommends these excellent episodes of On the Media: The Game Has Changed (On the Media) | The Ties That Bind (On the Media) | What We Know About the Border (On the Media)

Links: Episode 110: Science & Race (LUEE) | Non-Muslims Carried Out More than 90% of All Terrorist Attacks in America (Global Research) | New Research Shows That More Immigration Means Higher Wages for All Workers in Cities (CityLab) | 3 Ways to Immigrate to USA (uscitizenship) | Immigration and the Economic Status of African-American Men (SSRN) | Unskilled Workers Lose Out to Immigrants (NYTimes.com) | An Aging U.S. is Revitalized by Immigrants (NYTimes.com) | Immigrants Are Replacing, Not Displacing, Workers (NYTimes.com) | Immigration Doesn’t Hurt Native Jobs or Wages in the U.S., Report Finds (Time) | Immigrant Employment by State and Industry (Pew) | Does Illegal Immigration Disadvantage American Workers? (ProCon.org) | Immigrants Aren’t Stealing American Jobs (The Atlantic) | Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories (Wikipedia) | Central Park jogger case (Wikipedia) | COINTELPRO (Wikipedia) | What an Uncensored Letter to M.L.K. Reveals (The New York Times) | Episode 101: “Trace Amounts” (LUEE) | 10 facts on immunization (WHO) | About Vaccines (Manitoba Health) | The GOP’s dangerous “debate” on vaccines and autism (The Washington Post) | Trump team denies skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was asked to head vaccine commission (CNNPolitics.com) | Gregg Phillips: Trump’s Favorite Voter-Fraud Activist (The Atlantic) | 25% of Voters Believe President Trump’s Unfounded Voter Fraud Claim (Time) | President Trump’s Voter-Fraud Expert Was Registered to Vote in Three States (Time) | President Trump Vowed to Investigate Voter Fraud. Then Lawmakers Voted to Eliminate an Election Commission (Time) | Arguments from Global Warming Skeptics and what the science really says (Skeptical Science) | Fact Check: Trump’s Cabinet Picks on Human-Caused Global Warming | Ice-albedo feedback (Wikipedia) | Yes, Donald Trump did call climate change a Chinese hoax (PolitiFact) | 2012 Benghazi attack (Wikipedia) | A Comprehensive Guide To Benghazi Myths And Facts | Hillary Clinton emails – what’s it all about? (BBC News) | Essays: To Profile or Not to Profile? (Schneier on Security) | Protestors call on mayor to make Winnipeg a sanctuary city (Winnipeg Free Press)

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Episode 113: “Unsealed: Conspiracy Files”

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, we’re trying something completely different! Are rich people harvesting organs from clones? Did Hitler fake his own death (six times)? Are CIA remote viewers peering inside your mind? Join Ashlyn and Lauren as they watch “Unsealed: Conspiracy Files” to find out!

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism that is produced by the Winnipeg Skeptics.

Correction: While it has been widely reported that the Mars Curiosity Rover sings itself “Happy Birthday” every year, and this did indeed occur in 2013, it seems to have been a one-time event (but this has been frustratingly difficult to verify).

Links: Unsealed: Conspiracy Files (IMDb)

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Episode 101: “Trace Amounts”

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Ashlyn subjects Gem, Laura, Ian, and Dave to a viewing of “Trace Amounts”, a prominent anti-vaccine “documentary”. It is… not good.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism that is produced by the Winnipeg Skeptics.

Note: After we recorded this episode, news broke that prominent anti-vaccine group “SafeMinds” funded a $250,000 study in an attempt to demonstrate that thimerosal causes autism. The study was published at the end of September, and actually found no evidence that the thimerosal in vaccines has any link to autism or autism-like changes in the brain. And they killed 79 macaques to do it. Links discussing the study are provided below.

Links: Review of Trace Amounts (Skeptical Raptor) | Do vaccines contain toxic ingredients? (Public Health Agency of Canada) | The Alleged Autism Epidemic (Science-Based Medicine) | Chelation therapy (Wikipedia) | The CDC Whistleblower William Thompson Appears to Have Gone Full Antivaccine (Respectful Insolence) | Antivaxxers Still Flogging Thimerosal (NeuroLogica) | Has the Government Conceded Vaccines Cause Autism? (NeuroLogica) | Autism Court Ruling: Vaccines Didn’t Cause Autism (NeuroLogica) | Legal Courts and Science (NeuroLogica) | Spurious Correlations | Anti-Vaxxer Group Pays $250,000 for Study Showing That Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism (Raw Story) | Killing Monkeys to Prove Vaccines STILL Don’t Cause Autism (Rebecca Watson) | TRC #370: Antibacterial Soap + Maple Water + Anti-Vaxxers Funding Fail + Top CO2 Emitters (The Reality Check) | PilesOfEvidence.com

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Episode 100: Silly Pseudoscience Special!

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem discusses silly pseudosciences and conspiracy theories with Ashlyn, Laura, Ian, and Lauren, then caps off the episode by interviewing panelists past and present about their favourite episodes, the future technologies they’re most excited about, and whether they’d rather live next door to Ray Comfort or Deepak Chopra.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism that is produced by the Winnipeg Skeptics.

Links: List of topics characterized as pseudoscience (Wikipedia) | Biodynamic agriculture (Wikipedia) | Pyramid power (Wikipedia) | SECRET POWER of PYRAMIDS | Pyramid Power | Organic/Biodynamic (Summerhill Pyramid Winery) | The Pyramid (Summerhill Pyramid Winery) | Paul is dead (Wikipedia) | Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison (IMDb) | Nazi UFOs (Wikipedia) | Space Nazis (Wikipedia) | Did the middle ages not really happen? (The Straight Dope) | Phantom time hypothesis (Wikipedia) | New Chronology (Wikipedia) | Dietitian at Home

Favourite Episodes: Episode 29: Zombies, Part 1 | Episode 32: Zombies, Part 2 | Episode 40: Skepticon 5, Part 1 | Episode 42: Skepticon 5, Part 2 | Episode 59: Organic Agriculture | Episode 60: “Frankenfoods” | Episode 72: The War on Christmas: A Brief History | Episode 74: Nutritional Supplements | Episode 77: Coffee & Tea | Episode 79: The Historicity of Jesus | Episode 88: Experimenting on Your Thoughts | Episode 90: “Resonance: Beings of Frequency” | Episode 91: Straight, White Christmas | Episode 97: Labels

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Episode 96: The Moon Landing Conspiracy

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem, Ashlyn, Ian, and Laura discuss the conspiracy claim that the Apollo moon landings were faked by NASA.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism that is produced by the Winnipeg Skeptics.

Links: Moon landing conspiracy theories (Wikipedia) | Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy: Bad TV | The Great Moon Hoax (NASA Science) | Apollo 11 missing tapes (Wikipedia) | Van Allen radiation belt (Wikipedia) | The Conspiracy Theory Detector (Scientific American) | Conspiracy Theory Poll Results (Public Policy Polling) | The Apollo 15 Hammer and Feather Drop on the moon (The Kid Should See This) | Bad Astronomy (Slate) | Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, by Phil Plait (Amazon.ca) | The Moon is Not Real: David Icke (YouTube) | The Fallaway Slam Podcast (The only podcast that matters!) | Dietitian at Home

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Bad Advice from Truther.org

The following is a guest post from Brendan Curran-Johnson, who was one of our presenters at last year’s SkeptiCamp. Here, Brendan responds to a few of the claims made in an image that’s currently circulating on Facebook, which originates from the hilarious den of conspiracy nuttery that is Truther.org.


While I certainly support people learning more about vaccines (because science and learning are awesome), avoiding vaccines has very real health consequences that affect more than just the people not taking the vaccines. In the past few years there has been a resurgance of a number of diseases that we had under control (pertussis, mumps, measles, etc.).

Most people cite the MMR/Autism connection when talking about the harms of vaccines, but the truth is that the study that is based on (the Wakefield study originally published by the Lancet) is not a valid study. The Lancet retracted it, and Wakefield was actually accused of deliberate fraud.

There certainly have been cases of drugs turning out to be harmful (thalidomide being the most obvious example), the process which the FDA and Health Canada use to screen drugs is very rigorous. The process is not perfect (no system could be 100% effective), but it is the most reliable system that anyone has come up with.

This is in stark opposition to homeopathy, which this photo advocates (kind of—marijuana and refusing prescription drugs have nothing to do with homeopathy). Alternative medicine (which is what they really are trying to advocate) suffers the problem that it has either not proven to be effective, or has been proven to not be affective (alternative medicine that has been proven to work is called medicine).

Homeopathy in specific is one of the silliest ‘medicines’ that exists. The two basic precepts of homeopathy are that like cures like (e.g., if someone is having trouble breathing, the proper medicine would be something that also restricts breathing), and that the more you dilute something, the stronger it gets. The typical dilution of homeopathic medicine is 30C. The system works as follows: take 99 parts water and 1 part ‘medicine’. That would be 1C. To make 2C, take 99 parts water and 1 part 1C ‘medicine’. The amount of dilution is 1 part per 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. If you were to make a sphere of water that stretched from the earth to the sun, you would add just one molocule of ‘medicine’ (that statistic is taken from Dr. Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science).

The advice being given here isn’t just wrong, its actively dangerous (also counter to point 8: avoid fear, propoganda, disinformation). Medicine is far too important a subject to allow misinformation to be spread unchallenged.


Thanks, Brendan!