Open thread for episode 21.38: Russell and John

Due to streaming difficulties, this video was split into two parts.

Additional links:

Aid for Puerto Rico:

Cidney Fisk lawsuit story:


  1. StonedRanger says

    I managed to catch the last five minutes of the show live and what do I get? Fucking Hamish. The man with nothing to say got another five minutes to blather on. Way to go Russell for making those five minutes a waste of everything. Eating meat causes cancer except when youre a christian because god will provide? There are no words…

  2. Sp00ky BedHair says

    So, what’s going on with ustream, and more importantly the ustream chat. I often find the ustream video a bit glitchy, so I pop out the chat, close the vid, and watch the YouTube video. YT has about 1700 people on it, ustream has a community of about 30 to 50 people, and many, if not most come back week after week. The YT chat flies by so quickly, but the ustream chat is small enough to have a proper discourse. If it goes I will really miss it, and the people on it. The show and the chat was something to look forward to. I hope it doesn’t go. The moderator dargndorp is fantastic too. My Sunday will not be the same, and I will have lost many friends.

  3. Joe Horn says

    SpOOky it’s going bye bye, Russel said it at the beginning of the show that this is the last show on Ustream.

  4. Nathan says

    @ StoneRanger maybe you should watch the show after it is posted on youtube. You obviously are a spoiled brat, so that would help with your ability to fast forward. I’m curious what amazing thing where you going to accomplish in those 5 minutes that you couldn’t do?

  5. Rustodian says

    I beleive the guy talking about Venus being Earthlike at one time, was meaning to say Mars. He was hard to listen to.

  6. Murat says

    About the caller that mentioned a guy “guessing” stuff about him and his girl friend:
    The way I got it, the two had shared the same common space with this person before being subjected to his uninvited questions. So, I just don’t understand why he dismisses the possiblity that some of what they told each other might have been overheard, maybe when that guy was in the restroom or someplace else in their vicinity.
    As both hosts jumped in with rightfully, the most appropriate explanation to such an experience is cold reading.
    However, in this particular case, I don’t think the “evidence”(!) and the circumstances were even good enough to require a cold reading:
    We don’t know if the girl friend had on her clothes freshly wiped baby vomit or other very obvious signs of involvement with infants. And the stranger may well have seen the dude hanging out with his younger brother just a few days ago.
    I do enjoy it when callers approach the hosts with very generic examples of popular enigma, and I’d be fine with episodes full of such stuff. But if this is relevant enough for the concept of the show, then I think some other subjects are being booed on for no good reason.

  7. Cimmerius says

    Venus is not hotter entirely because it is closer to the sun. It is theorized that early in its history it may have been habitable but a runaway greenhouse effect raised the temperature to 870 degrees F.

    To me, with it and Mars at one point in history possibly being habitable it suggests that Earth is more likely to be the accident. This is just the spot where things happened to hit the right balance to maintain a stable atmosphere that can support life.

  8. paxoll says

    I like Hamish. Most of the christian callers I feel fall into 2 categories. The first category is someone who has gone down the intellectual road of doubt in their religion and have latched onto these flawed apologetics in order to keep their religion. They have already rationalized, and cognitive dissonanced themselves into a corner where nothing is going to move them. These people make up a majority of the callers but are only a small percentage of the religious population. The second category are the stupid people who don’t really care enough about their religion to even try to understand they arguments. They call in and throw out a “look at the trees” that they heard in morning church service and then can’t comprehend any explanation on how they are wrong. These people make up a smaller majority of the callers but make up a fairly large percent of religious people. Hamish is what I see as a fairly decent representation of a large percentage of the religious population. He cares enough to dig into a wide variety of arguments, and is dumb enough to believe all of them no matter how bad they are. So dealing with him is good practice for dealing with what I would say is an average believer.

  9. says

    murat @ 7:

    … in this particular case, I don’t think the “evidence”(!) and the circumstances were even good enough to require a cold reading:
    We don’t know if the girl friend had on her clothes freshly wiped baby vomit or other very obvious signs of involvement with infants. And the stranger may well have seen the dude hanging out with his younger brother just a few days ago.

    occam’s razor: why speculate at all, when by itself cold reading, a simple and thoroughly understood ruse, practicable by any passing stranger, provides a perfectly satisfactory explanation, given the “evidence” already presented?

  10. Murat says

    Because we don’t even seem to have the isolated conditions cold readers (pretend to) showcase their talent in.

  11. Murat says

    Every time I hear Hamish on the line, I can’t help but think of Groundskeeper Willie. And then I imagine Lisa Simpson calling the show, talking about how the education system fails to wake her classmates up to reality. And then Homer, only to provoke Ned Flanders and to lead him to a fierce argument with the hosts as he watches his neighbor’s destruction in joy, eating donuts.

    It would really be cool to have a special crossover episode.

  12. says

    murat @ 12:

    Because we don’t even seem to have the isolated conditions cold readers (pretend to) showcase their talent in.

    caller shaq (sp.?) described the person as a complete stranger. the stated “evidence” satisfies your requirement for so-called “isolated conditions”, but it’s not necessary for a cold reading. it’s not even mentioned in the wikipedia article on the subject. cold reading’s just two people playing a guessing game. they don’t have to be complete strangers; it’s just more impressive when they are. so there’s no point to adding any freeform speculation, which russell makes a point of avoiding right off the bat:

    russell @ 33:52:

    first thing i wanna ask … i mean, i don’t wanna assume you have a stalker

  13. Jordi says

    Hey guys. I think you might be looking for this:

    “Venus’ atmosphere consists mainly of carbon dioxide, with clouds of sulfuric acid droplets. The thick atmosphere traps the sun’s heat, resulting in surface temperatures higher than 880 degrees Fahrenheit (470 degrees Celsius).” from –

    Venus is even generally hotter than mercury (which is hotter during the day but cooler during the night) because of its thick atmosphere, no just because of its distance to the sun.

  14. Mobius says

    @5 Rustodian

    Some have called Venus the twin of Earth because the two planets are so close in size. They are also occupying adjacent orbits. But other than that, there is little similarity. I think the caller was taking the metaphor too far, thinking “twin” meant “exactly alike”.

  15. Mobius says

    @8 Cimmerius

    Yes. The surface temperature of Venus is even higher than that of Mercury, even though Mercury is closer to the Sun. Venus has a very dense atmosphere with a lot of components that are thought to be greenhouse gases.

    IIRC, the caller also said something about Venus not having a magnetic field. I am almost (but only almost) certain this is not true. Venus has a dense atmosphere. If it had no magnetic field the solar wind would have stripped that atmosphere away long ago. Mars has very little atmosphere today and it is thought that it lost its atmosphere after it lost its magnetic field. A magnetic field diverts the solar wind, which is highly charged electrically. Without that field, the solar wind is able to directly impact the atmosphere and slowly strip it away, carrying it off into deep space.

  16. johnmaskelyne says

    On cold reading:

    I once had the interesting experience of a “psychic”, whom a friend of mine visited, allowing the session to be taped (back in the days of audio-tapes, which rather dates me!)

    One of the points which my friend was particularly astounded by, and described to me most excitedly, was that the psychic had correctly guessed her dead father’s name first time.

    Upon listening to the tape, I pointed out that this could be down to a connection to the spirit world but, most likely, it was due to my friend having mentioned her father’s name earlier in the session!

    My friend had no memory of this and actually had listened to the tape subsequently and still not noticed, so convinced was she. Crazy but true, and without the evidence, a very different story.

  17. Monocle Smile says

    The caller is half-right…Venus doesn’t generate a magnetic field like Earth does with its core, but apparently its ionosphere induces a magnetosphere by interacting with the solar wind itself. It’s actually a fairly hot topic in astronomy.

  18. Marcel says

    My brief search shows that Venus does not have an intrinsic internal magnetic field, but it has a weak externally induced magnetic field (1/10th the strength of earth’s field). Its atmosphere is mostly heavier molecules, and it would appear that the lighter molecules (such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen) have already been stripped out of the atmosphere.

  19. Monocle Smile says

    I get extra-triggered whenever an apologist uses the term “accident.” It’s a sign that they are utterly clueless as to the nature of the discussion and they’re trying to taint everything with a base appeal to emotion. Asking loaded questions is a tactic of every apologist and street preacher, but it doesn’t get less infuriating with time.

    Wow, Samuel. You’ve heard them say “it’s an accident?” Blatantly lying does not impress anyone, man. Don’t you love when people who have no idea how anything works blather on about how “accidents don’t fix themselves?” Samuel, a singularly important skill in rational thought is recognizing when you don’t know shit about a topic and then shutting the fuck up until you fix that. I find myself wondering where Samuel gets his material, because he’s clearly cribbing this stuff from somewhere and not thinking for himself. At the end of the call, I have no clue if Samuel even had a point. What was he even trying to say? Was he just calling in to ask uninformed, butthurt questions? That last one rustled my jimmies.

  20. smelly says

    No reason to eat meat except it tastes good. End of story. No reason to cause harm to other sentient beings simply because they can’t communicate in English that they don’t want to die. + its fucking up the planet so have fun with that too. Otherwise great show.

  21. John Iacoletti says

    What kind of argument is that? There’s no reason to eat broccoli either, except it tastes good.

  22. Monocle Smile says

    “Vegan farming” also fucks up the planet, and in fact sustainable farming is only really possible with animals.

  23. Sp00ky BedHair says

    Hello to all former ustream chat community (and any other interested party)
    Dargndorp has set up a place we can chat as usual (Yippee). You have to install discord –

    and then click on the following link to get to Dargndorps server

    If I’ve messed up the links I’ll put up corrections later.

    Otherwise I hope to see friends old and new there.

    Note to the AXP, I hope you don’t mind and will allow this attempt to keep our community together.


  24. DJ van der Veer says

    While I understand moving to YT, I am going to miss Ustream because of the chat. I’m agreeing with SpOOky in that YT chat scrolls dizzyingly fast. I can’t even watch it, let alone readit. It also lacks functionality of private convoes and setting up of several rooms (which could alleviate dizzying scrollspeeds).

  25. Sp00ky BedHair says

    DJ van der Veer,

    Come and join us, just follow the links in post #27, hope to see you there.

  26. RationalismRules says

    @Smelly #24

    they can’t communicate in English that they don’t want to die.

    Without a concept of life / death, the notion of ‘wanting to live’ or ‘not wanting to die’ is not coherent. Acting according to an evolved instinct for survival is not equivalent to ‘wanting to live’.

    There are good arguments for vegetarianism, the consent argument is not one of them.

    No reason to eat meat except it tastes good. End of story.

    This is obviously false. Meat is an efficient and effective food source – high in protein, iron etc.

  27. Murat says

    Acting according to an evolved instinct for survival is not equivalent to ‘wanting to live’.

    How come not?

  28. RationalismRules says

    I explained this in the sentence prior to the one you questioned. “Without a concept of life / death, the notion of ‘wanting to live’ or ‘not wanting to die’ is not coherent.” How can you ‘want’ something you have no concept of?

    If a computer is programmed to identify and eliminate threats to its operating system, does that mean it ‘wants to operate’?

    If you want a more detailed examination of the point, I had a lengthy debate with “Sawyer” on this subject on thread 21.31, starting here. I’m not claiming it’s a particularly good debate (it wasn’t!), but it might save a little time here.

  29. Murat says

    I am with Sawyer on that. There is no basis for the distinciton you claim there to exist.

    There is an evolved drive to survive, but that is not what is meant by ‘wanting to live’, in regard to the moral question. ‘Wanting to live’ requires an understanding of the concept of life vs. death.

    Could (maybe) make sense if the discussion involved plants versus animals (including humans).
    Wanting to live is the exact same thing with a drive to survive and is by itself the outcome of understanding the concept of life vs. death.

  30. Mobius says

    @Monocle Smile and Marcel

    Thanks for the info on Venus. I was not aware of that.

    So Venus does have a weak magnetic field, just not one generated by the core. Will have to look into that deeper.

  31. RationalismRules says

    Like Sawyer, you have simply ignored my computer example. If you would have responded to that question instead of simply skipping over it, you might understand the difference between a programmed response that favors survival vs. ‘wanting to live’.

    Let me ask another inconvenient question for you to skip over (as did Sawyer). Would it make any sense to say that an animal ‘wants to die’? If not, how can saying it ‘wants to live’ make sense?

  32. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @RationalismRules #35:

    Would it make any sense to say that an animal ‘wants to die’? If not, how can saying it ‘wants to live’ make sense?

    Article: WTF, Evolution?! – Antechinus

    “[…] he’s excited, because he’s almost eleven months old, and that means he finally gets to start mating.”
    “Aw, that’s nice.”
    “And he’ll get so exhausted from all the frantic mating that his fur starts falling off, and he contracts gangrene.”
    “What? Jesus. Then does he take a break, at least?”
    “Nah, not really. He basically keeps doing it until he gets so sick and stressed out that he dies. ‘Suicidal reproduction,’ I’m calling it.”
    “Are you serious? He’s going to mate himself to death?”
    “Yeah, but he doesn’t know it yet. Happy coming-of-age, antechinus!”
    “You’re sick, you know that?”

  33. RationalismRules says

    @Sky Captain
    Antechinus is not the only Aussie that would happily fuck itself to death given the opportunity…

  34. says

    Two different processes can have the same output for some subset of cases, but that does not make them identical. If you find it difficult to determine what exactly is going on internally in some system, you might be tempted to throw up your hands and say only the output matters, but this can come back to cause problems later. If you predict that humans don’t have an actual desire to live, that they just follow unreasoning instincts such as avoiding negative stimuli, and that this is all that drives their behavior, you will make incorrect predictions about how they will respond to experimental situations.

    Likewise, if you predict that most other animals understand life and death, and have a desire to live that they will pursue independently unreasoning instincts, then you will make incorrect predictions on how they will respond to experimental conditions. The reason for those differences is that there are internal differences in how the brain of a dog works compared to how a human brain works. In common situations, both will align with survival. If you decouple survival from things like avoiding negative stimuli, you will find that humans can understand the change in context, and alter their behavior to continue to survive in the new situation, whereas other animals will blithely continue to behave as always, heedless of the consequences.

    Take a human with a serious condition that requires immediate, very painful surgery, without anesthetics present, in order to survive. Let’s say they’ve had a similar procedure done before and so know very well ahead of time that it will be excruciating, and so they have you restrain them while the surgery is performed. After enduring the procedure, they survive and thank the surgeon profusely for saving their life.

    Then take a dog with an equivalent issue. If they have previously had a similar procedure done by the same vet without anesthetics, they’re not going anywhere near them, and they will fight with everything they have to get away from the vet. If left to their own decisions on that, they will not cooperate and will die. If they are subdued and subjected to the surgery, they will not be grateful to the vet, the vet will be a source of sheer terror for them. And this is true even if the issue to be treated is one that would, untreated, soon cause vastly more pain that the surgery, so it’s not just a matter of choosing death to escape pain.

    The difference is the result of a human wanting to live and reasoning based on the consequences of various courses of actions what course will allow them to live, even though it will strongly violate deeply-rooted instincts, and other animals following instinctive behaviors that reliably correlated with the survival of their ancestors, with no reasoning on what courses lead to continuing to live.

  35. Stefano Derteano says

    Just to make it clear, the inner temperature of a planet is no necessary dependent on its proximity of its Star. Mercury is NOT hotter than Venus despite its more inner position. Venus temperature can exceed 500 C making it the Hotter planet in our solar system. This is due to its atmosphere which is about 96% CO2 (compared with 0.02 of earths).
    Scientists assume that someday in the past, Venus had a similar situation than earth (atmosphere, air pressure, etc) but somehow the levels of CO 2 got higher and higher crossing the “non return limit” which only made it worst and worst. in fact, we didn’t knew about Greenhouse effect until we studied Venus atmosphere behavior. Its ironic and beautiful how we sometimes have to study the other planets to discover ours.
    About the reference made that venus is earths twin, Thats a way to see it. Earth and Venus share similar characteristics; proximity, size, mass, gravitational pull, liquid center. Centuries ago Venus was known as a beautifull planet due to how it looked like seen from earth. (thats why romans named it after their beauty goddess)
    Now adays we can assure venus still share many common features with earths, if its our sister, It has to be its diabolic twin…
    Absolutely nothing can survive there.

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