Important If True 14: Your Worst Nightmare

27 posts in this topic

This podcast is great. The joy at Nick's reveal about the story, urban legend or not, was so profoundly good.


I have two notes, although perhaps I should just write this in:


1) I have always been really fascinated by eruv after seeing the boundaries around the orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Los Angeles. There's a single house here in Tucson with eruv wire (Chris referred to it as string, but I'm fairly certain it's always wire) around it, I assume so that the family living there can take tools out to do gardening, or play, on the sabbath. The more that I looked into it, the more traditions I discovered that seemed like Orthodox Jewish Bible-workarounds (I do not mean this dismissively, similar to how Chris didn't want to call them "loopholes."). For instance, Tefillin, those black leather boxes worn by observant Jewish men which contain parchments inscribed with the Torah as "a memorial between your eyes" (Exodus 13:9). Or the practice of selling Chametz over Passover, since you are not allowed to own any food with leavening. I have a friend who teaches at a large, very well-to-do orthodox Jewish high school that also owns quite a few restaurants and bakeries around the country, and each year, during Passover, because he is a Gentile, he suddenly finds himself owning millions of dollars worth of food in restaurants for one week. 


I apologize if I'm being too overly simplistic in describing this, and I would hope someone who is a practicing Jew could help expound on this all. It's super fascinating. 



2) Perhaps this is too pedantic, but is there any way that when you discuss science results on the podcast, you discuss the actual scientists who performed the experiments, and their affiliation? Too often, people just say "scientists discovered", lumping all scientists together. This is the final link in a long chain of oversimplification (ironic that I do the same thing in this very same post, above!) that goes:


1) Scientist performs the research, cites statistical significance, perhaps gives a few tentative ramifications of the results

2) School / Hospital / Research Lab publishes press release about study, only discussing importance of ramifications

3) Media reports on press release, trumping up importance of ramifications, which were likely only barely significant

4) People post about media reports and articles about ramifications, ignoring who performed the study, what the study actually was, and the significance


repeat repeat repeat


This is how we get so many articles about "miracle cancer cures," when in actuality it's like, some medical researchers found that in very highly specific cases they were able to use some really intense combination of factors to provide a slightly statistically significant decrease in cancer cell growth. 


Now, I know that the podcast is called "Important If True", and you guys are mostly just having a fun time, so I don't expect you to go into detail into significance and statistics and repeatability or whatever, but it'd be great if you at least gave credit to the scientists and their institutions of study.


Ugh, pedantry over

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I also had been told the poop story about two years ago. I was losing my mind when I heard them talk about it, but makes sense it's a bit of an urban legend

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