Podcast - Adam Savage Project

Cognitive Bias – Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project – 2/11/16

Sorry for the late episode this week! We meet up in the Cave to talk about Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s slams against Flat Earth believers, cognitive bias, and the implication of mic drops. Also, we announce the next book we’ll be discussing in two weeks time!

Comments (49)

49 thoughts on “Cognitive Bias – Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project – 2/11/16

  1. Beat me too it. Merkin

    Someone please explain the 2 wells on a sunny day will explain the earth is round. I’ve not heard that one.

  2. Two wells are on the surface of the earth, approximately spherical, and the sun’s rays are all parallel. The angles of the shadows down the well will be different at different latitudes. On a flat earth, the angles of the shadows down the well will be the same.

  3. Man this was annoying.

    First, Euler is pronounced “oiler”. He was German.

    .999999… = 1: This says more about (the limits of) decimal notation than anything.

    Drinking from and clanking beer bottles = not podcast friendly.

  4. This was definitely a return to form, everyone was involved and it was a great discussion. So glad you guys are continuing to do this podcast. I look forward to it every week.

  5. Checkout the numberphile channel on youtube… Plenty of Euler, with a healthy dose of Fibbonacci.

    plus tons of head bending infinty stuff.

    excellent place

  6. So is it me or are the shows getting shorter and shorter?

    Also, i’m missing the really technical stuff or the props stuff 🙁

  7. Will seems generally concerned about the correct pronunciation for Liu Cixin. First, I wouldn’t worry about it. Chinese names/city names are rarely pronounced correctly in the USA. But, since he mentioned it in 2 separate podcasts, let me try to help. First, Liu is the family name and in China, the family name is said first. I’m aware that the book says Cixin Liu. But, if you’re going for authentic pronunciation the family name comes first. Liu is easy. It’s a lot like the English name Leo, but a bit more fluent, like Lyo. The first name Cixin is 2 characters. The first character, Ci, is a bit difficult. C in Chinese is pronounced with a “ts” sound. For example the new Taiwanese President’s family name Cai would be pronounced Tsai. Okay, back to Ci. Ci is tricky because the vowel sound is one that doesn’t have an easy English equivalent. It’s somewhere between an “eh” and an “uh” sound. Xin is easy. Xi is pronounced very similarly to she, so xin sounds a lot like sheen. Chinese is also a tonal language. I’m not positive on the tones but I believe Liu is 2nd tone (rising intonation), Ci is also 2nd tone, and Xin is 1st tone (a high flat intonation).

    If any of you are really curious about Mandarin pinyin pronunciation, wikipedia has you covered: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:IPA_for_Mandarin

  8. Yeah, totally like Sneakers, One of Cosmo’s quote is the best (“There’s a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it’s not about who’s got the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information.”).

    deGrasse Tyson made the point that science and math show that someone who is relatively small will see the curved surface of a very large body as flat. Sure, there was a dig, a poke, but anyone watching the video knows that all humans fall into the category of being relatively small. deGrasse Tyson also warned people like B.O.B. (and other celebrities) to be careful about what they say, to use their power wisely.

    Shaming, no. Poking, yes. B.O.B. is making money on this and crying all of the way to the bank.

    Would it bother folks as much if deGrasse Tyson was responding to Jenny McCarthy? I think that deGrasse Tyson would have some sympathy for McCarthy because her beliefs were supported by the peer-reviewed, evidence-based research of Andrew Wakefield. Thanks to the scientific method, Wakefield’s work was discredited because other scientists could not replicate his results. If you want an example of shaming from his peers, check out what happened to Wakefield. Her problem is that she hung on her beliefs after the science rejected the connection between vaccines and autism.

    deGrasse Tyson is trying to hold back the flood of unsupported speculation that run counter to evidence based science. He spends a great deal of time doing this. He likes to poke at bad movies and TV physics.

    Media is to blame for twisting the topics of science. A reporter will interview a climate researcher. To be fair and balance, the reporter will give the same amount of air time to a climate denier. Fair and balance, not even close. I think that it was John Olivier who got closer to the correct proportions by bringing in one climate denier and filling the rest of the stage with climate researchers.

  9. TBH the rapper believing in flat earth prolly has more to do with poor album sales than any actual belief.

    the kanye effect – say something stupid and twitter and facebook explode. There is no such thing as bad publicity.

  10. Adam – did you have a monster meal ahead of this sit-down? Seemed like you belched your way through pod-cast. Not an annoyance just my observation.

  11. the way these podcast start in the middle of some chatter always reminded me of Wally Balloo’s sign in on his remote Bob and Ray segments. “-ly balloo here.”

  12. Fourth Grade teacher here and I have an issue with Will’s comment about what curriculum is. That throwaway comment, unfortunately, feeds into people’s misconceptions about education. No teacher I know has the goal for their students to just memorize stuff and do basic math. This is something I fight against constantly (often with parents who just want the easy way).

    We teach concepts and application to the real world. If you look at CCSS, Next Generation Science Standards, and the new Social Studies standards, all include internalization of skills before students are expected to just know them.

    In keeping with the theme of empathy and correcting gross misconceptions, I invite you into my classroom for a few days and you can see how content is taught. I’d be careful on a platform where many people listen.


    Love the podcast by the way

  13. Just ordered my “The Three-Body Problem” from prime I’m on it. You guys got me to read “The Martian” in a similar podcast scenario and that was awesome.



  14. I saw NDTyson’s rap– and the mike drop. I had the impression that the mike was a fake/prop. Watching the video just now, there was a ‘realistic’ thump/squeal as the mike hit. But NDT looked like he was wearing a clip-on mike (it’s on the neck of his shirt).4

    NDT’s ‘rant’ was in response to BOB’s rap trying to drag down NDT…

    –Paul E Musselman

  15. There was a cartoon with a salesman, his boss, and an irate customer. The boss is telling the salesman, “The customer is always right. She may be ignorant, short-sighted, tempermental, and incorrect, but she is always right.”

    re: Lovely Mathematical Formulae:

    For a cylinder of mozzarella cheese, with radius Z and height A, the volume of the cheese is given by the following formula:

    VOL = PiZZA

    –Paul E Musselman

  16. I’ve read every book you guys have recommend on the podcast and I’ve enjoyed every single one immensely! Just ordered The Three Body Problem on Amazon. I kid you not, five of the books you guys have recommended appeared in the “Customers also bought..” section. I really hope you guys are getting some sort of kickbacks!

  17. I assumed the rapper’s comments were just for publicity.

    Is that a hatbox ghost on the far left? I love the random stuff in the cave.

    Witch Hazel – also random.

  18. I’ve met the Flat Earth Society Vice President (over here in the UK anyway) and discussed the whole flat Earth thing at length. He’s a really nice guy, very intelligent etc – so it was hard to equate that with such a strange belief. A lot of FE’s (Flat Earthers) probably are just contrarians looking for arguments or having a bit of fun, but many really believe it. There are all sorts of different versions of it with all sorts of crazy ‘science’ theories to back it up – but fundamentally I think they all start with the assumption the Earth is flat and go from there. The guy I talked to believed it on wholly philosophical grounds, which to me were just as much nonsense as the other views. Look up the Zetetic Method, which is their alternative to the scientific theory and the basis of much FE theory. It boils down to ‘the Earth looks flat, therefore it is’. All the evidence to the contrary (such as photos from space etc) are dismissed with conspiracy theories.

    It’s total nonsense of course, but it is interesting to sit back and try and think how you actually prove the Earth is not flat (without resorting to any of the stuff they reject).

  19. The Mic the NDT drops looks like an SM58, which is about a $100 mic, and super tough. And not even plugged in. Could have been a dead one

    The mic NDT drops looks like an sm58. Very tough, also pretty cheap as pro mics go. No big deal to drop it. Prolly a prop anyway, it wasn’t plugged in. Could have ben a dead mic.

  21. If you’re looking for elegant equations try learning some orbital dynamics. The vis-viva equation or Kepler’s equation for example are both fairly satisfying.

    As a bonus for getting through the math involved to get those equations you would be equipped to study the gravitational three body problem, perhaps leading to Lagrange’s three body solution! Hooray for math.

  22. I wonder what the flat earthers would make of the Schiehallion Experiment?

    It uses the mass of a nearby mountain to cause small deflections in a pendulum.
    The idea being the mass of the earth is (pretty much) evenly distributed (this only works if the earth is spherical) but the local effect of the mass of a large body of rock (a mountain) will generate a gravitational force in a different direction to the mass of the earth, which results in a small offset in the angle the pendulum hangs at. the idea being to measure the offset on opposite sides of the mountain, accurately measure the mass of the mountain, and the pendulum, and distance from the mountain. From this you can calculate the approximate mass of the earth.

    However, the geometry only works if the earth is more or less spherical – i.e. The second moment of area (?) is straight down – for all locations on the surface. on a flat earth the pendulum would only hang vertical at the centre of the disk.

    All stuff anyone can do so no space for conspiracy theories. just geometry and logic….
    Ah I see what I did there! logic, not their strong suit. hmmmm


  23. If anyone says no war was fought on your home soil, say no 1812 was a war between, British Occupied Canada and the U.S. Just saying, Not that it was a Gruesome like the world wars.

  24. If you have not played it yet, Spyfall is another great game that is similar to the ones you mentioned. One of the players is the spy, and everyone else gets a card saying where they are located (hospital, train, pirate ship, etc.) And the spy has to figure out where he is located and everyone else has to guess who the spy is.

  25. Definitely was a non-wireless SM58 used as a prop. Shure does make the toughest microphones out there, so it’s not uncommon that artists without hesitation mic drop a ~$4,000 wireless microphone. A lot of changes in recent times to frequency spectrum available for microphone use (mostly due to LTE for mobile use) has really pushed tech innovation in wireless audio transmission. So flawless audio comes at its price but when millions are watching it is a justified expense!

  26. One of the most powerful tools I’ve encountered to deal with bias issues is Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit from his book The Demon-Haunted World. Michael Shermer also created a wonderful pamphlet and short film about critical thinking and featured Sagan’s Kit.

    Here is Michael Shermer’s video based on his Skeptic’s Society pamphlet:


    I considered The Baloney Detection Kit so important that I produced my own short film.

    If anybody wants to view my film, here is the link:


  27. Muffley

    Setec Astronomy!

    Sneakers is one of my all time favorite movies.

    i agree; i get to be one of this worlds’ lucky ‘martin bishop’s

  28. Can anyone provide a source for the Cognitive Bias poster Adam mentioned in the podcast? My DuckDuckGo-fu has failed me.

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