(Submitted by Skepticality listener Brian Hart)
I’m taking college level courses at UCLA to complete my education. I was sitting, an hour before class, and reading in our Anthropology book, a chapter about primates. I had no idea there were so many species around the globe. Anyway, one of the Old World species I had never heard of before, the Vervet Monkey, native to Africa, was mentioned in the book along with it’s picture. The chapter I was reading was about sexual reproduction, populations, groups, etc.
I closed the book and headed on to my Anthropology class and put George Hrab’s skeptical show, The Geologic Podcast, episode #383. In the amusing segment called, Interesting Fauna, Geo started talking about a species of primate and it’s mating habits. Can you guess which species? Yep, the Vervet Monkey.
I’ll be a Monkey’s Uncle (or, I share about 96% of my DNA with my Monkey Uncle)!
Below are the extended notes provided by cognitive psychologist and statistician Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 254. Take a look and leave your comments below. Also, please be sure to listen to the podcast for our own hilarious commentary. Also, visit Barbara’s blog ICBS Everywhere, and Insight at Skeptics Society.
It’s a cute story, but there is absolutely no way to calculate the odds of this happening. It’s highly likely that the author would read about vervet monkeys in an anthropology book, but the likelihood of the topic being discussed on a podcast is a pretty difficult thing to quantify. George is not an anthropologist, zoologist, or any other profession that would be expected to talk about primates. He is a musician by trade and his podcast is about science and skepticism. There are many potential topics for his show and while monkeys certainly aren’t a strange thing to discuss, it’s not exactly a commonly-discussed topic, either.
I think we just have to tip our hat to nature for this one and accept that this is one of those funny, unlikely coincidences that we just can’t quantify.
That and thank the coincidence gods or the opportunity for endless puns about monkeys.
Hello Skepticality listeners!
If you’ve already enjoyed today’s episode of Skepticality, then you’ve heard our piece on Slow and Steady Stays at Home. If you haven’t, you should go do it now. We’ll wait.
Anyway, as we mentioned, a full breakdown of Barbara’s notes has been added to the bottom of the article, but as opposed to making you go through ALL the trouble of typing the name of the story into the search bar in the top corner (how many Ls are in “Steady” again?), we decided to just put an easy link on the front page right here. And here. There was also one earlier in the paragraph if you missed it. We’ll even toss one in here for good measure. Can you find the hidden one?
Anyway, don’t forget to post your comments, tell us what we didn’t think of, and add to the world’s knowledge. But even more importantly: don’t forget to submit your own stories! (that wasn’t the hidden link mentioned earlier) This site runs thanks to YOUR submissions, so we need more of them. The more you send the more regularly we can post them and the better the content for the podcast.
So thanks for listening, stopping by, and contributing. You’re the best. And we really mean that. Seriously. We’re not trying to flatter you or anything. Is that a new hairstyle? Looks good on you.
Based on the massive increase in hits today (by 9:30 Pacific we had surpassed our previous record for an entire DAY), most of you are probably now well aware that we were on this week’s episode of Skepticality, talking up our work and revealing our big news.
Going forward we’ll now be a regular feature of each episode of Skepticality, highlighting some of our favorite stories and, more excitingly, debuting some of our stories directly on the podcast.
So what does this mean for the site, itself? Well not a lot will be changing here beyond the expansion of some our content, and hopefully an increase in story submissions and comments afforded to us by having a wider audience tracking our posts. You can still expect several new stories per week and regular editorials, with the new addition of highlighting the posts that we share on the podcast and expanding the editorial content underneath them to include more in-depth analysis of the elements at play. So for those of you who ONLY read the web site, you’ll miss NOTHING. For those of you who listen to the podcast as soon as it’s released, you’ll most likely get to hear the story first as we’ll be posting it to the site the same day.
And for our new Skepticality readers: Welcome! We’re excited to have you here, and we hope you get involved. We have a couple of favors to ask of you as you delve into the site. One is the regular request to please submit your own stories! It’s your content that drives our site, so help us out. Secondly, please comment. We love your comments, even if they’re critical (although PLEASE keep them friendly and respectful). Did we miss something? Get a fact wrong? Get our stats wrong? Have crumbs in our beards? Tell us. Comment underneath and start a dialog and get the conversation flowing. This is a community site where we want to have fun and learn and expand our knowledge, so help out with that goal. Lastly, please share. Use those Like, +1, Tweet, etc. buttons, or share the stories in more old-fashioned forms, but pass along your favorites and help us spread to a wider audience.
Finally, just plain thank you to everyone who’s supported us so far in getting where we are. We’re extremely excited about the future of this site as we expand our audience, and we’re only here because of you. You’re awesome.
Last week we were excited to learn that George Hrab mentioned us in episode 251 of the Geologic Podcast. We’re definitely fans of his wide range of work, so the shoutout was a personal moment for the team. Some of us were even mildly verklempt, which was all the more relevant thanks to his mention of Gefilte fish, though less so since we’re not actually Jewish.
After a brief conversation with George via email, he graciously provided us with permission to post a transcript of his thoughts on the subject which I’ve placed below, followed by some additional thoughts by me, assuming you care. Please validate me by caring. Also, please listen to the podcast if you haven’t already since you get the nuances of George’s delivery, along with his general Georgeness.
Geologic Podcast #251 – Coincidence Transcript
I saw an interesting web site–no, a little blog post. There’s a place called The Odds Must Be Crazy. We’ll try to link to that in the show notes. But someone went onto The Odds Must Be Crazy–Brian H–he wrote this. He said, “I was listening to George Hrab’s podcast (episode 240) on my iPod while heading out to one of my familiar lunch spots in Santa Monica, California. In this episode George did a bit called the History Chunk where he tells what happened on this particular date in history, usually in chronological order, and the makes some kind of joke about it. He mentions how in 1982, boxer Duk Koo Kim died after a bout with Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini. Thirty seconds later I see Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini having lunch in the very restaurant I was walking into. I clandestinely snapped his picture.”
This site is really interesting, and it talks about sort of the odds of things happening and how it can seem that the odds of something must be so astronomical that there must be some kind of a sign. So this Brian was listening to the show, I say “Boom Boom” Mancini, he looks up, and there’s “Boom Boom” Mancini. Now how could we calculate the odds of that occurring? I don’t know, but they’re astronomical. They’re astronomical. And yet if you think, “how many people that listen to the show didn’t see Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini when I said it?”, that would help to demonstrate the odds being not quite as horrifically set against as you might imagine.
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I’ve been busy preparing for and carrying out a move over the last week. So what were the odds that the one week I was too busy to listen to one of my favorite podcasts, THAT’s when we’d get mentioned on it? The answer: I have no idea. But it happened.
George Hrab hosts a very funny podcast about… well, whatever on earth he feels like making it about. It’s a solid hour of chatter about whatever comes to mind, and while that sounds as though it would make for a dreadful show, George never fails to make it hilarious, clever, thought-provoking, and worthy of the time. And now, thanks to him finding the a post on our site by regular contributor Brian H, he’s tracked us down and mentioned us in the latest episode of his show! And he definitely seems to grasp the goal of the site and does a great job of giving some examples from his own life, along with ideas of what others may be experiencing. It’s worth a listen. Check it out here.
So anyway, the TOMBC team is very thankful to George for checking us out, and we’d also like to thank Brian H for leading him here, not to mention drawing our attention to the episode since some of us were too self-absorbed with a life-changing event to catch it on time.
(Submitted by friend of the blog, Brian Hart)
I was listening to George Hrab’s Podcast (episode #240) on my iPod while heading out to one of my familiar lunch spots in Santa Monica, CA. In this episode, George did a bit called “The History Chunk”, where he tells what happened on this particular date in history, usually in chronological order, and then makes some kind of joke about it. He mentions how in 1982, boxer Duk Koo Kim died after a bout with Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini.
Thirty seconds later I see Ray Mancini having lunch in the very restaurant I was walking into. I clandestinely snap his picture.
Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini
You could have knocked me over with a boxing glove!
[EDITOR: You’re lucky Ray didn’t knock you over bareknuckled for taking clandestine photos of him while he’s trying to have a nice meal. Watch your back…]
(Submitted by friend of the blog, Carrie Poppy, from Oh No, Ross and Carrie!)
I wanted to hear an episode of the Skepticality podcast because I’ve never listened to it. So I randomly clicked on an episode, and started listening. The interviewee was one of my closest friends! TOMBC!
[EDITOR: The friend’s name, presumably, was not TOMBC (our initials). If so, that’s an even bigger coincidence!]
At the end of 2009 I started contract work at Current TV in Los Angeles. During my first week there the premises in which they’re located held a company Christmas party to which I was invited. I ended up having a long conversation with one individual about science fiction novels, short fiction, and Escape Pod, my favorite SF podcast. He hadn’t heard of it, but was interested in checking it out.
The following day, on my ride home, I decided it was time to start catching up on Escape Pod as some changes in my life had cut down on my podcast listening and I was a few months behind. The first story I put on was entitled Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store, and as I was quickly informed by the moderator, it was (brilliantly) written by Robin Sloan… a then employee of Current TV.
So in the very same week I started work at one of my all-time favorite workplaces and had a conversation about one of my all-time favorite podcasts, both were tied inextricably together by one science fiction short story, which also immediately became one of my all-time favorites. The odds MUST be crazy…