The Skeptics Guide #802 - Nov 21 2020


Twenty twenty and this is your host even novella jordan this week or bob novella. Everybody cara santa maria avella guys. Evan bernstein good evening folks all right guys. I want to get started with some good news. Talk more about cova all year. Everybody's depressed this is just a quick follow up to a news item that we talked about a few weeks ago. This is the one that cobb bob so upset so i thought i would counteract a little bit remember. We talked about the fact that about sixty percent of the biodiversity has been lost over the last fifty years. Or we're screwed. Were so i remember this email. Emailer twelve yeah via a follow up analysis found then the question was. This is the problem with averages. Right that's the average biodiversity loss over the last fifty years but they said all right like sixty percent across the board or is this decrease in biodiversity concentrated in a few extreme liars. What they found was that it was basically concentrated in one percent of the species. Out there if you take away the most extreme. One percent of vertebrate species that are that are having a decrease in their population. The other ninety nine percent are basically unchanged. There's no trent hod overall in the other ninety five inches. Like i feel like we're gonna get another follow up study. Maybe percent drags everything to a sixty. Typically that's not. What surprises me literally based on all of the conservation. Stuff that i read on a regular basis. Well they were saying that. It's nice to know that all of the comp conservation efforts have not been wasted that they're actually working to some extent. But when you think about it. There's there's a lot of disparity in the number of individuals in species writes a few massively populated species like the buffalo. For example you know lose a high number of individuals that can drag down the average if you're looking at comparing it to lots of species that have relatively small populations at at baseline but in any case it does mean that. It's not a generalized biodiversity loss. It is being concentrated in a few small percentage one percent. This study of species in that many species are actually holding their own in terms of biodiversity. So okay you're right. No one studies definitive. But this is putting another spin on that data just looking at the sixty percent. Figures clearly was not enough. You have to dive a little bit deeper. This may not be the final word but at least it's more complex and it may not be as horrific as that one figure made. It seem so did they. Did they do a press release and throw it that sixty percent figure and all the other stuff and then later on. They're like oh wait. We took another look at this and by the way or different group. It's not the same researchers. It's just a different group looking at the question okay. The mcgill university team of biologists and they published in nature so this is like a high high profile journal that they published it in so again. This is this is again scientists complicated. There's no studies. Definitive is often a conversation with back and forth in different groups weighing in the literature. But it's just good to know that the story is more complicated and may not be as bad as we thought. Why did they speak. Very quickly definitive. How the dinosaurs died. You know that was quick bam bam. They knew that real quick was there a controversy over that up. And we've known for a look like local confusion right like people get upset when they find out that elephants elephants are critically endangered. Our there too many elephants in botswana right. Now that you see these like Geographic differences and also. I think the problem is that when we think about biodiversity we think about animals when we think about animals we think about mammal mammal as we think about both pretty furry furry mammals but like i've mentioned a lot of times on the show for are declining thirty five thousand times the background extinction rate. Do we know why care i. There's a lot of reasons as maps grew. Yeah he's awesome weird sign it said so long and thanks for the flies so i do have a whole episode. I have episode on talk nerdy about that. I talked to a frog researcher. Obviously a lot of different research and probably some frogs are doing great. And that's really how how this works and none of it. None of this is to suggest that there is an issue here that we have to deal with absolutely is in terms of habitat loss etc. But it all may not be lost and conservation. It's what this means. That conservation efforts have a chance to work so we need to double down on them some other good news good news. Everyone madera announced your second. The preliminary data on a second covid vaccine so Madonna is a another us company. They're based in cambridge massachusetts again. Same exact story pretty much as the pfizer vaccine were in pulmonary phase three results. They enrolled thirty. Thousand patients move. Pfizer was over forty thousand but so similar in size also in a vaccine and they showed that in with ninety four point point five percent. Yeah almost ninety. Five percent reduction in covert cases in the treatment group versus the placebo group but also pfizer completed their data analysis and they also now are claiming ninety five percents right day so both it makes sense or both of them are in a they both kind of work the same way. They're both claiming ninety. Five percent efficacy thereabouts. That's fantastic. We were hoping like fifty would be a minimum. Seventy five would be great ninety-five really exceeds crazy and in less than a year less than a year. Amazing what you do when you're really motivated. Yeah but it's also because it's a vaccine that pardoning down a lot. I mean that's part of it. It's also because we put all of our efforts and all of this money and pastor. Yeah there faster. The other differences pfizer. And by by intech i think as apron that's beyond tech whatever they funded their own research and which to the tune of several billion dollars. Wow but they did have a deal of pre-sales us. Now the madonna has not put. This is a new company was founded in two thousand ten. It's an all marin a therapeutics company. That's all they do. They specialize in our a. They have no approved therapeutics on the market. This vaccine will be their first. That's crazy but they also because of that they didn't have a couple of billion dollars laying around like pfizer did so they they did it with partnerships with other pharmaceutical companies as well well but modern got the warp speed grant from the us from the nih of two point. Whatever billion dollars Why would no track record. Why have progress already. They've been researching. Yeah they've been researching mini for ten years of you know they're really sort of perfecting the basic mri technology. And yes. they were they. They've now you're right there with the again be able to get emergency use authorization by the end of the year. They should have they said you know. Similar like millions of twenty million doses available so some similarities with the pfizer. it's also marna. it's also two doses roughly several weeks apart one big difference so remember fight. The pfizer vaccine has to

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