Jeff writes:

The wonderful discussion of how scientists respect being wrong, in TWiV 818, reminded me of a terrific, and I believe true, story. A few years ago, after one or another scientific “scandal” was revealed (I think of most of these more like science working, than like scandals), a reporter interviewed the Editor in Chief of Nature (or it might have been the former EiC). The interview took place on a rowboat in some London park … because, of course it did! 

Anyway, the reporter asked the editor of the world’s premier general scientific journal to estimate how many of the papers in Nature were likely to be wrong. Although it was a published interview, I imagine that the editor didn’t miss a beat in replying (in paraphrase): “That’s easy. They all are!” Of course, he continued to try to explain how all models are approximations and about the self-correcting nature of science and so on, but his immediate reaction was, to my ear, a terrific, succinct and memorable way of thinking about the constant striving for truth that is science. 

I’ve thought about making a T-shirt that says something like “Don’t Ask Me; I’m a Scientist; I’m Probably Wrong; But at Least I Know It!” … Might be a little much for a T-shirt. 🙂




Jeff Shrager, PhD
Director of Research, xCures
and Adjunct Professor
Symbolic Systems Program
Stanford University

Timothy writes:

Hi TWIVers!

What kind of illness can you catch from the ghosts of dead mice?

Haunt-a virus! 😅

Thanks for podcasts!


London Canada


“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together” – Marilyn Monroe

Photios writes:


I have a question about intramuscular injections.  The vaccines are specified for intramuscular injections but many untrained people were administering these vaccines due to volume and staff shortages. The vaccinations were not properly administered into muscle.

What is the effect if the drug is not administered in muscle. Will this affect the efficacy of the vaccination?

Second question:

If someone is working at a place that does not offer health insurance and that worker has no health insurance. Is the R(n) of Delta Variant high enough that it would be financially safer for that person to stay home and not risk getting sick with Covid and possibly losing any money they could have made and their savings to cover the medical bills?

Thank you for all your great work.



Mint Hill, NC

Brenda writes:

Russia has reported some COVID-19 infections with a new coronavirus variant believed to be even more contagious than the delta one, the RIA news agency said on Thursday.

It is possible that the AY.4.2 variant will spread widely, RIA quoted the state consumer watchdog’s senior researcher Kamil Khafizov as saying.


Brenda writes:

Several  Æthelreds reigned – note the different kingdoms.

Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great (848/49 – 26 October 899) was king of the West Saxons from 871 to c. 886 and king of the Anglo-Saxons from c. 886 to 899. He was the youngest son of King Æthelwulf, who died when Alfred was young. Three of Alfred’s brothers, Æthelbald, Æthelberht and Æthelred, reigned in turn before him. Under Alfred’s rule, considerable administrative and military reforms were introduced, prompting lasting change in England.[2]

Not Alfred’s brother who preceded him but around a century later.  

Æthelred the Unready

Æthelred (Old English: Æþelræd, pronounced [ˈæðelræːd];[n 1] c. 966 – 23 April 1016), known as the Unready, was King of the English from 978 to 1013 and again from 1014 until his death in 1016. His epithet does not derive from the modern word “unready”, but rather from the Old English unræd meaning “poorly advised”; it is a pun on his name, which means “well advised”. 

William the Conqueror

 William I[a] (c. 1028[1] – 9 September 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard,[2][b] was the first Norman monarch of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. He was a descendant of Rollo and was Duke of Normandy from 1035 onward. By 1060, following a long struggle to establish his throne, his hold on Normandy was secure. In 1066, following the death of Edward the Confessor, William invaded England, leading an army of Normans to victory over the Anglo-Saxon forces of Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings, and suppressed subsequent English revolts in what has become known as the Norman Conquest. The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England and his continental lands, and by difficulties with his eldest son, Robert Curthose.

Have fun.


Black Isle Scotland

Neil writes:

Hello All:

    I’m including an article from a Toxicology Reports which calls into question whether children should be vaccinated for COVID-19.  What caught my attention were the authors’ list of a huge list of putative toxicities and harms from the COVID vaccines.  I am not in a position to determine whether this list is plausible or not, but it would sure seem to be fodder for the anti-vaccers.  I’m hoping that you would present this article for discussion from your esteemed group of experts.  I am also sending it to Dr. Dan.

   Here is the link: 

   Thank you

Neil E. Lattin, M.D. 

Lisa writes:

Hello great sages of TWIV!

I thought you and listeners might be interested in Shall Furnish Medicine, a three-part miniseries from the podcast The Modern West. This miniseries focuses on the impact infectious diseases have had on indigenous Americans since the arrival of Europeans, with a focus on how the US federal government responded (or didn’t) and the activities of Native American communities. Society-changing epidemics are in the recent past of Native Americans, and tribal governments generally reacted aggressively to the COVID-19 pandemic, but political and economic factors still contributed to a situation in which many communities were devastated.*

Here is the trailer for the mini-series:

*American Indian and Alaska Natives have the highest rates of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths of any racial group or ethnicity in the US:

Thank you again for your wonderful service in keeping us informed. 


Eugene, OR

(Rain for the next four months)

Bistra writes:


The recent smallpox episode reminded me about a book I read last year in the midst of the COVID pandemic, Saving the World, by Julia Alvarez. It’s a fictionalized story around a real event, the Balmis expedition to inoculate against smallpox the Spanish colonies in the Americas and the Philippines in 1803, and a parallel story about the AIDS epidemic in the Dominican Republic.

It’s hard to imagine the personal sacrifice several people made to participate in the expedition, and the distrust their efforts were met with in many of the colonies they visited, along with the community distrust in the HIV/AIDS story reminded me a lot about the times we live through today. A great book about a fascinating story. I highly recommend it, fiction has a place in teaching about history as well.  

Thank you!