TRC #595: Can The Oura Ring Detect COVID-19? + LSA vs Steven Pinker

Cristina dunks into a segment about the NBA and how it’s hoping to protect its players with wearable technology as the league resumes the season in a Disneyworld-based bubble. Does the Oura smart ring really live up to the hype it can predict COVID-19 symptoms early? Darren provides important background and context after an open letter from the Linguistic Society of America calls for the removal of Dr. Steven Pinker.

Download direct: mp3 file

Can The Oura Ring Detect COVID-19?

NBA Central on Twitter

McGill – Jonathan Jarry: The Magical Ring That Was Claimed to Predict COVID-19

Forbes: Oura NBA Smart Rings

Wiki: Hayley Wickenheiser

The Skeptical Cardiologist

Slate: NBA Coronavirus Oura Ring 

Sports Illustrated: Oura Ring NBA Restart

CNN: NBA Smart Ring Tracking Covid

Guardian: Tom Brady TB12 Snake Oil Junk Science

Oura Ring Official Site

LSA vs Steven Pinker


The Reality Check episode #206 

The Reality Check episode #479

Letter to Linguistic Society of America 

Why Evolution is True – The Purity Posse Pursues Pinker  

Barbara Partee – Comment on Pinker

Why Evolution is True – Two More People Take up the Cudgels for Pinker

Chomsky doesn’t sign letter against Pinker 

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4 Responses to TRC #595: Can The Oura Ring Detect COVID-19? + LSA vs Steven Pinker

  1. Rich W. says:

    I too was really disappointed to see the attacks on Steven Pinker, and I have to wonder if part of it was signing onto “The Harper’s Letter” (“A Letter on Justice and Open Debate”) early in July 2020. (I’m surprised that Darren didn’t mention it… or did I miss it? My fallible brain, amirite?)

    When it comes to his attackers, I don’t know what to pity them for more: How they are undermining their own credibility on all issues with their fierce virtue signaling (Fox News is loving it!), or that they’re basically fighting for the kinds of hard and soft censorship which historically comes down hardest on their own side. (… signed by mostly students, amirite?)

    Anyway, I don’t want to sink into politics politics, though I’m sure internal politics is a big part of Cancel Culture. On the bright side, it’s an opportunity to tune up my skills on spotting out informal logical fallacies. (Though would be better if I could recognize them before falling prey to them myself, amirite?)

    Thanks for another excellent podcast. Stay safe and be well.

    * {Concerned Professionals†}, et al. (2020, July 7) A Letter on Justice and Open Debate. Harper’s Magazine. Retrieved from

    † I have a hard enough time doing a simple citation, never mind one without a clear set of authors! (The American public school system, amirite? )

    • Derek says:

      As a TL;DR: if you can’t make your points clearly enough for people to understand it, then maybe YOU are the one who has the problem. I say that to Stephen Pinker.

      The “Cancel culture” argument is so vapid and boring. It takes the intellect of a child to tell the difference between someone saying “YOU DUMBASS N****R” and “we have binders full of women”. Analogously, Bari Weiss compared to David Duke is the converse : just google “bari weiss professor” if you care to learn. That’s no defense of the professor, but is utterly surreal from someone who decries “cancel culture”.

      The whole conversation makes bile rise in my throat.

      Are there people who “deserve” to be “cancelled” like Louis CK, who repeatedly masturbated in front of women and their silence would help their success? Yes. Are there people who get called out for something stupid they did at Starbucks and have now lost their jobs? Sure. Is there a difference between the two? E.g. one who is a literally multimillionaire and will face no ill consequences besides maybe not getting another TV deal and someone making $10/hr and will lose their healthcare? I’ll defer to you to tell me how “free” free speech is.

      There’s an interesting tie in there, too. Turns out that depends on how much money you have. Defame a company / chiro / naturpath? Get ready to find out about SLAP laws.! My point here? THIS IS POLITICS. SKEPTICISM IS POLITICS. YOU CANNOT HAVE THIS DISCUSSION WITHOUT POLITICS.

      Stop shying away from it. Defend your politics. Vote for your politics. If you think someone’s politics are bad? Ostracize them! That’s literally the only way our system works! The people who we think are bad need to know it. That is literally how the world works. I think I can leave the conversation about how Epstein’s plane was known as “the lolita express” as early as 2004, he was sentenced in 2012, AND PINKER DEFENDED HIM IN 2018. Like, seriously. I am making no aspersions at Pinker at all about his own conduct. What I am saying: If your neighbor told you that another person on the block was a child molestor, and you later hear the same thing from the actual police in your city…. would you let your children over to his house?

      As a side note: this is literally the first time that I’ve heard a segment on this podcast that made me question the editorialism. This is just bad. I’d have no problem defending my position here, but I’m not going to write it out for the void, so to speak. Just shameful. I was fine until the Epstein apology part. Epstein was already a convicted pedophile at the point Pinker defended him. Unless you want to claim that the judgment was in error or that his (Epstein’s) actions weren’t a crime? Yeah, I think some criticism is involved.

      • Derek says:

        As a minor comment on my own post RE the politics discusion:

        How do you see the US. Do you not see the US / Trump trying to actually rewrite science?

        If the skeptical movement doesn’t want to engage politics and power structures then it is of no value whatsoever. Get on the right side. If you just want to chat in a bar or a coffee shop, then go ahead. But politics is central to any of the values skepticism espouses.

  2. Scott says:

    Podcasters: You really made a huge mistake: it was not a letter FROM the LSA.

    That would be a WHOLE different animal. The letter originated anonymously then circulated for signatures then sent TO the LSA.

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