« The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe

Episode 181: Off by Roughly Two Trillion

2021-01-05 | 🔗

After reading chapter four of his book, Mike and Chuck discuss the real reason that so many Americans no longer believe people who sound certain - including journalists, politicians, scientists, doctors, professors, and yes… even narrators.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey guys, I grow, and this is the way I heard it's. The only podcast for the curious mind with ashore attention span that used to be, under ten minutes, but is now considerably longer for a variety of reasons discussed in previous episodes. I do hope you're enjoying the expanded format of this humble little podcast. So far, the feedback over my Facebook page has been great. So, thanks for your candor in your kind words. This is episode number one, eighty one and its called off by roughly two trillion off by roughly two trillion happy new year by the way, a new year upon us, here's to were here's to a bit more fun and twenty twenty one This episode starts with chapter four of my book, which is called no lightweight put it tells a true story of a famous com or whose passion for each other burn so hot it very nearly ruined them. It's a lie
story at base the gent up some controversy when it first appeared here on the podcast. Partly because it deals with a practice we referred to today as sexting, so the contents of it not here than usual, and partly because the details of what happened to. One of these lovers is disputed today among historians and biographers, and the army of correctors that are out there, some of whom came by my facebook page to let me know that they had heard things differently, which is, of course fine by me. I'll then share a story about what it feels like to be off by roughly two trillion and how that feeling led me to call this podcast and my book the way I heard it Jack and I then bark on a surprisingly thoughtful prescient- On scripted, rumination uncertainty and humility.
Fundamental reason that so many Americans today have become so deeply sceptical of every one who sounds like they know what they're talking about, including a particular order, journalists, politicians, scientists. Actors, professors and yes, even narrators its away. I episode, one eighty two off by roughly two trillion and it starts. And when I say right now, of course I mean right after I thank my friends had light stream for sponsoring this episode you're thinking about the high interest rate credit cards, you used over the holidays, you're not alone, and when it comes to refinancing credit cards, you do have options, but only one company, was ranked number one by J D power for customer satisfaction with personal loans, light stream, Dante my word for it go to jail power, dot, com. Hush wards and see for yourself They did it light streams, credit,
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I heard it off by roughly two trillion chapter. Four, no polite way to put it George was horny, sorry to be a delicate There is really no polite way to put it. He hadn't seen Elizabeth in weeks and he missed his wife with the white hot intensity of a thousand sons. Excuse me, sir, but a letter has arrived. George leaped from his chair and ran to the doorway handed over my good man with all due speed. The courier complied George, lock the door behind
him with trembling hands. He opened the envelope, the sight of her hand, writing quickened his pulse, the smell of her perfume wafted from the page, leaving him light, headed and breathless all my gallant champion. It began how I miss you, if only we could be together for just a few hours, if only I could sit tomboy for a quick ride with you behind me. George swallowed hard gripping the page with his free hand by God his wife really could turn of phrase. He tried to slow things down, but when he got to the part that red I know of a soft place upon somebody's carpet that yearns for a gentle touch. Well, that was
simply too much George had to collect himself and then start again from the top. The second time was better than always was George read more slowly now, with as much patience as he could muster. He savoured every syllable, pausing between paragraphs to fully embrace the images his wife had so cleverly evoked when he finished he wiped the perspiration from his brow and tried to return the favour. Good morning my rose bud. He wrote little John has been in constant and earnest inquiries for his bunk ii for a very long time and the small he seems more persistent than ever. I two yearn to be in the saddle behind you holding on for dear life. And yes, I know just where I'd kiss a certain sum one. If I was with her tonight.
Two weeks later, his letter arrived in Monroe Michigan, a butler delivered to the boudoir, their Elizabeth devoured his words in much the same way. He had devoured hers, hungrily greedily, then after multiple readings she reached for her pen and paper and got busy crafting another flurry of phrases carefully concocted to help her husband release the tension during their long periods of separation, in other words, George and Elizabeth were sexting, victorian style, sorry to be indelicate, but there is really no polite way to put their letters were the nineteenth century equivalent of naked selfies, packed with double entendu rules that would have made Anthony Wiener blush. There were references to long extended, gallops and writing under the cropper in one Elizabeth allude
to the possibility of breaking in a new Philly for their mutual pleasure and discuss the pros and cons of being ridden hard and put away wet. True George was a famous equestrian, but no one would have mistaken the topic in question and, of course no one did because George wasn't just a horny husband he was a careless husband at a time when a man's reputation and a woman's virtue were still fragile, important things. George failed to protect both one day. Elizabeth letters were stolen, they appeared in the pages of the rich men Gazette
before long, the entire country was reading all about little John, the pleasures of writing tomboy and that soft place upon someone's carpet in need of a gentle touch. One can only imagine how Elizabeth must have felt seeing her words in print, yet she survived the scandal over time. People forgot all about it. Likewise, they lost sight of her husbands, other shortcomings. They forgot about his impetuous nature. They forgot about his need to always be the centre of attend
and they forgot about those things, because once again, Elizabeth put pen to paper extolling the virtues of her husband in a series of wildly popular books about his life on the frontier and his exploits on the battlefield. By the time she died at the advanced age of ninety. She had single handedly transformed Georgia's reputation, not from that of a careless husband, who'd, famously embarrassed, his wife, but from that of a famous commander who had carelessly killed
his own men in the movie George dies with his boots on fighting heroically right up to the bitter end in real life? No one knows his body was found three days after the smoke cleared naked, blackened bloated and covered with flies. Some said a finger had been cut off and taken as a souvenir. Others said his eardrums had been pierced with a sewing needle punishment for his failure to list
Some said that he appeared to be smiling as the dead often do, while one claimed an arrow had been. Forgive me forced into his rectum pushed through his intestines and into his little John leaving his corpse in a state of perpetual readiness, even as it purified under the Blue Montana sky. Sorry to be indelicate, but there is really no polite way to put Some of Georgia's men were skinned alive. Others were dismembered and rearranged on the ground. President Ulysses S grant called the entire debacle and abominable, all totally unnecessary slaughter caused by the stupidity and rashness of a vain cork headed fool, but despite all that the soldier
marched. His men into the valley of death is remembered today, as an enduring hero of the American West, thanks to a devoted wife who never stopped grieving, never stop writing and never stop believing her horny husband was some kind of euro. In spite of his unforgivable arrogance on the banks of a river called the little bighorn, not exactly be ending for the impatient boy general, but a far better legacy than he deserved. Thanks to the blushing bride, he left behind a best selling author named Elizabeth Custer, I thought about custard not long ago at a watering hole called grumpy peace after narrow adding another few episodes of how the universe works. For my friends at the science channel. I've learned many interesting things narrating that series, starting with the
undeniable fact that I am going to die in the grip of a cold, indifferent cosmos. The only uncertainty seems to run around the exact method of my inevitable demise. What will it be? A supermassive black hole, the collision of two neutron stars, a supernova occur but an asteroid gamma rays. Is it any wonder but after a long day of this stuff, I typically end up at Grumpy's on that particular day. I introduced my audience to the existence of strange, let's killer particles that zombie fi matter whatever. That means I wasn't plaza about it when I read it as a narrator of some experience, I infuse the copy with an appropriate level of certainty, as I reminded my terrified viewers that no one is going to get out of this thing alive. Then again was I write to sound so certain from time to time
more times than you might imagine. The science channel calls me back to the booth to require. Something. I've read in an earlier episode, not because of screwed up which never happened, but has. New information has been discovered that contradicts claims made in previous scripts once I was asked to record a passage, it made reference to the total number of galaxies in the cosmos I had. Originally announced in a crisp well modulated. Baritone that there were approximately one hundred billion galaxies. And the known universe. I remember thinking damn that's a lot of galaxies and again being a narrator of some experience. I infused the copy with what I felt to be an appropriate level of certainty and gravitas. Well, a week later, I was called back to the booth.
Turns out a new method of measuring the cosmos, had let astronomers to revise the number of galaxies in the known universe from one hunt billion to two trillion in a single week, we'd found another two thousand billion gown exist but, as I read the new copy, struck by the undeniable fact that I sound no less certain when I'm right, then I do when I am wrong. I dont want to overstate things, but the facts are clear: millions or billions for all. I know trillions of people tune in every week two here may explain the workings of our universe, it's hard to say, how many exactly in these uncertain times. But there are no soul others among my undoubtedly vast audience, waiting to follow me into battle. Custer
had six hundred men behind him, the whole seventh Reggie hanging on his every word. I can't help but wonder how certain did Custer Sound you're a big blue Montana sky. When he led his men into that valley of death. Alas, there was no recording booth for custard to be called back too. There were no do overs for him and his men, just the knife, the arrow on the tomahawk of that at least I am certain. I know what you're thinking thinking. I wonder what kind of underwear MIKE wearing when he narrated that episode of how the universe works. Well, I'll tell you I was wearing me undies, full disclosure. I wear beyond these, no matter what I'm narrating these days,
Yes me on these are now my go to underpants as a sense, I didn't think I'd ever say before, but a guy who ward tidy whitish for like fifty years. This is a bold new experience for me, yeah, partly because there monitoring the podcast, but partly because they really do make some amazingly soften comfortable fibres. I don't really understand what they are, but they are amazingly comfortable and I joined their club now so once a once a month. I I order stuff can we socks? They sent me these columns, sweat, pants, like lounge, where I guess the that made made out of the same crazy material I lounged around in them on New year's day all day read a book sat by the fire had an absolute slob day enjoying my on these you'll enjoy them to get fifteen percent off your first order and free shipping. It me on these dotcom Slash MIKE. That's ends: dot com,
I don't wanna overstated their comfortable and dumb if your old, ashen with your underpants, like George Custer, probably was. You gonna, don't know what you're missing until you slip into something completely different me. Undies are amazing. They come in some colors that don't even occur in nature or some fairly traditionally Hughes as well. There are some triumph say: fifteen percent me undies dot com hush like? Would you like to say something or should I will that's just with their expecting hello, everyone Welcome to whatever this episode is called, which is yet to be determined, fully closure chalk- and I just spoke for roughly
one in five minutes, and it was interesting nominating reasoning. I thought so too. It was one of our better efforts and chalk up. Tell him what happened, which please well your way. You were not recording on your end and- and why was that? why was that chuck? Because I had instructed you to plug your earbuds in after you were already recording, which subsequently ended the recording for some unknown reason. Act correct and it's interesting. Don't you think that the unknown nature of the reason and your own role as producer of the podcast are are in some ways? What's the word wildly incompatible, perhaps It also interesting to note that you had no idea that in fact, your device, which of course, is literally three-
thousand miles away from me was not recording you I of anybody finds this interesting, but the situation dear listeners, as follows: I'm a little north of San Francisco and zoom call with shock, who is in one of the Carolinas. Where are you North Carolina he's down there with his family celebrating the advent of a new year, and I'm where I am celebrating the end of the current one a and so we're zooming with each other but recording on garage band, and I am not on the garage band screen. So I didn't know that I wasn't recording after following the careful instructions, as articulated by the aforementioned producer of this podcast Chuck lousier anyway, look I'm not discouraged because there was some things we did talk about in that last attempt that I that I really don't want to repeat, I hope you don't bring him up again, honestly real. I wasn't gonna say this out loud, but that was awful when well out
what I will repeat, because I do think it's interesting and true. This is probably the most for me anyway. The most important chapter in the book I certainly didn't know it at the time when I was writing about Custer, but combined with the little rumination uncertainty that took place in grumpy spar? I really think it's a great example. Another example? Really of why this book is not called the way it was definitively now, now it is. It is clearly the way I heard it and, as you know, after that, that story aired about Custer. I don't know if we were flooded but
but we certainly got some feedback from some people who had heard it differently, his descendants, I believe now, I'm now, but people who rightfully so you know, he's a revered figure and they were upset that you were portraying this one that part of his life. I suppose and that's the problem with the podcast of course, and the challenge of it. It's it's not supposed to be a definitive biography of anybody. Nor is it a deep dive into the history, as it has been etched in the stars. It's an attempt to tell you something. You didn't know about somebody. You do and most people know who'd George Custer was, and most people know what made him famous, but I dont think and Chuck tell me if I'm wrong, I dont think most people knew that he
engaging in Anthony Weiner like sexting over a hundred years before sexting victorian style, I believe it's how you described it no well. I certainly was not aware of that. I mean when this came to light. I was like tell me more. This is fascinating. Well, that's only because you're a degenerate, but I was happy to come ply, possibly so you know as well as the first thing that I thought about this is that I think you, MR calling writing Harlequin romance novels with this, because some you really did paint a picture as well. You're, very kind. You know I'm. I am particularly proud of the image of whom you know. Holding onto that letter with his with his free hand, dear got young people caught that, and I got some pushed back on that too, and I do apologise
This is fundamentally a g rated podcast. But look you know it's a story about sexting before there was sexting and oh, why did I wanna write that honestly? I think it's because at the time Anthony Wiener was headline news and we were just coming to grips with the fact as it were that, dumb that we are now a people. Penal armed with is not just a camera. I mean if you have an internet connection and a smart phone, your your basically a broadcast. You could broadcast any Yes, yes, I mean I've six million people on my facebook page. I could pick up my phone right now go live on Facebook and we could stream this zoom call about this, but which is also a podcast, and it doesn't get more men than that how're we
doing that right now marital devil. I win when we will have time for what I'll do that. But might my point is a lot of people today think sexting a new thing. They think of it, this scandalous new technology, that enables us to send wildly inappropriate pictures through the ether is has ushered in a whole new level of of stakes and drama and disaster. Scandal, and I guess in relative terms it has you in absolute terms. It has not yet well, it's just changed. It's gotten a little bit more graphic. You know with with photos and what not But in the olden days before the cap, before the cameras could go through the ethernet, you
you could write a little story to your love and she could write one to you and that's that that's that's interesting to me. Well, in so many ways it's it's a rumination on gratification. Today, the gratification, if you will, is almost instantaneous back, then it was much more delayed. You know if you were going to write a hot steamy letter to your better half. You know you had to sit down in a room. Probably your alone. You had to dip your quill pen into the ink. Well, as it were in you had a setting. A euphemism is now not agreeing on being very literal here any end, and you had to paint a picture and you had to write it. You have to wait for the ink to dry. Then you had to fold your parchment and lick the envelope and an often went probably on a pony,
I mean it. It took a long time you know, for a young horny couple to up consummate their youth than their haughtiness in that way, and so yeah, it's completely different today, but it's not unexampled as long as people have been walking around, they ve been looking for ways to titillate one another yep and back then it was all about the anticipate say it patient correct. So the push back I got on the story came into different forms of I heard from some parents who didn't like the way they felt as they drove their van loaded chill.
Off to go skiing and suddenly heard the dirty jobs guy. You know talking in terms that seemed Slate Lahti, a bit not and so ok point taken. I got it, but you know it happened. The second group was from the typical army of correctors, who were quite certain in their belief that that custard did not die in the way I described, but rather in a different way, and They had lots of footnotes and sources and they directed me to those sources and sure enough. There's a lot of ambiguity out there. Look he wasn't found for three days. You know the condition of his body. Well, it's up in the air there. So many conflicting accounts out there that it's really hard to know with certainty which is correct. But again that's the whole point. It's it's. The certainty of the thing that,
this podcast is more interesting to me anyway. Then the accuracy of the thing, because whether you're right or whether you're wrong? Isn't it fascinating? These days, how certain we all sound my friend micro once said in this very episode, I saw, no less certain when I'm right than when I'm wrong? Even when I'm wrong by two trillion, I mean to be to be wrong: by two trillion universe. I mean galaxies if that, if that doesn't humble you, then then I doubt your capable of of humility, and that was the other reason why I like this chapter so much individually. The story about Custer is what it is and individual it individually
story about narrating how the universe works is what it is, but when you put them together, I think you do get an opportunity to to reflect on the difference between being right and being certain and that to me more so than Anthony Wiener sexting in the headlines. That to me is the topic. That's really worth talking about today. Right now you know this, the the advent of fake news and in the certainty that allows it to approach for eight in the way that it has. Are you just checking to make sure that you're still recording right now? I was I was because honestly, I was pretty proud of that last turn of phrase, and I thought man, I don't really is. If that had gone, it sure would, but are you with me? I mean it's. Not fake news is not a thing that simply infected the news institutions. Where were you
lists. Fake news is a relatively new term. I dont know exactly who coin did I think it might have been trump, but I'm not sure, but it seems now to apply not only to journalism but obviously too to politics, but also to science and medicine and our universities and Hollywood, and of course, our own history, you know what's real and what's fake. Well, that depends on what statue you're talkin about who you're asking as Every single thing today seems to choir, a new level of scepticism, and you can't blame a reasonable citizen for looking at anything they hear and second guessing it. I dont think: isn't it? Isn't it also that less than quote unquote fake news but more the idea that everything every one is by,
therefore, reporting has reporting has gotten. Just journalism is sort of shot the bed as it were. It's me it's like there are too many adjectives in journalism anymore right. I write it. What you will you wanna get just the facts you want you want to just here what happened? The president said this. You know that the governor did that mom and in instead of saying he, you know the way in which he sat at the way in which he did it. Well, we need places to go four context and coloured and incite, but but if that's all you have, then you really don't it's like going behind the scenes without being a scene. You know you to have just the facts before you Can color them so the facts with regard to the Eu
verse. Are there are currently two trillion known galaxies? The fact with regard to Custer is that six hundred men died on the banks of little Bighorn River as the result of a man who said follow me and the men did right, and so you know You start with what you think you know, and then you can add some context, and you know this that in the other, but look it's the the the presence of certainty is the thing this most interesting to me because, even as the facts become sketch ear and sketch here, the level of certainty with which their delivered becomes Creasy singly vociferous, so in some ways the presence of certainty is sort of the equal and opposite thing to the absence of humility
and I'm not sure which one is more important, but I dont think I dont think you can have a presence of humility and a presence of certainty, somehow or and other things have become, deliciously, arrogant and and and you hear it you know, you hear it in the way people talk, you hear it in news castors, you hear it in narrators. Like me, you know again it's why the podcast and the book wasn't called the way it was. It's called away. I heard it because a lot of certain people are out there digging in on a lot of different topics. Look Anthony Faulty sounded awfully certain when he told me that mass masks didn't work. He sounds pretty certain. Now too, I'm gonna call from an excuse me. I always call when I talk about doktor faulty and you look
the left so, but you know I mean I am I going too far with that. You know my my critics would say MIKE you miss the point. Science is always about. You know. Moving on and and admitting when you're wrong, I say well, that's kind of what I am saying you you have to be humble. If your scientists, because the greatest minds in physics we're just off two trillion, so the greatest minds in medicine might be mistaken unless, of course, we're talking about noble lies, which has a whole other topic, but I just think that in the end, this this chapter is about the dangers of certainty and it's the best example I have of for the upper gram. That's at the beginning, the book that says be
wary of all earnestness, because that would earnestness is it's. It's the presence of certainty, the absence of humility and that just absolute conviction, absolute conviction that you're right and everybody else is- and I think, you're absolutely wrong MIKE one hundred percent, not even close well, the way you say it
sounds derivable. Technical. So tell me tell me about the the the story at grumpy ease and, and tell me what like do you remember? Who was there that view you had this conversation with what it thinks? Grumpy uses a little bar pure in San Francisco, not far from one union, where I recorded the story, I'm going there for nearly twenty years. You know I came up here to host evening magazine back in two thousand one and walked over to grumpy, with a guy named James Reed had a couple of beers one afternoon and conceived of an idea called somebody's gotta. Do it which went on to become dirty jobs and so forth, and so on so grumpy, as always been a place where I've gone, usually at the end of spending a few hours recording this that or the other, and on this particular day this would have been probably two thousand eleven, maybe two thousand twelve
or maybe later I've just right, I'm trying to get right is how the universe Works has been on my mind, a lot lately we just right. We just redid the deal and we're going into season nine right now, so this was probably like seas. Six or seven, so it would have been more like two thousand tighter now sixteen was within the last twenty years, go on and so there I was in grumpy, having just walked over from one union recording having just narrated the episode I described and yeah. I wouldn't an anchor steam and started eavesdropping on a conversation with a couple of guys from Berkeley who were two or three stools down, and they were talking about the universe and I just couldn't not get in
because I you know I a programme and so that the conversation morphed pretty quick into into global warming, and so we were having a big conversation about the climate and more more people in the bar got involved, including a professor Berkeley. I forget her name, but she was there and she had some some really definite opinions. You know and of this is about you know d, this or that it it's just about a conversation between a bunch of nice people who were all enjoying a social lubricant, and who all sounded very, very, very certain about their beliefs, Visa v, the end of the world. Would it be in twelve years as were hearing now? For many? Would it be at the UN,
would it be as a result of fossil fuels carbon footprints? Would it be you're all that stuff was suddenly being discussed and have just narrated that particular episode of that particular show. I could not help but share my belief that the idea that the certainty that I was hearing from The group was not unlike my own certainty, as I announced to the scientific community visa V, how the universe works that there were one billion universes or galaxies in the universe, only to have to correct myself a week later to the tune of two trillion so that that brought the conversation to an end of it. Well it it. It certainly shifted to a new topic, which I think were what are you watching on Netflix,
and- and so it was interesting right because we went from this world of sight some certainty to a topic that we could be completely subjective with and not upset anyone right, because now, if I'm talking about you know my favorite movies or my favorite series. Well, that's! Ok! If you have a different one, because we're not reliant on the same set of facts and we don't have to agree.
Really about anything in order to enjoy each other's company, and we could still have our certainty with regard to this. This personal thing that we loved you know maybe was the sopranos or maybe it was breaking bad or maybe it was Gavin and Stacy or whatever it was. So you get into a very different world when you're talking about your your favorite fashion or your favorite film, as opposed to the absolute nature of the end of the earth and the absolute detail with which clusters body was found. A hundred and three.
Five forty years ago and so forth, so you don't have put a ball on this thing. It's a rumination uncertainty combined with a look back at history shot through with a conversation about current events, Jen gently lubricated with the presence of some interesting. It's that Walker, I think, that's a great place to stick opinion it. But I want to remind everyone first, that a few you ve just heard chapter four of the way I heard it by Micro, the book based on this podcast. If you would like to hear the entire audio version of this book uninterrupted, you can get it. Where fine audio books are sold. You son, mighty certain chuck mighty certain, I'm pretty sure just about just about anywhere fine books are sold. Otherwise I will see you next week pay you
joy yourself down there and whatever Carolina here and say to your family. For me, I will, I absolutely will and oh on Monday, you know we saved, which would be yesterday when this comes out like it's out now. Are you yeah? You really haven't quite crack. The holes this time, I'm late. Anyone thing now and I haven't, but but yes so six degrees with micro on this very plus its common. If it's not here already it's coming yeah, we'll be flogging that pony much more for later on, but yeah brandy Joe Chuck and I worked on available on discovery plus their new streaming service. So there you go, look at it. I don't feel personally comfortable flogging anything else at this point in time and you sound certain about that
well, I'm sort of this will be back next week until then of using
Transcript generated on 2021-01-19.