Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Rationally Speaking with Randi

James “the Amazing” Randi was the guest on the latest episode of Rationally Speaking.  Julia Galef and Dr. Massimo Pigliucci, the show’s hosts, noted this was only time Randi has been a guest on the show.  As Randi has recently retired from the JREF and Pigliucci will soon be leaving Rationally Speaking to attend to other pursuits, this was one of the last possible times for this event to occur.

Randi was ever the entertaining guest, but as of normal of late,mhe jumped between topics discussing a recent meeting with Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the documentary about himself (The Honest Liar), and his interaction with scientists and their work on psi.  Randi also discussed a book he has authored but is apparently in need of editing that ought to be out soon concerning a magician in the laboratory.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Exposing PseudoAstronomy Hale Bopp Trilogy

Dr. Stuart Robbins, host of the Exposing PseudoAstronomy Podcast, has over the course of the last month produced three episodes concerning alleged mysteries surrounding Comet Hale Bopp that was visible in 1997.  Hale Bopp is unfortunately tied to the mass suicides of the Heaven's Gate religious cult.  The three episodes, while all linked together, are designed to also stand alone as each episode considers a different facet of how the comet came to prominence in the popular culture and became connected to the Heaven's Gate deaths.  All together the episodes clock in at a tad over 145 minutes.

I will refrain from going into detail of each episode other than to point out the broad topics covered by each.  The first episode examines how Hale Bopp was discovered, a general history of how comets have been viewed by the public down the ages, and how this comet was of particular note to the public.  The peculiar notion that Hale Bopp had a companion burst upon the scene when an amateur astronomer contacted Art Bell of the then exceedingly popular Coast to Coast AM late night radio talk show.  This astronomer told Bell he viewed an unexpected companion with the comet.  Dr. Robbins breaks down this claim, its evidence, and the science that disproves it.  The claim ultimately entailed an alleged and unnamed professional astronomer who claimed photographic support of the comet companion claim which was brought forth by Courtney Brown a remote viewer of some popular note.  This was followed by the exposing of this 'evidence' of being a likely fraud on Coast to Coast.  Believe me, the audio clip of Art Bell losing his cool on the air at the fraudulent photographic evidence is dynamite.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Pluto explained: Dr. Stuart Robbins on Reality Check Podcast

Dr. Stuart Robbins of the Exposing PseudoAstronomy podcast and blog is two parts into a three part podcast series on Comet Hale Bopp dealing with the alleged companion craft of the comet that helped lead to the unfortunate mass suicide of the Heavens Gate Cult.  I plan to cover all three episodes once the trilogy is complete.  However, Dr. Robbins has done a guest appearance on The Reality Check podcast.

The Reality Check is a Canadian-based effort produced by the Ottawa Skeptics.  The show has been in production since 2008, and has had a number of hosts and panelists.  The current hosts are Darren McKee, Adam Gardner, Cristina Roach, and Pat Roach.  I have listened to Reality Check a few times in the past, and it's a good show.  It has not made it into my normal queue of shows.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I like my bacon and Skepticality . . . on the side.

Skepticality was likely the first skeptical podcast to be produced and has managed to stay in production for all but a decade.  The show has undergone far more changes to its format and style than the likely next oldest podcast, the venerable Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe.  Early in the show's history, host, Derek Colanduno, was out with a stroke for a period of time, and then co-host Swoopy took over production and hosting of the show during Derek's convalescence. Swoopy left the show after Derek’s recovery for personal reasons, although she does pop back in from time to time.  The show's format went from a discussion show with Derek and Swoopy with some news segments and interviews and graduated to Swoopy interviewing authors or others involved in skeptical activity.  In the last few years, the show is now a rather innovative set of four or so “podlette” segments followed by Derek interviewing someone.

The latest episode introduced a new format.  From what I could gather, this is not the new format for all shows going forward but more of subset style of episode called “Skepticality on the side.”  I believe the regular podlette and interviews will continue.  I am not sure if it reveals the show has come full circle, gone retro, or taken a step backwards.  The new format is a panel discussion where four skeptics discuss topics of note or at least something they would like to get off their chest.  The panel consisted of Skepticality alums Derek, Susan Gerbic, Tim Farley, and Bob Blaskiewicz, and it seems future panels could include other alums such as Eve Siebert.