Friday, August 14, 2009

In Memoriam: Perry DeAngelis:

August 19th 2007: A very black day for skeptics, podcasting, and the world in general. The day Perry DeAngelis died. I never met the man. I never saw one of his lectures. I was not aware of his writings until I began listening to the "Skeptics Guide to the Universe" around the end of March of 2006. However, on that bleak August day I was checked into the home page of SGU, and I saw Perry's picture posted on the web page. I recall at first being confused, and then getting an ice ball in my stomach upon reading Steve's short paragraph informing the world of Perry's death which turned into a lump in my throat and moist eyes.

What made this man, who was unlike his co-host Steven Novella a superbly educated person, or Rebecca Watson a young visionary who is successfully altering the skeptical landscape, foster such a sense of loss to a complete stranger? At least for me, I knew the skeptical community lost a person with whom I took as a roll model on how I wished to act as a skeptic --fighting the good fight, telling it like it is, while still being eminently likable and upholding underlying fairness.

I think one the best examples of Perry's fairness is his quote on extremism which included atheists and agnostics that he made in episode 80. He was also a master at checking the other rouges when they went off on a tangent as in episode 86 when the Novella boys were discussing whether computers and/or robots should someday get "human" rights, and Perry with Rebecca asked if "have I wondered into a science fiction convention? What are you people talking about." It is a classic moment on the show.

While I shall refrain from going into great detail at this time, the SGU arguably the top tier skeptical podcast on the web, still has never completely recovered from Perry's loss. He was a perfect counter point to Rebecca, and his bluntness balanced Steve's typically sharp academic, measured explanations. Perry's death gouged a hole in the show and this vacuum has yet to be filled.

I reviewed some of the older SGU shows to write this post. In doing so, I had another lump in my throat and once again my eyes became moist. The podcasts that were made with him shall go on for a long time, and yet it also gives a hint on what might have been if Perry had not died far before his time was due. As George Harrison once sang "All things must pass," but sometimes they pass far too soon.

It has been two years, and I miss Perry.

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