Monday, October 5, 2009

Conspiracy Skeptic Unplugged Episode 9

This is a very special Skeptical Review.  It is special because what follows is a review of a podcast in which yours truly was a guest.  Karl Mamer surprised the heck out of me by kindly inviting me on his podcast The Conspiracy Skeptic to discuss my favorite conspiracy.  Karl was a very gracious and prepared host, and my appearance on his show has reaffirmed my respect for not only Karl but for everyone who expends the time and effort to participate in this medium.  As Karl suggested on the show, and I have asked my wife Hermione to comment on this episode.      

Yes, I have been conned into reviewing the podcast in which my husband participated.  Lucky for everyone, I am excellent at criticism.  Always constructive criticism, of course.  This week, the Conspiracy Skeptic tackled the great JFK assassination.  Being a good patriot and American, it is easy to forget that the assassination of President John F. Kennedy may not be as well known to the world as it is to Americans, even if you did not experience it firsthand.  For example, I was born in 1980, so I missed the big heyday of the Warren Commission and the like, and yet, I know all about where my mother was when Kennedy was shot, the magic bullet theory, the Zapruder film, and "back and to the left."  And, that is all without reading a single book on the topic and not seeing the Oliver Stone movie.  It is an event that is so in the American consciousness, that it is impossible to not know at least the basics of the event and the myriad conspiracies it spawned.  I think Karl did an excellent job of trying to make sure everything was explained for all the un-initiated.

The podcast mentions how it is an event where the conspiracies will not just fade away in time, and that it is an event with parallels to 9/11.  I think that the parallels to the 9/11 conspiracies and the longevity of the JFK conspiracies can be explained by the fact that this was a national event unlike any ever experienced before.  I think the last big event to affect the U.S. was Pearl Harbor some 20 years before.  With such a huge national tragedy and where there is never really a sense of justice in the form of a trial or what have you, I think it really sows the ground for conspiracies to spring up.  The podcasters also note that this was so affecting to Americans as it was a young, dynamic President in the prime of his life with a beautiful young family.  

I think Nigel and Karl did an excellent job in tackling an event that has spawned literally hundreds of conspiracies in the space of an hour.  For instance, the Vincent Bugliosi book to which Nigel refers is 1518 pages long and that is excluding the bibiliography.  The JFK assassination could easily cover a week-long conversation, and I think the podcast nicely covered all the big conspiracies in the time constraints.  The podcasters were able to give a nice overview on what could be an unwieldy topic and managed to keep my interest.  As I am not as big on podcasts as my husband, I thought this indicated at least some level of quality! :)  I think we all know I am a little biased in reviewing this (my husband was on a podcast, how cool!), but I really think Karl and Nigel presented a good discussion on the JFK assassination conspiracies without it going over anyone's head.

On a final note, I agree with Karl...we need to watch out for those puffins.  Paraphrasing comedian Craig Ferguson, they're not cute; they're just cold pigeons.

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