Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Skeptics Zone #57

Evil Giraffes 

This week's The Skeptic Zone contained a number of interesting segments.  The interview with Desiree Schell by Saunders discussed the interesting topic of Schell hosting perhaps the only skeptical broadcast radio show, Skeptically Speaking, in the world, although I have to think that on a small scale there has to be a skeptical college radio show.   The show is also rebroadcast to a small number of stations throughout the United States and Canada.  Saunders and Schell also discussed the more provocative topic of women, or more precisely, the number of women involved in skepticism today.  I say 'provocative' because as I noted in an earlier post there was some disgruntled people at TAM 7 for comments made by Bill Prady that some found sexist, and for the lack of female speakers at TAM 7.  On the one hand, I always get a bit of knot in my stomach because I am the very definition of "The Man" as I am white, professional, a geek, aged 38, luckily I do not have whiskers.  Should I flee?  On the other hand, if I were a woman and went to TAM and less than one in five of the speakers were women, but over twice that amount were attendees I'd think it odd.  Yet, I do think the white male geek dominance of skepticism is coming to an end.  It seems at least anecdotally that parity of geeks is quickly being reached in the genders.  Although, what is more disconcerting to me is the lack of minority participation. With 13 percent of the U.S. population of african descent, it seems fairly clear that such representation is nowhere near apparent today in the skeptical community.

Eran Segev did a Grain of Salt segment from the Noah's Ark in Hong Kong, China.  I just love the field segments.  Segev did an audio tour of the museum, which is complete with a giant mock up of the Ark, complete with many animals two by two except for four giraffes.  (Segev made a joke about two of the giraffe's being evil giraffe and a short audio clip of a hilarious Eddie Izzard bit.) He noted how the fossil T-Rex skull exhibit dodged the precise age of the skull and used the term many, many years instead of either 6,000 years or millions.  The 4-D flood theater complete with water geyser and rain to flood the world, and how the depiction of Noah and his peeps were all chinese in appearance, which is nonsense when everyone knows that many biblical folk are blonde blue-eyed scandinavian types.  Segev noted the large number of rainbows through the museum, and perhaps they are also promoting the gay lesbian agenda.  (Something tells me this is not true.) I thought this segment was particularly compelling and entertaining.

The final major segment of the show were clips from and interviews behinds the scenes during Carl Sagan day talks at Broward College with D.J. Grothe, Phil Plait, Plait's mom, and James Randi.  First, it had me thinking back to when I was aged nine watching Cosmos for the first time on PBS.  The whole family gathered round, I think every Sunday night, to watch.  I still have the book that was partially eaten by my dog that I have read seven to ten times.  Sagan really was a great balance between a charismatic champion of science, skeptic, and general personality without offending those who thought differently.  Neil deGrasse Tyson comes close to being Sagan, but nobody can quite hit the mark.  It was just good to hear Randi talking and joking as he contends with his cancer treatment.  I hope it is a long time until we have to memorialize Randi.

I enjoyed the episode.  I alway enjoy the episode that wrap up with the Think Tank a bit more.  I am just a sucker for a panel discussion.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again! I always zip a link to your reviews to the SZ team, they're very much appreciated! Next week we'll be recording at an Australian Skeptics convention, but I think the show content will be something different... it's often a surprise to me too what might feature! :) Oh, Dr Martin Bridgstock, who spoke on episode #47 has a book launch happening at the convention, you might like to check it out?


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