Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Righteous Indignation, Token Skeptic

This week’s Righteous Indignation was a clean up episode of bits of interviews that were either follow up questions posted on the show’s forums or bits of interviews not shared during the initial interview edits and unreported new stories of note.

I found this quite an enjoyable episode and this type of clean up episode is something more podcasts should consider.  It is like the special features section you find on most movie DVDs.  The SGU does a similar thing with extended interviews from time to time for paid downloads, but free is always appreciated. 

I’ll just share a few brief thoughts on this episode.  Mark Andrew Turner who studies electronic voice phenomenon seemed to be a bit of a crank more after this extended interview than during the initial edit.  My question is if he is not listening for ghosts in the electronic static than what is it he is trying to hear?  While I am not clear what he thinks he is trying to find, he did seem to want to distance himself from other (at least obvious) pro-paranormal researchers in this field.  Although I still am suspect as to his overarching goals and methods, I do think for such a questionable field he is using at least seemingly defendable methods. 

The clips from the interview with David Griffin, a UFO researcher, were spectacular.  I have not listened to the original interview, but the clips had me commenting and basically cheering Trystan and Marsh as they discussed what constituted good evidence of alien visitation.  It was quite clear to me that Griffin was taking the position that the sheer volume of eyewitness reports and non-verified physical evidence in total constitute sufficient evidence to believe that aliens were visiting our planet.  I found it interesting that Griffin used the term believe almost in the same way many people believe in a religion.  What it all betrayed to me was that for such a stupendous claim of alien visitation Griffin does not require equally firm evidence to show the existence of such visits, but just needs or wants enough to confirm a belief.  He is looking for faith and not fact.  I really enjoyed this interview and must find the time to listen to the original interview as soon as possible. 

Finally, the story on teaching “Emo Trance” in certain English schools, I found infuriating.  Emo Trance is something to do with controlling your energy and others energy to be happy or something.  I dunno.  It is new age tripe.  It being taught in the curriculum of tax payer-funded schools anywhere, let alone in an industrial and modern nation such as the United Kingdom, is a sad sign of where science and rationalism stands in the world today.   I know it is not widespread, but this is ridiculous that any school would consider this a proper thing to teach young impressionable minds. 

There is a new token in town . . . 

The Token Skeptic is a brand new podcast by Kylie Sturgess of The Skeptic Zone.  As of this posting there are only two shows on the web, and it was just indexed on iTunes.  It is a short form format of less than ten minutes with a topic covered by Sturgess ala Brian Dunning or The Skeptics Guide 5X5.   One episode covered the use of good luck charms and the reasons why people rely upon them, and their pros and cons, and the other episode covered Santa Claus.  Overall, I enjoyed both episodes.  Although the information contained in both was interesting, the delivery was a tad clinical.  I suspect that is just a matter of working out the kinks in the delivery of the podcast.  The one thing I found suspect is that the intro and exit music for each episode was different with the name of the music was advertised by Sturgess.  I find it important in the branding of a podcast that a good solid introductory 'hook' be instilled into the listener.  From B-52's morse code beat of Planet Claire the theme song to Karl Mamer's Conspiracy Skeptic or the laser beam shot and horse winnow of the Amateur Scientist to the bass line of Theorum the theme song to the SGU, that initial hook is just plain comforting.  The closing music or music picked between segments changing can add interest, but the opening should be as steady of the tolling of Big Ben.  

Yes, I'm adding another podcast to my lineup.  I suspect this means each show will be discussed a bit less, but I hate the thought of winnowing down my list too.  Could you kick a kitten to the curb, or hand a puppy to the pound?  I suppose it is the same thing with me and podcasts.     

As this is likely my last post of 2009, I wish each and everyone of my readers the best in the coming year.  


  1. Hayley here :)
    Firstly, thank you for your kind words.
    With the Mark Andrew Turner interview I was trying to get out of him exactly why he does what he does. What he aims to prove or discover. I also found it odd that he doesn't go for the 'it's a ghost' direction with it, but then doesn't know why he does it.
    Seemed to me as though it's a fruitless task because if he does catch a voice (for which there are dozens of logical, rational causes) what does he prove? He doesn't know! How odd.

    As for the David Griffin interview... well, we got a lot of criticism from his peers that we were being closed minded and were 'hounding' him during the interview. It's one of those topics where people have strong views, and that can sometimes be difficult to question. It made for interesting discussion though.

  2. Yay, a review! :D

    "kinks in delivery" - yes, I'm trying to get a balance between all the research I have and making it straight-forward; hopefully by the fifth ep (apparently it's a tradition that you 'throw away the first five eps of your show because it takes that long to get the hang of it', arghhhhhhh....) I'll be on a roll!

    As for the opening music - I think it's a matter of my still trying to make up my mind! I like my '365' song, as it was specially composed for me. But I also like upbeat songs. Should I have listeners vote? Should I just keep song 1 or song 2? Decisions, decisions. By episode four, I should have made my mind up. :) Thanks again!

  3. Hi Kylie - just listened to Token Skeptic and have to say that I really enjoyed it. Things will get smoother with time...have a listen to the first five episodes of Righteous Indignation, we were dreadful! I will whack up a link from our website and I hope things settle down for you. :(

    Nigel - thanks again for the review! I wasn't there for the Mark Turner interview as I had seasonal flu but I was just as bemused as you in listening as to why he is collecting these voices. What frustrates is that EVP is something that could be investigated in controlled conditions but never is!


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