Wednesday, January 27, 2010

For Good Reason

Point of . . . er-r-r FOR GOOD REASON.

This week featured the release of a new podcast For Good Reason with D.J. Grothe.  This is Grothe's new show with his new employer the James Randi Educational Foundation.  How does this new show compare to Point of Inquiry?  Think of "Late Night with David Letterman" compared to "The Late Show with David Letterman."  The music is sort of the same on both (they both had tunes written by Emmy Award winners, what Grothe has against winners of Oscars and Tony's is beyond me,) they both have females announcers, they both are produced by Thomas Donnelly, they both have the same legal disclaimer at the end, etc.  In fact, it seems as if less has changed with D.J.'s podcast presence than may be happening at the JREF as was alluded to on the show.

It seems Grothe is doing some type or manner of shake up in the JREF management structure.  They did not go into great detail, and I have no clue what any manner of detail it could possibly be.  However, Randi at the end of the program seemed to go out of his way to assure Grothe that despite a lot of changes and some possible upsets, people at the JREF were satisfied with the results.  I know this happens from time to time in many organizations, but when Phil Plait took over there was no talk of things getting shaken up at that time.  Maybe Phil was less hands on, or perhaps Plait and Randi decided to be less public.  It is an interesting contrast.  I have a feeling the JREF is going to be greatly influenced by the Grothe administration.

The episode started with a promised regularly occurring segment with Jamy Ian Swiss, who discussed the difference between being an honest liar and a lying liar, which was quite entertaining.  This was followed by an interview with James Randi.  Randi sounded great, and hopefully he has given his cancer a swift kick to the crotch and he'll be around for many years to come.    Randi discussed his run ins with woo therapy during his chemotherapy ordeal, and especially how common it was for pamphlets, government pamphlets, to suggest to patients the possible use of acupuncture to treat the side effects of their treatments. Randi shared his opinion that it is not due to any scientific basis that this is suggested but simple political correctness.

Randi and Grothe discusse the recent victory of the arrest James McCormick who was selling way overpriced "bomb detection equipment" for use in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This bogus equipment was nothing more than a gussied up dowsing rod in a crappy overpriced suit.  This is a good example of the concert good that skeptics can and must play in the world at large.

Grothe indicated that the million dollar challenge, which is no longer going to be retired, is going to be brought out anew in an effort bring the claims of the fantastic to light for good or for ill.  Randi indicated in the most strongly worded terms that the challenge is fair, it is legitimate, and the million dollars to be won exists in a New York bank account.

Overall, it was a good first show, if it can be considered a first show in any meaningful sense.  It was POI in a new hat, which is not a bad thing.  It is a bit safe, but I am adding it to my stable of shows.  I'd miss Grothe too much to let it go.

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