Thursday, January 7, 2010

Skeptoid, Righteous Indignation, Token Skeptic

Your faithful blogger is feeling more than a bit under the weather today, so I'll briefly comment on  a few podcasts before the medication kicks in and I start hallucinating that I am Napoleon or Silvia Brown.

The Token Skeptic did a piece on women and paranormal belief, and why some allege women are more susceptible to such belief, and whether women actually are more woo susceptible than men.  In ten minutes Sturgess tackled quite a lot in a topic that even she noted will probably be covered more thoroughly in future TSs.  What always strikes me about such questions is how uncomfortable I feel about them.  Many of the women in my life: my wife, my mom, my sister, and the women I listen to on my podcasts Swoopy, Dr. Dunlop, Sturgess, Watson, and Stevens are all tough minded anti-woo woo types.  My world view might be a bit bent.  On the other hand, my late grandmothers, a lot of the women in my office, and some lady friends, many of whom I am exceedingly close (but not in that way so stop it), sure do believe in some wacky stuff -astrology, animal psychics, etc.  I also know a lot of men who believe in wacky stuff, but it is not as public -magnetic bracelets, astrology, etc.

What am I rambling about in the above, I suppose it is that while women might be painted with the woo brush in general and it is backed up somewhat in polls, I really dislike painting groups with a broad brush.  I prefer to take people as individuals.  Realistically, people do and must generalize, so I just have to deal with it.

I am not a psychologist or anthropologist, so I will leave it to the experts to do the research on how much validity there is to the proposition on why a greater percentage of women buy into woo than men.  Sturgess's discussion is a good first step into delving into this arena, but I feel like it is a topic mind field.

Righteous Indignation did its 2009 wrap up show, and of all the wrap up shows done this year, this was likely the best.  I liked the format of each host telling who they thought was skeptic of the year, or woo-meister of the year, or podcast of the year and then between the three picking the winner.  I enjoyed hearing their mental process and rational for "the winner."

I thought about doing a podcast of the year award from this blog and send them a large Hershey bar with my compliments, or something. I had not thought it all the way through.  I really had a hard time picking one winner.  It came down to the SGU, the Zone, Conspiracy Skeptic, and Righteous Indignation.  From those four it would have been between Righteous Indignation and CS.  I really enjoy how the Indignates interview believers.  The interviews are a great balance between good solid questions without being  argumentative.  Conspiracy Skeptic has Karl Mamer the master of light gab that is choke full of informational goodness on particular conspiracies, conspiracy thought, and all things Korean.  However, picking him would appear a lot like back scratching, and as excellent as Mamer's podcast is, it is a narrow topic.  Would it be better to give it to a general interest show? So I waffled and picked nobody, and I am not even sure it is legal to ship chocolate overseas.

Anyway, Trystan, Hayley, and Marsh did not waffle, and I think all of their picks are quite good across the board.

(Oh, I really think Brian Thompson, on the Amateur Scientist Podcast, deserves an honorable mention for his excellent interviewing skills.  An honorable mention would bag you a pack of twizzlers, or some Hershey kisses.)

Brain Dunning did a Skeptoid episode on how to deal with a friend who is into woo.  The answer is shanghai them into listening to Skeptoid.  Okay.  Only in a tiny part, but Dunning broke the issue into three ways to deal with a friend's woo: 1) do nothing if the woo is doing the friend no harm, 2) leave the door open to discuss the woo at some point or time when they feel like it, and trick them into listening to Skeptoid, 3) if the woo is causing them harm and it is worth destroying the friendship over protecting your friend from the woo, procedure with an intervention.

I basically think these are all reasonable steps.  Although I think if you are willing to spend a long time ever so slightly chipping away at some of the woo, perhaps not only having them listen to Skeptoid, but something of more entertainment value such as the Amateur Scientist (if they like wiener humor) it might work over the long hall.  As the time progresses the person bonds to woo might losen until you can bonk them on the noggin and have them wake up at TAM (just joking).

As know people who are quite into the woo, and basically I leave it go unless they say something really stupid that pushes a button -such as man did not land on the moon, or vaccines are bad.

Well, big pharma's meds are starting to kick in, so it is time for me to stop.


  1. Get some rest!! :)
    Yes, the topic I've chosen is indeed a controversial one - enough that I continually see questions and opinons and led me to do about two years of looking at and around the topic. So, it's absolutely one that will get people's ire, but can't be avoided. Certainly requires more than one episode to investigate, so I'll revisit it over the coming months. Thanks again for checking out my show! :)

  2. Thanks Nigel, you are always very kind!


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