Sunday, May 9, 2010

5 years of SGU, Amateur Scientist, Point of Inquiry

I am going to be brief this week, I have a lot of brush up research to do for an upcoming appearance on Conspiracy Skeptic, and I have been putting it off due to a little thing called Spring after a long snow covered winter.

It was the five year anniversary episode of the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe including Evan playing the beginning of the first episode.  It was funny with Bob giving a creepy "hel-l-l-o-o," and bitter-sweet with Perry giving his inaugural show greeting.

It was also the first Skeptics' Guide that included an advertisement, and it was an ad for  I have no complaint about the show generating dollars to pay for its bandwidth.  It is far better than the alternative of the show going off the net.  My only advice is that instead of doing it as a break in the show as a commercial, they should do it as part of the show.  Anyone who listens to the TWiT knows how Audible has been a long time sponsor of the show, and it is handled more as a weekly topic of discussion than a stand alone commercial.  It is not a hidden commercial; it is made explicit.  This style of ad just seems to allow the show to flow better.

I shall refrain from going through all the stories this week that were covered except for Rush Limbaugh's discussion of a conspiracy that a green activist or someone blew up the oil well to prevent future ocean oil platforms.   They also countered Limbaugh's discussion how oil leaks are naturally handled, and all this clean up discussion is likely unnecessary.  While a few posts ago I defended Limbaugh, this week there is no defense.  I still do not know if "El Rushbo" really believes what he is dishing out, or just wants to keep things controversial to maintain listeners.  Limbaugh is clearly off the mark on this one.

It was a very lively episode this week and once again all of the Rogues seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Jay had me in stitches with his German accent.

The Amateur Scientist Podcast has started its month-long fundraiser.  So now on the Amateur Scientist Podcast homepage is a dedicated button to the Celebrathon.  Thomas has lined up a celebrity guest to entice listers to reach deep into the pocketbook or wallet and give, give, give.  I suggest  you do.  At this point, a Saturday afternoon without Thompson's brand of not explicit, but effective skeptical humor would seem empty and drab.  It causes me to wonder if bandwidth providers are suddenly starting to charge more with the SGU runnings ads, and Thompson holding a Celebrathon. It seems to me costs are on the rise.  (Now that I think of it Karl has asked if Lady and I would drive a getaway car sometime when he need to leave an out of the way bank on the U.S./Canada border.  Hmm.)

This week's celebrity guest was Bill Corbett of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  He voiced Crow T. Robot.  I watched a lot of MST3K in the 1990's, and luckily Corbett was a good sport discussing the future of robotics with Thompson.  The discussion included answering the burning question on everyone's mind:  What to do when your daughter brings home a robot as her fiancee?  Corbett and Thompson handle this delicate question better than any episode of Oprah or Rachel Ray.

I enjoyed the show a great deal.  However, I must admit the opening bit of Thompson's cousin explaining why he was an atheist did not strike me as funny.  The rest of the episode including Corbett's interview was terribly funny.

Now go to the Celebrathon, and part with your $35.  You know you do not need it.  (If you are saving for a new iPad, then Thompson also has the $10 option.)

Chris Mooney was on deck as host of Point of Inquiry this week.  The guest was Elaine Howard Eckland discussing her book Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think.  I found it an interesting interview of what at least at first blush is a well controlled study to learn the religious views of scientists working in highly regarded academia.  Scientist do not seem to be as atheistic as many people believe including many in the scientific/skeptical/atheist/agnostic/plumbing community.  Yes, there is a larger percentage of non-belief in this group than in the general American public, but perhaps not as large many think including the scientists themselves.

There are too many fascinating angles to bring up here, but there are two I want to highlight.  The one finding is that second generation atheists (those raised in non-belief) are generally less hostile to religion and open to discussion with religious people than people who became atheist as they matured.  The other was that a fair number of atheist scientists are none too keen to be lumped in or support the action of the New Atheist such as Richard Dawkins.  The discussion of just these two topics of the many covered makes listening more than worth the time.  If I ever get an iPad (oops I mean when.  The iPad gods are fickle and do not smile upon doubters), I think this book just might be one of my first book downloads.

Now off to read about intrigue in Rome for Karl's show, and at Karl's insistence to practice boot leg turns in the local high school parking lot.  I have to drive like Steve McQueen.  What does he have in mind?

--The Skeptic Zone Podcast: It has a Think Tank segment.  Need I say more, go download and listen to it already.

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