Thursday, May 27, 2010

Monster Talk, Skeptoid, Irreligiosophy

Due to a groundswell of listener requests, Chuck and Leighton of Irreligiosophy this week tackled Hinduism.  At least Leighton and Chuck attempted to tackle Hinduism, but in the end they were quick to admit they had not even scratched the surface of a quite ancient and downright confusing religion or group of religions.  I don't know.  It was so confusing hearing our fearless hosts guess what they were reading about, and Leighton likely mispronouncing every Hindu word that, while entertaining as a whole, it was not very enlightening.  At the end of the episode they put out a call for any listeners who are Hindu to come on the show to make sense of it all.

Skeptoid tackled living dinosaurs, and no I do not mean sharks or alligators but real honest to goodness big Jurassic Park dinos.  Brian Dunning focused on a recent wave of living dino evidence championed by creationists on ancient art that purports to show graphic representation of dinos living with and among ancient peoples.

Apparently our creationist friends seem to think that evidence of at least recently living dinosaurs will bolster their belief that the Earth is only six weeks (er-r-r I mean six thousand) years old, and that the dino fossils are therefore not evidence of a planet billions of years old.  To be honest, I have heard of such things but I thought most (or at least some) creationists described dino fossils as the work of the devil to throw the faithful off the biblical trail.  Either way, it is all just plain to silly to go very deep into at this time.

Dunning focuses on some early human cave art that instead of being a dino and a elephant butting heads or some such nonsense, is more likely pareidolia than a rock carving.  Dunning goes into some lengths to describe a carving of an alleged stegosaurus that is likely a hippo or other mundane creature with the back ridge plates as scenic leaves.  He has photos on his website, and while the resemblance at first glace is striking, I think the likelihood of it being an actual known dino in Cambodia is unlikely.  (Heck, Pol Pot would never have allowed such a thing to survive anyhow.  They were too capitalist.)

As always, Dunning does a thorough job reviewing the artistic evidence, and briefly describing how there are lots of eyewitness and hearsay testimony, but nothing concrete.  Who knows, maybe Bigfoot has recently done in all the T-Rexes.

Finally, on Monster Talk, the topic of the day was the Mothman or Moth-man or Moth man.  I am not really sure.  Karen was off on assignment so it was up to Ben and Blake to interview skeptical investigator superstar Joe Nickell.  I have heard of the Moth-man before, more than once described on Mysterious Universe.  There, he is a large critter man-sized or large swooping down upon victims and scaring the crap out of the folks around Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the mid-1960s.  About a year or so into the sightings, a local bridge collapsed taking with it over 40 people to their death.  Naturally, the Moth-man either was trying to warn of the collapse (many monsters have natural knowledge in engineering) or caused it.  Why be so negative about the Moth-man? I like to think of the Moth-man portending the birth of my wife and later my dog in West Virginia, and perhaps the inventor of the completely void of health pepperoni roll.

Anyway, Nickell shared how he initially thought the Moth-man was a barn owl, but later on admitted he was likely wrong and it was more likely a Barred (?) Owl.  Nickell describes how, much like aliens and other ghouls, the moth-man has changed from an arms-large winged creature that looks a lot like a large Barred Owl to the current pseudo-alien/reptile with muscular arms.  "War stories" were shared by Nickell of his run-ins with popular pseudo-scientific and cryptozoologist tevevision shows, and their coaxing him to try to not solve a mystery.  A show about the unknown or unexplainable can't keep the title and have a guest talking head and investigator solve the unexplained.

The most interesting part of the episode for me was Nickell describing the arc of a monster mystery.  There is an initial rash of sightings, and then things calm down.  A few years later, as the witnesses age the story is brought back to life by a book or article with people giving more fantastic and otherwise unknown testimony as to what occurred decades earlier.  Finally, enterprising people start a faire or celebration where t-shirts are sold with an evolved version of the creature printed upon it.  There is cake, pie, and perhaps some decent barbeque and Joe gets a key to the town from a pleasant mayor.

I enjoyed the episode a great deal, although Nickell did seem a bit tired.  Perhaps it was late at night.  If I had to pick any one of the three described shows to hear on a dog walk, I would go with Monster Talk this week.

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