Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, The Token Skeptic, The Conspiracy Skeptic, and For Good Reason

Ok.  My blogging has lagged lately.  It's Summer in the Northern Hemisphere and well, life keeps getting in the way of fun bits such as blogging and reading non-medical legal stuff.  Luckily, Karl informs me that he has some smashing interviews lined up and will do some posts from TAM.  While I slack, Karl is there to prop me up.

Speaking of Karl, his latest Conspiracy Skeptic Podcast has been out for nearly a week.  It is a dual interview with Carolyn Shuck and friend Kim?  I say "?" since the sound quality of this episode could be quite a bit better.  It reminds me of telephone interview on podcasts in 2005.  The episode is a discussion of Conspiracy Con and in particular Conspiracy Con X in Santa Clara, California.  Despite the crummy sound quality, the show is worth the listen.  Do not try and listen to it with the widow sound in the family truckster, or your iPad, or a netbook.  Put those earbuds in and concentrate.  The discussion can get a bit academic, and the guests obviously have not listened to Karl's show.  How the various conspiracies and conspiratorial thinkers contradict each other, and how this was dealt with by the panel at the panel discussion is quite interesting.  Further, how various pseudoscience and alt med folks attended the conference is also quite interesting.  I am a big fan of the multiple guest with a moderator format.  I am now a fan of the multiple guests being individually mic'ed.

On the topic of concentrating, on the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe the guest was super cool Samal Edmanaruku who is best known in the West as the skeptic who a Guru attempted to kill on live television using his super Guru magic powers.  The Guru failed, but it made its way around the world via YouTube and was a ratings smash on Indian Television. The reason one has to concentrate is Edmanaruku has a very thick Indian accent, which takes some time getting the ear attuned.  Dr. Novella would occasionally summarize what Edmanaruku had just said, which is helpful and a wise move on the doctor's part.  It is worth the time as Edmanaruku is a skeptic on the rise and a man of action.  He is educating the young on skeptical/rational thought.  He makes television appearances.  He dodges death as Guru's chant something that sounds like "killy killy killy" to American ears.

The news and discussion portion of the show was fine, but the news stories are not timely as the Rogues are in pre-TAM mode recording the shows much farther out in time as they prep for the big meeting of TAM8 with special attendee Karl Mamer -Conspiracy Skeptic.  I rarely discuss the quote of the week, but this week featured two by Christopher Hitchens.  The first quote about dogs thinking their human owners are gods, but cats thinking they are gods to their owners is classic.  I knew the quote, but I did not know that was Hitchens.  As the owner of a beloved dog and cat, I cannot disagree.  It keeps things balanced.

For Good Reason was a special two parter featuring an interview of Ray Hyman during his acceptance of the Philip J. Klass Award.  It is worth the listen to both parts, but I must admit the best part of Episode one was Jamy Ian Swiss' story of a radio appearance Swiss and Hyman had together in Washington, D.C. a number of years ago.  I was in stitches while walking Ike.  The dog thought the gods were crazy. Episode part 2 was fascinating with Hyman retelling the beginnings of CSICOP, his first meeting with James Randi, why he is friends with Alice Cooper (yes, that Alice Cooper), and his frank thoughts on Paul Kurtz and the Center for Inquiry.  If time is short, my advice is skip the Hyman interview part of episode I and listen to the Honest Liar segment and then listen to part 2.  Hyman's interview in part 1 is not without merit, but it is a bit repetitive of other interviews he has given in the past few years.

Finally, the Token Skeptic featured an interview with Warren Bonett of Embiggen Books.  Kylie Sturgess croaked out an introduction due to a head cold, which made Sturgess sound quite hoarse.  We wish her good health, and suggest lots of fluids and rest.  (Kylie Sturgess resting.  Ha!  Like that will ever happen.)  They discussed "Flat Earth News" which is a book by Nick Davies and the collapse of reasoned researched journalism.  The book sounds from the discussion that it is not a how to fix it tome, but basically "it's bad and likely to get worse."  The other book was "Thirty-six arguments for the existence of God -a novel."  It is a novel that is written to express a view point on religion and god that the author did not think possible in a non-fiction form.  The topic sounds interesting, but I am  not a fiction reader.  (I am currently reading a book on my iPad on the Franco-Prussian War and looking for a good book on Medieval Europe for reference.)  Maybe I'll talk Lady into reading it.  I always enjoy the book review and discussion episodes of the Token Skeptic.  While I would love to help out Embiggen Books, I do wish they would share if you can purchase an electronic version of the books.

I also listened to the Skeptic Zone, Righteous Indignation and Irreligiosophy but I've got to get to bed.  A new R.I. is due tomorrow, so I'm a bit tardy. It's a long week before the Independence Day holiday.  It's the one day of the year where I just love to bad mouth the British Monarchy.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there all,

    Warren here from Embiggen Books. Just wanted to say thanks for reviewing the podcast and helping to spread the skeptical word.

    Re: eBooks. We are looking to go down that road, but at this stage we just can't afford the additions to be made to the backend of our website. I'm hoping we can get ebooks running by mid to late 2011. Will keep you posted.

    I'd still recommend the Goldstein book even to a predominantly nonfiction reader. And this is because of the detail she goes into on subjects like game theory and the refutation of religious arguments. By incorporating it seemlessly into the narrative the characters become components of the concepts she's trying to explore. It definitely worked for me :) You can get a good idea of her style through some of the videos there are out there. I've included one of the best ones on our blog.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.