Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just Skeptics, The Token Skeptic, Skeptoid, Irreligiosophy, and Reasonable Doubts

I am currently working on a blog post (or more likely series of post) on some of the more popular podcasts from a slightly different angle.  Unfortunately, due to some unexpected trickiness on the part of Apple the task is more time consuming than I expected.  No.  What I am working on will not reinvent skepticism, solve the "god problem," or fix the issues between Yankees' fans and their bewildering wrong minded Red Sox fans.  It is just something different.

Instead, I thought I might post a few brief thoughts on some podcast I've listened to over the past week.

"Just Skeptics" episode 9 featured guest Skeptic Tom Williamson.  The most enjoyable part of the episode was a discussion on the logical fallacy of the Argument from Authority, and ensuing discourse generated between the panelist on when is an authority (or group of authorities) a reasonable basis for evidence of something and when does it fail.  From the discussion there is clearly not a bright line rule, and this topic is something that bothers me from time to time.  There are still a few audio issues with the show, but they are quickly working out the kinks.  Janis Bennion is revealing herself to be a quite grounded and thoughtful skeptic.  As Michael Marsh from Righteous Indignation seems to be a skeptic to watch in future years (as pointed out by co-Indignate Trystan Swale,) Ms. Bennion might soon fall into the same category.


"The Token Skeptic" this week did not feature Kylie Sturgess interviewing a guest but Embiggen Books owner Warren Bonett interviewing Craig Reid co-author of "Coral Reefs and Climate Change."  Sadly, this was not a feel good interview discussing the weird and beautiful realm of undersea life.  Instead, the message was clear that either we do something now to stop climate change, which among a number of nasty things will kill off coral reefs, or we are quite fucked.  (sorry for the profanity and that is not a quote, but it gets to the nub of it succinctly.)  Bonett did well on this interview.  He seemed a bit stiff, but carried on and had Reid share his thoughts in a thorough and organized manner.  Bonett did fine.
The interview ran under half and hour and it is good and appropriately sober if not downright bleak discussion on the state of reefs just over the past ten years and what the future likely holds.

"Irreligiosophy" featured a discussion and commentary upon two popular religious podcasts by Joyce Meyer and Mark Discroll of Mars Hill respectively.  However, the most interesting, and to me heart wrenching, portion of the episode was Leighton discussing his recent run in with his father on faith and religion.  Chuck and Leighton leave their private lives bare or at least minimally covered on their show for the world to share.  I felt almost voyeuristic listening while walking Ike, and yet I am sure Leighton is not the only one to have a love/respect versus dislike/no respect for a father or similar close family member.  It is tragic that differing views on faith can cause such issues.

The main part of the episode Chuck and Leighton play clips from Meyer's and Discroll's podcasts and do their typical and effective takedown of them.  I am not very familiar with Discrol although I sometimes watch a few minutes of him while flipping around the religious tier of shows on FIOS on early Saturday and Sunday mornings.  While I think his logical and reasoning is faulty he is a charismatic figure.  Meyer, who shows up about once a year in Hershey at the Giant Center to do her thing, never quite resonates with me.  I suppose she is charismatic in her own way, but as Chuck and Leighton point out she does always seems ticked off.

"Reasonable Doubts" (which for some reason my iTunes accounts fails to download certain episodes automatically causing to miss a lot of episodes) featured a special episode with Jeremy Beahan giving a lecture to CFI Michigan on "Which Jesus."  It was a comparison of the portrayal of Jesus between the four gospels, and what they have in common and even more how they differ and why this is important.  Beahan commends the listener to reference episodes 26 and 27 of Reasonable Doubts for further information.  I would commend the reader to listen to this episode first and then listen to those episodes.  At the time, I found those two episodes a moderately confused free thought mess.  I knew there was some good and interesting material being discussed, but the presentation and organization was lacking.  This talk on the other hand was excellent, and put forth a lot of information in a logical and engaging manner.

The question and answer session which takes up the final twenty minutes or so was also quite interesting.  While I disagree with some of Beahans reasoning and thoughts more in this section than in his talk, don't skip this part.  

Finally, "Skeptoid" dealt with Astronaut siting of UFOs in their travels in space.  Dunning with his typical concise and organized manner quickly went over three or so of the wider known UFO episodes in NASA's earlier years.  While this episode hung together much better than episode 216 on "The things we eat," I found it interesting this was another discussion of a broader topic and not one specific event.  I do not know if this recent drift (if it is fair to call it such) is on purpose or not, but I think Dunning is more compelling when dealing in discreet occurrences.  Yes, Astronaut Edgar Mitchell is one odd mistic person as is pointed on this episode.  

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