Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Skeptic Zone, The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, Conspiracy Skeptic Podcast, and Righteous Indignation

It was a giddy and light-hearted week in most of the skeptical podcasts I listened to over the weekend. Perhaps it was the tell-tale signs that the Holiday Season is upon us with the Satellite Radio switching on their Holiday music channels or all the stores at the mall turning on the Christmas lights. Clearly, times were giddy for skeptics this year.

"The Skeptic Zone" this week was more or less a place holder episode with Richard Saunders opening the show more or less saying "look we're gearing up for TAM. I've got half the skeptics from America and Britain showing up, and I have not even started to dust the parlor and made sure I have enough liquor to keep Rebecca Watson at bay". (I kid.) The show consisted of some old vodcasts with Stefan Sojka talking skeptic things with Peter Bowditch and then a second old chestnut of Stefan and Richard talking SciFi. A third segment with Richard was an up to date report on how the Australia government has decided to smack around the makers of the Power Balance band for questionable advertising.

"The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe" had all hands on deck and were obviously excited about their impending journey to Australia and Canada. The show featured some pleasant banter which has been somewhat hit or miss for the past year on the show. The Rogues discussed an unfortunate cable show in the states where kids who think they are psychic are going to be exploited er-r-r I mean taught how to hone their skills. Skepchick has link to pelt the network with emails and real mail to stop the madness. The Rogues discussed with a pleasantly dismissive touch the claims that one can predict the weather weeks or even months in advance by just following the phases of the moon. The panel also discussed if caffeine intake could effect one's sperm count.

The guest was D.J. Grothe, President of the JREF to make the pitch for "The Season of Reason" fundraiser. The most interesting part of the interview was a discussion between Rebecca and D.J. on whether the TAM events are truly "outreach" or whether they are basically preaching to the choir. Naturally, given the participants, it was a quite respectful discussion, and as is normally the case in these discussions, it all depends on the definition of "outreach." However, it was an interesting exchange not only for the content of the discussion but for the tone of the comportment of the participants.

D.J. announced that a slew of new "For Good Reason" podcasts were in the can and would be released rather rapid fire in the near future. I might suggest that they space them out instead of releasing a bunch at once and then having a long time period of nothing new. Mainly because I hate the idea of trying to stay on top of so many new episodes released all at once, but also because consistent release would seem to keep the listenership trained to a schedule. I just think it makes for better podcasting practice.

"Conspiracy Skeptic" featured return of Staff Astronomer to the "Conspiracy Skeptic Podcast" Stuart Robbins. Actually, Robbins has now been deemed Astronomer Royale. The banter between Stuart and Karl was light and entertainingly meandering about the conspiracy ideas of Richard Hoagland or Richard C. Hoagland for those in the know about N.A.S.A. and the government's cover up of alien technology and sites sprinkled throughout the solar system. Hoagland is a frequent guest on the late night radio show "Coast to Coast AM" which I have mentioned before as a guilty pleasure of mine. At least one weekend night a week, and on holiday nights, I try and listen to an hour or two of it to the chagrin of Lady who thinks I am nuts. Hoagland's most famous notion is that the "Face on Mars" is actually a remnant of an ancient Martian civilization. Stewart explains why this notion is quite incorrect, and he also delves into why most of Hoagland's other notions and photographic evidence for his notions of crystal palaces on the moon and a long lost exploded planet are quite daft.

Clearly, Stuart is shooting to be to CS as Alec Baldwin is to "Saturday Night Live." I think when Stuart reaches eight or ten appearances Karl ought to buy him a snazzy Blazer with a crest on it, or a "secret society" style signet ring.

Robbins is preparing to defend his doctoral thesis this spring so may be cutting back on his skeptical activities in the near term. I trust this single-minded goal must be the reason he dissed the fine family of chocolate confectionaries that make up the Hershey family of sweets and treats. Robbins on his website "Exposing PseudoAstronomy" has a poll asking if he ought to take the time to author a book on why 2012 is not going to be the end of the world. I recommend the reader to Google it and participate. I voted yes in ebook form. I think Robbins would do a bang up job on the topic, and I just like epublishing and basically anything with "e" or "i" in front of it.

The most giddy podcast I heard this week was "Righteous Indignation" which featured Hayley, Trystan, the mysterious Dr*T, and Irishman Stephen, who goofed and laughed their way through an episode which was appropriately titled "Stuff and Nonsense." The show clocked in under an hour and I enjoyed every minute of it. My only complaint is a technical one. The music between the breaks was quite a bit higher in volume than the discussion parts. I kept finding myself listening to the first half of the episode fumbling for my iPhone to turn down the volume for the musical breaks and then back up when the discussion began. It was not just with my ear buds as I listened to the second half in the Honda fetching fast food dinner from a place that used to feature a tiny talking dog.

The panel discussed the harsh laws of possible execution of a practitioner of woo in some Islamic lands. This was the most sober part of the episode. The panel also discussed why basing statistics on paranormal activity when the police are called is faulty. I was in stitches when the panel discussed a British-based ghost hunting group that has the acronym "D.E.A.D." Really? There are plans afoot to send a ship out over the watery grave of the RMS Titanic to raise the recorded memories or energy or whatnot of the dead by tossing a lot of roses on the ocean and eating the same meal as the last of the passenger of the ship. (Here's something the panel did not discuss, but I thought of with the dead-arousing supper. Which meal are they are going to make? I believe First class, second class, and steerage all had different menus. Do they want to contact the ritzy folk or the common folk below decks? Do you make all three?)

The panel also discussed how it is such a given in Ireland that when drilling a water well a diviner is to be hired that it is even listed as a step on an official government website on the topic. The website also directs the reader to where one can also go to get a hydraulic survey of the nation as well, but after you have contacted your local guy with two sticks and a lot of woo thought.

It was not the most serious episode for the Indignates, but it was quite a laugh.

All in all it was a good weekend in skeptical podcast listening.
Sent from my iPad


  1. Yeah, DEAD are from the US actually, so ha.

    Also, the volume problems were my fault as I don't normally do the last edit - I do the pre-edit but because Trystan's internet died I had to do the whole thing and hadn't done that for a while. Sorry

  2. The sound was a minor inconvenience. The DEAD is from over here, good grief.


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