Monday, February 14, 2011

Changes at the SGU, the Skeptic Zone, Righteous Indignation, and thoughts on Q.E.D.

There have been some modest changes afoot with a few of the podcasts that I regularly listen to and blog about from time to time.  None of the them are Earth shattering, but it is interesting to take stock how shows evolve, or are they just created?  Hum-m-m   

Righteous Indignation appears to be moving from a weekly to a bi-weekly format with Trystan ending the last two episode with the statement that they will be back in a fortnight.  From my reading of various Civil War primary documents and Charles Dickens, I am aware that a fortnight translates into 'every two weeks" in 'Merican.  I have advocated for the Skeptics Zone to move to a bi-weekly format, it seems that the Indignates have taken my advice instead.  While I will miss listening to the show on my Monday evening dog walks, I would prefer the show remain in production bi-weekly than to get flabby around the edge and/or the Indignates burn out from the schedule.  

The lastest ep was brief affair consisting of a few introductory words by Trystan and featured interview of Professor John Poynton, a Vice President of the Society for Psychical Research, which was a rather frustrating listen.  The guest was his own worst advocate for the belief in the paranormal.  I do not know how Trystan kept from blurting out, "Did you just listen to what you said?  You shot yourself in the psychic foot!"  Yes, Professor Poynton even breaks out the old tired quantum physics card too.

Over at the still weekly Skeptic Zone podcast over the past few weeks Maynard, former (and possibly still current DJ,) who Ms. Sturgess and Dr. Dunlop listened to in their youth, has been gaining a more substantial roll on the show.  Maynard with his training in media clearly is a seasoned operator, and knows how to keep an interview moving forward and interesting.  I was a bit skeptical of Maynard growing appearances on the show near the end of last year, but it clearly seems my qualms were not founded.  He is welcome addition to the Zone family of contributors.  Another change to the show has been to stick with the more techno sounding theme song, which I quite enjoy. 

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe has tweeked the intro and exit voiceovers for the show once again this time using a Britishy accented voice instead of Dr. Novella's pre-recorded voice.  I rather like it, and it give the show a slightly more polished feel.   I suspect this is all due to the show now being broadcast on XM radio, whether this is at XM's urgings or on their own I do not know, but I do like it. 

I am wondering if the Rogues will change any of the other segments on the show for a more mass market appeal.  It is far, far to early to have an opinion in this regard.  The Rogues announced the new ability to take "live" pre-recorded questioning asked by the listener person direstly to the Rogues via skype.  (You know I have a snowflake mic and skype.  I am just saying.) I am more curious if the topics discussed or the guests interviews will change at all to accommodate.  This week the Rogues interviewed Jeff Ainslee who is an author and runs a podcast Fat2Fit on dieting.  (It is of special interest to me as I am dieting myself, and can't wait to end this proper eating hell to gain all the weight back.) This seemed to be a slight change of pace for the show, but nothing totally out of left field.  It will be interesting to see if the show will continue to interview types such as Steven Thoms of SkepticsNorth or Paul Vassar of the Singularity Institute, or is this type of thing too much of a geek niche?  I have no idea, but it will be interesting to see how this unfolds over the coming months.  I cannot help but think that the guest list might be fiddle with a bit to fit an broader audience.  

A few thoughts on Q.E.D., which I expect over the coming weeks will be covered in depth by Righteous Indignation, Inkredulous, and Skeptics with a K among others.  Kylie Sturgess over at the Token Skeptichas post a video of the Homeopathic overdose, which is quite interesting to watch.  (At one point during a pan shot right there in center frame is Dr. Eugenie Scott!  I can't imagine being somewhere and turning around and BOOM there is Dr. Scott.)  What does seem rather apparent is that Q.E.D. was a success. Whether this will translate into a yearly, bi-annual, or whatnot Q.E.D. conference, or this will be the lone conference, I do not know.  What it does show is that a few smaller, but dedicated skeptical organizations which more or less grew out of the skeptics in the pub can pull off a rather impressive event.  While the event was regional it did manage to pull participants from not only England, but also the United States, (Dr. Novella, George Hrab, and Dr. Scott) to all the way from Australia (Kylie Sturgess.) 

While I do not know if this will trigger a bunch of regional conferences, let alone if any of them will be of any quality, I do think it is nice to see that one group of the skeptic herd of cats can pull it together to host such a successful event.  I think TAM is a wonderful conference.  I hope to attend myself one of these days, but while the huge size of TAM is a draw and a positive, it also seems as if it might overwhelm a small suburban lad such as myself.  

Q.E.D. we salute you for a job well done.

Sent from my iPad


  1. Eugenie is great - I've been on a few panels with her now and she popped up behind me before I started filming, so I grabbed her a chair before I started taking that film. :)

  2. Thank you for the positive comments re QED. I was lucky enough to be one of the organisers of this event and we're very proud to have "pulled it off" as it were. But it's the guests and attendees who made it work and everyone who came contributed to a great atmosphere.

    I just wanted to also comment on the use of the word "regional" in the report. I realise it's common for things outside London to be called regional. But in fact it was no more a regional event than any other national conference. We held it in Manchester because 1 we live around here and 2 it's a lot cheaper to run an event here than in London.

    So I question how "regional" is defined? QEDcon attracted attendees from around Great Britain, Ireland and further afield in mainland Europe, Canada, the USA and the intrepid Antipodean Kylie Sturgess.

    From our point of view, this was a UK event with an international flavour, irrespective of where it happened to be geographically.

    It was a collaboration between two regional groups, but it was a national UK event. QED was always planned that way.

    And we're incredibly honoured by the number of people who shelled out their hard earned money to make it so, or gave of their time so willingly as a speaker, panelist or volunteer.

    Thanks again for the kind comments and keep up the good work. :-)

    Andy Wilson (@InKredulosi)

  3. "Regional" was not meant as a slight, and perhaps a poorly chosen word. Either way from this side of the pond, it seemed a rather well run and successful affair regardless of geographic sphere of influence.

    Once again well done to you, Marsh, Janis, etc, etc. etc.

  4. Of course not. Nor was it taken as such. Just a clarification on the words. :-)

    On behalf of all etc's I thank you.

    Anyway, who do I have to flirt/flatter/sleep with/bribe to get a link to InKredulous on the right there?




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