Monday, February 28, 2011

The SGU, Skeptics with a K, Pseudo Scientist, Pod Delusion, and Token Skeptic on VIDEO!

Just a few highlights of my podcast listening this past weekend, and I did a lot of podcast listening.  Our tiny humble home was overrun with Lady's college chums, so I fled into the bliss of long walks with Ike and my iphone.

Anyway, the shocker of the week for me was Joshie Berger as the guest Rogue on this week's Skeptics' Guide to the Universe.  I know what you might be thinking.  'Joshie? -the only Joshie I've ever heard of was that lovable loser type on that Food Network show with Ann Burrell and the stern foreign guy, and I think he won the contest.'  Yeah.  He was the guest rogue.  It turns out that Berger is active in the New York City skeptics, and it sounded as if he and Jay were fairly acquainted.  Berger turned out to be a rather interesting and engaging guest.  The producers of The Worst Cooks in America did not do him justice.  He told of his fairly recent change from devout Hasidic upbringing to skeptic.  Unlike a few guest rogue that never quite jelled into the flow of the show Berger kept in with the conversation.  (Now if Anne Burrell is every a guest Rogue, stop the presses, as she is my favorite Food Network chef.)

Over at Skeptics with a K they shared their insider thoughts on Q.E.D. and their dislike of musk sticks, which as readers of my blog might remember from conversations on The Skeptic Zone are a sweet relished in Australia and likely nowhere else.  If I ever meet any of the fine lads and lasses of Skeptics with a K or other notable podcasters, I am so glad I will be able to bear gifts of peanut butter cups and twizzlers.  I imagine their appeal is more universal.

The best segment on the show for my money was not Marsh's excellent take down on a recent questionable story in the British press of the dangers of the man bag to British male backs, but the thorough and interesting discussion of Chinese Food Syndrome (CFS).  I grew up with this very notion that if I feasted upon too much chinese food (and how can you help but not do such a thing) the MSG would caused me an allergic reaction.  I would eat three birds in a nest or lemon chicken and then suffer from a modest swoon for an hour or two.  The gang breakdown how this idea of MSG/CHS began, how it was confirmed over the years to millions of worried chinese food fans, and why the latest studies seem to call shananagans on CHS.  Mongolian beef soon you will be in my belly.  Actually, my problems was eating egg drop soup, an egg roll, an entree, and my sister's fried rice all in my gluttonous sitting.

Kylie Strugess  has posted an approximately 30 minute video of the Token Skeptic showing vingets from Q.E.D. from set up to closing with clips from various talks and conference events.  I quite enjoyed it.  Sturgess did a fine job editing the film so that the viewer has a good feel for what occurred while never getting bogged down in home movie hell.  (You know the type of bogged down when friends show you five hundred pictures and two hours of video from their latest rollicking adventure in Delaware.)  After watching the vodcast, I now really wish I would have sold that spare kidney and flown over for the event.  The size of the event looked well attended, but manageable.  T.A.M. seems huge, which is both a blessing and to a shy chap like me a scary curse.  (Remember: I can barely handle three Catholic educated college friends of my wife.  Over a thousand skeptics, parish the thought.)

The Pod Delusion, which is a show I rarely frequent but I wish I was able to fit in more often, featured an interesting take on whether Prof. Richard Dawkins shares a proper skeptical mindset when it comes to religion.  I cannot say I completely agree with present Drew Rae especially since it is a critical review of a debate that Dawkins participated but I have not listen to at this time.  However, out of all the various topics and stories I have listened to over the weekend it was the one that made me think the hardest.  The gist of the topic is that Dawkins apparently holds the opinion that there is no evidence sufficient enough for him to believe in (a) god, and as this is a rather dogmatic worldview it is not proper skepticism.  (This is a very broad brush rendition of the segment, but I believe accurate.)

I finally made the time commitment to listen to the Young Australian Skeptics podcast The Pseudo Scientist.  The middle of the podcast featured an interview by Kylie Sturgess (yes, Ms. Sturgess is quite prolific) of Colin Wright.  Sturgess interview which discussed the intersection of skeptical rational thought, math(s) and juggling was excellent.  The bookends with the Australian skeptics of youth was quite well done.  The most depressing part of the episode was the sadly block headed comments by America's and Fox News' own Bill O'Reilly on even if you can explain the tides due to the moon's gravitational influence -how do you explain the moon?  huh, huh.  Mr. O'Reilly often opines that his critics are pinheads, but truly in the this circumstance only a pinhead would continue down such a path as a defense in religion.

Also on a somber note was some well discussed coverage of the unfortunate death of a child in Melbourne from whooping cough.

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