Sunday, August 21, 2011

Freshly minted podcast: Exposing PseudosAstronomy Podcasat

Astronomer, blogger, popular frequent guest and holder of the title "Astronomer Royale" on the "Conspiracy Skeptic" podcast, skeptical speaker, Coast to Coast AM fan, and well known domestic chocolate-hater Dr. Stuart Robbins can now add podcaster to his already ample resume.  Dr. Robbins at the top of August launched "Exposing PseudoAstronomy Podcast," which I first learned of on his latest appearance on the "Conspiracy Skeptic" podcast.  Dr. Robbins is always an interesting guest on Mamer's show, and he does not disappoint on his own podcast.  He has released two episodes so far, and plans to release his episodes on a bi-monthly schedule.  This seems fairly smart to me.  It is often enough to keep the listener attention, but hopefully not too much for Dr. Robbins to burn out after ten or twelve weekly episodes.

The format is much like Skeptoid or Hayley Stevens' "Ghost Field Guide" podcasts.  Instead of a panel discussion or a lengthly discussion of a topic ala the early Conspiracy Skeptic podcasts, the format seems to be a tightly scripted ten to fifteen minute affair focused on a specific subject.  The first episode discussed the concept of the dark side of the moon (not the album "Dark Side of the Moon" by the renowned psychedelic band Pink Floyd, which when you listen to it, and I mean really listen to it, has meaning man, it has meaning.)  The second episode was on why people's reported perception on the speed, height, size, and distance of an unidentified flying objects is nearly always flawed and not reliable at all.

Both episodes give the listener a little easily and quickly digestible nugget of information that ought to be easily understood by the lay listener.  As a bonus in the UFO episode, Dr. Robbins gives examples of flawed perception reports from Coast to Coast AM (a radio program I love to listen to when I get the chance to the chagrin of Lady) and Dr. Robbins correctly uses a favorite childhood slang term 'book'n it.'

Dr. Robbins has the same slightly dry, off kilter sense humor he shares on 'Conspiracy Skeptic,' and all in all, I plan to add this podcast to my rotation.  I highly recommend it to the reader.  It is now available on Dr. Robbins website or iTunes for download.


  1. Nigel, thanks for the positive review (now get on iTunes and do the same!). Thought I'd respond to a few points.

    On the bi-monthly thing: Yes, exactly. It only takes me a day or two to really get an episode put together, but finding the time to do it is another issue entirely. In fact, if I were doing it weekly, I'd not have been able to put out an episode for this coming week due to work. Once I get into a routine, I may release episodes more often (weekly), but the "promise" is still going to be bi-monthly.

    In terms of the "tightly scripted" part, that really isn't how I originally had intended the 'cast to be. I'm usually good with just "winging it" but I was running into issues where I would have a point written down in the outline and completely forgot what I wanted to say. I'd have to stop the recording, go back, figure out where I was, remember what I wanted to say, and start again. It just made things easier in the end to script it out for the most part, though only the bulk of the main content is actually scripted (other than the end matter that goes over the music).

    And hey, it's not entirely like Skeptoid 'cause I include the puzzler! And, with the start of Sept. 1's episode, I'll be including listener feedback, too, as opposed to doing bulk episodes with listener feedback like Skeptoid (sorry, haven't listened to "Ghost Field Guide."

    What I like about the podcast format that I can't do in a blog is actually include the audio of people making their claims. So Sept. 1's episode is going to be about the young-Earth creationists' claims about comets. I'll be including audio clips from the Institute for Creation Research's radio show. I wouldn't want people to think I'm arguing against a straw man, here.

    All-in-all, I'm still pretty darn new to 'casting, and I hope that the episodes will sound a bit less scripted in the future as I settle into it. There's also the possibility of adding a guest interview at some point (Phil Plait is only a few miles away, and I work now with Pamela Gay ...), but I'm not making any promises there.

    Anyway, thanks again for the review, and I'm glad you liked it!

  2. I forgot to mention the Puzzler segment. It is a nice touch.


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