Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Righteous Indignation, Skepticality

Righteous Indignation this week featured new intro and segment music.  It is still electronic, but with a less ethereal vibe and more edgy.  Think movie soundtrack music for a sci-fi movie set in the not too distant future where in a world without empathy a flawed bounty hunter haunted by his past sets out for revenge.  I like it.

The interview of Liz Butcher featured in the episode was led by Marsh, but with Hayley as well which is a show piece of what makes R.I. such a compelling podcast.  Ms. Butcher is a psychic medium, and the interview for the most part centered on the problem of phony psychics.  Ms. Butcher contended that there are unfortunately a number of bad apples that spoil the batch for true psychics. 

A timely development at the time of the interview was British psychic to the stars, Sally Morgan, possibly being caught red handed during a show being fed information from handlers radioing her useful information.  It was a nice jumping off point to query Ms. Butcher about such frauds.  My take away is that while Butcher finds such conduct abhorrent, she is not too keen getting mixed up and outing such people for fear of ostracizing herself from the psychic community. 

During this completely civil yet thorough interview, Marsh and Hayley were able have Butcher give the uninspiring list of excuses of why testing psychics is not easy.  Once a psychic is being tested the person is just distracted from being able to do a reading, but there is lots of good anecdotal evidence that she is indeed talking to the dead.  Therefore, a proper sounding test for Butcher’s ability to do a blinded psychic reading from an email just won’t work.  However, one just has to ask her happy patrons to verify her effectiveness.  What struck me is that she teaches psychic reading, which has to be pressure-filled for the students, yet they can perform in a classroom setting.  So, why is it that these psychics students are not distracted?

Once again, the proficiency of Marsh and Hayley in civilly interviewing believers in supernatural powers was shown in spades.  It makes me wonder if the interviewees have bothered to listen to past episodes to see what they are in for, or do they just not hear how off the mark other “believers” are in their interviews.  I also hope there is fodder for more of the interview on an “Unlucky Dip” episode. 

Also, I just listened to the grand-dad of skeptical podcasts Skepticality: Dragon*Con 2011.  The episode featured as always Tim Farley's "This week in Skeptic History" and a panel discussion recorded at Dragon*Con 2011.  The panel topic was Educating vs. Debunking.  The panel was moderated by D.J. Grothe, and included among the panelists Barbara Drescher and Kylie Sturgess.  The discussion itself lasts about an hour, but it does include some thoughtful discussion on the balance between debunking and educating the public.  We also get a glimpse at a side of Ms. Sturgess less seen when she shares how she came to embrace critical thinking.  It is all well worth the listen.  

On a side note: if all goes as planned this weekend I will be making another appearance on the Conspiracy Skeptic with an interview slated for this weekend.    


  1. !!! Oh god, what did I say? I can't remember! I haven't downloaded that episode yet (I've been listening to an older ep of Skepticality on Columbine that I find fascinating and I've been trying to get a copy of the book they discuss). Oh geeze, do I sound daft?

  2. No. It's great. I won't spoil it here. Enjoyed the discussion.

  3. Kylie, you did NOT sound daft at all! :)

  4. Love you Derek. And I love the new look of the SkepReview site!


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