Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Just Skeptics, house keeping


I am a tad late on this post, but I felt compelled to write a brief word of little on the “Just Skeptics” episode 24 with guest skeptic Victoria Stiles.  She is a PhD postgraduate student in history.  In the ‘soap box’ segment where the guest is allowed five minutes to rant, pontificate, or discuss any topic that they wish to share their thought on, Ms. Stiles used her time to give a brief and fascinating talk on the ‘witches trials’ in England during the early modern period.  Ms. Stiles discussed the topic of ‘witch craft trials’ as the trials of witches are often a goto comparison that skeptical speakers or writers draw during a talk or post as evidence of a world gone mad losing all touch of rationality.

However, Ms. Stiles points out that at least in England compared to the continent, England did not actually go mad with witch craft trials.  Yes, witch craft trials took place.  However, the trials occurred in England under the rules of evidence, and often resulted in a finding of not guilty for the defendant.  Further, until “reforms” of the early 17th century rarely were witches executed.  It might read as if Ms. Stiles was defending witch craft trials in England, but I believe from her discussion that her point is that while the woo belief was definitely present, society did not go mad.  The system was rational, although it was trying to root out an irrational paranormal belief.  Ms. Stiles weaved a cautionary tale that witch craft trials were far more complicated than most people give credit, and a comparison to them should not be done lightly.

I enjoyed Ms. Stiles appearance a great deal, I hope she returns as a guest on JS.  It was a refreshing take on the soap box, which if it were me would be just another bitch-fest about Chiropractic or the like.

On a side note, my postings have been purposely limited in the past few months as I ponder a modest revamp of this blog.  I hope to have it all worked out by the beginning of the New Year.  In short my evolving listening habits along with the vast amount of material produced in podcast-land has made my original idea for this blog collapse upon itself.  Tinkering is in order.

On a sider note, one of my favorites in skeptical podcasters the co-found of the excellent "Righteous Indignation" podcast, Trystan Swale, is retiring from podcasting.  According to Hayley and Marsh on the last episode of RI for 2011, Mr. Swale will making occasional guest appearance on the show.  However, he will no longer be a full-fledged Indignate host.  He will be missed.  While I have full faith in Hayley and Marsh to carry on with the show in an entertaining and thoughtful manner, Trystan in my opinion is irreplaceable.  We here at SR world-wide headquarters wish him the very best.

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