Thursday, March 15, 2012

Conspiracy Skeptic and Cognitive Dissonance

The latest Conspiracy Skeptic podcast was a breezy affair with Karl Mamer interviewing Ted* and Cecil from the Cognitive Dissonance podcast.  The episode is advertised as a discussion on alternative medicine and the conspiracy to keep from the masses from the cures "they don't want you to know about."  They do discuss the topic of alt med a bit, but most of the episode concerns itself with Karl just jawboning about Ted and Cecil's skeptical/atheist podcast, and how they came to the skeptical/atheist podcasting world.

During the above mention jawboning they discussed that some listening think of them as an alternative to the late Irreligiosophy podcast.  Intrigued.  I downloaded a couple podcasts, and proceeded to listen to episodes 35 and 37 of Cogntive Dissonance.  

CD's Ted and Cecil in my mind's eye
The show is built around Ted and Cecil discussing various news items or topics on some religion or belief tinged issue.  Each segment is divided by a brief musical or recorded spoken interlude that is related to the upcoming topic.  An example is a pop/country version of "Onward Christian Soldier" before a segment dealing with parents being upset that a music teacher in a public school picked an Islamic song for the students to sing.  The parents were outraged the kids were singing a "sharia law" tune and not something good like "Onward Christian Soldier."  I find the audible divides between topics a nice touch.

Episode 37 featured a segment with none other than the Titan of Toronto, Karl Mamer.  However, Karl was not on the episode for the entire time or just for an interview.  Instead, near the beginning of the episode he joined Cecil and Ted discussing H.I.V. denial.  Then after a number of other topics without Karl, near the end of the episode Ted and Cecil did a twenty minute or so interview of him.  It was a fairly standard but entertaining interview which touched upon how Karl started his Conspiracy Skeptic podcast, Karl's time in South Korea, and Karl's favorite conspiracy.  

In many ways CD is similar to Irregligiosphy.  Both featured two adult males discussing religious and related cultural and political topics, as well as a lot of blue, blue language, and both are clearly the tightest of friends.  From my meager sample of two episodes there does seem to be some real differences too.  The most obvious is that CD has higher production values and better editing than Irreligiosophy, and feels better plotted and thought out than Irreligiosophy.  The other is that Chuck and Leighton are ex-mormons, so CD lacks such a focused religion, and CD brushes with a broader brush.  The one big thing missing from CD is Chuck's keen knowledge of philosophy, and biblical studies.  Granted, a few more episodes might reveal this not to be the case, but Cecil and Ted seem to be more Leighton on knowledge and attitude than the sometimes measured and studied Chuck.  This is not a bad thing but is a noticeable difference.  The two episodes I heard had more to do with Irreligiosophy's A.N.N. (atheist news network) episodes than their regular single topic episodes.  

I don't know if I'll listen to CD with the same loyalty as I did Irreligiosophy, but I'll try to keep up with it from time to time.  My big piece of advice to Ted and Cecil is to never go into business with each other.  It was the undoing of Irreligiosophy.

*On CS Karl noted the hosts to be Ted and Cecil, but on episode 35 I could swear it was "Tom" and not "Ted."  Maybe I need a hearing aid or new ear buds.