Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Thoughts

Astronomers are ok

Dr. Stuart Robbins, has released a bonus Exposing PsuedoAstronomy Podcast episode.  It is a 30-minute talk he gave on GAPs (Geology, Astronomy, and Physics) -- the things young Earth creationists ignore in order to maintain their belief in a 6,000 year or so Earth/Universe.  The episode is released with a companion video.  

Not Stuart, but how I like to think of him
I did not watch the video. It's hard to walk the dog and watch a video, but the podcast version is an entertaining explanation, in a nutshell, of the science one has to ignore to take the Book of Genesis literally.    It also explains why early experiments to determine the age of the Earth are so seminal in the history of science.  These early experiments were way, way off and vastly underestimated the age of the Earth.  However, the results are actually unimportant.  That the experiments were even attempted and taken seriously by science-minded people was stunningly important.  

As long as I am on the topic of Dr. Robbins, Lady and I were kindly invited to be interviewed by Dr. Robbins for an upcoming PseudoAstronomy episode.  Lady took the laboring oar during the interview and in my wholly objective opinion was quite impressive.  If there is ever a podcast related to the Skeptical Review, it'll be Lady's project. (No, there are no plans to do the same at this time.)  Dr. Robbins is a gracious host.  

How not to treat your podcast listeners. 

The Talk Show is one of my regular non-skeptical podcasts hosted by tech blogger John Gruber and Dan Benjamin.  The podcast is on the 5by5 network, which is run by Benjamin.  The podcast has a storied history, which predates the 5by5 network.  The two have quite a chemistry.  However, out of the blue, Gruber took the show from the 5by5 network to Mule Radio Syndicate, a newer podcast network without Benjamin's participation.  There are all sorts of buzz in the Apple-centric tech world on why the split occurred.  Really, I could care less.  (Fine.  For pure gossipy reasons sure I would like to know, but that's not important.)  What bothers me is the way in which the announcement was made.  There was none.  No blog post on Daring Fireball explaining that The Talk Show was moving to a new network.  No announcement on 5by5.  Boom.  The Talk Show is on a new network with just Gruber and another guy.  It really is a fuck you to the listener.  

When Righteous Indignation pulled the plug they handled it with class.  Hayley Stevens published a blog post announcing an end to the show.  It was a sign of respect for the listener, and while I will the miss the show I am not ticked at all.  Another podcast that comes to mind is Logically Critical where the host did a brief but heartfelt good-bye final episode, and Irreligiosophy released a podcast explaining the end of the show too.  It is the way the end ought to be done, or in the case of the Talk Show, how a major change ought to be handled.

**edit** Dan Benjamin has posted a brief commentary on 5by5 about the end of the The Talk Show on his network.  It is a kind, thoughtful address.  **

Chinese Medicine can't be THAT bad . . .

Finally, Dr. Mark Crislip has released a Quackcast podcast on the recent news stories on Chinese Medicine pills that allegedly were made from aborted fetuses.  Dr. Crislip has an interesting and thoughtful take on this story that at first blush might seem surprising, but in reality is quite appropriately skeptical.  It's 14 minutes and well worth the listen.  

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