Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Skeptoid and The Token Skeptic Podcast

Back off Aliens.  American Earthlings are armed.
Go to Europe. They're easy pickings.  
The latest Skeptoid was personally interesting as it covered one of my favorite pseudo-scientific events: the 1955 shoot out at the alien corral (the Kelly Hopkinsville Encounter) where a family in Kentucky had an alleged firefight with about a dozen small bulletproof aliens shortly after a UFO was spotted in the sky.  I remember reading about this as a kid and finding it hard to fathom how this could be true, but on the other hand who would fire dozens of rounds into their own house unless they at least thought little aliens were bounding around the house.  On the other-other hand, what if it were true and they were lucky to be Americans with guns and even more guns?

Host Brian Dunning does his typical excellent breaking down the known tale from what can be garnered from known facts, and what is a more pedestrian possible explanation.

Kylie Sturgess, host of the Token Skeptic, has released a double interview episode first with Pat Linse of Skeptic Magazine and second with Donald Prothero who is perhaps the busiest man alive, a Professor at Occidental College.  The theme of this episode is Great Skepticism and skeptics that ought to be more widely known for their contributions.

Pat Linse is co-Editor and Art Director of Skeptic Magazine as well as the editor of the Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience.  Linse not only is the art director of the magazine, but she creates most of the art herself as well.  Also, because of her skills, she has helped create a product that looked professional while it was run out an unheated garage in the early days.  Currently, Linse is in the midst of creating a digital version of Skeptic Magazine as well as converting the back catalog to a digital format.  She also contributes articles from time to time.     It was an interesting interview of someone who has and continues to perform a necessary service with skill and aplomb.

Prof. Prothero knows a thing or two
about creating these . . .
Prof. Prothero not only has tens of books to his name, but continues to publish entire books at a rate of 5 or so over a two year period.  He not only authors the books, but he lays them out himself and more or less ships the finished product to the publisher.  He has authored or co-authored hundreds of scholarly works.  He blogs once a week at Skepticblogs.  He gives week long tours for the Skeptic Society, and oh yeah, he's a teaching Professor.  Many are amazed how productive is Dr. Steven Novella of the SGU, or the Token Skeptics own Kylie Sturgess.  Prof. Prothero puts them all to shame.

On a more sobering note was Prof. Prothero discussing the job prospects of aspiring science students especially in the field of Paleontology.  According to Prof. Prothero, one in one hundred paleontology students will actually find an academic position in their chosen field.  Even worse, the few successful in their chosen scientific field spend more time directing labs and looking for funding than directing doing science.  And I thought the legal professional was cutthroat.

I found each of these interviews highly interesting, and each of them deserves their place in the skeptical sun.  The episode ran long for a Token Skeptic, but was well worth the hour listen.  


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