Thursday, February 7, 2013

Three episodes totaling about five hours of content

Some long listening, I have done.  I have recently listened to a number of podcasts that took a fair amount of time to cover as they were all over an hour long.  However, they were all quite enjoyable listens although for differing reasons.

Detroit.  A hot topic on CS
The first was the Conspiracy Skeptic podcast year in review episode.  Karl Mamer had returning guest Mike Bohler on to allegedly discuss the past year in conspiracies, and while a bit of this was done, it was mostly to talk about Detroit, Windsor, and comparing Michigan to Canada.  Bohler has his own Conspiracy podcast The Skeptics' Guide to Conspiracy on the Dumbass podcast network.  I know this is much like Letterman having Leno on his show, but as I suspect Karl is actually an independently wealthy Rothchild I guess he doesn't mind giving the competition a platform.

Karl and Mike discuss the status of the birther movement against President Obama in the face of his reelection, what conspiracies are likely to occur in the coming year, and why Canadians need more immigrants of Mexican descent.  While it is a rambling and unfocused discussion, it was entertaining.  It is not very taxing upon the mind, and a pleasant listen.

A long, over two hours, and a bit more taxing on the mind but wonderful interview was had on the Binnall of America podcast.  BoA is a paranormal/supernatural-focused podcast that I have never heard of before I saw that Sharon Hill of the Virtual Skeptics and the Doubtful News blog was noted to be interviewed.  From what I can gather from this episode, Tim Binnall is a paranormal/pseudoscience/
supernatural enthusiast, but without the difficult edge of Alex Tsakisis of Skeptiko podcast.  Tim seemed to be a rather personable fellow.

What ensued was a wide ranging discussion with BoA's first skeptic as a guest.  It is a good thing that guest was Sharon.  She was an excellent ambassador of scientific skepticism to "other side" getting across the basic tenets of skeptical thought without being overly challenging, haughty, or a 'dick.'  I believe it helped that Tim was a receptive interviewer to Sharon's ideas on various topics of cryptids, what is science, ghost investigations, UFOs, and conspiracies.

The entire interview was a lesson and example of outreach, and that a little mutual respect between our camps can result in a productive dialogue.  It is worth the two hours listen.

Jack springing away
The third long form podcast was the latest episode of Monster Talk which discussed Spring Heeled Jack with historian Mike Dash.  (Jack was a grouper of women in Victorian England who assaulted young ladies with iron clawed hands and breathed blue flame at the victim.) Mike has been researching Spring Heeled Jack since 1982, and will soon self-publish a 700 page or so book on the topic.  Blake Smith and Karen Stollznow engaged upon a very interesting and in-depth discussion of the Spring Heeled Jack legend.  The part I found fascinating was how the Victorian ere newspaper establishment sort of encouraged the press of the era to keep such legends alive.  The Jack of the upper class and the Jack of the lower class were seen in differing light, which was highly interesting. Also, how the Jack legend, and other very similar legends, have spread around the world into the twentieth century.

Monster Talk produces a consistently high quality program, but I found the depth of the discussion and the knowledge of the guest particularly compelling.  It is well worth the listen.

This block of podcast listening took a bit longer for the number of shows digested during the time allotted.  Luckily it was well worth the time.  If one wants entertainment then I would start with Conspiracy Skeptic, but if one desire an in depth discussion of a single paranormal topic then Monster Talk is the tea for you.  However, if one wishes to listen to a nice reminder of what good skepticism ought to strive to be, and get a peek into what can occur when skeptic and non-skeptic break internet bread together then BoA is the choice.  I would even suggest that BoA is something thoughtful skeptics ought to hear to help remind oneself what skeptics are suppose to do.