Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Just Skeptics


Just Skeptics this week featured an interesting discussion which boils down to skeptics just being human beings, and not being immune to knee jerk irrational thoughts and emotions.  The discussion arose as Poylp discussed that an easel being found fallen over for no apparent reason made him initially think he had a poltergeist in his apartment.  The actual cause of the toppling was a loose nut, which was determined after some investigation.  However, it was agreed that if one is predisposed to believe in ghosts and such how this could be clear evidence of their existence.  Polyp also shared how he once saw something that he was sure looked like a UFO, and for many seeing is believing.  Polyp after a bit of research discovered the mundane true nature of his sighting.   

A UFO and a balloon.  
Skeptics can at times have a ‘tut tut’ attitude to stories of ghosts, UFOs, and just strange feelings of being watched etc.  It was refreshing to have skeptics show a bit more empathy toward such claims.  As I discussed on Virtual Skeptics Halloween Special, I thought I once saw a ghost.  At that moment, it sure as heck looked like a ghost, so when people talk of ghosts I try and remember that I have encountered such an experience. 

The panel also discussed the latest high tech dowsing rod.  This time an Egyptian doctor claims to have a dowsing device that can scan a person and determine if someone has hepatitis.  This feels eerily familiar to the dowsing bomb detection device sold to military forces in Iraq, and for which the British inventor was criminally prosecuted.  Once again, there is old wine in a new bottle. 

Also, Gavin shared his theory on how internet providers are attempting to put the squeeze on bandwidth on consumers to entice them to avoid Netflix and video streaming.  He does not go off the Dvorak deep end, and actually this type of speculation is rampant on This Week in Tech and other technology outlets. 

I am not sure if it is editing, or that Janis is at the hosting helm, or just experience, but Just Skeptics since their re-launch has really come into its own.  The episodes are still a bit rough around the edges, but there is more polish and less sidetracking than during the first go around. 

I always go back and forth in my mind, which kinds of podcasts I enjoy more.  The lecture style snippets of Skepticality and the new Skeptical Connections, the interview format of the main segment of Skepticality and the new Be Reasonable, or the friendly gabbing of Skeptics with a K, Just Skeptics, and Virtual Skeptics.  I think it has a lot to do with my mood.  It also has to do with the overall tone of the show.  While it might be heresy, I could never get into the Pod Delusion.  Some of the segments were highly thought provoking, some were ok, but to my ear there was a lot of whining.  Enough whining that it fell off my podcast rotation unless someone of note was featured for an episode.  I suppose the panel style appeals to my desire to enjoy skeptical friends just chatting about stuff I’d like to chat about if I had friends who were skeptics.  Instead, I have mainly "normal" friends so talking of the Ketchum DNA debacle or  Wegman’s large selection of homeopathic nostrums would go over like a lead balloon.  The lecture style appeals to the academic trapped inside of me wishing that I had become a history professor instead of an attorney.  The interview style appeals to my deepest geek.  I suppose all of these styles and others have a place in podcasting.   

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