Sunday, March 31, 2013

Two Karls with a K.

The Karls came out for your skeptical podcasting enjoyment this week, and here are a few comments.


The Canadian Karl


After a three month break the Conspiracy Skeptic podcast is back with an "Unplugged" episode, which means Karl Mamer is working solo without the benefit of a guest interview.  The topic was the Dungeon & Dragons satan scare of the 1980s.  

Karl covers how the D & D satan scare was a branch of the general Satanic Panic of the 1980s.  He discusses the genesis of the satanic D & D, as well as other roll playing games scare, to Patricia Pulling the mother of teenaged gamer who sadly committed suicide. This is tragic.  It must be an awful
What the (a-hem) cool nerds
played
terrible burden for any parent to bare if this child take their own life.  This event pushed Pulling to blame the influence of D & D as the cause of her son's death.  She went on to author books, go on a speaking tour as a self proclaimed expert, and start an organization "Bothered about Dungeons and Dragons."  At her peak of influence her work was referenced by Tipper Gore, the wife of then Senator and ever Presidential hopeful Al Gore in her efforts to clean up society.  (Tipper Gore was big into censoring heavy metal music too.)

Karl details the errors in logic, and perhaps even subterfuge Pulling exercised during her peak to support her opinions. Also, discussed is the Pulling Report authored James Stackpole that was published around 1990 that revealed the flaw of Pullings work and her dubious expertise to the public.  

The episode is less than thirty minutes long and highly interesting, and not only for those of you that played (play) roll playing games in the 1980's.  (I played a bit of D & D, but was really into the James Bond roll playing games.  "I rolled a 2.  I get to seduce the henchman's daughter, and obtain information. Yes!")  Karl weaves through his talk a comparison to the media coverage of the topic at the time, and to how such things are covered today.  All in all, another good episode by Mr. Mamer. 

The Rogue Karl

Then another Karl with a "K" made a guest appearance on the Skeptics Guide to the Universe.  Karl Withakay won a slot as a guest rogue for an episode of the show at last year's The Amazing Meeting.  I must admit when the episode started and Dr. Novella announced we have a guest Rogue who is Karl spelled with a K, I thought "Karl Mamer landed a spot on the show and didn't tell me ahead of time? That son of a gun."  No.  It was another Karl. This Karl did quite a nice job fitting himself into the flow of the episode.  

If I were ever so lucky to be asked to appear on the an episode of SGU, I suspect I would just freeze, and say nonsense such as:  "Remember when Neal Adams was interviewed on the show? That was awesome!"  Luckily for the listener Karl did much better.  Karl's news contribution was discussing a person who became so tired of the time and energy it takes to eat a meal that he invented his own subsistence cocktail.  This cocktail is a one stop nutrition drink, which has garnered a bit of a following online.  He covered the the topic well, and in an interesting manner.  I was impressed.  Even more impressive is when the Rogues discussed recent findings that fracking might be causing an uptick in the number and severity of Earthquakes in low Earthquake regions, Karl chimed in with comments clarifying what was causing the Earthquakes in particular.    

A notable section of the show was the Rogues discussing a listener email questioning "More than Gravity" theory which questions the correctness of Newtonian Gravity.  The gist of the theory is that it is the solar wind that keeps things planted on the ground and makes the solar system tick, and not gravity.  I always enjoy hearing Dr. Novella getting exasperated over sciency sounding gibberish that is illogical, but yet someone or some group is pitching as an alternative to current science.  It was a classic Dr. Novella takedown of a topic.  Quite nice.  

The overall episode of the SGU was a good one, and to Karl's credit he clearly added rather than subjected to the episode.  I just hope he writes expose on what it is like to be an SGU guest and is it true it take over three hours to record on eighty minute show.  Karl has a blog "Cordial Deconstructoin" which discusses the science of Fringe. (Yes.  Karls appear to be a polite lot.)


No comments:

Post a Comment