Originally posted October 19, 2013
Lately, I have been in the Skeptical Blues over the lack of harmony (non-civility, snarky tone, blocking, etc.) within skepdom over the past two years or so as compared to when I first was smitten with the skeptical bug in 2005 or so. (Oh those happy skeptical days when I had a crummy Treo and a plain old iPod.) My low feelings wax and wane.
One podcast episode that perked up my spirits was the latest episode of Blake Smith’sMonster Talk podcast entitled the Warren Omission. The entire episode is dedicated to looking beneath the popular image of Lorraine and Ed Warren as a nice dedicated couple who are masters of their trade in investigating ghosts, hauntings and the paranormally peculiar. Smith has lovingly crafted an episode that interviewed renowned skeptical investigator Joe Nickell, and renowned Skeptic podcast host Dr. Steven Novella on their interactions with the Warrens. The episode also includes stock interview material from Ray Garton, who was commissioned to write the book A Haunting in Connecticut and his dealings with the Warrens as well as an interview from TV reporter Marvin Scott who was with the Warrens at the Amityville Horror house.
The interview material intercut with actual source material from interviews and appearances of the Warrens paints a picture of a couple that are less expert investigators and more getting by on their whiles and attitude than the popular depiction. As Dr. Novella indicated that were not adroit in their field at all, and their collection of artifacts in their museum was unimpressive to say the least. As Mr. Nickel explains they were not a pleasant pair to deal with at all.
What I enjoyed most about this episode that ran over an hour in length is that it is a thorough take down of the Warren mythology which is taken apart by cold hard facts and research. In parts the Warrens themselves are their own worst enemy. I am a big fan of the skeptical interview format. I am a fan of the skeptical roundtable discussion format. However, this was a program geared around a topic, and not an interviewee. It was thorough, thought provoking, enlightening, and refreshing. Karl Mammer has done something similar on his solo Conspiracy Skeptic podcasts, but nothing this wide ranging with multiple sources intercut into the episode. I can only image the effort it took to produce this episode, but I hope Smith continues to release this format of show from time to time. I suspect this particular episode will go down in skeptical podcast lore with the famous SGU interview with Neal Adams. I cannot recommend this particular episode enough to the reader.
Also, the latest episode of Just Skeptics was rather enjoyable episode after a bit of break by the Manchester Skeptics from the normal bi-weekly schedule. My favorite part of the episode is when guest Stephanie Gibson discussed the various superstitions she has come across that she has researched and in her own life. Some of them I had heard of such as tossing salt over your left shoulder for luck, but others such as sticking a sore finger in a cat’s ear to transfer the pain from you to the unsuspecting and likely annoyed feline was news to me.
It struck me that superstition is a topic that does not get much attention in skeptical circles. This is not an in depth discussion of superstition, but more of a talk of just how silly some superstitious beliefs and rituals can reach. The rest of the show was the interesting banter of skeptics that I have grown quite fond. Janice keeps the episode moving forward while not being overbearing. The Manchester skeptics nearly always bring a smile to me.