Saturday, March 29, 2014

RETURN TO THE SKEPTIC ZONE


Originally posted June 16, 2013

It has been awhile since I have discussed the popular Skeptic Zone podcast.  One reason is that the Skeptic Zone much like the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast has managed to get into a regular rhythm of consistently good episodes.  Another reason is that I have gotten out of the habit of regularly listening to each episode.  I am not exactly sure why this is the case, but I would recommend the show in general for someone looking to fill their skeptical fix.   
However, I did listen to episode 243.  I thoroughly enjoyed the first segment by Richard Saunders which was Saunders sharing a piece that he had authored for the Australian Skeptic magazine on diviners (dowsers).  What made the piece interesting was that Saunders is attempting to explain the mind set of the diviners after they fail a rigorous test of their alleged skill.  Saunders is not snarky or disrespectful, but he does show real humanity towards diviners.  It was one of the better skeptical segments I have heard in the last couple weeks.   
Dr. Rachael Dunlop is still crusading against the Australian Vaccination Network.  Dr. Rachie's segment focused on discussing an administrative hearing argument from what I can gather, by the AVN arguing that its name as the Australian Vaccination Network is not inaccurate within the bounds of Australian law.  From what I know about American admin law hearings and Dr. Rachie's report, it sounds as if the AVN counsel did an inept job.  It also sounds as if the Administrative hearing officer understood that the AVN's argument was not convincing.  It was quite clear Dr. Rachie was enjoying the AVN continuing their current fall from popular and media grace.  I can too.  
This was followed by a very brief science news segment that was quick and slick, and not very informative.  It was the weakest bit of this episode.  Then Saunders followed this segment by doing a brief spoof of horoscopes, which was cute.  It falls into one of those things which I suspect might be tossed into the episode to pad it out, but it was short and harmless.  I cannot object to its inclusion.  
Maynard is still working with the Skeptic Zone and on the final segment of this episode he interviewed Polyp, a political cartoonist and graphic artist, who is a member of the well known Manchester Skeptics.  Maynard continues with his quick and quirky radio DJ-breed interviewing style.  I have never heard of Polyp before this interview.  He does seem to meld his politics and skepticism closely together.  The main topic of the discussion was conspiracy theories, and Polyp almost sounded as if he wished conspiracy theories were true.  For those who follow Big Footery or Ghosts, this is not uncommon, because heck it would be really cool to find an actual Big Foot creature.  Conspiracies being real just creeps me out.  
Overall, I still enjoy the show, and this was a solid episode.  I am going to try and carve out some time to listen to a few more episodes over the next few weeks.  Saunders will be at TAM, and I suspect this might generate some good content.  The Zone continues to be a very solid effort, and if I had less podcasts on my myst listening queue the Zone  would likely still be on it.  

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