Saturday, March 29, 2014

TOKEN SKEPTIC MEETS DOUBTFUL NEWS, EXPOSING PSEUDOASTRONOMY, AND TAM TWEETS


Originally posted July 23, 2013

The Token Skeptic podcast is trying out a revised format.  I am not sure if this is a test, or something that will continue indefinitely.  Episode 165 features an interview with Paul Offit, M.D. of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as well as a skeptic news segment.  Most of the material in the news segment is sourced (with permission) from the Doubtful News website.  Obviously, TS host Kylie Sturgess does not cover all the news stories from the prior week published by DN, but does cover select items.  Also, Sturgess does not do a verbatim recitation of the DN story, but does repackage it for audio consumption. 
For a first effort, the delivery was very polished.  I like the idea in general of skeptics cross promoting each other’s material.  I recall DN editor did a similar audio news update for a few podcasts in the past, but nothing seemed to take root.  I am hopeful if Sturgess keeps this a regular part of her podcast where one can get an audio fix on "Can you really belief this stuff" that now you can listen as well as read and see.
Dr. Offit discussed his new book on alternative medicine “Do you believe in Magic.”  Dr. Offit describes how mainstream medicine and largely unproven and untested alternative medicine are being merged with unfortunate results.  Offit is always a good interview, and it always boggles my mind how top institutions such as C.H.O.P. can still be lured by the beguiling untested promises of alternative medicine. 
The latest Exposing PseudoAstronomy podcast was a bread and butter episode where Dr. Stuart Robbins explains why creationist claims that the speed of light has drastically changed over the last 6,000 years simply does not withstand even basic scrutiny.  While some of the math was lost on my liberal arts brain, the overall explanation and reasoning was clear. 
Dr. Robbins also requested feedback from his listeners if there are too many Coast to Coast AM clips on his episodes.  As an avid listener of the Coast to Coast AM on the weekends, especially the old shows with Art Bell, I rather enjoy the clips.  It gives the listener a first hand listen to whatever the person is claiming rather than a distilled version from Robbins.  Also, the tone and tenor of how someone says something gives appreciated insight to a claimant's mindset that paraphrasing or reading a quote just cannot replicate.  I am all for Coast clips to continue. 
Dr. Robbins also shared that he was scheduled to be interviewed on the Conspiracy Skeptic podcast regarding his experience at The Amazing Meeting 2013 and Dr. Robbins latest side project WND Watch - A blog that critiques and comments on claims raised on World Net Daily website.  This new blog is necessary as World Net Daily has blocked Dr. Robbins from commenting on the site. 
Finally, a few odds and ends thought on the latest TAM.  Something I noticed as did a few other within the skepdom was the downtick in the amount of Twitter traffic related to TAM as far as following the hashtag #TAM2013.  This is not to say there was none, but this was the first year I could actually keep up hashtag and follow what was occurring.  There was a lack of continuous live Tweeting of talks which does have its advantages.  The tons of Tweets flowing from a talk can quickly clog one’s timeline.  Also, while this time from all accounts was quite civil and upbeat, apparently there was a firecracker of an exchange during the Magicians vs. Psychics panel.  In past years, this would have created an avalanche of tweets, and this year I missed it until it was brought up on Virtual Skeptics TAM wrap-up episode and post-TAM blog posts.  I am not sure if the skeptical schism has caused a disproportionate share of the Twitter users to leave, or without the drama this year there was less to tweet.  It could be that Twitter is losing its luster.  I did find a lack of live blogging this year as well.  I am not sure how that plays into the mix.  I guess instead of following TAM next year relying upon the social media, I’ll have to attend in person. 

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