Saturday, March 29, 2014

VETERANS DAY WEEKEND PODCAST LISTENING OVERVIEW AND IMPRESSIONS.


Originally posted November 12, 2013

Over the Veterans Day weekend, I listened to a number of skeptical* podcasts, so here’s a quick rundown on them.
I listened to Episode 5 of the Prism Podcast.  The episode featured an interview of Dr. Clay Jones of Science Based Medicine.  Dr. Jones is a Pediatric Hospitalist.  The dental duo of Jason and Grant discussed how Dr. Jones came into the skeptical movement and in particular how he came to focus upon alternative medicine.  The discussion turned to the vulnerablility of parents to alternative treatments especially first time parents who are on edge having to take care of a tiny human.  The overselling of probiotics, the lake of fluoridation of water in some parts of the country, and chiropractic adjustment of babies were also among the topics touched upon.  Dr. Jones was a personable interview, and I hope he becomes a more prominent member of the skeptical movement.   He kept things interesting and informative.  
Dr. Stuart Robbins offered up a brief 16-minute podcast on why spiral armed galaxies are not proof of a Young (or at least younger) Earth creationist world view on Exposing PseudoAstronomy.   Episode 92 was quite informative as I could follow some fairly complex scientific arguments throughout the podcast without getting that lost feeling.  I admit from time to time I get a bit perplexed in some of Dr. Robbins' explanations. Usually it is not so severe as to lose the thread of the episode, but it does occur.  This episode was wonderfully laid out.  Interestingly, Dr. Robbins somewhat apologized for the brevity of this episode, and warned the next few podcasts are also likely to be brief.  When Dr. Robbins inaugurated the show, this was the show length he was originally shooting to produce.  I am not trying to say the longer episodes are not good.  It is interesting to note that as the show has matured, the format has shifted and become more long form.  
The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe was its normal 80 minute or so length of time.  The episode featured an interview of Chris Mooney and Indre Viskontas formerly of Point of Inquiry and now of the new Inquiring Minds podcast.  I really have to make some time to listen to the new podcast.  However, from the interview it sounds as if it is more overtly political than P.O.I.  Mooney especially was always rather upfront with his political leanings, but the show itself seemed to keep an apolitical stance.  The new show will apparently focus much more on Climate Change as a goal of the show rather than just another topic to be covered. (The podcast is part of the Climate Desk at Mother Jones.)  Once I listen to a few episodes, I will be sure to share my commentary.  The episode featured the return of Jay’s Swindler’s List, which discussd Kevin Trudeau's legal issues, and the possibly imminent significant jail time he might be facing.  I am a bit surprised the Rogues have not covered Trudeau's most recent legal problems earlier.  They have been covered blow by blow by Doubtful News.  It is good to see the show at least raised the issue to its listenership. 
One thing that struck me with the SGU show is that I am still not getting used to the advertising breaks.  They just seem jarring to me.  I have nothing against the SGU raising money, and many of the tech podcasts I enjoy have at least as many if not more advertising interludes than the SGU.  For some reason, I am just used to the SGU being free.  Free of fees, advertising, and pitching.  The episode featured a guest participant for Science or Fiction, and Gary Kazele was a good guest player.  However, his participation was a pitch for listeners to join the higher membership levels of the SGU in order to obtain skeptical trading cards that he produces.  I just think this was a bit much for me this week. 
Perhaps I am a fuddy duddy when it comes to the SGU, and just like the free, good old days.  
Michael Marshall interviewed intuitive Jacqui O’ Reilly on Be Reasonable.  O’Reilly was an interesting interview as she does not wished to be called a psychic, and she does not claim to speak to the dead or spirits.  She merely believes that she is very good at intuiting information about people, although she has no idea how she is able to do so.  Based just upon this interview (I have never heard of Ms. O’Reilly before I heard the episode) she did not strike me as a con artist and seemed sincere.  However, I did get the idea that she might be hard to pin down if she ever took a properly controlled test.  Perhaps, I am wrong.  I would be interested to see how Ms. O’Reilly fared in a test of abilities.  Marsh did a nice job letting Ms. O’Reilly speak and give her own view of her abilities.  It is something that Be Reasonable carried over from Righteous Indignationquite well in their interview techniques.   (Really interesting was the show opened with a disclaimer that a portion of the interview was left on the cutting room floor as it might be viewed as defamatory.  God, I wish I knew what was said that raised such a red flag.)
Finally, Skeptical stalwart Brian Dunning produced an episode of Skeptoid on Wind Turbine Syndrome.  Dunning churned through the topic in under 15 minutes describing the alleged disorder, its genesis, and why it is most likely without merit unless greater evideince in support of disorder comes to light.  He did it all in six bullet points.  
For the record, I also enjoyed nonskeptical episodes of This Week in Tech, an excellent My History Can Beat up your Politics on the lives of people who were born in 1869, an enjoyable Talk Show featuring Mr. John Gruber, and a very flabby, disjointed Disney Hipsters podcast. Oveall, it was a nice podcast listening time.  
*What is this skepticism you are asking?  Why not get a succinct definition at the Media Guide To Skepticism powered by the good folks at Doubtful News

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