Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Strange Frequencies Radio: Koo Koo for Kaku

This week on Strange Frequencies Radio Jason and Bobby covered a number of skeptically related topics in their typical smart, but laid back style.  They discussed Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales scathing response to an online petition asking Wikipedia to cut alternative medicine a break.  Now admitted (at least in part) Big Foot hoaxer Rick Dyer's admission that the latest alleged Big Foot corpse he had on tour was fake.  As I am an old man, they spent a wee bit too much time discussing the upcoming reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Unexpectedly, they covered the ongoing rollout of Apple iBeacon, and implications this system of targeted smart ads might have for privacy and sanity concerns.  They also did a brief recant from last week's episode when they and a large part of skepdom (including myself) thought the litigation between Ben Radford and Karen Stollznow had come to an end.  I thought that was a gentlemanly decision, and applaud their stance not to discuss this topic until it has come to a more certain end.
let's be fair

What has compelled me to write this week was not any of the above.  Sure as a turtle owner for the last 23 years, I am well aware that a turtle no matter how affected by super-serums, radiation, etc just will not become a Ninja, and they enjoy eating mac and cheese, not pizza. (Really, my turtle enjoys macaroni and cheese.)  No, Jason and Bobby interviewed theoretical physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku author of many books and now on the press junket for his latest "The Future of Mind."

I have always been torn by Dr. Kaku.  On the one hand, he is wonderfully charismatic, and I could just listen to the guy talk and talk.  His enthusiasm for whatever his topic is infectious. I applaud his efforts to popularize science.  On the other hand, he sometimes seems to veer from logical projection into the future to wild speculation at least in some of the interviews I have watched on TV and audio.  I have to say overall I agree with Jason and Bobby that Kaku's speculations on his Future of Mind talk jumped to more than a bit out there.  I agree that as a theoretical physicist perhaps he is not the best one to discuss the mind.  The interview in itself was quite good.  Jason and Bobby after the interview discussed Kaku being a little out there at times not just about his Mind book, but also his somewhat credulous statements regarding UFOs, which was a bit off-putting to me.

It was off-putting to me not because I disagree with their comments regarding some of the more out there claims regarding his predictions on what the mind will be able to achieve, or that his opinions on the validity of pilot eyewitness testimony is any more accurate than others' UFO eyewitness testimony.  It was that they were talking about their interviewee after the fact without the person being able to defend themselves.  The interview was good and more than sufficient to allow the listener to draw their own conclusions.  Granted, a brief segment that was interesting comments after the fact or discussing the interview down the road while recalling ideas on past interviews might be ok.  This just struck me as bad play.  The first time I really thought about this was after the SGU interviewed Neal Adams, and right after the interview the Rogues all dissed on Adams' unique notions of the expanding Earth theory.  Shortly after that episode the SGU started a policy of allowing the interviews to speak for themselves and refrain from post interview color commentary.  While there are always viable exceptions, I support this general policy.

Overall, I enjoyed the episode.  Kaku while a compelling personality and clearly a whip smart guy sometimes ranges a bit far afield.  Jason and Bobby continue to do fine work. If I ever have the pleasure to meet one of them, I'd certainly buy them an adult beverage.

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