Saturday, December 27, 2014

Rebecca Watson leaves the SGU

I thought I released my final post for the year, but then this hit:

Rebecca Watson is no longer a Rogue with the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe.  As to the reason why she was departing the SGU, Watson noted in her announcement on Skepchick:
The reason is a bit less drama-filled then what many will hope: it’s just time to move on. Nine years of doing the same job, week after week, starts to wear on a person. That’s especially true when the job pays peanuts and you’re not in control of anything at the company. And these days, those two things are extremely important to me as I work hard to pay rent while striving to meet my personal goals and standards.
Watson's departure was also announced on the latest episode which is the annual year end wrap up.  I have no doubts the SGU will continue unless there is some catastrophic change such as the departure of Dr. Novella.  The show survived the death of Perry DeAngelis who along with Dr. Novella were the heart and brain of the show.  I have not been a regular listener to the show in about nine months or so.  I would listen to parts and some whole episodes from time to time.  The show is damn consistent which Dr. Novella noted on the latest episode and justly takes pride in.  Dr. Novella and the rogues minus Watson spoke on the latest Skeptically Challenged about producing almost ten years of content.  A major topic of discussion was how important adding Watson to the show was at the time.    

Still, things change.  Watson was a lightening rod for upheaval in the last five years, or thereabouts.  Most of drama never made it to the show.  The biggest thing to bleed into the SGU was her decision to stop attending The Amazing Meeting, which meant the last few SGU TAM shows were without Watson.  Either through group discipline and/or good editing most the turmoil never made it to the show.  Whatever the reason this was good for the show, and a wise move.  
Watson even got married on the SGU


I do not know what the SGU will do long term.  Having a regular Rogue who was a woman served the show well, but just plugging in a 'token' woman like a burnt out lightbulb would be a mistake.  Of course my mind raced who could fill the slot: Pamela Gay, Barbara Drescher, Sharon Hill, Eve Siebert . . . and if one of them naturally fell into it that would be fine.  I rather hope that if a new Rogue is brought onboard and it is a woman, it is someone completely new and out of left field.  

I take what was said on the latest SGU and Watson's blog post at face value.  I am not sure if this is Watson pivoting from skepticism to more full on feminism, or if she has other ideas.  The last time I witnessed this type of shakeup in a podcast was when John Gruber left Dan Benjamin's 5by5 network to spin the show off as his own thing.  All ended well there, although while the new Talk Show is more consistently good, it rarely is as great as when it was Dan and John.  Uglier was when Irreligiosophy imploded when Chuck and Leighton had an outside business disagreement. With the SGU, it hit its stride when the troika of Dr. Novella, Perry, and Watson sparred with the other Rogues chiming in from time to time.  Now the show is left with just Steve, and I think Watson departing is less of a shock than when Perry died.  Still, while I have no doubt the show will continue to be good, I wonder if it can ever be great without a further shake up.  This is why I think if a new Rogue is brought onboard I hope it is an unknown.  

My opinion of Watson has changed over the years especially after the blow up over Watson's talk at CFI Con against evolutionary biology.  Still, I get nostalgic at times such as this.  I wish Watson well. Perhaps somehow this might lead to a bit more peace within the skeptical movement.  I kinda doubt it. We'll see. 

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