|France. America salutes you.|
Happy Bastille Day and more importantly (but not for the French) Skeptical Review Day as it has been six years since I launched this vanity project. My original conception of this blog was to follow upwards of a dozen or so skeptical podcasts and churn out ten to twelve posts a month sharing my observations and thoughts on them. That did not last. In the beginning, I was full of optimism about skepticism and dubious about how long this blog would last. Well, now I am a bit world weary about skepticism, and stunned I have kept publishing this blog even with its shifted focus and more constrained output.
Truth is, I do not listen to nearly as many skeptical podcasts as I once did. Some of them
have ceased production such as my beloved Righteous Indignation or the entertaining Just Skeptics. Others, frankly, grew stale such as The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe and the Skeptic Zone. I do listen to the SGU and the Zone from time to time, or skip to a particularly intriguing section of an episode I find in the show notes. My days of waiting like a skeptic junkie for the latest SGU to drop on Saturday (c’mon man where is the episode Novella . . . c’mon) are gone. Point of Inquiry is a reflection of what it once was when D.J. Grothe was at the helm all those many years ago. Rationally Speaking with the recent departure of Prof. Massimo Pigliucci remains an open question. Julia Galef was a good counterpart to Pigliucci, but can she carry the show without Pigliucci's quick insight and Italian accent? We'll see.
|Hill on Virtual Skeptics|
While Skeptoid’s founder, Brian Dunning, has endured what appears to be an appropriate run in with the Justice and correctional systems of the county, his podcast overall has remained a weekly must hear despite his absence. Dunning is a criminal, but a gifted podcaster. As a podcast producer, he runs a tight ship. I still listen to Skepticality quite regularly probably in part that the format has shifted which has kept the show interesting. Skeptics with a K continually seems to get it right as does Dr. Stuart Robbins' excellent Exposing PseudoAstronomy. I would listen to more of the Conspiracy Skeptic if more episodes were produced. (Yes, the pot is calling the kettle black on this one.) The Virtual Skeptics Vodcast can be unevenly paced but usually has quite good material, but the video format makes it inconvenient. The VS crew’s chemistry since the departure of Sharon Hill has never regained its stride. Still, I typically enjoy it. Monster Talk’s release schedule is pretty hit or miss. I typically spend Sunday evenings listening to Strange Frequencies Radio. The show has drifted from mainly paranormal/woo woo topics to more observations of pop culture and religion. I like it. I don't know if I consider it a skeptic podcast. More a show with skeptical overtones. This list is not exhaustive. There are other podcasts out that I have tried and did not stick.
Instead, I find myself listening to a lot of audio lectures. Currently, I am listening to a series on the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and before that I listened to a series on the rise of the British Empire.
I still consider myself firmly in the skeptical camp. Skepticism, as a group, has gone from being a generally upbeat lot in 2007ish to a pretty hair triggered gaggle around 2012ish to an exhausted 1917 Western front state of a belligerent stalemate tuckered out by past conflicts. Skeptics are supposed to be a group of rationalists that provide a form of consumer protection benefit to society. Skeptics are neither the angel on the right shoulder nor the devil on the left shoulder. Skeptics are the sober one wearing a polo shirt with sensible shoes and pants methodically parsing things out perched on top of the head. This is difficult when one is always looking over one's shoulder waiting for the other shoe to drop from within one's own lines, or not getting much backup when requested.
It gets depressing. Using skepticism on a daily basis can make one a bit of a party pooper regardless of efforts of trying not to be a dick. Many people generally like the idea of ghosts looking after them or having control over increasingly complex, confusing, and expensive medical care by utilizing footpads on the soles of their feet at night to stay healthy. It’s crap. Nearly all alt med, food pseudo-science, and vaccine hype is crap. Unfortunately, crap can be comforting. Reality, the better place to be overall can dash hopes and be an immediate bummer. I figured this out fairly early on my skeptical journey. Reality is reality. The idea is not to love or leave it but accept it. For me, this was an easier row to hoe when the skeptical community itself felt positive. Now that the support within the skeptical community is wanting, I find myself a bit down. I medicate myself by trying to figure out how to get to the Mouse in Central Florida and ride Spaceship Earth to hear Dame Judi Dench soothingly tell me to thank the Phoenicians for teaching me my A-B-C’s.
Yet, I still think the Skeptical project is worth it. Shane Brady recently wrote ". . . we’ve passed a peak of online skepticism . . ." This clicked with me immediately. Skepticism is no longer shiny and new. The honeymoon is over, and now it's time to see what a mature online skepticism will be.
|least we forget . . .|