Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Skepticality 255 & Perry DeAngelis

Skepticality episode 255 is brief as it runs well under an hour.  There is no interview other than Derek introducing the episode explaining that with how busy things are pre-The Amazing Meeting 13 the following is basically the podlets sans interview by him at the end.

Tim Farley during his part discusses the recent sentencing of the infamous David Mabus for his online abuse and threats against skeptics and atheists online.  Mabus is a mentally ill man.  I hope he gets the help he needs, but I do hope the Canadian authorities are able to keep him at bay.  Farley also shares some online tools such as Yahoo! Pipes that are going away as well as some Twitter archiving tools that are no longer going to be supported by Twitter.  Software comes and software goes.  

Pretty sure Loxton was speaking when this pic
was taken.  oops. 
 The Odds Must be Crazy covers a strange story of coincidence experienced by Skepticism’s own Daniel Loxton after he gave his talk at last year’s TAM.  (We here at the Skeptical Review attended TAM 2014.  One of the few lectures I missed was Loxton’s which from all accounts was impressive and moving.  We were by the pool.  With hindsight I could have picked a better time to enjoy such watery pleasures.)  It was a typically nicely done segment.  Eve Siebert for the Skeptical Humanities segment gives Penguin Publishing a full broadside for the inclusion of a most certainly hoax map as the cover of book of the translated Vinland Sagas.  They get Sieberted.  

Susan Gerbic did her segment on Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia .  She interviewed Jim Preston of San Jose, who is one of the project's editors, and to promote the Guerilla Skepticism workshop occurring at TAM 13.  I must admit.  I often do a quick skim of Gerbic’s segment.  I don’t want to get into it here, but the segment just does not appeal to me.  But given the entire episode was so short, and I did not want to fiddle with my iPhone trying to merge onto interstate 83 during rush hour while it was simultaneously raining and sunny (true story), I listened.  The group had just published a piece on Wikipedia covering the great Perry DeAngelis.  A fair amount of the information came from a pair of interviews performed by Gerbic of Dr. Steven Novella and Evan Bernstein, I gather so it could be used as a citation for a Wikipedia entry.  I have no doubt it meets the letter of the rules of Wikipedia, but it also feels circular too.  That is neither here nor there.  The entry on DeAngelis is fairly brief but quite good and does him justice.  The YouTube interviews themselves are a treasure.

 As I write this, Perry passed away nearly eight years ago, and I find it interesting that for a guy I never met, and only ever knew through less than 108 episodes of the SGU and some of his writings, how much I miss the guy.  While there is no way to prove it, I do think that the SGU without Perry as a foil to Dr. Novella in the very beginning of the show and then for about year before his death as a counter point to Rebecca Watson, the show would not have been as engaging.  He was the voice that I identified with to just call out nonsense, and yet he wasn’t a cynic or a debunker.  He was a skeptic’s skeptic.

Go visit Perry’s entry on Wikipedia, and take a half an hour or so and watch the YouTube video interview about Perry.  Take some care if you are attending TAM 13 and be careful of when you duck out to take a quick dip in the pool.

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