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  1. Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    "You're listening to Skeptoid. I'm Brian Dunning from"
    Do you crave information? Information that may very well blow your mind????

    Awesome. Let's take a moment to prepare ourselves, shall we?

    First, go into the kitchen and get some tinfoil. If you don't have any than just print out the following picture five or six times and tape it together:


    Still with me? Now, take the foil and form it into a hat. According to the instructions (yes this is a real thing), "It is very important for the shiny side of the aluminum foil to be showing when the hat is complete to make sure it is effective against alien rays or mind control signals."

    Your finished product should look something like this:

    Skeptoid Hat

    Wild-eyed state a plus! Now take your mp3 listening device, climb into your lead-lined bunker, crack open an herbal supplement that "Big Pharma" doesn't want you to know about and start listening to Skeptoid.

    Relevant Links:
    Main Site
    Subscribe Here
    Wikipedia Link
    Donate Here
    - Donations for Skeptoid are nifty. There are micro payments starting at as little as $3.99 (US) a year to help fun the podcast, or your can donate as much or as little as you want. Not only do you support a podcast you enjoy and help to keep it ad-free, but you get a free DVD including the movie Here Be Dragons: An Introduction to Critical Thinking. The DVD is even autographed!

    The Skeptoid podcast modus operandi is this: apply critical thinking to information presented to the public to decide whether or not a claim can be considered valid. This isn't just someone picking apart obvious crackpot theories or setting up pseudoscience straw men to shred so that he can reference the scientific method and prance off to his forums to be praised. Dunning does his best to separate the truth from the lies from the half-lies from the "yeah, no way" in each topic he discusses.

    Content Rating: Clean. Depending on what particular conspiracy theory, poorly researched medical claims or misunderstood scientific process you hold to there is a possibility that any given episode could send you into a frothing rage. So...that makes the rating either Clean or Rage Inducing.

    Dunning himself is not afraid of critique; he occasionally posts a podcast with a title along the lines of "Things I'm Wrong About", where he posts corrections for any erroneous facts he may have made in previous episodes.

    The language used in Skeptoid makes the scientific (and depending on the subject, "scientific") ideas proposed avaliable to young adults and laymen alike without being insulting. This is not a podcast that exists just to belittle and berate those who practice things such as Aura Photography or The Secret. Brian Dunning simply lays a topic out and examines it with a critical eye, guiding the listener's mind to each flaw and erroneous fact like an Antiques Road Show host revealing to a Midwestern retiree that their beloved heirloom is, in fact, made out of particle board.

    Average Episode Length: Twelve minutes-ish.

    Release Schedule: Weekly, with a new episode released every Tuesday.

    Music: There is music occasionally, in the form of background noise. Music also has a high level of occurrence when the host is being a bit of a smart ass highlighting or referencing a particularly far-fetched quote or belief.

    "Belief that a report is customized for us tends to improve our perception of the report's accuracy. I notice this right away when I read Isabel Myers description for my own personality type, ISTJ, the Duty Fulfiller: "Practical, matter-of-fact, realistic, and responsible." Basically it's a nice way to say "Dry, boring, and punctual," which hits my nail pretty squarely on the head.

    Drinking Game: Go to the sites supporting the theories that Skeptoid debunks. Read the forums there and drink. Heavily.

    Unintentionally Good Part: I was thoroughly delighted to find that the host sings a little song for his 200th episode. Surely, some confused as-of-yet-undiscovered alien civilization culture somewhere must consider it a masterpiece.

    Unintentionally Bad Part: After writing this review the word skeptic has lost all meaning to me. Now it looks like I'm spelling it wrong.

    Gold Star!: Each episode of the podcast is not only listed on the site, but has a full transcript! Most excellent for people who like skepticism, but may not be able to access podcasts due to technical or hearing difficulties.

  2. 2 comments:

    1. Josh said...

      Okay, this sounds pretty awesome, and the picture (with wild, crazy eyes) really sells it. Will give it a try!

    2. viddyviddy said...


      After you get a sense for the actual show, you should listen to some of the "Listener Feedback" episodes.

      Talk about tin foil hats and crazy eyes. Yeesh.