Not just another “skeptical” podcast, it’s a show about critical thinking and evidence-based analysis, using science and critical thinking to examine the world around us, from the mysterious and paranormal to the mundane.
Episode 215 - Dallas Zoo Animal Disappearances, with Kristina Downs
First Ben and Celestia discuss genetically modified potatoes, cougar kitties, and cocaine hippos. Then we are joined by Dr. Kristina Downs of the Texas Folklore Society to talk about a curious case that occurred in January 2023. A series of incidents at the Dallas Zoo escalated from a wandering clouded leopard to a critically endangered vulture turning up dead and a pair of kidnapped monkeys. Along the way we have parody Twitter accounts, cat humor, digs on local nuisances, and rumors of what's REALLY going on at the zoo -- in other words, folklore and conspiracy theories. Then, when the monkeys are found, we see, on a small scale, what happens when crime-solving communities online are faced with a disappointingly mundane answer to their puzzle.
Episode 214 - Gargoyles!
Ben and Celestia discuss conspiracies, real and unreal, the conspiracy-backed arguments from a high-profile defense lawyer, a superconductor article retraction, and Barbra's opinion on the Streisand Effect. Then, gargoyles! How do these imposing gothic carvings differ from grotesques, and what do they do -- both functionally and symbolically? Who can see them so high up, and are hidden messages really carved into some of them? We learn about the guttural (literally) sense of humor on display in medieval times, and the possible connection gargoyles have to an ancient tradition of "gurning," or face-pulling. And yes, we do talk about the 90s cartoon too!
Episode 213 - Gef the Talking Mongoose, with Sharon Hill
First, Celestia goes over her high points and low points of CSI Con 2023, then we move on to a few tidbits Ben came across. Sharon Hill joins us again, this time for a main segment on Gef the talking mongoose, a celebrity on the Isle of Man back in the 1930s. A new movie delves into (and somewhat mangles) the mystery, featuring Simon Pegg as Nandor Fodor and Christopher Lloyd as Harry Price. The "mystery" of Gef tapdances around so many facets of Forteana... a talking animal, "earth spirit," clairvoyance, poltergeists, psychic manifestations, and a clever young girl with time on her hands. With Sharon's help, we go over what the records say, what British libel law curtailed the records from saying, and what the movie tries to say today.
Episode 212 - The Rise and Fall of Slenderman, with Andrea Kitta
First we discuss a few skepticism-adjacent current events: the recent Colorado train spotting of Bigfoot, RFK Jr.'s bid for the presidency, and a new lawsuit naming "Sound of Freedom" hero Tim Ballard as a sexual predator who paid a psychic to help groom his victims. Then we dive into Slenderman, or "Slendy" as his friends know him. Professor Andrea Kitta, contributor to "Slender Man Is Coming" (Utah State University Press, 2018), brings her public health and folklore knowledge to bear on this created cryptid, born of photoshop in the pre-AI days and raised on the pent-up rage of cyberbullied adolescent girls. Part revenge fantasy and part rescuer, what is Slendy's game? Does he drive you insane or take you away to his secret mansion? While he was the focus of a tragic 2014 stabbing case in Wisconsin, since then he has faded slowly and may end up where many initially terrifying monsters go -- into the realm of child lore, as a spooky story for very young kids.
Episode 211 - SWAYSO Grab Bag and DragonCon Live!
First we have a whole lot of current events that are dinging out skeptical radar: Nobels are being announced; a kidnapped girl was found (not by psychics); a yoga class was mistaken for a mass shooting; we survived a rapture AND a 5G-activated virus; Nevada's supreme court allows joint-custody father to vaccinate kids against wishes of antivax mother; Naomi Wolf says being near vaccinated people causes cramps; and Hasan Minhaj walks the line between storytelling and fabrication.
Then, thanks fo Mark Ditsler and Calico Cove LLC for the production of content and permission to distribute audio from our appearance at DragonCon's Skeptic Track earlier in September! We have a roundabout discussion on folkloric roots of modern conspiracies and how stories recur and recur and recur, then take some audience questions.
Episode 210 - The UFO movie THEY don't want you to see, with Brian Dunning
After discussing the more recent alien-related topics like signs of life on an exoplanet and signs of fraud displayed in the Mexican Congress, we meet up with Brian Dunning of Skeptoid fame. His newest feature film, The UFO Movie THEY Don't Want You to See, is out now on streaming services. We discuss the educational approaches Brian took and why, the "Christmas Tree Problem," and our excitement at the very real possibility of life elsewhere -- tempered, alas, with the very real constricts of physics, time, and space.
I just discovered this and I think this is vital and there is very little skeptical podcast that address these issues. Great job!
Avoid at all costs.
First of all this podcast is somehow erasing reviews that are critical of them. Which you cant just do, so apparently their status exists outside of a “regular podcast”. Disinformation agents. I would say. I will continue to leave bad reviews as long as they continue to poison the well
went from good to ok
Not that good anymore. C+ I rarely listen anymore.