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Podcast / Skeptoid

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Skeptoid is a weekly podcast created by Brian Dunning, a computer software designer turned science writer, run in association with the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), and partly inspired by The Skeptic's Guide To The Universe. Its subject is the 'critical analysis of pop cultural phenomena' and the investigation of the reality behind all kinds of pseudosciences, myths, urban legends or popular fads. It is generally much shorter than most other science podcasts at around 10-14 minutes per episode, mostly because the host had a regular day job for most of the duration of the show, but also to be easy to listen to and to appeal to a general mass audience.


You may either read or listen to podcast episodes at the show's Web site.

Contains examples of:

  • Ban on Politics: "Skeptoid not Political-oid"-the show comes as close as realistically possible to being a-political in nature. Even when discussing Ann Coulter, Brian kept the discussion to her science rather than politics. This is also a source of criticism of the show, since economics and social issues are not immune to skepticism.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti
  • Catchphrase: "Let's point the skeptical eye..." and "Be skeptical," come up at least Once an Episode.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The podcast contains some of the finest dry verbal beatdowns anywhere in skepticism, although the host is apparently moving away from being snarky to opponents.
  • Insult Backfire: Some of the more invective emails Brian reads from his viewers make the writer seem like a raving loon. This is most impressive when Brian patiently deconstructs fallacious logic and explains that even if every demented thing the correspondent has claimed about the world were true it still wouldn't change the scientific validity of what he said in the episode.
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  • Logical Fallacies: The Logical Fallacies two-parter is an excellent primer on common fallacies.
  • The Movie: YouTube video "Here Be Dragons" sums up many of the basic themes of the show in 40 minutes.
  • Musical Episode: The quality of which is up to the listener to decide.
  • Nice Guy: The evolving persona of Brian Dunning, who started as a Deadpan Snarker but has recently become unfailingly polite and yet uncompromising. His persona as of early 2012 is more of one who wishes his opponents well and that they would "get it." The fact that Dunning pled guilty in early October 2013 to wire fraud and served time in federal prison somewhat challenges this perception with many people. However, he offered no excuses for this. Incidentally, he explained exactly the type of virus he later pled guilty to using, a "Cookie Stuffing" virus, on his show. A strange form of Real Life Writes the Plot, perhaps.
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  • Poe's Law: Often referenced:
    It is an interesting world we live in, where you can tell a group of people that you made a crop circle with a rope, even show them how you did it, and they still insist that an unknown paranormal intelligence did it. You can tell them that two plus two equals four and they'll insist that it's five.
  • Satire: A few episodes, such as the Musical Episode "Screwed!", instead send-up pseudoscientific or conspiracy theory belief structures. The "Most Effective Homeopathy Podcast Ever," roughly ten minutes of silence with an intro and outro, is another example.
  • Shown Their Work: Brian does in depth research on every topic and provides his sources in the show notes. It shows, especially when he makes a mistake, which he will usually correct and apologize for with some self-deprecating humor.
  • Science Hero: Brian Dunning, mostly for being so reasonable and fair-minded when it comes to many subjects that most in the scientific community would laugh at (like Backmasking or the Face on Mars).

Always remember, be Skeptical

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