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BEASTcast 25: Dr. Rachael Dunlop

March 29th, 2012 by

Rachael Dunlop is an ALS and ageing researcher and Vice President of the New South Wales committee of the Australian Skeptics. She also won the most hilarious internet award ever. She blogs at Skeptic’s Book. We talk about science communication, homeopathy, the anti-vaccination craze and some of the other pseudoscience she and her fellow skeptics deal with in Australia. Music is by Pigface and is used with permission.

You can subscribe to the BEASTcast here or rate and/or leave a review in iTunes. Read More

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Best Albums of 2012, part 1 of 4

March 27th, 2012 by

I was looking over my music collection the other day and noticed that when I sorted it by date, the number of albums I have released over the past 3 or 4 years is much smaller than previous years. And an alarming number of the newer releases I have are from old groups. Last year I picked up new albums by such ancient bands as The Beastie Boys, Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, Flogging Molly, the Dropkick Murphys, Radiohead, Mogwai, Jane’s Addiction, Daft Punk, and Atari Teenage Riot. Sure, they all still make great music but they’re also all just a few years away from artificial hips and pill cases with the days of the week marked on them.

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The Agony of Mike Daisey

March 23rd, 2012 by

Back when I was a kid, my parents explained Mutually Assured Destruction to me. They thought telling a kid they might be blown up in a nuclear attack (or, more likely, slowly eaten away by fallout radiation) would be a cool thing to do. They said that the Soviet Union was run by a corrupt oligarchy and that I should probably know they might kill everyone I knew at a moment’s notice.

So I asked who was in charge of our nuclear weapons. Well, it turns out he was an actor. And he was a very old actor whose brain was probably deteriorating. It wasn’t very reassuring. Read More

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BEASTcast 24: Joe Nickell

March 21st, 2012 by

Joe Nickell is a paranormal investigator at the Center for Inquiry and a historical document consultant. He’s also a senior research fellow at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the author of many books, including Inquest on the Shroud of Turin. We  talk about the subject of that book because some dude is coming to Western New York to do a presentation for the Shroudies. Why is God so bad at Photoshop? Listen to find out!

Music is by Pigface and is used with permission. You can subscribe to the BEASTcast here or rate and/or leave a review in iTunes.

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Help, Help, I'm Being Repressed!

March 16th, 2012 by

The persecution complex goes back to the roots of Christianity. It’s one of the few ideas an early follower would recognize from today’s Christianity. If memes are like genes, then the idea that Christianity is so dangerous to the status quo and must be stamped out is like the genome of a shark or a crocodile. It plays its role so well in its own proliferation that very little adaptation has been required regardless of changes to its environment. As far as the New Testament goes, it starts in what biblical scholars consider to be the earliest of the four Gospels:

 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Read More

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TWiC #10: Free Will and Other Fairy Tales

March 9th, 2012 by

[I should probably point out that I started writing this post before I heard that Sam Harris just released a short book / long pamphlet about this subject. You'll just have to take my word for it.]

Being a connoisseur of crazy ideas carries with it a sort of demarcation problem. Is there a clearly defined line between a belief being totally unreasonable and kooky, and a belief which is just simply wrong? What kind of method can we use to tell the difference?

Sometimes it can be tough to distinguish between one unjustified belief categorized as crackpottery while another equally unjustified belief escapes unscathed simply because it’s popular. As it goes with pornography and Supreme Court justices, we might not be able to clearly define woo, but we can know it when we see it. As hazily defined a term as it is, maybe it would help the cause to expand its definition to the point where it makes more people re-examine their positions. Read More

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TWiC #9: David Icke's 5 Most Hilarious Fantasies

March 2nd, 2012 by

So I’ve almost got to the double digits of this column about crackpots and craziness without even having addressed David Icke. He’s probably best known for spreading the idea that European royalty and other powerful elites like George Bush and Boxcar Willie are secretly the descendants of reptilian shape-shifters from another planet who interbred with humans in ancient times to create special bloodlines… Bloodlines of evil! And they eat babies! And stuff. It’s an extension of the Ancient Aliens hypotheses you get from guys like Zecharia Sitchin and Giorgio A. Tsoukalos (who I hear is actually a really nice guy, for what it’s worth) with a little interplanetary erotica thrown in for fun.

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