Podcast Review

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, February 17, 2009 | Published in

I've always been a sucker for talk radio. I guess I must be an auditory learner because I seem to process information better by hearing it (as opposed to reading). Plus it's just plain entertaining to hear people talk for an hour or so about interesting topics. I became a huge NPR junkie right after 9/11. After I got bored with that I listened to ESPN radio 24/7 for a couple of years.

That too got boring after a bit but thankfully I discovered the wide world of podcasts. Podcasts are probably the number one reason that I call myself a skeptic. There's a nice community of skeptical podcasts out there and I thought I'd go through them and give a small review of each:

The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe: This is the granddaddy of all skeptical podcast IMHO. Since 2005 it's been hosted by Dr. Steven Novella, neurologist, president of the New England Skeptical Society and writer of the blog Neurologica. The current panel of skeptical rogues includes Steven's brothers Bob and Jay, Evan Bernstein, and Rebecca Watson (Skepchick). There's always hilarious banter around their news stories and manage to get amazing people for the weekly interview. I make it a point to listen to podcast every week.

Skeptoid: Hosted by Brian Dunning. Skeptoid is a weekly podcast that tries to bunk various hoax, urban legends and pseudosciences. He's covered such varied topics as creationism, multilevel marketing, Big Foot, and wheatgrass juice. The podcasts are usually fairly short (8-15 minutes) but Brian does a great job of researching the topic. It's usually a good primer if you get caught up in an argument with a True Believer.

Point of Inquiry: The official podcast of the Center of Inquiry is hosted by their VP of Outreach Programs, DJ Grothe. Each week they interview an interesting person about religion/secularism, science/pseudoscience, and/or alternative medicine. I don't like the agressively atheistic commercials at the beginning and end of the shows and they do seem to go through dry spells with their guests. Otherwise it's a decent podcast that I try to listen to a couple of times a month.

The Naked Scientists: This one isn't strictly about skepticism but it is the best science podcast that I've listened to. It's hosted by a slew of naked scientists from Cambridge University including virologist Chris Smith, archaeologist Diana O'Carrol, and marine biologist Helen Scales. They do a great job of staying on top of a wide variety of science stories and the Kitchen Science segment is always at supplying ideas for mayhem.

Declaring Independence: This one has only been around for 2 months but it seems to have promise. It's a local radio show hosted by Ed Brayton who also does the blog Dispatches from the Culture War and co-founder of The Panda's Thumb. This one also isn't solely about skepticism but is more about religion and politics. Ed has been a warrior in the fight against creationists and other right wing loonies for a long time. I'm a fan of the show even though they still need to work out the kinks production wise. There hasn't been a new show posted in two weeks and I'm hoping that it hasn't been cancelled already.

The Rest: There are quite a few other skeptical podcasts that I've heard are good but I can't officially recommend them since I haven't listened to them. A quick list would be Atheist Talk, This Week in Science, Skepticality, and anything Nova does.

On the Discordian front, there don't seem to be much in the way of podcasts. 23 Apple of Eris has done a very limited number of podcasts. POEE has done some POEEcasts over the years. The Good Reverend Roger has started doing vodcasts over at YouTube. Looks promising so far.

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