By A.M. Dellamonica
It wasn't that long ago that the Golden Age of radio seemed an irretrievable relic of history ... but now webcasting and podcasting have burst upon the audio scene, allowing Internet users to make listening choices with extraordinary precision. SF and science-related broadcasts have proliferated ever since. Today, fans can download fiction, author interviews, movie and TV gossip and just about everything else related to the genre.
For listeners interested in pseudoscience, not to mention the hard-working scientists who debunk hoaxes, expose phony psychics, disprove urban myths and counter false "scientific" claims, Skepticality is a humorous, down-to-earth reality check. On the most recent program, hosts Derek and Swoopy interview evolutionary biologist Randy Olson, the filmmaker behind Flock of Dodos: the EvolutionIntelligent Design Circus. The show has explored how the skeptical community turns rational beliefs into concrete outreach and activist projects. It has "invaded" DragonCon, examined the number 5, and even taken on the debate over the environmental cost of drinking bottled water.
The Skepticality Web site posts an extensive list of notes and facts to accompany every podcast, and its links page boasts an extensive rundown of former guests, whose number includes James Randi, crop circle maker Tom Irving and an astronomer from the SETI Institute, Seth Shostak. The site boasts discussion forums and a chat roomthough both tend to be somewhat glitchywhere topics under discussion include a "Sci-Fi Pet Peeves" area (where people wax exasperated about scientific mistakes in SF media), a general film and TV forum, a series of limericks based on common logical fallacies, and forums for scientific, political and philosophical debates.
Skepticality is open-minded but never credulous, willing to examine just about any topic imaginable and equally ready to discredit the unprovable, irrational or simply far-fetched. "Truth in Podcasting" is the motto of this program, and though the show certainly has its moments of whimsy, truth is precisely what it tries to deliver.