loader from loading.io

Episode 120 - Emery Emery on Science Friction

Squaring the Strange

Release Date: 05/01/2020

Episode 156 - Thylacines with Folklorist Daisy Ahlstone show art Episode 156 - Thylacines with Folklorist Daisy Ahlstone

Squaring the Strange

Folklorist Daisy Ahlstone shares some facts, folklore, and even furry art celebrating the thylacine, also known as the Tasmanian tiger. Declared extinct in the 20th century, this creature exists now somewhere between relic and cryptid. It's image went through a complete overhaul, at one time feared and hunted by colonists, yet now revered and domesticated through artwork and role-playing. Ahlstone discusses the commodification of the species, from hunting bounties to gaffed specimens to logos and tourism.

info_outline
Episode 155 - The Soothing Sounds of Woo: Vibrational and Sound Healing show art Episode 155 - The Soothing Sounds of Woo: Vibrational and Sound Healing

Squaring the Strange

We explore the somewhat recent trend of trying to heal, calm, or "raise the vibrations" of human beings by means of sound therapy. While sound does have some real medical applications, there's also a concert of woo awaiting the unwary consumer. From singing bowls to tuning forks, it's a web of conflicting benefits, sketchy profit streams, and turgid pseudoscientific jargon that made even Ben's head hurt a little. (But we played some harmonic quantum vibrations to raise his energy and he feels better now.)

info_outline
Episode 154 - Fishy, Fraudulent Food show art Episode 154 - Fishy, Fraudulent Food

Squaring the Strange

We examine a history of food fraud stretching back to ancient Rome and continuing today in markets and restaurants everywhere. From honey to virgin olive oil to horse meat, there's a consistent push to bump up profits with a pinch of adulteration and a tablespoon of substitution, especially in the seafood industry. We are joined by D.G. Webster, author of two books on the economics and governance of the seafood chain. Dr. Webster can untangle the nuances of what drives such fraud as well as who it harms.

info_outline
Episode 153 - Brian Regal Talks Pseudoscience and Pseudohistory show art Episode 153 - Brian Regal Talks Pseudoscience and Pseudohistory

Squaring the Strange

After some thoughts on the resurgence of dowsing, we sit down with Professor Brian Regal once more, this time to talk about his encyclopedia of pseudoscience. Regal brings his experience teaching critical thinking and history to bear on the topic, and we look at how confirmation bias leads to weaponizing fringe theories.

info_outline
Episode 152 - Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot: Spontaneous Human Combustion show art Episode 152 - Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot: Spontaneous Human Combustion

Squaring the Strange

We tackle one of the grand old traditions in weirdness--spontaneous human combustion (SHC), the phenomenon wherein your loved one goes POOF so quickly and inexplicably that little is left but a pile of ash and some extremities. Ben discusses the heyday of these strange deaths and what they all had in common. We go over some purported cases and some folkloric fabrication, and Celestia looks up some 19-century skirts to see why fashion may have played a part in the cultural memories that solidified into SHC.

info_outline
Episode 151 - Mick West and UFO video analysis show art Episode 151 - Mick West and UFO video analysis

Squaring the Strange

Mick West joins us to talk about the recent flap of UFO sightings and media interest. Major outlets are giving airtime to unexplained lights in the sky and evidence that the government takes an interest in such phenomena. Mick lays out categories UFOs can be sorted into on his Metabunk.org forum, and explains why journalists take UFOs more seriously than some other conspiracy ideas. He also goes into funding allocated by Senator Harry Reid a few years ago to look into these mysterious lights.

info_outline
Episode 150 - Mysterious Masked Musicians show art Episode 150 - Mysterious Masked Musicians

Squaring the Strange

Pascual leads us on a romp through the myriad masked musicians of our time (and a few before our time), and we discuss the reasons why some performers prefer to go incognito--sometimes through their entire careers. We start with a legendary Parisian performer who was brought to life by a writer who drew on current rumors and ghost lore. Then, from the Residents to Buckethead and even urban legends about Dolly Parton, we answer the burning question of who can go to Target and not be recognized?

info_outline
Episode 149 - The Beast of Gévaudan with Jay Smith show art Episode 149 - The Beast of Gévaudan with Jay Smith

Squaring the Strange

First we have a special guest SWAYSO participant join us to discuss a Covid-19 vaccine rumor going around. Then historian Jay Smith brings us the frightening tale of the Beast of Gévaudan, a story that sprung up around dozens of gruesome killings in a remote region of 18th-century France. As with all folklore, the tale was influenced by trends in journalism, science and the power structures of the day. What do church records, letters, and records from the enormous organized hunts to find this beast tell us

info_outline
Episode 148 - Steak-Umms' tweets of reason, and the 2001 Monkey Man Panic! show art Episode 148 - Steak-Umms' tweets of reason, and the 2001 Monkey Man Panic!

Squaring the Strange

We are joined by the critical thinker behind the Steak-Umms popular brand voice (aka Nathan Allebach), who talks to us about targeting misinformation as a PR strategy, managing viral posts, and the brand's recent dustup with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Then Ben brings us back in time to New Delhi, where a mysterious Monkey Man sent residents into a panic twenty years ago. Police and local skeptics were mobilized to combat this phantom, as rewards, injuries, vigilante groups and media reports fueled fear.  

info_outline
Episode 147 - Brian Regal and the Secret History of the Jersey Devil show art Episode 147 - Brian Regal and the Secret History of the Jersey Devil

Squaring the Strange

First, Pascual notices an uptick in unrelated, inflammatory Facebook threads in the wake of the Chauvin trial, and we get a refresher on troll-spotting. Then Prof. Brian Regal joins us to look at the complicated social history of the Jersey Devil. There's more to this creature than meets the eye, and Brian helps us unravel the seeds of American independence, the religious persecution and the misogyny behind the legend. We also hear about a very unfortunate kangaroo and a band of armed sideshow performers.

info_outline
 
More Episodes

First, Ben, Celestia, and Pascual discuss a few pandemic-related things that set off some skeptical alarms over social media this past week. Then we are joined by Southern California-based comedian and film editor Emery Emery to talk about his soon-to-be-released project with Brian Dunning. With the help of many science communicators and experts (Ben himself among them), Emery and Dunning have crafted a documentary called Science Friction, revealing the myriad ways experts have been manipulated, maligned, and misrepresented by producers of questionable documentaries.