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Episode 126 - Strangeness Set in Stone: Mysterious Statues

Squaring the Strange

Release Date: 07/24/2020

Episode 167 - Bob Larson, the D-List Demon Dispatcher show art Episode 167 - Bob Larson, the D-List Demon Dispatcher

Squaring the Strange

We are joined by two guests who can share their experiences with televangelist and self-proclaimed exorcist Bob Larson. Alisa Yang has produced a short documentary, Sleeping with the Devil, about her Skype exorcism by Larson, and she shares insights into the communities that gave rise to such predatory figures. Then JD Sword discusses a Larson event he attended remotely that was advertised as the exorcism of a possessed doll. Both incidents have disturbing undercurrents that have nothing to do with the supernatural.

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Episode 166 - 2021 Skeptical Movie Roundup! show art Episode 166 - 2021 Skeptical Movie Roundup!

Squaring the Strange

As Oscar season approaches, we wanted to take some time to chat about movies we saw that either tripped our skeptical alarms or warmed our skeptical hearts. Some are major motion pictures like Don't Look Up, Nightmare Alley or even Disney's Encanto, but we discuss quite a few lesser known flicks on streaming services: Sasquatch, Seaspiracy, the The Lost Leonardo, and House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths. Tune in for our thoughts on these films and info on where you can see them. And boy do we have thoughts!

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Episode 165 - Moral Panic Series Part 4: LITERATURE AND COMIC DANGER! show art Episode 165 - Moral Panic Series Part 4: LITERATURE AND COMIC DANGER!

Squaring the Strange

In this final installment of our moral panic series, as well as our final episode of 2021, we go into various banned books, fears about literature's effect on "weaker minds," the hearings on comics and juvenile delinquency, and what makes a moral panic. Whether it's murders attributed to Catcher in the Rye or the big boss battle between Fredric Wertham and William Gaines, there's plenty of historical examples to draw from. Then Ben wraps up with some considerations (and criticisms) of moral panic theory.

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Episode 164 - Moral Panic Series Part 3: Film and TV Danger! show art Episode 164 - Moral Panic Series Part 3: Film and TV Danger!

Squaring the Strange

This penultimate episode in our moral panic series starts with a discussion of the TikTok worries that interrupted schools last week as authorities braced for possible gun violence. Then we talk cinema and television from old to new, and the themes in moral panicking that jump out repeatedly -- such as worrying about what the fragile minds of children or females might absorb, or copycat fears, or concerns about sex, violence, or low self-esteem.

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Episode 163 - Moral Panic series part 2: MUSIC DANGER! show art Episode 163 - Moral Panic series part 2: MUSIC DANGER!

Squaring the Strange

In part 2 of our 4-part series, we talk about moral panics in music history. Some will seem quaint to our modern ears, while others are a bit more recent. From jaunty tunes interfering with factory work in the 1940s to rock artists in the 1980s defending their lyrics in congressional hearings, we look at a long history of how parent's just don't understand their kids' music. And what does the future hold in terms of musical panics? Can we even begin to predict that?

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Episode 162 - Moral Panics Series Part 1: GAME DANGER! show art Episode 162 - Moral Panics Series Part 1: GAME DANGER!

Squaring the Strange

So this week we start by looking at the similarities between Q-Anon fans awaiting JFK Jr. and doomsday cults moving their predictions. Then we start our series on moral panics with an overview of what exactly constitutes a moral panic, moving into the many games and toys that have made parents and social guardians wring their hands. From Ouija boards to Twister to pinball all the way to first-person-shooters, we look at trajectories of quite a few games and how, in the end, panics make for great profits.

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Episode 161 - Magician Roundtable! show art Episode 161 - Magician Roundtable!

Squaring the Strange

First Tim Mendham from the Australian Skeptics pops in for a quick visit, then we sit down for a discussion with Vegas magicians Matt Donnelly, R.J. Owens, and Vinny Grosso. We learn about things like gospel magic; how they work "woo" like tarot or ESP into their acts; accidental interviews with James Randi; magic and morality; applying entertainment to skepticism; paranormal retroengineering; and the guilty pleasure of fooling an audience into believing--momentarily--that you have magical powers.  

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Episode 160 - The Entity with Kenny Biddle show art Episode 160 - The Entity with Kenny Biddle

Squaring the Strange

We meet up with investigator and photographic ghost evidence enthusiast Kenny Biddle to discuss The Entity -- a 1982 horror movie in the tradition of the 1970s and 1980s "based on a true story" fare. Content warning: we discuss a real, confirmed sexual assault briefly in the opener and then a purported supernatural sexual assault as depicted in the film. The Entity has a number of angles that teach lessons on how NOT to do a ghost investigation, and Ben and Kenny have a bit of a time picking through them.

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Ep. 159 - Havana Syndrome with Robert Bartholomew show art Ep. 159 - Havana Syndrome with Robert Bartholomew

Squaring the Strange

We all have a few skeptical nuggets to chat about this week, from zebras to the healing power of Satan worship to dangerous rumors. Then we are joined by Robert Bartholomew, mass hysteria expert and author of the book "Havana Syndrome: Mass Psychogenic Illness and the Real Story Behind the Embassy Mystery and Hysteria." He compares the current phenomenon to sociogenic illnesses of the past and then dissects some specifics that the press and the government got wrong.

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Episode 158 - Magic Cards: Decks of Divination and Deception show art Episode 158 - Magic Cards: Decks of Divination and Deception

Squaring the Strange

We begin on somber note, with the passing of friend and contributor Erik Kristopher Myers. Then we look at cards, and how they've been used to foretell, trick, amaze, deceive, and swindle. Learn how racism was "in the cards" for fortune tellers in the early 20th century, and how Tarot isn't as ancient as it seems. We discuss the rise and fall of Zener cards, and how quickly people adapted playing cards to trickery. And Sir Arthur Conan Doyle pops up more than once as we weave our way through card history!

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More Episodes

With statues being front and center in the news earlier this month, we decided to take a few tours of the stranger side of statues. From graveyard statues that take strolls when you're not looking to spooky statues that allegedly can't be photographed. Myths involving statues coming to life, or live people being turned to stone, is a rich vein of folklore that reaches forward even to our most recent pop culture. Ben recounts some cases he personally investigated of miraculous "weeping" statues, and then we cover statues as guerilla art pieces that appear mysteriously overnight as publicity stunts and political statements.