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Episode 132 - Pop Music Plagiarism, from Vanilla Ice to Alien Globolinks

Squaring the Strange

Release Date: 10/15/2020

Episode 220 - You are gonna believe this: Truth Default Theory show art Episode 220 - You are gonna believe this: Truth Default Theory

Squaring the Strange

After some chit-chat about vaccine misinfo on X and "phrogging" on Netflix, the gang tackles truth default theory. Coined by researcher Timothy Levine, truth default theory explains that human beings generally believe what we're told. Why? This seemingly simple concept plays a part in anchoring bias, first impressions, stereotypes, confirmation bias, and why it's so difficult to change one's beliefs. The "truth bias" is a blind spot that we need to be aware of, especially as skeptics, because although people aren't great at figuring out when they're being lied to, people THINK they can spot a...

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Episode 219 - Ai yie yie! AI Roundtable with Kyle Polich show art Episode 219 - Ai yie yie! AI Roundtable with Kyle Polich

Squaring the Strange

We've had this scheduled for a while, but this week AI popped up in the news twice, impersonating George Carlin and Joe Biden, so what better time for a skeptical look at artificial intelligence! Kyle Polich of the long-running Data Skeptic Podcast joins Ben, Celestia and Pascual to talk about different sorts of AI. From generative AI threatening writers and artists to the kind of AI that can help scammers manipulate people -- or even put human lives in peril if it goes wrong. How much of an AI panic are we witnessing right now, and what sort of impact will it really have on our society, our...

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Episode 218 - Requiem for Bigfoot show art Episode 218 - Requiem for Bigfoot

Squaring the Strange

Quite a few news topics hit our skeptical radar this week, from Disney's copyright expiration on Mickey to an industrious Welsh mouse (no relation), to a 10-foot-tall alien in Miami and Ben's bittersweet discovery in a Barnes and Noble. Then our main topic is an overview of Bigfoot -- the biggest, footiest member of the cryptid family. Ben gives a summary of first appearances, evidence from the Patterson-Gimlin film to supposed DNA, ret-conning of native legends, and Bigfoot's role in democratizing science over the decades. What's our furry friend been up to in the 21st century though? We go...

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Episode 217 - Dark Play with Libby Tucker show art Episode 217 - Dark Play with Libby Tucker

Squaring the Strange

For our last episode of the year, after Ben lists his upcoming appearances and a nice book accolade, and after Celestia discusses "Skibidi Toilet Syndrome," we speak with Prof. Libby Tucker about dark play. Existing in the liminal spaces of childhood, forbidden yet alluring, dark play takes many forms. Rituals, tests of bravery or belief, chants and rhymes, breathing control games -- all exist as a means for children to test boundaries and take control of otherwise overwhelming concepts. Mortality is a common theme, as only recently have children come to be relatively shielded from death. It...

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Episode 216 - Absinthe, Murder and Panic show art Episode 216 - Absinthe, Murder and Panic

Squaring the Strange

After some discussion on a recent shooting in Las Vegas, Alex Jones being let back onto Twitter/X, and Napoleon's height, we dive into a look back at Absinthe. This exotic liquor has a surprisingly rich history filled with danger, exaggeration, fraud and propaganda. From it's supposed creativity-enhancing powers to its effect of bringing about madness and hallucinations, we go for a strange little journey into the evolution of the green fairy.

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Episode 215 - Dallas Zoo Animal Disappearances, with Kristina Downs show art Episode 215 - Dallas Zoo Animal Disappearances, with Kristina Downs

Squaring the Strange

First Ben and Celestia discuss genetically modified potatoes, cougar kitties, and cocaine hippos. Then we are joined by Dr. Kristina Downs of the Texas Folklore Society to talk about a curious case that occurred in January 2023. A series of incidents at the Dallas Zoo escalated from a wandering clouded leopard to a critically endangered vulture turning up dead and a pair of kidnapped monkeys. Along the way we have parody Twitter accounts, cat humor, digs on local nuisances, and rumors of what's REALLY going on at the zoo -- in other words, folklore and conspiracy theories. Then, when the...

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Episode 214 - Gargoyles! show art Episode 214 - Gargoyles!

Squaring the Strange

Ben and Celestia discuss conspiracies, real and unreal, the conspiracy-backed arguments from a high-profile defense lawyer, a superconductor article retraction, and Barbra's opinion on the Streisand Effect. Then, gargoyles! How do these imposing gothic carvings differ from grotesques, and what do they do -- both functionally and symbolically? Who can see them so high up, and are hidden messages really carved into some of them? We learn about the guttural (literally) sense of humor on display in medieval times, and the possible connection gargoyles have to an ancient tradition of "gurning," or...

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Episode 214 - Gargoyles! show art Episode 214 - Gargoyles!

Squaring the Strange

Ben and Celestia discuss conspiracies, real and unreal, the conspiracy-backed arguments from a high-profile defense lawyer, a superconductor article retraction, and Barbra's opinion on the Streisand Effect. Then, gargoyles! How do these imposing gothic carvings differ from grotesques, and what do they do -- both functionally and symbolically? Who can see them so high up, and are hidden messages really carved into some of them? We learn about the guttural (literally) sense of humor on display in medieval times, and the possible connection gargoyles have to an ancient tradition of "gurning," or...

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Episode 213 - Gef the Talking Mongoose, with Sharon Hill show art Episode 213 - Gef the Talking Mongoose, with Sharon Hill

Squaring the Strange

First, Celestia goes over her high points and low points of CSI Con 2023, then we move on to a few tidbits Ben came across. Sharon Hill joins us again, this time for a main segment on Gef the talking mongoose, a celebrity on the Isle of Man back in the 1930s. A new movie delves into (and somewhat mangles) the mystery, featuring Simon Pegg as Nandor Fodor and Christopher Lloyd as Harry Price. The "mystery" of Gef tapdances around so many facets of Forteana... a talking animal, "earth spirit," clairvoyance, poltergeists, psychic manifestations, and a clever young girl with time on her hands....

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Episode 212 - The Rise and Fall of Slenderman, with Andrea Kitta show art Episode 212 - The Rise and Fall of Slenderman, with Andrea Kitta

Squaring the Strange

First we discuss a few skepticism-adjacent current events: the recent Colorado train spotting of Bigfoot, RFK Jr.'s bid for the presidency, and a new lawsuit naming "Sound of Freedom" hero Tim Ballard as a sexual predator who paid a psychic to help groom his victims. Then we dive into Slenderman, or "Slendy" as his friends know him. Professor Andrea Kitta, contributor to "Slender Man Is Coming" (Utah State University Press, 2018), brings her public health and folklore knowledge to bear on this created cryptid, born of photoshop in the pre-AI days and raised on the pent-up rage of cyberbullied...

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More Episodes

In this episode Pascual takes the helm and brings us some audio goodies to puzzle over. Several lawsuits have resulted over pop songs that are too similar to each other, and while some are cut and dry, others tread into that weird, philosophical territory of "what is originality, anyway?" Are we all a necessary, determinate product of our creative influences? Are notes but simple ingredients that can only be combined a certain number of ways, so we should expect recurrent themes in music on a cyclical basis? We go from pop music to the much, much older operas and even Gregorian chants, to look at the "universality" of particular note combinations that are recycled endlessly without most listeners ever knowing it. Plus, alien music!