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

Squaring the Strange

Release Date: 05/14/2021

Episode 157 - The Aztec UFO Crash with Dave Thomas show art Episode 157 - The Aztec UFO Crash with Dave Thomas

Squaring the Strange

First, we are skeptical of the media representations of vaccination "mandates," as well as chiropractors who believe spinally induced immunity can ward off covid. Then we're joined by Dave Thomas of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason (NMSR) to talk about Roswell's lesser-known cousin, the Aztec "Saucer Swindle." It has everything: greedy con men, gullible pulp authors and investors, rigged "doodlebug" gizmos, an intrepid reporter who knows some sleight-of-hand, and a trio of magnetic ships from Venus!

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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

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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.  

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We are joined by a surprise guest, 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 twenty years to a hot Indian summer in New Delhi, where reports of a mysterious and malevolent Monkey Man sent residents into a panic. Police and local skeptics were mobilized to combat this phantom in very different ways, as rewards, injuries, vigilante groups and media reports fueled public fear.