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Episode 154 - Fishy, Fraudulent Food

Squaring the Strange

Release Date: 08/06/2021

Episode 175 - Dangers of DIY Baby Formula and Herbal Abortions show art Episode 175 - Dangers of DIY Baby Formula and Herbal Abortions

Squaring the Strange

Ben announces the release of his new book, "America the Fearful," and then Celestia takes over for a main segment inspired by current events. While we hope these fears turn out to be unfounded, there is much worry presently about parents turning to DIY recipes for baby formula amid the nationwide shortage. Another looming fear is that many lives will be lost to unsafe abortion practices if access is restricted -- herbal abortions share many features with other forms of alternative medicine, but with highly toxic abortifacients the stakes are very high. We look into the history and folklore of...

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Episode 174 - A Musical History of the Devil show art Episode 174 - A Musical History of the Devil

Squaring the Strange

After a few words on current events, Pascual takes us on a tour of tales about Old Scratch influencing music. Whether he's giving free violin lessons, defending himself in court, or even hanging out with Anton LaVey and Sammy Davis Jr., the devil has a longstanding relationship with music of all types.

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Episode 173 - Alien Implants show art Episode 173 - Alien Implants

Squaring the Strange

After some excitement over the release of Science Friction, and Ben's discussion of Huggy Wuggy, we talk about alien implants. No, it's not just about probing jokes. We go into the multiple factors that lead people to think aliens have implanted some kind of technology into them, and what reasons aliens are thought to have for doing so, as well as how useful such implants would really be. Memory, biology, and good old cultural context all come into play.

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Episode 172 - Stigmata and Stigmatics show art Episode 172 - Stigmata and Stigmatics

Squaring the Strange

After a brief diversion about who slapped who at that big pop culture event recently, we look into a much, much different vein of show business. Get it? Vein? Seriously though, what makes people bleed from their hands and other places, allegedly spontaneously, in a replication of Christ's wounds? How many people have become known for this peculiar blessing, and how do they profit from it exactly? We'll discuss miracles versus Munchausen, fakery versus pious frauds, as well as other explanations for the affliction, and Ben recounts his visit with a bona fide stigmatic (as she was advertised,...

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Episode 171 - Deathbed Confessions, Real and Rumored show art Episode 171 - Deathbed Confessions, Real and Rumored

Squaring the Strange

After a few thoughts on Daylight Savings Time, we discuss a short list of purported deathbed confessions. The last words of a consequential figure can be hijacked or twisted to fit agenda -- or, sometimes, it's not just the words that are made up, it's the person too. From cautionary tales to urban legends, deathbed confessions are a peculiar branch of the folklore tree. There are also very real deathbed confessions that have solved mysteries, revealed crimes, or reversed a long-held position. Join us as we look into a few.

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Episode 170 - Pet Psychics and Psychic Pets show art Episode 170 - Pet Psychics and Psychic Pets

Squaring the Strange

After a brief discussion on the recent jailbreak (rock break?) of a Japanese nine-tailed demon, and some thoughts on war rumors and viral stories coming out of Ukraine, we talk about people who think they can talk to animals. Or people who think their animal can talk to them -- psychically, of course. From a lost champion purebreed to a thoroughly tested terrier in the UK, we go over a few examples and our thoughts on the matter.

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Episode 169 - Levitation and the Indian Rope Trick (with Prof. Richard Wiseman) show art Episode 169 - Levitation and the Indian Rope Trick (with Prof. Richard Wiseman)

Squaring the Strange

From superheroes to saints to trumpets, the idea of things seeming to float inexplicably in the air certainly captures our imagination. First Ben takes us through a history of levitation--as a sign of possession or piety, then as purported by Spiritualist mediums, and then as a side-effect of meditation. Celestia discusses some technological ways humans have found to levitate themselves or objects, using the magic of magnetism or air friction. And then Prof. Richard Wiseman joins us to delve into the mysterious Indian Rope Trick, which has a lot to teach us about psychology, memory,...

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Episode 168 - Sex Urban Legends (with opener guest Russ Dobler) show art Episode 168 - Sex Urban Legends (with opener guest Russ Dobler)

Squaring the Strange

First, all the way from New York City Skeptics, Russ Dobler drops in to tell us about AIPT Comic's skepticism month -- and we also chat about Joe Rogan and Ivermectin. Then our main topic is sex urban legends, a field so fertile it's a veritable cornucopia of naughty, forbidden, lurid, or merely humiliating tales that someone swears happened to a friend's cousin's boss's uncle. From Lemmiwinks the gerbil to the poor woman impregnated by a Civil War bullet, we dive into stories old and new about a topic people never seem to tire of.

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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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More Episodes

We run down a history of food fraud that stretches back to ancient Rome, and continues today in supermarkets and restaurants just about everywhere. From honey product to not-so-virgin olive oil to horse disguised as beef, there's been a consistent push by food purveyors to bump up profits by way of a pinch of adulteration and a tablespoon of substitution. To dig into the most common form of food fraud, namely seafood, we are joined by expert D. G. Webster, author of two books on global fisheries and the economics of the seafood chain. Dr. Webster has a keen interest in seafood fraud and can untangle the nuances of what drives such fraud as well as who is harmed by it.