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

Squaring the Strange

Release Date: 08/20/2021

Episode 224 - A Grab Bag of Springtime Skepticism show art Episode 224 - A Grab Bag of Springtime Skepticism

Squaring the Strange

We chat about several topics in the news recently, from a bright streak of burning space junk over Los Angeles to a very realistic crucifixion reenactment in the Philippines. Ben unravels a weeping Madonna story in the tabloids that also casts some shade on a prominent Italian skeptic, then he gives us his review of "Late Night with the Devil," set in the 1970s and complete with a nod to the late Amazing Randi. Pascual and Celestia talk about DEI's increasing role as a boogeyman, and try to figure out how some legislators seem to believe it brought down the Francis Scott Key Bridge. And we...

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Episode 223 - Deception Studies with Curt Anderson show art Episode 223 - Deception Studies with Curt Anderson

Squaring the Strange

After some current events involving Brazilian ex-president Bolsonaro, a new study on Havana Syndrome, and migrants with measles in Chicago, we are joined by Curt Anderson. A career magician turned academic researcher, Curt tells us about his pivot to deception studies. Piggybacking on our recent episode about Truth Default Theory, we explore more about how well humans (think we can) detect lies. What can a scientific approach to deception tell us about human communication, and what practical applications does the field have? We hit on many topics, from creating better magic shows to dissecting...

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Episode 222 - Modifying the Weather show art Episode 222 - Modifying the Weather

Squaring the Strange

First, Pascual and Celestia hit recent science news -- a sideways lunar landing, some male-on-male humpback whale action, and recent cell outages. Then Ben and Celestia look at weather modification, from prayer and superstition to very real cloud-seeding efforts. Though in practice almost everywhere for generations, this technology still surprises and confuses people, who lump it in with conspiracies about precise weather control by some all-powerful cabal . . . using a decommissioned array of antennas in Alaska?

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Episode 221 - What Giant Penguins Can Teach Us, with Daniel Loxton show art Episode 221 - What Giant Penguins Can Teach Us, with Daniel Loxton

Squaring the Strange

First, Ben and Celestia have several tidbits to discuss, from Micheal Mann's court win to chemtrails popping up in social media. Ben is watching another cult docuseries, and we get into the unfortunate trend of obituary pirating. For our main segment, we are joined by the delightful Daniel Loxton, illustrator, author, editor and longtime skeptic luminary. He takes us on a tour of the long-debunked story about a 15-foot penguin in Florida. But a simple debunking is only the surface of this tale, which has much to teach us about modern popular paranormal culture, the mixing of sci-comm with...

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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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We go on an exploration of 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 vibrations to raise his energy and he feels better now.)