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Episode 102 - Alienstock, Joker Fears, Homicidal Dwarves, and the Ica Stones

Squaring the Strange

Release Date: 10/04/2019

Episode 114 - The Minnesota Iceman with Ron Pine show art Episode 114 - The Minnesota Iceman with Ron Pine

Squaring the Strange

Ben and Celestia discuss one of the most memorable fakes in Bigfoot history: a side-show exhibit that ended up the center of multiple origin stories, a tale about a reclusive California millionaire, and a possible homicide. Dr. Ron Pine, zoologist and former curator at the Smithsonian, tells us about what it was like to see the Patterson-Gimlin footage as well as the Minnesota Iceman for the first time, from the point of view of a scientist reviewing "evidence" from hopeful Bigfoot enthusiasts.

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Episode 113 - Coronavirus (COVID-19) Myths & Misinfo, Plus a Virus Lesson from Doctor Dan show art Episode 113 - Coronavirus (COVID-19) Myths & Misinfo, Plus a Virus Lesson from Doctor Dan

Squaring the Strange

Due to the late-breaking nature of the Wuhan/novel coronavirus (now officially named COVID-19), Ben discusses the latest misinfo in terms of recurring folklore, distrust of foreigners, and the psychology of why people grasp for simple memes over complex medical science. Then special guest Doctor Dan Ketterer goes over some of the nuances of viruses and how we treat them. There's a lot we don't yet know about COVID-19, but the public health measures should be making us feel safer, not create more panic.

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Episode 112 - Literary Hoaxes, part 1 of ? show art Episode 112 - Literary Hoaxes, part 1 of ?

Squaring the Strange

The field of literary hoaxes is rich indeed! Ben discusses "misery lit," stories of a victimhood: She Said Yes and Go Ask Alice are two prominent examples of teenage martyrdom that aren't what they seem. Celestia summarizes a 19th-century newspaper hoax involving randy bat-people on the moon, and we break down some cultural factors. Ben ends with a heart-wrenching literary version of Munchausen by proxy and the puzzling search for a very popular (and very ill) boy, one that moved both Oprah and Mr. Rogers.

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Episode 111 - The Mothman show art Episode 111 - The Mothman

Squaring the Strange

Ben recounts his investigation into the Mothman, first spotted in the 1960s in West Virginia. We discuss his trip there to research the creature for a German TV show. Like many cryptids, Mothman has gone through several incarnations, from men-in-black conspiracies to Native American curses. And what do Point Pleasant residents think of their hometown monster, who brings with him a museum and annual festival? From its glowing red eyes to its comic book abs and grey wings, we examine what makes Mothman tick.

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Episode 110 - The Head Show show art Episode 110 - The Head Show

Squaring the Strange

This is a long one, and be advised that this episode contains some grisly details. Ben and Celestia go on a sometimes quirky, sometimes bone-shivering tour of heads (or lack thereof). We have headless or multi-headed creatures in folklore, conjoined twinning, Miracle Mike the headless chicken, experiments on heads fresh from the guillotine, the Frozen head of Walt Disney, and shrunken heads. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of heads.

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Penis Castles, Teletubby Purses, and Suicidal Larpers show art Penis Castles, Teletubby Purses, and Suicidal Larpers

Squaring the Strange

We are joined by Erik Kristopher Myers to discuss a particular sort of easter egg: "hidden subversive elements" hidden in kids' entertainment, by a perverse animator or some sinister coalition bent on corrupting kids. There is a cottage industry of hiding filth in Disney cartoons--whether real, imagined, or hoaxed. And rumored dangers in D&D both plagued and popularized the once-obscure RPG. From pareidolia to pranks to the people who wring hands over such dangers, we break down some memorable legends.

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Episode 108 - Dangers and Consequences of Ghost Hunting show art Episode 108 - Dangers and Consequences of Ghost Hunting

Squaring the Strange

We are joined by Kenny Biddle, east coast paranormal investigator and skeptic, to discuss the darker side of ghost hunting. Not a demonic dark side, but real-world consequences. Things like trespassing dangers, costs to historical sites, loss of life and limb, and the mangling of personal histories and reputations. Ben and Kenny bring examples from their previous investigations, and Kenny shares some info he dug up on the "witch" behind the Conjuring house hauntings, from the Ed and Lorraine Warrenverse.

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Episode 107 - Crystal Skullduggery show art Episode 107 - Crystal Skullduggery

Squaring the Strange

Fresh from a caricature convention, heads full of pareidolia, Ben and Celestia discuss a few recent things and then dig into crystal skulls. Can we trust what Dan Ayrkroyd tells us on his vodka bottle? Are there really 13 of these ancient and powerful relics? What is the Skull of Doom, and does it baffle scientists? These skulls provide a fascinating look into rewritten histories and the power of priming. We even look at a lawsuit against Steven Spielberg involving Indiana Jones' cinematic crystal skulls.

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Episode 106 - Leo Igwe on Modern Witchcraft Accusations show art Episode 106 - Leo Igwe on Modern Witchcraft Accusations

Squaring the Strange

Dr. Leo Igwe joins us to discuss the dangers posed by so-called "witch hunters" in Africa today: from the entrenched nature of magical beliefs to the complicated power structure that props up those who accuse others of witchcraft. Islam and Christianity now mix with traditional beliefs; witch hunters are often pastors or church leaders. Victims are typically the elderly, disabled, or children. Dr. Igwe also talks of the challenges of getting the message to international agencies such as the UN.  

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Episode 105 - Pop Culture and Music in the Shadow of the Satanic Panic show art Episode 105 - Pop Culture and Music in the Shadow of the Satanic Panic

Squaring the Strange

The Satanic Panic is rife with skeptical angles, and for this episode we limit ourselves to a look back at the cultural feel of the 80s and early 90s and some seminal court cases that brought musicians to court to defend their craft. Along the way we reminisce about D&D, Geraldo, and Sony walkmans. The panic led to theatrical bands embracing demonic imagery further, sometimes seriously. Today, Satanic metal is almost a quaint cliché and real-life Satanists resemble Shriners more than they do boogeymen. 

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More Episodes

We begin with a longer-than-usual opening segment (because gosh darn it, a lot happened). Ben recounts his latest TV appearance and chupacabra follow-up. The AlienStock / Storm Area 51 thing happened, or tried to happen. And two movies open this week that are unsettling audiences due to clown content--one of the films contains Ben! Lastly, we take a cursory look at a tabloid story that mirrors the film Orphan. Then, for the last half of the episode, Ben takes us on a deep dive into the Ica Stones, a hoax wrapped in a riddle tucked into a quaint little museum-shrine in Peru. What impressed a doctor so much that he gave up medicine to collect these peculiar little tchotchkes, believing them to be proof of aliens, or a Biblical young earth, or both?