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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 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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Episode 147 - Brian Regal and the Secret History of the Jersey Devil show art Episode 147 - Brian Regal and the Secret History of the Jersey Devil

Squaring the Strange

First, Pascual notices an uptick in unrelated, inflammatory Facebook threads in the wake of the Chauvin trial, and we get a refresher on troll-spotting. Then Prof. Brian Regal joins us to look at the complicated social history of the Jersey Devil. There's more to this creature than meets the eye, and Brian helps us unravel the seeds of American independence, the religious persecution and the misogyny behind the legend. We also hear about a very unfortunate kangaroo and a band of armed sideshow performers.

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Episode 146 - 666, the Number / Mark of the Beast show art Episode 146 - 666, the Number / Mark of the Beast

Squaring the Strange

Ben looks into a TikTok panic about abductions in Target stores, then we discuss the Mark of the Beast and the Number of the Beast. From ambiguous or invisible marks on accused witches to ways our technology "marks" our commerce, the fears of some 666-fearing individuals have been going on a while. Masks and the Covid-19 vaccine are merely the latest things to be labelled as such. Pascual rounds us out with Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast" and how various bands used 666 as Satanic showmanship.

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Episode 145 - Bottomless Pits and Spooky Geology with Sharon Hill show art Episode 145 - Bottomless Pits and Spooky Geology with Sharon Hill

Squaring the Strange

First we chat about Lil Nas X's "satanic shoes" and some litigation against a Las Vegas alkaline water company. Then geologist, author, and all-around critical thinker Sharon Hill joins us to talk bottomless holes and the monsters that dwell in them! She brings all sorts of spooky geology, from boreholes to quicksand to the idea of a hollow earth.

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Episode 144 - Prof. Jeannie Banks Thomas and the SLAP test show art Episode 144 - Prof. Jeannie Banks Thomas and the SLAP test

Squaring the Strange

We begin with news of a "cursed" guitar. Then folklorist Prof. Jeannie Banks Thomas joins us to talk about her "SLAP" test for questionable online content. It might save you a bunch of embarrassment, as well as help make social media a bit more factual. SLAP stands for scare, logistics, A-listers, and prejudice, four elements that are big red flags for folklorists in identifying rumors and legends. We end with a discussion of the strangeness that surrounds Denver International Airport.

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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.