Podcast – are we alone?

September 4th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in onanism, podcast | 30 Comments »

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The search for extra terrestrial intelligence continues at SETI, but they also have an excellent podcast at:

radio.seti.org/

This week they had me on as a guest, and I have to say, I think we managed to have an extremely interesting discussion about the medicalisation of culture, risk, homeopathy, the placebo effect, nutritionism, politics, and stuff, in amongst the inevitable “wacky Dr Ben debunks” thing. I seriously recommend downloading the whole thing from the link below, as they have a lot of great guests on the show generally, but here’s my bit, and if you want to subscribe to all audio content on badscience.net as a podcast, just use this link.

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Take Eye of Newt and Call Me in the Morning

September 3, 2007

Listen to this show

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Show description

Eyeball Pills

Here’s an important health tip: cell phones fry your brain. Oh, wait. Cell phones are safe. But red wine is bad for you. Except in moderation, in which case it’s good. Also, magnets cure arthritis, coffee causes heart attacks, and rhino horn is an aphrodisiac (but only for rhinos).Sorting through the medical zeitgeist is enough to have you reaching for the aspirin, which, last we heard, is still used to treat headaches.

Join us as we separate sound medical science from the snake oil. Also, talk about getting away from it all: scientists induce out-of-body experiences in the lab. Plus, our Hollywood skeptic prepares us for television prognostication this fall with a “Viewer’s Guide to Seers.” And, Phil Plait finds out just what vacationing brains are up to.

It’s Skeptical Sunday… but don’t take our word for it!

Guests:

Badscience Podcast Subscribing:

Subscribe to all audio material on badscience.net with this link:

www.badscience.net/?feed=rss2

It’s the normal blog RSS feed but it should show all mp3 files as enclosures in the right way to make itunes etc understand.

There’s lots more audio to come soon.

Subscribe through iTunes here:

View in iTunes


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30 Responses



  1. Jools said,

    September 4, 2007 at 6:57 am

    Haven’t listened yet, but I doubt Ben can lay sole claim to the title ‘wacky Dr’ when he’s sharing a podcast with Susan Blackmore.

  2. doris said,

    September 4, 2007 at 8:09 am

    The point on fish oils is timely:firstly,it would seem to imply that social justice can be replaced by ‘therapy’..why bother about poverty and poor educational opprtunities when you can pop a ‘naturally’ derived pill?
    Secondly,fish populations are collapsing,so even were the assertions about omega oils to be substantiated,another source would need to be identified.Even then,the opportunities for yet more environmental damage would no doubt be plentiful.
    On homoeopathy,I have recently heard about a remedy which has been derived from a standing stone circle here in the west country.
    Finally,on an unrelated topic,Liverpool John Moores researchers have just established that rock stars frequently die in their youth.
    Fancy that!

  3. doris said,

    September 4, 2007 at 9:32 am

    I’ve posted a comment,but it doesn’t seem to have registered in the system.

  4. Despard said,

    September 4, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Awesome, you were on with Sue Blackmore and Phil Plait! Must listen to this later.

  5. jackpt said,

    September 4, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Cool, thanks Ben. I think you came across very well and explained without dumbing down, which is a neat trick.

  6. AitchJay said,

    September 4, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Excellent interview Ben, good work.

  7. monstermunch said,

    September 4, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Ben, why don’t you start doing your own podcast? There’s a bunch of science podcasts out there but many ignore bad science and don’t point out any flaws in any of the science they do report. For instance, the Guardian science podcast is good but rarely do they mention potential flaws in reports (e.g. Is string theory, the multiverse etc. useless because they are unfalsifiable? What were the controls, sample sizes etc. for medical studies? They do have a giggle at obvious garbage though). There’s a few “skeptic” podcasts, but they tend to focus more on paranormal stuff or are more US centric. I think there’s a place for a podcast highlighting bad science in UK journalism, how to spot it and what you can do about it.

    You could start by just reading out or talking about your weekly blog posts, playing recordings of interviews or presentations you’ve made and then you could move onto interviews with fellow skeptics and those involved in bad science reporting. There’s good material in the forums too. I think you’re a good presenter and I would certainly listen to what you produce. Once you get enough viewers, you can get some sponsored advertising. :-)

    These are a few I listen to at the moment:
    skeptoid.com/ www.quackcast.com/QuackCast/Welcome.html
    www.theskepticsguide.org/

  8. Ben Goldacre said,

    September 4, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    “Ben, why don’t you start doing your own podcast?”

    ha thanks. i’ve already got a huge amount of podcast material already recorded, with some great interviewees and more lined up, with some interesting surprises. i’m going to start posting them soon, and i’ve also got all the lectures and interviews i’ve ever done on mp3, which i’m going to start posting too. it’ll be a fun winter.

  9. ShatterFace said,

    September 4, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    TV needs a regular debunking slot. Something along the lines of ‘The Late Review’, but with less slappable presenters.

    The arts get plenty of coverage.

    ”doris said,
    September 4, 2007 at 9:32 am

    I’ve posted a comment,but it doesn’t seem to have registered in the system.”

    Same happens to me if I log out. Do your messages reappear when you log back in?

  10. doris said,

    September 4, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Hallo,ShatterFace,yes,the very same;I also have to keep asking the login to remember my password.
    Good practice,I guess.
    Regarding your debunking idea: perhaps Ben would do it,time permitting,alongside Patrick Moore,Richard Dawkins and a series of invited guests.

  11. doris said,

    September 4, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Just had another brainwave;why don’t we,the badscience collective ,hoodwink the Daily Mail?
    We could construct an anecdotal study,complete with small sample sizes,unfounded assertions and nebulous claims.
    I know a physicist in the US did this recently;I believe he debunked some postmodernist crap so successfully that when he subsequently identified himself he was accused of fraud.
    Am I right?
    We could supply testimonials from people like Derek Pacorah,the satellite psychic.
    Any takers?

  12. monstermunch said,

    September 4, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Ben said:
    “ha thanks. i’ve already got a huge amount of podcast material already recorded, with some great interviewees and more lined up, with some interesting surprises. i’m going to start posting them”

    I’m not sure if you mean post them on the website as an MP3 file or set up a podcast, but I think it would be really good idea in terms of how many listeners you could get to set up a podcast. I’ve not done one before, but it looks like you just set up a XML file with some basic data, fill in the names of your MP3 files and then post a link to iTunes and other podcast directories. Then we can tell all our friends to download it, you’ll soar up the charts and more people can know about bad science. :-)

  13. Ben Goldacre said,

    September 4, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    www.badscience.net/?feed=rss2

    should work fine

  14. Ben Goldacre said,

    September 4, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    if anyone knows how to get stuff listed in itunes etc, i’ve not had a chance to look at that yet, get in touch if you want to actually, you know, do it.

  15. hairnet said,

    September 4, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    it was all going so well until the poo comment. Maybe that was just a subtle nod to TAPL for those in the know ;-]

  16. sockatume said,

    September 4, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    doris: You’re thinking of Sokal’s outrageously effective hoax. Googling “Sokal hoax” should cover it.

  17. gadgeezer said,

    September 4, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Ah, have you lost the services of that remarkably competent Alex (?) who so calmly and efficiently changed over your servers etc. for you? Is there an Alex II who might handle the podcast stuff?

  18. Ben Goldacre said,

    September 4, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    hahah i feel a bit shy about asking alex to do eeeeverything. although he is very nice, and we did get quite drunk recently. not sure he’s the man for listing podcasts on itunes, more of a server god.

  19. Sili said,

    September 4, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    I don’t normally listen to podcast (not having a pod an’ all), but I recently discovered The Bad Astronomer (from Pharyngula which in turn was lined here – for those keeping tabs) and I had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Blackmore ‘perform’ in Bath a coupla years ago.

    So I’ll prolly gives this one a chance with that impressive line-up.

  20. monstermunch said,

    September 4, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    Here’s a guide for getting a podcast on itunes:
    www.apple.com/itunes/store/podcaststechspecs.html

    You just need your XML in the right format and for you to submit it. There’s loads of other podcast sites that will put you in their directories too.

    Your current XML file is suitable for RSS feeds for keeping up with your articles but not as a podcast feed. The podcast feed should only have entries for MP3 files with things like a summary for each file. As you are linking directly to the MP3 file and not an article this way, music software knows where to download the podcast from.

  21. Ben Goldacre said,

    September 4, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    works for me in itunes, but if anyone wants to make a better one, great.

  22. monstermunch said,

    September 5, 2007 at 4:17 am

    Works for me as well in my music/podcast player (Amarok). I didn’t see the MP3 tags that had been added to the most recent post; I thought it was all just links and text to the main articles.

  23. Steevl said,

    September 5, 2007 at 9:05 am

    Hmmm, that Apple guide is a bit dense. The gist for the lazy is, open iTunes Store, click Podcasts, then Submit a Podcast (bottom of left column).

  24. doris said,

    September 5, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you to sockatume for tip on Sokal.I went from there to reading about the Schon scandal,which has yet to be resolved apparently.
    Fascinating stuff;is there scope on this site for reporting,and discussion,of fraudulent,as well as bad science?
    Any opinions?
    I found the accounts of fraud and controversy engrossing.

  25. projektleiterin said,

    September 6, 2007 at 11:51 am

    I liked the interview. I thought he would sound a bit more British though (which is a cute accent).

  26. projektleiterin said,

    September 6, 2007 at 11:53 am

    That sounds weird what I have just written, I meant to say, the British accent sounds cute.

  27. toomanytribbles said,

    September 6, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    i heard the podcast this afternoon — well done!

    plus.. you might want to check your SETI link.

  28. Dr T said,

    September 6, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    I spent an enjoyable hour listening to the podcast while crunching some numbers.
    I was fascinated by the whole placebo thing: why is it that green tablets are more efficacious than red? Why does medecine not employ placebo effect more explicitly? If a drug worked better with a green coating could it be administered at a lower dose? it just seems perverse to pay homeopaths good money for this when it could be incorporated into evidence based medicine? Wow – that was a lot of questions….

  29. Robert Carnegie said,

    September 6, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    28, “you might want to check your SETI link.”

    People of Earth, you’ve got mail? Don’t doubt accupuncture, the flying saucer men who taught it to the ancient Egyptians were all qualified nutritionists? Richard Dawkins is an agent of the Mysterons? The human race left its car lights on?

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