Podcasts for Starting out in Skepticism

16 Jun

by Benjamen Johnson

A topic that often comes up at skeptics meetings is: “What podcasts are good for somebody starting out in skepticism?” or a variation thereof. There are probably hundreds of podcasts that are skeptical in nature, more if you include the science podcasts, but if you want to find out more about skepticism, I have three general skepticism podcast recommendations.

In some particular order that only makes sense to me:

The Skeptics Guide to the Universe: One of the grand-daddies of skeptical podcasts, the SGU covers skeptical news items, interviews people related to skepticism — or occasionally non-skeptics, and most famously plays the game Science or Fiction.

My first skeptical podcast, I started out listening to an episode of The SGU because they were interviewing Dr. Phil Plait about bad science in movies, I enjoyed the show so much that I went back and caught up on all their past episodes. I like the SGU because it almost feels like you’re listening to a skeptical conversation at the pub, rather than a scripted show.

Meet the Skeptics: You go to a skeptics meeting and people will talk about a lot of skeptics you’ve never heard of. Chris Brown’s podcast is the solution. In Meet the Skeptics, he interviews a different skeptical “celebrity” each week. He doesn’t assume that you already know who the person is and his interviews usually give you a pretty good background.

Skeptoid: Skeptoid is a weekly podcast that focuses on a just single issue per podcast. They tend to run about 10 to 15 minutes long and are generally well researched.

It’s somewhat of a joke in the skeptical community about how Brian Dunning starts his podcast — “You’re listening to Skeptoid, I’m Brian Dunning from Skeptoid.com,” a lot of people think he’s being vain, and he could be, but in an older podcast he explained that he originally didn’t mention his name, but felt it was important to own up to what he was publishing.

One podcast that’s curiously absent from my list is Skepticality. Although it was the first skeptical podcast and it is highly recommended by many skeptics, I’ve tried listening to it many times and just can’t get into it. So try as I might I can’t recommend it.

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