Rogue astronomer!

By Phil Plait | September 1, 2010 2:00 pm

sgu_logoLast week I was honored to be a guest rogue on one of the premier critical thinking podcasts in the world: The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. Shockingly, we talked about "Bad Universe" but also UFOs, neutrinos, and I even tried my hand at Science or Fiction (I won’t spoil how I did, but apparently I suck at that quiz).

If you’re not subscribing to their podcast, you are most definitely missing out. It’s a lot of fun, and I bet you’ll learn something while you’re enjoying yourself.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Bad Universe, Skepticism

Comments (14)

  1. jcm

    … and zombies. BTW, I’m currently going through the entire podcast archive.

  2. You were called a rogue. What an honour. I think there should be a t-shirt or some sort of induction ceremony perhaps involving a goat, a paddle and the Stone Cutters.

  3. YK Lim

    Hi Phil,
    I was very interested to hear about Michio Kaku in the podcast, because I was glad to finally know I’m not the only one in the world who thinks M. Kaku is going against the spirit of skepticism.

    I knew by his reputation that he was a famous physicist, but by watching his TV appearances, writings and interviews, he seems to rub me the wrong way. I’m a physics grad student, and I felt that he was making claims beyond his expertise, and also “over-sensationalising” string theory, misrepresenting science in general.

    But my friends, who are his “fans”, disagreed with me, said that they were inspired to study physics because of him, he is awesome, yada yada… I have been wondering whether the things Kaku did was the correct way of popularizing science. That podcast has shed some light for me… so thanks Phil and SGU :D

  4. CW

    I enjoyed the episode, particularly the puns in the SoF segment.

  5. Chris A.

    @YK Lim (#3):
    To me, Michio Kaku is to science what Omni magazine was to Nature.

  6. alfaniner

    That’s the first podcast I ever heard. Unfortunately, it spoiled me because I thought all the other (non-SGU) ones would be equally as good. I’ve found a few others I like, though, and I have listened to the entire SGU archive.

  7. Taiga

    Neutrinos! Here’s a story for you, Phil. I’m from Sudbury, Canada, home of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO). Years ago (~1995) the paper ran a story about a local UFO enthusiast who claimed that the Sudbury region had a large number of visits from alien spaceships. One of the reasons he suggested for this was the presence of SNO. Maybe the aliens use neutrinos to power their spaceships and they come to Sudbury to stock up, he speculated. I showed the article to my physics prof, who was as amused as I was. He wrote a reply to the newspaper explaining that SNO just OBSERVES neutrinos, it doesn’t STORE them.

  8. YK Lim

    @Chris A. ah…I had to look up Omni magazine, but now I see what you mean.. I kinda agree.

    On the Kaku thing, around me I see lots of people who are hanging on to every word he says, enthusiastically sharing his articles/videos on Facebook, and they chose physics as a major because of him. I wonder if this is a good thing or a bad thing…

  9. Buzz Parsec

    @jcm, me too. If you see some guy walking around Fresh Pond arguing with his iPod, … (I just got to the one in Sept 05 with the guy from Junk Science arguing against AGW. He was ahead of the curve, saying “well, maybe it’s happening, but who’s to say it’s not GOOD?”)

  10. DreamDevil

    Gratz, Phil. SGU is by far the best podcast out there. I went through 250 eps from the archive before I caught up and now eagerly await every new episode.

  11. Sili

    Only heard half of it so far (ran out of washing up to do), but that neutrino/radioactive decay reminded me why I occasionally get infuriated with the SGU. Too much gushing and wild speculation and next to no attempt at getting some facts. They may know a lot about medicine and skepticism, but they can be such annoying fanbois when it comes to physics.

    Good on you for doubting these results, but even if you were ‘just’ a guest, I think you could have improved the episode by being a dick and telling them to shut up and get some data and expertise instead of going off the rails, dreaming of NEW PHYSICS ZOMG!

    They rightly mocked the “Darwin was wrong!” headline, yet they don’t see that this is nearly as much of a “Becquerel was wrong!” headline.

    /whining

  12. John Sandlin

    @ Chris A: Don’t tell me people read OMNI for science content! I read it for the science fiction… that’s pretty much how I took that whole magazine.

  13. RBH

    I just got a chance to listen to this one. I think you guys did Eliezer Yudkowsky a disservice. Let me repeat the quotation as it was read on the podcast:

    The correspondence between reality and my beliefs comes from reality controlling my beliefs, not the other way around.

    Isn’t that precisely what we want, that reality (empirical evidence, etc.) is important in controlling our beliefs about the world, rather than our beliefs controlling our perceptual construct of the world? The latter is the Answers in Genesis ‘we all use the same evidence, we just start from different presuppositions than the evolutionists’ argument.

    I’m afraid you perceptive skeptics missed that big-time. It was far from solipsism.

  14. RBH

    In fact, having thought about it whilst walking the dogs just now, it sure sounded to me that you all were being pretty dickish to Yudkowsky, laughing and giggling and calling him a solipsist, when what he said was exactly the reverse of solipsism. I suggest (since your mocking was in a public podcast) that you offer him a public apology.

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