Pascual Romero public
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So this week we start by looking at the similarities between Q-Anon fans awaiting JFK Jr. in Dallas and doomsday cults moving their predictions. Then we start our series on moral panics with an overview of what exactly constitutes a moral panic, moving into the many games and novelty items that have caused parents and social guardians to wring thei…
 
First Tim Mendham from the Australian Skeptics pops in for a quick visit, then we sit down for a discussion with Vegas magicians Matt Donnelly, R.J. Owens, and Vinny Grosso. Each of them has a perspective on magic and skepticism, and we learn about things like gospel magic; how some of them work "woo" like tarot or ESP into their acts; accidental i…
 
We meet up with investigator and photographic ghost evidence enthusiast Kenny Biddle to discuss The Entity -- a 1982 horror movie in the tradition of the 1970s and 1980s "based on a true story" fare. Content warning, this episode discusses a real, confirmed sexual assault briefly in the opener and then a purported supernatural sexual assault as dep…
 
We all have a few skeptical nuggets to chat about this week, from zebras to the healing power of Satan worship to dangerous rumors. Then we are joined by Robert Bartholomew, mass hysteria expert and author of the book "Havana Syndrome: Mass Psychogenic Illness and the Real Story Behind the Embassy Mystery and Hysteria." He compares the current phen…
 
We begin on somber note, with the passing of friend and contributor Erik Kristopher Myers, who will be greatly missed. Then we take a close look at cards, and how they have been used to foretell, trick, amaze, deceive, and swindle. Learn how racism was "in the cards" for fortune tellers in the early 20th century, and how Tarot seems to be ancient a…
 
First, Ben and Celestia are skeptical of the media representations of vaccination "mandates," as well as chiropractors who believe spinally induced immunity can ward off diseases like covid. Then we are joined by Dave Thomas of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason (NMSR) to talk about Roswell's lesser-known cousin crash, the Aztec "Saucer Swindl…
 
Folklorist and self-described "enthusiasm enthusiast" Daisy Ahlstone shares some facts, folklore, and even furry art celebrating the thylacine, also known as the Tasmanian tiger, which was declared extinct in the 20th century. This creature exists now somewhere between relic and cryptid, as sightings continue and efforts to find "one last specimen"…
 
We go on an exploration of the somewhat recent trend of trying to heal, calm, or "raise the vibrations" of human beings by means of sound therapy. While sound does have some real medical applications, there's also a concert of woo awaiting the unwary consumer. From singing bowls to tuning forks, it's a web of conflicting benefits, sketchy profit st…
 
We run down a history of food fraud that stretches back to ancient Rome, and continues today in supermarkets and restaurants just about everywhere. From honey product to not-so-virgin olive oil to horse disguised as beef, there's been a consistent push by food purveyors to bump up profits by way of a pinch of adulteration and a tablespoon of substi…
 
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.…
 
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 of them 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…
 
Mick West joins us again, this time to talk about the recent flap of UFO sightings and media interest. Major news outlets are giving airtime to what seem like the same old things: unexplained lights in the sky and evidence that the government takes an interest in such phenomena. Mick gives some examples of the categories that UFO videos and photos …
 
Pascual leads us on a romp through the myriad masked musicians of our time (and a few before our time), and we discuss the benefits and reasons why some performers prefer to remain incognito even during their entire careers. We start with a legendary Parisian performer from a hundred years ago who was brought to life by a writer who drew on current…
 
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 j…
 
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, wher…
 
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 ind…
 
Ben looks into a TikTok-fueled panic about sex trafficking abductions in Target stores, then we move to our main topics, the Mark of the Beast and the Number of the Beast, aka 666. From ambiguous or even invisible marks on accused witches hundreds of years ago to ambiguous or even invisible ways our technology "marks" our commerce, the Satanic fear…
 
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.…
 
We begin with a supposedly cursed guitar that was purchased by a somewhat infamous Vegas resident. Then folklorist and self-proclaimed "lover of all things weird" Prof. Jeannie Banks Thomas joins us to talk about how knowledge of folklore can help average people just like you and me. Her "SLAP" test for questionable online content might save you a …
 
This episode we talk all manner of things mer . . . mermen, mermaids, merb'ys, and many more. People love conjuring up creatures that are half human in some way (especially half sexy human), and merfolk top the list. Whether they are helpful, innocent creatures or deceptive, bloodthirsty temptresses, mermaids have been cast in many tall tales. From…
 
Ben, Celestia, and Pascual help define what makes a crank a crank, and we look into the history of this concept. Then we bring a couple of examples we think illustrate textbook cranks and why they aren't just laughable, they can do some real harm. From selling spiritual self-help books and snake oil to trying to legislate a wrong value for Pi, cran…
 
We are joined by folklorist and author David Clarke, who traces the legend of the Crying Boy curse, a curious story surrounding prints of several paintings that featured big-eyed crying children. These popular prints were blamed for fires in the UK during the 1980s, and tales sprung up of orphaned street urchins with mysterious powers to start fire…
 
After some thoughts on the inauguration and future of our science agencies and news landscape, we talk to Bigfoot investigator Steve Kulls, of SquatchDetective.com. Ben met Steve years ago and recognized that, in a field rife with hoaxes and a low bar for evidence, he was a great example of proper investigation techniques. Steve shares with us his …
 
We recorded a special opener to discuss the late-breaking, Capitol-invading events of the past 36 hours and the role misinformation played in getting thousands of people to this point. Then for our main topic, we go through a brief history of antivax sentiment in the US and the dual nature of Covid vaccine hesitancy.…
 
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