I get a lot of my information fix from podcasts, and I’m particularly fond of skeptical and science podcasts. Finding good ones is no easy task, but there are plenty of gems out there waiting to be discovered if you’re looking.
The Reality Check (TRC) is a weekly podcast produced by The Ottawa Skeptics that tackles myths, psuedoscience, and other interesting topics from a skeptical perspective. It has been running since August 2008, and just this Saturday, they produced their 400th episode.
TRC is not only among the best Canadian skeptical podcasts, it ranks among the best skeptical podcasts period. Hosted by Adam Gardner, Darren McKee, Christina Roach, and Pat Roach, its format is simple: Each host presents a well-researched topic of their choosing, then the panel holds a brief discussion.
The discussions are always intelligent and insightful, and the tone is usually lighthearted and fun. Many of the topics are amusingly bizarre, but quite a few are very interesting and informative. Among the recent topics I found informative were “Physics Commando” Barry Panas talking about a better way of thinking about mirrors and reflections (#393), Adam Gardner’s look into whether 4K television is worthwhile (#394), and a Pat Roach piece on left-right confusion (#389).
Also lots of fun are their occasional skeptical parodies, produced by Pat and Cristina Roach. These are well-known pop songs repurposed with pro-skeptical lyrics. For example, Gwyneth Paltrow’s wacky website Goop gets skewered via TLC’s “Shoop”, and Taylor Swift’s infectious “Shake it off” becomes “Shake ’em off”. My personal favourite among their recent releases is their take on The Pogues’s “Fairytale of New York”, from last year’s Christmas episode.
Their 400th episode is actually a pretty good window into the podcast in general. They open up by answering some listener questions and get in to talking about how they come up with their discussion topics, then they cover two topics with very different tones. First they take on the lighter issue of whether dogs hate to be hugged, then Cristina Roach leads a more serious discussion on the Ezekiel Stephan case (the 19 month-old who died from meningitis while his parents were taking him to naturopaths and treating him with echinacea).
If you listen to podcasts and TRC is not in your subscription list, I strongly encourage you to give it a listen. You can also find previous episodes at their website
http://www.trcpodcast.com/ (which, I’ve heard, is a great website).
Happy listening, and to borrow from Cristina Roach: Stay classy, not smartassy!