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In this episode, Jason and Grant interview Evan Bernstein from The Skeptics Guide to the Universe.

 

Evan Bernstein Interview

    Episode 6

    Who is Evan?

    A co-host of The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe and The Skeptics Guide 5×5 podcasts. He also serves as the Connecticut chapter chairman of the New England Skeptical Society. Evan is a technical adviser for official NESS investigations, and is the SGU’s audio engineer for live remote events. He has been published as part of The Skeptical Blog Anthology book (The Young Australian Skeptics), and he has appeared as a guest on several skeptic-themed podcasts. Traveling the world with his co-hosts, Evan as given live presentations to private corporations and at educational seminars on topics including; the direct harms of pseudoscience, woo in the martial arts, and the truth behind paranormal investigations. Evan earned his BA in Communications from Central Connecticut State University, and by day, owns and manages his financial services corporation. He has been an active participant in the modern skeptical movement since 1996.

    Evan sent us an article prior to recording so we could brief ourselves on one area of discussion:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/opinion/sunday/sense-and-superstition.html?_r=3&

    For more about The Skeptics Guide to the Universe:

    http://www.theskepticsguide.org/

    Science and pseudoscience are briefly discussed as they relate to current television programing.  This concerns us as these “serious” networks appear to promote and support things like Bigfoot.  Online news sites are doing the same.

    Skeptics are treated as the fringe or cynical.  This is backwards from what it should be.

    Critical thinking in childhood needs improved.  Schools – stay tuned for a future podcast about this very topic that we will cover with a science professor (Dr. Rich Kessler).

    Broad discussion about superstition from knocking on wood to throwing salt and whether people believe it or have made it a habit.

    Confirmation bias, athletic superstitions, martial arts and superstition are all discussed..

    Demarcation between the harmless superstitions actions and psychological disease.

    Bruce Hood book used to be called “The Science of Superstition”  but has since been changed to “Supersensense-Why we believe the unbelievable:”  http://www.amazon.com/SuperSense-Why-We-Believe-Unbelievable/dp/B002VPE7GK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382106502&sr=8-1&keywords=the+science+of+superstition

    Believing nonsense can be dangerous, or a slippery slope from simple ideas to dropping a lot of money on scam cancer treatments.   Vaccine avoidance is a form of this.

    Backfire Effect:  http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/

    How to help people explore other possible conclusions:

    -gentle questioning

    -provide more options

    -non-threatening environment/discussion

    Getting the word out takes time.  New England Skeptical Society mentioned:  http://www.theness.com/

    Internet has helped greatly expand skeptical message!

    Philosophy of science/pseudoscience briefly discussed!

    Massimo Pigliucci suggested as a reference:  http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/

    Samual Adams beer.  ;-)

    Please comment on the podcast content, flow, quality, etc.  We are having a great time doing this but know we will constantly learn and improve.  We hope to hear from you.

     

    Enjoy listening/reading!