It disturbs me that in this day and age, when Charles Darwin and Stephen Jay Gould are hallowed names in academia, there are still forces in our country and beyond that have as much a grasp on science as people in the dark ages did, forces that seem to reside in the White House amongst other important areas. We all benefit from scientific advances but the scientific mind, one that demands firm evidence behind arguments, feels like it is in the minority. A nice breath of fresh air is Skeptoid (iTunes link), a critical analysis podcast. Host Brian Dunning takes ten to fifteen minutes outs of your day to turn a skeptical eye towards the ideas whizzing around our culture that compensate their lack of sense with sensationalism.
The first two episodes of Skeptoid I'd recommend anyone listen to is Dunning's two-part examination of logical fallacies that he did on Nov. 5th and 11th. Dunning refers back to these items in all his other shows, discrediting illogical theories by pointing to the non sequiturs and conflicting facts their proponents employ. Dunning's Dec. 17th show devoted to the stories about Area 51 and Roswell is one example of how he proves his points with cold hard logic. The recollections of one witness, which the Area 51 believers have based most of their conclusions on, are systemically rendered suspect when Dunning gives exact dates that prove the witness has his timeline jumbled, as well as concrete proof that contradicts the more outrageous claims made.
I do wish Dunning's podcast was longer. The issues he is tackling deserve more than half the running time of a prime-time sitcom. Imagine the case for science that Dunning could make if he delivered his arguments in greater detail. I would also like it if Dunning had his sources a bit more upfront, as people could be skeptical towards his skepticism. I was glad to hear that end of the Area 51 show the government documents that Dunning drew from were mentioned. I would prefer if all shows had "audio footnotes." That may sounds like I'm asking too much but the tendency for so much literature on the Internet to be sketchy when it comes revealing the origin of their findings is the reason why skepticism is so important in the first place.
If you're a fan of the urban legend busters Snopes.com, Penn & Teller's Bullshit or just plain sick of getting chain e-mails from your parents that tell you how dangerous microwaves are (Dunning has a whole show on that one, too) then give Skeptoid a try.