Friday, May 14, 2010

Five Podcasts for Critical Thinkers

I listen to a lot of podcasts. They keep me company on work road trips, help pass the time when I'm in the midst of drudgery.

If you both (A) consider yourself a critical thinker, skeptic, or [fill in preferred label here] and (B) listen to podcasts, there is likely no need for me to mention shows like The Skeptics Guide to the Universe or Skepticality. Though if you don't listen to those, subscribe to those as well :)

Instead, I wanted to share a few show I listen to with a slightly less-general focus than SGU and Skepticality. Some of these might not even call themselves science or critical-thought podcasts, favoring comedy, politics, or human insight. But the hosts of all of these shows consistently apply skepticism and critical thought to their subject matter.

So, presented in no particular order...

RH Reality Cast
Website iTunes

RH Reality Cast is produced by RH Reality Check, a web resource for reproductive health, and hosted by Pandagon's Amanda Marcotte, one of my Favorite People on all of the Internets. Each week, Amanda cuts through the nonsense and addresses the real issues surrounding reproductive health, healthcare, and abortion. It is unabashedly political and unabashedly liberal, which suits me just fine.

Curiosity Aroused

This fledgling podcast so far only has six episodes under its belt, but it has swiftly risen near to the top of my favorites. Rebecca Waston, cohost of SGU and another of my Favorite People on All of the Internets, hosts Curiosity Aroused. Each episode aims to bring a critical eye to a single topic, from mainstay skeptical issues, like why vaccination is a good idea, to less obvious ones, like addressing myths about dogs.

Curiosity Aroused "feels" very different to most skeptical podcasts, in that it doesn't assume it's preaching to the choir. Rather, each episode starts with Rebecca channeling Ira Glass with an introduction or anecdote about the topic at hand. Then, contributors (many of them, Skepchicks) present one or more stories on that topic.

I really can't say enough good about this one. I love it. I'd put it right along side Radiolab, which considering that it doesn't have the weight of NPR behind it, is impressive. Oh, and speaking of Radiolab...


It's a travesty that Radiolab, out of WNYC, does not air on my local NPR station. Luckily, it's available as a podcast. Think of it like This American Life, except that each week, the theme is a topic within science. It's really difficult for me to capture what listening to Radiolab is like in type, but can't recommend it highly enough. your best bet is to just listen to an episode, and you'll be hooked immediately. Might I recommend the Parasites or the Earworms (songs, not parasites in this case) episode? Fascinating stuff.

Reasonable Doubts

There are a lot of podcasts on atheism (I've even been a guest on one), but this one is the best in my opinion. I look forward, especially, to the "counter apologetics" segment, where the very knowledgeable hosts dissect an argument from well-known religious apologists (*cough* William Lane Craig *cough*) and, I think, ably show their arguments to be less than compelling.

Sundays Supplement
Website iTunes

Iszi Lawrence and Simon Dunn are two British comedians who, well...
Each week, we get out fingers inky so you don't have to. We put two of Britain's newspapers head-to-head to see which has the best supplements. So... find out which paper you should've bought, last Sunday.
Yep. It's a show about people reading the newspaper. Riveting, right? But check it out. I guarantee that you will be entertained. I eagerly await the newest SunnySup every week. Hilarious! And what's more, it occasionally features interviews (or guest hosts) like the aforementioned Rebecca Watson or Richard Wiseman. Have you ever wondered what would happen to a kitten if you put it in the Large Hadron Collider and proceeded to accelerate it to near the speed of light? Well, Iszi asks LHC physicist Brian Cox and finds out once and for all.


Now, get to listening!

I tried to highlight shows here that may not fit into the usual norm of "critical thinking" podcasts (though I suppose Reasonable Doubts does. But I already wrote the damn text, so it stays). Am I missing something amazing? Tell me in the comments below!

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