Reflecting on 5 Years of Skeptoid

Today is Skeptoid’s 5th birthday.

In the last five years, I’ve done 278 podcast episodes, 19 inFact videos, 3 books (#4 is almost out), 1 TV pilot, 1 web series pilot, several dozen conference talks, and more TV docos, radio, and guest podcast appearances than I can even count, on three continents.

I vividly remember five years ago today, when I saved Skeptoid #1 “New Age Energy” in Garageband and set about trying to figure out how to tag and upload it. It was about a year and a half, and 80 episodes, later that I got a surprise $2500 bill from my hosting provider for exceeding my 2TB/mo bandwidth limit. I’d made it onto the front page of iTunes science podcasts, and gone from 13,000 weekly listeners to 40,000 overnight. Wow, I remember thinking, this might turn out to be more than just a hobby.

Well, it has become more than just a hobby. It’s a full-time job, squished into a few hours a day, compressing my actual income-producing full-time job into the other half of each day. And really, Skeptoid alone could be three full-time jobs even without growing. Only about a third of my time is spent actually working on Skeptoid episodes. Another third is community engagement: emailing, social networking, signing and sending books, managing subscriptions, writing newsletters and blogs. The other third is all the back office stuff: web programming, event planning, bookkeeping, working with volunteers.

Would I have done it all over again if I’d known the extraordinary impact it would have on my life? Absolutely. All this round-the-clock work is the most personally fulfilling thing I’ve ever done (second most, after my family). These five years have taken me from being stuck in a going-nowhere software consulting career, to getting a dozen emails every day from people who tell me I’ve changed their lives for the better. I still say “Wow” every time I get one of those.

I have a strong business plan now, and I know exactly where Skeptoid is going. It’s getting the tools it needs in order to grow, in the form of a conversion to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. This will take control of Skeptoid Media out of my hands and put it into the hands of a board of directors, for whom I’ll work. That board will bring in new fundraising resources, and I’ll bring in new talent and new programs, with all the material being available for free along with teaching aids and lesson plans. Skeptoid Media deserves to be more than one overworked dude, and so it shall become.

Why? Because you’ve been listening.

Each one of you who has listened to the show, shared it with a friend, posted a link to a transcript, written a review on iTunes, contributed to a discussion on Skeptalk or on the comment pages, or become one of the 1 in 155* listeners who supports the show at 99¢ per episode, has been part of the reason the show exists at all.

Lifelong friends are the other aspect of this that can’t be ignored. Not only have I been fortunate enough to get on friendly, slap-5 terms with a number of really extraordinary science celebrities that I had never thought I’d get to meet, I’ve become great friends with hundreds of other folks who are just as extraordinary. I see many of you at conferences, pub nights, and other community events.

Raise your glass and join me in wishing Skeptoid Media another five years. More friends, more shows, more lives changed, and a more skeptical world.

* – Yeah, that’s the real number, by this morning’s calculation. Just imagine if it was 2 in 155: I’d already have the help on board and be producing the new shows!  :-)

About Brian Dunning

Science writer Brian Dunning is the host and producer of Skeptoid.
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13 Responses to Reflecting on 5 Years of Skeptoid

  1. Jaybarti says:

    Congratulations on advancing skeptoid to the next tier Brian. You produce an excellent podcast, one that is at the top of my listen list each and every week.

  2. Martin says:

    Thanks for 5 years and almost 300 episodes of awesomeness!
    Skeptoid has gotten me out of conspiracism, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that!

  3. Guy McCardle says:

    Congratulations on five years of excellence. Here’s to the next five. Cheers!

  4. Matthew Myers says:

    Thank you, Brian.

    I’ve been a skeptic from the moment I started listening to your podcast. I used critical thinking when I was young to arrive at a secular and naturalist view of the world, but it wasn’t until I started listening to your podcast that I realized how gullible and ignorant I was about so many things. What’s worse is that I was getting this false information from sources I thought I could trust; popular science magazines, my parents, and even my education.

    It was when I started applying the scientific method to everything, judging everything with a critical eye that I began to make sense out of the nonsense. And every week I was tuning in to a new episode of Skeptoid. You weren’t selling anything, you weren’t asking for money or claiming knowledge no one else possessed. You were telling the truth. Not because you thought it would make you rich, or because it made you better than everyone else, but because it’s the right thing to do.

    You looked around, like I did, at the paranoia, the conspiracies, the hypocrisy, and the fraud and wondered how so many people could let themselves buy into it. And you did something about it. You created this podcast, not just to tackle one area of skepticism, but to turn the skeptical eye on everything. You taught me there is no issue, conversation, debate, or inquiry that could not be sorted out by applying a simple toolkit; common sense, skepticism, and facts.

    So I thank you. You have provided the world, and more importantly, me, with the tools necessary to live free of conspiracy, pseudoscience, the supernatural, the cons and the frauds, the crooks and the liars, and even the well meaning proselytizers, medicine men, and and sooth-sayers.

    You may not be a saint, but you’ve done more good than any man of the cloth could ever dream.

  5. juepucta says:

    Congrats! Here’s to another 50 yrs :)

    -G.

  6. Well done Brian! I was such an honour meeting you in Melbourne, Australia and I wish you all the best in the future! Keep up the great work man, I look forward tu many more years of Skeptoid Media to come ^_^ – Jake OX

  7. Gary says:

    I look forward to your weekly emailings. You’re a very clever fellow and an excellent writer. You deserve your success. Good luck in the future and keep the much needed facts coming.

  8. Luke says:

    Congrats Brian! Keep up the great work

  9. Rob Kuhn says:

    The thetan levels are strong with this one.

    KIDDING!

    Love the podcast – keep up the great work!

  10. Omar says:

    Thanks for your hard work, Brian! Here’s to many more years of Skeptoid!

  11. Ruth Ellison says:

    Thank you Brian – we appreciate it! It’s one of the very few podcasts we listen to (we’re really flat out and have to prioritise our ‘listening to podcasts’ time!).
    Keep up the great work. It was great to see you at TAM9 and TAMOz.

  12. Well done Brian – hope you get the additional subscriber support you need to make your plan work, the non-profit sounds like a very sensible approach.

    Robin
    (We talked briefly on the dock after the TamOz cruise)

  13. Ryan Haupt says:

    It sure is an exciting time to be a science podcaster. We’ll change the world yet, buddy. Keep up the fantastic work and thanks for always having an ear available to listen and advise a younger man on a similar path.

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