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Since 2006, the weekly Skeptoid podcast has been taking on all the most popular urban legends and revealing the true science, true history, and true lessons we can learn from each. The Internet stream has 95,000 weekly listeners, plus many more on syndicated radio. Skeptoid is a listener supported 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Learn more

 

Pop Quiz: 15 for 15

Episode 802, October 19, 2021

Skeptoid is the podcast about the true history and true science behind our urban legends and strange beliefs, and learning about how and why smart people come to believe weird things. And so by studying them, we end up learning a lot of random facts about all these popular stories. Today we're going to see just how many of these random facts about our world you've absorbed... with another pop quiz.

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Recent Programs

Probiotics Fact and Fiction
Episode 801, October 12, 2021
Probiotics is the term for a culture of live bacteria, or other microorganisms, in a food product or supplement, sold with the promise that it will do your body some good. Sounds reasonable, so many of us just accept this without any critique or question. But what is the true state of the evidence that probiotics do your body any real good at all?

To the Stars
Episode 800, October 5, 2021
Once again, it is a hundredth episode of Skeptoid, this one being #800. And long time fans know what that means: it's a musical episode! But today's is a little bit different, in that it may be the first piece of music you've ever heard that was not produced on Earth. Today, with special cooperation from our friends at NASA, we're bringing you a Skeptoid song from a spaceship -- one that is, even as we speak, rapidly accelerating away from this planet.

On the Authorship of the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
Episode 799, September 28, 2021
The most famous organ piece in history is one that you've heard a million times, even if you don't know its name, and even if you don't know its composer -- which, spoiler alert, I'll tell you right now: it's the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, by Johann Sebastian Bach. At least, that's the traditional view. But some say that it wasn't written by him at all. Turns out to be a real detective story -- but where will it lead us?

Tracking the Wild Big Cats of Britain
Episode 798, September 21, 2021
For centuries, large black predatory cats have been said to prowl the countryside of Britain, even though no such species is known to exist there. Are the big cats of Britain just a tall tale, or might there be some truth to it?

Why You Need to Care About Methane
Episode 797, September 14, 2021
For all the talk about carbon dioxide's role in climate change, we hear surprisingly little about methane. Some say it represents even a greater threat, but if that's so, why isn't it getting more attention? Today we're going to see what the science really says, and what we should be doing about it.

9/11 Truthers, 20 Years Later
Episode 796, September 7, 2021
Following the events of 9/11 way back in 2001, it was inevitable that a few wacky conspiracy theories were going to arise, as happens around nearly every major world event. But something sets 9/11 conspiracy theories apart from all the others: their unique longevity. And it turns out there's solid science behind why a fantasy like 9/11 Truth is the one that endures.

What Made the Shroud of Turin Immortal
Episode 795, August 31, 2021
For centuries, the faithful have believed that the linen sheet called the Shroud of Turin bears the actual, physical imprint of the face of Jesus, made while his body lay in the tomb for three days. However, the science proves that it can't be true. So what is the much larger picture of how and why the Shroud came to be, that keeps believers believing after so long?

Why You Needn't Worry About the Missing 411
Episode 794, August 24, 2021
It's no surprise that people do sometimes go missing in the wilderness, including America's national parks. But one notion, called the "Missing 411", claims that inside the parks that number is much higher than it should be, and that the National Park Service covers up these disappearances. Is this true, or does the data say it's just another unfounded conspiracy theory?

Your Turn Yet Again
Episode 793, August 17, 2021
On Skeptoid we're always digging into the true science and true history behind some of the weird phenomena that a lot of people believe in, but sometimes bizarre events happen closer to home. Today we're going to examine some of your own personal strangest experiences to see if we can find a science-based explanation.

Your Turn Again
Episode 792, August 10, 2021
Here on Skeptoid we look at popular urban legends and see if there's any truth behind all these things that a lot of people just seem to believe. What about the things you believe? Today we've got a handful of your own personal experiences that many of you have sent in -- and we're going to give them the same Skeptoid treatment.

Dowsing: Water Witchcraft
Episode 791, August 3, 2021
As global warming causes some places to get wetter, it causes others to get drier. And in these places, water is becoming so scarce that people are willing to try anything -- whether it's based on folk wisdom, or even on magic. Today we're going to see how one such method stands up to science: dowsing.

Is the Existence of Billionaires Inherently Harmful?
Episode 790, July 27, 2021
You can hardly turn around these days without hearing someone lecture about how immoral it is that billionaires exist. It's a popular view. But is this just an emotional or ideological reaction, or does economic theory also show that the existence of billionaires is actually harmful to a nation's economy or its people?

All About Clearcutting
Episode 789, July 20, 2021
Everyone should be outraged at the ugly scars on formerly green mountainsides left by clearcutting, the practice of removing not just the trees needed for logging, but everything else as well, leaving only bare dirt. But many of us are not completely aware of the reasons this is done. Today we let forestry science answer the question of whether clearcutting truly does reduce the amount of old growth forest, or if it might (counterintuitively) leave us with more.

The UFO Rogues Gallery Takes Over America - Part 2
Episode 788, July 13, 2021
This week, the conclusion of our two-part examination of the group of paranormalists who successfully convinced the world media that the US government takes UFOs seriously. It's one of the most successfully PR campaigns in the history of pseudoscience, and its actual roots should surprise and anger everyone.

The UFO Rogues Gallery Takes Over America - Part 1
Episode 787, July 6, 2021
For years now, the news has been full of Navy UFO videos and reports that the Pentagon takes alien visitation seriously. But it turns out the source of all this news has been neither the US military nor even legitimate reporters, but rather an unlikely group of paranormalists with exceedingly good press release skills.

Horses in Pre-Columbian America
Episode 786, June 29, 2021
The mainstream science view has long been that horses were extinct in the western hemisphere until they were reintroduced to the Americas by the Spanish conquerors. However, a growing movement has been challenging this view and claiming that horses were always in the Americas. Today we're going to see if science casts a definitive vote in telling us which version of history is correct.

Desalination vs. A National Water Grid
Episode 785, June 22, 2021
As global warming causes floods to worsen in the eastern US, it also causes droughts to worsen in the west, a trend which will continue. Today we're going to look at the science behind two proposals to help with the west's new water-starved normal: desalination and a national water grid.

Head Transplants
Episode 784, June 15, 2021
We've all heard the tales of mad scientists switching the heads of dogs and monkeys and sometimes even of people, to the point where many aren't even sure any more where the fiction ends and the reality begins. Today we've got a roundup for you of the true state of the science behind head transplants.

The Legend of Barsa-Kelmes
Episode 783, June 8, 2021
Urban legends come from all around the world, and when they happen in non-English speaking countries, the version we get is usually boiled down to just the most sensational aspects that the translator decided to share. Today we're going to look at one from central Asia, a former island in the now-dry Aral Sea, said to be the source of countless paranormal events: Barsa-Kelmes.

A Collection of Corrections
Episode 782, June 1, 2021
As this is a show dedicated to the correction of misinformation in popular culture, sharing the tools for telling what's real from what's not, it's important that we get things right. But we don't always. And so today we've got another episode for you dedicated to the correction of errors in past episodes, and some of them are surprising.

Space Junk: The Real Risk and What to Do About It
Episode 781, May 25, 2021
What happens when one satellite crashes into another, and then another? Can such collisions actually trigger an irreversible cascade that eventually destroys everything we've got in orbit, and makes Earth's local space a useless zone of death? Luckily we don't have to wonder, because we've got the science-based answer for you.

CBD for Everything
Episode 780, May 18, 2021
CBD, the main non-psychoactive chemical in marijuana, is now an amazingly popular additive in food, drinks, cosmetic products, and just about everything else. Apparently it's in high demand, but why? Is there actually any benefit to having it in your coffee at all, or is this a case of everyone just assuming it's a good thing without any underlying science?

How the Pyramids Were (and Were Not) Built - Part 2
Episode 779, May 11, 2021
Today we're going to wrap up our two-part series on Egypt's Great Pyramid -- there is so much false history around them that it takes two shows to debunk. There have been some very exciting new discoveries about the Pyramids in recent years, that clarify and expand our vast knowledge about these greatest of all ancient structures.

How the Pyramids Were (and Were Not) Built - Part 1
Episode 778, May 4, 2021
Hardly any ancient structures have been graffitied with more false historical claims than Egypt's Great Pyramids, usually of the form that we don't know how ancient people could have done this or that, therefore they must have had some mysterious help. But we actually know a great deal about the Pyramids, and today we're going to start our two-part journey to wash away some of the popular beliefs with real history.

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