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SKEPTOID BLOG:

Wacko of the Week is no more

by Brian Dunning

December 6, 2011

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Donate Subscribers to the Skeptoid email newsletter are going to notice something new this week: The much-loved Wacko of the Week section is gone. This segment highlighted a specific nutty person, sometimes living, sometimes dead, who has been a willing part of the vast network of pseudoscience in which we live. Some wackos were pretty scary, some were just plain funny. Why is it gone?

For the same reason that I'll not be doing any more Listener Feedback episodes of Skeptoid that make fun of goofy, nutty detractors. Episode 251 was the pinnacle of this, and it's a direction in which Skeptoid never should have gone. I want the show to be a positive resource, not a snarky one. Plenty of you have given me this feedback over the years, and I agree with you. I need to do better.

Particularly now that Skeptoid is a member of the National Science Foundation's Science360 Radio, the books are used increasingly as textbooks in schools, and I'm in the midst of conversion to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, I need to hold myself to a higher standard. There remain plenty of places you can go on the web for snark, but the Skeptoid podcast shouldn't be one of them. It's a place to appreciate the value of knowing what's real in the world, and enjoying the much greater rewards of true history and true science compared to lazy, sensationalized fiction.

Taking the Wacko's place is the Wonder of the Week, something amazing (and real) from the world of science. Wonder of the Week made a few appearances in early newsletters, but doing that plus the Wacko was just too much work for this stretched-too-thin podcaster to keep up with. Many of the best Wackos are archived at Torsten Pihl's Gallery of Wackos.

Please remember that Skeptoid is a listener-supported program. It exists only because a fraction of a percent of listeners make it a two-way street and support it through monthly micropayments. I hope you appreciate this renewed focus I'm giving the show. If you do, please consider joining the ranks of the supporters who make it possible.

by Brian Dunning

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