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ESP: not pseudoscience but a new European Skeptics Podcast

by Bruno Van de Casteele

December 20, 2015

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Donate I’ve written previously on these pages about the active european skepticalorganizations. I wrote about the European Skeptics Congress in Stockholm in 2013. I got it from good sources that this year in London was also a blast (couldn’t attend sadly because of other obligations), and now there is also a European Skeptics Podcast, ESP for short.

Another podcast you say? Yes, but this one has a very specific European focus. There are tons of good podcasts, but in the States and in Europe (both in English and other languages), but this one has a specific European scope. Their goal is to bridge the different skeptics and skeptical organizations in order to create a specific European skeptical forum and meeting place.

The hosts are themselves an international bunch: Andras Gabor Pinter hails from Hungary, Jelena Levin from Latvia and my friend Pontus Böckman from Sweden. The spoken language is English.

Their format is not like the short Skeptoid episodes where one topic is dealt with in detail, but more like Skeptics Guide to the Universe: an interview of a skeptic or scientist with a special focus on Europe, coupled with various smaller topics like a “on this day in history” (mostly birthdates), a discussion of logical fallacies, reports on what’s happening in (skeptical) Europe, and a true or false (also focused on Europe).

I specifically like the European focus of all these topics. I don’t mind listening to American podcasts " most skeptical issues apply to all countries, but it’s nice to get local news. And yes, I consider the entirety of Europe “local”…

I only have one issue " they managed (to their credit) to break my long-standing tactic to beat true or false quizzes. (Warning: the following may contain anecdotal evidence, personal bias and selective memory. Be skeptical!) Through the years I learned that the statement which I wanted to be true, most probably wasn’t. I honed it well by listening to the Skeptics Guide, but this time Jelena Levin beat me, on their pilot episode none the less!

The true or false news items were that the Vatican had bought the largest gay sauna, dog poo that gets home delivered for litters and a space suit for Russian orthodox priests. From a sort of justice perspective and due to personal frustration, I really wanted the second one to be true. So I guessed it was false, but it was actually true! You’ll have to check the episode itself which one of the two other outrageous items was a hoax, but I was mistaken. And being the good skeptic, of course I consoled myself with the idea that this is a good thing, and that I could learn something now (hint: Photoshop can really fool you "even with space suits).

In any case, I’m hooked now. This one goes into my regular rotation for my daily commute, and I can only encourage you to go check it out, too. Even though they are at least 1 hour long, you won’t regret it. Three episodes are now live, and more will be released in a bi-weekly schedule.

by Bruno Van de Casteele

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