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Sad News from the Skeptoid Family

by Brian Dunning

February 21, 2016

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Donate I can't think of anything I would less rather announce today. We are losing one of Skeptoid's brightest contributors.

Over 9 years of the show, my favorite episode is #300, The Secret of the Gypsy Queen, an animated, musical fairy tale about a little girl who saves her village when she is the only one who doesn't fall for the pop pseudoscience of the day. I wrote the text, composer Lee Sanders wrote and recorded the music, Rachel Bloom gave our heroine her singing voice, Ryan Johnson shot the video, Bill Simpkins and Alex DeGrace did the audio post, but the man who brought the story to life was artist Jesse Horn. Jesse did the drawnimation in the video, and he also created the gorgeous full-color children's book that accompanies it. If you've seen it, you know what a beautiful piece of art it is.

Jesse's art career is online at, but his day job is the most honorable profession: a firefighter and paramedic for the Heber-Overgaard Fire District in Arizona. He has to work two jobs because he and his wife Pamela have seven children, including a newborn daughter. He does it by risking his own life to save others, every day.

The news nobody wanted to hear is that Jesse has grade4 glioblastoma, one of the most aggressive brain cancers. Survivability is terrifyingly brief, and the sad fact is that our friend Jesse has already given us the time that he can. He has only just turned 40. The focus has to shift to Pamela and the kids, for family and friends to ease this horrifying transition to the extent we're able. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up at

Obviously there are a lot of families in need out there, and a lot of campaigns like this, and we can't all support all of them, but this is one that Skeptoid fans should take personally. He made a big contribution to what we believe in. If you could snap your fingers and make a wholesome, family-friendly picture book and accompanying musical available to all children everywhere, with a story that directly teaches the value of scientific skepticism and critical thinking, wouldn't you do it? Of course you would, we all would, as dedicated Skeptoids. Wouldn't you pay something to make that happen, 50 bucks, 100 bucks? Certainly, without a second thought. Jesse did that work and created the path. The best way to thank him is to be a friend now to his family in this, their darkest hour.

My memories of that weekend shooting the animation will always be fond, and still make me laugh. Crazy things like the floor in the room where we shot was always shaking and moving around, having to drive our cars and the camera truck down these long treacherous corridors of narrow columns, Jesse's arm practically falling off from drawing on a whiteboard nonstop for 48 hours, the crazy way he had to stand to keep his hand in the shot and his face out of it, basically drawing by Braille, getting lost in these great long shot lists and always being sure we left something out, swapping out millions of SD cards with more video than my laptop could import, being goofy all the time and punch drunk with fatigue, great times were had by all.

Jesse, if you readthis, I want to thank you for your beautiful and unique contribution to skepticism and science. To Jesse's family, I want you all to know that dad's work is deeply appreciated by a large community out there who will always value his talent and his generosity. He's a good man and your pride in him is well justified. Always hold it close.

Friends and listeners, please join me at, kick in a hundred bucks or any amount, and stand behind both Jesse's family and the great resource this man was so instrumental in providing.

by Brian Dunning

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