Author Archives: skepticallypwnd

Phil Plait’s Bad Universe [Skeptically Tuned (episode 3)]

[Trigger Warning: 01001100111101011110]

[NOTE: This is usually where I would place the transcript of the episode because usually the transcript reads like most any other review. However, this particular episode was heavy on the clips and photography, so it makes little sense, and wouldn’t do anyone any good. ]

This is the first negative review I’ve given to a ‘skeptical’ TV show. As a result, it’s much longer– bad things are often bad in a much more diverse way than good things are good. It’s also NSFW, so heads up.

Three years is enough time to finally admit that this was a terrible show, right? I hope so.

I hope you enjoy!

See you at TAM!!!

Thanks for watching

Photography:
Matt David
Karus Marshall-Walsch
Jen Brown
Matt Grashaw

Actors:
John Rael
Eden McFadden
Jen Brown

Special thanks to those who gave a ‘shout out’ to Phil Plait: Jen Brown, Brian Hart, Cherry Teresa, and Michael Brody

Phil Plait’s Bad Universe [Skeptically Tuned (episode 3)]

[Trigger Warning: 01001100111101011110]

[NOTE: This is usually where I would place the transcript of the episode because usually the transcript reads like most any other review. However, this particular episode was heavy on the clips and photography, so it makes little sense, and wouldn’t do anyone any good. ]

This is the first negative review I’ve given to a ‘skeptical’ TV show. As a result, it’s much longer– bad things are often bad in a much more diverse way than good things are good. It’s also NSFW, so heads up.

Three years is enough time to finally admit that this was a terrible show, right? I hope so.

I hope you enjoy!

See you at TAM!!!

Thanks for watching

Photography:
Matt David
Karus Marshall-Walsch
Jen Brown
Matt Grashaw

Actors:
John Rael
Eden McFadden
Jen Brown

Special thanks to those who gave a ‘shout out’ to Phil Plait: Jen Brown, Brian Hart, Cherry Teresa, and Michael Brody

The Chaser [Skeptically Tuned (episode 2)]

[Trigger warning: Fuck you!]

Today we are going across the globe to discuss a group of skeptics who many people have not heard of. Though if you are a savvy skeptical Youtuber you know exactly who I’m talking about, unless your name is Brian Dalton. In which have a seat, Brian, I’ll explain.

Ya know that show that you and your friends talk about at drinking skeptically? That show that would be skeptical AND entertaining that people would actually watch; if only they would have the money to keep production value high, and the creative team really understood the issues. Why can’t—like Why can’t they make a show like that? Why not bro? Huh, why not skeptic-dude-bro-turncunt-man-baby-honey-child?!

Well, “that” show—the one that would make skepticism sexy and cool—is the chaser.

The Chaser, it may surprise you to learn, have, in one series or another, been on the air for 12 years. That’s 4 years longer than Bullshit, and 105 more episodes produced than Bad Universe. The chaser have created slick, hip, and funny shows that are dedicated to tackling false claims and yellow journalism.

Now, if you’re looking to watch their entire catalog, available on DVD for you Australians, and here in its entirety on Youtube [http://www.youtube.com/ChaserEpisodes] (if you’re not lucky enough to have them personally send you a DVD. Thanks Chaz!!!), a quick word of warning: If you are not familiar with Australian politics there will be a percentage of the show that leaves you in the dark. After a while I sincerely wished I knew who the hell people like Kevin Rudd, John Howard, Obama, and Julia Gillard are.

The Chaser’s work covers nearly the entire gamut of skepticism from alternative medicine to psychics to media scare mongering to faux journalism to cults to self help propaganda to just reminding us that commercials aren’t real. There is no issue too big, no matter too trivial, and almost no place off limits for these guys. They are the poster boys for guerrilla skepticism. They should live in the hearts and minds of every skeptic who accuses every other skeptic of being an armchair skeptic… Whatever the fuck that means… hold on…

So I put it to you again; if you happen to know of any skeptical organization that gives credit where credit is due tell them to give the Chaser a no spending limit, 0 APR, frequent flyer miles, super duper… Just give them credit, ok, Jesus Christ!

I mean, not only are these guys producing their own brand of badass skepticism, they even produced fellow comedian Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable; an amazing series that I will get to in the coming weeks.

It must also be said that what puts these guys on the map beyond their dedication to skepticism, and probably what makes their skepticism so potent, is their comedy. Not just the fact that they’re comedians, but the way they do comedy. Their satire is unflinchingly committed. You see, most comedians will break character, most forms of comedy will give a wink, a disclaimer, or god help us a ‘Trigger warning’, but these guys hold fast the entire time; even when they’re part of other people’s programs. They are not asking “will the audience get this joke?” or “will the audience understand that this is in fact a joke?”; they are asking “what is the logical consequence to this line of thinking?”, “What is the absurdest/satirical conclusion to that which we find stupid, silly, redundant, and/or fallacious?”, and “can we play that just as straight as our mainstream media colleagues?” …Who don’t seem to be aware that their profession is a joke.

In a time when some people have decided that certain topics should never be joked about, and that comedy can even harm people, I’m glad that the Chaser is out there to push the envelope, to bring gorilla skepticism to the masses, to do comedy for the sake of comedy. You’re never going to see these titans of satire apologizing for a fucking joke… oh…

The Chaser [Skeptically Tuned (episode 2)]

[Trigger warning: Fuck you!]

Today we are going across the globe to discuss a group of skeptics who many people have not heard of. Though if you are a savvy skeptical Youtuber you know exactly who I’m talking about, unless your name is Brian Dalton. In which have a seat, Brian, I’ll explain.

Ya know that show that you and your friends talk about at drinking skeptically? That show that would be skeptical AND entertaining that people would actually watch; if only they would have the money to keep production value high, and the creative team really understood the issues. Why can’t—like Why can’t they make a show like that? Why not bro? Huh, why not skeptic-dude-bro-turncunt-man-baby-honey-child?!

Well, “that” show—the one that would make skepticism sexy and cool—is the chaser.

The Chaser, it may surprise you to learn, have, in one series or another, been on the air for 12 years. That’s 4 years longer than Bullshit, and 105 more episodes produced than Bad Universe. The chaser have created slick, hip, and funny shows that are dedicated to tackling false claims and yellow journalism.

Now, if you’re looking to watch their entire catalog, available on DVD for you Australians, and here in its entirety on Youtube [http://www.youtube.com/ChaserEpisodes] (if you’re not lucky enough to have them personally send you a DVD. Thanks Chaz!!!), a quick word of warning: If you are not familiar with Australian politics there will be a percentage of the show that leaves you in the dark. After a while I sincerely wished I knew who the hell people like Kevin Rudd, John Howard, Obama, and Julia Gillard are.

The Chaser’s work covers nearly the entire gamut of skepticism from alternative medicine to psychics to media scare mongering to faux journalism to cults to self help propaganda to just reminding us that commercials aren’t real. There is no issue too big, no matter too trivial, and almost no place off limits for these guys. They are the poster boys for guerrilla skepticism. They should live in the hearts and minds of every skeptic who accuses every other skeptic of being an armchair skeptic… Whatever the fuck that means… hold on…

So I put it to you again; if you happen to know of any skeptical organization that gives credit where credit is due tell them to give the Chaser a no spending limit, 0 APR, frequent flyer miles, super duper… Just give them credit, ok, Jesus Christ!

I mean, not only are these guys producing their own brand of badass skepticism, they even produced fellow comedian Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable; an amazing series that I will get to in the coming weeks.

It must also be said that what puts these guys on the map beyond their dedication to skepticism, and probably what makes their skepticism so potent, is their comedy. Not just the fact that they’re comedians, but the way they do comedy. Their satire is unflinchingly committed. You see, most comedians will break character, most forms of comedy will give a wink, a disclaimer, or god help us a ‘Trigger warning’, but these guys hold fast the entire time; even when they’re part of other people’s programs. They are not asking “will the audience get this joke?” or “will the audience understand that this is in fact a joke?”; they are asking “what is the logical consequence to this line of thinking?”, “What is the absurdest/satirical conclusion to that which we find stupid, silly, redundant, and/or fallacious?”, and “can we play that just as straight as our mainstream media colleagues?” …Who don’t seem to be aware that their profession is a joke.

In a time when some people have decided that certain topics should never be joked about, and that comedy can even harm people, I’m glad that the Chaser is out there to push the envelope, to bring gorilla skepticism to the masses, to do comedy for the sake of comedy. You’re never going to see these titans of satire apologizing for a fucking joke… oh…

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia [Skeptically Tuned (episode 1)]

Welcome to the premiere episode of Skeptically Tuned, where we’ll give analytic breakdowns of some skeptical shows we like, some skeptical shows we don’t like, and some skeptical shows that we are extremely embarrassed for liking. Sorry, but we will not be reviewing bullshit programs…yet.
The first show that I would like to talk about has been one of my favorite sitcoms for years. I love it… maybe too much. You may not realize this, but It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a pretty damn skeptical show. Yes it can be raunchy, and the characters are downright despicable, but this show never hesitates to lampoon bullshit.
Now, I realize that any asshole sitcom can point and laugh at ‘woo’, but this show takes some of it’s sweetass time to call out the bullshit. Let me explain:

  • Sunny introduces the false claim,

[They introduce the bullshit]

  • Sunny explores many features of the false claim,

[They explore the bullshit]

  • And Sunny ultimately shows the comedic failures of such false claims.

[Then they debunk the bullshit.]

Sometimes the characters embrace the woo, and sometimes they reject it. This might be confusing for those of you who cling to the myth that art says something, and are looking to interpret the stance of the hero or anti-hero, but for the rest of us who aren’t trying to butcher aesthetic value with a didactic blade, it’s just a good ol’ well thought out laugh. And certainly one deserving of some recognition from the skeptical community.
Are they intentionally promoting critical thinking and skepticism? I’m not sure. Are they creating some of their comedy with an audience of skeptics in mind? Maybe. Are they doing comedic bits that are greatly enhanced if you happen to be a skeptic? Fuck yes!
So if you happen to know of any organizations or groups (e.g. IIG) that give out awards for things like being a great sitcom for skeptics, maybe you should let them know about It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Oh… oh what’s that? They want more evidence? Well, maybe it would interest them to know that Sunny has also tackled homeopathy, miracles and exploitation. They even dive into murkier quasi bullshit territory. That is things that aren’t necessarily bullshit, but are often breeding grounds for bullshit and/or utilize the same techniques employed by bullshit. Things like overzealous patriotism, faux activism or ‘Disneyland’ activism. They even regularly attack that oh so cunning piece of social manipulation: Pick Up Artistry. [More concise and effective than any blog on the subject :) ]

And if you have not seen their latest season finale featuring a hilarious trial between evolution and creationism, you are officially missing out on a significant part of your life, and you need to rectify the situation!
In conclusion: If you’re a skeptic, and you love comedy, the kind of comedy that doesn’t let anyone decide what is or is not allowed to be funny, this sitcom is for you! Thanks for watching.

Skeptic Hero

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia [Skeptically Tuned (episode 1)]

Welcome to the premiere episode of Skeptically Tuned, where we’ll give analytic breakdowns of some skeptical shows we like, some skeptical shows we don’t like, and some skeptical shows that we are extremely embarrassed for liking. Sorry, but we will not be reviewing bullshit programs…yet.
The first show that I would like to talk about has been one of my favorite sitcoms for years. I love it… maybe too much. You may not realize this, but It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a pretty damn skeptical show. Yes it can be raunchy, and the characters are downright despicable, but this show never hesitates to lampoon bullshit.
Now, I realize that any asshole sitcom can point and laugh at ‘woo’, but this show takes some of it’s sweetass time to call out the bullshit. Let me explain:

  • Sunny introduces the false claim,

[They introduce the bullshit]

  • Sunny explores many features of the false claim,

[They explore the bullshit]

  • And Sunny ultimately shows the comedic failures of such false claims.

[Then they debunk the bullshit.]

Sometimes the characters embrace the woo, and sometimes they reject it. This might be confusing for those of you who cling to the myth that art says something, and are looking to interpret the stance of the hero or anti-hero, but for the rest of us who aren’t trying to butcher aesthetic value with a didactic blade, it’s just a good ol’ well thought out laugh. And certainly one deserving of some recognition from the skeptical community.
Are they intentionally promoting critical thinking and skepticism? I’m not sure. Are they creating some of their comedy with an audience of skeptics in mind? Maybe. Are they doing comedic bits that are greatly enhanced if you happen to be a skeptic? Fuck yes!
So if you happen to know of any organizations or groups (e.g. IIG) that give out awards for things like being a great sitcom for skeptics, maybe you should let them know about It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Oh… oh what’s that? They want more evidence? Well, maybe it would interest them to know that Sunny has also tackled homeopathy, miracles and exploitation. They even dive into murkier quasi bullshit territory. That is things that aren’t necessarily bullshit, but are often breeding grounds for bullshit and/or utilize the same techniques employed by bullshit. Things like overzealous patriotism, faux activism or ‘Disneyland’ activism. They even regularly attack that oh so cunning piece of social manipulation: Pick Up Artistry. [More concise and effective than any blog on the subject :) ]

And if you have not seen their latest season finale featuring a hilarious trial between evolution and creationism, you are officially missing out on a significant part of your life, and you need to rectify the situation!
In conclusion: If you’re a skeptic, and you love comedy, the kind of comedy that doesn’t let anyone decide what is or is not allowed to be funny, this sitcom is for you! Thanks for watching.

Skeptic Hero

Sophomore Slump

“Get your second project done as quickly as possible so you can move on to your third”
– Ed Chigliak*

I’m a firm believer in getting my ‘rebound’ out of the way as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, I usually don’t. However, due to the goading of the Skeptoid, I managed to bust out this little ditty:

 

She may not be much to look at, but she’s kind of cute, fun(ny), and gave me a good old nostalgic feeling about my early days of filmmaking. The days when I avoided using ‘cuts’ because I wasn’t sure if my “Windows Movie Maker” would be willing/able to process the fucker. Days when we had no lighting. Days when we had no rehearsal, and didn’t bother memorizing our scripts. I didn’t think I would miss those days, but I seriously do.
Here’s what you have to understand: filmmaking is a pain in the ass. Even a 2 minute scene usually takes a couple hours of prep time, several crew members, thousands of dollars of equipment, etc. On top of this you usually have to worry about people actually showing up. Sometimes I write in ancillary characters just in case we are missing an actor or crew member (entirely interchangeable on my set).
Now take all this effort, and add the fact that we are all self-involved artistic egomaniacs who, for some reason, decided to work in an industry that can only function through teamwork. Now double–No, TRIPLE your efforts, and realize that you’ve only improved the quality of your movies by a slight margin. A “margin” that none of your non-industry friends will ever notice.
Anyways, it was fun just kind of ‘winging’ it for a night.**

Thanks, Mr. Dunning!

ps. If anyone reading this was in the background of the video and wants to be credited, let me know.

 

*I went through 8 discs and ‘scrubbed’ over 40 episodes of Northern Exposure to find that fucking quote.
**Though I was still shooting with a 28mm prime on a Canon t3i, and using a Rode mic attached to a Zoom H4n. All of which was mounted on my new P&C Gearbox. That still counts as “winging” it in my book/on my set… whichever sounds better.

 

Thumbnail

Sophomore Slump

“Get your second project done as quickly as possible so you can move on to your third”
– Ed Chigliak*

I’m a firm believer in getting my ‘rebound’ out of the way as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, I usually don’t. However, due to the goading of the Skeptoid, I managed to bust out this little ditty:

 

She may not be much to look at, but she’s kind of cute, fun(ny), and gave me a good old nostalgic feeling about my early days of filmmaking. The days when I avoided using ‘cuts’ because I wasn’t sure if my “Windows Movie Maker” would be willing/able to process the fucker. Days when we had no lighting. Days when we had no rehearsal, and didn’t bother memorizing our scripts. I didn’t think I would miss those days, but I seriously do.
Here’s what you have to understand: filmmaking is a pain in the ass. Even a 2 minute scene usually takes a couple hours of prep time, several crew members, thousands of dollars of equipment, etc. On top of this you usually have to worry about people actually showing up. Sometimes I write in ancillary characters just in case we are missing an actor or crew member (entirely interchangeable on my set).
Now take all this effort, and add the fact that we are all self-involved artistic egomaniacs who, for some reason, decided to work in an industry that can only function through teamwork. Now double–No, TRIPLE your efforts, and realize that you’ve only improved the quality of your movies by a slight margin. A “margin” that none of your non-industry friends will ever notice.
Anyways, it was fun just kind of ‘winging’ it for a night.**

Thanks, Mr. Dunning!

ps. If anyone reading this was in the background of the video and wants to be credited, let me know.

 

*I went through 8 discs and ‘scrubbed’ over 40 episodes of Northern Exposure to find that fucking quote.
**Though I was still shooting with a 28mm prime on a Canon t3i, and using a Rode mic attached to a Zoom H4n. All of which was mounted on my new P&C Gearbox. That still counts as “winging” it in my book/on my set… whichever sounds better.

 

Thumbnail

The Odds Must Be Crazy: Two Blokes Broke Spokes

highlight_oddsmustbecrazy

If you haven’t checked out the Odds Must Be Crazy (http://www.theoddsmustbecrazy.com/) and submitted a crazy story of your own, do so… NOW!

 

A few weeks ago, I was heading to my local bicycle shop to get my bike
repaired. Just as I was about to enter I heard “hey, John.”
It was my friend and coworker Leeman Parker. “hey Leeman Parker,
what’s up, man?”

Though it was a nice surprise, I wasn’t too shocked to see Leeman. We live
in a similar area. We both frequent this bike shop. And, having the
same job, we have a similar schedule.

Then Leeman explained, “just need a fix; one of my spokes fell out.”

“Oh snap! One of my spokes fell out, too.”

“On your back tire?” Now even Leeman was surprised; no small feat
for a man who is usually described as a comedic robot.

Yep, we both had a single missing spoke in our back tires. I think it’s
important to note here that we have very similar tires: street tires
or what the kids call ‘slick tires’, I believe. Though Leeman’s bike
is a one gear bike, whereas mine is a full road bike. That is, he has
a “fixie”, and I’ve got a badass racing bike. He’s got
something usually associated with emasculated hipsters, and my bike
might be what Lance Armstrong uses to go to the store. I’m just
explaining that I’m awesome so Barbara Dresher doesn’t have to waste
any of her analysis time going over that point. Though I do
appreciate the thought, Barbara, thank you. So we have very similar
tires, we ride on the same streets, during the same hours, for almost
the same distance. It’s only likely that we will experience similar
damage on our bikes. However, neither Leeman nor I have ever had a
spoke break on us. Not on these tires, not on these bikes, not on any
other bike in any other city we’ve ridden… In our lives… EVER!…
BAM!… The Odds Must Be Crazy!

The Odds Must Be Crazy: Two Blokes Broke Spokes

highlight_oddsmustbecrazy

If you haven’t checked out the Odds Must Be Crazy (http://www.theoddsmustbecrazy.com/) and submitted a crazy story of your own, do so… NOW!

 

A few weeks ago, I was heading to my local bicycle shop to get my bike
repaired. Just as I was about to enter I heard “hey, John.”
It was my friend and coworker Leeman Parker. “hey Leeman Parker,
what’s up, man?”

Though it was a nice surprise, I wasn’t too shocked to see Leeman. We live
in a similar area. We both frequent this bike shop. And, having the
same job, we have a similar schedule.

Then Leeman explained, “just need a fix; one of my spokes fell out.”

“Oh snap! One of my spokes fell out, too.”

“On your back tire?” Now even Leeman was surprised; no small feat
for a man who is usually described as a comedic robot.

Yep, we both had a single missing spoke in our back tires. I think it’s
important to note here that we have very similar tires: street tires
or what the kids call ‘slick tires’, I believe. Though Leeman’s bike
is a one gear bike, whereas mine is a full road bike. That is, he has
a “fixie”, and I’ve got a badass racing bike. He’s got
something usually associated with emasculated hipsters, and my bike
might be what Lance Armstrong uses to go to the store. I’m just
explaining that I’m awesome so Barbara Dresher doesn’t have to waste
any of her analysis time going over that point. Though I do
appreciate the thought, Barbara, thank you. So we have very similar
tires, we ride on the same streets, during the same hours, for almost
the same distance. It’s only likely that we will experience similar
damage on our bikes. However, neither Leeman nor I have ever had a
spoke break on us. Not on these tires, not on these bikes, not on any
other bike in any other city we’ve ridden… In our lives… EVER!…
BAM!… The Odds Must Be Crazy!