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Skeptics with a K (SwaK) is the official podcast of the Merseyside Skeptics Society,[2] a skeptical organisation based in Liverpool, UK. It is hosted by Mike Hall, with Michael Marshall and Alice Howarth.

SwaK logo.png
Skeptics with a K logo
Hosted by Mike Hall
Michael "Marsh" Marshall
Colin Harris (2009–2014)
Alice Howarth (since 2014)
Genre Scientific skepticism
Updates Fortnightly[1]
Original release 28 July 2009 – present
Website merseysideskeptics.org.uk

Contents

NameEdit

Skeptics with a K's tagline is "the podcast for science, reason and critical thinking".[3] In concordance with the MSS' name, the podcast's title was chosen to emphasise that, unlike the word 'sceptical' with a c, being 'skeptical' with a k "[is] not about just saying 'no' to things, it's about thinking about them. And we use the American spelling – skeptic – because, in the States, the word isn't as strongly linked to cynicism. It's not seen as being as negative as it is over here."[4] On April Fools' Day 2010, SwaK released a spoof episode titled "Skeptics with a C", in which the hosts departed from their regular skeptical analysis, and suddenly accepted all paranormal and pseudoscientific claims with ease after their normally critical evaluation of the news.[5]

HostsEdit

 
The current lineup: Michael "Marsh" Marshall, Mike Hall, and Alice Howarth, at the 2015 QED conference in Manchester.

Mike Hall is the main host of Skeptics with a K, doing each episode's intro and pre-recorded outro and editing the podcast's episodes that are recorded on Monday until publishing them on Thursday. He and Michael Marshall, on air steadily referred to as "Marsh", have been present at every episode (except for a few compiled episodes hosted by Mike alone) since its inception. Colin Harris completed the trio with his trademark goodbye "It's been wonderful", but was occasionally absent (for example, at the QED live recordings), and after a period of infrequent stand-ins by others, he decided to quit the show in March 2014 just before the birth of his first child, to dedicate time to his family.[6] He was replaced by MSS secretary Alice Howarth, who was featured on SwaK since April 2014.[7]

  • Mike Hall (since July 2009) specialises in claimed placebo effects, and conflict between religion and atheism;[8]
  • Michael "Marsh" Marshall (since July 2009), specialises in bad P.R. (nonsense news articles) and homeopathy;[9][10][11]
  • Colin "Col" Harris (July 2009–March 2014);
  • Alice Howarth (since April 2014), specialises in cell biology.[7][12]

The hosts have appeared as guests on other popular podcasts including The Pod Delusion, The Skeptic Zone, Cognitive Dissonance and the Token Skeptic.[13][10][14]

HistoryEdit

 
The original presenters (Mike, Marsh and Colin) at a Liverpudlian SitP event.

Its first episode was recorded on 28 July 2009, at Mike Hall's home, and published on 1 August 2009.[3] The dinosaur-wallpapered room, first revealed to the audience on the live filmed episode #077,[15] has been the standard recording location ever since.[9] The podcast features hosts Mike Hall, Michael Marshall ("Marsh") and Colin Harris ("Col"), in April 2014 replaced by Alice Howarth, discussing recent events from a skeptical angle. Co-host Michael Marshall described it as, "a fairly-shambolic, overly-enthusiastic and snarky mix of science, skepticism and sarcasm."[16] The idea for SwaK came from the conversations Mike and Marsh were having in the pub about news and ideas, such as the 10:23 Campaign,[17] that they wanted to share with a wider audience.[9]

A fact check on the children's book The Giant Book of Fantastic Facts was popular semi-regular segment, until it concluded with a "Best of" edition on 14 July 2011.[18] On 1 April 2013, an entire episode consisted of fictional stories including a parody of Ghost Busters, a story about the "Mersey Book of Monsters" and one about the "Paranormal Investigation Society Scotland (PISS)",[19] which was revealed in "Episode #095.5 – the Confession".[20] The hosts managed to mislead many skeptics who couldn't tell the entire show was a hoax. Tim Farley was among the few who doubted only particular segments, and after contacting Marsh, who admitted they had made up all news items but requested it be kept a secret, turned it into a challenge for the listeners of Virtual Skeptics to find out which skeptical podcast's early April episode was a hoax.[21]

Other special episodes include radio discussions with psychics, clairvoyants, numerologists, astrologers and especially homeopaths,[22] and a live recording from TAM London.[23] For its fifth anniversary, SwaK produced an extended episode on 31 July 2014 featuring Colin as special guest.[24]

Marsh extended his speciality for spotting bad PR in the news that he developed over the years on SwaK to holding public lectures about the subject at Skeptics in the Pub meetings throughout the UK, skeptical conferences such as the 2013 European Skeptics Congress in Stockholm, Sweden, and an interview on BBC Radio 4's More or Less programme.[25]

ReceptionEdit

The Metro described the podcast as "light-heartedly pick[ing] apart current affairs to explore science and critical thinking."[26] Stichting Skepsis blogger Willem-Jan Zeist included Skeptics with a K (referred to as "The English Lads") among the 12 best skeptical podcasts, and especially praised its "bad PR" segments, although warning that listeners "should be able to handle both vulgar language and bad puns!"[27]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Hall, Mike; Marshall, Michael; Howarth, Alice (31 July 2014). "Skeptics with a K: Episode #129". Skeptics with a K. Episode 129. MSS. Retrieved 4 August 2014. (30:13)
  2. ^ Mike Hall. "Podcasts". MSS website. MSS. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Hall, Mike; Marshall, Michael; Harris, Colin (1 August 2009). "Skeptics with a K: Episode #001". Skeptics with a K. Episode 001. MSS. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Shennan, Paddy (16 September 2009). "Merseyside Skeptics Society hold first meeting". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Hall, Mike; Marshall, Michael; Harris, Colin (28 July 2009). "Skeptics with a C: Special #003". Skeptics with a K. Episode Special 003. MSS. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  6. ^ Hall, Mike; Marshall, Michael; Harris, Colin (27 March 2014). "Skeptics with a K #118". Skeptics with a K. Episode 118. MSS. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Hall, Mike; Marshall, Michael; Howarth, Alice (10 April 2014). "Skeptics with a K: Episode #119". Skeptics with a K. Episode 119. MSS. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  8. ^ Hall, Mike; Marshall, Michael; Howarth, Alice (10 April 2014). "Skeptics with a K: Episode #043". Skeptics with a K. Episode 119. MSS. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
    Tim Farley (9 June 2014). "Two cases of "truther" nonsense undone by photo/video tech expertise". Skeptools. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
    Farley, Tim; Blaskiewicz, Bob; Drescher, Barbara; Hill, Sharon; Siebert, Eve (11 June 2014). "Tim's invading Bob's territory!". Virtual Skeptics. Episode 92. Virtual Skeptics. Retrieved 25 August 2014. (3:07)
  9. ^ a b c (in English) (in Swedish) "57. Michael Marshall". Skeptikerpodden. Episode 57. Skeptikerpodden website. 29 June 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Saunders, Richard (1 September 2013). "The Skeptic Zone #254 - 1.Sep.2013". The Skeptic Zone. Episode 254. Australian Skeptics. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  11. ^ Michael Marshall. "About Bad PR". Bad PR blog. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  12. ^ Segev, Eran; Marshall, Michael (20 April 2014). "The Skeptic Zone #287 - 20.April.2014". The Skeptic Zone. Episode 287. Australian Skeptics. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  13. ^ O'Malley, James (8 January 2010). "Episode 16 – 8th January 2010". The Pod Delusion. Episode 16. British Humanist Association. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
    O'Malley, James (18 October 2013). "Episode 209 – 18th October 2013". The Pod Delusion. Episode 209. British Humanist Association. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  14. ^ Cecil; Tom (27 February 2012). "Skeptics with a K". Cognitive Dissonance. Episode 36. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
    Sturgess, Kylie (host) (16 November 2010). "On the QED Conference – Interview with Michael Marshall". Token Skeptic. Episode 40. Kylie Sturgess. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
    Sturgess, Kylie (host) (16 November 2010). "On Testing Shuzi Qi Claims with the Merseyside Skeptics". Token Skeptic. Episode 135. Kylie Sturgess. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
    St. Whitehall, Nigel (Howard) (25 November 2010). "The Token Skeptic returns". The Skeptical Review. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Hall, Mike; Marshall, Michael; Harris, Colin (23 July 2012). "Skeptics with a K - Episode #077 Live". Skeptics with a K. Episode 077. Google Hangouts. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  16. ^ Puffin Watch (30 April 2010). "Interview with Michael Marshall of Skeptics with a K podcast". The Skeptical Review. Nigel St. Whitehall (Howard). Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  17. ^ Hall, Mike; Marshall, Marsh; Harris, Colin (23 September 2010). "Skeptics with a K: Episode #031". Skeptics with a K. Episode 31. Merseyside Skeptics Society. Retrieved 25 August 2014. (14:27)
    Robbins, Martin (30 January 2010). "Homeopathy: Overdosing on nothing". New Scientist. Reed Business Information. 205 (2745): 22–23. doi:10.1016/s0262-4079(10)60228-x. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  18. ^ St. Whitehall, Nigel (Howard) (14 July 2011). "A bit on The Skeptic Zone, Skeptics With a K and skeptical conference musings". The Skeptical Review. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
    Hall, Mike; Marshall, Michael; Harris, Colin (14 July 2011). "Skeptics with a K: Episode #050". Skeptics with a K. Episode 050. MSS. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 
  19. ^ Hall, Mike; Marshall, Michael; Harris, Colin (18 April 2013). "Skeptics with a K: Episode #095". Skeptics with a K. Episode 095. MSS. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
    St. Whitehall, Nigel (Howard) (28 April 2013). "SGU and SWaK on being skeptical of the skeptics". The Skeptical Review. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  20. ^ Hall, Mike (18 April 2013). "Skeptics with a K: Episode #095.5 – the Confession". Skeptics with a K. Episode 095.5 – the Confession. MSS. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  21. ^ Gregory, Brian; Blaskiewicz, Bob; Farley, Tim; Hill, Sharon; Siebert, Eve (10 April 2013). "Tim challenges the viewers to find a SECRET podcast". Virtual Skeptics. Episode 34. Virtual Skeptics. Retrieved 18 August 2014. (46:00)
    Hall, Mike; Marshall, Michael; Harris, Colin (2 May 2013). "Skeptics with a K: Episode #096". Skeptics with a K. Episode 096. MSS. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  22. ^ Basnett, Roy (1 September 2009). "Skeptics with a K: Special #001". Skeptics with a K. Episode Special 001. City Talk FM. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
    Basnett, Roy (30 September 2009). "Skeptics with a K: Special #002". Skeptics with a K. Episode Special 002. City Talk FM. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
    "Skeptics with a K: Special #004". Skeptics with a K. Episode Special 004. MSS / BBC Radio Oxford. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
    Ravenscroft, Nick (8 July 2010). "Skeptics with a K: Special #005". Skeptics with a K. Episode Special 005. MSS / BBC Radio 5 Live. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
    Hall, Mike (10 February 2011). "Skeptics with a K: Special #007". Skeptics with a K. Episode Special 007. MSS / BBC Radio Five. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
    Snell, Tony (16 March 2011). "Skeptics with a K: Special #008". Skeptics with a K. Episode Special 008. MSS / BBC Radio Merseyside. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  23. ^ Hall, Mike; Marshall, Michael; Harris, Colin (16 March 2011). "Skeptics with a K: Episode #033". Skeptics with a K. Episode 033. MSS. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  24. ^ Hall, Mike; Marshall, Michael; Howarth, Alice (31 July 2014). "Skeptics with a K: Episode #127". Skeptics with a K. Episode 127. MSS. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  25. ^ Michael Marshall (29 September 2011). "Bad News: How PR Came to Rule Modern Journalism". YouTube. Glasgow Skeptics. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
    (in English) (in Swedish) Michaell Marshall (24 August 2013). "Hur reklam styr dagens media". UR Samtiden. Föreningen Vetenskap och Folkbildning. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
    Bruno van de Casteele (24 August 2013). "European Skeptics Congress, day 2". Skeptoid website. Skeptoid. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
    Tim Harford (19 May 2013). "Angelina Jolie's 87% cancer risk; Romanian crime stats". More or Less. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 25 August 2014. (11:36)
  26. ^ "Rewind Radio". Metro. DMG Media. 18 July 2012. p. 39. 
  27. ^ Willem-Jan Zeist (1 January 2014). "Skeptische Podcasts: Een Kritische Review". KloptDatWel? (in Dutch). Stichting Skepsis. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 

External linksEdit