One of the great tragedies of modern society is the general perception of science as boring, difficult, and not relevant to everyday life. To me, science has always been the best amplifier of wonder that humans have come up with.
Wonder pours in through the senses from a very early age. But, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, people seem to think that teaching kids about science means getting them to memorize facts. No. Science is about questioning, about looking fearlessly and with delight at how the world works, in all its crazy, messy complexity.
Science doesn’t answer all of our important social questions, but it does inform them. It helps us think about them more clearly.
Anyway, this post isn’t meant to be cheerleading for science. It’s meant to be cheerleading for a podcast I’ve been listening to. Until recently, it was called “Skeptically Speaking” – a perfectly reasonable name, that captured some of the spirit of the thing. (My only quibble with the name was that I’d occasionally confuse it with Rationally Speaking, another excellent podcast with a very different focus and flavour.) I enjoyed the podcast. Then I learned that it was produced out of my new home city, Edmonton, and I enjoyed it a little more. I even got to see two of the hosts, Desiree Schell (@desireeschell) and Rachelle Saunders (@afterthree), at this year’s Logicon.
What’s so great about this podcast? Well, it’s produced and hosted by science fans with great production and communication skills.
And that’s delightful to see in a science podcast.
They take a skeptical look – balancing reports where there is a legitimate scientific debate, and not giving airtime to fringe, unscientific positions.
And that’s refreshing to see in a science reporting by non-scientists.
And … well … they’re fun. Friendly. They seem to get science in the same way I do. They get that it’s hard work to do it right, and that it’s worth the work because we get to learn stuff. We get to see the world with new eyes. And along the way, we may learn things that help us better navigate this crazy, tangled, confusing life of ours.
Anyway, that’s the show. But it isn’t called Skeptically Speaking any longer. Now it’s called …
They have a snazzy new website, and two episodes now under their new name – one exploring the reason for the name change (and some inspiring science-communication, public-engagement stuff), and one on food sustainability. Here’s a bit of what they say about themselves on the website:
“We explore the connections between science, popular culture, history, and public policy, to help listeners understand the evidence and arguments behind what’s in the news and on the shelves.”
Go. Listen. Enjoy. Wonder.