What do four Canadians and My Little Pony have to do with science?
Once a week an unlikely foursome gather around a microphone to discuss ‘scientific curiosities and controversies’. Podcasting their discussion, analysis and banter to a global audience, the forty minute show is delightfully irreverent and deliberately light-hearted. Dr Stu has become quite a fan of the show, and so Guru took the opportunity to interview the team.Hosted by Jon Abrams, Elan Dubrofsky, Darren McKee and Adam Gardner, the show is now in its third year of production. With a hardcore following of 3,000+ listeners, the four members of The Ottawa Skeptics shunned college radio broadcasting in favour of the podcast. Adopting digital broadcasting over the radio waves, Elan explains that “it gave us more freedom for how and when we could record the shows”. Podcasting, it seems, has many advocates and offers hobbyists the chance to record, edit and distribute their shows to a huge potential market. Many have postulated that podcasting will eventually kill the radio star – but growth in the medium has been steady in recent years. The increased availability of Wi-Fi and high-speed cellular phone networks could see that change and take podcasting to hitherto unseen levels of popularity.
Shunning ‘conventional’ science topics covered in other radio and podcast shows, Elan says they “like to go into more obscure topics that other people don’t tend to look at”. Exploring urban myths and common assumptions with scientific scrutiny – it’s surprising to discover that none of them has ever seen the inside of a science lab (since school that is).
Elan says that examining claims (like – does holding your breath really stop hiccups?) requires research and a systematic approach. On a deeper level, he told us this process was “almost a philosophy of some sort – making sure that for everything that you believe, you have a good reason for it”.
The Reality Check is certainly not your normal science show – but for anyone who enjoys some off-the-wall entertainment and jocular humour then The Reality Check is well worth checking out.
The full interview and Jon Abrams’ three top tips for any wannabe podcaster will be in Guru Issue Three (released December 1st 2011).
Oh, and if you want to know about My Little Pony – just ask Adam about his favourite fancy dress costume…