Token Skeptic Podcast

Why do we believe weird things? What does feminine intuition really mean? How do you become an effective activist for science and reason? Are you ready for a monthly show that poses these questions and more? Tune into the Token Skeptic for a slightly more skeptical look at stories in the news, urban legends, good science, pseudoscience, and what makes popular culture pop. Hosted and produced by philosophy teacher and radio broadcaster Kylie Sturgess.

The Podcasts

It's all happening in town at the moment - the 2016 Perth Writers Festival! It's a yearly celebration of writing, literature, non-fiction and the authors and ideas behind the covers of a massive range of genres.

Here's a round-up of some of the interviews that I've conducted; they've been aired on local community radio station RTRFM as a part of ArtBeat and The Mag.

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Sadly, more than a few of us have probably felt like we’ve lost a loved one before they’ve actually passed away and it’s a difficult thing to talk about. Not many people want to talk about topics like Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s disease, as they can be very scary topics.
But that’s where good books can help. Dr Lisa Genova has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and has a series of books on what life is like for people and families facing challenges such as autism or the possibility of Huntingtons – you might have seen the film based on one of her books, Still Alice.

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Jasper Fforde is a prolific author, most known for a series starring detective Thursday Next, whose adventures in “BookWorld” reflect Fforde’s interest in literary allusion and the intricate craft of fiction.
He’s the first Perth Writer’s Festival author in the studio this morning, here to tell us about his new book, panels at the Perth Writers Festival and how he’s managed to create much loved works - and how he's even got his very own Fforde Ffestival!

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Evidence is a strange substance in modern Australian society and it's a challenge to get difficult scientific concepts across to a diverse audience.
In 1996 Professor Peter Doherty's pioneering research into how the immune system recognises virus-infected cells earned him the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine. He became the fourth Australian to win the honour and has since written a number of books  the importance of living in an evidence-based reality - his newest one is The Knowledge Wars. He's presenting at the Perth Writers Festival on science, climate change and more.

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Cassandra Atherton has published eight books, including Trace and Exhumed, and judged numerous poetry awards.
She’s also held lectureships at The University of Melbourne, The University of Western Sydney and Deakin University, and interviewed a number of American intellectuals including Harold Bloom, Noam Chomsky, Stephen Greenblatt, and Howard Zinn. She's presenting poetry at the Perth Writer's Festival as a part of the celebrations of language and literature.

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Paolo Bacigalupi is a popular science fiction author who addresses pressing issues of today by showing readers what not dealing with them might mean for tomorrow.
Dystopias where climate change, economic inequality and genetic engineering run rampant are the hallmarks of his work such as The Windup Girl - and The Water Knife - his latest - continues in the same vein.

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Pip Lincolne is one of Australia's best known bloggers, launching her writing at "meet me at mikes" and wrote the bestselling book of the same name. She teaches craft and blogging and is the craft contributor for Frankie magazine. Craft for the Soul – How to Make the Most of Your Creative Life is her latest book.
She's doing a number of panels at this year's Perth Writers Festival, on the art of crafting - and there's even some tips on making your own "recipe for happiness"

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For local author, Nicki Logan, romantic stories are a best-seller - she's written 23 contemporary romance novels, specialising in nature-based romantic suspense.
She was the President of the Romance Writers of Australia and has presented to groups across Australia and in the UK - and now will be appearing at the Perth Writers Festival.

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A quick note about supporting the podcasts! Check out https://www.patreon.com/kyliesturgess – and consider becoming a Patreon for these shows. 

Theme songs “Cosgrove” by Pogo, from http://pogomix.net and “Leap Second” by Milton Mermikides, of www.miltonmermikides.com. Additional ambient music from Jukedeck – create your own at jukedeck.com

This episode is brought to you with thanks to Patreon supporters – they include: Steven, Andrew, Dr T, Paul, Gerry, Josh, Kathy, Linley, Gold, Iggy, Lukas, Finch and Andrew.

Thanks to everyone who contributes and please consider joining to help continue these shows at patreon.com/kyliesturgess.

Please leave positive comments and reviews on iTunes and consider supporting the show via visiting Tokenskeptic.org – and I’d love to get your feedback via tokenskeptic@gmail.com. 

Direct download: Token_Skeptic_Special_Episode_PWF16.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:42pm HKT

Episode #215 of the Token Skeptic goes out to sea - and back again!

It’s an experience that may not appeal to everyone – a seven-day cruise at sea, aiming to “take back power from corrupt and greedy institutions, attain true self-authority, and realise our genuine Self behind the masks… discovering the truth, taking command of our lives, and attaining genuine inner realisation” – with every odd belief you can think of listed as entertainment:

GMOs, Monsanto, bee colony collapse, ecology, global warming, climate change, fracking, HIV, autism, big pharma, medical suppression, vaccinations, flouridation,… electoral fraud, identity chips, 2nd amendment, and so much more.

But Colin McRoberts didn’t let that deter him – in fact, he started a fundraiser to attend and was soon on The ConspiraSea Cruise, blogging his experiences and delving into lectures and talks to find out for himself: why do people believe weird things?

His blogposts series feature at Violent Metaphors blog and he spoke to me for the Token Skeptic podcast, not long after the event concluded.

A quick note about supporting the podcasts! Check out https://www.patreon.com/kyliesturgess – and consider becoming a Patreon for these shows. 

Theme songs “Cosgrove” by Pogo, from http://pogomix.net and “Leap Second” by Milton Mermikides, of www.miltonmermikides.com. Additional ambient music from Jukedeck – create your own at jukedeck.com

This episode is brought to you with thanks to Patreon supporters – they include: Steven, Andrew, Dr T, Paul, Gerry, Josh, Kathy, Linley, Gold, Iggy, Lukas, Finch and Andrew.

Thanks to everyone who contributes and please consider joining to help continue these shows at patreon.com/kyliesturgess.

Please leave positive comments and reviews on iTunes and consider supporting the show via visiting Tokenskeptic.org – and I’d love to get your feedback via tokenskeptic@gmail.com. 


Welcome to episode #214 of the Token Skeptic podcast!

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Leading scientists protested during a national conference this week to appeal against job cuts at the government’s agency for scientific research in Australia, the CSIRO.

The cuts, that will remove about 110 positions from the CSIRO's 140-odd strong Ocean and Atmosphere staff and a similar number from its Land and Water division, were announced in an email from chief executive Larry Marshall on Thursday.

I spoke to Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick from the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW about her response to the cuts.

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The Perth chapter of Christian group 40 Days for Life plans daily “prayer vigils” outside a Midland clinic during Lent as part of a global anti-abortion campaign.

However, these kinds of peaceful protest aren’t without opposition – with Australian Medical Association WA president Michael Gannon saying a woman should not be “further punished” for exercising her right to an abortion.

I spoke to the president for the national group Reproductive Choice Australia, Jenny Ejlak.

Closer to home, Sarah Nielsen-Harvey has begun a counter protest online with a number of other concerned locals, called "40 Days of Love" - I spoke to her about what is involved.

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Sylvia Mariani is Zatanna, Queen of Illusion - and she's performing two shows at the 2016 FringeWorld. She's a transgender woman who has performed nationally and internationally as a renown illusionist and mentalist - and has won WA Magician of the Year a number of times.

Sylvia's shows "Zatanna, Magic from Z… to… A’ and ‘Zatanna’s Theatre of the Mind’ are playing in Perth as a part of the FringeWorld celebrations - I spoke to her to learn a little more about the mystery behind the magic.

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Tremendous thanks to the radio station RTRFM, where interviews aired previously, especially producer Peter Barr.

A quick note about supporting the podcasts! Check out https://www.patreon.com/kyliesturgess – and consider becoming a Patreon for these shows. 

Theme songs “Cosgrove” by Pogo, from http://pogomix.net and “Leap Second” by Milton Mermikides, of www.miltonmermikides.com. Additional ambient music from Jukedeck – create your own at jukedeck.com

This episode is brought to you with thanks to Patreon supporters – they include: Steven, Andrew, Dr T, Paul, Gerry, Josh, Kathy, Linley, Gold, Iggy, Lukas, Finch and Andrew.

Thanks to everyone who contributes and please consider joining to help continue these shows at patreon.com/kyliesturgess.

Please leave positive comments and reviews on iTunes and consider supporting the show via visiting Tokenskeptic.org – and I’d love to get your feedback via tokenskeptic@gmail.com. 


Token Skeptic podcast's episode #213! Check out the Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/kyliesturgess and from only $1, get behind the scenes news and more. 

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Inside a cryonics facility, seven people are woken from their icy slumber to find themselves alone in a locked room, unsure of what day, month or year it is. These strangers from different places and times must work out when they are - and where everyone else has gone!

Thaw: A Science Fiction Play is showing at the Nexus Theatre at Murdoch University until Saturday,as a part of FringeWorld. I spoke to writer / director Stephen B. Platt about the production - and the rarely-seen world of science fiction on the stage.

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Recreational arts – it’s something that sounds good for us – but just how good?

Whether it’s great for your mental health, general well-being or good for society in general – these are questions that a group of UWA researchers have taken on board with a new study.

I interviewed an author of the study, from the school of population and health at UWA, Dr Christina Davies.

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Tremendous thanks to the radio station RTRFM, where the first interview aired previously, especially producer Peter Barr.

A quick note about supporting the podcasts! Check out https://www.patreon.com/kyliesturgess - and consider becoming a Patreon for these shows. 

Theme songs "Cosgrove" by Pogo, from http://pogomix.net and "Leap Second" by Milton Mermikides, of www.miltonmermikides.com. Additional ambient music from Jukedeck – create your own at jukedeck.com

This episode is brought to you with thanks to Patreon supporters - they include: Steven, Andrew, Dr T, Paul, Gerry, Josh, Kathy, Linley, Gold, Iggy, Lukas, Finch and Andrew.

Thanks to everyone who contributes and please consider joining to help continue these shows at patreon.com/kyliesturgess.

Please leave positive comments and reviews on iTunes and consider supporting the show via visiting Tokenskeptic.org - and I’d love to get your feedback via tokenskeptic@gmail.com. 


Welcome to episode #201 of Token Skeptic - and as always, if you'd like to support the show and future episodes, check out the Patreon page at patreon.com/kyliesturgess - there's lots of additional features and bonus content for those who help the podcast continue!

Science Vs is one hot podcast!

In Science Vs, science journalist Wendy Zukerman dissects the latest fad framing itself as scientific fact, wading through the mass of information so you don't have to. Do women and men have different brains? Is porn changing the way we have sex? Does race exist? Is sugar really that bad for you? Short, sharp-minded and enjoyable, the show has been storming up the iTunes list and even eclipsing the famous Dr Karl.

Everyone has an opinion but then, there's SCIENCE - and I'm of the opinion that more science podcasts are great for all of us! I spoke to Wendy Zukerman about how the new ABC First Run show has been going.

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NASA has confirmed its unmanned New Horizons spacecraft made its close fly-by encounter with Pluto after a nine-year journey of more than 5 billion kilometres, with a lot over very eager people world-wide waiting for the photos.

The New Horizons spacecraft had an up close look at the Pluto system, with the probe flying by the dwarf planet on the 14th July. Images of Pluto and its moon Charon have been beamed back - and I spoke to International Centre for Radio Astronomy Outreach Coordinator Pete Wheeler, in an interview that aired live on radio station RTRFM's The Mag program.

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There's only about a week to go to help save science - a campaign to raise $30,000 in 30 days for Bendigo's troubled science education facility, the Discovery Centre. The science center that has providing hands on science education for kids and community members  was facing closure in the rural town, and in response to the potential closing, a number of donors have stepped up to help keep it open.

For this interview, I spoke to Kate Barnard, Discovery's Manager. You can help Save Discovery by donating on their Chuffed fundraiser page.

A quick note about supporting the podcasts! Check out https://www.patreon.com/kyliesturgess - and consider becoming a Patreon for these shows. 

Theme songs are P & P by Derek K. Miller of www.penmachine.com and Leap Second by Milton Mermikides, of www.miltonmermikides.com

This episode is brought to you with thanks to Patreon supporters - they include: Steven, Stephen, Josh, Linley, Gold, Brian, Paul, Dr T, Iggy, Lukas and Andrew. Thanks to everyone who contributes and please consider joining to help continue these shows at patreon.com/kyliesturgess.

Please leave positive comments and reviews on iTunes and consider supporting the show via visiting Tokenskeptic.org - and I’d love to get your feedback via tokenskeptic@gmail.com.


The Checkout is a satirical consumer affairs series on Australia’s ABC TV, presented by Julian Morrow and Craig Reucassel from The Chaser team, Kirsten Drysdale, Kate Browne, Scott Abbot, Zoe Norton Lodge and Ben Jenkins.

From cradles to graves, everyone’s a customer – and we have the right not to remain silent. Each week, The Checkout takes a no-holds-barred, irreverent and entertaining approach to explaining and exposing the ways that all of us are being ripped off.

For this interview, I speak to Julian Morrow – who first became interested in consumer issues in 1974 when he was born due to contraceptives that failed to work as described. He spent the 1980s and 90s on hold waiting to speak to customer service representatives. He has been tagged as a problem customer on the internal records of several Australian companies. The Department of Fair Trade has recognised him as an official exception to the maxim “the customer is always right”.

Theme songs are P&P by Derek K. Miller of www.penmachine.com and Leap Second by Milton Mermikides, of www.miltonmermikides.com.

Please leave positive comments and reviews on iTunes and consider supporting the show via visiting Tokenskeptic.org - and I’d love to get your feedback via tokenskeptic@gmail.com.

Direct download: Token_Skeptic_181_-_On_The_Checkout.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:36pm HKT

Special IFLSLive In Oz Episode – Interview With Elise Andrew

Elise Andrew will be appearing at IFLS Live!

ScienceAlert & Powerhouse Museum present IFLS Live! An evening celebrating science - Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris St, Ultimo, Sydney - 6pm, 12 August 2013.

For this episode, Kylie Sturgess chats to Elise about how IFLS began, some of the challenges of having such a popular page, what does it mean for science communication (and just how effective is outreach-by-Facebook?) and how very excited we are for IFLS Live in Australia. NB: This episode comes with a language warning!

Do you f*cking love science? Then this event is for you. Come and meet your people! Join Elise Andrew (founder of hugely popular Facebook page I F*cking Love Science) and Dr Derek Muller (ABC’s Catalyst and the Veritasium YouTube channel) and spend an evening celebrating science.

They’ll be joined by Nobel laureate Professor Brian Schmidt, the Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, Triple J’s science guru Dr Karl, comedian and academic Dr Justine Rogers and an all­star line­up of YouTube science celebrities, including Henry Reich of MinutePhysics and MinuteEarth, Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown of AsapScience, Dr Carin Bondar of Wild Sex and Destin Sandlin of Smarter Every Day.

Meet your favourite online science superstars, learn about their approaches to science communication, and find out about their hidden talents. Grab a drink, mingle with real scientists, and hear the best part about winning a Nobel Prize.

The event will be streamed live on the Powerhouse Museum website and people around the world can also get involved on the Facebook event page (IFLS Live! Sydney 2013) and on Twitter using the hashtag #iflslive.

Support for this awesome event is provided by: the University of New South Wales, James Cook University, ANSTO and the Shell Questacon Science Circus. The event is 18+. There will be food and drinks available.

Theme songs are “P&P” by Derek K. Miller of www.penmachine.comPlease leave positive comments and reviews on iTunes and consider supporting the show via visiting  Tokenskeptic.org - and I’d love to get your feedback via tokenskeptic@gmail.com.

Direct download: IFLSLive_In_Oz_-_interview_With_Elise_Andrew.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:02pm HKT

Token Skeptic #148 - On Apocalypse (Now?) 2012 - Interview with Dr Joseph Gelfer

Did you catch the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, doing an advertisment for a JJJ radio show, where she jokingly talked about the impending end of the world?

This episode of the Token Skeptic takes a closer look at whether Australians are more skeptical or just as drawn into the claims as any other country when it comes to 2012 apocalypse prophecies - and investigates what makes a sensible approach to take, particularly with believers of younger years.

Dr Joseph Gelfer works as an Adjunct Research Associate at the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University and holds a doctorate in religious studies from the Victoria University of Wellington.

A number of people believe that the end of the world is due in December 2012 - or, at the very least, the end of the world as we know it. Dr Gelfer recently produced a range of scholarly analyses in his book 2012: Decoding the Countercultural Apocalypse, which includes perspectives from various disciplines such as  religious studies, anthropology, Mayan studies, cultural studies and the social sciences.

Theme songs are “P&P” by Derek K. Miller of www.penmachine.com and “Leap Second” by Milton Mermikides, of  www.miltonmermikides.com

Please leave positive comments and reviews on iTunes and consider supporting the show via visiting  Tokenskeptic.org - and I’d love to get your feedback via tokenskeptic@gmail.com.

Direct download: Token_Skeptic_148_-_On_Apocalypse_Now_2012_-_Dr_Joseph_Gelfer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:02pm HKT

Token Skeptic #145 - On Wild Sex With Dr Carin Bondar

Let's talk about sex. And not just any old sex. The animal kingdom is a wild place -- and it's got mating habits to match. We're getting it on with kinky rituals, titillating pheromones, post-coital cannibalism, golden showers, orgy marathons and penises that put King Kong to shame. Biologist-with-a-twist Dr Carin Bondar is stripping down to the bare truth of nature's X-rated side - with the new web-series Wild Sex!

Wild Sex has already featured on the Huffington Post, I09, Jezebel and a great interview featured on Scientific America's Science Sushi Blog

For this Token Skeptic interview, we discuss Dr Carin Bondar's start in science, her work as a PhD in freshwater ecology and in science communication (particularly film-making and blogging); whether sex, sexy and science should ever mix and what's in store for viewers of the brand-new online series Wild Sex.

Dr Carin's site can be found at http://www.carinbondar.com - she is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/drbondar - and here is the YouTube site for Wild Sex, brought to you by Earth-Touch.com.

Theme songs are “P&P” by Derek K. Miller of www.penmachine.com and “Leap Second” by Milton Mermikides, of  www.miltonmermikides.com. Please leave positive comments and reviews on iTunes and consider supporting the show via visiting  Tokenskeptic.org - and I’d love to get your feedback via tokenskeptic@gmail.com.

Direct download: Token_Skeptic_145_-_On_Wild_Sex_-_Interview_With_Dr_Carin_Bondar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:38am HKT

Token Skeptic #140 - On Great Skepticism – With Pat Linse And Donald Prothero

This is an investigative episode about some of the key figures in skepticism that you may not know much about… and should know more about!

Pat Linse is an award winning illustrator who specialized in film industry art before becoming one of the founders of the Skeptics Society, Skeptic magazine, and the creator of Junior Skepticmagazine. As Skeptic magazine’s Art Director, she has created many illustrations for both Skeptic and Junior Skeptic. She is co-editor of the The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience.

Donald R. Prothero is a Professor of Geology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He earned M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in geological sciences from Columbia University in 1982, and a B.A. in geology and biology (highest honors, Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of California, Riverside. He is currently the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of 28 books and over 250 scientific papers, including five leading geology textbooks and four trade books as well as edited symposium volumes and other technical works. He is on the editorial board of Skepticmagazine, and in the past has served as an associate or technical editor for GeologyPaleobiologyand Journal of Paleontology.

This show is available on Zune, mp3 via Libsyn or iTunes. Visit www.tokenskeptic.org – and I’d love to get your feedback at tokenskeptic@gmail.comSong used in this episode: “Laundry“ by makardos.

Theme songs are “P&P” by Derek K Miller of www.penmachine.com and “Leap Second” by Milton Mermikides, of www.miltonmermikides.com.