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Transcript for
Darwin vs. the Wolfman

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Recorded voice: How can I help you?

Blake Smith: I’m trying to get some items together for a spell, and I’m having some trouble finding some of the ingredients, so I was—but I’m not sure, maybe some of these things have different names, but I’m looking for henbane?

Recorded voice: Um, we don’t have that.

Blake: Okay. And hemlock?

Recorded voice: No.

Blake: No, okay. They ask for poplar leaves, but I guess I can get those off a tree. And, they said something called cowbane?

Recorded voice: No, we don’t have that either.

Blake: Okay. Are these common ingredients or is this really obscure stuff?

Recorded voice: I don’t know. I don’t think you can buy hemlock.

Blake: Oh really? Because it’s poison?

Recorded voice: Right.

Blake: Oh.

Recorded voice: I’m not sure.

Blake: What about belladonna? Is that legal?

Recorded voice: I don’t think belladonna is either.

Blake: This is going to be hard to do. But if I can’t these ingredients, how can I turn myself into a werewolf?


Blake: Hello, and welcome to MonsterTalk, the podcast that talks about monster stories and their links with science. I’m Blake Smith, and together with Ben Radford, managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer, and Dr. Karen Stollznow, skeptical investigator, blogger, and Skepchick, we critically examine stories about monsters and interview experts who can shed light on these dark mysteries.

Today, we’re talking about werewolves, magical creatures that can turn from human to wolf or even into a hybrid wolf-man. We’ll be joined by Dr. Brian Regal, who will discuss the idea that Darwin’s Origin of the Species turned the werewolf from a serious fear into a creature of fantasy in the minds of most people. Today also marks the first episode of MonsterTalk produced in partnership with Skeptic Magazine. We’d like to thank Skeptic for putting their invisible hand to work in support of our program. We hope you enjoy it.

[Voiceover: MonsterTalk!]

Blake: Werewolves. I love werewolves.

Ben Radford: Werewolves are cool.

Dr. Karen Stollznow: Yeah.

Blake: The werewolves before the 1941 movie Wolf Man with Lon Chaney Jr.…I didn’t love that werewolf that much. It seems like a gyp that he got cursed with it. But in modern literature, werewolves seem to have a lot more control over their transformations, which is really the most important part. And they’re almost indestructible…

Ben: Mm-hmm.

Blake: They get to…except for silver, nothing seems to hurt them very much. I remember watching…

Karen: Why silver?

Blake: Why silver?

Karen: Mm-hmm.

Blake: So maybe it is a pseudoscience link. Well I think actually in real science, though, silver is also kind of an antibiotic.

Ben: Yeah, I think it was used as an antibiotic in the…

Blake: I see it on pseudoscience pages so much I don’t trust it. I’ll have to do the research on that, so…

Ben: You’ll have to do research? Blake, Blake, come on. We don’t do research for these things. Come on.

Blake: It all comes down to the 1941 movie. Before the 1941 movie, silver did not kill werewolves, as far as I know, and werewolves was not a curse.

Karen: That’s the source, then. Or I shouldn’t have asked. [Laughing]

Blake: [Laughing] That is the source, that is the source.

Karen: But you’re right, it has taken various forms today with colloidal silver. My mum makes her own.

Blake: Are you serious?

Karen: Yeah. And thousands of people are going to hear this. [Laughing]

Ben: Is it almost like mercury? I mean, I’m not familiar with that.

Karen: Well, it’s a heavy metal, isn’t it, so it’s dangerous.

Ben: Mm-hmm.

Blake: There’s a process where you basically take the silver and put it into a fluid, and then you drink the fluid, and then itís supposed to help you be more healthy. I know there’s a guy who turned blue from drinking it.

Karen: Yes, I can’t remember the name of that condition.

Ben: His name was Smurf.

Karen: [Laughing] It can turn you grey.

Blake: Yeah, it turns you really grey.

Karen: I think it used to be used in more orthodox medicine, in nasal drops, I think for sinus conditions in the Forties and Fifties, until people started turning grey.

Blake: Yeah, turning grey is no good. I mean, this guy really does look like a Smurf, no joke. His name’s Paul Karoson of Madera, California, and the condition’s called argyria.

Karen: Argyria.

Blake: Yeah, and it makes your skin turn blue—it’s kind of silvery-blue—and they’re using colloidal silver as an antibiotic, and that’s what causes it.

Karen: I guess it’s absorbed into the body and you’re unable to get rid of it.

Blake: Right. Now most people don’t take enough, I think, to have that happen, but this guy was apparently rubbing it on his skin and taking it daily, so…

Ben: But our guest today is talking about werewolves.

Blake: Yes, that’s true. [Laughing]

Ben: Yeah.

Blake: But I think just for the record, that if the 1941 theory about silver is true, then Paul Karoson of Madera, California, is immune from werewolf attacks.

Karen: [Laughing] That is true.

Ben: I’m certain he will not be attacked by a werewolf.

Blake: I think maybe… [Laughing]

Karen: Why are you certain?

Ben: I’ll put money on it.

Blake: [Laughing] I think you’re probably right. So, the Beast of Bray Road is the most recent werewolf-related sightings that I’m aware of.

Karen: Tell us about those.

Blake: The Beast of Bray Road is a book by Linda Godfrey that describes a mysterious animal witnessed in over two hundred sightings—at least according to MonsterQuest. The beast is described as a wolf-like animal that can run on four legs or on two legs, and it’s alleged to haunt the woods of Minnesota, and it’s claimed that it weighs around six hundred pounds. MonsterQuest did an episode on it which failed to produce the creature, but which highlighted the paucity of evidence outside the eyewitness testimony, which we skeptics know is notoriously unreliable.

Ben: Now, and they know it’s a werewolf because they actually saw the transformation, or they just assumed it’s a werewolf?

Blake: I believe the actual sightings were of a wolf-human hybrid, sort of a beast-man.

Ben: So there was…I mean, I’m not familiar with the case, but I mean, was there some sort of before and after, or was it just sort of…

Blake: No, no, I don’t…

Ben: That looks like something that might be a combination of a man and a wolf?

Blake: Well, it’s a hairy biped resembling a wolf-human hybrid that can walk on its hind legs, it can be up to seven feet tall, it runs really really fast. No one has seen it transform, and I have to say that it seems to me that it could have been a bear just as easily as a werewolf. And I guess they’re calling it the Beast of Bray Road instead of the Werewolf of Bray Road because it hasn’t actually had a transformation sighting. My take on it is, there’s a lot of episodes of MonsterQuest which it could be a bear or a Bigfoot. And I’m inclined to think bear, but that’s just because I’ve seen bears, you know.

Karen: [Laughing]

Blake: They seem pretty real. The Bigfoots I still haven’t seen.

Karen: So what other were-creatures exist in folklore? [Laughing]

Blake: There’s a Goat-Man. Not the one on Saturday Night Live, but there’s actually a myth about a Goat-Man.

Karen: So there’s werebears, as well. WereBears.

Blake: Yes, werebears, yes, yes.

Karen: That’s a difficult one to get out with my accent.

Blake: I understand. You know, I used to play a lot of role-playing games, and being a werebear is really great for your defense, and offense.

Ben: I imagine especially your offense.

Blake: Yeah, well, you can do a lot of extra damage when your hands turn into claws, but then you have to put your sword down, but itís okay because you’re immune to most damage except magic itself, so it’s all good.

Ben: Well, yeah, but I think that there is a long tradition of were-animals. Obviously not just—as Karen points out—not just wolves. There are stories of people turning into, you know, snakes and birds and, you know, all sorts of different things. I think that obviously the werewolf is the most popular version, certainly coming from the European traditions, but it’s my understanding that, you know, depending on which culture you’re looking at, you know, it may have different stories of wereworms, for all I know. A wereworm…that would be cool. I turn into a worm.

Karen: Weresheep.

Ben: Yes.

Blake: The Goat-Man is from Maryland, and Loren Coleman wrote in his book, Weird Virginia, that the Bunny-Man sighting from Fairfax County, Virginia, are a variant on the Goat-Man encounters.

Karen: Always cool animals.

Blake: Yeah, that’s right; you don’t see wereworms, although I think Bunny-Man is a little odd. You know, for that matter, although Moth-Man is not really a moth-human hybrid, I always thought a flying man-shaped moth was kind of odd, too.

Karen: Kind of.

Blake: But yeah, I would expect something like, really, you know, a werecoyote, or a werebear, something with some offensive power is a lot more exciting as a monster than something that’s a vegetarian, for example.

Ben: Well, I mean, I think that part of the interest in them is that with something like any were-animal where the other half is a human is that part of the scary and intriguing thing is that the person next to you could be a werewolf. If one of their forms is a natural normal human form, then that sort of adds another element of fear and intrigue to it because it’s not immediately identifiable as a werewolf because of course it could be during the next full moon or the next time it gets angry or is annoyed by a reporter named Jack McGee, it turns into a monster.

Blake: I guess the legend of the werewolf, prior to the 1941 movie though, has its ties in magic, and the original stories that I used to read—I used to read a lot of werewolf books—and most of the stories about werewolves involved people who wanted to become werewolves having to go through rather intense magical rituals, and they had to get fur belts and put on an ointment and do a ceremony, or they had to have been cursed by the gods. Something special had to happen to make somebody go through this transformation.

Karen: Okay, I thought it was uncontrollable, or is that just in other…

Blake: Yeah, that’s just in modern times, that’s just in modern times. Except for the guy who goes mad, becomes a wolf. But what happens is, in Sabine Baring-Gould’s book of werewolves, he talks about…about the first half of the book is about werewolf cases, and they usually sound like large wolves that seem strangely…sapient? The wolves seem unusually cunning, or perhaps they seem a little bit supernatural. And this is…these are all European legends, but later on in his book he switches over to talk about murderers, and he breaks it up into groups of murderers who kill people and eat them, murderers who go crazy and kill people and eat them, and murderers who just kill people. And so some of these people seem to have…it’s the cannibalistic crazy person who thinks they are a werewolf as part of their psychosis, seems to be part of the lore just as well as those animals that are mysteriously intelligent wolves. What is a werewolf and how it attacks is a different legend than how do you become a werewolf, right? So, is it Satanic, is it magic? Whatever it is, it’s not you get bit by a werewolf and you become a werewolf, which is okay. Although I like the new viral version. I think, you know, it makes great fiction, and I’m actually pretty excited about the upcoming remake of the 1941 movie.

Ben: Is that Benecio Del Toro’s?

Blake: Oh it is! Yeah, yeah.

Ben: Yep. Mm-hmm.

Blake: I’m excited about that.

Ben: Apparently it’s been plagued with production problems and feuds and stuff, so it should be interesting whether…

Blake: Would you say it’s been cursed? [Laughing]

Ben: Oooh! Yeah, well, only insofar as most films are cursed on some level.

Blake: Yeah. Well, maybe it won’t be good, but it looked cool. Special effects looked nice. Do we have anything else intelligent to say about werewolves?

Karen: Clearly not.

Blake: Apparently not. [Laughing]

[Voiceover: MonsterTalk!]

Today we’re interviewing Dr. Brian Regal of Kean University, New Jersey. Dr. Regal recently went to England to give a lecture about the relationship between The Origin of Species and the legend of werewolves.

Dr. Regal, before we start talking about Darwin and werewolves, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Dr. Brian Regal: Oh, okay, sure. I’m Assistant Professor for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine here at Kean University in New Jersey, and I have a PhD in American Intellectual History, a subfield of the History of Science. Let’s see, I’ve been here at Kean for about three years now. Before that I was at a small engineering college in New York called the TCI College of Technology for about seven years. And I write on pseudoscience, evolution history, general history, biology, Creationism, all the good stuff.

Blake: Great. So we found you through your Science magazine article…it was an interview with you, talking about your presentation on the role of Darwin and werewolves.

Brian: Right.

Blake: And I wanted to know, can you give us kind of an overview of that presentation?

Brian: Sure. I gave a pair of presentations actually over the summer, one at the British Society for the History of Science, their annual meeting at University of Leicester, and then at the University College, London, they have at the Grant Museum, which is in the Darwin Theater, they have an ongoing public lecture series where they bring in scientists and historians to speak about the various work that they do. And I gave a talk there in which I kind of—not exactly tongue-in-cheek, but not to be taken too seriously—the idea that the advent of Darwinian Evolution Theory in the mid-nineteenth century helped put an end to the belief, in some quarters, in certain kinds of monsters. My work as an historian has always been on the history of Evolution, and my very first book, which was on the life of Henry Fairfield Osborne, the famous American paleoanthropologist, I began noticing very sort of interesting non-scientific aspects of evolutionary biology, particularly in how scientists and laypeople interpreted these things, and that there was more to discussions of human evolution, human origins than rocks and fossils and strata. And as I was writing that book, I began to notice these kind of other interesting tendrils of ideas that were attached to it at the edges, and I knew I wanted to get back to that, and eventually I started focusing in on this, and I discovered monster hunting. And I was fascinated by it because here you have these people who are doing something very interesting—and when I say these people I mean both professional scientists and amateur naturalists. They are trying to prove the existence of something which the mainstream tells them doesn’t exist, yet they want to keep looking for it anyway. And in my work on the history of monster hunting, the first paper I did on it came out last January in the Journal of Animal Science, focused on the life of Grover Krantz. And as I was looking at Krantz’s life and the world of monster hunting, it struck me that while there are a lot of groups that—and individuals who—look for creatures like Bigfoot and Yeti and the Skookum and the Swamp Ape and these sort of related cryptids, nobody seemed to be worried about werewolves anymore. And I thought, well, where have all the werewolves gone? Why aren’t we worried about werewolves anymore? And as I began to think about it more, it struck me that what happens is if you look at the writings on werewolves up the mid-nineteenth century, they’re generally believed in even by scholars, but then after Darwinian Evolution comes along, they begin to go into decline and reports of werewolves, especially in the industrialized world, begin to drop off dramatically. And so I thought, well that’s very interesting. You have people who are looking at the basic idea of the werewolf, which says you have a combination, a composite, of a wolf or a dog and a human. But good Darwinian Evolution tells us that while dogs and humans are vaguely related because we’re all living things, that dogs and humans are not closely related, that you can’t get a dog-human hybrid.

However, what you can get after the advent of Darwinian Evolution theory is the ape-human hybrid. In fact, the connections between humans and primates is the underlying sort of working paradigm of human evolution. And I thought, well that’s very interesting because here we have an example of the old heroic narrative of, you know, science comes along and sort of defeats belief in the supernatural and fantasies like monsters. But then if you finish that sentence, what happens is it undermines the heroic narrative, because after the werewolves and the mermaids and these sort of creatures kind of get brushed off to the side by Evolution Theory, that allows for a whole new set of monsters to appear and to be believed in. And so along comes the Yeti and then Bigfoot and these other sort of anomalous primates, and while the vast majority of the scientific community still rejects them as being genuine creatures, at least what they have over these monsters of the past is a basic scientific justification, because if we ever find out that Bigfoot does exist, we’ll see that it’s some kind of primate. And so this sort of monster is allowed to exist because of Evolution Theory while monsters like werewolves get put down by Evolution Theory.

Karen: Brian, how did the idea of werewolves arise and how far back do the beliefs go, and could you tell us some of the beliefs and theories about werewolves that existed pre-Origin of Species?

Brian: I think I got most of your question there; it’s just a little bit garbled. But if you look at the vast majority—if not all—of the reports of Bigfoot-like creatures, and I’ll use the term Bigfoot or anomalous primate to cover all of these things, if you look at the vast run of what, the evidence that your average cryptozoologist will point to and say, ‘Well, here is the evidence of Bigfoot,’ way back in time, you don’t see any mention of apes prior to the middle of the nineteenth century. There are discussions of monkeys and primates and apes, but the ape has yet to be connected to the sort of monstrous creature. Apes are generally viewed prior to the nineteenth century as, in some places, tricksters, sort of comical characters; in other cases, they sort of stand in for representations of all the dark aspects of the human psyche. But you don’t really—you’re hard pressed to find any sort of Bigfoot/Sasquatch-related stories prior to the nineteenth century, prior to the advent of Evolutionary Theory wherein these creatures are linked to apes. They’re always linked to wild men rather than apes.

Karen: Okay, I was actually asking about werewolves. It must be my accent here…

Brian: Oh, I’m sorry.

Karen: I was asking about the beliefs and theories of werewolves that existed pre-Origin of Species.

Brian: Oh, I see, okay. Well, there’s so many that when we think of the werewolf we tend to think of the kind of European variation on the theme. You know, from the movie The Wolf Man, even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers at night can become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the August moon shines bright. That’s probably the most famous case of werewolf poetry. Most people don’t realize that was actually written by the screenwriter for the film The Wolf Man. It’s not actually ancient at all. But we have these traditions of were-creatures, humans that turn into various creatures. Around the world, back to the ancient world, the word ‘lycanthropy’ comes from an ancient Greek tradition of a king that gets turned into a wolf because of various wrong-doing. But what I found interesting about the…and there’s no one real werewolf canon of belief. There’s a lot of different ideas from a lot of different places that can all get thrown into one general concept of a human changing in some sort of supernatural way into some form of wolf—sometimes a complete wolf, sometimes just a hairy human. But if you look at the discussions of werewolfery in, say, like the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, there’s a really interesting things that goes on, because already by the 1500s you’re already seeing sort of learned discourses on the nature of werewolves where they’re mostly discounted. There are authors who say, ‘Well they’re probably people who just think they’re werewolves.’ So we think of psychological explanations for various phenomena as being a modern thing, but all the way back to the fourteenth century you’re already getting these first hints at scholars saying, ‘Well maybe they’re not really becoming wolves, maybe they just think they are.’ There’s also theological discussions which have a really interesting rationalism to them where they say, ‘Well only God can change one creature into another and therefore humans can’t do it themselves and demons couldn’t do it and so you can’t have a werewolf because God would never turn a person into a wolf.’ And so there are these kind of theological disagreements on whether or not these creatures can exist. And they start fairly early on.

Ben: That’s interesting because as I understand it that centuries ago werewolves were often associated with magic, witchcraft, Satan, things like that.

Brian: Right.

Ben: Yet of course the modern Bigfoot is almost completely stripped of anything like that. You don’t really hear stories of Bigfoot having those sorts of traditions. And yet of course people do still believe in magic, people still believe in witchcraft and the occult and New Age. How do you reconcile that?

Brian: Well there are actually supernatural aspects to anomalous primates like Bigfoot and Sasquatch in particular. In Native American tribal lore, they see these creatures as spirit-like things. There are even some examples—a few rare examples where it’s thought that you can turn into Bigfoot, although those are mostly relegated to Native American traditions. And there are those who are mostly on the fringes of anomalous primate research who claim a sort of ghostly connection for Bigfoot, a UFO connection for Bigfoot, and while Bigfoot is generally seen as a kind of pastoral creature, there are traditions where they act quite violently, and act as violently as any werewolf would. So there are these kind of strands within Bigfoot lore.

Ben: So are you saying that there’s strands of Bigfoot lore in which Bigfoot is associated with, like, full moons and bloodthirsty and aversion to silver and garlic and things?

Brian: Well, no, not the sort of traditional classic werewolf stuff, but in that there are Bigfoot traditions in which the creatures is not seen as a biological entity but rather as a spirit entity.

Ben: Okay, but I mean of course, most of the Bigfoot people that I have run into, and probably the ones you know, wouldn’t accept that.

Brian: No, no, I agree, the majority of current Bigfoot enthusiasts tend also to discount the spiritual aspect of all of this, and they see it as a pretty straightforward biological entity rather than some sort of supernatural.

Blake: There is a contingent within Bigfoot—I don’t want to call it fandom, but within the Bigfoot community—that thinks that there is a paranormal aspect…

Brian: Oh sure, of course.

Blake: …and whether that’s magical or UFO-related or multi-dimensional Bigfoot—Beckyard’s stuff comes to mind—but it’s out there. It’s just not the mainstream of Bigfoot…

Brian: Right.

Blake: …and it’s kind of like, if you think of Bigfoot studies are not really mainstream anyway, then it’s like a microcosm within that, I guess, right?

Brian: Sure, yeah, there is the sort of…we could break the world of Bigfoot enthusiasm, amateur naturalists into two basic chunks. The genuine biological entity school and the supernatural school, and the supernatural school is far and away the smaller of the two.

Blake: Gotcha. I was going to say…we talked about this briefly…but the idea of, a werewolf bites you and it becomes infectious, that seems really common in all the modern lore, but doesn’t that also come back from the 1941 movie?

Brian: Yeah, there’s a lot of what people think is genuine medieval or Renaissance-era werewolf lore that really is actually quite modern. It’s a product of the cinema rather than history, and the silver bullet, the full moon, the garlic, most of it is. And the same thing holds for vampires. The vast majority of what modern vampire enthusiasts believe to be genuine historical vampire lore is all from twentieth-century cinema, and from Anne Rice novels.

Blake: Okay. [Laughing] The reason I ask is, I went back…a long time ago I read Sabine Baring-Gould’s The Book of Were-Wolves

Brian: Mm-hmm.

Blake: …and I was noticing when I was studying up for this interview, it came out in 1865 and The Origin of Species came out in 1859, and already by 1865 Baring-Gould says that he thought…he hadn’t seen any werewolves, well he got lots of stories, he found more cases where there were people who had gone mad and killed, people who were cannibals. But in all of my research it seemed that up until that 1941 movie, people who wanted to become werewolves chose to become werewolves for the most part through magical ritual or some other effort, or they were cursed in some way, but not in a sort of viral way. Is that consistent with what you’ve found?

Brian: Yes, that’s essentially correct. There is—that’s why I said before that in my discussion of Darwin and werewolves, you sort of had to take a little bit tongue-in-cheek and not take it too seriously because werewolves have never really been considered products of the natural world, the biological world, but rather they’re products of the supernatural world. And so that poses a difficulty for historians of science and cryptozoologists alike that you have this creature which is a part-time monster. Creatures like Bigfoot or sea serpents or mermaids; they exist in their totality all the time. They don’t change one form into another, whereas the werewolf has a tradition of changing from a human form into a non-human form. And there are no animals that…as much as we would like to believe it, there’s really no such thing as shape-shifting in the kind of cinematic way that most people are familiar with. There are animals that change parts of their look temporarily—they can change color or they can change shape slightly when they’re attacking or being attacked, but there really are no genuine shape-shifters where a particular individual organism completely change its species into something else.

Karen: Before the mid-nineteenth century, how seriously were werewolves taken as a danger, do you think, socially?

Brian: Well, that’s an interesting question. They certainly were believed throughout most of the world, but I think people certainly feared witches more than they feared werewolves. If you look at the history of witch crazes, there was really never a werewolf craze, and there are only a few existing trial records of werewolves on trial. And the ones that do exist, it seems like the various magistrates who preside over these trials really didn’t accept the existence of werewolves. And there’s one famous one from the Balkans region where this old man is called into give evidence at a trial for something else, and in the middle of the trial he just sort of blurts out, ‘Oh, you know, and I’m a werewolf,’ and sort of stuns the crowd, and the magistrate asks him to explain, and the old guy starts going on about how he’s a werewolf and he has werewolf friends and he’s visited Hell and talked to Satan and done all these things. And you get the idea from the court transcripts that the magistrate is more annoyed than scared by this, you know, somebody get the crazy old guy out of here, we have witches to burn, and he’s sort of using up our witch-burning time on this silly werewolf idea. So it sort of depended on where you were. There was a general belief in werewolves and people were sort of afraid of encountering them, but I don’t think the fear was as great as the fear of witches or other entities that were popular at the time.

Ben: I think he was probably just trying to angle for a mistrial, would be my guess.

Brian: That’s possible, that’s a pretty dangerous ploy, though, to… That’s standing awful close to the flames.

Karen: Yes.

Ben: Does your research have an implication, because you talked about the whole notion of the animal-human hybrids. What’s your position on some of the non-hybrids, such as, for example, Nessie or the Duende of Latin America or other things? I assume that much of your argument still holds up even though they’re not necessarily something that would have had cold water thrown on them by The Origin of Species.

Brian: Right. Well, it’s an interesting question, and yes, whenever you start talking about these sort of natural monsters, if we might call them those, things like Nessie or Bigfoot, which are not generally thought of as being supernatural, the formula I think still holds, because what happens is, as I said before, we have this notion of the Heroic Narrative, where you have a grand idea which tells us something good about some aspect of the past. Take World War Two for example. The Heroic Narrative of World War Two is that you have the evil of the Nazis and Japanese Empire must be defeated by the forces of good. And that’s what happened. The forces of good triumph over the evils of…of evil. And so we can all look back on that and feel very good about it. In the history of science we have similar Heroic Narratives, and one of the central Heroic Narratives of the history of science is that the world lives in darkness and superstition and suddenly you get the Renaissance and you get the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment, and science comes along and banishes all this kind of believing in supernatural and theological explanations for things, and the cold hard truth of reason and empiricism comes along, and it makes us happy about science, well, science is good, science is progressive, it’s forward-moving, and we leave bad things in the past and we move forward into the enlightened goodness of the future. And what the history of monsters does, what the history of cryptozoology does, as a number of other things do, is kind of throw that Heroic Narrative into a bit of chaos, because yes, while science does tend to banish things like mermaids and werewolves and other such creatures, it opens up belief in other kinds of monster. It simply substitutes one group of monsters for another. It doesn’t banish the notion of monsters completely, and what happens is that as the werewolf sort of gets pushed off the stage, Bigfoot and the Yeti and Nessie and Ogopogo and other similar creatures, Mokele-mbembe, come along and get up on stage, and while the scientific mainstream might not accept these creatures completely, at least they have a kind of underlying scientific justification. They don’t go away completely.

Karen: So, can I ask, what sort of feedback have you received regarding your theory so far, and have you had any opposition to your theory?

Brian: The feedback has actually been pretty good. I was sort of caught off surprise when my work got noticed at all, quite frankly. USA Today picked up on it, and then Science, the American Academy for the Advancement of Science picked up on it, and then once it hit the internet, it started getting repeated on dozens of different websites. And mostly the reaction was really quite positive. People sort of got the joke a little bit and kind of played with it. A few people said, ‘Well you can’t…this is a bad idea because werewolves are supernatural and Bigfoot’s a real creature,’ and one of my favorite reactions was, somebody wrote in to a website and said that this guy, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, I just saw Twilight and there are werewolves in Twilight so he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Blake: Huh. [Laughing]

Brian: So, that was fun. But generally speaking the reaction was pretty positive.

Ben: I think that anecdote you just gave us was an interesting one because in many ways, as you know, what you find when you start looking for these creatures is that you begin…you may start out looking for the physical specimen itself, but if it’s not there, as many of these don’t seem to be, then what you end up studying is the phenomenology of the creature.

Brian: Right.

Ben: You start looking at the folklore and the depictions of it in artwork and films and whatever else. The guy’s comment that, ‘Well, werewolves are still around, I saw one last night,’ there’s sort of an element of truth to that, because Darwin did not kill off the werewolves. They’re still very much with us…

Brian: Sure.

Ben: …in books and whatever else. And of course Bigfoot as well, and so it seems to me that what’s going to happen is that many of these old creatures that—unicorns, leprechauns, centaurs, what-have-you—you know, some of them have died off…I mean, I don’t know if there’s any credible dragon sightings recently. But…

Brian: There have been werewolf sightings.

Ben: Yes. And so can you talk some about that?

Brian: Yeah, well, this is another sort of hole in the facade of the Heroic Narrative of science banishing all foolish thinking. As recently as, I believe it was 1999, 2000, in Wisconsin, the Beast of Bray Road, people believe they saw a creature which was a werewolf, and this was not in some third-world country amongst illiterate people, it was in the heart of the industrial world. And so, there are still people out there who believe these creatures are real.

Blake: And there’s Goat-Man. Don’t forget Goat-Man.

Brian: Right, and the Chupacabra and similar…the Skunk Ape, all across North America we still have these creatures.

Ben: So do you think these things exist, or not?

Brian: Personally, I gotta say, I don’t think they do.

Blake: Awww. No. [Laughing]

Brian: But I’m a historian, not a biologist. I accept that tomorrow we might find one, and if we do I’ll come back on the show and say I’m sorry, I was wrong. But of the evidence I’ve seen so far, which some of it is really quite intriguing, but I don’t think they’re there. I think we would have found one by now.

Ben: Well, as a historian of science, let me just do a quick follow-up on that, because as I’m sure you’re aware, one of the both famous and favorite animals that cryptozoologists like to hold up is the coelacanth. I can’t swing a cat in my library without hitting a book on cryptozoology that doesn’t just put that front and center as being…

Brian: Right.

Ben: …’Well obviously scientists were wrong about this,’ and I keep thinking, ‘Well hold on here, there’s a very big difference between a creature that was known to exist, was thought to be extinct, and was rediscovered in 1938,’ and so to my mind the coelacanth is really sort of a red herring.

Blake: [Laughing]

Ben: In a weird pun way.

Brian: No, I would agree with you completely.

Ben: I mean…so, what’s your thought on the implications, if any, of the coelacanth to cryptozoology?

Brian: Right, well, I’m…I have a number of friends who are cryptozoologists and they always get mad when I say these sorts of things, but I hope they know I say it as a loyal opposition, not as an angry debunker, but the problem of the coelacanth is, first of all, it was not discovered—it was not found because someone was looking for it. It was found accidentally. No one had any idea that this fish might exists until someone stumbled across it. There was a fossil record of these creatures, but no one thought, ‘You know, there still must be coelacanths swimming around, if only we could find one.’ And a lot of those examples, like the okapi is another one, these creatures that are discovered that were not actually being looked for. And so there aren’t that many examples of the classic cryptozoological discovery where someone thinks, ‘I think animal ‘X’ must exist in this particular environment, in this particular place,’ they’ll go there and they’ll find it. The Patterson film notwithstanding and all those Bigfoot footprints notwithstanding, we haven’t yet done that. And what gets very interesting about this is that non-cryptozoologists, biologists, zoologists, they find undiscovered creatures all the time.

Ben: Mm-hmm.

Brian: Hardly a day goes by when some unknown biological entity is discovered, a new beetle, a new flower, a new micro-organism. But nobody really gets that worked up about it outside the scientific community. It’s only the sort of bigger animals that people are really sort of fascinated by. You know, oh, a new beetle, so what, you know? I’ve got beetles all over my house, you’ve got to crow about it. They want the sort of big showy animals.

Ben: And of course there’s a big difference between positing a population of twelve-foot-tall giant humanoids in North America and positing a population of fish off the Comoros Islands.

Brian: Right.

Ben: These are just two very different animals.

Brian: Right. And in the end, the beauty part of all this is, tomorrow we might find one. And then, you know, we have to reconsider, but until we do it’s just an idea. It’s just a theory that these things are there.

Karen: So with these modern sightings, what do you think—I know you said you’re not a biologist—but what do you think they may have been?

Brian: Oh, they’re probably…there’s probably a dozen different answers to that. People see something; they think it’s something else. Again, like I said, I can’t really…my animal recognition skills are not what they should be. But I’ve seen examples on film, unambiguous examples on film where, for example, bears wander into communities of houses and people see them and they shoot them either with a video camera or they shoot them with a gun. And I have to think that if there are populations, there are breeding populations of anomalous primates out there, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, it would be just another animal that we’re aware of.

Blake: That makes sense. I think so. [Laughing] Of course we’re all skeptics.

Brian: Right.

Blake: But you’ve made it clear that this paper or presentation is light-hearted.

Brian: Right.

Blake: Yet it seems like there’s some truth to it, that the correlation between the rise of…well, and I think that maybe because the rise of Darwin also represents the rise of more materialism and how that materialism can sort of drive out through education some of these mythical ideas, yet clearly we seem to have some need for myth and monsters.

Brian: Mm-hmm.

Blake: But as a historian, how would you go about falsifying such a theory, or how could you prove your theory if you were trying to make it more serious?

Brian: Well, actually, in a way, I am. One of the things…the research project I’m working on right now is that what most people don’t realize is the role that monsters played in the development of evolutionary theory. There is a long tradition, I’m arguing in this project, that the intent by scholars to engage with monstrous creatures going all the way back to Pliny the Elder in the Greco-Roman world helps pave the way for modern evolutionary thinking unintentionally. Because if you can…if you think of ideas about species, differentiation and species transmutation and where do monsters come from, you’re essentially setting up for belief in evolutionary theory. So there is a long tradition of creatures like sea serpents, for example, and mermaids, which played a really big but now sort of forgotten role in the late nineteenth-century discussion of evolution. What happens is, anti-evolutionists say, ‘Well, if this Darwin guy is right, that would mean that you have to believe in these sort of phantasms like werewolves or sea serpents, and we know those are just childish delusions, and so therefore, the world should be—if Darwin is right—the world should be full up with sea monsters and mermaids and hippogriffs and other such creatures. And so since they don’t, Darwin must be wrong.’ And then pro-evolutionists took the same idea and said, ‘Well, wait a minute, the world WAS once filled up with such creatures, and we have the fossil evidence for it. The plesiosaurs and the icthyosaurs once swam the seas as majestically as any sea serpent, and the dinosaurs roamed the land and were as frightening as anything out of Greek mythology, and Archaeopteryx, we have the fossil evidence for it. So Darwin does show that monsters were real.’ And so there was this really interesting sort of battle going on between the pro- and the anti-evolution camps using monsters to beat each other up with.

Ben: Hmm.

Karen: So what do you think Darwin would have thought of the notion of werewolves and other animals like that?

Brian: Well Darwin doesn’t really address the issue. My feeling is that he probably would not have believed in them because there are a number of places in his published works and in his unpublished correspondence where he says, ‘I don’t believe something could be half of one thing and half another.’ Although there is a really interesting quote where he’s writing to a naturalist friend of his—this is in the 1840s—and a French book on both animal and human monsters had recently come out by Geoffrey St. Hilaire and he says to his…Darwin says to his correspondent, ‘I just finished reading Hilaire’s book on animal monsters and a nasty curious subject it is. He sort of had a little bit of interest in it, but I think in the end he kind of dismissed it.

Ben: What’s your take on the Beast of Gevaudan?

Brian: On the…I’m sorry?

Ben: The Beast of Gevaudan? The French werewolf? Sort of back in eighteen…I think seventeen, something or other?

Blake: 1764…Sorry.

Brian: Yeah, again with all of these stories, if we accept that you can’t have a natural canid-human hybrid, or if we accept that even on a supernatural level one species can’t shape shift into another, it had to have been something else, we know there’s a long history of people using the supernatural to gain political ascendancy or to outwit enemies or simply to be able to steal neighboring land when they know these things don’t exist, but they know that society at large might accept it, and so they’ll accuse people of doing something. Which is essentially the basis of most of the witch trials. They really had nothing to do with witches at all; it was much more political and cultural.

Blake: It’s been my experience that there’s a strong contingent of Young Earth Creationists who seem very, very interested in finding some kind of living dinosaur or monster…

Brian: Mm-hmm.

Blake: …to disprove evolution. Have you looked into that?

Brian: Sure. I have. We here at Kean a couple of years ago, we had some people from Answers in Genesis that came to give a talk. The Student Christian Association had invited them, and I saw the signs for it. At first I wasn’t going to go, but then I thought, ‘Well, I am supposed to be the History of Science guy so I’ll go and I’ll sit in the back and I’ll be quiet and I won’t say anything and I’ll just let them say their spiel.’ And I went and I got there a little bit late and I walked in and there were exactly five people there.

Ben: [Laughing]

Brian: Two of them were the two presenters, and two of them were students, and the fifth one was me.

Blake: Wow.

Brian: And so I tried to keep to my…you know, I wasn’t going there for a fight. I just wanted to listen.

Ben: They should have offered free donuts.

Blake: [Laughing]

Brian: Well, I think they actually did have free donuts—even that wasn’t enough to get anybody in there. But they’re talking, they’re showing a PowerPoint presentation, and about three-quarters of the way through I said something, I forget what it was, it was something about carbon dating, that I knew he was just factually wrong on, and I’d sort of reached my limit. It was like nine o’clock at night, I’d been teaching and reading and writing all day and I just wasn’t in the mood for it, and I said, Well, I gotta say something, so I put my hand up. And we got into this whole conversation, and at one point I said to the guy, ‘Well, you know, I really didn’t come here to take over the talk, I didn’t want to get into a fight about anything, I wanted to let you guys speak,’ and so he’s, ‘No, no, no, I want to keep talking, I want to keep talking,’ and he started showing me these slides of cryptids, of Mokele-mbembe and the Thunderbird and these other things. And he goes, ‘Well what’s this, what’s this?’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s Bigfoot.’ And he was sort of was a little upset that I actually knew what this was. And he shows me another slide and says, ‘What’s that?’ And I said, ‘Well, it’s a Pterodactyl, it’s a painting of a Pterodactyl’. ‘No, no, it’s the Thunderbird, it’s a Thunderbird.’ And I said, ‘Well, it’s a painting of a Pterodactyl.’

Blake: [Laughing]

Brian: Then he showed me a picture of some dinosaur crashing through some sort of like a jungle scene, and by now I know where he’s going with this. And he says, ‘Well, what’s this?’ And I said, ‘Well, it’s probably Mokele-mbembe,’ and then he really got mad because I knew what this was. And so, ‘How do you explain that, how do you explain that?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t explain it, it’s a myth. Bring one in, bring a real one in and we’ll, you know, we can talk about it.’ What I find interesting and sort of amusing about the Creationist’s attempt to embrace Cryptozoologists…because most of them won’t do it, because they sort of sense that that’s sort of a road that if they go down they can get in more trouble than it’s worth, but if, for example, we do find a dinosaur wandering around the Congo, it doesn’t necessarily prove a young Earth, it just proves that dinosaurs lasted beyond the point in which we thought they did. And so the belief by some Creationists that if you prove that dinosaurs are still around, or if you prove that Bigfoot exists, that you’ll somehow undermine the notion of Evolution, and it’s just not going to happen, because it doesn’t, logically.

Ben: That’s a real interesting point. I don’t know if you know this or not, but right now as we speak, here in October, there’s actually an alleged Chupacabra that’s being exhibited at a Creationist museum outside of Syracuse.

Brian: Mm-hmm. Right.

Ben: I wrote a piece on it, and it’s almost certainly a coyote and [garbled] see how much you paid for it, but yeah, he’s convinced this so-called Chupacabra in scare quotes is going to embarrass and refute science, and…

Brian: Right, and it never does.

Ben: No, it doesn’t.

Brian: If anything, I think people who…if you believe that Bigfoot is real, if you believe that Chupacabra is real, God bless ya, you know? The people who are going to prove this one way or another are not going to be mainstream scientists because they don’t think it exists. If we ever find out that Bigfoot is real it’s going to be proven by Cryptozoologists, so I have to give them that. But I think the Creationists want to do this, go ahead, I love it, I find it fascinating, I want to see more. If they do find a real Chupacabra, let’s take a look at it. You’re not going to undermine the idea of evolution. I just was having a discussion with some of my students, because I don’t know if you’re aware of this but an anti-evolution organization just put out an edition of The Origin of Species, with a long rambling introduction essentially arguing that Darwin was this horrible person. And one of my students had read it and said, ‘Well, what do you think about this? Was Darwin really this bad guy?’ And I said, ‘Well, first of all, he wasn’t.’ If you really want to read an excellent book on Darwin’s anti-slavery, pro-abolition feelings you have to get Adrian Desmond’s and Jim Moore’s recent book, Darwin’s Sacred Cause. But even if the anti-evolutionists are correct, even if Darwin really was this terrible, awful, racist bastard, it still doesn’t mean that evolution doesn’t work. Isaac Newton was a peculiar guy, but that doesn’t mean if you jump off the roof of your house you’re not going to fall. And so it doesn’t matter, you can attack the theorist all you want, the notion itself is still going to be there.

Blake: You’ve already made clear that your theory is not necessarily a serious theory, but it occurred to me that by 1865 when Sabine Baring-Gould wrote his Book of Werewolves, that was also contemporaneous with the horrors of war coming into people’s living rooms through the development of photography.

Brian: Mm-hmm. Right.

Blake: So I was wondering, how much do you think the development of photography also impacted the, I guess, the lessening of fears of the supernatural when there were so many real world horrors that people could suddenly see for themselves?

Brian: Well, I would question whether or not that really did undermine the supernatural, because what happens is, from the Civil War you get a real surge in interest in spiritualism. Now obviously spiritualism begins before the Civil War, but after the war there’s this real kind of wide-spread interest in spiritualism in the United States because so many people lose loved ones in the war, and they’re desperate to try to contact them. And so, far from, I think, undermining supernatural beliefs, photography helped promote it. We have a whole craze of spirit photography that really starts after the Civil War.

Blake: Wow. So, that was…are you talking about the Fox sisters?

Brian: Right, well, the Fox sisters, the notion of spiritualism in North America begins in the 1830s, but…and very quickly there’s a lot of interest in it—but there’s this kind of nation-wide surge following the Civil War, because so many people lost loved ones, and what may have seemed like just a sort of a silly belief prior to that, suddenly like, ‘Well, if this is something I might be able to contact my dead son or my dead father with, I’ll give it a shot.’

Blake: Right. I think I even remember Lincoln and his wife wanting to try contact their dead son.

Brian: Well, mostly it was his wife.

Blake: Yeah.

Ben: Soon after, William Mumler began faking spirit photos.

Brian: Right, right.

Blake: Gotcha. Okay.

Brian: Yeah, so that’s the thing, that’s one of the things about the history of science. We like to think that it’s this great…and it certainly is, I’m certainly pro-evolution, I’m pro-science—but we have this misconstrued notion that science sweeps away the supernatural and science sweeps away the dark corners, and sometimes it certainly does, but sometimes it allows for the dark corners to grow, and in a way when science does do that it makes it even more difficult because we have come to, in the 21st century, we have come to believe that science is the final arbiter on all knowledge. So if someone out there says, ‘Well, if Bigfoot is a primate, it’s an evolutionary creature, so therefore science supports it, it must be real, so I’ll believe in it.’

Blake: That’s a jump.

Brian: And so it doesn’t always banish the dark things that go bump in the night.

Blake: Gotcha.

Brian: Sometimes it helps them to grow.

Karen: I was going to ask, why do you think werewolves seem to be so popular in current pop culture again, or do you think they never really went away?

Brian: Yeah, I’m not…well, I think it is a little more popular, certainly in the 20th century since the introduction of cinema. But for my own, I always prefer the werewolf over the vampire. The vampire always seems like a, you know, sort of the pompous ass of the monster world, where the werewolf seems like a more tragic and sympathetic figure to me. But that’s just me.

Karen: Do you think the interest has been pretty consistent in werewolves or…?

Brian: I think the popular…certainly the popular print interest or cinema interest is greater now than it was in the past. There aren’t that many werewolf novels, while there are lots of vampire novels, in the late nineteenth century.

Blake: Yeah.

Brian: You know, a lot of ghost stories, a lot of ghost novels, a lot of vampire novels. Very few werewolf literature.

Blake: And now there’s tons of vampires, and still lesser number of werewolf novels, but the paranormal romance field is huge right now with vampire novels, and werewolves.

Brian: Right, yeah. And apparently somewhere along the line the vampires and the werewolves were closely linked in ways that they were never in the past.

Blake: Right. I probably…I mean this is just a guess, I haven’t actually done the research, but I do a lot of gaming. [Laughing] And the White Wolf books…

Brian: All right.

Blake: …yeah, the White Wolf…Werewolf…let’s see, Vampires: The Requiem and Werewolf: The Apocalypse, I forget all the names of their books, but they tie together werewolf and vampire lore. And then, of course, there were the movies with Kate Beckinsale, where it’s also they had like a long-standing war, which seems pretty much a rip-off of White Wolf, but…-

Brian: Right.

Ben: I don’t think people are watching those films for the werewolves, Blake.

Blake: Uh, well…[Laughing]

Brian: Yeah, I think it’s the black leather.

Blake: That could be true, all the Euro trash and the violence, I don’t know, so…

Brian: And vampires have a better wardrobe.

Blake: They are very fashionable. All they need to do now is walk slowly from explosions as though they don’t care, and I’m in, I’m in, so…[Laughing]

Brian: Right, right.

Blake: But yeah, yeah, I read a lot of the gaming stuff, and it seems to me that’s a White Wolf thing and people have just picked up on it. But according…you know, White Wolf pretty much ripped off Anne Rice and her interpretation…

Brian: Mm-hmm.

Blake: …so, again, that’s just opinion. So, tell us about your new book, Pseudoscience: A Critical Encyclopedia.

Brian: Oh, well it’s supposed to be out pretty much now. That’s what they told me, that’s what my publisher Greenwood said. It’s called Pseudoscience: A Critical Encyclopedia, and I was asked to write this a couple of years ago by Greenwood Press, and they said, you know, ëWe’d like you to do…we want to put out an Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience.í And I said, ëSure, I’ll do it.í But as I began to put together a proposal for it, I…I watch a lot of TV, and I yell at my TV a lot. I watch a lot of stuff on The Learning Channel and Smithsonian Channel and I see these shows about the supernatural, and I love watching Ghost Hunters, but I end up yelling at the TV, which is really sad.

Blake: Does it help? [Laughing]

Brian: Yeah, because they make such statements and backed up with no historical scholarship, no scientific acumen, not even a sense of literary flourish, and so when I sat down to do this book on pseudoscience, I said I’m not going to do just your average, straightforward, A to Z, “Here is what Red Mercury is, and this is what a flying saucer looks like.” I wanted to examine…I wanted to write it in a way that when readers read it they would not just see some fun information about interesting topics, but learn to think scientifically, learn to think about the nature of the philosophy of science, learn to distinguish between what is real science and what isn’t, and to kind of see it as rather than just a compendium of a bunch of things in alphabetical order, to make it a kind of connected work that could read like, not like an encyclopedia, but as a complete work, in which you would be constantly asking questions about, well, if you’re looking at ghosts, what is it about ghosts that makes it pseudoscientific, what is it about ghosts that if we wanted it to be scientific we would have to do in order to make it scientific. And so I approached it from that point of view, as a learning device for studying the difference between genuine science and pseudoscience.

Ben: Sounds great. Look forward to seeing it.

Brian: Well, like I said, you can order it now, and they told me the middle of October it will be available, and it’s now the middle of October, so hopefully you can get it.

Blake: What did you find most interesting, like, what was the best pseudoscience you had never heard of, or what…?

Brian: Oh, oh. Good question. I had heard about most of the stuff I did. There’s a few things that I’d seen since I’ve put in the final manuscript that I wish I had put in, but maybe they’ll let me do a second volume I can put all that stuff in. The thing that struck me…the one thing I really wasn’t aware of at the time that I did include which not only made me scratch my head but made me sort of angry was this concept of Gay Repair Theory, or Gay Repair Therapy…

Blake: Oh boy.

Brian: …where you have Christian Fundamentalists that think that you can sort of force a person to not be gay anymore, and the length that they go…And the genuine harm that is being done to people through this. So that was a thing that most caught my attention and…You know, Loch Ness Monster doesn’t make me angry, but this sort of made me angry.

Blake: Yeah, that’s…I never really thought about that as a pseudoscience because it seemed almost like a magical approach. Wow, so are they…

Brian: And what’s really interesting is that one of the leaders of the Gay Repair Therapy movement apparently had a bit of a lapse and came out and said, ‘Look, I’m gay and that’s it, I can’t change.’ That was a bit of a blow to the overall movement.

Blake: [Laughing] Like that’s really surprising.

Brian: Right, yeah, well, yeah.

Blake: But you know, I’m a big advocate for gay rights and gay equality. Well, civil rights, because I think, you know…

Brian: Sure.

Blake: …we should have those things. Yeah, I really hadn’t looked into that very much except for the sort of comical takes that, like the Daily Show and Colbert has done on them, but…

Brian: Right. Well, it is a sort of inherently funny idea until you see the actual human toll that it takes.

Blake: Yeah, then it’s not so funny.

Brian: You know, if someone believes in Bigfoot and I disagree, that’s fine. Nobody’s getting hurt by it. If you want to believe in Nessie or if you want in UFOs or whatever, but there are pseudoscientific ideas that do have real world costs, and that’s one of them.

Blake: Yeah, I think so.

Brian: Great, well, thanks for having me on, and any time, and it was fun.

Blake: Hopefully you’ll get the MonsterTalk bump with your book sales. [Laughing]

Brian: Oh, one last thing, here at Kean we have a historical lecture series, and in the first week of December I’m going to be giving the talk on Darwin and the Werewolves, so if anybody’s in the New Jersey area, we’ll be putting it up online where you can see it, and it will be a free event so people can come by.

Blake: Excellent.

Ben: Great.

Blake: Thank you very, very much for your time.

Brian: Great. Okay.

Karen: Thank you, Brian.

Brian: Thank you.

Blake: Thanks for listening to another episode of MonsterTalk. Today you heard about werewolves, the role of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in banishing these creatures to the world of myth, and insights into the relationship between cryptozoology and Creationism. Our guest today was Dr. Brian Regal, and your hosts were myself, Blake Smith; Benjamin Radford; and Dr. Karen Stollznow. MonsterTalk theme music by Peach Stealing Monkeys, used with permission. MonsterTalk is produced with the support of Skeptic Magazine.


Blake: I apologize, I have kind of a funky voice, I have a little bit of a cold going, and I’m high on Nyquil, but other than that, I think this will be a great interview. [Laughing]

Brian: Okay, great, so am I.

The views expressed on this program are not necessarily the views of the Skeptics Society or Skeptic magazine.

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