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2010 Episodes

December 22nd: A Bestiary of Creatures

Author Christopher Dell has collected an astonishing array of art from around the world depicting many obscure and mysterious creatures in his new book Monsters: A Bestiary of Devils, Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Magical Creatures.

Christopher Dell joins the MonsterTalk crew to discuss why humans are so fascinated by these bizarre entities.

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December 1st: The Iceman Goeth

Late in the 1960s, in the era which gave us the famous Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film, fairgoers in Minnesota were confronted with a marvel: a hairy, primitive-looking humanoid frozen in a block of ice. Was it an anthropological relic? Was it a sasquatch?

As investigators from the Smithsonian Institute and cryptozoological researchers studied the frozen creature, they came to very different conclusions as to what it represented. The MonsterTalk hosts interview Bigfoot researcher and former side-show performer Matt Crowley — and try to crack the case of The Minnesota Iceman.

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November 3rd: On Monsters

This week on MonsterTalk, author Stephen Asma (Professor of Philosophy at Columbia College Chicago) speaks about his comprehensive book surveying Western monster-lore.

Is humankind’s fascination with monsters broader than any single cause? Asma’s On Monsters examines hundreds of legends — and their cultural, psychological and social implications.

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October 20th: The Rise of Bat Boy

In the pantheon of American monsters, only one truly dominated the newspapers of the 1990s. Checkout lines everywhere were haunted by the bald-headed, wide-mawed visage of Bat Boy.

What was Bat Boy, and where did he come from? The MonsterTalk team interviews cartoonist Tye Bourdony, a former employee of the Weekly World News. Bourdony shares his insights about Bat Boy and the rise and fall of the famous tabloid paper.

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September 29th: Dragon*Con’s Skeptrack 2010

This week’s episode was recorded before a live studio audience at Dragon*Con’s Skeptrack 2010 (in Atlanta, Georgia).

MonsterTalk hosts Ben Radford and Blake Smith bravely faced the horror of live questions from listeners — including Australian skeptical activist Dr. Rachael Dunlop, Skeptoid’s Brian Dunning, and others!

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September 15th: Just Scratching the Surface

MonsterTalk frequently explores tales of imaginary monsters — creatures of myth, fiction, and folklore.

Today, the hosts consider a real creature, one that preys on humans and their closest animal companions. It is often invisible. It drinks blood to survive. And, it is responsible for many of the sightings of the dreaded chupacabra.

Podcast audiences may cringe and recoil in horror to learn the true facts of the creature known as — Sarcoptes scabiei!

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September 1st: Cryptozoology & Science, Part 2

This week, MonsterTalk continues its discussion of the intersection between science and cryptozoology. The hosts interview Dr. Donald Prothero and Daniel Loxton, who are working on a book that will give a deep overview of the field of cryptozoology and how it intersects with actual science. This interview was recorded at The Amaz!ng Meeting 8 in Las Vegas.

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August 11th: Cryptozoology & Science, Part 1

What is cryptozoology? Is it science? Is it folklore? Does it make predictions?

In part 1 of a 2-part series, MonsterTalk examines cryptozoology as a field, including speculation on the cryptids most likely to turn out to be real. Guest Dr. Darren Naish, paleontologist and science blogger, makes some surprising statements about the field, its role in science and culture, and the intersection of amateur and professional science.

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July 21st: The Columbus Poltergeist (featuring James Randi)

In 1984, objects began to fly around the room in the presence of a Columbus Ohio teen named Tina Resch. The local paper claimed this was a poltergeist attack, and published photos to prove it.

Tina’s story caught the attention of a young organization called the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal [CSICOP, now Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI)] and its chief investigator, James “The Amazing” Randi. In this episode, Randi tells the MonsterTalk hosts about the outcome of this case — and shares his personal views about the unfortunate impact it may have had on Tina’s life.

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June 16th: Cthulhu Rises

In this special literary edition, MonsterTalk ventures into a dark domain that can be confidently called fiction: the monstrous, genre-defining oeuvre of horror writer Howard Philips Lovecraft. Joined by noted Lovecraft scholar Robert M. Price and biologist PZ Myers, the MonsterTalk hosts discuss Lovecraft’s life and works, and dare to confront his most famous creation: the vast alien monstrosity Cthulhu. Can the hosts gaze into the shrieking outer darkness and return with their sanity intact? Find out on this episode of MonsterTalk!

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May 26th: Bringing Light to a Moth

In this episode, Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly CSICOP) investigator Joe Nickell joins the MonsterTalk crew for a look into the West Virginian legend of Mothman — allegedly a human-sized creature with wings and glowing red eyes. Nickell discusses the ways monsters evolve following a community’s initial reports, and the cyclical nature of spates of sightings.

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May 5th: Monsters from the Lab

In this week’s episode, MonsterTalk looks once again at genetics and creatures created in the laboratory. Dr. Marcus C. Davis joins the hosts to discuss what constitutes a “monster.” In his work, Davis deals with paleontology, as well as embryological manipulation — which, by some definitions, means he literally creates monsters.

What kinds of creatures are scientists making in labs today? What is the scope of their power? What guides their ethics? Learn more this week on MonsterTalk!

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April 21st: Historical Ghost Investigations Part II: Sinking the Watertown

This week, MonsterTalk continues its two-part discussion of historical ghost investigations. Blake Smith describes his investigation into a famous photo that allegedly shows two dead sailors floating off the side of a 1920s oil tanker. Methodology for conducting historical investigation is detailed, using Ben Radford’s upcoming book on scientific paranormal investigation as a basis for the talk.

Did two sailors haunt their fellow shipmates? Does the photo really show two ghosts? Find out the answers in this informative conclusion — and find out how you can solve your own cases!

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April 7th: Historical Ghost Investigations Part I: Kimo / Therapy

Ghost investigations often feature in television shows and other media. Typically, these amount to people wandering around at night with EMF detectors, talking into the darkness and jumping at shadows and noises.

But how does one do a scientific paranormal investigation? On this first half of a two-part MonsterTalk, the hosts review two past ghost investigations (Ben Radford’s “Kimo Theater Ghost” and Dr. Karen Stollznow’s “Waverly Hills Sanatorium” investigations) and discuss some of the techniques that can help solve such cases. What steps are common to this type of research? Learn more this week on MonsterTalk.

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March 24th: Ghost Bird

What happens when a creature thought to be extinct is spotted alive in the swamps of Arkansas? Can such a creature have survived? Can scientists verify the story? And when a town’s hopes and a school’s grant money are on the line, to what lengths will people go to find proof?

This week on MonsterTalk we discuss these issues with Scott Crocker, the documentary filmmaker behind Ghost Bird — a feature length exploration into the mystery of the Ivory-billed woodpecker.

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March 3rd: Getting into the Spirit of Things

Things get spooky this week on MonsterTalk, as the hosts venture into the science of ghosts.

What does neuroscience have to say about the possibility of consciousness or mind existing outside the body — or continuing on after the body has died? This episode’s guest is neurologist Dr. Steven Novella (veteran of on-site ghost investigations, and host of the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast), who shares his insights on brains, minds, and specters from beyond the grave.

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February 17th: Suitable for Framing

In this episode, the hosts of MonsterTalk talk with Greg Long, author of the 2004 book The Making of Bigfoot (which was reviewed at the time by Skeptic’s own Daniel Loxton).

Long’s book is built from hours of interviews with surviving contemporaries of Roger Patterson, the filmmaker who shot the influential Patterson-Gimlin footage. For many people, this film remains the best evidence that Bigfoot is real. However, Long’s research uncovered a side of Patterson most people had never heard of before — and it isn’t pretty.

According to Long, the famed Bigfoot film shows nothing more than a man in a modified gorilla suit. Moreover, Long may have found the man who wore it…

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February 3rd: Bigfoot: First Impressions

In the world of Bigfoot, good evidence is hard to come by. Anecdotes and blurry photos keep the documentaries coming, but most skeptics agree that a body or a living specimen are needed to confirm the existence of a large North American mystery mammal.

But what of alleged Bigfoot footprints? One expert claims that at least some track castings contain proof of an actual unknown ape. That expert is retired law enforcement agent Jimmy Chilcutt — and he’s agreed to come talk with the skeptics on MonsterTalk.

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January 13th: Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum!

Giants appear in cultures around the world: Biblical tales of giants more than ten feet tall; Roman and Greek stories of titans and heroes; European stories of giants of mountain and hill. They all have one thing in common: enormous monsters.

On this episode of MonsterTalk we chat with archeologist Dr. Ken Feder about giants, biblical archeology — and one of the biggest hoaxes in American history.

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