Wine, Science Education, Creationism, Dog Cancer and Mars: A Podcast Catch-Up

8 February 2014 by Jack Scanlan, posted in Podcast

yas-logo@2xWhen you're busy in science, you're busy. These past couple of weeks have seen me at fever pitch in the lab, breeding flies and running electrophoretic gels like a mad man. However, due to my duty of care to my podcast audience, I've not been stopping the proverbial train that is science communication via the medium of audio. In fact, since the last time I checked here in with The Pseudoscientists and Unfiltered Thoughts, five episodes have been published.

So, take your pick - there's plenty of science to devour!

Episode 10 of Unfiltered Thoughts saw me chat with graduate geology student Toni Henderson about wine. Toni's fascinated with the culture and science of winemaking, while I know relatively next to nothing about how the alcoholic drink is made, so I learned heaps from our discussion.

Episode 113 of The Pseudoscientists was a far more comedic affair, with Liz joining me to welcome Melbourne comedian Liam Ryan onto the show, who brought a news item about the mental health tendencies of his fellow comedians. Turns out some stereotypes are true! Liz talked about teenagers messing up a long-term health survey with joke answers about sexuality, while I went over the mysterious rock that the Opportunity rover found on Mars.

Episode 114 of The Pseudoscientists was also funny, but for a different reason: Rachael, Sarah and I all focused on some combination of dogs, cancer and the sense of smell. Who knew there would be so many science news items about those? I looked at a fascinating parasitic dog cancer that spreads through sex, Sarah talked about a study that indicates humans may be able to tell when someone is sick by sniffing them, and Rachael brought it home with information about how dogs can be trained to sniff out the chemical traces of cancer in patients. Weird.

Episode 11 of Unfiltered Thoughts was a nice chat at a cafe with science journalism student Nicola McCaskill, a new member of the Young Australian Skeptics family, all about the tricky issue of science education. How can we eventually have a public that knows and cares more about science? Education seems to be the answer, but improving it is harder than it initially looks. We also touch on science journalism and science in politics. Nicola is incredibly passionate about these topics and it was a joy to finally speak to her in person about them.

Finally, Episode 115 of The Pseudoscientists, which went up this morning, saw Sarah and I alone in the studio on a hot day, having extended discussions about two topics dear to our hearts: creationism and medicine. I used the recent debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham to dig into the complex issue of debating creationists. Should it happen? What lessons can we learn about creationists and their beliefs from these debates? Sarah, on the other hand, went into detail about neglected tropical diseases in countries such as Australia and the US, where they disproportionately affect poor people without access to good healthcare.

So, I hope you check them out and enjoy! Remember, if you like the show, you can subscribe to their combined feed on iTunes or just keep tabs on the Young Australian Skeptics website (and here!) for updates.

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