73. Skeptoid’s Brian Dunning Finds Global Consciousness Project Lacking

skeptoid-brian-dunningGuest: Brain Dunning, host of the popular Skeptoid Podcast, joins Alex Tsakiris to discuss how skeptics view the Global Consciousness Project.

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Alex Tsakiris:    Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and on today’s show, the Global Consciousness Project.

We’re going to come at this from a number of different angles. The way I got here is really I think the biggest part of this story, but more of that will come later. First let me tell you a little bit about what the Global Consciousness Project is.

The research goal of this whole thing is exactly as the name suggests, to determine if there is such a thing as a global consciousness. The researchers, Dr. Dean Raden and Dr. Roger Nelson at Princeton originally got this idea because Dr. Nelson’s work at the Parallab at Princeton had suggested that certain people were able to, by their intention, change the outcome of a random number generator.
Now a random number generator, at least the kind they use here, is just a real simple, little board that plugs into the back of a PC. It has a little resistor on it and they sample that resistor 200 times a second. If you’re an electronics person, a computer person, you know they’re either going to get a 0 or a 1, and they’re randomly either going to get a 0 or 1, 0 or 1. You do that 200 times a second, you add it up, and you get a number that is usually right around 100. Okay, you sample it 200 times, 0/1, average 100. So you get this number coming back off this thing, and it’s usually 100, sometimes it’s a little less or a little bit more.

But from statistics, remember back when you were sleeping there in high school, you take all those series of numbers over all those seconds, you plot them out, and what do you get? You get a bell curve, right? You get a really nice, perfect bell curve right around the number 100. So, that’s what they have done in their experiments with these random number generators.
Where they took this experiment for the Global Consciousness Project was to spread these little hardware devices that are very tested, very industrial strength, work all the time. They spread them out all over the world to 65 different locations. Volunteers agreed to plug these things into their computer and have these little babies report back to the mother ship in Princeton that collects all the data and analyzes it.
Now what they expected to see, in an attempt to measure global consciousness, they expected to see some variation from the standard statistical model that you’d expect in randomness. That is, that perfect bell curve. They expected to see some difference in the bell curve when certain events happened, certain global events. So there’s some controversy about all that, but that will give you a basic understanding of what we’re talking about here as we jump into this topic.

One other thing to mention that I think is particularly interesting and very encouraging is this project is really the first original open source science project. If you go to the Web site, and we have a link, of course, in the show notes, but you can also just Google “Global Consciousness Project,” and you’ll find it right away. Everything is there. All the method. All the analysis. All the criticism. Even all the data. If you want to download the data yourself and re-analyze it, you can do all that. So they were open source before there was ever an idea on my part to be an open source science.

So on today’s show we’re going to hear from the primary researchers, Dr. Roger Nelson at Princeton. We’re also going to hear via an e-mail exchange that I had, we’re going to hear from Dr. Dean Raden. We’re also going to look at this through the skeptical lens of Brian Dunning, who is a podcaster and the host of the very popular Skeptoid podcast and blog.

Brian is really the original reason that I even got into looking at the Global Consciousness Project because before speaking with him I really wasn’t that familiar with it. I have to say I was a little bit dismissive of it, and that was just ignorance on my part, because the more I’ve dug into this, the more I see what a really tremendous piece of research it is, and what a real contribution it is. I think that will unfold as everything proceeds. We have a lot to cover, so let’s jump into it where I jumped into it, my conversation with Brian Dunning of Skeptoid.

We’re joined today by Brian Dunning, who’s the host of the very popular podcast, Skeptoid. I thought it would just be neat to chat with a fellow podcaster who more or less takes the opposite side of a lot of the issues that we cover here, and it’s part of this effort to generate a dialog between the skeptical people and believers, to use simple terms. So Brian, that was the spirit with which I invited you on the show, and I’m very, very glad that you took me up on the invitation.

Brian Dunning:    It sounds great. I’m very glad you did. I look forward to it.

Alex Tsakiris:    I think dialogue like this, public dialogue like this between skeptics and believers is really lacking, and I understand how that happens. It’s difficult, sometimes it’s hard, it’s frustrating, but it really is the essence of what scientific debate and finding the truth is really all about. So I’m glad again that you join me in that spirit of kind of constructive debate at the underlying truths that we’re all seeking.

Brian Dunning:    Well, yeah, I certainly agree that that’s really important to do. I think a lot of people tend to feel that they need to be in one camp or the other, and to kind of stick dogmatically to whatever their camp says that they should be thinking or believing or doing. So yeah, dialogue between both sides – and especially showing everyone that hey, we’re not all lunatics. You’re not the only person who’s sane and everyone else is not insane. I think that’s certainly constructive.

Alex Tsakiris:    Brian, one of the first things I want to talk about and ask you about and it’s kind of interesting because I think your background in some ways parallels mine from what I can pick up from your Web site. Can you tell us a little bit about your background, in particular, the origins of Skeptoid?

Brian Dunning:    Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head. Pretty much everyone on both sides, they all come from the computer industry in some way or the other [laughs].

Alex Tsakiris:    Yeah. [Laughs]

Brian Dunning:    My background is in computer science. I was doing early stuff in developing XML specifications and advanced Java application architecture, stuff that’s more conceptual rather than sitting down and programming. I was always a skeptical person, from being dragged kicking and screaming to church as a little kid through I loved reading Bigfoot stories and ghost stories and all that stuff. I went to film school, also. That was my minor, I guess, in college, was writing for film and television. So I always had these two things.
I loved technology and skepticism and I loved writing and entertainment, but there was really no way to put those two things together until podcasting came out. When it did, it was like, my gosh, this is exactly what I want to do. So I started doing some episodes and it started doing really well, and I got all these e-mails and feedback, and I decided to keep doing it. So that’s how my podcast came about, and that’s how I got into the subject matter that I do.  It just turned out to be something that works really well for me, and for some reason, whatever I’m doing, people are loving it, so I’m going with it.

Alex Tsakiris:    And I take it it’s really just a personal desire for you to share what you know and connect with other people, right? I mean, I don’t see any big financial angle to it other than the drain that it is.

Brian Dunning:    I’m sure I’m making just as much money as you are. [Laughs]

Alex Tsakiris:    Really? I figure you’re probably making double.

Brian Dunning:    That’s right. My first few episodes — and I’m the first to say that they’re horrible –  [laughs] were pretty much rants that I was just getting off my chest. The feedback that I was starting to get was that people were starting to – a complete surprise to me – they were telling me, hey, this really helped me. This really helped me think in a new angle about this or that.
I started realizing, hey, people are learning from this and it’s helping people to expand their horizons and consider things they’d never considered before and not simply accept everything at face value. So that’s the angle that I’ve tried to pursue and tried to keep it going in that direction, helping people to come up with an angle they’d never considered on something.

Alex Tsakiris:    Well, yeah, I think that plays right into the e-mail exchange that we had, and I think this e-mail, the last one that you sent to me, I felt could kind of be the backbone for what we would talk about today. Let me go through that e-mail and talk about some of these points.

Brian Dunning:    All right.

Alex Tsakiris:    We had an exchange and I threw out a couple of ideas, some things we might talk about, topics. You came back and said, “Well, here are some of the things that I think we might want to talk about.” And that’s where we’re at. You said one of the topics you brought up was the Global Consciousness Project, and you actually did a show on this…

Brian Dunning:    Uh-huh (yes).

Alex Tsakiris:    …on your Skeptoid, I think it’s Episode 49. I wanted to talk to you a bit about that in a minute. But before we got there, I wanted to talk about a couple of other things you mentioned in the e-mail. You say that some of the other topics I talked about or I mentioned would not be, I guess, right up your alley or in your area of expertise, and you didn’t want to go there. I certainly understand that. We can’t all be experts on everything, and rather than weigh in with a bunch of opinions that aren’t really supported by research that you’ve done, I certainly respect your desire to kind of steer clear of those.

Brian Dunning:    Well, if I can just comment on that. I mean, the reason is not – I’m not saying hey, I don’t want to talk about this because I don’t know anything about it. I’m happy to give my opinion on anything you’d like. Most of the point of my whole show is realizing and respecting the fact that most people out there are not scientific experts, and when you hear something being reported on the news as a great new discovery, or whatever it is, most people don’t have the expertise to know, hey, is this real or is this complete BS ?
So the whole point of my show, Skeptoid, is to give people the thought process to follow so that they can come up with a reasonable understanding of what’s probably true, no matter what the claim is. So that’s what I’m going for, more than oh, hey, I don’t want to talk about that, because I don’t know about it.

Alex Tsakiris:    In that spirit, then, let’s jump back to where we were just talking about in that e-mail and here’s the part that I guess sent me in a different direction, where I felt I wanted to come back with you on some things.

Brian Dunning:    All right.

Alex Tsakiris:    In your e-mail you say, “Hey, my process is to give everyday people a sense of how to deal with all this BS because we’re not all experts.” Understood, fair enough, but then you say, “If you’re looking for a novella-style, point-by-point debate on fringe research, I’m not the guy.” What did you mean by you’re not the guy for a point to point debate on things? To me, I mean, that’s the only way we can get to the bottom of these kinds of controversial science issues, is to really deconstruct them point by point.

Brian Dunning:    I still do speaking whenever I can and I used to do debates. They would invite me for like, one great example was a church group invited me to come debate the age of the earth with them. It’s clear that when someone’s dealing with a subject that’s, you know, completely unevidenced scientifically, and they’re just making up their evidence, a debate is absolutely pointless. I’m limited to what we’ve discovered through science. They’re not limited to anything. They can say whatever the heck they want. They can throw that stuff out way faster and make it up way quicker than I could ever keep up with or respond to.
I’ve found that many debates go that way. I attend a debate sometimes. I watch them. Guys like Shermer will debate people on YouTube, Novella will debate people sometimes. I listened to him on your show talking about the global consciousness thing, or was it the psychic dogs? Or both?

Alex Tsakiris:    Right, the psychic dogs.

Brian Dunning:    The psychic dogs. For my money it was a debate that went nowhere and it was not something that was of any value to anybody because it’s just, I think this, the other person says, no, you’re wrong, I think this, and it doesn’t go anywhere.

Alex Tsakiris:    Well [laughs], let’s see. I think the only way we can put that to the test is maybe to take that idea and that method and apply it to your show, 49 on Global Consciousness Project. If it gets too much into this point to point debate school kind of thing, then back off and tell me. But I want to push there because I don’t agree with what you’re saying. In fact, I think that Shermer, I’ve seen the Shermer debates. I find them extremely informative. I saw one where he did on intelligent design, one of his topics.

Brian Dunning:    Uh-huh (yes).

Alex Tsakiris:    I think when both people are able to respond to each other and get their points in, if you have two relatively intelligent folks who are really willing to engage the issues on both sides, I think it can be a very constructive way to really understand. You’re faced with the counter claims that other people make. So…

Brian Dunning:    But do you feel that anyone who came out of that came out with a changed mind?

Alex Tsakiris:    Absolutely. I mean, I think that what…

Brian Dunning:    I don’t agree with that at all. I think everyone who went into that debate to watch it was either a hardcore Christian or a hardcore Atheist, and I think they walked out exactly the same way.

Alex Tsakiris:    Well, we’ll never know the answer to that, but I think in shows like yours, Skeptoid, and in mine, Skeptiko, the number of people who you’re really going to change their mind I think is very limited. You know, these issues are polarizing and they wind up with people on extremes on both sides. I think who we’re really talking to, if I can be presumptuous, is that we’re talking to those people in the middle. I think those people in the middle, that’s not a fixed group, either. I mean, it’s moving back and forth.

Brian Dunning:    Uh-huh (yes).

Alex Tsakiris:    People are moving in their beliefs and you don’t know when you’re going to catch them and that’s what I think this thing is all about. Let’s talk about Episode 49 and put that to the test and see what you think.

Brian Dunning:    All right.

Alex Tsakiris:    If you think it’s getting pointless, if you think it’s out of hand, then we’ll just stop and we’ll talk about something else. Global Consciousness Project, Dean Raden. Give us your thumbnail sketch of where you’re coming from on that.

Brian Dunning:    Do your listeners have a general idea of what it is, first? Or do we want to give the…

Alex Tsakiris:    I think that would be fine. Go ahead and back up and say what that is.

Brian Dunning:    Okay. Okay, well, my impression, and you may have a different one, is that it’s a project among a group of researchers who believe that when a large event happens somewhere in the world that affects a large number of people, something that’s emotional or exciting or saddening, that is has some sort of measurable effect in some sort of unknown, un-understood energy field and this effect can be measured by a series of random number generators that they have distributed throughout the world.
They can see patterns changing in the random data, the data that should otherwise be random, that correlates to these events happening. They believe – I’m not sure if they have a good theory, but it has something to do along the lines of some psychic energy from the global consciousness having a measurable physical effect on these devices.

Alex Tsakiris:    They might want to use that on their Web site. Do they have permission?

Brian Dunning:    [Laughs]

Alex Tsakiris:    No, I think that’s a pretty good summation of what they’re doing. I have to say, I wasn’t real familiar with the Global Consciousness Project and I just visited their Web site yesterday. So if I get in over my head, I may call a truce to this as well. But the only thing I’d add is, Brian, one of the first things I’d say is, in your podcast you say there isn’t any theory or there isn’t any foundation to what they’re doing.
Yet you kind of gave a pretty good scientific thumbnail sketch of what they set out to do. As far as the theory, if you don’t like the idea of there being this global consciousness, then just take the well-accepted standard physical theory that there should be no structure in random data. If you set up an experiment to try and counter that claim, you’re doing good science, right?

Brian Dunning:    Well, there’s a couple of things that are wrong that you just said. One, that you’re not going to find patterns in random data. Random means random. It doesn’t mean smooth and evenly distributed. That’s not random. Random is going to have spikes and troughs, and lines and things that look unusual. That’s the definition of random.
The second thing you said that’s not correct is that I described a theory. What I just described that they’re doing does not remotely qualify as a theory. It doesn’t even qualify as a testable hypothesis. They have no standards for what constitutes an event that might trigger one of these episodes. They also have no standards for what type of effect to look for in their data.
Basically, when something happens, like 911 happened, they then went back to their data, they looked at the data from that period, and they tried very hard to find a pattern. By using the right statistical controls, carefully chosen statistical controls, it is easy to find just about any kind of pattern you want. That’s basically what they’re doing.

Alex Tsakiris:    Hold on, if I can, let me stop you there so we can back up. I don’t want to get too technical because we’re going to fulfill your prophecy, [laughs] making it a debate that no one can follow and doesn’t really help anybody. A couple things. When I said that there’s standard physical theory suggests that there should be no structure at all to random data…

Brian Dunning:    Well, structure is different than finding spikes and troughs and things. Structure suggests something that’s overall and that’s repeatable and can be seen and perhaps described. Something that they’re looking for is just a spike or a trough or some other type of a pattern that can be statistically defined, but in a very short span.

Alex Tsakiris:    Let’s separate those two though. Are we in agreement though, if they were to set up an experiment that was to test the counter to a standard physical theory that there shouldn’t be any structure to the data that’s collected from these 65 random generators around the world, there shouldn’t be any structure to that data. That would be the assumption that is the current scientific orthodoxy in terms of how those things work, right?

Brian Dunning:    Yeah. We’re saying the same thing. I think we’re just disagreeing on the exact definition of what we mean by structure. If you look at any small chunk of data it’s easy to find any kind of a pattern you want. If you take a handful of rocks and throw them at a wall so they all leave a mark,  you’re going to say, oh, these three are kind of in a line and these five kind of look like a star. But if you take random data overall, then you’re not likely to see any overall patterns in it.

Alex Tsakiris:    Right. But then I go back, and I’m going to hammer this home. As a theory, the Global Consciousness Project, it sets out with a goal of determining whether there is structure to this random data. That’s a worthy scientific endeavor. That is a testable theory, right?

Brian Dunning:    Okay. Yeah, if what you’re saying is that when we have an event that meets certain criteria, that we should expect to see this particular result in the random data and you can define exactly what those mean? Now you have a hypothesis…

Alex Tsakiris:    Right.

Brian Dunning:    …that can be tested and hopefully, it may develop into a theory. But they’re far from that now.

Alex Tsakiris:    I’m not sure that they are. We just talked about 911. Those aren’t all the events that they’ve tracked. Some of the other events they’ve tracked would meet your other objections in terms of determining what data that constitutes a result, in terms of being blinded. One of the events they tracked is New Year’s Day. Well, when you’re talking about a prospective event like that, we can plan a New Year’s Day coming at a certain time, they are blinded. They’re not blinded from the analysis, but they’re certainly not doing this retrospective analysis of going back after the fact and looking at an event, right?

Brian Dunning:    I’ve never heard of them doing a prediction that came true. I’ve only…

Alex Tsakiris:    Oh, yeah, they do. Brian, they’ve done New Year’s Day for the last – I don’t know – seven or eight years.

Brian Dunning:    Well, that’s not a prediction. Everyone knows New Year’s Day is going to happen.

Alex Tsakiris:     It is a prediction to say that we have…

Brian Dunning:    It’s a prediction to say New Year’s Day is coming next January First?

Alex Tsakiris:     Well, you’re being flippant. I mean, it’s a prediction to say that we expect to see an effect of non-randomness in all these pods we have around the world on New Year’s Day controlled for the time that New Year’s Day changes in all the places. What’s wrong with that?

Brian Dunning:    Okay, here’s what would be right with that. If you can say okay, on New Year’s Day or a New Year’s Day type of event, however you want to define it, we expect to see this type of effect. You need to define what that effect is, what the data’s going to do, for how long it’s going to do it. Is it going to happen before, during, or after? These are all variables that their results are all over the map with.

Alex Tsakiris:    That’s not true. I mean, that’s just not true.

Brian Dunning:    That is true. I did read their pages pretty thoroughly before I did this, and that is true. Some of their results happened before the event, some of them happened during the event, some of them happened after the event. Some of them are very brief, some of them can take a long time. Some of them don’t happen for hours afterwards, some of them happened seconds afterward.
What strikes me the most is that after the event happens, they then go to the data and look for patterns. That’s the opposite of how this should be done. The data should be analyzed by statisticians who have no idea what time period or what possible events it might correlate to. They need to know exactly what type of effects they’re looking for, and once that’s done and marked and established, then you can take the blinding off and compare those results to what the predicted events were. That’s what they don’t do and that’s why the research project in general has not attracted the attention of anyone else to try and replicate it. There’s nothing to replicate.

Alex Tsakiris:    Well…

Brian Dunning:    There’s no criteria, there’s no protocol established.

Alex Tsakiris:    You are fulfilling [laughs], you are fulfilling your prophesy about debate. You just laid out about ten points there that would have to be deconstructed and handled one at a time. Maybe we’ll do that. Maybe one of the results that I was going to suggest, or one of the follow-ons that we could have as a result of this discussion if you’re willing, is to actually engage some of the experts who are on both sides of this debate and see if there is anything to it. I have to tell you, I think some of those criticisms that you’re saying are valid on some of the events that they’ve tracked. On other ones, it wouldn’t apply.
For example, on New Year’s Day I don’t think what you’re saying is accurate. They’ve said beforehand that they’re measuring a period ten minutes before midnight, ten minutes after midnight. As far as what is significant, the statistical tools that they’re using really determine that in terms of they don’t really need to be blinded from that. You just run the program on the data and it tells you how many standard deviations off the main the randomness or non-randomness generated.

Brian Dunning:    No. I disagree. You absolutely have to be blinded from that. The person who’s looking for a specific effect cannot go to the data for that specific effect and try to find something that he considers to be valid.

Alex Tsakiris:    Hold on, let me make sure we’re not just saying the same thing here. I’m saying if I set up a statistical analysis program beforehand and say I’m going to run this from ten minutes before midnight to ten minutes after midnight, and I use the same statistical analysis every time at midnight, that’s fair. I mean, that is blinding in that the analysis, the methods that we’re going to use, have already been pre-determined before the event happens. I understand your problem with a retrospective analysis of something that’s occurred and data-matching it, form-fitting it to match some pattern that you want. That’s not what I’m talking about.

Brian Dunning:    If that’s the case, that’s interesting. What I’ve read does not indicate that that’s certainly the case in some of the cases that they do. For example, going back to the 911 one, I think that’s the one that there’s the most noise written about, they had an associate of theirs, I don’t recall his name, but he wrote a criticism of their analysis of that. I credit them for putting that on the Web site because it basically blew it out of the water and said there’s nothing here and…

Alex Tsakiris:    This is Jeff Scargle? Dr. Jeffrey Scargle?

Brian Dunning:    That sounds right. I read his paper and in fact, here’s his quote, “I personally disagree with the conclusion that anomalous effects have been unequivocally established, and I judge the degree of cogency of all the results in both Raden’s and Nelson’s papers as low.” He then proceeded to detail three things that they used to do their statistical analysis that gave the appearance of an effect when he felt there was no effect at all. So, if you give yourself that kind of leeway, to look at the data first and then to choose different filters to apply to it until you find one that gives you the results you want, then you’re much more likely to get positive results. I am not convinced that they’re not doing that with their New Year’s Eve data that you describe.

Alex Tsakiris:    Okay, but…

Brian Dunning:    If they are, fantastic. And I’m sure other people will then get excited and replicate it.

Alex Tsakiris:    Let’s leave that second part because I think that’s a very interesting topic. Why hasn’t this research been replicated? Why don’t people pay more attention to it, blah, blah, blah.

Brian Dunning:    Uh-huh (yes).

Alex Tsakiris:    Very interesting issue. Leave that aside for a second. So you just mentioned Scargle’s commentary. Why don’t you mention Nelson’s response to it, published in the Journal for Scientific Exploration, a peer-review journal that he wrote a response to that? Or, the additional papers that have been published since then as a response to it? We have two folks debating here. Don’t we want to hear both sides of the debate?

Brian Dunning:    Certainly. I don’t have that in front of me. I can’t read that for you right now.

Alex Tsakiris:    I think it’s also an interesting context that do you remember where Scargle’s criticism, where that’s published? It’s published in the same Journal for Scientific Exploration that Nelson and Raden published their articles on. So they did a very nice job of kind of showing two sides of a controversy.
Okay, I want to jump in here because at this point we kind of went on and on about some of the same issues that you’ve been hearing about. We have a lot more to cover so I want to pick back up with Brian talking about journals and where folks publish.

Brian Dunning:    The point is that just because someone says something is a peer-reviewed journal, doesn’t mean that it’s worth anything. The “Bible Code” was published in a fantastic peer-reviewed mathematical journal, Statistical Science. That is a journal that’s got a great reputation. However, what nobody mentions is that the article was not research. It was in there as a puzzle at the end of the magazine, okay?
So you can’t always say that just because something was in a peer-reviewed journal of high standing that it was necessarily presented as good research in that journal. I would have to see the article. I don’t know, maybe it was an editorial. Maybe it was a here’s the debate of the week. I have no idea. So I really can’t comment.

Alex Tsakiris:    Okay. But again, I’ve just got to get this in. You do, because this is the paper that you referenced in your podcast and that you have referenced on your Web site. Now, you can say you don’t have Raden’s and Nelson’s paper that they published at exactly the same time, but trust me, they’re all research papers. Enough, enough on that. Hopefully we can wrap this up if we’ve provided some folks some food for thought in terms of how to approach these topics and some of the issues that come up when you try and wrestle these things to the ground.

Brian Dunning:    That’s the idea. I mean, people don’t have the expertise when they pick up a magazine or they see an article. Oh, this must be true. Well, quite often it’s not. Look at the science section in People Magazine, or Time Magazine. We know that they publish just about anything and everything that sounds exciting or that sounds interesting. Look at all the press that anti-vaccination is getting these days.

Alex Tsakiris:    So you’re saying dried garlic cloves behind my ear really aren’t going to improve my sex life?

Brian Dunning:    I think they might improve yours from whatever it is now, I don’t know. Sorry, that was…

Alex Tsakiris:    Hey, that was…

Brian Dunning:    …the best I can muster is a joke.

Alex Tsakiris:    Yeah. You’re much better on the podcast. You have some great jokes in there. It’s entertaining. It is. I give you that.

Brian Dunning:    [Laughs] Thank you.

Alex Tsakiris:    I think it’s very informative and the best of luck with it in the future. Skeptoid. Any big plans for what you’re going to do next? Are you going to get into video podcasting?

Brian Dunning:    Oh, I wish I was. That’s just much too large of a commitment of time that I just don’t have available. I’d love to do a weekly video podcast. We’re certainly working on other projects. We’ve got a Web series in development, we’ve got a TV pilot in development.

Alex Tsakiris:    I saw the TV pilot. Why don’t you tell folks a little bit about that and the Web pilot, as well?

Brian Dunning:    Yeah, the TV show is, the working title is, “The Skeptologists,” and what we’ve got is a team of scientific experts, Ph.D.s and all sorts of diverse fields and they basically get the Bat Signal and jump in the Batmobile and go racing off to the scene of the pseudoscience to see what’s actually going on. The show is pretty much a direct response to what the History Channel, Science Channel, Discovery Channel, etc. promote these days which is all ghosts and UFOs and they’re presenting everything that’s science as if it is science. It’s getting frighteningly convincing to a lot of people.
So we’re trying to give the opposite of that. We’re trying to do exactly the same thing that I do on my podcasts. We’re trying to have these experts give the viewers, hey, here’s what’s actually going on. It should be really fun. We shot a pilot last year and it’s currently in development stages.

Alex Tsakiris:    Wow, exciting. Are you in front of the camera?

Brian Dunning:    I’m on the show as the host. I’m not one of the Ph.D. experts. I just…

Alex Tsakiris:    Wow. Wow, the host, that’s fantastic.

Brian Dunning:    [Laughs] Well, I’ve got the smallest role. I basically appear at the beginning to say, “Hey, here’s what we’re going to go do.” And at the end I come back and say, “So what did we find out?” It’s pretty tough. [Laughs]

Alex Tsakiris:    Now that’s great. And what network are you hoping to be on, or you don’t know at this point?

Brian Dunning:    There’s much that I’m asked not to discuss at this stage.

Alex Tsakiris:    Sure, sure, sure. Okay, well, best of luck. What’s the name of that show again?

Brian Dunning:    It’s called, “The Skeptologists,” but that may change. We don’t know.

Alex Tsakiris:    Great. We’ll look for that and I’m sure all your listeners will keep following you on Skeptoid.

Brian Dunning:    Thank you. I certainly hope they do.

Alex Tsakiris:    Okay, Brian, thanks again.

Brian Dunning:    Okay, thank you.

Alex Tsakiris:    That’s where I left things with Brian. We’re going to also wrap up this part of this podcast. Call this Part One. I’m going to immediately publish Part Two, which is going to include my interview with Dr. Roger Nelson, as well as some comments from Dr. Dean Raden. Then finally, some feedback that I received from Brian about what I uncovered when I spoke with those two researchers. It really gets fascinating, so stay with me for Part Two coming up here in just a minute, on Skeptiko.