There are certain things I always thought the world as a whole had agreed to. When the sun is up we call it day, gravity exists, trees make oxygen, the moon waxes and wanes – you know, basic stuff. Until a couple NBA players suggested the Earth was flat and I found myself face-to-face with a grown man who had completely bought into the idea. It would have been laughable if it wasn’t so infuriating. But it was so infuriating.
That moment of knowing someone is wrong and needing to show them the truth behind it all is where Brian Dunning has built his home. His award-winning podcast Skeptoid is all about showing people the truth, which Brian believes is way cooler than the alternative.
It’s a short format show, single subject, and we take on popular myths from culture that there’s a more interesting real truth or real science or real history behind. So it’s kind of like a debunking show but the idea is that we give the listener something new and interesting and fun that they’ve learned rather than just taking something away.
From aliens to Alcatraz, foreign conspiracy theories to consumer ripoffs, Brian and his team are working to show people the reality in the world and letting that be even more interesting than anything they could make up. Brian knows that the entertainment factor matters as much as the science, especially because the show was born out of his experience with both.
My background was in science and also writing for film and television. Those are two very disparate things, so it wasn’t until 2005/2006 when podcasting began when I saw that ‘hey, here’s the ultimate opportunity to put together all of my interests and my core competencies.’ So I started with a list of pet peeves and did five episodes on those.
Skeptoid was, at the time, one of the only podcasts in its field and so shot to the top of the charts immediately. Despite the growth in the genre, the show has done anything but fall behind. Alongside a lengthy list of awards, Brian has enjoyed getting to work alongside teachers to educate students all around the world.
It became a full-time job after a fews years and then an incorporated and then it became a non-profit in 2012. Since then we’ve expanded the company: we produce documentary films, educational materials, kind of a whole growing concern all based on the origin of this humble podcast.”
Of course, having so much going on demands a lot of work. Brian spends most of his work week doing huge amounts of research to make sure that anything he puts out is backed up by science and history. But he still thinks that every minute is worth it after all these years because the chance to make a living off of something he loves doing is really so cool.
Beyond the show, Brian is excited to see the next opportunity that comes from the show. After several documentaries and seven books coming out of Skeptoid, he knows that anything could happen. So, if you love myths or want to see what’s really going on behind them, check out Brian’s work on Skeptoid and leave a review to tell us what you think!
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