I’m a first-time poster to this forum after listening to the podcast for quite a while. Found it by way of Skepticality.
A little story: when I was about nine I saw some psychic on a talk show. She seemed to combine Christian end-of-the-world ideas with UFO stuff. Anyway she confidently predicted that it would all be over in about three years, that the newly elected President Nixon would be the last president of the United States, and that those who were saved would be taken away in a flying saucer.
As a kid watching this on TV, I took it pretty seriously. After all, the talk-show host (an adult!) didn’t question her logic, or bring up the point that tons of people have predicted the end of the world without it happening. I didn’t believe it enough to try to [i:b45e547f07]do[/i:b45e547f07] something about it, but I couldn’t get it completely out of my mind, either.
The three-year mark came and went, and of course the world was still here. But then I thought, "Maybe she just had the time wrong, but was still right about Nixon!" So I waited until 1972, but of course Nixon was re-elected. Wow, I thought, I still have to worry about the end of the world. When Gerald Ford took over as president I wondered whether we were completely safe, since maybe it was technically still Nixon’s administration. (Other people probably had similar concerns, but I may be the only person in the world who had millennial UFO worries because of president Ford.)
Finally Jimmy Carter became president and I figured we were completely out of the woods. And I gradually found some books like Martin Gardner’s [i:b45e547f07]Fads and Fallacies[/i:b45e547f07], and I saw UFO debunkers on the Tomorrow Show and began to realize that you don’t have to believe all the things that people say, even if a lot of people say them. A Nova episode that looked critically at the Bermuda Triangle idea was a huge help too.
Unfortunately, at least before college, I had little help from teachers in figuring this stuff out. I had a physics teacher in high school who loved to get sidetracked onto topics like UFOs and Bigfoot, and apparently wasn’t armed with the idea of critical thinking.
I’m not sure why, but the many podcasts available on these issues have really caught my attention and motivated me to make contact with other skeptic/freethinker types a little bit more, so you may be seeing some more of me around here.