I have to take the panel, Steven in particular, to task with the literature thing. I think we as skeptics need to make a couple things clear:
1. It is perfectly okay for there to be supernatural elements in fiction. It's fiction. That means it's not real.
2. While we can talk about pro-skeptical writers and literature, writers who employ stuff like the deus ex machina aren't being anti-skeptical, they're being crappy writers. The deus ex machina was considered blase in ancient Greece. Yes, I agree that it's lazy, but it's lazy writing that is mutually exclusive from writing that talks up the scientific method and so on.
I also really, really have to disagree with the thing about the implied inferiority of the "gardener" style vs. the "architect" style of writing. I don't think the guest intended for there to be any kind of hierarchy there which is why I'm getting on the rogues' case about this. Look... I agree, GRR Martin has been pretty annoying in that the first book showed a lot of promise and he appears to have parked the bus about a lot of things since then. That doesn't make the "let's plant some seeds and see how they grow" approach to writing in any way inferior to the "I have everything thought out ahead of time" approach. If anything, I think the "gardener" approach is the realistic one when applied to narrative fiction because that's how life works. We don't have pre-ordained futures. We do stuff or stuff happens to us, we make decisions, and we live with the consequences.
And again, going back to my point #1 up above, that doesn't even mean that the "architect" approach is inferior either. I am a huge fan of John Irving and his (better) books are all about putting tons of seemingly unrelated things together. It's a fun read and it's interesting to see how the author came up with that. That being said, I think Irving and the architectural model in general is just as much escapist fantasy as GRR Martin or RA Salvatore are. And the reason "Lost" sucked rocks at the end wasn't because they used magic, it's because they broke the rules they set for themselves at the beginning of the show. I think it's important to make these distinctions because it's important to avoid literature that makes those mistakes as much as possible.
I'm not saying everyone should read nothing but Chekhov and Raymond Carver (although let's face it, Chekhov and Carver are awesome). Escapism is as important as anything else in reading fiction, and conversely sometimes I just like to imagine along with someone else whether I'm imagining a far-flung milieu or an intricate plot. Just appreciate all of that for what it's worth, is my point, and accept that all bad writing is is bad writing.