Author Topic: How well does the SGU succeed at its goal?  (Read 251 times)

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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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How well does the SGU succeed at its goal?
« on: January 02, 2017, 05:35:16 PM »
In an interview that I can't date (but I suspect from the content that it is quite old), Steven Novella was asked about the purpose of the SGU podcast, and replied:

Quote
We deal primarily with controversial topics or topics on the fringe of science, although sometimes we do just straight up really interesting science news stories, whatever captures our interest. But we deal with the paranormal or conspiracy theories, or health fraud, consumer protection type of issues. And our goal is to give our listeners the tools to look at science in the news, science in society and have some way of navigating through all of the claims and all of the hype and basically have the tools to figure things out for themselves more than anything else.

So, how well do you think the SGU succeeds at its goal?

I think they do very well.

SGU is part of my weekly schedule. :)
"Large skepticism leads to large understanding. Small skepticism leads to small understanding. No skepticism leads to no understanding." - Xi Zhi

Offline daniel1948

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Re: How well does the SGU succeed at its goal?
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2017, 07:11:12 PM »
If their goal is to be a source of good information on science, health, medicine, skepticism, etc., then I think they do an excellent job.

If their goal is to reach people who do not already subscribe to the view that understanding of the world can only come through science and evidence, then I have no idea how well they achieve this.

If their goal is to promote a culture of reason generally, then they seem to be failing, since at least here in the U.S., reason seems to be steadily losing popularity.

The SGU remains my favorite podcast, with Oh, No, Ross & Carrie and Science for the People coming close behind.
Daniel
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Offline Andrew Clunn

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Re: How well does the SGU succeed at its goal?
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2017, 07:25:57 PM »
They were very helpful to helping me embrace atheism when I was at a critical juncture.
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: How well does the SGU succeed at its goal?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2017, 01:25:03 AM »
There's a subtle difference between a purpose and a goal.

A goal suggests that their is some kind of end-state to be working towards. On the other hand, you could work to a purpose without having a specific end-state in mind.

Steve explains both separately in his answer.

Offline DCLimey

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Re: How well does the SGU succeed at its goal?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2017, 01:46:08 PM »
It's an Entertaining Romp Through Skeptical Issues of the Day (tm).

Offline daniel1948

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Re: How well does the SGU succeed at its goal?
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2017, 10:43:22 AM »
It's an Entertaining Romp Through Skeptical Issues of the Day (tm).

Very well put.
Daniel
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Offline Zed

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Re: How well does the SGU succeed at its goal?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2017, 02:43:03 PM »
SGU is my favorite science-oriented podcast, but if I'm honest, it definitely has a "preaching to the choir" feel to it. It meets the goal of giving tools to be a critical thinker (they do a very good job of dissecting pseudo-scientific claims or bad science). But I would say that it's designed for someone already looking to be skeptical. Like, I could see some of it feeling very condescending for those that may have some not-so-evidence-based beliefs. So even though they meet the goal Dr. Novella stated, it's probably not as inviting for a general audience. Given that, I don't want the SGU to change. I like the intermediate-level skeptic feel it has.

An example of a show that I think does a good job of presenting skepticism to a more general audience is Science Vs (even though I don't think the show even uses the word skepticism): https://gimletmedia.com/science-vs/
It looks at controversial topics and sees whether scientific evidence supports popular claims. Even though I like the SGU better, the listener is brought on a skeptical journey without realizing it.

Offline Nosmas

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Re: How well does the SGU succeed at its goal?
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2017, 07:51:34 AM »
I agree that it's only really going to appeal to those who are already interested in science and lean toward already being skeptically minded. Given the goal stated seems to be giving listeners the tools to assess the validity of truth claims and make us aware of current science related events, I think they do a great job. I've shared it with multiple friends with some becoming avid listeners and some finding it too information dense (about 50/50).
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