Podcasts, Glorious Podcasts!

Being in production of our first TS podcast inspired me to make a summary of some of the best science and scepticism related podcasts I’ve come across- to help everyone else occupy themselves during dull hours of cleaning and walking places. I’ve been consistently surprised by the amount of people who don’t listen to podcasts, or maybe don’t even know what they are- if you’re one of them; I promise you’re missing out. Hopefully this short list will give you a starting point from which you can discover more of the thousands of podcasts just waiting for you to listen!

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe

The SGU was the very first podcast I ever listened to -with my brother’s encouragement- and was the one which taught me what podcasting is all about. The hour-and-a-bit show features Steve Novella, his brothers Bob and Jay, Evan Bernstein and our very own *drumroll* Rebecca Watson! As many of you probably already know, she originally appeared as a guest- but they just loved her so much they got her back as a co-host. The guys have really great chemistry and clearly have a good relationship with each other, which makes you feel as if you’re just listening in on your nerdy friends having a long chat.

The relatively informal style makes the SGU an easy-listening podcast, but Steve keeps things on track- so it’s not rambling chaos. In terms of content it’s primarily concerned with science and scepticism, however it often touches on the intersection of these topics with other areas such as religion and politics. There are also fun regular segments and some fantastic interviews. Generally, sensitive subjects are handled in an appropriate way and the language is perfectly suitable for kids to listen in. As the driving force which helped me formally identify as a sceptic, I would be happy to recommend the Skeptic’s Guide to anyone (as I frequently do. My friends hate it). I would suggest starting from the first show, however- although it’s not crucial and the shows stand alone, they often reference past events and news stories.


The Skeptic’s Guide is a great podcast, but it’s quite long and touches upon many topics- if you’re looking for something shorter and more focused, Skeptoid might be for you. The host- Brian Dunning- examines an extremely wide range of sceptical topics in detailed 10-minute monologues. The huge variety and simple format would make this a great first podcast to listen to, as you’re not being swamped with information on several different subjects at once. What I really love about Dunning is how brilliantly he researches even the most obscure of topics, and comes to a reasonable conclusion at the end of each show based on the evidence. It could potentially be one of the best podcasts to use as a classroom resource too, due to the convenient length and kid safe material. WE ALL LOVE BRIAN DUNNING.

Skepchick Podcast

Of course I have to mention the Skepchick podcast! Cos, you know. This is Skepchick. It’s only released irregularly, the content is good quality. Although thematically similar, it’s more light-hearted than the previous two suggestions and can be really fun to listen to; for example the science-themed drinking game with cocktails such as the Buzz Aldrin getting the hosts increasingly tipsy! It doesn’t take long to listen to the limited number of episodes if you’re a podcast addict like myself, but they’re definitely worth checking out.

Stuff You Should Know

Although not strictly a science podcast, SYSK is all about knowledge! This is the podcast which is a companion to Discovery’s How Stuff Works, and definitely isn’t afraid to delve deep into the most obscure and strange topics. There are tons of science-based shows though, such as “How Lightning Works; How Lobotomies Work; How Icebergs Work” etc. The two hosts have a great working relationship and a fantastic rapport- it sounds like they have great fun together which increases the listener’s enjoyment hugely. They also have an absolutely massive back-catalogue and corresponding articles on their website for every show, which is great if you want to find out more (if you’re a factoid-lover like me, you will!).

Other great podcasts (y’know, not sciencey ones).

It feels weird to miss out some great podcasts because I haven’t listened to them or they’re not strictly scientific- so here’s a brief list of some other fantastic choices:

1. The British History Podcast– A detailed and addictive show which is ridiculously well-researched and goes back to the furthest known point in British history. The (amusingly American) host offers membership which gives access to additional podcasts and exclusive material.

2. Little Atoms– Another science podcast offering a huge range of interviews with hundreds of amazing and interesting public figures.

3. Skepticality– The official podcast of Skeptic Magazine, this is a podcast by the great male/female duo Derek and Swoopy who again have an admirable relationship (trust me, it makes a big difference in the tone of the show). I haven’t listened to it for several months but they were on great form the last time I tuned in. On that note, why haven’t I listened to it for several months…?

4. A History of the World in 100 Objects- This podcast is complete for now, with the 100 objects examined. However it’s absolutely fascinating and I listened to these non-stop until I was finished. (Guess where my interests lie outside of science?) It is fairly dry and formal but it was spawned from BBC Radio 4, so this can be expected. Thankfully, what can also be expected is a very high standard of information, which it achieves fully.


Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

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1 Comment

  1. September 21, 2012 at 7:59 pm —

    Ooo! Ooo! Can I recommend some? Um…lets see. If you want something NSFW and non-sciencey then I recommend My Brother, My Brother, and Me. So funny. It’s from the Maximum Fun Network. Some other podcasts I enjoy from that network is Judge John Hodgman, Throwing Shade, and International Waters.

    If you like story-telling, I recommend This American Life, Wire Tap, and The Moth.

    Oh! Oh! And Astronomy Cast is really good. There are just so many!!!

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