The Rationable Podcast has arrived!
This is a big day indeed! The podcast I've been planning and working on for ages is finally live!
I've started this podcast to not only take these blogs and put them in a different format, but also have different types of shows like interviews, guest appearances and maybe a little bit of audio-blogging (read ranting).
So please do check it out on your favourite podcast app to see if it's available. Right now, Simplecast, Stitcher and Spotify have taken it online. You can also visit my podcast page to listen to it in your browser.
Follow this blog to stay updated as the podcast becomes available on other services too.
If you would rather read, here's the transcript for the first episode:
The First Episode: How Rationable Was Born
Welcome to the first episode of The Rationable Podcast. I have been dreaming of this moment for a very long time. Let me tell you the story of how Rationable was born.
Not so many years ago, in a land not so far away, I was just a regular Indian guy working on my dissertation for my university. This was in Falmouth, a small university town in Cornwall, England. I was trying to write a novel and I wasn’t getting very far. Not only did I have the worst case of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced, but I had also hit another kind of roadblock. I had just realised that all the things I used to believe might not be true.
You see, I was trying to write a novel, or at least a part of one, that hinged on the claim that ancient humans had the technology for interstellar travel. Many of us Indians tend to think that our civilisation had ancient technology that got lost somehow and we had to start again from scratch. And I mean planes, missiles, cars and rockets about 5000 years ago or something. I wasn’t dogmatic about this sort of thing but I thought it sounded somewhat plausible. After all, I was a sci-fi geek. Plus, I had grown up hearing about Eric Von Daniken and his claims that the Nazca Lines and the Pyramids were built by aliens and what not. So I bought into it. Yeah, yeah, I know some of you are shaking your heads wondering what the hell I was thinking, but hear me out, okay?
So here I was thinking about ancient technology and ancient aliens. And I wanted to write a sci-fi story, but I wanted it to be hard science fiction based on real science, like Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov used to do, you know? So I set about trying to figure out what real science had to say about all this.
I. Found. Nothing.
No reputable science magazine even mentioned it, and if they did, it was with ridicule. The only sources I found which promoted these ideas were weird websites that seemed to be promoting all sorts of other nonsense like spiritualism and hallucinogens, UFOs and alien abductions.
I watched a few documentaries, and the ones featuring real historians and archaeologists chopped these ancient tech and aliens claims to bits. I was stumped. But I was also intrigued. So I decided to dig deeper. I listened to a real college astrobiology 101 courses as a podcast. I started reading about aliens, SETI, the Pyramids in Egypt, South America and China and discovered only how ingenious our ancestors were. After all, just because they lived 5000 years before us doesn’t mean they were stupid. They were just as smart as we are, so why couldn’t they have built amazing structures and used amazing, if not rudimentary, tools to do so? We do it all the time!
I started looking up evolution, post-humans (which are what humans could become in the future), space travel, the origin of life, and all that good stuff. I discovered Brian Cox, Richard Dawkins, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye. Of course, I also rediscovered Carl Sagan, the man who first opened my scientific imagination back when I was just 7 years old with his TV show Cosmos, which I watched religiously. Other podcasts like The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe and Skeptoid, along with Science Vs and Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Start Talk, all educated me on how to think more critically and more scientifically.
In a nutshell, I discovered science and how much more fascinating it was compared to all the fiction I used to believe. I had to rethink diets, homoeopathy, reiki, crystal healing, ghosts, ayruveda, yoga, religion, and everything else. And I continue to look at my beliefs critically, look for the evidence for or against them, and adjust my beliefs accordingly. And over the last decade, I have tried to learn and refine these techniques of scepticism so that I can fill my life with more true things and fewer false things. Don’t we all want to live a life of truth where our decisions are based in reality? Well, I certainly do.
I’ve also discovered that this way of thinking, and thinking about thinking, has tremendous value when it comes to figuring out what’s a scam and what isn’t. And it’s more important today than ever before. Every single day, we are bombarded with information from every social network we use and every web page we visit, not to mention all the newspapers, magazines and TV programmes we consume too. How do we figure out which Kickstarter product works and which one is a scam? What about that detox diet I saw on Youtube? Or herbal supplement I saw on Pinterest? Should I go Keto? Or Paleo? Or do intermittent fasting? Is that news story we saw on TV true? Should get pissed off at that anti-nationalist or not?
Whether we realise it or not, we decide whether to believe or not believe the claims we see every single day. And all of these are based on our pre-existing beliefs and biases. It’s like a switch that flips with every claim we encounter. We make snap decisions about what is nonsense, what’s real and what we are on the fence about. Do you know how that switch in your head works and what your beliefs and biases are? Do you know why they are pushing you towards a certain decision? I’m sure you do for some and maybe not for others. And that’s the case with me too.
We need to be more cognizant of what we believe and why, because doing this makes us more conscious of how we evaluate information. It is through this mechanism that we can fight scams, fake news and fraudulent claims. If we don’t, they can take over our health, our money and our search for a truth-filled life.
That’s why Rationable exists. Rationable is a blog and podcast where you can come to find rationality and reason where controversy and outrage are ripping everyone else apart. Here, I will share the tools and techniques I use to separate fact from fiction so that you grow immune to fake news just as I am doing.
So, join me every week as we pit science and critical thinking against a world filled with fake and win! Together, let’s make this world a more rationable place.