Episode 160: Hauntings

On this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem, Laura, Ashlyn, and Lauren discuss the plausibility of hauntings, then do a deep dive on the true (and not-so-true) stories behind the Amityville Horror and the Coventry University Ghost. Then Ashlyn brings the show home with her thoughts on why COVID quarantine seems to have resulted in an uptick in hauntings.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a podcast that explores the intersection of science and society.

The Amityville Horror: ‘Amityville Horror’ Was Based on a True Story? (Snopes) | 6 Horror Movies Inspired by Real Stories and Hoaxes (HISTORY) | The Amityville Horror (Wikipedia) | Ronald DeFeo Jr. (Wikipedia)

Ed & Lorraine Warren: No, the Annabelle doll didn’t actually escape from the Warrens’ museum (AltPress) | Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wikipedia) | Annabelle (Wikipedia)

The Coventry University Ghost: The Ghost in the Machine (Journal of the Society for Psychical Research) | Our history (Coventry Cathedral) | Some “Ghosts” May Be Sound Waves Just Below Human Hearing (Gizmodo) | Ghost buster (The Guardian) | Famous ghost stories that turned out to be fakes (Insider)

Quarantine Hauntings: Haunted House? These People Are in Isolation with Ghosts (The New York Times) | Haunted house reports on the rise during pandemic, says paranormal researcher (CBC Radio) | Haunted home residents see rise in ‘spooky’ happenings amid quarantine (New York Post)

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Episode 80: Near-Death Experiences

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Donna Harris and Greg Christensen discuss near-death experiences (NDEs) and some of the possible psychological, physiological, and transcendental explanations for them.

Note: Shortly after this episode was recorded, we learned that Steven Novella and Sean Carroll would be participating in an Intelligence Squared debate on the resolution “Death Is Not Final”. Arguing for the resolution was Eben Alexander, author of Proof of Heaven, who was mentioned in this episode. We link to a video of the debate in the show notes.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: Death Is Not Final (Intelligence Squared Debate) | Near-death Experiences (Wikipedia) | Heaven Is for Real | Eben Alexander | Francis Collins | Pim van Lommel | Sam Parnia | The God Helmet | International Association for Near-death Studies | Impact Factor (Wikipedia)

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Episode 71: A Tribute to Sylvia Browne

Episode 71: A Tribute to Sylvia Browne

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Ashlyn Noble discusses the life and times of recently deceased “psychic medium” Sylvia Browne with Donna Harris and Gem Newman, and Gem hosts a game of Psychic Fact or Psychic Fiction!

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: Sylvia Browne | Stop Sylvia Browne | Robert Lancaster | The Kidnapping of Shawn Hornbeck | Video of the Shawn Hornbeck Predictions | The Kidnapping of Amanda Berry | Forer Effect | Psychic Defective: Sylvia Browne’s History of Failure | Goodbye Sylvia Browne | Sylvia Browne: A Post-Mortem | On Sylvia Browne and The Death of an Awful Person | Demiurge (Wikipedia, Gnostic Society Library) | Popularity of the Name “Michael” (Baby Center, Wikipedia)

Psychic Fact or Psychic Fiction! Sources: Sylvia Browne: The Next 100 Years | Sylvia Browne’s Predictions for 2008 & 2009 (from the Internet Archive; the current version at Spirit Now has removed some predictions, including the “Aura Scanner” prediction)

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Episode 58: Ghosts and Apparitions, Part 2

Episode 58: Ghosts and Apparitions, Part 2

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem Newman talks about the evidence (or lack thereof) for ghosts with Greg Christensen, Ian Leung, and Mark Forkheim. Also on this episode, Gem chats with Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Warning: In the first few minutes of the podcast, Greg asks Gem to give a primer on Bayes’ Theorem and conditional probability (and why this is at all relevant to ghosts). It involves a little bit of math, so brace yourself.

Links: Solstice Party (22 June 2013) | Drinking Skeptically (11 June 2013) | Bayes’ Theorem | Sleep Paralysis | Apophenia | Pareidolia | Friendly Atheist | Steinbach Pastor Voices Opposition to Bill 18 | I Sold My Soul on eBay | The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide

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Bayes’ Theorem
P(A|B) = P(B|A) • P(A) / P(B)

The probability that it is raining, given the fact that it is cloudy:
P(Raining|Cloudy) = P(Cloudy|Raining) • P(Raining) / P(Cloudy)

The probability that ghosts exist, given the fact that you heard a weird noise:
P(Ghosts|Noise) = P(Noise|Ghosts) • P(Ghosts) / P(Noise)

In this instance, P(Noise|Ghosts) is the probability that you’d hear a weird noise, assuming ghosts exist, P(Ghosts) is the prior probability that ghosts exist, and P(Noise) is the probability that you’ll hear weird noises (generally speaking).

The example numbers plugged in during the podcast:
P(Ghosts|Noise) = 0.95 • 0.05 / 0.60 = 0.08

So in this case, hearing a strange noise might increase your belief in ghosts from 5% to 8%; definitely not a smoking gun.

Episode 57: Ghosts and Apparitions, Part 1

Episode 57: Ghosts and Apparitions, Part 1

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem Newman swaps ghost stories with Greg Christensen, Ian Leung, and Mark Forkheim. Also on this episode, Gem chats with PZ Myers about religion, skepticism, and the supernatural.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: Solstice Party (22 June 2013) | Drinking Skeptically (11 June 2013) | Ghost of Carl Sagan Warns Against Dangers of Superstition | Dualism | Sleep Paralysis | Apophenia | Pareidolia | Pharyngula | PZ Myers and Steven Novella on Atheism and Skepticism (PZ, Novella, PZ, Novella) | The Happy Atheist, by PZ Myers

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Episode 31: News Update

Episode 31: News Update

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Ashlyn Noble is joined by Gem Newman, Greg Christensen, and Mark Whatman to discuss local and international news of interest to skeptics, including WiFi fears, the link between gay marriage and abortion, hominid fossils, and more! This episode is the first of our new biweekly news round-up shows. You can now expect a new episode every week!

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: SkeptiCamp Winnipeg 2012 | Winnipeg Ghostbusters | Young Cannabis Smokers at Risk for Lower IQ | Winnipeg Church Being Turned into Low Income Housing | Baffling Campaign Ad Claims Same Sex Marriage Leads to More Abortions | The Winnipeg Free Press’s “Letter of the Day”: Schools Should Be Wired | WHO Fact Sheet on EHS | Episode 18: WiFi, Mobile Phones, and Electrosensitivity | New Fossils Put Face on Mysterious Human Ancestor

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Episode 20: How Rationalists Approach Death, Part 1

Episode 20: How Rationalists Approach Death, Part 1

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Mark Forkheim discusses life, death, and immortality with Gem Newman, Robert Shindler, and Greg Christensen.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: Imagine No Relgion 2 | The History of Homeopathy (Text, Video) | Shoppers Drug Mart Named In $30M Lawsuit For Selling Homeopathic Product (CASS Press Release, Skeptic North) | Cold-fX (Science-Based Pharmacy, CBC Marketplace) | Exorcist Expertise Sought After Saskatoon “Possession” | Skepticon 4: How Should Rationalists Approach Death? | Gem’s Ghost Stories | Tibetan Sky Burial | Ecoburials

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